Although many people moved to the colonies for religious freedom, it was not long before the morals began to loosen and religious expectations became a small, unimportant sector of everyday life. As the first and second generations of colonists began to age and eventually die off, the upcoming population gave into temptations of the world and were soon far away from the hand of God.
When the separatists made the trip overseas to the new world, they embarked on the dangerous journey in sight of a place to raise their children under a government that allowed them to have more of a say in the religious aspects of their children's lifes. The move to the colonies allowed the parents to better oversee the child's religious education, but this plan for a new land of religious freedom and concentration on God would eventually become overlooked. The colonists became disinterested in a relationship with God, attending church services, and even upholding moral standards. While being a church member was crucial to a citizens role in the town, the adults eventually saw little meaning in these requirements (Tracy, 2). “In the early days of New England, none but church members could hold any office, or vote at elections.” (1) The Puritans laid a discouraging amount of weight on a colonists to be a part of the church. “Exclusion from the Lord's table, -that is, excommunication,-was attended with the loss of certain civil rights, and, in most countries, followed by the infliction of punishment by the civil government.” (2) The colonists felt too pressured and sought comfort in acts of drinking and “bundling” which led to the inevitable torn family (Worrell, 4). In fact, these conditions became so common in society, they were looked upon as universal customs (4). It was beginning to become clear that the New England colonies were in dire need of a great change.
In attempt to save the townspeople, clergymen devised a proposal known as “the half-way covenant” (Worrell, 4). This half-way covenant stated so as long as the parents agreed to lead a respectable lifestyle, the children were able to be baptized in the church. “persons baptized of infancy, 'understanding the doctrine of faith, and publicly professing their assent thereunto; not scandalous in life, and solemnly owning the covenant before the church, wherein they give up themselves to the government of Christ in the church, their children are to be baptized;' though the parent, thus owning the covenant, was avowedly yet unregenerate, and as such excluded from the Lord's Supper.” (Tracy, 4) The number of these unconverted Christians quickly grew and soon there were more half-way covenant members than that of devout Christians (Worrell, 4). The churches plan to save Christianity in their towns was quickly realized to be a larger problem than was an aid.
One of the prominent leaders in the First Great Awakening was Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards grew up in a stern, Christian home (Worrell, 5). The...