"It Happened 200 Years Ago - The Great Revival" -by Jim Brooks <JBrooks972@...> The only period in our history comparable in any way with this present day was out on the western frontier in the period after the Revolution. Many areas of the frontier had a reputation for great lawlessness, and at that time it had few ministers. Indeed, the spiritual condition of the entire country seems to have suffered as a result of the Revolutionary War, and also as a result of the influence of Deism, Unitarianism, and the anti-Christian aspects of the French Revolution. (Deism is a belief that there is a god, but that he is an impersonal one who has no care or concern for his creation.) Many Americans were concerned about the religious state of the nation. One of those who was concerned was a Presbyterian minister, James McGready. Arriving back in North Carolina in 1790, he pastored a church there until 1796. Here he experienced both revival and persecution. McGready taught that all true revival came from God, and must be preceded by prevailing prayer, and that with that prevailing prayer, God would send true revival. Magready sought the most ungodly, irreligious" place in America, as an area where his teaching on revival could be proven. The spot he chose was Logan County, Kentucky, along Red River, in south central Kentucky . Logan County at that time was considered the most wicked place in the entire country. It was known locally as Rogues Harbor. Other common names for it were Devils Den, Outlaws Haven, and Satans Stronghold. So many desperadoes and ungodly people had settled there, that when an attempt was made by vigilantes to run these outlaws out, the outlaws burned the homes of some of the vigilantes, killed others, and forced still others and their families to flee the area. James Magready got several hundred people, most of them living in North Carolina, to sign his "Carolina Covenant", promising to pray and intercede with God until such time as He would send true revival to Logan County. These people were asked to pray without ceasing. The covenant was to pray for revival in Logan County until the revival came or they died. James Magready himself, not wishing to miss the impending revival from God, moved to Logan County in the year 1796. Arriving in the county, he began pastoring the church that met in the Red River Meetinghouse, which was located near the river of the same name. Shortly after, he established two more small congregations, Gasper River Church and Muddy River Church, both also in Logan County. James Magready asked his parishioners to pray every Saturday night, each Sunday morning, and all day on the third Saturday of each month. They were also asked to fast on the third Saturday. He asked them to pray specifically for three things: repentance, redemption, and Pentecost! The second greatest revival in American history, known then and today as the "Second Great Awakening", or The Great Revival. It began in Logan County, Kentucky, on Red River, exactly where McGready and those interceding with him for the revival had asked that it occur. James McGready did not have large congregations interceding for revival. His longest established church, Red River Meeting House, was very small, having only some 20 to 25 members in 1797. In its early days the revival was known as the "Red River Revival." Later, it was sometimes called the Cane Ridge Revival. The Great Revival lasted about five to seven years, depending on what year you count as its beginning. It is generally held to have begun in the year of our Lord 1800, but some of the local people placed its beginnings even earlier, some placing its origins as far back as 1797. As early as 1797, grown men, members of one or another of James McGreadys three little churches, were spending days at a time in the woods, under deep conviction, praying, crying, weeping, and seeking God for an assurance of their personal salvation. When the revival began, it began without warning. At a meeting at Red River Meeting House in June of 1800, though some attendees cried and wept, and others fell to the floor under conviction of their sinfulness, and though there were conversions, it seemed that there would be no great move of God at that time. Disappointed, James Magready and two ministers who had been assisting him left the building. A visiting minister from nearby Sumner County, Tennessee, William McGee, looking sorrowfully around, suddenly felt impressed to shout to the people, Let the Lord God Omnipotent reign in your hearts! At this, pandemonium broke forth among the congregation. Some of the lost began to scream, others fell to the floor... Describing the event years later, McGee said that he felt as if one greater than himself was speaking. Several members went to McGee and urged him to try to stop what was happening, saying that Presbyterians could not allow such goings on. Instead, William McGee went throughout the building, shouting praises to God and encouraging the people to yield themselves wholly to God. Many were changed forever that night. In the words of James McGready, "a mighty effusion of [God's] Spirit" came upon the people, "and the floor was soon covered with the slain; their screams for mercy pierced the heavens." Heartened by the results of this meeting, another was planned at Magreadys Gasper River Church. This was the first planned campmeeting. Volunteers arrived days early to cut away trees and undergrowth around the meeting