James McGready:

Son of Thunder, Father of the Great Revival

by John Thomas Scott

 

"He was a hard man to comprehend."(1) When Bernard Weisberger wrote those words about the frontier Presbyterian revivalist James McGready in 1958 he probably had little or no idea how true they were. McGready, whom historians have styled the Father of the Great Revival and the creator of the camp meeting, has been a hard man to understand-for his contemporaries and for historians. From the time McGready first started preaching in the late 1780s to the present day, confusion rather than consensus has reigned on the person, work, and theology of James McGready. Perhaps as a result of this confusion has been the repeated absence of his figure in numerous historical works both general and specific in the twentieth century.(2) Perry Miller certainly did not help matters when he classified McGready as one of a number of revivalists who "had few ideas and were little capable of cerebration."(3)

The prevailing interpretational tendency in historical works which have considered his theology and career has until very recently been to group McGready with other frontier theological and methodological innovators of his time such as the founder of the Christian Church, Barton W. Stone, Richard McNemar, a onetime Kentucky Presbyterian turned Shaker.(4) A close study of McGready's background, career, and theology reveals, however, that McGready was in reality a traditionalist in matters of theology and methodology. He preached mostly in the nineteenth century, but his heart and mind, methods and theology, remained in the eighteenth.

McGready's educational and cultural background are the first clues that point to his traditionalist nature. Unlike many preachers of his day he was not self-educated, nor the product of one lone educator. McGready's educational tree would back some fifty years to the Log College of Neshaminy, Pennsylvania. The Log College, begun by William Tennent in the late 1720s, supplied most of the Presbyterian revivalists of the Great Awakening but also supplied the next generation of educators to pass on Presbyterian revivalist theology and methodology.(5) Out of Tennent's school came Samuel Blair, who later erected a school at Fagg's Manor, Pennsylvania, and Samuel Finley, who began a similar school in Nottingham, Maryland, just across the border from Fagg's Manor. One of Blair's students, Robert Smith, later started his own school in Pequea, Pennsylvania. From Finley's, Blair's, and Smith's schools came McGready's primary tutors in theology--David Caldwell, John McMillan, and Joseph Smith. By educating McGready at their schools in Guilford County, North Carolina, and Washington County, Pennsylvania, these three latter men passed on revivalist Presbyterian theology and methodology directly to McGready and provided a firmer grounding in doctrine and biblical interpretation than many other frontier pastors of his day.(6) Later generations looking back at these small schools described them as "fortress[es] between the frontier and the spiritual and cultural pattern they had brought into the wilderness."(7) A fortress, though, is the wrong metaphor. In reality the schools acted as bridges that connected McGready to the long history of Presbyterian revivalism and allowed him and others to bring it to the American frontier in the late eighteenth century.

McGready and his revivalism were not, as some historians have argued, simply part of a greater American or frontier innovation in Presbyterianism and Christianity in the eighteenth century. Historians working in the early part of this century helped establish this idea by the 1940s. New Light revivalism, wrote one, had been forced upon Tennent and his followers by the frontier which compelled settlers to "slough off" the "old traditions, mores, conventions, and customs" and to generate "new forms and new orders adequate for preaching the gospel in the frontier situation."(8) Another wrote that American revivalism had been "hewed out of native timber" and had its birthplace "in the West."(9)

Recent scholarship, primarily by Marilyn J. Westerkamp, Leigh Eric Schmidt, and Paul Conkin, has undermined this interpretation of Presbyterian New Light theology and methodology. All three revealed through extensive research an outdoor, sacramental, revivalist, "New Light" tradition in Scotland dating from the late sixteenth century, a tradition that manifested itself primarily in southwest Scotland and in Ulster. The largest of these gatherings came in the 1620s at Kirk o' Shotts, Stewarton, and Six-Mile-Water, and in the 1740s at Cambuslang. Out of this tradition, they showed, came the Tennents' revivalism of the Great Awakening which Caldwell, McMillan, and Smith passed on to McGready in the 1770s and 1780s. Given this recently uncovered historical context, it is easy to understand why Schmidt concluded that McGready looks not so much like one of the "clear innovators within Presbyterianism" or American religion but rather more like one of the "tradition-minded."(10)

Context and tradition, of course, do not necessarily determine the course of one's life. Some of history's greatest actors have been those who rejected heritage and tradition and forged a new path for themselves and their followers. The dynamic fabric of history is formed by individuals making such decisions as what to do with tradition and heritage. Indeed, McGready lived in an era particularly pregnant with questions about the role of tradition and the desirability of opening new paths. McGready eventually had to make such a decision, and on that decision hung the balance of his career. Such a choice would never have been possible, however, without the long history of Scottish, Ulster, and American revivalism that preceded him and the efforts of individual ministers who relayed that revivalist heritage to him.

