Revivalist IV. Jonathan Edwards
Between 1730 and 1745 from Maine to Georgia came a revival that became known as The Great Awakening. Jonathan Edwards became known as the key revivalist in the Awakening, an account of the revival being given by him in a letter to Rev. Thomas Prince, dated 12 December 1743.
Edwards begins his letter with fruits of the revival which are as follows:
* Vastly more religion …..among all sorts of persons.
* More general seriousness and decency in attending public worship.
* Great alteration amongst the youth …. With respect to reveling, frolicking, profane and unclean conversation, and lewd songs.
* Only rare instances of fornication.
* Great alteration amongst young and old in relation to tavern haunting.
* ….. so free of vice.
* Alteration in the community in relation to giving to the poor.
* Increase in visits to Ministers on soul related matters.
Edwards continues to give account of the visit of George Whitefield, the effects of his preaching being as follows:
* A melting of the congregation listening to the messenger of God – almost all the assembly moving into tears.
* Whitefield takes a no compromise position resulting in backsliders being reproofed.
* The whole community across social barriers affected.
Edwards then goes on to show the great affects happening in the community especially among young people, there being a turning away among the youth from the world with tears. The fruits of this revival manifesting through all the community were such that even amongst the youth there is witness of humility, self-condemnation, self-abhorrence, love, joy with many fainting under all of this. There is even an account of young people meeting themselves in light of this revival.
This revival did see manifestation and as we shortly examine the contemporary “revivals” with its manifestations one has to see that it may be a fine line between that which is of God and that which is a dangerous counterfeit of the devil. These manifestations occurred in The Great Awakening:
* Outcries, faintings and convulsions both with distress and joy
* Some bodies so overcome that they could not go home
* Appearance of the work of God in conviction of sinners and conversions in great numbers
This then is Edwards’s account of an Awakening that affected the whole World, an Awakening that clearly brought repentance from sin, the very word being removed from so much of contemporary culture that we surely need to return to this landmark of revival culture before we can see God move again in such power.