The 2nd Great Awakening in the 1800’s blazed brightly at the frontiers of America in the south and in the west, in places like Kentucky and North Carolina. But God also made sure to ignite fresh revival fires in the northeast regions of the States. Around the same time that the fervent camp meetings were taking place in Kentucky, there was a powerful move of God on the cultivated grounds of the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut.
God had planted the seeds for revival at Yale University in 1795, when He had raised up a new president at the school. This new leader was Timothy Dwight, the grandson of the noted theologian and revivalist Jonathan Edwards. Dwight immediately began to preach and teach against the unhealthy rationalistic philosophies that dominated the thinking of the student body. For years, the students generally manifested a rebellious and apathetic attitude towards Dwight’s efforts. Yet Dwight persisted in his prayers and forceful teaching, hoping to break through their indifference to spirituality.
In the spring of 1802, God’s Spirit stirred the hearts of two students on campus. They began to grieve over their sins under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Soon, they wholeheartedly gave their lives to Jesus. This, in turn, triggered an avalanche of others wrestling with their conscience and ultimately surrendering to God. In all, one-third of the entire student body that year turned away from their immorality and humanism and began following the Lord. Even though these students did respond sincerely to God’s presence, it is noteworthy that this revival had a much lower incidence of falling down and emotional outbursts than witnessed at North Carolina camp meetings. Yet, the Spirit of God was clearly at work…
This move of God at Yale fueled the flames for the 2nd Great Awakening on the East Coast of America. Several other waves of revival would sweep over Yale in 1808, in 1813, and again in 1815. Each time, the revival fires would surge outwards to other colleges and churches and towns, reaching many with the Gospel and touching many lives. In the period from 1810 -1820, revivalists from Congregationalist churches journeyed out and impacted towns in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. Meanwhile, Methodist revivalists carried the flames of God’s transforming power to new areas in Maryland and Delaware. And, of course, students from Yale and other colleges entered the ministry as a result of the awakening, and they would soon carry the Gospel and fires of revival further throughout this young nation.
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