Why All The Commotion?


It all started on the morning of October 23, 1740 when a messenger brought news to a man named Nathan Cole while working in his field.

“I dropped my tool that I had in my hand and ran home to my wife telling her to make ready quickly.. I ran to my pasture for my horse with all my might fearing that I should be too late! I brought my horse home and soon mounted and took my wife up and went forward as fast as I thought the horse could bear, and when my horse began to be out of breath, I would get down and put my wife on the saddle and bid her ride as fast as she could and not stop or slack for me.  I ran until I was much out of breath, and then mounted my horse again, and so I did several times to favor my horse.   We improved every moment to get along as if we were fleeing for our lives, all the while fearing we should be too late..! For we had twelve miles to ride double in little more than an hour.

And when we came within about half a mile of the road that comes down from Hartford Wethersfield to Middletown; on high land I saw before me a cloud or fog rising! I first thought it came from the great Connecticut River, but as I came nearer the road, I heard a noise like a low rumbling thunder and found it was the noise of horses feet coming down the road and this cloud was a cloud of dust made by the horses feet. It arose some rods into the air over the tops of the hills and trees and when I came within about 20 rods of the road, I could see men and horses slipping along in the cloud like shadows, and as I drew nearer it seemed like a steady stream of horses and their riders, scarcely a horse more than his length behind another, all of a lather and foam with sweat, their breath rolling out of their nostrils in the cloud of dust every jump; every horse seemed to go with all his might to carry his rider to hear news…! It made me tremble to see the sight, how the world was in a struggle. I found a vacancy between two horses and slipped my horse in; and my wife said that our clothes will be all spoiled, see how they look, for they were so covered with dust, that they looked almost all of a color coats, hats, and shirts and horses.

We went down in the stream; I heard no man speak a word all the way three miles but every one pressing forward in great haste and when we got to the old meeting house there was a great multitude; it was said to be 3000 or 4000 of people assembled together.  We got off from our horses and shook off the dust…and I turned and looked towards the great river and saw the ferry boats running swift forward and forward bringing over loads of people; the oars rowed nimble and quick, everything; men, horses, and boats, seemed to be struggling for life; the land and banks over the river looked black with people and horses all along the 12 miles. I saw no man at work in his field, but all seemed to be gone.”

What caused all of this commotion?   A preacher named George Whitefield.  

“Then I saw him… he looked almost angelical, a young, slim slender youth before some thousands of people with a bold undaunted countenance, and my hearing how God was with him everywhere as he came along it solemnized my mind, and put me into a trembling fear before he began to preach; for he looked as if he was clothed with authority from the Great God, and a sweet solemn solemnity sat upon his brow. And my hearing him preach gave me a heart wound; by God’s blessing my old foundation was broken up, and I saw that my righteousness would not save me; then I was convinced of the Doctrine of Election and went right to quarrelling with God about it, because all that I could do would not save me; and he had decreed from Eternity who should be saved and who not.”

Imagine seeing the site of hundreds of people running to the house of the Lord with such a hunger and zeal,  not to hear a famous choir, or a special guest singer, or a dramatic production, but to hear the Word of God preached!  Oh Lord, send Revival!




Source: George Leon Walker, Some Aspects of the Religious Life of New England (New York: Silver, Burnett, and Company, 1897), 89–92.


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