designed to exclude all but the saints now simply ensured that church membership fell to very low levels. Children (who had often been the ringleaders in revival in Europe) were in America perceived as a special problem. Jonathan Edwards targeted this group in revival, but when he was dismissed from his parish in 1750, large numbers of the very young people he had admitted to church membership turned against him.
As far back as 1662, a solution had been attempted by a Massachusetts synod when it decided to restrict church membership to 'confederate visible believers . . . and their infant seed', but which also created a class of 'half-way members', subject to church discipline, and capable of transmitting baptism, but excluded from the Lord's Supper and from voting in church affairs. These half-way members had simply to 'own' the covenant, and they did so in great numbers during the late seventeenth century. This arrangement exposed the difference between those, especially ofthe Presbyterian tendency, who stressed the role of Christian nurture in regeneration, and those who looked to conversion. Despite this half-way covenant, however, the New England parish system continued to go downhill. Another route was taken by Solomon Stoddard (1643-1729), minister of Northampton, Massachusetts. He discarded the whole notion of covenants and adopted the ideal of a national church like the Church of Scotland. He admitted all respectable adults to communion, and put his faith in powerful preaching. He was rewarded by five separate harvests of souls, the last one being posthumous, after his parish had passed to his grandson, Jonathan Edwards, who described it in the most famous tract of the revival, the Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God.5 This tract, first published in England in 1737, and rapidly put into German by Steinmetz, spoke to hopes and fears widely held.
There would not be a bigger outbreak of revival in New England until the heavy hand of the Reformed ministry was loosened. This loosening was achieved by two visitors from the Middle Colonies, George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennent. Whitefield was already a master of the arts of advertisement when he arrived in New England in 1740. Despite liberally abusing unconverted New England ministers, he at first received the support ofmost ofthembecause they knew that if he succeeded with his conversions the demands of the halfway covenant in those parishes which maintained it, and the objects of preaching in the Stoddardean parishes, would both be satisfied. Whitefield offered a kind of liberation by inverting the jeremiad, and implying that the trouble with New England was not an unregenerate people but an unconverted ministry. The great crowds he assembled made 'distinguishing' preaching in Frelinghuy-sen's style impossible; rather, Whitefield effectively dramatized the message
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