The promise was established and confirmed by unalterable seals, illustrated by types and figures, and attested by a long succession of living prophets, until Christ, the proper heir, made his appearance; finished the work that was given him to do; received the substance that was promised by the Father; and took possession of the inheritance. Until this took place, souls were in bondage under the rudiments of the world; they could find no resurrection into eternal life, until the Son of God, in the fulness of time, was made of a woman; made flesh; placed under the same rudiments by which they were held in bondage; and from thence ascended, step by step, until he entered the promised possession.
Then, and not till then, the way was open for the substance to be ministered; then the first-born could give gifts unto his brethren - substantial, real gifts. What he received of the Father, he gave to those who were joint heirs with him to the promised possession; and sent them into the world, as he had been sent, to minister to others as he ministered to them. Moreover, he did not send them to some particular persons, but to every creature that was under heaven; and commissioned them to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound - one as much as another.
No nation or individual was excluded, but the promise was to all, and upon all; and should finally be fulfilled to all them that believe and obey. While the everlasting covenant was thus ministered in truth, by the apostles and true witnesses of Christ, it was confirmed by the most convincing signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. They healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out malignant spirits, spake with unknown tongues, held converse with angels and departed spirits, saw visions, fell into trances, had gifts of prophesying, etc.
These, and such like, were seals to their ministry. But above all, the salutary change produced in the lives and manners of those who believed, confirmed the doctrine to be of God; and served as a test to those who should come after, whereby to distinguish the true covenant of God from all the counterfeit doctrines of men. When the true administration of the covenant ceased, the signs and seals of confirmation ceased with it. God would not affix his seal to the canons, decrees and covenants of wicked men, who rose up to supplant the true work of redemption.
And therefore, for many ages, what has been called the Christian doctrine has been void of authority; except what arises from superstition, vain philosophy, the power of human eloquence, or the civil sword. But when God, in infinite kindness, began to revive the everlasting truth in these latter days, the living seals of the covenant were annexed - such seals and evidences of a supernatural and divine power, as have excited as great astonishment in the minds of mankind as those of antiquity.
THE first extraordinary appearances of the power of God, in the late revival, began about the close of the [18th] century, in Logan and Christian counties, on the waters of the Gasper and Red rivers. And in the spring of the same extraordinary work broke out in Madison county, upper part of Kentucky; of which I was an eye witness; and can, therefore, with greater confidence testify what I have heard, seen and felt. It first began in individuals, who had been under deep convictions of sin, and great trouble about their souls; and had fasted and prayed, and diligently searched the Scriptures; and had undergone distresses of mind inexpressibly sore until they had obtained a comfortable hope of salvation.
And from seeing and feeling the love of Christ, and his willingness to save all that would forsake their sins, and turn to God through him; and feeling how freely his love and goodness flowed to them; it kindled their love to other souls that were lost in their sins, and an ardent desire that they might come and partake of that spiritual light, life, and comfort, which appeared infinite in its nature, and free to all.
And under such an overpowering weight of the divine goodness as tongue could not express, they were constrained to cry out, with tears and trembling, and testify a full and free salvation in Christ for all that would come; and to warn their fellow-creatures of the danger of continuing in sin, and entreating them in the most tender and affectionate manner, to turn from it, and seek the Lord, in sure and certain hope that he would be found.
Under such exhortations the people began to be affected in a very strange manner. At first they were taken with an inward throbbing of heart ; then with weeping and trembling; from that to crying out, in apparent agony of soul; falling down and swooning away, till every appearance of animal life was suspended, and the person appeared to be in a trance. From this state they would recover under different sensations, which will be more particularly noticed hereafter.
The following extract of a letter, dated Caneridge, January 30, , gives a striking account of the work, as it first appeared in the lower parts of Ken-tucky, and Cumberland. Children and all seem to be engaged; but children are the most active in the work. When they speak, it appears that the Lord sends his Spirit, to accompany it with power to the hearts of sinners. They all seem to be wrought in an extraordinary way; lie as though they were dead for some time, without pulse or breath; some longer, some shorter time.
Some rise with joy and triumph; others crying for mercy. As soon as they get comfort, they cry to sinners, exhorting day and night to turn to the Lord.
