In the winter of 1734, a remote backwater of the British Empire suddenly found itself at the center of God’s great plan for redemption. As the good news made its way through the trans-Atlantic evangelical grapevine, all Protestantism trained its gaze on Northampton, Massachusetts—a stockaded frontier town of roughly 1,200 souls, nestled on the edge of Indian territory in the distant reaches of the Connecticut River Valley—where a religious awakening had ignited and then spread to the neighboring towns and villages, an event as wondrous as it was inexplicable. For delighted English ministers, Northampton’s experience was a sign of “how easy it will be for our blessed Lord to make a full accomplishment of all his predictions concerning his kingdom, and to spread his dominion from sea to sea, through all the nations of the earth.”

For the previous sixty years, Northampton’s...


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