First Hand Great Awakening Testimonies In America 1743
Book: The Christian History, containing Accounts of the Revival and Propagation
of Religion in Great-Britain & America For the Year 1743.
By: Boston, N.E. Published by S. Kneeland and T. Green, for T. Prince, junr. 1744
A foundational and exceedingly important source of the study of the Great Awakening. CBRA 152, “The leading contemporary authority was Thomas Prince, Jr. Students must still consult his weekly magazine, The Christian History. . .consisting mainly of letters from ministers on the progress and condition of religion.”
Saturday January 14. 1743. No. 46.
Extract of a Letter from the Rev. Mr. William M’Culloch in Scotland to the Rev. Mr. Prince of Boston.
Cambustang, Aug. 12. 1743.:
Rev. and dear Sir,
I thought to have written you at Large, concerning the State of religion in this Country; but I suppose this may be done by Mr. Hamilton of Baroney or some other, Only we have had two very comfortable Sacrament-Occasions here this Season; at both of which there was a vast Concourse of People. At one on the 29th of May last, there were about fourteen Hundred Communicants; At another last Lord’s-Day, about two Thousand Communicants.
Extract of a Letter from the Rev. Mr. M’Culloch to the Rev. Mr. Edwards of Northampton.
Cambustang, Aug. 13. 1743.:
Rev. and dear Sir,
The happy Period in which we live, and the Times of Refreshing from the Presence of the Lord, wherewith you first were visited in Northampton, in the Year 1736; and then more generally in New-England, in 1740, and 1741; and then we in several Places in Scotland, in 1742, and 1743; and the strong Opposition made to this Work with you and with us, check’d by an infinitely superior Power; often brings to my Mind that Prophecy, Isai. lix. 19. “So shall they fear the Name of the LORD from the West, and his Glory from the Rising of the Sun: When the Enemy shall come in as a Flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a Standard against him.” I cannot help thinking that this Prophecy eminently points at our Times; and begins to be fulfilled in the Multitudes of Souls that are bringing in to fear the LORD, to worship GOD in CHRIST, in whom his Name is, and to see his Glory in his Sanctuary. And it is to me pretty remarkable, that the Prophet here foretells they should do so in the Period he points at, not from East to West, but from West to East; mentioning the West before the East, contrary to the usual Way of speaking in other Prophecies, as where Malachi foretells, that he Name of the LORD should be great among the Gentiles, from the Rising of the Sun to the West, (Mal. 1. 11.) And our LORD JESUS, that many should come from East and West, etc. (Math. 8. 11) And in this Order it was that the Light of the Gospel came to dawn on the several Nations in the Propagation of it thro’ the World. But the Prophet here, under the Conduct of the Holy Spirit who chooses all his Words in infinite Wisdom, puts the West before the East; intending, as I conceive, thereby to signify, that the glorious Revival of Religion, and the wide and diffusive Spread of vital Christianity, in the latter Times of the Gospel, should begin in the more westerly Parts, and proceed to these more easterly. And while it should be doing so, or shortly after, great Opposition should arise, the Enemy should come in as a Flood; Satan should with great Violence assault particular believing Souls; and stir up Men to malign and reproach the Work of GOD; and, it’s like also, raise a terrible Persecution against the Church. But while the Enemy might seem, for a Time, to be thus carrying all before him, the Spirit of the LORD should lift up a Standard against him; give a Banner to them that fear Him and animate them to display it for the Truth, and make his Word mightily to prevail and bear down all opposing Power. For on what Side soever, the Almighty and Eternal SPIRIT of JEHOVAH, lifts up a Standard, there the Victory is certain; and we may be sure he will lift it up in Defence of his own Work. The Caldee Parapbrase makes the Words in the latter Part of this Verse, to allude to the River Euphrates, when it breaks over all its Banks, and overflows the adjacent Plains, thus, when Persecutors shall come in, as the Inundation of the River Euphrates, they shall be broke in Pieces by the Word of the LORD.
The whole of this verse seems to me to have an Aspect to the present and past Times for some Years. The Sun of Righteousness has been making his Course from West to east, and shedding his benign and quickening Influences on poor forlorn and benighted Souls in Places vastly distant from one another. But Clouds have arisen and intercepted his reviving Beams. The Enemy of Salvation has broke in as an overflowing Flood, almost overwhelmed poor Souls newly come into the spiritual World, after they had got some Glimpse of the Glory of CHRIST, with a Deluge of Temptations; Floods of ungodly Men stirred up by Satan and their natural Enmity at Religion, have affrighted them: mistaken and prejudged Friends have disown’d them. Many such things have already befallen the Subjects of this glorious Work of GOD of late Years: But I apprehend more general and formidable Trials are yet to come: and that the Enemy’s coming in as a Flood, may relate to a Flood of Errors or Persecutions of fierce Enemies rushing in upon the Church, and threatning to swallow her up. But our Comfort is, that the SPIRIT of the LORD of Hosts will lift up a Standard against all the combin’d Powers of Earth and Hell and put them all to flight: And CHRIST having begun to conquer so remarkably, will go on from conquering to conquer, ‘till the whole Earth be filled with his Glory. Rev. 12.15. Isai. 17. 12, 13.
Mr. Smith’s Sentiments of the Orphan-House which be enclosed, are as follow:
To the Rev. Mr. William Cooper in Boston.
Rev. and dear Sir,
Having lately, to my great Satisfaction, visited the Orphan-House in Georgia, I believe it will not be disagreable to you, to have my Sentiments of it thus communicated to the World.
