Joseph Tracy: "two men embraced," October 11, 1741



The Reverend Tracy of West Parish, Lynne, Connecticut, describes his communicants' emotional reaction to a sermon he preached during the period of religious revival that he named "The Great Awakening."*

The Incident

With "near three hundred souls" present Tracy was preaching upon the necessity of love and faith in Christ, and invited all of his communicants to break bread together, welcoming them to Christ's grace. Tracy no sooner finished when, he reports, several in the church

cried out in most bitter accents, of their . . . unbelief, and showed the signs of distress in their countenances; whilst many scores were dissolving in tears. A considerable number trembled in the anguish of their souls. . . .

By the end of the ceremony, says Tracy, those in distress appeared to be calmer: "Their looks were changed from anguish to pleasure and admiration, love and humility." Tracy "was too much taken up" with these reactions

to make any critical remarks upon any indecencies; though some few . . . have said, that there was one or two instances. . . . One thing complained of as an indecency was, that two men embraced each other in their arms before the blessing was given.

"The fact, I suppose, is true," Tracy concludes, but he does not "think it so very indecent, as some would represent it."


*Joseph Tracy, The Great Awakening: A History of the Revival of Religion in the Time of Edwards and Wakefield (Boston: Charles Tappan, 1845), pp. 142-143.  Philip Greven refers to this incident in The Protestant Temperament: Patterns of Child-Rearing, Religious Experience, and the Self in Early America (New York: Random House, 1st edition January 1978), page 139.