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The Effect of Revivals on Baptist Growth in the South
By Roy Fish
      The history of Christianity in the United States has been punctuated by periodic widespread revivals of religion. Traditionally, these have resulted in unusual numerical growth in evangelical churches and denominations and a general stimulation of religious interest throughout the country. Baptists have been repeatedly the beneficiaries of these revivals. This was particularly true during periods following what are often referred to as the First and Second Great Awakenings. This paper will address itself primarily to this concern: The Effect of Revivals on Baptist Growth in the South, 1740-1845.

The First Great Awakening and Following, 1740-1799

      In the third decade of the eighteenth century, revival of some proportion was experienced in Dutch Reformed churches in the Raritan River Valley of New Jersey. Actually, it was the beginning of what historians have called the First Great Awakening in this country. It spread into other Middle Colonies and ultimately reached its zenith in the early 1740's in New England. Baptists were numerically insignificant at the beginning of this period and were directly affected by the awakening very little. As was true in other denominations, some Baptists were actually opposed to the revival. But events which took place during the awakening were destined to radically affect Baptists in this country before the end of the eighteenth century.

      The first of these events was the result of the influence of the English evangelist, George Whitefield, upon two men; one a Congregationalist, the other a Presbyterian. These two men were Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall. Chronologically, Daniel Marshall, was the first to feel the effect of the ministry of the English evangelist.

      Marshall had been an active Presbyterian for eighteen years, when, in 1744, he heard Whitefield for the first time.1 He was so moved to a deeper commitment of his life and so awakened in evangelistic zeal that he gave up his comfortable living in Connecticut to become a missionary to the Mohawk Indians. When Indian wars drove him from his missionary work in Pennsylvania, he moved near Winchester, Virginia, where he became acquainted with Baptist work. Here in 1754 he was baptized into a Baptist church, a work which was carried on under the auspices of the Philadelphia Association. He was also licensed by this church as a minister of the Gospel.

      Shortly after Marshall's conversion Shubal Stearns also came under Whitefield's influence. There is some question as to the precise nature of Stearns' experience in 1745. Likely he was converted under Whitefield's ministry and joined the New Light Movement, a Separatist movement in Congregational churches which began around 1744. He actually served as a New Light Congregationalist minister for six years. Stearns was baptized into a Baptist Church in Connecticut in 1751 and three years later ordained into the Baptist ministry becoming pastor of a Baptist church. Sensing definite leadership from God, he embarked on his memorable journey to colonies in the South. He stopped for a while in Virginia, where he was joined by Daniel Marshall, his brother-in-law by virtue of Marshall's marriage to Shubal's sister, Martha Stearns, in 1748.

The Separate Baptists move South

      In Virginia the work did not meet with the success for which Stearns had hoped. Having heard that in North Carolina, "Preaching was greatly desired," Stearns and Marshall and fourteen others made a two hundred mile journey to Sandy Creek, in Guilford County, North Carolina, where they took up permanent residence.2

      The story of the Sandy Creek Church, established in 1755, is well known. In a few years its membership had swelled to over 600 and by 1772, 125 ministers had gone forth from this church. In addition, the Sandy Creek church had a direct hand in the formation of forty-two other Baptist churches.

      Baptists had been in the South since the last decade of the seventeenth century. In the 1690's William Screven established the First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. Between this period and 1755, some twenty-eight Baptist churches had been constituted in the South, including the General Baptist churches which owed their existence to the work of Paul Palmer. Nine of these churches were in South Carolina, fourteen in North Carolina, and the remainder in Virginia. The rate of church expansion appears to have been slow and painful during this period. With one or two exceptions, there was no unusual evangelistic thrust or success on the part of these churches.

      By 1755, the tide began to turn for Baptists in the South. This was the year in which Separate Baptists made their inauspicious but far-reaching invasion of North Carolina. Forty-five years later, in 1790, the number of Baptist churches in the South had increased from 28 to 410. And more than half the Baptists in the United States were in the South, where in 1740 there were only a handful. Baptists had established themselves as easily the most potent of all religious groups in the South.

