First Great Awakening


First Great Awakening

The First Great Awakening (referred to by some historians as the Great Awakening) was a period of heightened religious activity, primarily in Great Britain and its North American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s. In New England, the Great Awakening was influential among many Congregationalists; while in the Middle and Southern colonies (especially in the "Backcountry" regions of those colonies) the Awakening was influential among Presbyterians. Although the idea of a "great awakening" is contested, it is clear that the period was, particularly in New England, a time of increased religious activity. The revival began with Jonathan Edwards, a well-educated theologian and Congregationalist minister from Northampton, Massachusetts, who came from Puritan and Calvinist roots, but emphasized the importance and power of immediate, personal religious experience. Edwards was said to be "solemn, with a distinct and careful enunciation, and a slow cadence." [cite web |url= http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/WeirdWildWeb/courses/mwt/dictionary/mwt_themes_420_edwards.htm |title= Jhonny Edwards (1703–1758), from The Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Modern Western Theology |author= Holly Reed |accessdate=2007-06-09 |format= htm|work= ] Nevertheless, his sermons were powerful and attracted a large following. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," is his most famous sermon and his essay, "A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God," describes his local experience during the Awakening. The Methodist preacher George Whitefield, visiting from England, continued the movement, traveling across the colonies and preaching in a more dramatic and emotional style, accepting everyone into his audiences. The first new Congregational church in Massachusetts in the Great Awakening period of 1730–1740, was at the newly incorporated town of Uxbridgecite book |last= Clarke, D.D. |first= Joseph S. |authorlink= |coauthors= |title= A Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches in Massachusetts, from 1620 to 1858 |publisher= Congregational Board of Publication |date= 1858 |location= Boston (Digitized by Google books) |pages= p. 148 |url= http://books.google.com/books?id=L7yETClx8EUC&pg=PA148&lpg=PA148&dq=great+awakening+uxbridge+mass&source=web&ots=Hb8cssL38Q&sig=h6xIX6g-iJXqsD6tLuFhTz6NiE0 |doi= |id= |isbn= ,] and was pastored by the Rev. Nathan Webb, a native of Braintree.

Effects

Those caught up in the movement likely experienced new forms of religiosity. They became passionately and emotionally involved in their religion, rather than passively listening to intellectual discourse in a detached manner. Ministers who used this new style of preaching were sometimes called "new lights", while the preachers who remained unemotional were referred to as "old lights". [cite book
last = Middlekauff | first = Robert | authorlink = Robert Middlekauff
title = The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 | publisher = Oxford University Press
date = 2007 | location = London, UK | pages = p.41
isbn = 978-0195315882
] People affected by the revival began to study the Bible at home. This effectively decentralized the means of informing the public on religious manners and was akin to the individualistic trends present in Europe during the Protestant Reformation.

The First Great Awakening resulted from powerful preaching that aimed to convince listeners of their personal guilt and of their need of salvation through decisive action that included public repentance. The Great Awakening led people to "experience God in their own way" and taught that they were responsible for their own actions.Fact|date=September 2007

Going away from ritual and ceremony, the Great Awakening made religion intensely personal to the average person by creating a deep sense of spiritual guilt and redemption, along with introspection and a commitment to a new standard of personal morality.Fact|date=October 2007 Historian Sydney E. Ahlstrom sees it as part of a "great international Protestant upheaval" that also created Pietism in Germany, the Evangelical Revival and Methodism in England. [ Ahlstrom p. 263]

The attempt at conversion brought about an apocalyptic event in New England that challenged established authority.Fact|date=September 2007 It incited rancor and division between the old traditionalists who insisted on ritual and doctrine, and the new revivalists.Fact|date=September 2007 It had a major impact in reshaping the Congregational, Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed and German Reformed denominations, and strengthened the small Baptist and Methodist denominations. It had little impact on Anglicans and Quakers.