I can securely refer you for Particulars to the Letter, your Son William wrote you from Bethesda, Jan. 1st. 1741, 2. which was printed in the Boston Gazette, April 23rd. 1742, as a very fair and impartial Representation of Things, as they stood Then; nor have I observed any material Alterations since, save only, that their Number is somewhat diminished, by their being put to Flight when the Colony was invaded, and their discharging some hired white Servants, who too much encreas’d their Expenses.——I was wonderfully pleas’d with the Scituation and admirable Contrivance of the House, with the many Accommodations within, and Improvements without: But it really requires some Master of Description, and much stronger Language then mine, to convey a full Idea of the Economy and religious Rules and Government of the Family.—It consists at present of 72 Persons, 42 of them Orphans and Objects of Charity.—The Gentleman who superintends the secular Affairs of it, seems excellently qualified for his Province; and spares no Pains or Fatigue in his Management or Provision; animated with a Sense of Duty, and inspired with a Principle of true Christian Charity.——The other Gentleman who officiates as Preacher, and has the religious Concerns of the House peculiarly committed to him, is, I think, a most serious and spiritual Man, much experienced in the divine Life, and studious to promote it in others; and the happy Fruits of his Care, Diligence, and fervent Prayers, are undeniably visible, especially in some late Awakenings among them.——I speak it without Prejudice, I never, to my Knowledge, in any Society whatever, have seen more of the Face of Religion.——Order, Decorum, and Regularity reign Here. Solemn Devotion, and social Harmony, are two of its great Beauties.——These, with the pleasing Appearances of Health and Contentment, would tempt me to spend my whole Life among the, did not Providence and Duty point me out another Course.——I know, dear Sir, some among you have represented our dear Whitefield as an importunate Beggar:——In this they have unwarily done him Honour; for who can be too importunate in begging for an House of Mercy?—Such this has been to the Souls and Bodies of many already; and since I have seen it, I think it my Duty to turn Beggar too, and upon this Occasion to recommend it to Christians of every denomination, as one Object of their Care and Charity.—This I’m sure is to visit the Fatherless in their Affliction.—This makes us Eyes to the Blind, and Feet tot he Lame.——Nor do I call him a Christian, who eats his Morsel alone, and is not glad of every such Opportunity to honour the LORD with his Substance.—Not to be further tedious, I can heartily recommend this House, as a Seminary of true Piety and good Order; and am not without Hopes, that Providence is here laying the Foundation of human Literature also, and that Posterity, if not we our selves, will see an Academy arise in Georgia out of an Orphan-House. With my best Wishes for its Prosperity, I conclude Reverend Sir,
Your unworthy Brother in the Gospel.
Charlestown, So-Carolina, Josiah Smith June 5. 1743.
Continuation of the State of Religion at Northampton in the County of Hampshire about a hundred miles westward of Boston; By the Rev. Mr. Edwards, in a Letter to the Rev. Mr. Prince, dated Dec. 12. 1743.
Ever since the great Work of GOD that was wrought here about nine Years ago, there has been a great abiding Alteration in this Town in many Respects. There has been vastly more Religion kept up in the Town, among all Sorts of Persons, in religious Exercises, and in common Conversation, than used to be before: there has remain’d a more general Seriousness and decency in attending the publick Worship there has been a very great Alteration among the Youth of the Town, with Respect to revelling, frolicking, profane and unclean Conversation, and lewd songs: Instances of Fornication have been very rare: there has also been a great Alteration amongst both old and young with Respect to Tavern-haunting. I suppose the Town has been in no Measure so free of Vice in these Respects, for any long Time together, for this sixty Years, as it has been this nine Years past. There has also been an evident Alteration with Respect to a charitable Spirit to the Poor: (tho’ I think with Regard to this, we in this Town, as the Land in general, come far short of Gospel Rules.) And tho’ after that great Work nine Years ago there has been a very lamentable Decay of religious Affections, and the Engagedness of People’s Spirit, in Religion; yet many Societies for Prayer and social religion were all along kept up; and there were some few Instances of Awakening and deep Concern about the Things of another World, even in the most dead Time.
In the Year 1740 in the Spring, before Mr. Whitfield came to this Town, there was a visible Alteration: There was more Seriousness, and religious Conversation, especially among young People: Those Things that were of ill Tendency among them were more foreborn; and it was a more frequent Thing for Persons to visit their Minister upon Soul Accounts: and in some particular Persons there appeared a great Alteration, about that Time. And thus it continued till Mr. Whitefield came to Town, which was about the middle of October following: he preached here four Sermons in the Meeting-House, (besides a private Lecture at my House) one on Friday, another on Saturday, and two upon the Sabbath. The Congregation was extraordinarily melted by every Sermon; almost the whole Assembly being in Tears for a great Part of Sermon Time. Mr. Whitefield’s Sermons were suitable to the Circumstances of the Town; containing just Reproofs of our Backslidings, and in a most moving and affecting Manner, making Use of our great Profession and great Mercies as Arguments with us to return to GOD, from whom we had departed.
In the Month of May 1741, a Sermon was preached to a Company at a private House: Near the Conclusion of the Exercise one or two Persons that were Professors, were so greatly affected with a Sense of the greatness and Glory of divine Things, and the infinite Importance of the Things of Eternity, that they were not able to conceal it; the Affection of their Minds overcoming their Strength, and having a very visible Effect on their Bodies. When the Exercise was over, the young People that were present removed into the other Room for religious Conference; and particularly that they might have Opportunity to inquire of those that were thus affected what Apprehensions they had; and what Things they were that thus deeply impressed their Minds: and there soon appeared a very great Effect of their Conversation; the Affection was quickly propagated through the Room: many of the young People and Children that were Professors appeared to be overcome with a Sense of the Greatness and Glory of divine Things, and with admiration, Love, Joy and Praise, and Compassion to others, that looked upon themselves as in a State of Nature; and many others at the same Time were overcome with Distress about their sinful and miserable State and Condition; so that the whole Room was full of nothing but Out-cries, Faintings and such like. Others soon heard of it, in several Parts of the Town, and came to them; and what they saw and heard there was greatly affecting to them; so that many of them were over-power’d in like Manner: and it continued thus for some Hours; the Time being spent in Prayer, Singing, Counseling and Conferring. There seemed to be a consequent happy Effect of that Meeting to several particular Persons, and in the State of Religion in the Town in general. After this were Meetings from Time to Time attended with like Appearances. But a little after it, at the Conclusion of the publick Exercise on the Sabbath, I appointed the Children that were under sixteen Years of Age to go from the Meeting-House to a neighbour House; that I there might further inforce what they had heard in publick, and might give in some Counsels proper for their Age. The Children were there very generally and greatly affected with the Warnings and Counsels that were given them, and many exceedingly overcome; and the Room was filled with Cries: and when they were dismissed, they, almost all of them, went home crying aloud through the Streets, to all Parts of the Town. The like Appearances attended several such Meetings of Children that were appointed. But their Affections appeared by what followed to be of a very different Nature: in many they appeared to be indeed but childish Affections; and in a Day or two would leave ‘em as they were before: others were deeply impressed; their Convictions took fast hold of them, and abode by them: and there were some that from one Meeting to another seem’d extraordinarily affected for some Time, to but little Purpose, their Affections presently vanishing, from Time to Time; but yet afterwards were seized with abiding Convictions, and their Affections became durable.
