Well once again it is my American Journey Journal. In my journeys here in the US I have been in Boston to start and then on into Connecticut where my brother lives outside Hartford.
While the history is not near as old as what we enjoy around Scotland, in terms of US history some in this area is pretty old. Hartford was established in 1784 so post Revolutionary War where independence from England was won in September of 1783.
I have driven by houses that were built out of wood, one dated 1734 according to the historic sign on the wall. But I have also learned that that particular war was rather hard on the homes and buildings here in that the British burned a lot of them in an effort to demoralise the enemy.
One part of my touring when I’ve not been in churches preaching has been to track down historic places connected to Rev. Jonathan Edwards. I wish I could share the pictures and the depth of history I have been learning. I stood in Enfield, Connecticut at the place where Jonathan Edwards preached the sermon called: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.
This sermon preached in July 8, 1741, was the start of the Great Awakening in America. George Whitfield, who at one time preached in Brechin, was also a part of this movement both in the USA and in the UK.
The start really was earlier in that Dutch Reformed Pietist Frelinghuysen started the revival that affected Scots-Irish Presbyterians under the ministry of Gilbert Tennent as early as 1734, these messages in turn moved into the life of the Jonathan Edwards whose trail I’ve been tracking.
So at one of the most important places of American Church history in Enfield and I asked several folk if they had any idea of the importance of that place and who Jonathan Edwards was? There was almost no recognition of who he was. I asked them what they thought of the title of the sermon and they were not impressed ... so I told them I could perhaps preach the sermon entitled ‘Sinners in the Hands of a Loving Jesus’.
History records that people cried out and wept as they listened to him preach that day. But as his message was read and caused a reaction it laid a groundwork for changes in society that have been impacting the culture for almost 300 years now. Out of it flowed a sense of not the Devine right of the King but the individual rights of each person.
The idea of independence that brings me full circle to the fact that many of the old buildings of that era were destroyed in the War of Independence mostly by fires started in the churches since this was where the idea of freedom seemed to be most prevalent.
So sadly though I can visit many of the places of this history tour, the church buildings are long since burned to the ground. But none the less an interesting journey of discovery. Next week I’ll share about a Scottish American lad by the name of David Brainerd and his link to Jonathan Edwards, from my journey to Northampton Massachusetts.
Cheers and Good luck to my Brechin City lads in the Playoff against Alloa,
Rev. Jon Bergen