Affections and the Self: Writings during the Great Awakening
I N the 1740's New England underwent another religious revival, one far more pervasive in its influence than any previous to it. This event, generally referred to as the Great Awakening, was not limited to a small region. To some extent this revival owed its success to the fact that by 1740 much of New England's religious fervor had declined and was ripe for renewal. Equally significant was the emergence of itinerant preachers as catalytic agents, many of whom had not been ordained in accord with older Puritan customs. These men usually preached extemporaneously with much emotion. Their sermons, generally accented by a dramatic raising and lowering of the minister's voice and frequently accompanied by expressive physical gestures, tended to emphasize the terrors of hell awaiting the impenitent sinner. They were, in content and manner of delivery, aimed at the emotions rather than at the intellect of the hearer.
Of all of these men, George Whitefield was doubtless the most influential. An Englishman sympathetic to the Methodist movement, he visited the American colonies, where he succeeded in awakening many souls. Arriving in Northampton on October 17, 1740, he stayed with Edwards for three days and preached several sermons before the congregation. Edwards had been deeply disappointed that his parishioners had fallen into a "low state" since