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It is worthy of notice, that a work by which God intended to bring down the pride and loftiness of man, should begin in small children. By this it was manifest who was the furthest lost from God, and what course must be taken in order to return. At a sacrament, near Flemingsburgh, the last Sabbath in April, the power of God was very visible among the people through the whole of the occasion; under which there was much weeping, trembling, and convulsion of soul.
But what was the most solemn and striking, was the case of two little girls, who, in the time of meeting, cried out in great distress. They both continued for some time praying and crying for mercy, till one of them received a comfortable hope, and then turning to the other, cried out: I have found peace to my soul! You need not wait another moment! The Sabbath following, about twenty persons were struck in the congregation of Cabin Creek, Mason County. Among the first who cried out, in distress, was a girl about twelve years old. It was dire necessity which at first obliged them to expose themselves to public view as objects of pity; for everything of the kind was looked upon by the generality, even of professors, as wild enthusiasm, or the fruits of a disordered brain.
There were, however, a few who understood the disorder, and were ready to fly to their relief, and proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that were bound. And here a new scene was opened. While some trembled like one in a fit of the ague, wept, or cried out, lamenting their distance from God, and exposedness to his wrath, others were employed in praying with them, encouraging them to believe on the Son of God, to venture upon his promise, give up their wicked, rebellious heart, just as it was, for God to take it away, and give them a heart of flesh; singing hymns, and giving thanks to God for the display of his power, without any regard to former rules of order.
At this some were offended, and withdrew from the assembly, determined to oppose it as a work of the wicked one. But all their objections only tended to open the way for the true nature and spirit of the work to shine out, and encourage the subjects of it to set out with warmer zeal to promote it.
Accordingly, a meeting was appointed a few evenings after, to which a crowd of awakened souls flocked, and spent the whole night in singing hymns, praying, and exhorting one another, etc. At this meeting one man was struck down, and lay for about an hour in the situation above mentioned. This put the matter beyond dispute, that the work was supernatural; and the outcry which it raised against sin, confirmed a number in the belief that it was from above.
From small beginnings it gradually spread. The news of these strange operations flew abroad, and attracted many to come and see, who were convinced, not only from seeing and hearing, but feeling; and carried home the testimony that it was the living work of God. This stirred up others, and brought out still greater multitudes. And these strange exercises still increasing, and having no respect to any stated hours of worship, it was found expedient to encamp on the ground, and continue the meeting day and night.
To these encampments the people flocked, in hundreds and thousands; on foot, on horseback, and in wagons and other carriages. At first appearance those meetings exhibited nothing to the spectator but a scene of confusion, that could scarce be put into human language. They were generally opened with a sermon, near the close of which there would be an unusual outcry; some bursting forth into loud ejaculations of prayer, or thanksgiving, for the truth; others breaking out in emphatical sentences of exhortation; others flying to their careless friends with tears of compassion, beseeching them to turn to the Lord; some struck with terror, and hastening through the crowd to make their escape, or pulling away their relations; others trembling, weeping, crying out for the Lord Jesus to have mercy upon them, fainting and swooning away, till every appearance of life was gone, and the extremities of the body assumed the coldness of a dead corpse; others surrounding them with melodious songs, or fervent prayers for their happy resurrection in the love of Christ; others collecting into circles around this variegated scene, contending with arguments for and against.
And under such appearances the work would continue for several days and nights together. I shall now mention particularly some of the first meetings of this kind, with a few concomitant circumstances, from which the work took a general spread, in the year The first was held at Cabin Creek. It began on the 22d of May, and continued four days and three nights. The scene was awful beyond description; the falling, crying out, praying, exhorting, singing, shouting, etc. Such as tried to run from it, were frequently struck on the way, or impelled, by some alarming signal to return; and so powerful was the evidence on all sides, that no place was found for the obstinate sinner to shelter himself, but under the protection of prejudiced and bigoted professors.
Strange Behavior at Cane Ridge - Church History Timeline
No circumstance at this meeting, appeared more striking, than the great numbers that fell on the third night: There were persons at this meeting from Caneridge, Concord, Eagle-Creek, and other neighboring congregations, who partook of the spirit of the work, which was a particular means of its spreading.
