Of Growth
And Strength



Quotes from the Past
(The Cainridge Revival of 1799-1804)
Originally compiled by Bill Britton

**All blue text is comments and added text

From the History of Tennessee

Published by Goodspeed publishing company, 1887

Entered according the act of Congress  1886

Office of the Library of Congress, at Washington  DC

Chapter XVlll Religious History (excerpts from pages 645-665

Quote: One of the first to arrive within the limits of the state was the reverend Charles Cumming. A Presbyterian minister who preached regularly to a congregation on the Holson valley not far from Abingsom, Virginia, as early as 1772. It was the custom of Mr. Cummings on Sunday morning to dress himself neatly put on his shot pouch , shoulder rifle, mount his horse and rife to church, where he would meet the congregation, each man with his rifle in hand. Entering the Church he would walk gravely through the crowd, ascend his pulpit, and after depositing his in one corner of it , so as to be ready for any emergency, commence the solemn services of the day. (The preachers spoken of within these pages were circuit-riding preachers and each had several parishes they preached in over the course of a month.)

In 1799 a sacramental meeting was held in the old Red River Baptist Church Near Port Royal, which considering the sparsely settled condition of the country , was quite largely attended, Elders James McGready, William Hodge and John Rankin, of the Presbyterian Church and Elder John McGee of the Methodist Episcopal Church were present. After a remarkable public address by Elder Hodge . . .   Elder McGee arose , expressed his conviction that a greater than he was preaching (The Elder Hodge was preaching prophetically) exorted the people to let the Lord God Omnipotent reign in their hearts, and broke into the following song:

“Come Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove
With all thy quickening Powers,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
in these cold hearts of ours.”

Having sung thus far two aged ladies Mrs. Pacely and Mrs. Clark commenced tremendous vociferating sentiments of praise (They started shouting praise as the presence of God fell on them.) and thanksgiving to the Most High for his grace in providing redemption for a fallen world, for some time the preacher attempted to continue his singing, but the venerable ladies vociferated louder than before; others of congregation united their voices with their in praise; the minister descending from the pulpit passed along the aisles vehemently shouting and exhorting: the clamor and confusion increased tenfold, screams of mercy (Repentance) were mingled with shouts of joy; a universal (Felt by all) and powerful agitation (Wave of conviction of the Holy Ghost) pervaded the multitude; suddenly individuals began to fall prostrate to the floor as if dead ,  where they lay for some time unconscious or unable to rise.

The Presbyterian Elders were so surprised and even astonished at this confusion (Despite the preaching of Elder Hodge and the Exhortation and sing of Elder McGee)  in the house of the Lord,  that they made their way outside and quietly queried among themselves “What is to be done?” Elder Hodges concluded that nothing could be done if it were the work of satan it would not last; and if it were the work of God efforts to control it or check the confusion would be in vain.  He thought it was of God, and decided to join in ascribing glory to God’s name.

All three therefore re-entered the house and found nearly the entire congregation on the floor. Soon two or more at a time began to rise shouting praise for the EVIDENCE FELT for sins forgiven, for redeeming grace and undying love

Such was the beginnings of the religious movement which on account of the strange bodily agitations attending upon it, was looked upon as the most wonderful event of the times.

The next meeting was held on the following Saturday and Sunday at the beach meeting house , ten miles west of Gallatin, Sumner county where was present a vast assembly and where were witnessed scenes similar to those above described.  

(INSERTED AS BACKGROUND) McGready had three small congregations in Muddy River, Red River and Gasper River in Logan County in the southwest of the state. The majority of the people were refugees from all states in the Union who fled from justice or punishment. They included murderers, horse thieves, highway robbers, and counterfeiters. The area was nicknamed Rogues Harbour.

'The first real manifestations of God's power came, however, in June 1800. Four to five-hundred members of McGready's three congregations, plus five ministers, had gathered at Red River for a "camp meeting" lasting several days. On the final day, "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."

'Convinced that God was moving, McGready and his colleagues planned another camp meeting to be held in late July 1800 at Gasper River. They had not anticipated what occurred. An enormous crowd - as many as 8,000 - began arriving at the appointed date, many from distances as great as 100 miles. ... Although the term camp meeting was not used till 1802, this was the first true camp meeting where a continuous outdoor service was combined with camping out. ...

'At a huge evening meeting lighted by flaming torches ... a Presbyterian pastor gave a throbbing message ... McGready recalled: 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 his 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. Here awakening and converting work was to be found in every part of the multitude; and even some things strangely and wonderfully new to me' (Church History magazine, No. 23, p 25).


August - Cane Ridge, Kentucky (Barton Stone)

Impressed by the revivals in 1800, Barton Stone, a Presbyterian minister, organised similar meetings in 1801 in his area at Cane Ridge north-east of Lexington. A huge crowd of around 12,500 attended in over 125 wagons including people from Ohio and Tennessee. At that time Lexington, the largest town in Kentucky, had less than 1,800 citizens. Now Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist preachers and circuit riders formed preaching teams, speaking simultaneously in different parts of the camp grounds, all aiming for conversions of sinners.

James Finley, later a Methodist circuit rider, described it:

'The noise was like the roar of Niagara. The bast sea of human being seemed to be agitated as if by a storm. I counted seven ministers, all preaching at one time, some on stumps, others in wagons and one standing on a tree which had, in falling, lodged against another. ...

'I stepped up on a log where I could have a better view of the surging sea of humanity. The scene that then presented itself to my mind was indescribable. At one time I saw at least five hundred swept down in a moment as if a battery of a thousand guns had been opened upon them, and then immediately followed shrieks and shouts that rent the very heavens' (Pratney 1994:104).

The Rev. Moses Hoge wrote: 'The careless fall down, cry out, tremble, and not infrequently are affected with convulsive twitchings ...

'Nothing that imagination can paint, can make a stronger impression upon the mind, than one of those scenes. Sinners dropping down on every hand, shrieking, groaning, crying for mercy, convulsed; professors praying, agonizing, fainting, falling down in distress, for sinners or in raptures of joy! ...

On the Sunday following this meeting a most wonderful meeting was held at Muddy River Church , a few miles north of Russellville, Kentucky. (These Circuit riding preachers had to travel hundreds of miles on horseback between meetings they had to be able to feed and care for themselves off the land and travel between points on mostly trails as few highways and roads existed at the time. So the revival we are reading of was completely independent in every local.)

To this meeting people came in all kinds of vehicles, on horseback and on foot from all distances up to 100 miles (So God sovereignly calls a meeting in 1799 there are no signs posted of a revival meeting. There are no promoters trying to fill the place. It was only the Holy Ghost drawing whom he will. This bears no resemblance of the man made monstrosity that is called evangelistic or revival meetings of this day.  When Jesus held meetings they were not announced the spirit drew “Unsaved” and “Saved” alike people traveling hundreds of miles and usually far more than the capacity of the place Christ was. It appears to me that in the first few episodes listed God was more preparing these preachers for what was to come.) Long before the hour of preaching came there were present three times as many as the house could seat, and still they came singing and in companies of tens fifties and hundreds. A temporary pulpit was erected in the words and seats for the multitudes made by felling large trees, and laying them on the ground. Preaching commenced , and soon the presence of the all-pervading power (of God) throughout the vast assembly. As night came on it was apparent the crowd did not intend to disperse. Some took wagons and hurried to bring straw for the barns and treading yards. Some fell to sewing wagon sheets together., and other s cutting forks and pots on which to spread them.  Counterpanes coverlets and sheets were also fastened together to make tents or camps. Others were dispatched to town and the nearest houses to collect bacon meal flour with cooking utensils to prepare food for the multitude.

In a few hours it was a sight to see how much had been gathered for the encampment. Fires were made, cooking begun and by dark candles were lighted abd fixed to hundreds of trees; and here was the first and perhaps most beautiful campground the world had ever seen. (2 years pass and people are now annually going out to these camp meetings.)