The Months of August and September were the most remarkable of any this Year, for Appearances of Conviction and Conversation of Sinners, and great Revivings, Quickenings, and Comforts of Professors, and for extraordinary external Effects of these Things. It was a very frequent Thing to see an House full of Out-cries, Faintings, Convulsions and such like, both with Distress, and also with Admiration and Joy. It was not the Manner here to hold Meetings all Night, as in some Places, nor was it common to continue ‘em ‘till very late in the Night: but it was pretty often so that there were some that were so affected, and their Bodies so overcome, that they could not go home, but were obliged to stay all Night at the House where they were. There was no Difference that I know of here, with Regard to these extraordinary Effects, in Meetings in the Night, and in the Day Time: the Meetings in which these Effects appeared in the Evening, being commonly begun, and their extraordinary Effects, in the Day, and continued in the Evening; and some Meetings have been very remarkable for such extraordinary Effects that were both begun and finished in the Day Time.
One Circumstance wherein this Work differed from that which had been in the Town five or six Years before, was that Conversions were frequently wrought more sensibly and visibly; the Impressions stronger, and more manifest by external Effects of them; and the Progress of the SPIRIT of GOD in Conviction, from Step to Step, more apparent; and the Transition from one State to another more sensible and plain; so that it might, in many Instances, be as it were seen by By-standers. The preceeding Season had been very remarkable on this Account beyond what had been before; but this more remarkable than that. And in this Season these apparent or visible Conversions (if I may so call them) were more frequently in the Presence of others, at religious Meetings, where the Appearances of what was wrought on the Heart fell under publick Observation.
About the Beginning of February 1741, 2. Mr. Buel came to this Town; I being then absent from Home, and continued so ‘till about a Fortnight after. Mr. Buel preach’d from Day to Day, almost every Day, in the Meeting-House, (I having left to him the free Liberty of my Pulpit, hearing of his designed Visit before I went from Home) and spent almost the whole Time in religious Exercises with the People, either in publick or private, the People continually thronging him. When he first came, there came with him a Number of the zealous People from Suffield, who continued here for some Time. There were very extraordinary Effects of Mr. Buel’s Labours; the People were exceedingly moved, crying out in great Numbers in the Meeting-House, and great Part of the Congregation commonly staying in the House of GOD for Hours after the publick Service, many of them in uncommon Circumstances. Many also were exceedingly moved in private Meetings, where Mr. Buel was: and almost the whole Town seemed to be in a great and continual Commotion, Day and Night; and there was indeed a very great Revival of Religion. But it was principally among Professors; the Appearances of a Work of Conversion were in no Measure equal to what had been the Summer before. When I came home I found the Town in very extraordinary Circumstances, such in some Respects as I never saw it in before. Mr. Buel continued here a Fortnight or three Weeks after I returned: there being still great Appearances attending his Labours; many in their religious Affections being raised far beyond what they ever had been before; and there were some Instances of Persons lying in a Sort of Trance, remaining for perhaps a whole twenty-four Hours motionless, and with their Senses locked up; but in the mean Time under strong Imaginations, as tho’ they went to Heaven, and had there a Vision of glorious and delightful Objects. But when the People were raised to this Height, Satan took the Advantage, and his Interposition in many Instances soon become very apparent; and a great deal of Caution and Pains were found necessary to keep the People, many of them, from running wild.
With Respect to the late Season of Revival of Religion amongst us, for three or four Years past; it has been observable, that in the former Part of it, in the Years 1740, and 1741, the Work seem’d to be much more pure, having less of a corrupt Mixture, than in the former great Out-pouring of the Spirit in 1735, and 1736. Persons seem’d to be sensible of their former Errors, and had learnt more of their own Hearts, and Experience had taught them more of the Tendency and Consequences of Things: They were now better guarded, and their Affections were not only greater, but attended with greater Solemnity, and greater Humility and Self-Distrust, and greater Engagedness after holy Living and Perseverance; and there were fewer Errors in Conduct. But in the latter Part of it, in the Year 1742, it was otherwise: The Work continued more pure ‘till we were infected from abroad: our People hearing, and some of them seeing the Work in other Places, where there was a greater visible Commotion than here, and the outward Appearances were more extraordinary; were ready to think that the Work in those Places far excell’d what was amongst us; and their Eyes were dazled with the high Profession and great Shew that some made who came hither from other Places.
That those People went so far beyond them in Raptures and violent Emotions of the Affections, and a vehement Zeal, and what they called Boldness for CHRIST; our People were ready to think was owing to their far greater Attunments in Grace, and Intimacy with Heaven: They look’d little in their own Eyes in Comparison of them, and were ready to submit themselves to ‘em, and yield themselves up to their Conduct, taking it for granted that every Thing was right that they said and did. These Things had a strange Influence on the People, and gave many of them a deep and unhappy Tincture, that it was a hard and long Labour to deliver ‘em from, and which some of them are not fully delivered from to this Day.