Shubal Stearns

      The primary human instrument responsible for this accelerated growth was Shubal Stearns. Stearns, a highly gifted and zealous preacher, was one of the most remarkable evangelists of the eighteenth century. Newman writes of him, "It is doubtful whether any evangelist but Whitefield surpasses Stearns in magnetic power over audiences."3 Morgan Edwards refers both to the power of his penetrating eyes and his strong musical voice which "managed in such manners, as one while, to make soft impressions on the heart, and fetch tears from the eyes in a mechanical way; and anon, to shake the very nerves through and through the animal system into tumults and perturbations."4 From Stearns' work at Sandy Creek, Baptist work spread westward to Kentucky and Tennessee, northward to Virginia and southward to Georgia and South Carolina. And the spread is the story of aggressive evangelism, or spiritual awakening in new frontiers, of revival which was to lay foundations on which Southern Baptists still build today.

      Because many of the Separate Baptist leaders labored in more than one state, it is difficult to trace and categorize the development both through personalities and particular states at the same time. For that reason this part of the paper will major on prominent personalities including the states in which they labored only incidentally. However, a summary statement regarding the evangelistic advance in each state will be given. To illustrate the point, Shubal Stearns himself, though a pastor, was also an itinerant evangelist whose labors periodically took him away from Sandy Creek. He describes:

      The Lord carries on his work gloriously in sundry places in this province, and in Virginia, and in South Carolina.... Not long since, I attended a meeting on Hoy (Haw) River, about thirty miles from hence. About seven hundred souls attended the meeting, which held six days. We received twenty-four persons by a satisfactory declaration of grace, and eighteen of them were baptized. The power of God was wonderful.5

Daniel Marshall

      Mention has already been made of Daniel Marshall. Though not as gifted as Stearns, he was a man of indefatigable labors and a commitment which never wavered. It was Marshall who gathered the first congregation formed out of the Sandy Creek Church. It was called Abbot's Creek. Marshall went to the area to preach and many responded. They were constituted into a church in 1756. He extended his labors into Virginia where at Dan River the first Separate Baptist Church in that state was constituted by him. Two outstanding "preachers to be" were touched by his ministry. Dutton Lane, a man of great gifts, was converted through Marshall's ministry and became pastor of the Dan River Church. The second of these was Colonel Samuel Harris, the most famous convert of the Baptists in early Virginia Baptist history. Marshall baptized Harris in 1758.6

      Convinced of the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Daniel Marshall turned his efforts to South Carolina. Here he was instrumental in founding Beaver Creek Church. Ultimately he became the founder of the following churches in that state: Stephen's Creek, 1762; Horn's Creek, 1768; Bush River, 1771; Raburn's Creek, 1771; Bethesda, 1773; and Horse Creek, 1789. From South Carolina, Marshall proceeded to Georgia, where he established the first Baptist church in Georgia in 1772. All in all he was the immediate founder of eleven churches, the instrument through which hundreds came to the Lord and a major stone in the foundation of Baptist work in the South.

Samuel Harris

      Samuel Harris was a well-known citizen of Virginia where he was converted at the age of 34. He was well-educated, wealthy, and prominent in local political life. But all of these things he "counted but loss" for Christ's sake when he gave himself to the ministry of the Gospel shortly after his conversion. He traveled with Daniel Marshall frequently and Marshall's zeal and diligence were well caught by him. His ministry extended into much of Virginia and parts of North Carolina. He was a powerful preacher. It was said of him that as he preached "great streams of celestial lightning would flash from his eyes, which whenever he turned his face, would strike down hundreds at once." Many hundreds were converted through his ministry of itinerant evangelism. People would travel from up to 100 miles to attend his meetings. He founded or assisted in the founding of 26 churches in 19 different counties in Virginia. His spirit was caught by other young preachers such as Lewis and Elijah Craig, John Waller, James Childs, and John Burrus. Elijah Craig was won to Christ through Harris' ministry and Craig's testimony was responsible for the salvation of Waller, who was later baptized by Harris also. The Baptist historian Cathcart says, "Mr. Harris was the best known man in his native colony, and it is doubtful if Patrick Henry could control a vast assemblage by a power superior to that of Samuel Harris."7

Philip Mulkey

      While looking briefly at the lives of early Separate Baptists and their labors, discussion has included Baptist expansion in the states of North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina. Such coverage would not be complete without some mention of Philip Mulkey, who did more to advance the cause of Christ in the name of Baptists than any one individual in Ihc eighteenth century in South Carolina. As a church builder, Mulkey ranks along side Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall. He was a tireless laborer working under extremely difficult circumstances.

