The first “Great Awakening" is what historian’s best described as the renewal of
religious faithfulness which swept through the American colonies between the 1730s and
This resurgence was part of a much broader movement taking place
concurrently on the other side of the Atlantic, particularly in England, Scotland, and
During the middle of the eighteenth century, a new Age of Faith began to rise
to counter the presence of the Age of Enlightenment and a confirmation that being truly
religious meant trusting the heart rather than the head, honoring feeling over thinking,
and relying on biblical revelation rather than human reason.
Before it was over, it had
swept all the Eastern colonies, transforming the social and religious life of the land.
The Great Awakening did not happen in one continuous restoration, but rather
several smaller revivals in a variety of places made up the Awakening.
The reality on the
frontier proved difficulty in establishing a parish system of England.
The new world,
unlike the old, had small farms and plantations spread out into the wilderness, making
both communication and religious discipline difficult. In addition, there was more of a
concern for survival and grappling a living from a hard, difficult, and unexplored land.
By the second and third generations, the majority of people were vastly outside the
membership of the church.
All that was required was a spark of restoration to ignited the
landscape with passionate religious interest.
The earliest demonstration of this American phenomenon is said to have appeared
in Solomon Stoddard's sermons in Northampton, Massachusetts as early as 1679
Later, among Presbyterians in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Reverend
William Tennent, a Scots-Irish immigrant, and his four sons, all clergymen, led in those