The Effects and Consequences of things amongst us plainly shews the following Things, viz. That the Degree of Grace is by no Means to be judged of by the Degree of Joy, or the Degree of Zeal; and that indeed we can’t all determine by these Things, who are gracious and who are not; and that it is not he Degree of religious Affections, but the Nature of them that is chiefly to be looked at. Some that have had very great Raptures of Joy, and have been extraordinarily fill’d, (as the vulgar Phrase is) and have had their Bodies overcome, and that very often, have manifested far less of the Temper of Christians, in their Conduct since, than some others that have been still, and have made no great outward Show. But then again there are many others, that have had extraordinary Joys and Emotions of Mind, with frequent great Effects on their Bodies, that behave themselves stedfastly, as humble, amiable, eminent Christians.
’Tis evident that there may be great religious Affections, that may in Shew and Appearance imitate gracious Affections, and have the same Effects on their Bodies, but are far from having the same Effect in the Temper of their Minds, and Course of their Lives. And likewise there is nothing more manifest by what appears amongst us, than that the Goodness of Persons State is not chiefly to be judged of by any exactness of Steps, and Method of Experiences, in what is supposed to be the first Conversion; but that we must judge more by the Spirit that breathes, the Effect wrought on the Temper of the Soul, in the Time of the Work, and remaining afterwards. Tho’ there have been very few Instances among Professors amongst us, of what is ordinarily called scandalous sin, known to me; yet the Temper that some of them shew, and the Behaviour they have been of, together with some Things in the Kind and Circumstances of their Experiences, make me much afraid least there be a considerable Number that have wofully deceived themselves. Tho’ on the other Hand, there is a great Number whose Temper and Conversation is such as justly confirms the Charity of others towards them; and not a few in show Disposition and Walk, there are amiable Appearances of eminent Grace. And notwithstanding all the corrupt Mixtures that have been in the late Work here; there are not only many blessed Fruits of it in particular Persons, that yet remain, but some good Effects of it upon the Town in general. A Party-Spirit has more ceased: I suppose there has been less Appearance these three or four Years past, of that Division of the Town into two Parties, that has long been our Bane, than has been these thirty Years; and the People have apparently had much more Caution, and a greater Guard on their Spirit, and their Tongues, to avoid Contention and unchristian Heats, in Town-Meetings and on other Occasions. And ’tis a Thing greatly to be rejoiced in, that the People very lately have come to an Agreement and final Issue, with Respect to their grand Controversy, relating to their Common Lands; which has been above any other particular Thing, a Source of mutual Prejudices, Jealousies, and Debates, for fifteen or sixteen Years past. the People are also generally of late in some Respects considerably alter’d and meliorated in their Notions of Religion: particularly they seem to be much more sensible of the Danger of resting in old Experiences, or what they were Subjects of at their supposed first Conversion; and to be more fully convinced of the Necessity of forgetting the Things that are behind, and pressing forward, and maintaining earnest Labour, Watchfulness and Prayerfulness as long as they live.
Northampton, Decemb. 12. 1743.
The Christian History: Containing Accounts of the Propagation and Revival of Religion in England Scotland and America.
Saturday February 4. 1743, 4. No. 49.
Revival of Religion at Portsmouth the chief Town in the Province of New-Hampshire in New-England, about sixty four Miles North North Eastward of Boston: In a Letter from the Rev. Mr. William Shurtleff, Pastor of the 2nd Church in Portsmouth, to the late Rev. Mr. Cooper.
Indeed the great Earthquake in the Year 1727, that puts the whole Country into such a Surprize, was a Means of awakening a great many here: and as to some, there is Reason to think the Impressions have remain’d; but as to the bigger Part, it was not long before they evidently wore off, and before they fell into their former sleepy and secure State; and this has been generally the Case till of late.
Mr. Whitefield’s coming among us, and also Mr. Tennent’s, was I am perswaded bles’d of God; and their Preaching made instrumental of putting a great many upon shaking off their heavy Slumbers: and how reproachfully soever any may speak of them, and their Itinerancy; I must needs look upon their Travelling this Way as a favourable Providence, and that for which we owe abundant Thanksgivings to the GOD of all Grace.
As there had been for some Time a growing Concern among us, as to Things of a religious Nature, and a remarkable Work of GOD’s Grace going on in many Parts of the Land; the Ministers of this, and some other of the neighbouring Towns agreed upon observing a monthly Fast, in our respective Congregations, to seek for the like Blessing. When the Solemnity was attended in this Town, which was on Wednesday November 25th 1741; as soon as the Afternoon Service was ended, One cried out in a Transport of Joy, and Others discover’d a great deal of Distress. The People did not care to disperse; insomuch that there was another Sermon in the Evening; and a great Number of them, and some of the Ministers with them stay’d ‘till it was late in the Place of public Worship. The next Day a Sermon was again preach’d in Public, and had an unusual Efficacy upon the Hearers. The Day after we had two, or three Exercises, and the Congregation great Part of it continued together ‘till late at Night.
This Friday was the most remarkable Day that was ever known among us. The whole Congregation seem’d deeply affected: And there was such a general Out-cry, in some from a distressing Sight of their Sins, and in others from a joyful Sense of the Love of CHRIST; that could not but put a great many in Mind of the Appearing of the SON of MAN, and of the different Exclamations that shall be heard from the Inhabitants of the World when they shall see Him coming in the Clouds of Heaven, in Power, and great Glory.
And here, upon my making mention of this solemn and awful Event, I am led to relate a Circumstance; which tho’ but small and inconsiderable in itself, seem’d to be over-rul’d by GOD to serve great and good Purposes; and upon this Account may be worthy of Notice.
Late in the Evening of the same Day, before the Body of the People had left the Place of publick Worship; the Chimney of an House that stood near to it happening to take Fire and blaze out to an uncommon Degree: upon the sudden Appearance of the Light breaking in at the several Windows, there was a Cry made, that CHRIST was coming to Judgment: Which being really believ’d by a great many, some that were not before so much affected as others, were put into the deepest Distress, and great Numbers had their Convictions hereby strengthned and confirmed.