The Reverend Barton W. Stone a Presbyterian clergyman, pastor of Cane Ridge and Concord congregations in Bourban county Kentucky hearing of the religious excitement (Again I note that the excitement came from those who the Holy Ghost drew and not some false pompous fervor form a paid evangelist to stir a crowd.) in the southern part of his own state and if the camp meeting in Logan county Kentucky  started in the spring of 1801 to attend one of the camp meetings in Logan. Afterward he wrote a book describing what he had seen, and as no one was gotten a more minute description of the bodily agitation, otherwise known as the jerks or “epidemic epilepsy”, the following extracts  from his work are introduced. 

“On arriving I found the multitude assembled on the edge if a prairie where they continue encamped many successive days and nights during all which time worship was conducted in some parts of the encampment. The scene to me was passing strange. I baffles description . Many many many fell down as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in breathless and motionless state, sometimes for a few moments reviving and exhibiting symptoms of life by deep groans (Speaking in tongues of men and of angels) or piercing shrieks, or by a prayer for mercy most fervently uttered. After lying thus for hours they obtained deliverance. The gloomy cloud that have covered their faces seemed gradually and visibly to disappear, and hope in smiles to brighten into Joy. They would then arise shouting deliverance and addressing the surrounding multitude in language truly eloquent and impressive, with Astonishment I heard men and women and children declaring the glorious works of God and the mysteries of the Gospel. (He is astonished that by revelation these are speaking things well beyond their learning and education.) Their appeals were solemn heart rending bold and free. Under such addresses many others would fall down in the same state from which he speakers had just been delivered.

Austin Taft speaks of his experience after he fell down : It seemed to me I had already entered the dark abodes of eternal night, and right here something seemed to whisper to me—that there was mercy for me. I stopped and listened for a moment. What a word—mercy for me. It was the best news I ever heard. From that moment my faith laid hold upon the Savior’s promises with an unguiding grasp, and I saw a light in the distance far above my head, which grew brighter as it came near, and when it reached me I fell to the floor as quick as the lightning flash, and that moment was filled with the fullness of God. Old things passed away and all things became new. My happiness was complete.…And I remained motionless for 45 minutes without power to move a muscle. My good Presbyterian father thought I was dead and talked of sending for the doctor.

 Two or three of my particular acquaintances from a distance were struck down. I sat patiently by on of them (Who I knew to be a careless sinner) for hours and observed them with critical attention everything from beginning to end. I noticed the momentary reviving as if from death , the humble confession, the fervent prayer and the ultimate deliverance: them solemn thanks and praise to God. the affectionate exhortation to companions and to the people around to repent and come to Jesus. I was astonished at the knowledge of the Gospel truth displayed in these exhortations. (He is again astonished that by revelation these person he knows all too well is speaking things well beyond his learning and education.)  The effect (of his preaching) was that several others sank down into the appearance of death. After attending to many of these cases my conviction was complete that this was a good work, nor has my mind wavered since on the subject.

The bodily agitations or exercises attending the excitement were curious, and called by various names, as the falling exercise, the jerks, the dancing exercise, the barking exercise, the laughing and singing exercises and so on. The falling exercise was very common among all classes; saints, and  careless sinners, of every age and grade from philosophers, the those who behaved themselves as clowns.

The person involved in this exercise would generally with a piecing scream fall like a log on the floor or earth and appear as dead. The jerks can not be so easily described. .Sometime the person beset with the jerks would be affected on one part of area of their body and other times in their whole body.  When the head alone was affected it would jerk backward and forwards or from side to side so quickly that the persons facial features could not be distinguished. When the whole person was affected I have seen a person stand in one place and jerk backward and forward in quick succession the head nearly touching the floor behind and before. (Wow) All classes saints as well as sinners (This removes any argument of the jerks being indicative of the presence of a demon) the strong (Later they speak of those who try to resist) as well as the weak were all this affected.  When asked they could not account for what happened but some have told me that while they were jerking they were in the happiest moments of their life. (They did not fear, nor were in pain or torment.)

The dancing experience generally began with the jerks and was peculiar to professors of religion. The participant after jerking awhile began to dance and the jerks would cease. Such dancing was heavenly to the spectators  (These felt the anointing and power of God from those who danced like David before the Lord.) The smile of heaven shown upon the subject, and their whole beings appeared to be assimilated into angels.

The Barking exercise, as opposers contemptuously called it  was nothing but the jerks. (Of this manifestation  I can say the author though he was a witness does not know what he is talking about as it had not affected him personally – in the Hebrew in the OT one word to prophesy is NABU and it means to bark like a dog, These gruntings groanings and barkings are the gift of tongues and are contained in many verses in the OT and NT but because this has been hid even to those in Pentecost and the Charismatic movement they have created out of whole cloth flse doctrines concerning this gift and operation,)  A person affected with the jerks especially in the head would OFTEN make a grunt of a bark from the suddenness of the jerk  (this assumption by the writer is also incorrect.) The name of Barking seems to have had its origin from and old Presbyterian preacher of east Tennessee. He had gone in the woods for devotion and was seized by the jerks. Standing near a sapling he caught hold of it to prevent his falling and as his head jerked back he gave a grunt or a kind of noise similar to a bark his face upward. Some wag discovered him as he jerked and continued to bark and reported locally that they saw the preacher barking up a tree (This is the origin of the phrase “one barking up the wrong tree.”)

The laughing exercise was frequent., confined to the religious (Those who were right with God) It was a loud hearty laughter but excited laughter in not that saw it.  The person involved appeared many times rapturously solemn (This choice of words seems paradoxical rapture denotes one who is beside themselves and Solemn denotes one who has throttled their emotions it would seem one could not be both.) And his laughter excited solemnity in saints and sinners. It was truly indescribable.

The running exercise was nothing more than the persons feeling something of thse bodily agitations, through fear , attempted to run away and thus escape from them (This is no more possible than when Saul sent his men of valor to arrest David when he Hid among the prophets and they were completely overcome by the Holy Spirit – the doctrine of the Holy Ghost is a gentleman is utterly false.) but it commonly happened that they ran not too far before they fell or they became so agitated that they could not proceed any further.

The singing exerise was more unaccountable than anything else that I ever saw. The subject endowed  came into a very happy state of mind and would sing most melodiously, NOT FROM THE MOUTH OR NOSE but entirely from the breast, the sound issued thense. Such noise silencing everthing and attracting the attention of all. (Jeremiah 4:3 Heart shall sound like pipes.)

Elder Stone has been described as a man of respectable bearing, of spotless character, and childlike simplicity Like Elder Hodges and Dr. J. P. Campbell Elder stone believed the Jerks were the work of God. Concluding that it to be something beyond anything we had ever known in nature.

Another contemporary that witnessed these events was the celebrated Peter Cartwright and he reported thus:

Just in the midst of our controversies on the subject of the powerful exercises among the people under preaching, a new exercise broke out among us, called the jerks, which was overwhelming in its effects upon the people, No matter whether they were saints of sinners they would be taken under a warm song or a sermon and seized with a convulsive jerking all over, which they could not possibly avoid; the more they resisted the more they jerked. If they would not strive against it, and would pray in earnest  the jerking would usually abate. I have seen more than 500 persons jerking at one time in my large congregations. Most usually persons taken with the jerks , to obtain relief as they said would rise up and dance. Some would run but could not get away, some would resist; on such the jerks were severe. To see these proud young gentlemen and ladies dressed in silks  jewelry and prunella (Hair pieces and hat pieces that contain feathers and flowers) from top to toe, take the jerks would of excite my risibility’s . The first jerk or so you would see their fine bonnets and combs fly, and so sudden would be the jerking of their head that their loose hair would crack almost as loud as a Wagoner’s whip.

