A revival of religious fervor, 1744
A Spotlight on a Primary Source by Thomas Prince
The Christian History was a revivalist periodical founded by the Boston clergyman Thomas Prince in 1743 to report on the religious revivals sweeping across Europe and the United States. It was the first Christian periodical published in the United States, but lasted only two years. The revivals of that period were ignited by Jonathan Edwards, whose theology sparked renewed enthusiasm and emphasized human depravity, divine omnipotence, and a personal relationship with God. This period is often referred to as the “First Great Awakening,” although the term “Great Awakening” wasn’t broadly used to describe the religious revivals that took place in the American colonies until the 1842 publication of Reverend Joseph Tracy’s book of that title.
As Prince traveled from church to church in New England to preach, he recorded the reactions of the various congregations in his periodical. This June 1744 issue of the journal comments on the evangelical spirit present in Connecticut.
June the 15th, I rode out to Mr. Throop’s a new Society in Norwich, and preach’d one Sermon for him, to a full Assembly. There seem’d to be a great listning to the Word; great Concern appear’d in the Countenances of many; a great Number were in Tears, and several cried out: Some fainted away, and one or two rag’d. After the Sermon was over I took Pains to find out the Spring of that Distress which appeared in many Instances, and I think, they gave Grounds to judge it was from Conviction of Sin; except those Instances that were distress’d with their out-rageous Passions.