I am not so unacquainted with the World as to be insensible with how much Derision such a Relation as this is likely to be entertained by a great many of the Humourists of the Age. But, I think this a Thing little to be regarded: Tho’ I wish to GOD that such Persons might be brought, for their own sakes, to think more of this great and terrible Day of the LORD; and that they would consider, if the Apprehension of its Approach be so very startling to a carnal World, how vast would be their Horror and Amazement when it shall actually arrive. This would be of good Use to check their Disposition to ridicule, to restrain them from their vain and wicked Jestings, and from a great many Things which if indulg’d must needs add to their Terror in that Day. And however distasteful the relating such low Occurrences, may be to some nice and curious Palates now, I make no doubt but Things of a like Nature will afford an infinite Satisfaction to the saints hereafter: that it will give them a vast, and inconceivable Pleasure, when they get to Heaven, to have the Beauty of DIVINE PROVIDENCE laid open to their View; To hear and see how some Events that are seemingly insignificant, and appear perfectly casual, have been order’d out in infinite Wisdom, and made subservient to very great, and excellent Designs: and how a bare Imagination, and mistaken Apprehension of Things has been so far set home, and made such Impressions upon a great many, as to be a Means of their saving Conversion to GOD.
But to return from this Digression, which I have been led further into, than I was aware of.
As I was call’d abroad upon the Day next ensuing what I last mentioned, it was suprizing to observe the Seriousness that appear’d in the Face of almost every one I occasionally met with: and it seem’d as if there was hardly any such Thing as entring into a House in which there was not some poor wounded and distress’d Soul; and where there was not a greater or less Degree of Concern in all belonging to it, as to their spiritual and eternal State. It was very affecting to be call’d into one Family after another, as I was going along the Street, and entreated not to leave them till Prayer had been solemnly offer’d up to GOD on their Behalf. A divine Power was then so plainly to be seen in what had come to pass among us, that there was hardly any that dare openly and expresly deny it. As for those who thro’ their own prevailing Corruptions, or the Insinuations and Persuasions of others soon grew into a Dislike of it, and have since gone so far as to pronounce the whole of it a Scene of Enthusiasm, and to look upon all as a Delusion; their very Countenance and Behaviour then plainly spoke the awful Apprehensions they were under of its being from GOD.
As we had Preaching for some Time upon every Day; so we were greatly oblig’d to several of the neighbouring Minister, who readily granted us their Assistance, till prevented by Indisposition of Body, or ‘till the State of their own Flocks requir’d them at Home.
But that such as have ever read the Acts of the Apostles, that have there seen the Apostle PETER’s Hearers so many of them, prick’d at the Heart, and heard them saying in the Agony of their Souls, Men and Brethren, what shall we do? and that have seen the Roman Governor trembling in the Manner that he did under the preaching of the Apostle PAUL his Prisoner; or that any who have read the well-attested Accounts of this Nature that are related by the credible Author of the fulfilling of the Scripture; or that have so much as seen a poor Sinner deeply Distressed under the Burden of his Guilt; should think it strange, and even a Thing incredible, for any to be put under such a Commotion of Soul under the Ministry of the Word, as not to be able to forbear making a publick Discovery of it; has sometimes fill’d me with Surprize.
And yet I am sensible that some well disposed Persons have been stumbled at Things of this Kind. I know an Instance of this Nature, in one of our own Church; a Person of a good Capacity, and of considerable Reading and Knowledge in Divine Things, who for some Time entertain’d latent Prejudices against the late religious Commotions, more particularly on Account of Persons speaking out in Publick, and could not be perswaded but that they might easily avoid it, till Experience taught him to the contrary. Upon the Morning of a Sabbath, a Day when the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was to be administred; just at the close of his secret Devotions, (as he afterwards told me) he had his Sins discover’d to him in such a Manner as they never were before, and an uncommon Darkness and Horror fell upon him. In this sorrowful and distress’d State, he went to the House of GOD. When the Celebration of the Sacrament came on, he had considerable Reasonings in his Mind concerning his Tarrying, and at length concluded to stay, but could not prevail with himself to receive. As soon as the Administration was over, he could no longer forbear speaking in the Grief and Bitterness of his Soul, and breath’d out his Complaints to GOD in such a Manner as drew Tears from almost every Person present; and has sometimes since been constrain’d to break out into some short Expressions. He was under a great deal of Concern for his Soul while Young, and put upon an early Reformation of his Life: He has deservedly had the Character of being strictly just in his Dealings, and has been a constant and steddy Observer of the Duties of divine Worship, in his Closet, in his Family, and in Publick: But has been convinc’d that he has built too much upon these Things, and never till of late had the corrupt Fountain of his own Heart Sufficiently laid open to his View. And from what he has now seen of himself, he has declared to me, that tho’ he has sometimes been in some Measure affected with the unkind and cruel Usage of the blessed JESUS, and not been without some sort of Indignation against his Opposers, Persecutors, and Murderers; that yet if he had liv’d in their Day, and been of the same Temper of Mind that he was when this Work fist began among us, he is perswaded, he should have approv’d of them, if not made one among them.
We are not without Instances of other Professors who have been put off from their former Foundation; and Others who if their Hearts were before right with GOD, have been greatly quicken’d, and make more fervent in Spirit, serving the LORD.
But a great Part of those that have been remarkably wrought upon, are such as before had very little if any Thing of the Form and Appearance of Religion: and among these the divine Sovereignty has been very illustriously display’d. Some of those whom we trust are savingly brought home, are such as have wander’d far from GOD. Some that have been very ignorant, and unthinking Persons, and some very young. They many of them, upon their first being brought under Conviction, manifested a deep Sense of their original, as well as actual Sins; complained sadly of the Wickedness of their Hearts, and bewail’d their Sin in rejecting and making light of a SAVIOUR. There have been some Instances of young Persons that have spoken feelingly of these Things, who have seem’d to have had but little humane Instruction, and seldom to have been where such things have been the Subjects of Discourse.
As was at first fear’d and expected, it must be confess’d that so it has happened to some that were brought under a serious Concern for their Souls, that they have fallen off from their good Beginnings, and are the same Persons that they were before: and there are others who continuing under Convictions, seem to have proceeded no further. But here is a considerable Number who are exhibiting all the Evidence that can be expected, of a real Conversion to GOD.