The next general camp-meeting, was held at Concord, in the county of Bourbon, about the last of May, or beginning of June. The number of people was supposed to be about 4,, who attended on this occasion. There were present seven Presbyterian ministers; four of whom were opposed to the work, and spoke against it until the fourth day about noon; the evidence then became so powerful, that they all professed to be convinced, that it was the work of God; and one of them addressed the assembly with tears, acknowledging, that notwithstanding they had long been praying to the Lord, to pour out his spirit, yet when it came, they did not know it; but wickedly opposed the answer of their own prayers.
On this occasion, no sex or color, class or description, were exempted from the pervading influence of the Spirit; even from the age of eight months, to sixty years, there were evident subjects of this marvelous operation. The meeting continued five days, and four nights; and after the people generally scattered from the ground, numbers convened in different places, and continued the exercise much longer. And even where they were not collected together, these wonderful operations continued among every class of people, and in every situation; in their houses and fields, and in their daily employments, falling down and crying out, under conviction, or singing and shouting with unspeakable joy, were so common, that the whole country round about, seemed to be leavened with the spirit of the work.
The next camp-meeting was at Eagle Creek, Adams county, Ohio. It began June 5, and continued four days and three nights. The number of people there was not so great, as the country was new; but the work was equally powerful, according to the number. At this meeting, the principal leading characters in that place, fully embraced the spirit of the work, which laid a permanent foundation, for its continuance and spread, in that quarter. The next general meeting was at Pleasant Point, Kentucky; which equaled, if not surpassed, any that had been before.
Here, the Christian minister, so called, the common professor, the professed deist, and debauchee, were forced to take one common lot among the wounded, and confess, with equal candor, that hitherto they had been total strangers to the religion of Jesus.
The Kentucky Revival
From this meeting, the work was spread extensively through Bourbon, Fayette, and other neighboring counties; and was carried by a number of its subjects, to the south side of Kentucky, where it found a permanent residence in the hearts of many. The general meeting at Indian Creek, Harrison county, began the 24th of July, and continued about five days and nights.
A boy, from appearance about twelve years old, retired from the stand in time of preaching, under a very extraordinary impression; and having mounted a log, at some distance, and raising his voice, in a very affecting manner, he attracted the main body of the people, in a few minutes. With tears streaming from his eyes, he cried aloud to the wicked, warning them of their danger, denouncing their certain doom, if they persisted in their sins; expressing his love to their souls, and desire that they would turn to the Lord, and be saved, he was held up by two men, and spoke for about an hour, with that convincing eloquence that could be inspired only from above.
When his strength seemed quite exhausted, and language failed to describe the feelings of his soul, he raised his hand, and dropping his handkerchief, wet with sweat from his little face, cried out: The next general meeting was at Caneridge, Bourbon county, seven miles from Paris. It began the 6th of August, and continued, day and night about a week. The number of people collected on the ground, at once, was supposed to be about twenty thousand; but it was thought a much greater number were there in the course of the meeting.
The encampment consisted of one hundred and thirty-five wheel-carriages, and tents proportioned to the people. This immense group included almost every character that could be named; but amidst them all, the subjects of this new and ,strange operation were distinguished, by their flaming zeal for the destruction of sin, and the deliverance of souls from its power. The various operations and exercises on that occasion were indescribable. The falling exercise was the most noted. James Crawford, one of the oldest ministers in the State, and one of the foremost in the work, informed me that he kept as accurate an account as he could of the number that fell on the occasion, and computed it to be about three thousand.
The vast numbers who received light, on this occasion, and went forth in every direction to spread it, render it impossible to pursue any further the particular track of its progress. I shall only add that it was but a few weeks after this meeting, that the same work broke out in North Carolina, by the instrumentality of some who went from Caneridge to bear the testimony. I shall now take notice of the opposition, which was raised against the work, in this first stage of it; and show some of the causes from which it sprung.
The people among whom the revival began, were generally Calvinists; and although they had been long praying in words, for the out-pouring of the Spirit; and believed that God had foreordained whatsoever comes to pass; yet, when it came to pass that their prayer was answered, and the Spirit began to flow like many waters, from a cloud of witnesses; and souls were convicted of sin, and cried for mercy, and found hope and comfort in the news of a Saviour; they rose up and quarreled with the work, because it did not come to pass that the subjects of it were willing to adopt their soul-stupefying creed.
Those who had labored and travailed, to gain some solid hope of salvation; and had ventured their souls upon the covenant of promise; and had felt the living seal of eternal love; could not, dare not preach, that salvation was restricted to a certain definite number; nor insinuate, that any being which God had made, was, by the Creator, laid under the dire necessity of being damned forever.
