The “Great Awakening” was an amazing movement of God’s Holy Spirit of which it has been written, “There are few instances in history of transformations of religious life so profound and so widespread during so short a period.” Though the movement was experienced primarily in New England, in the course of time, through the ministry of the Separate Baptists, the so-called “Bible Belt” in the southern states of America was the primary benefactor. However, there is no doubt that the “Great Awakening” left its impact in Baptist Churches, and all other religious groups, throughout America. Revivals had significant role in spiritual and physical growth as revealed in the history of the First Baptist Church of Cape May. It had never been a large church, as Morgan Edwards reported that there were about 90 families in the congregation on April 19, 1790, “whereof 63 persons are baptized and in the communion which is here administered every other month.” There were periods of growth in that work that came during “revival meetings.” The first such services were called “protracted meetings,” and they were usually held during the winter months when farmhands and fishermen experienced an idle season. One of the secrets of success in these meetings was the fact that they usually began with an appointed day for fasting and prayer. At times cottage prayer meetings were held prior to the meetings as well. In 1839, sixty-eight were baptized and united with the church. In 1849 another 29 converts were saved, baptized, and added to the church. With the infiltration of German rationalism, revivalism as such began to wane, and today it is tragic to report that many churches are pleased to merely maintain their membership.
**(And if one of the maintained would leave due to the preaching of God’s word straight and true, how The membership rants and raves at the pastor, yet there is little or no concern about reaching the lost and bringing them into the flock. ** True revival will cause an “Awakening” of the believers gratitude for his salvation, and an urgency for the salvation of the lost.)
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) p.p. 227 – 228