THE EFFECT OF REVIVAL – Jonathan Edwards

WHATEVER imprudences there have been and whatever sinful irregularities; whatever vehemence of the passions and heats of the imagination,
transports, and ecstasies;  whatever error in judgment and indiscreet 
zeal; and whatever outcries, faintings, and agitations of body; yet, it is manifest
and notorious that there has been of late a very uncommon influence upon the
minds of a very great part of the inhabitants of New England, attended with the
best effects.

There has been a great increase of seriousness and sober consideration of eternal
things: a disposition to hearken to what is said of such things, with attention and affection; a disposition to treat matters of religion with solemnity and as of great importance; to make these things the subject of conversation; to hear the Word of God
preached and to take all opportunities in order to it; to attend on the public worship of
God and all external duties of religion in a more solemn and decent manner, so that
there is a remarkable and general alteration in the face of New England in these respects.
Multitudes of vain, thoughtless, regardless persons in all parts of the land are quite
changed and become serious and considerate. There is a vast increase of concern for
the salvation of the precious soul and of that inquiry, “What shall I do to be saved?”
(Act 16:31). The hearts of multitudes had been greatly taken off from the things of the
world—its profits, pleasures, and honors. Multitudes in all parts have had their consciences awakened and have been made sensible of the pernicious nature and consequences of sin, and what a dreadful thing it is to be under guilt and the displeasure of
God and to live without peace and reconciliation with Him. They have also been
awakened to a sense of the shortness and uncertainty of life, [of] the reality of another
world and future judgment, and of the necessity of an interest in Christ. They are
more afraid of sin, more careful and inquisitive that they may know what is contrary
to the mind and will of God that they may avoid it, and what He requires of them that
they may do it, more careful to guard against temptations, more watchful over their
own hearts, earnestly desirous of knowing and of being diligent in the use of the means that God has appointed in His Word in order to salvation. Many very stupid, senseless sinners and persons of a vain mind have been greatly awakened.

There is a strange alteration almost all over New England amongst young people.
By a powerful invisible influence on their minds, they have been brought to forsake,
in a general way, as it were at once, those things of which they were extremely fond
and in which they seemed to place the happiness of their lives—[things] which nothing before could induce them to forsake, [such] as their frolicking,
vain company keeping, night-walking, their mirth and jollity, their impure language, and lewd songs. In vain did ministers preach against those things before, in vain were laws
made to restrain them, and in vain was all the vigilance of magistrates and civil officers. [Yet] now, they have almost everywhere dropped them, as it were, of themselves.
There is great alteration amongst old and young as to drinking, tavern-haunting,
profane speaking, and extravagance in apparel. Many notoriously vicious8 persons
have been reformed and become externally quite new creatures. Some that are
wealthy and of a fashionable, gay education —some great beaus
and fine ladies that seemed to have their minds swallowed up with nothing but the vain shows and pleasures of the world—have been wonderfully altered [and] have relinquished these vanities. [They have] become serious, mortified, and humble in their conversation.
It is astonishing to see the alteration there is in some towns, where before there was
but little appearance of religion or anything but vice and vanity. Now they are transformed into another sort of people. Their former vain, worldly, and vicious conversation and dispositions seem to be forsaken. They are, as it were, gone over to a new
world. Their thoughts, their talk, and their concern, affections, and inquiries are now
about the favor of God, an interest in Christ, a renewed sanctified heart, and a spiritual blessedness, acceptance, and happiness in a future world.

Now, through the greatest part of New England, the holy Bible is in much greater
esteem and use than before. The great things contained in it are much more regarded
as things of the greatest consequence and are much more the subjects of meditation
and conversation. Other books of piety that have long been of established reputation,
as the most excellent and most tending to promote true godliness, have been abundantly more in use. The Lord’s Day is observed more religiously and strictly. And
much has been lately done at making up differences, confessing faults one to another,
and making restitution —probably more within two years than was done in thirty
years before. It has been undoubtedly so in many places. And surprising has been the power of this spirit, in many instances, to destroy old grudges, to make up long continued breaches, and to bring those who seemed to be in a confirmed irreconcilable alienation to embrace each other in a sincere and entire amity. Great numbers under this influence have been brought to a deep sense of their own sinfulness and vileness—the sinfulness of their lives, the heinousness of their disregard of the authority of the great God, and of their living in contempt of a Savior. They have lamented their former negligence of their souls and their neglecting and losing precious time. The sins of their life have been extraordinarily set before them; and they have had a great sense of their hardness of heart, their enmity against that which is good, and proneness to all evil. [They have also had a sense] of the worthlessness of their