      His conversion experience was rather dramatic and occurred outside the realm of influence of any church. However, shortly after his conversion he identified himself with the Sandy Creek Church and was baptized into its fellowship in 1756. He was shortly thereafter called into the ministry and began preaching in areas hitherto unreached with the Gospel. He was instrumental in founding Bluestone (Deep River) Church in North Carolina in 1757 of which he became pastor. With the migration of many families to South Carolina, Mulkey also moved to the neighboring colony in 1760. The same year these families were constituted into a church with Mulkey as pastor. The pastor and church began to extend their witness in all of the surrounding area. Within twelve years, ten other churches were established in this part of South Carolina as a result. These ten were responsible for the organization of nine other churches before 1789, all nineteen of which are in existence today!

      Perhaps the most notable contribution of Mulkey was his work at Congaree Church, where three, who were to become prominent preachers, were won to Christ. These three were Thomas Norris, who became a noted minister; Timothy Dargan, one of the first of the long line of illustrious preachers bearing that name; and Joseph Reese. It was through the ministry of the latter two men that a Young Carolinian of sixteen was converted who was destined to help shape Baptist life across the world. That young man was Richard Furman. Philip Mulkey deserves a high place in the standing of Baptist church builders and evangelists of the eighteenth century.

John Leland

      One other outstanding Baptist preacher in the South was John Leland who came to Virginia from Massachusetts in 1777. The Baptist historian Cathcart says of him, "Wonderful revivals everywhere followed the labors of Mr. Leland of Virginia. Hundreds came under the power of converting grace, and professed their faith in Christ."8 Though he served as pastor for brief periods, he was much more suited to an itinerant ministry.

      His most productive years were during the revival period of 1787-89. During these years he baptized some four hundred people, three hundred of them in one year. At the close of his life, he had baptized over fifteen hundred people, preached over eight thousand sermons and covered some 70,000 miles on horseback.9

Summary of Events and Growth, 1750-1790

      Though most historians contend that the First Great Awakening in this country had run its course by 1750, the truth is that for Baptists this was only the time of its beginning. In my opinion there is evidence that spiritual awakening among Baptists continued to be experienced in some major geographic area until the end of the eighteenth century. Not even the war years, 1775-1781, were excepted.

      However, it was in the aftermath of the awakening that the Baptist cause prospered. As has been indicated, the years following the coming of the Separate Baptists into North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia were years of great expansion. During the entire period, 1755-1800, the Separate Baptists experienced a phenomenal growth.

      Though the war was a serious impediment to vital spiritual life among Virginians, revival fires began to burn again with the cessation of hostilities in 1785. "It spread as fire among stubble, continuing for several years in different parts. Very few churches were without the blessing."10 The revival continued until 1792 and witnessed thousands of conversions and additions to Baptist churches. In the Carolinas its effect was not nearly so great, but there were evidences of spiritual renewal in a number of congregations and a good number of people were baptized, particularly in the back country churches. The Charleston Association gave evidence of revival at this time, baptizing 546 people during the years 1786-1789.11 The revival was felt as far west as the Kentucky frontier.

      To give a clearer picture of the impact of the revivals of the period, coupled with evangelistic emphases, upon Baptists, the following summaries are given. Some mention will be made of Baptist work outside the South in the summary.

      In New England by 1740 there were 21 Baptist churches. Most were feeble and declining. By 1790 the number had risen to 286, an increase of over 1000% in fifty years. By 1790, Massachusetts could count 92 Baptist churches with 6,234 members. Rhode Island had 38 churches with 3,502 members. New Hampshire Baptists numbered 1,732 in 32 churches. Maine contained the smallest constituency of 15 churches and 882 members, Connecticut could count 55 churches with 3,214 members, and Vermont, 34 churches with 1,610 members. The number of Baptist churches in New England had increased from 21 in 1740 to 266 in 1790.12

