The First Great Awakening happened in the 1730’s and lasted until the early to mid 1740’s. Many consider this time as the greatest outpouring of God’s working in American history. One of the distinguishing marks of this revival of the Christian religion was that it was unmarked by man’s attempts at creating such a revival.
Samuel Davies was a preacher greatly used by the Lord in Virginia. He would later succeed Jonathan Edwards to become the 3rd president of Princeton University.
Here is an account from Davies told during a sermon in Virginia in 1757:
About sixteen years ago, in the northern colonies, when all religious concern was much out of fashion, and the generality lay in a dead sleep in sin, having at best but the form of godliness, but nothing of the power; when the country was in peace and prosperity, free from the calamities of war, and epidemical sickness; when, in short, there were no extraordinary calls to repentance; suddenly a deep, general concern about eternal things spread through the country; sinners started out of their slumbers, broke off from their vices, began to cry out, What shall we do to be saved? and made it the great business of their life to prepare for the world to come. Then the gospel seemed almighty, and carried all before it. It pierced the very hearts of men with an irresistible power. I have seen thousands at once melted down under it; all eager to hear as for life, and hardly a dry eye to be seen among them…Thousands still remain shining monuments of the power of divine grace in that glorious day.
–Samuel Davies. Sermons on Important Subjects
Notice that this awakening was not marked by man’s attempts to stir it up. It was the hand of God outstretched and demonstrated in the power of the gospel saving sinners.
Oh, that God would do that again in our day.
HT: Iain H. Murray. Revival & Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858.