Besides other amusing experiences with jerks, Peter Cartwright relates an account of a very different nature of a man who was jerked to death, which is probably the only case on record, a company of drunken rowdies attended a camp meeting on what was called the Ridge, The jerks were very prevalent. The leader of the rowdies was a very large, drinking man, who cursed the jerks and all religion. Shortly afterward he himself took the jerks and started to run, but jerked so powerfully that he could not get away. Halting among some saplings he took a bottle of whiskey out of his pocket and swore he would drink the – jerks to death, but he jerked so violently he could not get the bottle to his mouth. At length, on account of a sudden jerk, his bottle struck a sapling, was broken and his whiskey spilled upon the ground. A great crowd gathered around him, and when he lost his whiskey he became very enraged and swore very profanely. At length he fetched a very violent attack, snapped his neck, and soon expired.

Peter Cartwright looked upon the jerks as a judgment sent from God to bring sinners to repentance, and to show to professors of religion that God could work “with or without means, to the glory of His grace and the salvation of the world”. Lorenzo Dow has also left his account of the jerks; He says: “ I have seen all denominations of religion exercised with the jerks, gentleman and ladies, black and white, young and old without exception…I believe it does not affect those naturalists who try to get it to philosophize upon, (those that are curious and want to analyze it)  and rarely those who are the most pious, but the lukewarm, lazy professor (One who says I love God but does not in deed) and the wicked are subject to it.” His opinion was that the jerking was “entirely involuntary and not to be accounted for on any known principal”.

The numbers that were  affected at different sacramental camp-meetings were various. At Cabin Creek, May 1801, so many fell that on the third night, to prevent their being trampled upon, they were collected together and laid out in order, in two squares of the meeting-house, covering the floor like so many corpses. At Paint Creek, 200 fell. At Pleasant Point, 300, and at Cane Ridge, In August 1801, as many as 3000 are computed to have fallen. (The point is that all of these were life changing conversions and the high numbers in each congregation also demonstrate that despite the preaching of the day 80-90 percent of these congregations were in fact tares.)

The great revival lasted through the years 1800, 1801, 1802 and 1803, and resulted in the conversion of many thousands of people, though no very accurate estimate of the number was ever made. Perhaps it’s most prominent peculiarity was that it was a spontaneous outburst of religious emotion among the masses. (Rather than an evangelist ginning up an audience into a level of emotion as is the fare these days)  There was no great revival preacher like Wesley or Whitefield; there were not protracted meeting, at which by a long-continued and united effort, a revival was gradually brought about. But the camp-meetings were the result of the revival which in an unusual manner came upon both preacher and people.

Another characteristic of the revival was this: doctrinal and dogmatically discussions were dispensed with. Their value seems to have been entirely overlooked. The efforts for the ministers were chiefly, if not wholly devoted to the multitudes the great religious truth of the impossibility of escape from punishment for sin, except through repentance and the acceptance of Christ as the Savior of the world; hence, the people labored under a powerful conviction of the necessity of reformation in their daily lives, which is always of infinitely greater importance than the doctrine of the decrees…

When the great excitement had died away, however, the discussion of doctrines was again renewed. (In other words the professional levites came in in mass to assert control and reel the people in under their control instead of the Holy Ghost’s.)  These bodily agitations, which within the stat of Tennessee were, strange as it may first appear, confined almost exclusively to the Methodists and Presbyterians, although they were experienced to some extent by the Baptists. But to the Presbyterians belong the credit of first putting a check to the largely diminishing this wild extravagance. A minister of this denomination ( the Rev. Mr. Lyle) at a great camp-meeting in Paris, Ky., in 1803, arose, and in the strongest language denounced what he saw as extravagant and even monstrous, and immediately afterward, a part of the people under his leadership, took decided ground against the jerks. From that moment the wonderful movement began to decline.

((Though the revival first began with the Presbyterians it was according to the author the Presbyterians that with a vengeance came in and killed the revival declaring it not of God.  Yet in a move of complete hypocrisy they attempting to gather in for themselves as many of the souls that were converted.  Rejecting the move of the Spirit and the witnesses among themselves who had been their from the start, they instead chose as scripture saith: The dog hath return to its own vomit.”  And they returned to their damning doctrines and turned from Christ rather being lead by the dead man John Calvin whose voice for them yet speaketh from the grave.)

Although generally supposed then to be so, the manifestations in this revival were not be any means new or peculiar to those times. Such agitations were common and remarkable violent in the days of the Whitefields and the Wesleys. They beat a close resemblance to what was known as the jumping exercise in Wales. Besides these instances of these exercises there were in France 200 years ago.

More wonderful manifestations that any recorded as having been witnessed  in Tennessee. A quaint old book written in 1741 by Rex. Charles Chauncey, a notes divine, entitled, “A WONDERFUL NARRATIVE AND FAITHFUL ACCOUNT OF THE FRENCH PROFPHETS, THEIR ASITATIONS, ESCTACIES AND INSPIRATIONS”, states that “ an account of them would be almost incredible if they had not happened in view of France, and been known all over Europe. From the month of June 1688, to February following, there arose 500 of 600 Protestants of both sexes who gave themselves out as prophets and inspired with the Holy Ghost. The sect soon became numerous; there were many thousands of them. They had strange fits and these fits came upon them fits came on them with tremblings, and faintings, as in a swoon, which made them stretch out their arms and legs and stagger several times before they dropped down. (Fell to the ground) They remained caught up in prophetic ecstasy)  they uttered all that came into their mouths. They said they saw the heavens opened, the angels, paradise and hell. When the prophets had for awhile been under agitation of body they began to prophesy, the burden of their prophecies being ‘Amend your lives, repent ye, for the end of all things draweth nigh. ’Persons of good understanding knew not what to think of it – to hear little boys and young girls ( of the dregs of mankind who could not so much as read) quote many texts of the Holy Scripture…One child was thirteen of fourteen months old and kept then in a cradle and had not itself spoken a word, nor could it go alone. When they came in where it was, the child spoke distinctly in French, with a voice small like a child but loud enough to be heard well over the room. There were numerous children from three, four, and five years old and so on up to fifteen and sixteen, who being seized with agitations and ecstasies delivered long exhortations under inspiration, “ect.  (These were the French Huguenots tens of thousands were slaughtered for their faith.)

And we have yet to go back another 300 years to 1530 and the great Anabaptist revival from with all of fundamentalist was born these people were endowed with a great outpouring of the spirit and prophesied and demonstrated all manner of gifts. The revival was so great it began with the tens the hundreds the thousands the tens of thousands and the hundreds of thousands and in its day it wrought a great deliverance of God breaking the back of the Roman Catholic and Protestant persecutions.

What became of these tens of thousands of converts:
By "early Evangelicalism," I refer to a more heterogeneous phenomenon: the spread of religious revivalism throughout the country as itinerant preachers brought their version of the gospel to people in less developed regions of the expanding country. This geographical spread accompanied, and hastened, a loosening of the traditional theologetical tenets and ecclesiastical structures of the major Protestant denominations, particularly Baptism, Methodism and Presbyterianism. The principal focus here is on these three denominations because they were the most successful in their efforts to win converts among the general population;
by the time of the Civil War, "the South was 90 percent Protestant, and 90 percent of the Protestants were Baptists or Methodists."” So the Baptists – Southern Baptists were twice visited with Holy Ghost revival first in their founding in the Anabaptist revival and then this revival that took place from 1799 – to the Civil War  so between 1865 and 1910 they forgot their spiritual roots.

I have inserted here Testimony of Charles Finney’s conversion  --Who was not part of this revival but a figure that while being revered by fundamentalists and especially Baptists – his very words and testimony as to his having a second distinct experience in salvation that he called the baptism of the Holy Ghost – is soundly rejected. And why because of corrupt denominational doctrines and authority that must be obey above God.