Brief Account of the Revival of Religion at Brookline about five Miles to the West South Westward of Boston, in a Letter from the Rev. Mr. James Allen, Pastor of the Church there, to the late Rev. Mr. Cooper, wrote the Day after the Assembly of Pastors in July last.
Reverend and dear Sir,
Mr. Balch has been pleased to come thus far out of his way to bring me the Glad Tidings of your united Testimony to the Work of GOD.
I am not able to express the Joy with which I received the News: and consequent upon it, I was not able to come to Town today, being very much indisposed by the Head-ach etc. but Sir, I was thoughtful of you, the Committee I mean, and now thank the LORD that my secret Supplications are so suddenly and fully answered.
I did not give in as some did a verbal Testimony yesterday to the Effusions of the DIVINE SPIRIT in a Work of Conviction and Grace among us: I thought my being present was sufficient, and then my natural Temper ever restrains me from speaking upon such Occasions before those much wiser and better than my self; but I have since wished I had, to the Glory of free and sovereign Grace, made a short Declaration in the following Manner; That there has been a very distinguishing and remarkable Work of GOD going on in the Land, I have been so much a Witness to in many Towns where I have occasionally been within these two Years; that I think I am as firm in the Belief of it as that there is a Sun in the Heavens, or of my own Existence. For what but the GOD that formed it, can so impress the Mind with a Sense of Sin, and its destructive Consequents, as to cause the greatest Sorrow of Heart, and Streams of penitential Tears to flow from the Eyes? What can create in the Soul earnest restless and vehement Desires after the Love, Grace, and Fellowship of CHRIST, but that GOD that first formed the Spirit of Man within him, and can turn the Heart as a River of Water? Who but the GOD of Grace can make the Drunkard temperate, and the prodigal Son, a sober serious Man etc.?
Which Things have been common in other Places to my frequent Observation: nor are we destitute of some signal instances of free and sovereign Grace among us here. There have been Scores of Persons under Awakenings; yea I have sometimes thought there has not been a single Person of my Congregation, but has been under more or less Concern about the important Matters of another World, and what he should do to be saved: Tho’ these Impressions I fear are worn off in many, but in others I have no reason to doubt but they have been carried on to a sound and saving Conversion. Additions to the Church have been considerable for Numbers, of such as I hope thro’ Grace shall be saved, and chiefly of younger Persons, and one of but eleven Years of age, and another in the eleventh & last Hour of Life, being above seventy; Three of a liberal Education; two of them since hopeful young Preachers. In some few the Terrors have been so great that they have cried out in Distress; in others the liberal Communications of divine Light and Joy have had the like Effect.
One of our young Converts died the last Fall in a very glorious and triumphant Manner; the only one that has died among us since the blessed Work began. I was called to her about ten the Evening before she died; and finding her very low in Spirit as well as Body, I tarried all the Night, sometimes discoursing, and sometimes praying with her: but she received no Comfort. In the Morning after Prayer, she turned her Face to the Wall, and lay still for a little Time; and then broke out, and said, Now I am ready to die! Now I am ready to die! I immediately stept to her, and said, Child, have you found CHRIST? Oh yes, said she, I have found him, I have found him! I asked her, If she was now assured of the Love of CHRIST to her? She answered, I am sure, I am sure! Come LORD JESUS!—Oh sweet JESUS! Oh the Anthems of Joy!—Oh sweet sweet sweet! And other Expressions of the like Nature: In which happy Frame she continued about two or three Hours, and then breathed out her Soul into the Bosom of JESUS her Beloved. These Things are the LORD’s Doings, and loudly call for our Admiration and Praise.
Revival of Religion in the North Precinct of Bridgewater in the Province of the Massachusetts, in a Letter from the Rev. Mr. Porter, Pastor of the Church there.
To the Author of the CHRISTIAN HISTORY.
Divine Providence has cast my lot in Bridgewater, in the County of Plymouth, about thirty miles Southward from Boston: A Town settled in the Year 1652, by a Number of serious Christians, wherein there was a Church gathered and the Reverend Mr. James Keith, a Scotish Gentleman, ordained the Pastor of it in 1663; who continued with them preaching the everlasting Gospel about fifty six Years.
And as to the People of the Town, I may further observe, It was remarked of them by Strangers, as well as Persons in the Neighborhood, at their first settling and sometime after, that they were a People of the greatest Modesty and Seriousness, and most exact punctual and conscientious in discharging first and second Table Duties, of any they were acquainted with: But this high Character (with Lamentation let it be spoken) was not given them long; the Gold soon became dim, and the most fine Gold changed. For a Number of the first Planters, (pious Men and experimental Christians) (not being suffered to continue by Reason of Death; their Posterity (not having their holy Examples, pious Instructions, and faithful Admonitions) soon began gradually to decline, and depart from the God of their Fathers. And thus they went on for several Years; until Religion was almost sunk into a meer Form: Few had more than a Name to live: In most, GOD seemed not in all their Thoughts; besure he was not in their Mouths, using his Name reverently and to good Purpose. Little of GOD, of CHRIST, of Heaven, of the Soul, was to be found in the Conversation of those that passed for the best of Christians. Experimental Religion and the Power of Godliness, seemed to have taken their Flight from Bridgewater. This I had a great Advantage and Opportunity to know, by Reason of Providence calling me to keep School in all the Parts of the Town, before this remarkable Revival of Religion.
Now in these Days of Declension, neither Ordinances nor Providences, had much effect on the People. Indeed by some sore Distempers with which GOD was pleased to visit them, in multiplying the Slain, and the Ministers in the Town improving them by adapting their Discourses to such Seasons of Mortality; some thro’ the Blessing of GOD were awakened to a Concern about the Salvation of their Souls. But I have Reason to think that few of their Convictions issued in Conversion, or their Distress in the Joy of the LORD, or Comfort of the HOLY GHOST: But that most of them rested in various Duties, short of a saving Closure with CHRIST.
