(This edited extract is from Rev. D. Macfarlan’s Revivals of the Eighteenth Century, Particularly at Cambuslang, and gives the case of George Tassie, a married man, aged 41).
GEORGE TASSIE was taught by his parents to pray and repeat the Shorter Catechism. In married life he continued to attend church, and observed the worship of God in his family morning and evening. “I used also to read the Bible by myself,” he said, “although I understood nothing of its spirituality. I had pleasure in reading sermon books, but I could never apply what I read to myself; and I cannot say that anything, either read or heard, ever came home to my heart with power. I had, however, a suspicion that there was something in religion more than I had found, and yet I could not think myself worse than many of my neighbours.”
In 1742, at Cambuslang, he heard Mr. Robe of Kilsyth preach on God hearing the cry of the poor and needy. Mr Robe said that it was better to cry to God now than to cry in hell. “I fell under great concern, and was made to tremble,” said Tassie. “I felt as in the immediate presence of God, and was therefore filled with fear. I put up many petitions for deliverance.” His trembling and fear abated, and he became very much what he had been before. Reflecting on the probable cause of his experience he thought of that Scripture, “The devils also believe, and tremble.” This showed him that there was nothing of a saving nature in his fear.
“One day,” he continues, “I thought much of what was then going on at Cambuslang, and concluded that there must be something very special about it. These words came into my mind with great power: ‘What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,’ (Rom. 8: 3.). I saw the law to be just, and good, and so holy that the best man on earth could not keep it so as to be justified by it before God; and this led me to wonder at the love of God in sending His Son to purchase salvation for law-breakers. So much did I wonder at this, that I could not restrain myself from crying out, ‘O wonderful, amazing love!’ My heart was thus drawn out to accept of Christ in all His offices as my Prophet, my Priest, and my King. In doing this, I found the words of Thomas to be as my own: ‘My Lord, and my God.’ After this, my desires went out after God. I had now much love in my heart towards Christ. He was to me, indeed, the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. My heart was engaged to bless and praise God, on account of His many mercies. I had also a deep and humbling sense of my own sinfulness, especially in having rejected the Saviour so long.”
Tassie adds, “When I had settled a little, I began to inquire whether this was to be regarded as really a work of regeneration or otherwise. My own conscience said that it was, but doubts were raised in my mind as to whether such a work could take place in so short a time. I turned up my Bible, and found there such cases as those of the Philippian jailer and Zaccheus, which showed me that some were converted in a short time. I also observed that several of those described in the New Testament as applying to Christ, addressed Him as Lord, and placed themselves under His authority, and that this also I was enabled to do. Thus, instead of stumbling at the Lord’s way, I was taught to admire His great goodness in dealing with me so mildly and speedily.
“I continued in this state for some considerable time. All week I was occupied in admiring the love of Christ in obeying and suffering, in yielding satisfaction through the excellency of His divine nature and His sufferings as a man. I was taught to imitate Christ in all His imitable perfections, to take part with God speaking in the law against the corruption of my own heart, to watch against every known sin, and to strive after every commanded duty.” At the same time Tassie was made to see much that was evil in all he did; and was enabled to renounce his deeply stained performances and to rely wholly on Christ for acceptance and sanctifying grace.
“The Bible was now my frequent companion,” he adds. “Many passages appeared in a new light. I remember, in particular, how that passage in the 118th Psalm, ‘The stone which the builders refused, is become the head stone of the corner,’ flashed upon me, as condemning many because of unbelief. In conversing with some of my neighbours, whom I had been accustomed to regard as religious, I now found them to be nothing more than I had myself formerly been mere formalists.”
Next Sabbath he went to Cambuslang and heard Mr. Duncan on the text: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17). “The marks given I was enabled to find in myself,” says Tassie, “particularly love towards God and my neighbour. So much did I experience the latter, that I earnestly wished to be reconciled to any with whom I had been at variance.”
On the Sabbath preceding the first communion at Cambuslang in 1742, Mr. M’Culloch preached from the words, “But let a man examine himself, . . .” (1 Cor. 11:28). He said that many might get a token to sit at the Lord’s table from a minister or elder without receiving any token from Christ; adding, that an unconverted soul could not derive any benefit from the Lord’s Supper. Tassie found in himself some of the marks of believers given by the minister, which gave him much peace and joy, believing, as he did, that the Lord made him welcome. “Before going to the Table I was in a very dead frame of mind;” he notes, “but when I was there I could scarcely get another word said than, ‘My Lord, and my God.’ My heart clave to God as its portion for time and eternity, and I was at the same time much humbled because of my own unworthiness. When Mr. Whitefleld preached from the text, ‘Thy Maker is thy husband’ (Isa. 54:5), he said that he was come to woo a bride for his Master, the church’s Bridegroom, but that before any soul could be admitted into the marriage covenant with Christ, it had to become dead to the law and its own righteousness. I had great satisfaction in finding that I had become dead to both, and had betaken myself to Christ for righteousness and strength.”
“And now,” he adds, “reflecting on the time that has passed since June 1742, I find that by grace I have been enabled to go on from day to day in the way of duty, endeavouring to live soberly, righteously and godly. I find now that my chief end is to live and act for the glory of God, studying conformity to His will in all things. Though obliged to attend to my worldly calling, so as to provide, under God, for myself and family, my thoughts run out more after Christ and in meditations on His word, than in any other way.”