Charles Finney became well known in revivals in the nineteenth century. A keen sportsman and young lawyer, he had a mighty empowering by God's Spirit on the night of his conversion on Wednesday 10 October 1821. That morning the Holy Spirit convicted him on his way to work. So he spent the morning in the woods near his small town of Adams in New York State, praying. There he surrendered fully to God. He returned his law office that afternoon, assisting his employer Squire Wright to set up a new office. He wrote:

'By evening we had the books and furniture adjusted, and I made a good fire in an open fireplace, hoping to spend the evening alone. Just at dark Squire W--, seeing that everything was adjusted, told me good night and went to his home. I had accompanied him to the door, and as I closed the door and turned around my heart seemed to be liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out and the thought of my heart was, "I want to pour my whole soul out to God." The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room back of the front office to pray.

'There was no fire and no light in this back room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed to me as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at his feet. It seemed to me a reality that he stood before me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to him. I wept aloud like a child and made such confession as I could with my choked words. It seemed to me that I bathed his feet with my tears, and yet I had no distinct impression that I touched him.

'I must have continued in this state for a good while, but my mind was too much absorbed with the interview to remember anything that I said. As soon as my mind became calm enough I returned to the front office and found that the fire I had made of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any memory of ever hearing the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can remember distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.

'No words can express the wonderful love that was spread abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love. I literally bellowed out the unspeakable overflow of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after another, until I remember crying out, "I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me." I said, "Lord, I cannot bear any more," yet I had no fear of death' (Wessel 1977:20-22).

The result? That night a member of the church choir which Finney led called in at his office, amazed to find the former skeptic in a 'state of loud weeping' and unable to talk to him for some time. That young friend left and soon returned with an elder from the church who was usually serious and rarely laughed. 'When he came in,' Finney observed, 'I was very much in the state in which I was when the young man went out to call him. He asked me how I felt and I began to tell him. Instead of saying anything he fell into a most spasmodic laughter. It seemed as if it was impossible for him to keep from laughing from the very bottom of his heart' (Wessel 1977:22).

Next morning, with 'the renewal of these mighty waves of love and salvation' flowing through him, Finney witnessed to his employer who was strongly convicted and later made his peace with God. That morning, Finney continues, 'Deacon B-- came into the office and said to me, "Mr. Finney, do you remember that my cause is to be tried at ten o'clock this morning? I suppose you are ready?" I had been retained to attend this suit as his attorney.

'I replied to him, "Deacon B--, I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause and I cannot plead yours."

'He looked at me with astonishment and said, "What do you mean?"

'I told him, in a few words, that I had enlisted in the cause of Christ, and then repeated that I had a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause, and that he must go and get somebody else to attend his lawsuit. I could not do it.

'He dropped his head and without making any reply went out. A few moments later, in passing the window, I observed that Deacon B-- was standing in the road, seemingly lost in deep meditation. He went away, as I afterward learned, and immediately settled his suit privately. He then betook himself to prayer and soon got into a much higher religious state than he had ever been before.

'I soon sallied forth from the office to converse with those whom I might meet about their souls. I had the impression, which has never left my mind, that God wanted me to preach the Gospel, and that I must begin immediately. ...

'I spoke with many persons that day, and I believe the Spirit of God made lasting impressions upon every one of them. I cannot remember one whom I spoke with, who was not soon after converted. ...

'In the course of the day a good deal of excitement was created in the village because of what the Lord had done for my soul. Some thought one thing and some another. At evening, without any appointment having been made, I observed that the people were going to the place where they usually held their conference and prayer meetings. ...

'I went there myself. The minister was there, and nearly all the principal people in the village. No one seemed ready to open the meeting, but the house was packed to its utmost capacity. I did not wait for anybody, but rose and began by saying that I then knew that religion was from God. I went on and told such parts of my experience as it seemed important for me to tell. ...

'We had a wonderful meeting that evening, and from that day we had a meeting every evening for a long time. The work spread on every side.

'As I had been a leader among the young people I immediately appointed a meeting for them, which they all attended. ... They were converted one after another with great rapidity, and the work continued among them until only one of their number was left unconverted.


The following is the source material from Reverend Barton W. Stone’s biography the last chapter is eye opening as the Presbyterians close ranks and disfellowship those who were in the revival from the first.

His mind is greatly agitated by Calvinistic speculations--He re-examined the Scriptures, and cordially abandons Calvinism--Hears of a great religious excitement in Logan county, Ky., in the spring of 1801, and hastens to attend a Camp-meeting in that county--Is astonished at the wonderful religious exercises--Multitudes confess the Saviour--Returns from Logan filled with religious zeal--Under his labors similar scenes occur at Caneridge and Concord--Great excitement and religious interest pervade the community--Married to Elizabeth Campbell, July, 1801--Great Caneridge meeting

About this time my mind was continually tossed on the waves of speculative divinity, the all-engrossing theme of the religious community at that period. Clashing, controversial opinions were urged by the different sects with much zeal and bad feeling. No surer sign of the low state of true religion. I at that time believed, and taught, that mankind were so totally depraved that they could do nothing acceptable to God, till his spirit, by some physical, almighty, and mysterious power had quickened, enlightened, and regenerated the heart, and thus prepared the sinner to believe in Jesus for salvation. I began plainly to see, that if God did not perform this regenerating work in all, it must be because he chose to do it for some, and not for others, and that this depended on His own sovereign will and pleasure. It then required no depth of intellect to see that this doctrine is inseparably linked with unconditional election and reprobation, as taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith. They are virtually one; and this was the reason why I admitted the decrees of /61/ election and reprobation, having admitted the doctrine of total depravity. They are inseparable.

Scores of objections would continually roll across my mind against this system. These I imputed to the blasphemous suggestions of Satan, and labored to repel them as Satanic temptations, and not honestly to meet them with scriptural arguments. Often when I was addressing the listening multitudes on the doctrine of total depravity, their inability to believe--and of the necessity of the physical power of God to produce faith; and then persuading the helpless to repent and believe the gospel, my zeal in a moment would be chilled at the contradiction. How can they believe? How can they repent? How can they do impossibilities? How can they be guilty in not doing them? Such thoughts would almost stifle utterance, and were as mountains pressing me down to the shades of death. I tried to rest in the common salvo of that day, i.e. the distinction between natural and moral ability and inability. The pulpits were continually ringing with this doctrine; but to my mind it ceased to be a relief; for by whatever name it be called, that inability was in the sinner, and therefore he could not believe, nor repent, but must be damned. Wearied with the works and doctrines of men, and distrustful of their influence, I made the Bible my constant companion. I honestly, earnestly, and prayerfully sought for the truth, determined to buy it at the sacrifice of everything else.

On a certain evening, when engaged in secret prayer and reading my Bible, my mind became unusually filled with comfort and peace. I never recollect of having before experienced such an ardent love and tenderness for all mankind, and such a longing desire for their salvation. My mind was chained to this subject, and for some days and nights I was almost continually praying for the ruined world. During this time I expressed my feelings to a pious person, and rashly remarked, so great is my love for sinners, that had I power I would save them all. The person appeared to be horror-stricken, /62/ and remarked, Do you love them more than God does? Why then does he not save them? Surely, he has almighty power. I blushed, was confounded and silent, and quickly retired to the silent woods for meditation and prayer. I asked myself, Does God love the world--the whole world? And has he not almighty power to save? If so, all must be saved, for who can resist his power? Had I a friend or child, whom I greatly loved, and saw him at the point of drowning, and utterly unable to help himself, and if I were perfectly able to save him, would I not do it? Would I not contradict my love to him--my very nature, if I did not save him? Should I not do wrong in withholding my power? And will not God save all whom he loves?