house. This was to make room for the people and the wagons that were expected. They did not anticipate what occurred. An enormous crowd, as many as several thousand, arrived at the appointed date. Thirteen wagons loads of people and provisions showed up ready to camp out at this meeting. Whole families had come prepared to camp out for days. Some of these people had traveled over 100 miles, on wilderness roads or trails, to be there. The estimates of the number present ran as high as 8,000 men, women, and children. Later, writing of the events of that campmeeting, McGready wrote: At a huge evening meeting lighted by flaming torches... a Presbyterian pastor gave a throbbing message... The power of God seemed to shake the whole assembly. Toward the close of the sermon, the cries of the distressed arose almost as loud as the speakers voice. After the congregation was dismissed the solemnity increased, till the greater part of the multitude seemed engaged in the most solemn manner. No person seemed to wish to go home - hunger and sleep seemed to affect nobody - eternal things were the vast concern... Thus began the tradition known as campmeeting. The term came into use to describe meetings where people would come in such a manner, in wagons loaded with tents and provisions, and would camp out while the meeting lasted. Such a meeting might be for only days, but sometimes it was for a week or more. Although the term camp meeting was not used until 1802, this was the first true camp meeting, where a continuous outdoor service was combined with camping out. In addition to campmeetings, two other new and novel practices originated during the Great Revival. One of these was the new type of worship. Since there were virtually no musical instruments on the frontier of the type traditionally used in worship, music for the worship began to be provided by local musicians, trained or not. Anyone who had any type of musical instrument and who desired to participate was welcomed. This meant that the primary musical instruments used in the services were mandolins, fiddles, banjoes, and the like. Along with the new type of worship music, a new type of singing arose. As there were no trained choirs and no organs or pianos on the frontier, so there were no hymnals. New songs were written during the revival. These were a totally new type of song. The melodies were simple ones, with simple easily remembered words and lengthy choruses. From this singing, with its homemade instruments, evolved Gospel Music. Later, from Gospel came Black Gospel and Country Music. Besides the new type of songs and music, another new practice was that of placing a bench or a railing at the front of the congregation. Those who were lost, and who came under conviction of their sinfulness, were encouraged to go forward to what came to be called the altar, or the mourners bench. Here they would pray and seek a knowledge of forgiveness for their sins. When that knowledge or assurance of forgiveness came, then, and only then, was it felt that the one under conviction had joined the ranks of the redeemed. The largest campmeeting, which was at Cane Ridge in 1801, drew an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people. (Some estimates run much higher). This in a frontier region with still only a sparse population. (The largest city at the time in Kentucky was Lexington, and it had a population of less than 1,800.) The number of people attending the meetings in Tennessee and Kentucky was so great that no building could hold them, so all meetings were held outside. They would camp out in the open with their families, staying for days, and not wanting to go home. Writing years later, in 1820, John McGee described the meeting at Deshas Creek thus: "Many thousands of people attended. The mighty power and mercy of God was manifested. The people fell before the word like corn before a storm of wind, and many rose from the dust with a divine glory shining in their countenances, and gave glory to God in such strains as made the hearts of stubborn sinners to tremble." The Reverend William Hodge, writing of the Deshas Creek meeting, described it thus: Sabbath evening exhibited the most awful scene I ever beheld. About the centre of the camp, they (people) were lying in heaps and scattered all around. The sighs, groans, and prayers seemed to pierce the heavens, while the power of God fell upon almost all present." By 1801, the revival had spread over most of the settled regions of Kentucky and Tennessee, and into Ohio. In only a short time it swept like a wave over the states of Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and continued on until the entire nation was impacted. Peter Cartwright, a famous frontier evangelist: "I have seen more than a hundred sinners fall like dead men under one powerful sermon, and I have seen and heard more than five hundred Christians all shouting aloud the high praises of God at once; and I will venture to assert that many happy thousands were awakened and converted to God at these camp meetings. Some sinners mocked, some of the old dry professors opposed, some of the old starched Presbyterian preachers preached against these exercises, but still the work went on and spread almost in every direction, gathering additional force, until our country seemed all coming home to God." In the Great Revival, laymen seem to have been used as much as ministers, with men, women, and even children being greatly used of God.