      In the South, Baptists in Virginia had their beginnings with the first Baptist church in Virginia formed in 1714. By 1793 there were 227 churches, 22,793 members in 14 associations.13 Holmes says in his American Annals that "in 1793 the Baptists of the United States numbered 73,471, so that at that time Virginia contained nearly one third of the whole."14

      In North Carolina, there was a handful of Baptist churches when the Sandy Creek Church was founded in 1755. By 1784 there were 42 churches and 3,276 members; in 1792 there were 94 churches and 7,503 members. In South Carolina there were nine Baptist churches in 1755. By 1784 there were 27 churches and 1,620 members. In 1792 there were 70 churches with a membership of 4,167. In Georgia, where the first Baptist church was planted in 1771, Baptists had 50 churches and 3,211 members in 1792. From 1755 to 1792, Baptist churches in the South had grown in number from 28 to 44l,15 an increase of over 1500%.

The Second Great Awakening and Following, 1800-1845

      In 1795, two prominent Baptist preachers, Stephen Gano of Providence, Rhode Island, and Isaac Backus of Middleboro, Massachusetts, joined with twenty-one other New England ministers in issuing a "Circular Letter" which was an appeal for prayer for a general revival. The appeal met with unanimous approval from every major denominational group. The intercession fostered by this action led to one of the most remarkable revivals in the history of this nation.

      Though revival of great proportion was experienced in churches along the coastal states, customarily the revival of 1800 is associated primarily with the camp meetings in the frontier states. This religious phenomenon drastically affected this region of our nation, composed of Kentucky, Tennessee, the Western part of North Carolina and South Carolina, Southern Virginia, and Northern Georgia. The change was so great that some who knew the frontier well could hardly believe it was the same geographic region. Numerically, churches and denominations witnessed unprecedented growth.

Seasons of Revival in Kentucky, 1800-1840

      The revival had its beginning in Kentucky, where the apex of irreligion and heathenism were found. This frontier state increased in population from 73,677 in 1790 to 220,955 in 1800. The churches had simply been unable to keep up with the staggering population growth. When revival did come, it came not as a still small voice but rather as an earthquake and a whirlwind. It was marked by emotional extremes and much physical contortion on the part of many who were affected by it.

      Though Baptists participated fairly universally in the frontier revivals, they seem not to have been as caught up in the emotional excesses as either the Methodists or the Presbyterians. The Baptist historian [John H.] Spencer virtually exonerates all Baptists of any undue extremes.16 This did not noticeably impede their numerical gains.

      The beginning of the revival among Baptists in Kentucky was at the village of Port William (now Carrollton) where a union meeting was taking place. This was in the early spring of 1800 before the camp meetings came into existence. John Taylor, the preacher through whom revival had come to Kentucky, in both 1785 and 1788, preached in the house of Benjamin Craig, brother of the famous Louis Craig. After his message, prayer and praise and exhortation continued until late in the night. Many anxious inquirers were dealt with and found deliverance throughout the hours of the night. Taylor left the next day for Trimble County where revival was experienced during his stay of three days. From here he went to Clear Creek in Woodford County and a bountiful harvest was reaped. Next to feel the impact of revival through Taylor's ministry was Bullittsburg, where over a period of time almost every adult in the community was baptized.

      By the end of 1800, the revival had spread to all parts of the state. Unprecedented numbers were added to Kentucky Baptist churches. In most regions of Kentucky, the number of Baptists doubled or tripled. It was not the noisy excitement of the camp meetings but a solemn moving of God's spirit. "The preaching was doctrinal rather than hortatory. The exhortations were fervent and made up largely of Scripture quotations, as were also the prayers. The songs were of Watts' collections, and were sung slowly and gravely!"17

      Statistically, what happened in some churches is of great interest. Severns Valley Church numbered 47 members in 1801. Over a period of a few months, 146 were received by baptism. At South Elkhorn, a church numbering 127, 318 were baptized. In a church which numbered 170 in 1800, 424 were baptized during the revival period. Great Crossing Church numbered 107 members before the revival. Four hundred and seven people were baptized into this church.18 The Elkhorn Association which had reported 82 baptisms in 1800 reported 3,011 in 1801 and 488 in 1802.19 In 1800 there were seven associations, 106 churches, and 5,119 members. In 1803 after the revival, there were 10 associations, 219 churches, and 15,495 members. In three years, the number of churches had doubled and the number of members had tripled.