These were to me puzzling questions--I could not satisfactorily solve them consistently with my faith. I was firmly convinced that according to Scripture all were not saved--the conclusion then was irresistible, that God did not love all, and therefore it followed of course, that the spirit in me, which loved all the world so vehemently, could not be the Spirit of God, but the spirit of delusion. My mind became involved in gloom, my troubles rolled back upon me with renewed weight, and all my joys were gone. I prostrated myself before God in prayer; but it was immediately suggested, you are praying in unbelief, and "whatsoever is not of faith is sin." You must believe or expect no good from the hand of God. But I cannot believe; as soon could I make a world. Then you must be damned, for, "he that believeth not shall be damned."--But will the Lord condemn me to eternal punishment for not doing an impossibility? So I thought. I shudder while I write it--blasphemy rose in my heart against such a God, and my tongue was tempted to utter it. Sweat profusely burst from the pores of my body, and the fires of hell gat hold on me. In this uncommon state I remained for two or three days.

From this state of perplexity I was relieved by the /63/ precious word of God. From reading and meditating upon it, I became convinced that God did love the whole world, and that the reason why he did not save all, was because of their unbelief; and that the reason why they believed not, was not because God did not exert his physical, almighty power in them to make them believe, but because they neglected and received not his testimony, given in the Word concerning his Son. "These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through his name." I saw that the requirement to believe in the Son of God, was reasonable; because the testimony given was sufficient to produce faith in the sinner; and the invitations and encouragement of the gospel were sufficient, if believed, to lead him to the Saviour, for the promised Spirit, salvation and eternal life.

This glimpse of faith--of truth, was the first divine ray of light, that ever led my distressed, perplexed mind from the labyrinth of Calvinism and error, in which I had so long been bewildered. It was that which led me into rich pastures of gospel-liberty. I now saw plainly that it was not against the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that I had been tempted to blaspheme, but against the character of a God not revealed in the Scriptures--a character no rational creature can love or honor--a character universally detested when seen even in man; for what man, professing great love for his children, would give them impossible commands, and then severely punish them for not doing them; and all this for his mere good pleasure? What man acting thus would not be despised as a monster, or demon in human shape, and be hissed from all respectable society? Shall we dare to impute such a character to the God of the universe?

Let me here speak when I shall be lying under the clods of the grave. Calvinism is among the heaviest clogs on Christianity in the world. It is a dark mountain between heaven and earth, and is amongst the /64/ most discouraging hindrances to sinners from seeking the kingdom of God, and engenders bondage and gloominess to the saints. Its influence is felt throughout the Christian world, even where it is least suspected. Its first link is total depravity. Yet are there thousands of precious saints in this system.

As might be expected, many objections arose in my mind against the doctrines just received by me, and these objections were multiplied by a correspondent, a Presbyterian preacher, to whom I had communicated my views. I resolved not to declare them publicly till I could be able to defend them against successful opposition. In a subsequent part of these memoirs, the declaration and defence will be seen.

Things moved on quietly in my congregations, and in the country generally. Apathy in religious societies appeared everywhere to an alarming degree. Not only the power of religion had disappeared, but also the very form of it was waning fast away, and continued so till the beginning of the present century. Having heard of a remarkable religious excitement in the south of Kentucky, and in Tennessee, under the labors of James McGready and other Presbyterian ministers, I was very anxious to be among them; and, early in the spring of 1801, went there to attend a camp-meeting. There, on the edge of a prairie in Logan county, Kentucky, the multitudes came together, and continued a number of days and nights encamped on the ground; during which time worship was carried on in some part of the encampment. The scene to me was new, and passing strange. It baffled description. Many, very many fell down, as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state--sometimes for a few moments reviving, and exhibiting symptoms of life by a deep groan, or piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy most fervently uttered. After lying thus for hours, they obtained deliverance. The gloomy cloud, which had covered their faces, seemed gradually and visibly to disappear, and hope /65/ in smiles brightened into joy--they would rise shouting deliverance, and then would address the surrounding multitude in language truly eloquent and impressive. With astonishment did I hear men, women and children declaring the wonderful works of God, and the glorious mysteries of the gospel. Their appeals were solemn, heart-penetrating, bold and free. Under such addresses many others would fall down into the same state from which the speakers had just been delivered.

Two or three of my particular acquaintances from a distance were struck down. I sat patiently by one of them, whom I knew to be a careless sinner, for hours, and observed with critical attention every thing that passed from the beginning to the end. I noticed the momentary revivings as from death--the humble confession of sins--the fervent prayer, and the ultimate deliverance--then the solemn thanks and praise to God--the affectionate exhortation to companions and to the people around, to repent and come to Jesus. I was astonished at the knowledge of gospel truth displayed in the address. The effect was, that several sunk down into the same appearance of death. After attending to many such cases, my conviction was complete that it was a good work--the work of God; nor has my mind wavered since on the subject. Much did I then see, and much have I since seen, that I considered to be fanaticism; but this should not condemn the work. The Devil has always tried to ape the works of God, to bring them into disrepute. But that cannot be a Satanic work, which brings men to humble confession and forsaking of sin--to solemn prayer--fervent praise and thanksgiving, and to sincere and affectionate exhortations to sinners to repent and go to Jesus the Saviour.

I am always hurt to hear people speak lightly of this work. I always think they speak of what they know nothing about. Should every thing bearing the impress of imperfection be blasphemously rejected, who amongst us at this time could stand? But more on this subject hereafter. /66/

The meeting being closed, I returned with ardent spirits to my congregations. I reached my appointment at Caneridge on Lord's-day. Multitudes had collected, anxious to hear the religious news of the meeting I had attended in Logan. I ascended the pulpit, and gave a relation of what I had seen and heard; then opened my Bible and preached from these words: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." On the universality of the gospel, and faith as the condition of salvation, I principally dwelt, and urged the sinner to believe now, and be saved. I labored to remove their pleas and objections, nor was it labor in vain. The congregation was affected with awful solemnity, and many returned home weeping. Having left appointments to preach in the congregation within a few days, I hurried over to Concord to preach at night.

At our night meeting at Concord, two little girls were struck down under the preaching of the word, and in every respect were exercised as those were in the south of Kentucky, as already described. Their addresses made deep impressions on the congregation. On the next day I returned to Caneridge, and attended my appointment at William Maxwell's. I soon heard of the good effects of the meeting on the Sunday before. Many were solemnly engaged in seeking salvation, and some had found the Lord, and were rejoicing in him. Among these last was my particular friend Nathaniel Rogers, a man of first respectability and influence in the neighborhood. Just as I arrived at the gate, my friend Rogers and his lady came up; as soon as he saw me, he shouted aloud the praises of God. We hurried into each others' embrace, he still praising the Lord aloud. The crowd left the house, and hurried to this novel scene. In less than twenty minutes, scores had fallen to the ground--paleness, trembling, and anxiety appeared in all--some attempted to fly from the scene panic stricken, but they either fell, or /67/ returned immediately to the crowd, as unable to get away. In the midst of this exercise, an intelligent deist in the neighborhood, stepped up to me, and said, Mr. Stone, I always thought before that you were an honest man; but now I am convinced you are deceiving the people. I viewed him with pity, and mildly spoke a few words to him--immediately he fell as a dead man, and rose no more till he confessed the Saviour. The meeting continued on that spot in the open air, till late at night, and many found peace in the Lord.

The effects of this meeting through the country were like fire in dry stubble driven by a strong wind. All felt its influence more or less. Soon after, we had a protracted meeting at Concord. The whole country appeared to be in motion to the place, and multitudes of all denominations attended. All seemed heartily to unite in the work, and in Christian love. Party spirit, abashed, shrunk away. To give a true description of this meeting cannot be done; it would border on the marvellous. It continued five days and nights without ceasing. Many, very many will through eternity remember it with thanksgiving and praise.

