by Jims | December 15th, 2009
Revival was no stranger to the young citizens of Northampton. Perhaps their rich history of movements played a key role in preparing the people for the Awakenings that would come under the leadership of Jonathan Edwards. Observing the early signs of revival, Edwards writes, “The year 1735 opened on Northampton in a most auspicious manner. A deep and solemn interest in the great truths of religion had become universal in all parts of the town and among all classes of people. This was the only subject of conversation in every company.” Solemnity is a common term used by Edwards to describe the demeanor of people at the beginning of a movement of God. Perhaps it was their sense of the wonder of God or maybe they quietly mourned over the reality of ther sin. Regardless, a solemn heart characterized men, women and young people. Reid notes, “Several factors contributed to the revival’s origin. Concerned about the dullness of the people toward faith, Edwards called his people to honor the day of the Lord. This caused some to grow concerned over their laxity. This concern increased following the conversion of several families in the nearby town of Pascommuck.” When is the last time your teenager sensed a deep concern over their laxity or recognized the dullness, not of a service, but of their own passion for Christ? Ask them tonight.
Edwards presented the impact of the 1735 revival in the Narrative. Detailing the difference in the town from the previously mentioned social immorality, Edwards compares, “The young people showed more of a disposition to hearken the counsel, and by degrees left off their frolics; they grew observably more decent in their attendance on the public worship, and there were more who manifested a religious concern than there used to be.” A fervent concern in the hearts of teenagers became evident as they yielded their lives to Christ. Further indicating that revival fires were stirring in Northampton, Edwards once again emphasizes the impact on the youth, “The young people declared themselves convinced by what they had heard from the pulpit, and were willing of themselves to comply with the counsel that had been given . . . and there was a thorough reformation of these disorders.” When is the last time your teenager changed his or her lifestyle because of conviction emerging from the Word of God being preached? Ask them tonight.
Tragic and seemingly shocking occasions were used early to spawn the revival. After the death of a young man and a young woman, Edwards writes, “This seemed to contribute to render solemn spirits of many young persons; and there began evidently to appear more of a religious concern in peoples minds.” Concerned at public response over the conversion of a young woman Edwards described as, “one of the greatest company keepers in the whole town” he indicates the impact of this woman’s salvation on revival, “God made it, I suppose, the greatest occasion of awakening to others, of any thing that ever came to pass in the town.” God used tradgedy and victories to demonstrate His glory and power to young people. Their hearts began to bend towards God and away from self. When is the last time your teenager recognized the hand of God? Ask them tonight.
Throughout Edwards’ Narrative, chronicling the early signs of revival in 1735, he refers to the evidence of revival manifested in the lifestyle change of the young people of Northampton. This same focus on the transformation of the town’s teenagers continues in his account of the revival that began in 1740. Writing to a minister in Boston, Edwards again demonstrated the early signs of revival beginning among the young, “In the year 1740, in the spring before Mr. Whitefield came to this town, there was a visible alteration: there was a more seriousness and religious conversation, especially among young people . . . .” The Word of God began shaping the values and conversations of teenagers that were willing to confess their sin and yield their lives to Christ. When was the last time your teenager engaged in a serious conversation about the rich things of God? Ask them tonight.
Arguably, one of the primary signs of revival came when George Whitefield came to Northampton. Edwards observed, “He preached here four sermons in the meeting-house (besides a private lecture at my house) . . . after this, the minds of the people in general appeared more engaged in religion . . . The revival first appeared chiefly among professors and those that had entertained hope that they were in a state of salvation to whom Mr. Whitefield chiefly addressed himself.” Whitefield’s brief time in Northampton was used as a catalyst for Edwards to fan the flame of revival fires through his pulpit ministry. When was the last time your teenager’s mind was saturated with God’s wonder and awesomeness? Ask them tonight.
 Under the preaching of Edwards grandfather, Northampton had witnessed revivals of religion in 1669, 1683, 1690, 1712, and 1718. The number of salvations distinguished those of 1683, 1690, and 1712. See Works, vol. 1, lxxix. Although Northampton had experienced these revivals it “seemed to Edwards that the people heard the gospel preached as if they had never heard it before.” See David L. Larsen, The Company of the Preachers: A history of Biblical Preaching from the Old Testament to the Modern Era (Michigan: Kregel, 1998), 376.
 Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, (Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1998), lxxxv.
 McDow and Reid, Firefall, 214.
 Jonathan Edwards, Narrative of Surprising Conversions.
 Jonathan Edwards, A Narrative, 9-10.
 Ibid., 12.
 Jonathan Edwards, Revival of Religion in Northampton in 1740-1742 (Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 1999), 148.
 Ibid., 149.