      The affect on morals in Kentucky was so stupendous that the land itself seemed to have been regenerated. So many infidels had been converted, (many of whom became preachers), that John Mason Peck declared that the revival dealt infidelity in that state its death blow. Evangelistic and missionary zeal were quickened, fellowship was restored between Baptist groups who had been separated by indifferences, and benevolent interests were supported with new vigor.20

      Baptist work in Kentucky was blessed with revival again from 1810-13. The year 1817 was also a year of mighty revivals in Kentucky. Though these did not spread as rapidly, and though there were not as many converts as in the revival of 1800, both represented unusual work of divine grace. By 1820, revivals during the preceding decade had helped to increase the number of Baptist churches in Kentucky to 491 and the total membership to 31,689.21 In twenty years the number of churches and members had doubled in Kentucky.

      In 1827 another great period of revival began among Kentucky Baptists. It also lasted for approximately three years. Baptisms in the Salem Association which had been around one hundred or fewer for several years sky-rocketed to 1,007 in 1829.22 In Elkhorn Association the number of baptisms increased from 72 in 1827 to 1,676 in 1828.23 In the small Bracken Association over 1,300 people were baptized during the revival. In Catcs Creek Association, a rather small association, over 1,600 people were baptized. During the period of the revival something over 15,000 people wore baptized in Kentucky and the churches were greatly enlarged in numbers.24 In 1829 there were 614 churches in Kentucky; 45,442 members. The last general revival experienced in Kentucky before 1845 began in 1837 and lasted for some six years. It was the most extensive awakening that had occurred in the state since the revival of 1800. It began in the First Baptist Church in Louisville, which baptized over 600 people into its fellowship in a six-year period. Almost 18,000 were baptized in the first t h ree years and approximately 12,000 in the next three. This was a period of significance in evangelism in Kentucky due to the fact that "protracted meetings" were practiced for the first time in the state during this period. Up until this time even during revival seasons meetings were held only on weekends with occasional meetings in homes during the week. At this period meetings began to approach a duration of two weeks. The year 1840 found Kentucky Baptists with 711 churches, 49,308 members.25

Revivals in Other Southern States, 1700-1840

      The Frontier Revival of 1800 spread from Kentucky into the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia. It appears that in most instances revivals in Baptist churches were fairly free from extreme emotional excesses in these states as was true in Kentucky.26


      As there had been periodic seasons of revival in Kentucky following the revival of 1800, so were there seasons of revival in all of the states of the South. For instance, Georgia experienced its first great general revival in 1802 during which some 700 people were baptized. The two most wide¬spread seasons of awakening occurred between 1827 and 1830-1831 and 1834. As Kentucky had been swept by revival during the period of 1827-1830, Georgia and certain sections of South Carolina also were mightily moved upon by the Spirit of God. In Georgia the most remarkable and memorable revival in the history of the state was witnessed and over 14,000 people were brought into Baptist churches during its progress. In 1825 after this season of revival, there were 356 churches and 28,268 members. This was an increase of 96 churches and 10,000 members in a period of three years. By 1835 there were 583 churches and 41,810 members. By 1845 there were 971 churches and 58,388 members.

South Carolina

      In South Carolina the revival of 1800 spread over the whole state and continued for several years. The Bethel Association in South Carolina increased in baptisms from 119 in 1800 to 703 in 1802, 1411 in 1803.27

      The Broad River Association which had begun in 1801 with959members had increased to 1480 in 1802 and 2,084 in 1803. During this two year period it baptized 1,167 people. Between 1802 and 1804 thirty-five new churches and branches came into existence in South Carolina and there was a gain of 80 percent in total membership during this three-year period.28

      A second major season of revival for many Southern churches was the year 1831-1834. Powerful revivals swept the Carolinas and Tennessee during this period. In 1832 the Saluda Association of South Carolina increased its baptisms over the previous year from 113 to 1,273.29 The Broad River Association in that state baptized 574 in 1832.30 The Bethel Association increased its number of baptisms from 148 in the two previously recorded years to 1,279 in 1832-33.31 The Edgefield Association increased its baptisms from 361 to 1,062 over the period of 1830-31.32 In 1833 this association baptized 878. The Savannah River Association which had baptized 487 people in 1829-30 baptized 3,553 people during the period 1831-1834.33 The Tennessee Association in that state increased its number of baptisms from 57 in the most recently recorded year (1829) to 1,109 in 1833.34 In every Southern state, major periods of numerical growth were always related to widespread revivals of religion. Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee each had similar seasons of revival like those mentioned above.