On the 2d of July, 1801, I was married to Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of Col. William Campbell and Tabitha his wife, daughter of Gen. William russell, of Virginia. My companion was pious, and much engaged in religion. We hurried up from Muhlenberg, where her mother lived, to be in readiness for a great meeting, to commence at Caneridge shortly after. This memorable meeting came on Thursday or Friday before the third Lord's-day in August, 1801. The roads were literally crowded with wagons, carriages, horsemen, and footmen, moving to the solemn camp. The sight was affecting. It was judged, by military men on the ground, that there were between twenty and thirty thousand collected. Four or five preachers were frequently speaking at the same time, in different parts of the encampment, without confusion. The Methodist and Baptist preachers aided in the work, and all appeared cordially united in it--of one mind and one soul, and the salvation of sinners seemed to be the great object of all. We all engaged in singing the same songs of praise--all united in prayer--all preached the same things--free salvation urged upon all by faith and repentance. A particular description of this meeting would fill a large volume, and then the half would not be told. The numbers converted will be known only in eternity. Many things transpired there, which were so much like miracles, that if they were not, they had the same effects as miracles on the unfaithful and unbelievers; for many of them by these were convinced that Jesus was the Christ, and bowed in submission to him. This meeting continued six or seven days and nights, and would have continued longer, but provisions for such a multitude failed in the neighborhood.

To this meeting many had come from Ohio and other distant parts, who returned home and diffused the same spirit in their neighborhoods, and the same works followed. So low had religion sunk, and such carelessness universally had prevailed, that I have thought that nothing common could have arrested the attention of the world; therefore these uncommon agitations were sent for this purpose. However, this was their effect upon the community. As I have seen no history of these bodily agitations of that day, but from the pens of enemies, or scorners; and as I have been an eye and ear witness of them from the beginning, and am now over three score and ten years of age, on the brink of eternity, into which almost all of the old witnesses have entered, therefore I will endeavor to give a description of them in a distant chapter, for your information.

An account of the remarkable religious exercises witnessed in the beginning of the 19th century.

The bodily agitations or exercises, attending the excitement in the beginning of this century, were various, and called by various names;--as, the falling exercise--the jerks--the dancing exercise--the barking exercise--the laughing and singing exercise, &c.--The falling exercise was very common among all classes, the saints and sinners of every age and of every grace, from the philosopher to the clown. The subject of this exercise would, generally, with a piercing scream, fall like a log on the floor, earth, or mud, and appear as dead. Of thousands of similar cases, I will mention one. At a meeting, two gay young ladies, sisters, were standing together attending to the exercises and preaching at the time. Instantly they both fell, with a shriek of distress, and lay for more than an hour apparently in a lifeless state. Their mother, a pious Baptist, was in great distress, fearing they would not revive. At length they began to exhibit symptoms of life, by crying fervently for mercy, and then relapsed into the same death-like state, with an awful gloom on their countenances. After awhile, the gloom on the face of one was succeeded by a heavenly smile, and she cried out, precious Jesus, and rose up and spoke of the love of God--the preciousness of Jesus, and of the glory of the gospel, to the surrounding crowd, in language almost superhuman, and pathetically exhorted all to repentance. In a little while after, the other sister was similarly exercised. From that time they became remarkably pious members of the church.

I have seen very many pious persons fall in the same way, from a sense of the danger of their unconverted children, brothers, or sisters--from a sense of the danger of their neighbors, and of the sinful world. I have /70/ heard them agonizing in tears and strong crying for mercy to be shown to sinners, and speaking like angels to all around.

The jerks cannot be so easily described. Sometimes the subject of the jerks would be affected in some one member of the body, and sometimes in the whole system. When the head alone was affected, it would be jerked backward and forward, or from side to side, so quickly that the features of the face could not be distinguished. When the whole system was affected, I have seen the person stand in one place, and jerk backward and forward in quick succession, their head nearly touching the floor behind and before. All classes, saints and sinners, the strong as well as the weak, were thus affected. I have inquired of those thus affected. They could not account for it; but some have told me that those were among the happiest seasons of their lives. I have seen some wicked persons thus affected, and all the time cursing the jerks, while they were thrown to the earth with violence. Though so awful to behold, I do not remember than any one of the thousands I have seen ever sustained an injury in body. This was as strange as the exercise itself.

The dancing exercise. This generally began with the jerks, and was peculiar to professors of religion. The subject, after jerking awhile, began to dance, and then the jerks would cease. such dancing was indeed heavenly to the spectators; there was nothing in it like levity, nor calculated to excite levity in the beholders. The smile of heaven shone on the countenance of the subject, and assimilated to angels appeared the whole person. Sometimes the motion was quick and sometimes slow. Thus they continued to move forward and backward in the same track or alley till nature seemed exhausted, and they would fall prostrate on the floor or earth, unless caught by those standing by. While thus exercised, I have heard their solemn praises and prayers ascending to God.

The barking exercise, (as opposers contemptuously /71/ called it,) was nothing but the jerks. A person affected with the jerks, especially in his head, would often make a grunt, or bark, if you please, from the suddenness of the jerk. This name of barking seems to have had its origin from an old Presbyterian preacher of East Tennessee. He had gone into the woods for private devotion, and was seized with the jerks. Standing near a sapling, he caught hold of it, to prevent his falling, and as his head jerked back, he uttered a grunt or kind of noise similar to a bark, his face being turned upwards. Some wag discovered him in this position, and reported that he found him barking up a tree.

The laughing exercise was frequent, confined solely with the religious. It was a loud, hearty laughter, but one sui generis; it excited laughter in none else. The subject appeared rapturously solemn, and his laughter excited solemnity in saints and sinners. It is truly indescribable.

The running exercise was nothing more than, that persons feeling something of these bodily agitations, through fear, attempted to run away, and thus escape from them; but it commonly happened that they ran not far, before they fell, or became so greatly agitated that they could proceed no farther. I knew a young physician of a celebrated family, who came some distance to a big meeting to see the strange things he had heard of. He and a young lady had sportively agreed to watch over, and take care of each other, if either should fall. At length the physician felt something very uncommon, and started from the congregation to run into the woods; he was discovered running as for life, but did not proceed far till he fell down, and there lay till he submitted to the Lord, and afterwards became a zealous member of the church. Such cases were common.

I shall close this chapter with the singing exercise. This is more unaccountable than any thing else I ever saw. The subject in a very happy state of mind would sing most melodiously, not from the mouth or nose, but /72/ entirely in the breast, the sounds issuing thence. Such music silenced every thing, and attracted the attention of all. It was most heavenly. None could ever be tired of hearing it. Doctor J. P. Campbell and myself were together at a meeting, and were attending to a pious lady thus exercised, and concluded it to be something surpassing any thing we had known in nature.

Thus have I given a brief account of the wonderful things that happened in the great excitement in the beginning of this century. That there were many eccentricities, and much fanaticism in this excitement, was acknowledged by its warmest advocates; indeed it would have been a wonder, if such things had not appeared, in the circumstances of that time. Yet the good effects were seen and acknowledged in every neighborhood, and among the different sects it silenced contention, and promoted unity for awhile; and those blessed effects would have continued, had not men put forth their unhallowed hands to hold up their tottering ark, mistaking it for the ark of God. In the next chapter this will appear.

Hemorrhage of the lungs from excessive speaking, &c.--Attends a camp meeting at Paris--Meets with opposition--Frees his slaves--Richard M'Nemar, John Dunlavy, John Thompson, Robert Marshall and himself concur in religious views--Revival checked by opposition--Partyism rekindled--M'Nemar tried--Protest against proceedings of Synod in M'Nemar's case, and withdrawal of Richard M'Nemar, John Dunlavy, John Thompson, Robert Marshall and himself from jurisdiction of Synod--They are suspended--Formed themselves into a separate Presbytery, called Springfield Presbytery--Apology published--Abandons Presbyterianism--Surrenders all claim to salary--Last will and testament of Springfield Presbytery.

