New England

After the First Great Awakening, in the New England United States of America, the churches that grew out of that momentous religious event became stagnated in their spiritual freshness. The Presbyterian and Congregational Churches becoming what today are considered "mainline" churches. The latter voting to become Unitarian by the droves. The beginnings of the revival in New England, can be dated at around 18001 with the founding of the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine its function to report on a budding phenomenon of rejuvinating rains from on High.

The real start of this Awakening was at Yale College in 1801 as membership in the student "Moral Society" saw an exponential rise in their numbers due to the preaching of that school's president, Timothy Dwight. He was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, who was an interim force inbetween the two tremendous "Stirrings." Even though by liberal standards he was considered too "Puritan," his teaching emphasized virtues of living in happiness as a temporal reward for living in practical morality. His teaching is what gives the Puritan tradition its reputation as one that promoted moral legalism, albeit his version is differed from traditional Reformed thought with one that was free of believer's choice in ethical situations. His grandfather Edward's "true virtue" philosophy contained more metaphysical passion for God and His works, and was more experiential. Church discipline was emphasized in both traditions, also.

Powerful Holy Spirit activity was effected in 1815 for a year, and again in 1820 for another couple, especially in New Haven where an understudy to Dwight, Nathaniel William Taylor, professor of theology at Yales's Divinity School] was challenging the upstart liberalism. He diverged somewhat from traditional Reformed teaching where he taught that man becomes sinful from his own actions: a situation that might happen, but not always necessarily. (A position this avowed Calvinist held that was a bit more Arminian than even John Wesley). An appeal to the Jacksonian Democratic ideals was possible with preachers that worked on making revival occur, rather than just appearing as some Sovereign Act. But the consensus amongst observers of this Second Great Awakening was that it was a calm thankfulness, not hysterical outburst (like in the First One) for something that was the Almighty's Travail, not mortal architecture. The liberal critics had more respect for this movement than its predecessor, but a more conservative critic, Bennet Tyler founded a Theological Institute of Connecticut to promote more purer Edwardseanism. He had a proponent in this mode of thought in Asahel Nettleton as another very , who adamantly agreed with the Providential aspect of what was happening -- typically Edwardsean -- while he ironically actively assumed the role of a successful evangelist pleading with sinners to repent.

In 1825-26, and 1831 there was another outburst of Spritual Renewal, and around this time the Temperance Society in Boston, MA was founded, touting total abstinence from alcohol. Interestingly, the original Puritans distilled Rum for normal social funtions and was attacked by rationalists like John Adams on physical, mental and health reasons. Lyman Beecher, (eventual president of Lane College) so closely aligned with Taylor, that he is buried next to him in New Haven, was especially active in this endeavor (his Six Sermons used widely), as well as defending the Protestant cause against encroaching Unitarianism. Earlier in 1813, Beecher had helped found the Connecticut Society for the Reformation of Morals, decrying vices that "are digging the grave of our liberties.... and preparing to entomb our glory" by Jeffersonians and reprobates. (Neal Dow started the trend toward state's laws of prohibition with the Maine Law of 1846.) The American Tract Society was founded in 1825 in New York out of the previous local and New England ones merging. And, by 1824 an American Sunday School Union was organized. The missionary societies that had started springing up in the 18 teens were consolidated into an American Home Missionary Society in New York in 1826, these sent apostles into the West.

the West

The foundational work first by Presbyterians, then Baptists and Methodists in areas west of the Appalachian Mountains started in earnest after the settlements became increasingly safer from dangers of Indigenous warriors, Colonial Wars, and other frontier adventurers.

The Presbyterian Reverend was Scots-Irish James McGready, who moved back to Pennsylvania from North Carolina for study under John McMillen and Redstone Presbytery. He was fortunate enough to be in charge of the parishes in Kentucky where at Gasper River Church 1800 they had the sheltered outdoor meeting over several days.

Barton Warren Stone (from Port Tobacco, MD) who found the Lord under McGready inspired by Gasper's, he arranged for a great meeting at Cane Ridge, Kentucky in his territory of Bourbon County. The crowd grew to tens of thousands, Baptist and Methodists, including clergy, coming together for a week. It would have gone on longer save the logistics prevented it. Barton described the

... miracles, on infidels and unbelievers; for many of them by these were convinced that Jesus was the Christ, and bowed in submission to Him.

This famous outpouring, compared with the Holy Spirit's at Pentecost (Acts, chapter 2) changed the lives of rough living rural folk, even though the manifestations were the opposite of their New England counterparts, with emotional and physical reactions quite dramatic. (Contemporary examples of these same phenomenon are the: Azuza Street Church -- tongues were predominate here, but probably not at Cane Ridge{c. 1900}, The Toronto Blessing -- famous for the same kind of barking and laughing -- , and the Brownsville Revival -- lots of crying, singing, and repentance--. {1990's}) They were "slain in the Spirit" (falling down) and uttered vocal outbursts, as well as jerking and "dancing in the Spirit." There was "Holy laughter" and "singing in the Spirit." Similar parallel peers can be seen with (as the derisive names show) Shakers and Quakers. Tremendous criticism arose to meet this non standard approach to Christianity. (This division still exists today, a Devilish schism in the Body)

By the 1820's Methodists and Baptists grew a thousand fold following this Fresh Fire, and Presbyterians suffered some division, (some becoming "Stonites") but more importantly a non-denominational movement began to grow from this event. The revivalist Christian Connection, or "Christians" who strove for a more "primitive gospel developed out of the Freewill Baptists, but there were impediments to merging because of Unitarian sympathies. Another "Christian" movement came out of the Methodists, especially espoused by Rice Haggard that claimed that term, "Christian," was the only authentic name for the believer.

The "Disciples" (also called 'Reformers' and 'Christians') emerged primarily from the work of an ex-Presbyterian, Alexander Campbell, who brought the ideas of John Locke into his movement, especially simplifying the Sacraments, e.g. Baptism follows a command, not a supernatural washing of sins. He had many other peers contributing in like manner throughout this New World Frontier.

Thus, with this "Latter Rain," American Christian Religion was changed as radically as Judaism was transformed when "tongues of fire" came down on those other early Christians.

Source: A Religious History of the American People Sydney E. Ahlstom; Yale Press, 1972