And so in general they remained very secure, and unconcerned about the great and momentous Affair of securing the Salvation of the Soul, ‘till sometime in the Beginning of the Year 1741, after the Reverend and dear Mr. Whitefield and Reverend Mr. Tennent had been at Boston, and thro’ the Province, preaching the everlasting Gospel with such Unweariedness and Success. Whose Names, especially the former, I shall always mention with Respect and Honour, whatever others may think or say of him, from the Benefit one of the meanest and most unworthy of CHRIST’s Ministers hopes he receiv’d by his holy and fervent Ministrations while at Boston. Be sure I knew nothing rightly of my Sin & Danger, of my Need of a SAVIOUR, of the Way of Salvation by him: neither was established in the Doctrines of Grace; (tho’ a Preacher, and one who endeavoured to instruct others in the Way) till I heard that Man of GOD. And if the LORD had permitted me to have took the Oversight of a Flock, as I had a Call to do, and had given my Answer; the Blind would have led the Blind, and so ’tis like both would have fallen into the Ditch.—But he did not. Bless the LORD, O my Soul, and all that is within me bless his holy Name, for what he did for me, thro’ the Instrumentality of that Man. And I was quickned & strengthned very much by Mr. Tennent’s excellent Sermons, and was desirous all should hear them, as I had done, and urged many to it.
Few of the People in Bridgewater heard Mr. Whitefield: but the most did Mr. Tennent; for as this Man of GOD, who had Skill and Will to win Souls, was upon his Return home, and passing thro’ a neighbouring Town in March 1740, I, some of the Reverend Ministers in Bridgewater, with my self, went to see him; in order to invite him to visit Bridgewater; that we and our dear Charges might partake of his Gifts and Graces, and that he might have some Seals of his Ministry with us, as well as in other Places. And after some Intreaties (for he was determined another Way, viz. to Freetown and Tiverton) we gained a Promise from him, that (GOD willing) he would visit us next Day. Accordingly he came, and preached three Sermons in the Reverend Mr. Perkins’s Meeting-House in the Western Precinct; two in the Day, one in the Evening. And tho’ the Warning was short, the People in general not knowing it, till that Morning, and the season very difficult, by Reason of the Snow; yet there was a large and crowded Assembly. They came from all Parts of the Town, (for you must note that tho’ in good Mr. Keith’s Day, there was but one Society, now there are four; to which the Rev. Mr. Daniel Perkins, John Angier, John Shaw, and my self, stand severally in pastoral Relation)—and many I believe went away blessing GOD for the Opportunity; tho’ some mocked. It appears that some close Hypocrites were detected, some secure awakened, and many of our young People convinced of the Sin of spending away Days & Nights in Singing and Dancing, and other youthful Sins, which they were much addicted to before, and greatly delighted in.
After this, Religion was more talked of in our Town; particularly the great Doctrines of our holy Religion were often the Subject of Conversation; not for Strife and Contention, but Information and Edification.
The People now thro’ the Town were very inquisitive to know how Things were; having heard of the revival of Religion in some Places. They appeared of a very teachable Disposition: they were swift to hear the Word; an uncommon Thirst after it appeared in them. Our Lectures (which were almost every Week in one Part of the Town, or another) were more generally attended than before, and with much greater Seriousness and Solemnity; which encouraged us the Ministers in the Town, to set up Evening Lectures, to be attended in all Parts of the Town; which (excepting one) are upheld to this Time; beside all our Lectures in private Houses, which have not been a few; and occasional Lectures from Strangers who came to visit us: which I believe GOD has blessed to the good of many Souls. Spiritual Clouds seem’d to be gathering apace; a Shower of divine and heavenly Blessings seemed nigh being rained down on Bridgewater, and the whole Town becoming a Mountain of Holiness. O the delightful Prospect we now had!—
But I shall say no more with Respect to the other Societies in Conjunction with our own, or of the promising Appearances in them, and what GOD has done for them. But leaving this for their Reverend Pastors to do; I come to declare more particularly what great Things the LORD has done for the little Society called the North Precinct, consisting of near sixty Families, over which I was ordained the 15th of October 1740.
The Christian History:
Containing Accounts of the Propagation and Revival of Religion in England Scotland and America.
Saturday January 18, 1743. Nor. 48.
The Rev. Mr. Edward’s late additional Account of the State of Religion at Northampton continued.
In the Month of March I led the People into a solemn publick Renewal of their Covenant with GOD. To that End I made a Draught of a Covenant; and first proposed it to some of the principal Men in the Church; then proposed it to the People in their several religious Societies, in various Parts of the Town; and then proposed it to the whole Congregation in publick; and then deposited a Copy of it in the Hands of each of our four Deacons, that all that desired it might resort to them, and have Opportunity to view and consider it. Then the People in general that were above fourteen Years of Age first subscribed the Covenant with their Hands, and then on a Day of Fasting and Prayer, all together presented themselves before the Lord in his House, and stood up, and solemnly manifested their Consent to it, as their Vow to GOD.
A Copy of a Covenant enter’d into and subscribed, by the People of GOD at Northampton, and own’d before GOD in his House, as their Vow to the LORD, and make a solemn Act of publick Worship, by the Congregation in general, that were above fourteen Years of age, on a Day of Fasting and Prayer for the Continuance and Increase of the gracious Presence of GOD in that Place, March 16. 1741, 2.
Acknowledging GOD’s great Goodness to us, a sinful unworthy People, in the blessed Manifestation, and Fruits of his gracious Presence in this Town, both formerly and lately, and particularly in the very late spiritual Revival; and adoring the glorious Majesty, Power, and Grace of GOD, manifested in the present wonderful Outpouring of his SPIRIT, in many Parts of this Land, and in this Place; and lamenting our past Backslidings and ungrateful Departings from GOD; and humbly begging of GOD, that he would not mark our Iniquities, but for CHRIST’s Sake, come over the Mountains of our Sins, and visit us with his Salvation, and continue the Tokens of his Presence with us, and yet more gloriously pour out his blessed SPIRIT upon us, and make us all Partakers of the divine Blessings, he is, at this Day, bestowing here, and in many Parts of this Land; We do this Day present our Selves before the LORD, to renounce our evil ways, and put away our Abominations from before God’s Eyes, and with one Accord, to Renew our Engagements to seek and serve GOD: And particularly do now solemnly promise and vow to the LORD as follows,——
In all our Conversation, Concerns, and Dealings with our Neighbour, we will have a strict Regard to Rules of Honestly, Justice, and Uprightness; that we don’t over-reach or defraud our Neighbour, in any Matter, and either wilfully, or thro’ Want of Care, injure him in any of his honest Possessions or Rights; and in all our Communication, will have a tender Respect, not only to our own Interest, but also to the Interest of our Neighbour; and as we should expect, or think reasonable, that they should do to us, if we were in their Case, and they in ours.