Since the beginning of the excitement I had been employed day and night in preaching, singing, visiting and praying with the distressed, till my lungs failed, and became inflamed, attended with a violent cough and /73/ spitting of blood. It was believed to be a dangerous case, and might terminate in consumption. My strength failed, and I felt myself fast descending to the tomb. Viewing this event near, and that I should soon cease from my labors, I had a great desire to attend a camp-meeting at Paris, a few miles distant from Caneridge. My physician had strictly forbidden me to preach any more till my disease should be removed.

At this camp-meeting the multitudes assembled in a shady grove near Paris, with their wagons and provisions. Here for the first time a Presbyterian preacher arose and opposed the work, and the doctrine by which the work amongst us had its existence and life. He labored hard to Calvinize the people, and to regulate them according to his standard of propriety. He wished them to decamp at night, and to repair to the town, nearly a mile off, for worship in a house that could not contain half the people. This could not be done without leaving their tents and all exposed. The consequence was, the meeting was divided, and the work greatly impeded. Infidels and formalists triumphed at this supposed victory, and extolled the preacher to the skies; but the hearts of the revivalists were filled with sorrow. Being in a feeble state, I went to the meeting in town. A preacher was put forward, who had always been hostile to the work, and seldom mingled with us. He lengthily addressed the people in iceberg style--its influence was deathly. I felt a strong desire to pray as soon as he should close, and had so determined in my own mind. He at length closed, and I arose and said, let us pray. At that very moment, another preacher of the same cast with the former, rose in the pulpit to preach another sermon. I proceeded to pray, feeling a tender concern for the salvation of my fellow creatures, and expecting shortly to appear before my Judge. The people became very much affected, and the house was filled with the cries of distress. Some of the preachers (Who had condemned the meetings and move) jumped out of a window back of the pulpit, and left us. Forgetting my weakness, I pushed through the crowd from one to another in distress, pointed them the way of salvation, and administered to them the comforts of the gospel. My good physician was there, came to me in the crowd, and found me literally wet with sweat. He hurried me to his house, and lectured me severely on the impropriety of my conduct. I immediately put on dry clothes, went to bed, slept comfortably, and rose next morning relieved from the disease which had baffled medicine, and threatened my life. That night's sweat was my cure, by the grace of God. I was soon able to renew my ministerial labors, and was joyful to see religion progressing. This happy state of things continued for some time, and seemed to gather strength with days. My mind became unearthly, and was solely engaged in the work of the Lord. I had emancipated my slaves from a sense of right, choosing poverty with a good conscience, in preference to all the treasures of the world. this revival cut the bonds of many poor slaves; and this argument speaks volumes in favor of the work. For of what avail is a religion of decency and order, without righteousness?

There were at this time five preachers in the Presbyterian connection, who were in the same strain of preaching, and whose doctrine was different from that taught in the Confession of Faith of that body. Their names were, Richard McNemar, John Thompson, John Dunlavy, Robert Marshall, and myself; the three former lived in Ohio, the two latter in Kentucky. David Purviance was then a candidate for the ministry, and was of the same faith. The distinguishing doctrine, which we boldly and every where preached, is contained in our Apology, printed shortly after that time, which I desire to be reprinted with these memoirs of my life, affixed to the same volume. From some of the sentiments of this Apology we afterwards dissented, especially on the Atonement, as stated in that book.

The distinguishing doctrine preached by us was, that God loved the world--the whole world, and sent his  Son to save them, on condition that they believed in him--that the gospel was the means of salvation--but that this means would never be effectual to this end, until believed and obeyed by us--that God required us to believe in his son, and had given us sufficient evidence in his Word to produce faith in us, if attended to by us--that sinners were capable of understanding and believing this testimony, and of acting upon it by coming to the Saviour and obeying him, and from him obtaining salvation and the Holy Spirit. We urged upon the sinner to believe now, and receive salvation--that in vain they looked for the Spirit to be given them, while they remained in unbelief--they must believe before the Spirit or salvation would be given them--that God was as willing to save them now, as he ever was, or ever would be--that no previous qualification was required, or necessary in order to believe in Jesus, and come to him--that if they were sinners, this was their divine warrant to believe in him, and to come to him for salvation--that Jesus died for all, and that all things were now ready. When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as just awakened from the sleep of ages--they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed, was damning sin.

The sticklers for orthodoxy amongst us writhed under these doctrines, but seeing their mighty effects on the people, they winked at the supposed errors, and through fear, or other motives, they did not at first publicly oppose us. They painfully saw their Confession of Faith neglected in the daily ministration (This is the protestant version of the Roman Catholic continuous sacrifice spoken of in Daniel) by the preachers of the revival, and murmured at the neglect. In truth, that book had been gathering dust from the commencement of the excitement, and would have been completely covered from view, had not its friends interposed to prevent it. At first, they were pleased to see the Methodists and Baptists so cordially uniting with us in worship, no doubt, hoping they would become Presbyterians. But as soon as they saw these sects drawing away disciples after them, they raised the sound of alarm--the confession is in danger!--the church is in danger! O Israel to your tents!

These sticklers began to preach boldly the doctrines of their confession, and used their most potent arguments in their defense. The gauntlet was now thrown, and a fire was kindled that threatened the ruin to the great excitement; it revived the dying spirit of partyism, and gave life and strength to trembling unfaithful and lifeless professors. The sects were roused. The Methodists and Baptists, who had so long lived in peace and harmony with the Presbyterians, and with one another, now girded on their armor, and marched into the deathly field of controversy and war. These were times of distress. The spirit of partyism soon expelled the spirit of love and union--peace fled before discord and strife, and religion was stifled and banished in the unhallowed struggle for pre-eminence. Who shall be the greatest, seemed to the spirit of the contest--the salvation of a ruined world was no longer the burden, and the spirit of prayer in mourning took its flight from the breasts of many preachers and people. Yet there were some of all the sects who deplored this unhappy state of things; but their entreating voice for peace was drowned by the din of war.

Though the revival was checked, it was not destroyed; still the spirit of truth lingered in our assemblies, and evidenced his presence with us. One thing is certain, that from that revival a fountain of light has sprung, by which the eyes of thousands are opened to just and proper views of the gospel, and it promises fair to enlighten the world, and bring them back to God and his institutions.

In this state of confusion, the friends of the Confession were indignant at us for preaching doctrines so contradictory to it. They determined to arrest our progress and put us down. The Presbytery of Springfield, in Ohio, first took McNemar through their fiery ordeal, for preaching these anti-calvinistic doctrines. From that Presbytery his case came before the Synod at Lexington, Kentucky. That body appeared generally very hostile to our doctrine, and there was much spirited altercation among them. The other four of us well knew what would be our fate, by the decision on McNemar's case; for it was plainly hinted to us, that we would not be forgotten by the Synod. We waited anxiously for the issue, till we plainly saw it would be adverse to him, and consequently to us all.

In a short recess of Synod, we five withdrew to a private garden, where, after prayer for direction, and a free conversation, with a perfect unanimity we drew up a protest against the proceeding of Synod in McNemar's case, and a declaration of our independence, and of our withdrawal from their jurisdiction, but not from their communion. This protest we immediately presented to the Synod, through their Moderator--it was altogether unexpected by them, and produced very unpleasant feelings; and a profound silence for a few minutes ensued.