own religious performances, how unworthy of God’s regard were their prayers, praises, and all that they did in religion. It has been a common thing that persons have had
such a sense of their own sinfulness that they have thought themselves to be the worst
of all, and that none ever was as vile as they were. Many seem to have been greatly
convinced that they were utterly unworthy of any mercy at the hands of God—
however miserable they were and though they stood in extreme necessity of mercy—
and that they deserved nothing but eternal burnings. They have been sensible that
God would be altogether just and righteous in inflicting endless damnation upon
them, at the same time that they have had an exceedingly affecting sense of the dreadfulness of such endless torments and apprehended themselves to be greatly in danger of it. Many have been deeply affected with a sense of their own ignorance, blindness,
and exceeding helplessness, and so of their extreme need of the divine pity and help.
Multitudes in New England have lately been brought to a new and great conviction
of the truth and certainty of the things of the gospel. [They have been brought] to a
firm persuasion that Christ Jesus is the Son of God and the great and only Savior of
the world and that the great doctrines of the gospel touching reconciliation by His
blood, acceptance in His righteousness, and eternal life and salvation through Him
are matters of undoubted truth. They have had a most affecting sense of the excellency and sufficiency of this Savior and the glorious wisdom and grace of God shining in
this way of salvation; of the wonders of Christ’s dying love and the sincerity of Christ
in the [call] of the gospel. They have experienced a consequent affiance and sweet
rest of soul in Christ as a glorious Savior, a strong rock and high tower, accompanied
with an admiring and exalted apprehension of the glory of the divine perfections,
God’s majesty, holiness, sovereign grace, etc., with a sensible, strong, and sweet love to

God and delight in Him, far surpassing all temporal delights or earthly pleasures.
[They have experienced] a rest of soul in Him, as a portion and the fountain of all
good. And this has been attended with an abhorrence of sin and self-loathing for it
and earnest longings of soul after more holiness and conformity to God, with a sense
of the great need of God’s help in order to holiness of life.
Together they have had a most dear love to all that are supposed to be the children
of God, a love to mankind in general, and a most sensible and tender compassion for
the souls of sinners and earnest desires of the advancement of Christ’s kingdom in the
world. These things have appeared with an abiding concern to live a holy life, great
complaints of remaining corruption, and a longing to be freer from the body of sin
and death. Not only do these effects appear in new converts, but great numbers of
those who were formerly esteemed the most sober and pious20 people, have been greatly quickened, under the influence of this work, and their hearts renewed with greater
degrees of light, renewed repentance and humiliation, and more lively exercises of
faith, love, and joy in the Lord. Many have been remarkably engaged to watch, strive,
and fight against sin, to cast out every idol, sell all for Christ, give up themselves entirely to God, and make a sacrifice of every worldly and carnal thing to the welfare and
prosperity of their souls. And there has of late appeared in some places an unusual
disposition to bind themselves to it in a solemn covenant with God. Now, instead of
meetings at taverns and drinking-houses and of young people in frolics and vain company, the country is full of meetings of all sorts and ages of persons—young and old,
men, women, and little children—to read, pray, and sing praises, and to converse of
the things of God and another world. In very many places, the main of the conversation in all companies turns on religion and things of a spiritual nature. Instead of vain
mirth among young people, there is now either mourning under a sense of the guilt of
sin or holy rejoicing in Christ Jesus. Instead of their lewd songs, there are now to be
heard from them songs of praise to God and the Lamb that was slain to redeem them
by His blood. And there has been this alteration abiding on multitudes all over the
land, for a year and a half, without any appearance of a disposition to return to former
vice and vanity.
The divine power of this work has marvelously appeared in some instances I have
been acquainted with: in supporting and fortifying the heart under great trials, such
as the death of children and extreme pain of body; and in wonderfully maintaining
the serenity, calmness, and joy of the soul in an immoveable rest in God and sweet
resignation to Him. Some under the blessed influences of this work have, in a calm,
bright, and joyful frame of mind, been carried through the valley of the shadow of

I suppose there is scarcely a minister in this land, but from Sabbath to Sabbath is used to pray that God would pour out His Spirit and work a reformation and revival of religion in the country and turn us from our intemperance, profaneness, uncleanness, worldliness, and other sins. We have kept from year to year days of public fasting and prayer to God to acknowledge our backslidings, [to] humble ourselves for our sins, and to seek of God forgiveness and reformation.