Summary of Reasons for Baptist Growth in the South

      This author is aware of some of the reasons customarily given for the rapid growth among Baptists during this period. For instance, in Virginia their response to persecution seems to have promoted their cause rather than to have impeded it. "The patient manner in which they suffered persecution raised their reputation for piety and goodness in the estimation of a large majority of the people. Their numbers actually increased in a surprising degree."35 Further, Baptists had come out of the Revolutionary War with increased respectablity as a denomination. Their chaplains were likely the most esteemed of any religious group which provided chaplains for the army. Third, the Baptist part in the struggle for religious liberty was a factor which enhanced their image and became an impetus for numerical growth. Their defiance of laws which would prohibit them from preaching was symbolic of the growing spirit of independence. "More and more a strong element in the Colonies, represented by Madison, Jefferson, and Henry, viewed the Established Church and its clergy as incompatible with the principles of the Revolution and became champions of the Baptists."36 The primary factor in Baptist growth was their ability to identify with the common people. These represented the greatest number of the total population. Ultimately the Methodists gained a similar rapport with the people but the Presbyterians with their intellectual demands for their pastors did not. Speaking of Baptists, David Thomas in The Virginian Baptist said: "The people needed a distinctive symbol and a comparatively formless faith; they found the one in adult baptism by immersion, and the other in the wide compass of Bible teaching wherein the devout and emotional soul finds what it seeks . . . They wanted an organization, a ministry, a preach¬ing, responsive to their emotions. The Baptist organization supplied the demands of their thoughts and their emotion, and on a plane congenial to their habit of speech and life."37 The fact that Baptists made no demand for a formally trained clergy not only resulted in an adequate supply of preachers, their lack of education placed them on the same plane with those to whom they preached and a strong bond of sympathy developed between the two.

      The above factors may be foundational as causes for Baptist growth, but there are other factors related to methods of evangelism which Baptists employed which must not be overlooked. These are seldom, if ever, mentioned as reasons for growth.

      First of all, Baptists were responsible for reinstituting a type of public invitation which had not been employed by the church for many centuries. Though preachers, during the great awakenings of the 1700's had urged immediate acceptance of the benefits of the gospel, there is no record of opportunity being given for open response on the part of those who desired to respond. Baptists began, not only to call for immediate response, but appealed to people to demonstrate their interest by a kind of profession of interest.

      Separate Baptists had begun this by 1770. This method is described as follows:

At the close of his sermon, the minister would come down from the pulpit and while singing a suitable hymn would go around among the brethren shaking hands. They hymn being sung, he would then extend an invitation to such persons as felt themselves to be poor guilty sinners, and were anxiously enquiring the way of salvation, to come forward and kneel near the stand, or, if they preferred to do so, they could kneel at their seats, proffering to unite with them in prayer for their conversion. After prayer, singing and exhortation, prolonged according to circum¬stances, the congregation would be dismissed to meet again at night at the meeting house or at some private residence, either for preaching or in the capacity of a prayer-meeting.38
This is the earliest record of an invitation of this type being extended in modern times. Early Methodists in this country began offering similar invitations and found them to enhance their evangelistic efforts noticeably. In one way or another, invitation to immediate public decision has been practiced in Baptist churches in the South ever since. The call to immediate decision in response to their preaching, is one explanation for rapid growth of Baptists in the South which must not be overlooked.