Unlike the Second Great Awakening, which began about 1800 and reached out to the unchurched, the First Great Awakening focused on people who were already church members. It may have contributed to changes in some followers' ritual behavior, piety, and sense of self.

First Great Awakening in British North America

Before The Great Awakening in New England, people were in the pursuit of wealth, leaving religion out. To increase interest, the church congregation adopted rules that allowed church membership without evidence of a conversion experience. In addition, it favored wealthy families by allowing them to seat in the prominent pews, front and center. [Faragher, John Mack, et. al., eds. "Out Of Many: A History of the American People". Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2006.]

The “River gods” (the wealthy landowners of the Connecticut valley) impoverished young people who were forced to postpone marriages because the land which they wanted to set up a farm household was becoming expensive. In addition, these young people were discouraged to attend church meetings, but Reverend Jonathan Edwards focused on them. He preached to them in a manner that appealed to their emotions. The meetinghouse was full of passion of Puritan religion, increasing religious fervor through the community. Church membership grew instantly. Considered before as an adult affair, church attendance immediately increased between young people. [Faragher, John Mack, et. al., eds. "Out Of Many: A History of the American People". Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2006.]

People began to look for passionate sermons and ignored those which were presented with “spiritual coldness.” The revival was spread in other communities by German pietists and Scots-Irish Presbyterians. In Pennsylvania, William Tennent, a Presbyterian preacher, and his son Gilbert were figures for training men for the ministry and establishing “Log College” which eventually evolved into Princeton University. Open conflict arose between the revivalists and the old guard because people preferred passionate ministers who were capable of delivering an emotional sermon. [Faragher, John Mack, et. al., eds. "Out Of Many: A History of the American People". Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2006.]

George Whitefield furthermore expanded this religious revival. Like Edwards, he claimed that people were “half angels and half devils” therefore, they had hope for salvation. Many religious leaders added calls of piety and purity to the established Protestantism. People found religion a relief from their other stresses such as land, marriage and contribution to the growing economy. [Faragher, John Mack, et. al., eds. "Out Of Many: A History of the American People". Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2006.]

The revival also introduced many slaves to Christianity for the first time. In the South, the Baptists churches during the American Revolution allowed preaching by both slaves and masters. Many other colonists were brought back to Protestantism. Male attendance, in particular, increased more than before when church membership was concentrated on women. [Faragher, John Mack, et. al., eds. "Out Of Many: A History of the American People". Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2006.]

The Great Awakening was considered by historians to be the American version of the second phase of the Protestant Reformation. It is estimated that the number of churches doubled from 1740 to 1780. [Faragher, John Mack, et. al., eds. "Out Of Many: A History of the American People." Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2006.]

ee also

* The Old Side-New Side Controversy
* The Second Great Awakening (1800s - 1830s)
* The Third Great Awakening (1880s - 1900s)
* The Fourth Great Awakening (1960s - 1970s)

Bibliography

Primary sources

*Jonathan Edwards, (C. Goen, editor) "The Great-Awakening: A Faithful Narrative" Collected contemporary comments and letters; 1972, Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-01437-6.
*Alan Heimert and Perry Miller ed.; "The Great Awakening: Documents Illustrating the Crisis and Its Consequences" 1967
*Davies, Samuel. "Sermons on Important Subjects." Edited by Albert Barnes. 3 vols. New York: Robert Carter, 1845.
*________. "The Reverend Samuel Davies Abroad: The Diary of a Journal to England and Scotland, 1753-55." Edited by George William Pilcher. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1967.
*Gillies, John. "Memoirs of Rev. George Whitefield." New Haven, CN: Whitmore and Buckingham, and H. Mansfield, 1834.
*Jarratt, Devereux. "The Life of the Reverend Devereux Jarratt." Religion in America, ed. Edwin S. Gaustad. New York, Arno, 1969.
*Whitefield, George. "George Whitefield's Journals." Edited by Iain Murray. London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1960.
*________. "Letters of George Whitefield." Edited by S. M. Houghton. Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976.