At the heart of Presbyterian revivalism stood theology. Many historians in the course of this century have labeled McGready's theology as "modified Calvinism," but in the area of theology, McGready chose tradition over innovation.(11) A full explication of McGready's theology is not possible in this brief article, but examination of two key theological topics will confirmt he above assertion: his understanding of the process of conversion and salvation and his eschatology.

When historians or theologians write of Presbyterian orthodoxy they generally are referring almost immediately to the particular Calvinist understanding of conversion and salvation, and terms like predestination, election, and limited atonement appear quickly on the paper. How a minister handled these central concepts of Reformed doctrine helps classify him as a traditionalist or innovator because in early national America (and particularly in revivalist circles), Calvinism represented the status quo, and past, tradition, and Arminianism symbolized change, the future, and innovation.

A thorough reading of McGready's posthumously published sermons reveals a theologian completely comfortable with and utterly convinced of Reformed covenant theology and all its implications.(12) Humankind, McGready preached, was utterly sinful and fallen because Adam, humanity's "covenant head," had "breached the covenant in the Garden of Eden." According to McGready Adam stood for mankind as a "public representative; for their eternal life, or eternal death, depended on his performing, or not performing the conditions of that covenant."(13) The punishment for this sinful nature is an "everlasting exclusion from all possible good, and the infliction of all possible evil." To resolve this desperate situation "God declares that we must be converted. . . that we must be born again, or never enter the kingdom of heaven." Conversion was no easy matter, however. Satan, the diversions of the world, and humanity's own sinful nature combined to produce a race whose souls were destined for "irrecoverable and everlasting destruction"(14)

God's grace, received through an expression of faith, however, provided a way out. Humans could not save themselves, though. Sinners could not obtain faith by exercising their "natural powers upon the truth of God's word and promise, for such a faith devils and damned reprobates may possess." To McGready's understanding the unconverted are no more capable of turning to Christ than "a man born blind is of opening his eyes and beholding the natural light, or as a dead corpse is of performing the works of a living man." Humans could no more enliven themselves spiritually than could the dry bones that Ezekiel preached to in the Old Testament. Ezekiel's dry bones stood for McGready as an "emblem of the miserable and helpless condition of spiritually dead sinners.... Nothing less than the breath of the Lord can quicken the dry bones...[or] convert the sinner." One dead in sin "can no more change his heart, than the dry bones in the valley can reanimate themselves and rise from the dead."(15) Fortunately, preached McGready, the Spirit of God does call individuals to Christ despite continued resistance. This call eventually produced in certain individuals a "saving sight" of Christ. Those who are saved, the elect, McGready argued, had always been "virtually in Christ, as their new covenant head, before they had an existence."(16) Reception of Christ at conversion simply turned that virtual existence into actual existence.

Conversion stood at the center of McGready's and most revivalists' lives. McGready's understanding of this most important theological topic can be classified as traditionalist on two counts: its Calvinist orientation and its degree of difficulty. If a move from Calvinism to Arminianism marks a basic divide between eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century revivalism--and virtually every work on American revivalism agrees that it does--then on the question of the role of the individual in conversion McGready must fall in the former group. His emphasis as well on Adam and Christ as covenant heads reflects a Calvinist orientation. His thinking on these points is much more similar to eighteenth-century revivalists such as Jonathan Edwards, Gilbert Tennent, or even George Whitefield, than to nineteenth-century revivalists like Peter Cartwright, Barton Stone, or Charles Finney. Secondly, the degree of difficulty in the conversion process is more reflective of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century theology than nineteenth. During the nineteenth century conversion increasingly became a simple choice of the individual rather than a theological ordeal.(17) For McGready, conversion could never be a simple thing because of the utterly hopeless and helpless state humans started off in.

McGready's eschatological views, his understanding of the events of the last days, also place him in the traditionalist theological camp. Historians such as Ruth Bloch and James West Davidson have recently identified a tide of postmillennialism rising in late colonial America, surging during the revolutionary years, and continuing vigorously in the early republic. This postmillennialist movement emphasized the possibility of creating a near-heaven on earth through human efforts, but it had only a short pedigree, apparently arising only as far back as the days of Jonathan Edwards.(18) It replaced in American theological circles an older understanding of the end times known as premillennialism, or millenarianism, or chiliasm that had reached its fullest expression in the Mathers of puritan Massachusetts in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Premillennialists also expected an earthly heaven, but instead of human efforts, the direct intervention of Christ would establish his thousand-year reign, Post-Reformation English millenarianism, historians generally agree, originated with Joseph Mede's work Clavis Apocalyptica, first published in the 1620s, and was highly influential in the English Revolution and the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.(19)

McGready held to neither of these positions and certainly not to any form of the increasingly popular postmillennialism of his day. His eschatological position is most correctly identified as amillennialism. Amillennialism rejected the idea of an earthly paradise and instead argued that once Christ returned, all humanity would be judged and eternity would begin. Although the term amillennialism is relatively new and McGready would not have recognized it, the concept dates to Augustine and formed the primary understanding of the Christian Church (both Catholic and Protestant) from the fifth century to the seventeenth century when chiliasm arose. Calvin and Luther both adhered to amillennialism, as did Scottish church leaders and the doctrinal documents they produced from John Knox to James McGready.(20) Some eighteenth-century Presbyterians apparently did move towards postmillennialism, but not the Tennents and not McGready.(21) In this area as in many others he followed the traditionalist line. He described those who believed that the millennium had already begun or was about the begin as deceivers who did the work of the Devil. In his sermons on the end times he omitted any reference to the millennium and focused instead on the final Judgement Day, a typical pattern for amillennialists.(22)

Life being the active expression of one's thoughts and beliefs, an examination of McGready cannot end with a focus on his cerebral theological creations. A brief glance at his career will reinforce McGready's traditionalist nature. Perhaps the most well-known aspect of McGready's career was his preaching style. He was nicknamed at the time "Son of Thunder" for his often thunderous "fire and brimstone" messages that melted the hearts of his listeners. But such preaching, as John Boles has pointed out, was "as old as pietistic religion itself" and many revivalists before him--Jonathan Edwards, Gilbert Tennent, George Whitefield, even John Knox--had employed forceful delivery to drive home their points.(23) McGready patterned his preaching style after two of his eighteenth-century mentors--John McMillan and Joseph Smith. McMillan, a listener wrote, had a particular ability to "riddle the sinners over Hell," while a communicant of Smith's related that "I never met a man who could so completely unvar the gates of hell, and make me look so far down into the dark bottomless abyss, or like him could so throw open the gates of heaven, and let me glance at the insufferable brightness of the great White Throne."(24) In homiletic delivery, McGready cannot be considered an innovator.

The structure and content of McGready's sermons also indicate his traditionalist past. In the early national period many preachers, especially revivalists, began preaching in a more extemporaneous fashion. Nathan Hatch called these popular preachers "communication entrepreneurs who stripped the sermon of its doctrinal spine and rhetorical dress" and who assiduously refused to "abide by traditional theological etiquette" in any part of their sermons.(25) McGready, however, continued to follow what historians have described as the modified plain style.

The plain style had arisen in Puritan days and emphasized the use of numbered divisions and subdivisions to organize the text and exegete the passage in a clear and unembellished manner. Perry Miller described the plain style as "more like a lawyer's brief than a work of art."(26) By Jonathan Edwards's day, preachers had modified this style somewhat by adding a largely extemporaneous application section on the end of the still numbered and exegetical sermon. This form McGready followed. His sermons are in every instance divided and subdivided into numerous sections, no matter what the topic. He even divided his wife's funeral sermon into three parts, each with as many as nine sub-parts, and some of those with smaller sections.(27) The plain style largely faded from view in the nineteenth century. Extemporaneous preaching began in the early national period but did not take complete hold until well into the nineteenth century. By the 1850s among revivalists the plain style had become virtually extinct and preaching almost fully extemporaneous.(28) On the basis of sermon structure, therefore, McGready belongs more with the revivalists of the 1740s than the 1790s or 1820s.

One other methodological aspect of McGready's preaching indicates his traditionalist nature: His use of music. Throughout the eighteenth century, music had been an essential part of revivalism as the hymnodic revolution swept the evangelical wing of Protestantism. In early ninettenth-century America, however, hymn-writing took another turn as many "self-styled tunesmiths" abandoned the intricately worded hymns of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley for the easily remembered and theologically simplistic (and often anti-Calvinistic) choruses of the frontier camp meeting. These simpler hymns and choruses were soon gathered into books and began being published by the turn of the nineteenth century.(29)

McGready in his sermons continually used hymns and lyrics to reinforce a theological point, but instead of using these new choruses he stuck to the more intricate eighteenth-century hymns of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, Samuel Stennett and Anne Steele, and Bishop John Newton, an evangelical English Anglican who had been closely associated with Whitefield and the Wesley brothers. In addition tot he authorship of the hymns, the wording, syntax, and phraseology of the hymns he quoted suggest an eighteenth-century pattern. The versification is often complex and intricate, and the words used uncommon. For instance, he offered this verse to illustrate Christ's work of salvation:

  My heart that wounded was before,
  Kindly he bound, therein did he pour
         Love's healing quintessence.
  Sweet was the feast my heart enjoyed,
  I ate-I drank-nor was I cloyed,
         For more I thirsted still.(30)

Another verse he quoted used phrases like "etherial waste," "pearly portals," and "primogenial light," none of which would have been everyday phrases on the Kentucky frontier.(31)

Patterns and preferences like sermon style and music selection point to McGready's traditionalist nature, but his actions during the Cumberland schism of 1805-1810 best illustrate the heart and soul of James McGready. For a variety of reasons related to the Great Revival and revivalism but too intricate to describe here, a group of ministers in the Cumberland Presbytery of Kentucky, of which McGready was a key member, found themselves at theological odds with the Synod of Kentucky by late 1805. In general terms the synod had concerns about the theological orthodoxy and training of a rather large number of exhorters which the Cumberland Presbytery had licensed to take care of the new Presbyterian converts of the Great Revival. To investigate these concerns, the synod established a commission in the fall of 1805, the opening step in the Cumberland schism.

After meeting with the commission in December 1805, half the presbytery, the revivalist half, decided to defy the orders of the synod to submit to church discipline. The commission had wanted to reexamine the exhorters, but the revivalist ministers refused to allow this, sensing an attack on presbyterial rights and on the revival itself. Defying the commission and the synod, the revivalist majority of the Cumberland Presbytery formed itself into "The Council" so as to better plan their defensive strategy.

By the spring of 1806 McGready, who had originally sided with the revivalist majority, faced the most difficult decision of his career. He could continue to side with the revivalists and defy church authority, or he could submit, but in so submitting turn his back on his revivalist friends and place himself again under a synod stacked with often bitter non-revivalists who even then were hatching a plot to smear his good name. James McGready, who had worked his entire career to reignite Presbyterian revivalism, chose submission.(32) In doing so he confirmed his traditionalist nature at the most crucial juncture of his career. Had he been an innovator and changer, had he wanted to ride the wave of the future, he would not have submitted to the Kentucky Synod, but would have joined his former colleagues who soon went on to form the revivalist, but Arminian-leaning, Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Anti-authoritarianism was one of the strongest impulses of the age-in politics, in society, and in religion. That he would choose submission and tradition over rebellion and innovation at the climax of his life speaks to his overall outlook as clearly as any set of sermons or theological genealogy could ever do.

The last decade of McGready's life does not appear to have been the happiest one, although he continued to follow his calling and preached in season and out of season until his death in 1817. In 1807 he moved under duress from Logan County to Henderson, Kentucky, on the Ohio River. There he pastored a church and from there undertook numerous church-sponsored missionary trips into the Indiana and Illinois regions, establishing churches and holding meetings wherever he could.(33) Although he continued to preach with all his might, he continually expressed frustration over the coldness of his flock and over his inability to generate revival once again.(34) He also expressed anger and bitterness at the "New Cumberland Schismatics" who had "a flame of animation with them which they call the revival" but who possessed a "malignant spirit against the old Presbyterian church" and treated the doctrines of the Confession with "contempt."(35) Adding to his frustration, no doubt, was the continual rapid growth of not only the Cumberlands, but also the Baptists, Methodists, and "Stoneite" Christians in the area.

McGready's heritage, faith, and theology did not play out in the ivory towers of academia, but in the laboratory of life. One way to detect confusion and contradiction within someone is to compare his life with his ideas and note the continuity or lack thereof between the two. McGready's heritage, his life, and his ideas worked together well. Raised, educated, and converted in a traditional Presbyterian revivalist setting, McGready remained true to that heritage throughout his career. In working for revivalism he drew on the theological and ceremonial traditions of his Scottish forebears. By rejecting the new Cumberland Church he indicated his theological allegiance to the Calvinism of the old church. As a missionary in Indiana late in life he toiled thanklessly not to help create an earthly paradise but to assist God's elect in finding the heavenly one. In all these things McGready worked not as an innovator and a changer but as a preserver and practitioner of a two-hundred-year-old history of Presbyterian revivalism.

Other ministers from other denominations during and after McGready's life appropriated and changed the revivalist theology and forms used by McGready and created the modern American revival-always emotional, often scripted, sometimes artificially engineered, and, more often than not, Arminian. By that group James McGready has often been looked to as a father and brother, but in that group he does not fit. Instead, he belongs with Gilbert Tennent, Jonathan Edwards, and the Calvinist revivalism of Scotland and Ulster.

Historians can learn much from McGready's life about the period in which he lived and the power of the ideas unleashed in America at the turn of the nineteenth century. When the American people loosed themselves from the political bonds of deference and Federalism and took up the egalitarian ideas first of Jefferson and later of Jackson, they apparently loosed themselves from similar religious bonds as well. In that maelstrom of change known as the early national period McGready labored to bring salvation to the people using theology and forms handed down to him from previous generations just as John Adams sought to bring political order to the country using the type of deferential politics known to his colonial fathers. Neither was successful against the egalitqarian, tradition-breaking tide. Adams was dumped from the presidency in 1800; McGready was ejected from the mainstream of revivalism after 1807 and died a largely forgotten man and part of an increasingly forgotten tradition of Calvinist Presbyterian revivalism. McGready's career reached its heights in the early nineteenth century, but his heart and mind properly belonged to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

 

1. Bernard Weisberger, They Gathered at the River (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1958) 42.

2. Only one of the major college texts now used around the country even mentions McGready (See James A. Henretta et al., America's History (New York: Worth Publishers, 1993) 1: 276. Among more specific works on evangelicals of McGready's period, none of the following has any mention of him: Donald Mathews, Religion in the Old South (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977); Anne C. Loveland, Southern Evangelicals and the Social Order (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980); Richard Carwardine, Transatlantic Revivalism (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978); and Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990). Nathan Hatch's Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989) has only one seventeen-word sentence about McGready.

3. Perry Miller, The Life of the Mind in America (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1965) 7.

4. See, for instance, Frederick M. Davenport, Primitive Traits in Religious Revivals (1905; New York: Macmillan Company, 1917); Catharine Cleveland, The Great Revival in the West (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1916); William Warren Sweet, Revivalism in America (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1944); Weisberger, John Boles, The Great Revival, 1787-1805 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1972); and Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., And They All Sang Hallelujah (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1974).

5. For biographical information about these Log College alumni see Archibald Alexander, Biographical Sketches of the Founder and Principal Alumni of the Log College (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1851).

6. For more information about these ministers and their schools see J. D. Emiston Turner, "Reverend Samuel Blair, 1712-1751," Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society (JPHS) 29 (951): 227-36; Jacob Newton Beam, "Dr. Robert Smith's Academy at Pequea, Pennsulvania," JPHS 8 (1915): 145-61; Alexander 204-07; Dwight Raymond Guthrie, John McMillan, Apostle of Presbyterianism in the West (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1952); E. W. Caruthers, A Sketch of the Life and Character of the Rev. David Caldwell, D.D. (Greensborough, NC: Swaim and Sherwood, 1842); and Ethel Stephens Arnett, David Caldwell (Greensboro, NC: Media, Inc., 1976).

7. Helen Turnbull Waite Coleman, Banners in the Wilderness (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1956) 19.

8. Leonard J. Trinterud, The Forming of an American Tradition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1946) 36-37.

9. Weisberger 19, 40.

10. Leigh Eric Schmist, Holy Fairs: Scottish Communions and American Revivals in the Early Modern Period (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 63-65. See also Marilyn J. Westerkamp, Triumph of the Laity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988) and Paul Conkin, Cane Ridge (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991).

11. Four authors in this century have used the exact phrase "modified Calvinism" to describe McGready's theology. See Davenport 67; Walter Brownlow Posey, The Presbyterian Church in the Old Southwest, 1778-1838 (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1952) 24; Ben Barrus, "A Study in the Origins of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1800-1813," Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt, 1964, 136; and Charles A. Johnson, The Frontier Camp Meeting, (1955; Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1985) 32.

12. Forty-two of McGready's sermons were published in the early 1830s by James Smith, at the time a prominent Cumberland Presbyterian. Smith never knew McGready but learned about him while briefly serving as pastor of McGready's last charge in Henderson, Kentucky. Probably one of McGready's four daughters gave manuscript copies of these sermons, and more, to Smith, who had expressed interest in publishing them. Although the sermons offer the possibility of a fairly complete view of McGready's theology, they do not allow for any analysis of change of opinions over time since almost none of the sermons are dated in any way. For more on Smith and the sermons see James McGready, The Posthumous Works of the Reverend James M'Gready, ed. James Smith (Nashville: J. Smith's Steam Press, 1837), preface, and James D. Smith, III, "The Pilgrimage of James Smith (1798-1871): Scottish Infidel, Southern Evangelist, and Lincoln's Springfield Pastor," American Presbyterians 66 (1988): 147-56.

13. McGready 93.

14. McGready 38-39, 335.

15. McGready 43, 46, 82.

16. McGready 93-94, 352-53.

17. The best historical analysis specifically on the question of conversion in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America can be found in John Opie, Jr., "Conversion and Revivalism: An Internal History from Jonathan Edwards through Charles Grandison Finney," Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago Divinity School, 1963.

18. For information on the rise of postmillennialism in the late colonial and early national periods see Ruth Bloch, Visionary Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), and James West Davidson, The Logic of Millennial Thought (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977).

19. For more on the rise of premillennialism see Peter Toon, ed., Puritanism, the Millennium and the Future of Israel: Puritan Eschatology 1600-1660 (Cambridge: James Clarke and Co., 1970).

20. For the origins and history of amillennialsim see Peter Toon, introduction, Toon 14-17. For Calvin and Luther see Heinrich Quistorp, Calvin's Doctrine of the Last Things, trans. Harold Knight (London: Lutterworth Press, 1955) 158-62. See also John Calvin, A Compend of the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, ed. Hugh Thomson Kerr, Jr. (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1939) 143; The Scots Confession, ed. G. D. Henderson (Edinburgh: St. Andrew's Press, 1960) 38, 66; James Benjamin Green, ed., A Harmony of the Westminster Presbyterian Standards (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1951) 38; and The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (Philadelphia: Robert Aitken, 1797) 150-53.

21. For eighteenth-century postmillennialists see Christopher M. Beam, "Millennialism and American Nationalism, 1740-1800," Journal of Presbyterian History 54 (1976): 182-99.

22. Loraine Boettner, The Millennium (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1958) 139; Davidson 44; Toon, introduction, Toon 14-17; McGready 129-34.

23. Boles 101.

24. Dwight R. Guthrie, "John McMillan," JPHS 33 (June 1955): 75; Coleman 19.

25. Hatch 135, 138.

26. Perry Miller, The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century (1939; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1954) 332.

27. McGready 197-213, 253-65, 409-30.

28. David S. Reynolds, "From Doctrine to Narrative: The Rise of Storytelling in America," American Quarterly 32 (Winter 1980): 481-88.

29. For an analysis of developments in hymnody in early national American see Bruce 96-122, and Hatch 146-61.

30. McGready 50.

31. McGready 232.

32. The best way to recreate the drama of the commission is through reading the minutes of the Transylvania and Cumberland presbyteries and the minutes of the Synod of Kentucky which are available in manuscript form at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Department of History in Montreat, North Carolina, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or in printed form in William Warren Sweet, Religion on the American Frontier, vol. 2, The Presbyterians (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1936).

33. Sweet 2: 778; Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America from Its Organization A.D. 1789 to A.D. 1820 Inclusive (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1847) 406, 477, 506, 534, 564, 587, 616.

34. McGready 447-48.

35. James McGready to Archibald Cameron, 6 November 1811, typescript copy in James McGready file, Manuscripts Section, Western Kentucky University Library, Bowling Green. Original at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Department of History, Philadelphia.

[Source: American Presbyterians 72:2 (Summer 1994) 87-95]

Dr. Scott is Assistant Professor of History at Mercer University, Macon, Georgia.


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