      A second method employed by Baptists in the South was the continuation of a series of revival services from day to day or night by night which they called "protracted meetings." Spencer and Armitage both make the mistake of dating the beginning of such meetings in the 1830's.39 (Spencer, p. 672; Armitage, p. 889). However, Separate Baptists had been practicing this kind of evangelism for at least sixty years. Shubal Stearns records:

Not long since, I attended a meeting on Hoy (Haw) River, about thirty miles from hence. About seven hundred souls attended the meeting, which held six days. We received twenty-four persons by a satisfactory declaration of grace, and eigh¬teen of them were baptized. The power of God was wonderful.40
      Regardless of when they began, protracted meetings became a major method of evangelism in the South. This kind of evangelism still exists today among Southern Baptists. Many students of evangelism contend that today approximately forty per cent of the people converted in Baptist churches made their initial commitment during a "protracted meeting." The fact that Baptists in the South have practiced revival evangelism consistently and Baptists in the North only spasmodically could be one reason why Baptists in the South have numerically exceeded those in the North to such a great degree.

      A third factor which ought to be mentioned is the ultimate response of Baptists to emotional extremes which grew out of both awakenings. It is true that the Separate Baptists in the First Awakening were somewhat extreme, as were other groups in their emotional reactions. However, in the Second Awakening, Baptists repudiated extreme emotional response and assumed something of a middle of the road position toward emotionalism in their services. They continued to preach fervently, refused to do away with emotion in religion, and have maintained a similar position since that time. Undoubtedly their refusal to outlaw emotional expression in public worship, coupled with the effort to steer away from extremes, has been another factor in the growth of Baptists in the South.


1 Jesse H. Campbell, Georgia Baptists: Historical and Biographical (Richmond: H. K. Ellyson, 1847), pp. 15-16.
2 George Washington Paschal, History of North Carolina Baptists (Raleigh: The General Board North Carolina Baptist Convention, 1930), p. 274.
3 Albert H. Newman, ed., A Century of Baptist Achievement (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1901), p. 293.
4 Morgan Edwards, Materials Towards a History of the American Baptists (Philadelphia, 1770-1792), p. 386.
5 Isaac Backus, A History of New England Baptists (Newton, Massachusetts: Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 531.
6 Robert B. Semple, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1894), pp. 17, 18.
7 William Cathcart, The Baptists and the American Revolution (Philadelphia: S. A. George & Co., 1876), p. 504.
8 Ibid., p. 682-683. 9 Albert L. Vail, The Morning Hour of American Baptist Missions (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1907), p. 34.
10 Robert B. Semple, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia (Richmond: Pitt and Dickson, 1894), p. 56.
11 Minutes of Charleston Association
12 Albert H. Newman, A History of the Baptist Churches in the United States (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1898), p. 271.
13 Thomas Armitage, A History of the Baptists; Traced by Their Vital Principles and Practices, from the Times of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to the year 1889 (New York: Bryan Taylor, 1889), p. 735.
14 Ahiel Holmes, American Annals, p. 488.
15 J. H. Spencer, History of Kentucky Baptists, from 1769 to 1885 Including More than 800 Biographical Sketches, Vol. I, (Cincinnati: T. R. Baumes, 1885), pp. 535-536.
16 Ibid., p. 539.
17 Ibid., p. 539.
18 Ibid., p. 540.
19 Minutes of Elkhorn Association.
20 Ibid., p. 541.
21 Ibid.
22 Minutes of Salem Association.
23 Minutes of Elkhorn Association.
24 Spencer, op. cit., p. 599.
25 Ibid., p. 671 ff.
26 Leah Townsend, South Carolina Baptists, 1670-1805 (Florence, S.C.: Florence Printing Co., 1935), p. 299.
27 Minutes of Bethel Association.
28 Townsend, op. cit.
29 Minutes of Saluda Association.
30 Minutes of Broad River Association.
31 Minutes of Bethel Association.
32 Minutes of Edgefield Association.
33 Minutes of Savannah Association.
34 Minutes of Tennessee Association.
35 Semple, p. 42.
36 Wesley M. Gewehr,The Great Awakening in Virginia, 1740-1790 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1930), p. 135.
37 David Thomas, The Virginian Baptist (Baltimore, 1774), p. 32.
38 Robert I. Devin, A History of Grassy Creek Baptist Church (Raleigh: Edwards, Broughton, & Co., 1880), p. 69.
39 Armitage, op. cit., p. 889.
40 Backus, op. cit.


[From The Lord's Free People, 1976, pp. 99-111. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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