The love of a Saviour constrained them to testify, that one had died for all.
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This truth so essential to the first ray of hope in the human breast, was like a dead fly in the ointment of the apothecary, to the Calvinist: Yet these exercises would no doubt have passed for a good work of God, had they appeared as seals to their doctrine of election, imperfection, and final perseverance. Because of its size, religious enthusiasm, and widespread national reporting, Cane Ridge came to epitomize the way people understood the Kentucky revivals. But the revivals also continued in the Cumberland region in , increasing in both number and fervor.
It was also at Cane Ridge that significant reservations began to be voiced by ministers and others skeptical of the scope and prevalence of the bodily exercises, especially in regard to the suspicion that some of the ministers encouraged them, or declared people converted because of them.
Presbyterian Richard McNemar was especially indicted as encouraging physical enthusiasm, but Stone was also criticized for making no effort to bring order to the increasingly wild behavior of both worshippers and ministers.
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By , they were growing louder again, led by James Balch and Thomas Craighead. Though the revivals continued to attract crowds, opposition to them was significant enough that one Sunday, McGready was left to preach from the steps of his Red River meeting house, having been locked out by an anti-revivalist church member.
McGready addressed the controversy by defending the exercises in , using examples from the Bible and the writings of Jonathan Edwards who had encountered a similar controversy during the revivals of the awakenings in the s and s. McGready likened these to biblical examples of people leaping for joy, but at the same time, said that these movements were not orchestrated or integrated as part of the worship service.
Nor did he assume that they were necessarily signs of conversion. His account reveals that he was most impressed by what he regarded as the extraordinary ability of children to exhort as a result of their conversions. Denominational cooperation, a hallmark of the revivals that began in Logan County, was not necessarily uncommon among frontier preachers because of the needs associated with establishing new churches and religious societies in the demanding circumstances of back country settlements.
Baptists set themselves apart from Methodists and Presbyterians because of differences over baptism. Egalitarian practices in evangelical religion also advanced during the revivals as McGready repeatedly mentioned the presence and conversion of blacks in the revivals and the expansion of the role of exhorter to women, children, and blacks, many of whom were slaves. An exhorter was a lay person who preached an informal or impromptu sermon, encouraging others toward experiential conversion, often immediately after his own conversion.
McGready was especially impressed with recurring instances of child exhorters who sometimes exhibited the falling behavior, only to rise later and expound upon the mysteries of the gospel in words that seemed beyond their years. He also voiced his approval of revival attendees who organized their own religious societies by mentioning several instances of people who attended the meetings and then returned home to tell their neighbors and begin meeting house-to-house without the oversight of a minister. Because they were memorized and enlarged upon during the preaching, many in his audiences may have been unaware that they had been written out in advance.
His gestures were…the perfect reverse of elegance. Everything appeared by him forgotten, but the salvation of souls. McGready was an unapologetic Calvinist. He believed that only the irresistible grace of God could enable the faith necessary for conversion, and that sinful man was devoid of the capacity to effect, or choose his own salvation. This is, indeed, the solemn, dreadful harvest day; the tares are separated from the wheat, and… cast into everlasting fire.
In this context, McGready, like Edwards, saw dramatic conversion experiences that caused people to swoon or cry out as the physical manifestation of unseen spiritual activity. To McGready, all such people were in need of conversion. Aside from his primary concern for the conversion of individuals, McGready also expressed an urgency to battle popular philosophies and religious doctrines that had advanced in connection with the rhetoric of the American Revolution, especially deism. Deism stood in opposition to the doctrines regarding atonement, election, and irresistible grace by proposing that man could save himself and society through reason and scientific advances.
Strange Behavior at Cane Ridge
Hymn singing had been an important part of the sacrament season and continued to be a vital expression of religious feeling during the revivals. The familiarity of the songs encouraged participation and served as a vehicle for communal and devotional expression. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, hymnals contained only words, not musical notations, and were designed to be sung to a variety of tunes well known among the congregations. Hymnals were among the most popular books owned and memorized by the common people. Popular hymnals such as the Olney Hymns , published in focused on narratives that emphasized familiar biblical references, the salvific power of the cross, and the joys of heaven, and often steered clear of theological controversies to focus on personal and emotional expressions of practical religious themes.