econdary sources

* Ahlstrom, Sydney E. "A Religious History of the American People" (1972) (ISBN 0-385-11164-9)
* Brekus, Catherine A. "Strangers & Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845" University of North Carolina Press, 1998
* Bonomi, Patricia U. "Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America" Oxford University Press, 1988
* Bumsted, J. M. "What Must I Do to Be Saved?": The Great Awakening in Colonial America" 1976, Thomson Publishing, ISBN 0-03-086651-0.
* Butler, Jon. "Enthusiasm Described and Decried: The Great Awakening as Interpretative Fiction." "Journal of American History" 69 (1982): 305-25.
* Butler, Jon. "Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People." 1990.
* Conforti, Joseph A. " Jonathan Edwards, Religious Tradition and American Culture" University of North Carolina Press. 1995.
* Gaustad, Edwin S. "The Great Awakening in New England" (1957)
* Gaustad, Edwin S. "The Theological Effects of the Great Awakening in New England," "The Mississippi Valley Historical Review," Vol. 40, No. 4. (Mar., 1954), pp. 681-706. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0161-391X%28195403%2940%3A4%3C681%3ATTEOTG%3E2.0.CO%3B2-R in JSTOR]
* Goff, Philip. "Revivals and Revolution: Historiographic Turns since Alan Heimert's Religion and the American Mind." "Church History" 1998 67(4): 695-721. Issn: 0009-6407 Fulltext: in Jstor and Ebsco
* Goen, C. C. "Revivalism and Separatism in New England, 1740-1800: Strict Congregationalists and Separate Baptists in the Great Awakening" 1987, Wesleyan University Press, ISBN 0-8195-6133-9.
* Goff, Philip. "Revivals and Revolution: Historiographic Turns since Alan Heimert's Religion and the American Mind." "Church History" 1998 67(4): 695-721. Issn: 0009-6407 Fulltext: in Jstor and Ebsco
* Hatch, Nathan O. "The Democratization of American Christianity" 1989.
* Heimert, Alan. "Religion and the American Mind: From the Great Awakening to the Revolution" Harvard University Press, 1966
* Isaac, Rhys. "The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790" 1982, emphasis on Baptists
* Lambert, Frank. "Pedlar in Divinity: George Whitefield and the Transatlantic Revivals"; Princeton University Press, 1994
* Lambert, Frank. "The first great awakening: Whose interpretive fiction?" "The New England Quarterly", vol.68, no.4, pp.650, 1995
* Lambert, Frank. "Inventing the "Great Awakening"; Princeton University Press, 1999.
* Middlekauff, Robert "The Glorious Cause: the American Revolution," Oxford University Press, 1982.
* McLoughlin, William G. "Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform: An Essay on Religion and Social Change in America, 1607-1977" 1978.
* McLaughlin, William G. "Essay Review: the American Revolution as a Religious Revival: 'The Millennium in One Country.'" "New England Quarterly" 1967 40(1): 99-110. Issn: 0028-4866 Fulltext: in Jstor
* Schmidt, Leigh Eric. "Holy Fairs: Scotland and the Making of American Revivalism " (2001)
* Schmotter, James W. "The Irony of Clerical Professionalism: New England's Congregational Ministers and the Great Awakening," "American Quarterly", 31 (1979), a statistical study
* Stout, Harry. "The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism" William B. Eerdmans, 1991
* Tracy, Joseph. "The Great Awakening: A History of the Revival of Religion in the Time of Edwards and Whitefield", 1842; republished by Banner of Truth in 1989. ISBN 978-0851517124.

Notes

External links

* [http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/eighteen/ekeyinfo/grawaken.htm Heyrman, Christine Leigh. “Witchcraft in Salem Village: Intersections of Religion and Society.” Divining America, TeacherServe©. National Humanities Center.]
* [http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/85bellamy/85bellamy.htm "The Joseph Bellamy House: The Great Awakening in Puritan New England," a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan]


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