We retired to a friend's house in town, whither we were quickly followed by a committee of Synod, sent to reclaim us to their standards. We had with them a very friendly conversation, the result of which was, that one of the committee, Matthew Houston, became convinced that the doctrine we preached was true, and soon after united with us. Another of the committee, old father David Rice, of precious memory, on whose influence the Synod chiefly depended to reclaim us, urged one argument worthy of record, it was this--that every departure from Calvinism was an advance of atheism. The grades named by him were, from Calvinism to Arminianism--from Arminianism to Pelagianism--from Pelagianism to deism--from deism to atheism. This was his principal argument, which could have no effect on minds ardent in the search of truth.

The committee reported to Synod their failure in reclaiming us; and after a few more vain attempts, they proceeded to the solemn work of suspending us, because we had departed from the standards of their church, and taught doctrines subversive of them. Committees were immediately sent to our congregations to read the Synod's bull of suspension, and to declare them vacant. However just their decision might be with respect to the other four, in suspending them for the crime of departing from the Confession of Faith, yet all plainly saw that it was improper with regard to me, seeing I had not received that book at my ordination, nor ever before, more than any other book, i.e. as far as I saw it agreeable to the word of God. Their bull was "a blow in the air" as regarded me. I am therefore an ordained preached by the imposition of the hands of the Transylvania Presbytery, and as I have not formally been excluded from the communion of that church, I can yet claim it with just right. We insisted that after we had orderly protested, and withdrawn, that the Synod had no better right to suspend us, than the pope of Rome had to suspend Luther, after he had done the same thing. We contended, if Luther's suspension was valid, then the whole protestant succession was out of order, and of course, that the Synod had no better right to administer in the gospel than we--that their act of suspension was void.

This act of Synod produced great commotion and division in the churches; not only were churches divided, but families; those who before had lived in harmony and love, were now set in hostile array against each other. What scenes of confusion and distress! not produced by the Bible; but by human authoritative creeds, supported by sticklers for orthodoxy. My heart was sickened, and effectually turned against such creeds, as nuisances of religious society, and the very bane of Christian unity.

Immediately after our separation from Synod, we constituted ourselves into a Presbytery, which we called the Springfield Presbytery. We wrote a letter to our congregations, informed them of what had transpired, /79/ and promised shortly to give them and the world a full account of our views of the gospel, and the causes of our separation from Synod. This book we soon after published, called The Apology of Springfield Presbytery. In this book we stated our objections at length to the Presbyterian Confession of Faith, and against all authoritative confessions and creeds formed by fallible men. We expressed our total abandonment of all authoritative creeds, but the Bible alone, as the only of our faith and practice. This book produced a great effect in the Christian community; it was quickly republished by the Methodists in Virginia, except our remarks upon creeds.

The presses were employed, and teemed forth pamphlets against us, full of misrepresentation and invective, and the pulpits every where echoed their contents. These pamphlets and harangues against us excited inquiry and conviction in the minds of many, and greatly conduced to spread their views. The arguments against us were clothed with such bitter words and hard speeches, that many serious and pious persons, disgusted and offended with their authors, were driven from them, and cleaved to us.

Soon after our separation, I called together my congregations, and informed them that I could no longer conscientiously preach to support the Presbyterian church--that my labors should henceforth be directed to advance the Redeemer's kingdom, irrespective of party--that I absolved them from all obligations in a pecuniary point of view, and then in their presence tore up their salary obligation to me, in order to free their minds from all fear of being called upon hereafter for aid. Never had a pastor and churches lived together more harmoniously than we had for about six years. Never have I found a more loving, kind, and orderly people in any country, and never have I felt a more cordial attachment to any others. I told them that I should continue to preach among them, but not in the relation that had previously existed between us. This was truly a day of sorrow, and the impressions of it are indelible.

Thus to the cause of truth I sacrificed the friendship of two large congregations, and an abundant salary for the support of myself and family. I preferred the truth to the friendship and kindness of my associates in the Presbyterian ministry, who were dear to me, and tenderly united in the bonds of love. I preferred honesty and a good conscience to all these things. Having now no support from the congregations, and having emancipated my slaves, I turned my attention cheerfully, though awkwardly, to labor on my little farm. Though fatigued in body, my mind was happy, and "calm as summer evenings be." I relaxed not in my ministerial labors, preaching almost every night, and often in the day time, to the people around. I had no money to hire laborers, and often on my return home, I found the weeds were getting ahead of the corn. I had often to labor at night while others were asleep, to redeem my lost time.

Under the name of Springfield Presbytery we went forward preaching, and constituting churches; but we had not worn our name more than one year, before we saw it savored of a party spirit. With the man-made creeds we threw it overboard, and took the name Christian--the name given to the disciples by divine appointment first at Antioch. We published a pamphlet on this name, written by Elder Rice Haggard, who had lately united with us. Having divested ourselves of all party creeds, and party names, and trusting alone in God, and the word of his grace, we became a by-word and laughing stock to the sects around; all prophesying our speedy annihilation. yet from this period I date the commencement of that reformation, which has progressed to this day. Through much tribulation and opposition we advanced, and churches and preachers were multiplied.

For your information I insert the Last Will and Testament of Springfield Presbytery. /81/


For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of the testator; for a testament is of force after men are dead, otherwise it is of no strength at all, while the testator liveth. Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die. Verily, verily I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. Whose voice then shook the earth; but now he hath promised, saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.--Scripture


The Presbytery of Springfield, sitting at Caneridge, in the county of Bourbon, being, through a gracious Providence, in more than ordinary bodily health, growing in strength and size daily; and in perfect soundness and composure of mind; but knowing that it is appointed for all delegated bodies once to die; and considering that the life of every such body is very uncertain, do make, and ordain this our last Will and Testament, in manner and form following, viz:

Imprimis. We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.

Item. We will, that our name of distinction, with its Reverend title, be forgotten, that there be but one Lord over God's heritage, and his name one.

Item. We will, that our power of making laws for the government of the church, and executing them by delegated authority, forever cease; that the people may have free course to the Bible, and adopt the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Item. We will, that candidates for the Gospel ministry henceforth study the Holy Scriptures with fervent prayer, and obtain license from God to preach the simple Gospel, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, without any mixture of philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men, or the rudiments of the world. And let none henceforth take this honor to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

Item. We will, that the church of Christ resume her native right of internal government--try her candidates for the ministry, as to their soundness in the faith, acquaintance with experimental religion, gravity and aptness to teach; and admit no other proof of their authority but Christ speaking in them. We will, that the church of Christ look up to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest; and that she resume her primitive right of trying those who say they are apostles, and are not.

Item. We will, that each particular church, as a body, actuated by the same spirit, choose her own preacher, and support him by a free will offering, without a written call or subscription--admit members--remove offences; and never henceforth delegate her right of government to any man or set of man whatever.

Item. We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with other books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire if they choose; for it is better to enter into life having one book, than having many to be cast into hell.

Item. We will, that preachers and people, cultivate a spirit of mutual forbearance; pray more and dispute less; and while they behold the signs of the times, look up, and confidently expect the redemption draweth nigh.

Item. We will, that our weak brethren, who may have been wishing to make the Presbytery of /83/ Springfield their kind, and wot not what is now become of it, betake themselves to the Rock of Ages, and follow Jesus for the future.

Item. We will, that the Synod of Kentucky examine every member, who may be suspected of having departed from the Confession of Faith, and suspend every such suspected heretic immediately; in order that the oppressed may go free, and taste the sweets of gospel liberty.

Item. We will, that Ja-------- ---------, the author of two letters lately published in Lexington, be encouraged in his zeal to destroy partyism. We will, moreover, that our past conduct be examined into by all who may have correct information; but let foreigners beware of speaking evil of thinks which they know not.

Item. Finally we will, that all our sister bodies read their Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and prepare for death before it is too late.

Springfield Presbytery,

June 28th, 1804

Robert Marshall,

John Dunlavy,

Richard McNemar,

B. W. Stone, Witnesses

John Thompson,

David Purviance,