The most common themes included the reality and nearness of sin, the joy of redemption, and the nearness of death combined with the hope of heaven. As the revivals spread, so did the controversy associated with them, increasingly threatening the unity of Presbyterianism in the West.
Though McGready had earlier claimed that fellow minister Thomas Craighead had supported the revivals, by , he and other Presbyterian ministers, including Logan County minister, James Balch, who had opposed McGready as early as , aligned themselves and others against the revival party led by McGready, Hodge, McAdow, McGee and Rankin. Their complaints highlighted several controversies, including the use of hymns instead of the older Scottish Psalter, the practice of night assemblies and all night meetings, toleration of emotional outbursts and physical exercises such as shouting and falling during the meetings, inclusion of ministers of other denominations in sacrament services, and the licensing of exhorters and itinerates without formal training.
The controversy grew hot at Cane Ridge in as the bodily exercises and general enthusiasm reached greater levels and grew more unruly. Conservative Presbyterians became skeptical and were concerned, among other things, about the number of people admitted to communion based only on ecstatic experiences. In , James McGready stood at the juncture of two centuries, looking backward to the traditions of his spiritual fathers and forward to children of a new century in a young republic. The segment of the Second Great Awakening that arose from the concert of voices he led, stood in the shadow of the First, when republican ideals deferred to a king and revival fervor emanated primarily from the voices of preachers wearing clerical collars or holding seminary degrees.
McGready witnessed both the fracturing and stagnation of Presbyterianism in Kentucky, as well as the flowering of new forms of religious expressions thriving at the grass roots, where Bible reading, hymn singing, camp meetings and revival preaching were primary expressions of religious piety and feeling, reflecting the doctrines of the new birth among the common people. Largely as a result of the revival, religion was less hierarchical and controlled than in the preceding century, as well as more democratic and diverse.
As the number of evangelicals increased across the state, social changes in Kentucky were tangible as rationalism and deism, once perceived as threats by evangelicals, shrunk in public esteem. The Cane Ridge congregation, for example, presented a strong anti-slavery petition to the Kentucky Presbytery, while other social concerns such as temperance initiatives and legislation regarding the Sabbath were also introduced in the wake of the revivals. The directions and destinations of the principal actors during the Revivals that spanned were as varied as the evangelical expressions they fostered.
In , the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was established by several pro-revival Presbyterian ministers. By , the new denomination had twice as many congregations in the Cumberland region as the original Presbyterians. It rejected many Calvinist doctrines and discontinued exclusivity measures in the observance of communion, while continuing to affirm the practice of circuit riding and camp meetings.
Not surprisingly, Presbyterian membership suffered with the loss of many of its members to other denominations. Its numbers stagnated in the years between and , while Baptist and Methodist membership soared to as much as tenfold from the time of the inception of the Logan County revivals, outpacing the rate of population generally. In the years that followed, Cartwright became a popular Methodist minister and revivalist, holding camp meetings throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. He continued preaching and farming but eventually added political office to his resume, defeating Abraham Lincoln in for a seat in the Illinois legislature.
Francis Asbury subsequently employed and enlarged upon many of the elements he encountered in the revivals of and Camp meetings became a mainstay of Methodism throughout the nineteenth century, helping to flood Methodist congregations with new members. Though entreated by his revival colleagues to join the Cumberland Presbyterian ministry, James McGready chose to stay among the Presbyterians, accepting temporary censure by a committee of the Transylvania Presbytery in , along with other revival preachers, for his association with controversial revival practices and doctrines.
He was restored as a credentialed Presbyterian minister in He left Logan County in and moved to Henderson, Kentucky, to minister to a congregation he had pioneered during the revivals. He died there in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. And They All Sang Hallelujah: Plain-Folk Camp-Meeting Religion, University of Tennessee Press. History of Christianity in the United States and Canada.
American Christian Publication Society,. The Citizens of Zion: A New History of Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky. Running Mad for Kentucky: Retrieved 30 April Scotland and the Making of American Revivalism. University of Wisconsin Press. Beginnings of the Bible Belt. The Life and Times of Rev. Religion in the Old South. University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 19 September The History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 4th ed. The Autobiography of Peter Cartwright. DigitalCommons University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
Theologian of Frontier Revivalism". American Society of Church History.