Analysis of the Great Awakening and Revolutionary Thought

1655 WordsApr 7, 20137 Pages
Analysis of the Great Awakening and Revolutionary Thought In the 1730s and the 1740s, religious revival swept through the New England and Middle Colonies. Through these revivals, the colonists came to view religion as a discrete and personal experience between God and man which, “undermined legally established churches and their tax supported ministers.” (Henretta, P. 112) Joseph Tracey was the first person to describe this period of revivalism as, ‘the Great Awakening.’ In 1841, Joseph Tracy wrote The Great Awakening: a History of the Revival of Religion in the Time of Edwards and Whitefield summarizing this period and cementing its name as ‘the Great Awakening’ for future generations. Of the Great Awakening, he asserts, “Its…show more content…
However, it is agreed that Jonathan Edwards was certainly involved in the beginning of the Great Awakening and George Whitefield greatly aided its spread. Jonathan Edwards was a minister in the Connecticut River Valley who emphasized the importance of a personal religious conversion. Edwards communicated in sermons and personal writings in a dramatic and intensely personal style that was uncommon in the 1730s. For example, an excerpt from his biographical Personal Narrative read: God's excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love, seemed to appear in everything; in the sun, moon and stars; in the clouds, and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, trees; in the water, and all nature; which used greatly to fix my mind. I often used to sit and view the moon, for a long time; and so in the daytime, spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things: in the meantime, singing forth with a low voice, my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer. And scarce anything, among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning. On the other hand, Jonathan Edwards produced sermons such as Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In this sermon, he paints a picture in which the listener is suspended above “Hell’s wide gaping mouth” solely by the “mere pleasure of God” like a spider held above a fire. (Edwards,
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