The Cultures of Colonial North America, 1700 – 1780
The Enlightment and the Great Awakening were both huge impacts on the colonial regions of North America. During the Enlightment, the thinkers were arguing that the universe was governed by natural laws that people could understand and apply to their own advantage. The writers were emphasizing rationality, harmony, and order. Sons were being sent to college during this time and many people were reading and writing. However the Enlightment did cause a decline in religious devotion. The Great Awakening was a response to the Enlightment because it challenged the rationalist approach to religion by having ministers preach more emotionally than rationally, by having people find relief in religious enthusiasm, and by having like-minded men be trained for the ministry.
Before the Great Awakening, people were listening to ministers who were preaching rationally and not emotionally. The poor young people began to grow disaffected as they were forced to postpone marriages because of scarcity and expense of the land needed to farm a household. They refused to attend church meetings and would instead gather together at night for frolics, increasing their discontent. In the 1730s, Reverend Jonathan Edwards began a movement to challenge the rationalist approach on religion. He made the young people his target. He believed that their hearts needed to be touched in a way that appealed to their emotions. He preached and church membership began to grow with people wondering what they could do to be saved. People then began to listen to ministers preaching emotionally, rather than to ministers preaching rationally.
People began to feel relief in religious enthusiasm. The people were going through economic and social stresses at this time, being unable to find land and unsure whether to marry, and to participate in the promise of a growing economy. This widespread colonial revival of religion became known as the Great...
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