And particularly we will endeavour to render to every one his Due; & will take Heed to our selves, that we don’t wrong our Neighbour, and give them a just Cause of Offence, by wilfully, or negligently forbearing to pay our honest Debts.
And wherein any of us, upon strict Examination of our past Behaviour, may be conscious to our selves, that we have by any Means, wrong’d any of our Neighbours in their outward Estate; we will not rest, ‘till we have made that Restitution, or given that Satisfaction, which the Rules of moral Equity require: or it we are, on a strict and impartial Search, conscious to our selves, that we have in any other Respect, considerably injured our Neighbour; we will truly endeavour to do that, which we, in our Consciences, suppose Christian Rules require, in Order to a Reparation of the Injury, and removing the Offence given thereby.
And furthermore we promise, that we will not allow our selves in Backbiting; and that we will take great Heed to our selves to avoid all Violations of those Christian Rules, Tit. 3.2. Speak Evil of no Man. Jam. 4.11. Speak not Evil one of another, brethren. And 2 Cor. 12.20. Lest there be Strifes, Backbitings, Whisperings. And that we will not only, not slander our Neighbour, but also will not, to feed a Spirit of Bitterness, Ill-Will, or secret Grudge against our Neighbour, insist on his real Faults, needlessly and when not called to it; or from such a Spirit, speak of his Failings and Blemishes with Ridicule, or an Air of Contempt.
And we promise that we will be very careful to avoid doing any thing to our Neighbor from a Spirit of Revenge. and that we will take great Care that we do not, for private Interest, or our own Honour, or to maintain our selves against those of a contrary Party, or to get our Wills, or to promote any Design in Opposition to others; do those Things which we, on the most impartial Consideration we are capable of, can think in our Consciences, will tend to wound Religion, and the Interest of CHRIST’s Kingdom.
And particularly, that so far as any of us, by divine Providence, have any special Influence upon others, to lead them, in the Management of publick Affairs; we will not make our own worldly Gain, or Honour, or Interest in the Affections of others, or getting the better of any of a contrary Party, that are in any Respect our Competitors, or the bringing, or keeping them down, our governing Aim, to the Prejudice of the Interest of Religion, and the Honour of CHRIST.
And in the Management of any publick Affair, wherein there is a
Difference of Opinions, concerning any outward Possessions, Priviledges, Rights or Properties; we will not wittingly violate Justice, for private Interest; and with the greatest Strictness and watchfulness, will avoid all unchristian Bitterness, Vehemence, and Heat of Spirit; year tho’ we should think our selves injured by a contrary Party; and in the Time of the Management of such Affairs, will especially watch over our selves, our Spirits, and our Tongues, to avoid all unchristian Inveighings, Reproachings, bitter Respectings, judging and ridiculing others, either to Men’s Faces, or behind their Backs; but will greatly endeavour, so far as we are concerned, that all should be managed with Christian Humility, Gentleness, Quietness and Love.
And furthermore we promise that we will not tolerate the Exercise of Enmity and Ill-Will, or Revenge in our Hearts, against any of our Neighbours; and we will often be strictly searching and examining our Hearts with Respect to that Matter.
And if any of us find that we have an old secret Grudge against any of our Neighbours, we will not gratify it, but cross it, and endeavour, to our utmost, to root it out, crying to GOD for his Help; and that we will make it our true & faithful Endeavour, in our places, that a Party Spirit may not be kept up amongst us, but that it may utterly cease; that for the future we may all be one, united in undisturbed Peace, and unfeigned Love.
And those of us that are in Youth, do promise never to allow our selves in any youthful Diversions and Pastimes, in Meetings, or Companies of young People, that we in our Consciences, upon sober Consideration, judge not well to consist with, or would sinfully tend to hinder the devoutest, and most engaged Spirit in Religion; or indispose the Mind for that devout, and profitable Attendance on the Duties of the closet, which is most agreeable to GOD’s Will; or that we in our most impartial Judgment, can think tends to rob GOD of that Honour which he expects, by our orderly, serious Attendance on Family-Worship.
We also promise, with great Watchfulness, to perform Relative Duties, Required by Christian Rules, in the Families we belong to; as we stand related respectively, towards Parents and Children, Husbands and Wives, Brothers and Sisters, Masters or Mistresses and Servants.
And we now appear before GOD, depending on divine Grace and Assistance, solemnly to devote our whole Lives, to be laboriously spent on the Business of Religion: ever making it our greatest Business, without backsliding form such a Way of living; not hearkening to the Solicitations of our Sloth, and other corrupt Inclinations, or the Temptations of the World, that tend to draw us off from it; and particularly, that we may not abuse an Hope, or Opinion that any of us may have of our being interested in Christ, to indulge our selves in Sloth, or the more easily to yield to the Solicitations of any sinful Inclinations; but will run with Perseverance, the Race that is set before us, and work out our Salvation with Fear and Trembling.
And being sensible of our own Weakness, and the Deceitfulness of our own Hearts, and our Proneness to forget our most solemn Vows, and loose our Resolutions; we promise to be often strictly examining our selves by these Promises, especially before the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; and beg of God that he would, for Christ’s Sake, keep us from wickedly dissembling in these our solemn Vows; And that he who searches our Hearts, and ponders the Path of our Feet, would from Time to Time help us in trying our selves by this covenant, and help us to keep Covenant with him, and not leave us to our own foolish wicked and treacherous Hearts.