Fascination With Religious Revivals
New York Religious Chronicle – November 20, 1824
From the Christian Secretary.
Extract from a letter from Mr. Israel Douglass, of Leyden,
Lewis county, New-York, to Rev. Asahel Morse,
of Suffield, Conn. containing a short account
of a gracious Work of the Lord in that vicinity.
"In the month of February last . the Church
generally arose, and made public confession of their stupidity and
coldness. From that time an unusual zeal and engagedness was manifest
in some of our brethren. Soon solemnity was depicted on the
countenances of some of our youth.
Preachers and brethren began their labours, after the Apostolick order, from house to house.
On the first of May, the revival was powerful. On the
5th of May, six were baptized in the likeness of Christ's death.
Meetings were frequent. Two or three at the same time in different
parts of the town. Since May commenced, to Sept. 15th, one hundred and
thwelve have been added to this church by baptism, and ten or twelve by
In this part of the country there is a very genral and
lamentable coldness which prevails, with few exceptions, if we mistake
not, in all our churches. This is a circumstance that cannot be too
deeply regretted; nor can the causes that have led to it, be too
speedily investigated, or the means of its removal be too soon, to
earnestly, or too prayerfully applied.
Palmyra, is one of the exceptions, and there are, we
believe, a very few others of an encouraging nature, not many miles
distant from this place. From these, however, we have not as yet
received any very definite accounts... -- West. Recorder.
Note: By consulting various subsequent reports (in the
NY Rel. Chrn. of Apr. 9, 1825 and various issues of the 1824-25 Western
Recorder) the location of the "Palmyra" with religious developments of
"an encouraging nature," is definitely identified as Palmyra, Wayne
Co., New York. In 1824 the degree of religious activity demonstrated by
that towns residents was "encouraging," but it had not reached the
proportions of a full-blown revival. The editor of the Feb. 1825 issue
of the Western New-York Baptist Magazine was probably reporting news
from Dec. 1824 and Jan. 1825, when he said: "The town of Palmyra, N. Y.
is graciously visited. It is hoped that about 100 [Baptist converts]
have experienced pardoning mercy." Thid revival chronology agrees with
the 1883 recollections of William Smith, the brother of Joseph Smith,
Jr. He says: "In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were
very much stirred up with regard to religious matters by the preaching
of a Mr. Lane, an Elder of the Methodist Church, and celebrated
throughout the country as a "great revival preacher. My mother, who was
a very pious woman and much interested in the welfare of her children,
both here and hereafter, made use of every means which her parental
love could suggest, to get us engaged in seeking for our souls'
salvation, or (as the term then was) 'in getting religion.' She
prevailed on us to attend the meetings, and almost the whole family
became interested in the matter, and seekers after truth." All evidence
indicates that the 1822-1823 "regard to religious matters" by people in
the Palmyra area did not develop into a remarkable revival until late
in 1824. That revival carried over into the first months of 1825, bring
with it a flood of new converts and revitalized old members into the
local congregations. It was in the midst of this 1824-25 religious
excitement that Lucy Smith and her children (Hyrum, Sophronia, and
Samuel) joined the Presbyterian church in Palmyra. Their conversions to
Presbyterianism evidently did not occur until after the death of Lucy's
son Alvin -- who passed away in Nov. of 1823.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX