This account reminds us that the liturgical frenzy seen in American evangelicalism is by no means novel, but has precedent. So is this what it means to worship God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength?
While Mr. Hodge was preaching, a woman gave vent to her feelings in loud cries. The people were so wrought upon, that, when they were dismissed, they kept their seats, and wept silently all over the house.
“Such was the state of things when John McGee, the Methodist, rose in his turn to speak. Too much agitated to speak, he expressed his belief that there was a greater than his preaching; and exhorted the people to let the Lord God omnipotent reign in their hearts. Upon this, many broke silence, and the renewed vociferations of the female before mentioned, were tremendous.
The Methodist preacher, whose feelings were now wrought up to the highest pitch, after a brief debate in his own mind, came to the conclusion that it was his duty to disregard the usually orderly habits of the [Presbyterian] denomination, and passed along the aisle, shouting and exhorting vehemently. The clamour and confusion were increased ten fold. The flame was blown to its height, screams for mercy were mingled with shout of ecstasy, and an universal agitation pervaded the whole multitude, who were bowed before it as a field of grain waves before the wind. Now followed prayer and exhortation; and the ministers found their strength soon taxed to the utmost to keep pace with the demands of this intense excitement.”* . . .
From this period, the exercises in general camp meetings, which continued to be held jointly by the Presbyterians and Methodists, gradually degenerated to the close of the revival in 1803. The Falling exercise was supplemented in turn by the Jerks, Rolling, Running, Dancing and Barking exercises, and finally, by visions and dreams.”
*History of the Pres. Ch., p.p. 134.
This selection is from J. H. Spencer, The History of the Kentucky Baptists from 1769 to 1885, vol. 1 (Cincinnati: J. R. Baumes, 1885), 509.