By the early 1700's religion had begun to slack in the colonies. Partly because many of the
colonists were starting to worry more about personal riches than their own religious observances.
It began after the religious developments in Europe as new ministers started arriving and
spreading their word. One of the principal figures in the Great Awakening was Jonathan
Edwards. Edwards is known for his "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon. In it he
used the image of a spider hanging by a web over a hellish fire to describe the human
position. His point was that at any moment, our hold on life could break and we would be
plunged into the fires of eternal damnation. Edwards preaching provoked such a response
because he was speaking about a matter the people were very interested in. The newer
generations had inherited the puritan way of looking at things, but had begun to forget it, and the
older ones were concerned about this. But by the 1750's religious extremism began to be
unpopular. Edwards was dismissed by his parishioners in 1749 and he later died on a mission
with Indians. The great awakening also instilled religious toleration in the colonies. One of the
major results of the Great Awakening was it unified most of the Americans in a common
understanding of the Christian faith and life. Education also was a major result of the
Awakening. The colleges of Princeton, Brown, Rutgers, and Dartmouth were all founded
because of the Awakening. It also led most evangelicals to denounce slavery as sinful. With the
end of the Great Awakening drawing near, Americans were already rejecting both the radical
Calvinistic views as well as Arminian ones. Europe was going through another change of their
own as well, the Enlightenment. This like the Great Awakening had a keen affect on the
colonists since many of its great leaders were greatly influenced... [continues]
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