Essays and Articles

About This Collection

This collection presents articles and essays written by historians about the Great Awakening. These brief, easy-to-read articles tell more of the story of the Great Awakening. Some of the articles were written by the historians who were interviewed for the documentary DVD. Most come from books published by BJU Press.

Items in This Collection

Next to Jonathan Edwards, the leading American preacher of the Great Awakening was Gilbert Tennent of Pennsylvania. Tennent was a man of unusual abilities, but part of the credit for his accomplishments—humanly speaking—must go to the unusual education that he, his brothers, and several others received from Gilbert’s father, William Tennent, Sr. Their “log college” may not have been an Ivy League school, but it certainly was—as George Whitefield called it—a “school of the prophets.”

Most accounts of the Great Awakening focus predominantly on the revivals in the middle colonies and particularly in New England. The South was the scene of revival too, however. Whitefield preached in southern cities, and Presbyterian Samuel Davies led a notable awakening in Virginia. Even farther south, in the Carolinas, was another phase of the Great Awakening, the Sandy Creek Revival.

Jonathan Edwards is probably the best-known figure associated with the Great Awakening. He has often been caricatured, however, simply as the “fire-and-brimstone” preacher of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Indeed, some secular writers, embarrassed by this distortion, have even attempted to reverse that picture completely, portraying a brilliant New England thinker who was only incidentally religious. The truth is that Edwards was a multifaceted man—certainly brilliant and undeniably a keen logician, but also an intensely religious man of deep and reverent piety. It is Jonathan Edwards, perhaps, not philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who deserves the description “the God-intoxicated man.”

George Whitefield, the famous evangelist, became friends with Benjamin Franklin, the famous printer and philosophe, while he was visiting Philadelphia on a preaching tour. This essay takes excerpts from the correspondence between two remarkable men of the eighteenth century.

“I love those that thunder out the Word,” said George Whitefield. “The Christian World is in a dead sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it.” Whitefield was almost certainly the greatest evangelist of the eighteenth century. He preached throughout the British Isles and the British colonies in North America. Although Whitefield’s reputation has been overshadowed by Wesley’s, his contribution to the revivals of the eighteenth century is almost as great.

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