The East Nisbet Conventicle.
John Blackadder`s account
( quoted in Men of the Covenant, Alexander Smellie, vol I p 260-2


But more
remarkable and more beautiful than the
ordinary conventicle was a Communion in the fields.

John Blackader will describe to us one
of these, which
he, in company with ” Mr. Welsh and Mr. Riddell,”
superintended and enjoyed at East Nisbet in the Border
country. After relating what means
were adopted
to shield from
interruption and alarm those whose

rendezvous, however fit it might be,
was “by the
lions’ dens and the
mountains of leopards,” he goes on

with his tale‑

” We entered on the administration of the holy

ordinance, committing it and ourselves to the invisible
protection of the Lord of Hosts, in
Whose name we
were met
together. The place where we convene

was every way commodious, and seemed
to have been
formed on
purpose. It was a green and pleasant

haugh, fast by the waterside. On
either hand, there
was a
spacious brae, in form of a half round, covered
with delightful
pasture, and rising with a gentle slope

to a
goodly height. Above us was the clear blue sky, for it was a sweet and
calm Sabbath morning, promising to be indeed one of the days of the Son of
Man. The Communion tables were spread on the green by the water, and
around them the people had arranged themselves in decent order. But the
far greater multitude sat on the brae face, which was crowded from top to

day, at the congregation’s dismissing, the ministers with their guards,
and as many of the people as could, retired to their quarters in three
several country towns, where they might be provided with necessaries. The
horsemen drew up in a body, and then marched in goodly array behind the
people, until all were safely lodged. In the morning, when they returned,
the horsemen accompanied them. All the three parties met a mile from the
spot, and marched in a full body to the consecrated ground. The
con­gregation being fairly settled, the guardsmen took their stations as
formerly. They secured the peace and quiet of the audience ; for from
Saturday morning, when the work began, until Monday afternoon, we suffered
not the least affront or molestation from enemies : which appeared
wonderful. The whole was closed in as orderly a way as it had been in the
time of Scotland’s brightest noon. And, truly, the spectacle of so many
grave, composed, and devout faces must have struck the adversaries with
awe, and been more formidable than any outward ability of fierce looks and
warlike array. We desired not the countenance of earthly kings ; there was
a spiritual and divine Majesty shining on the work. Amidst the lonely
mountains we remembered the words of our Lord, that true worship was not
peculiar to Jerusalem or Samaria — that the beauty of holiness consisted
not in material temples. We remembered the Ark of the Israelites, which
had sojourned for years in the desert, with no dwelling but the tabernacle
of the plain. We thought of Abraham and the ancient patriarchs, who laid
their victims on the rocks for an altar, and burned sweet incense under
the shade of the green tree.

ordinance of the Last Supper was signally backed with refreshing influence
from above. Few such days were seen in the desolate Church of Scotland,


will ever
witness the like. There was a rich effusion of the Spirit shed abroad in
many ; their souls breathed in a diviner element, and burned upwards as
with the fire of a pure and holy devotion. The ministers were visibly
assisted to speak home to the conscience of the hearers ; they who
witnessed de­clared, they carried more like ambassadors from the court of
heaven then men cast in earthly mould. The tables were served by some
gentlemen and persons of the gravest deportment. The communicants entered
at one end, and retired at the other, a way being kept clear to take their
seats again on the hillside. Solemn it was and edifying, to see the
composure of all present ; and it was pleasant, as the night fell, to hear
their melody swelling in full unison along the hill, the whole
congregation joining with one accord. There were two long tables, and one
short—across the head—with seats on each side. About a hundred sat at


There were sixteen tables in all, so that about three thousand two hundred
communicated that day.”

Rev John Blackadder.