“Heart-Piercing Conviction” in Logan County, Kentucky

By Dustin W. Benge

James M’Gready (1763–1817) was born in Pennsylvania and later settled in North Carolina with his father. After theological training for ministry, he became a Presbyterian pastor and leader during the Second Great Awakening. In 1796, M’Gready left his North Carolina home for southern Kentucky. He was called to serve the congregations of Gaspar River, Red River, and Muddy River in Logan County, Kentucky. In the summer of 1798, he reported “some movement” among the congregations in Logan County. He describes the event as “a very general awakening.” The spirit of prayer deepened and twelve months later it was apparent that a powerful work of conversion was in progress. During a communion service at Red River at the end of July 1799, “many of the most bold and daring sinners of the country were brought to cover their faces and weep bitterly.” A month later the same “heart-piercing conviction” was also evident during services at Gasper River. Some individuals were reported to have been so overcome with emotion that they fell to the floor. Much more was to follow.

M’Gready writes, “The year 1800 exceeds all that our eyes ever beheld on earth. All the blessed displays of Almighty power and grace, all the sweet gales of the divine Spirit, and soul-reviving showers of the blessings of Heaven which we enjoyed before, and which we considered wonderful beyond conception, were but like a few scattering drops before a mighty rain, when compared with the overflowing floods of salvation, which the eternal, gracious Jehovah has poured out like a mighty river, upon this our guilty, unworthy country. The Lord has indeed shewed [sic] himself a prayer-hearing God: he has given his people a praying spirit and a lively faith, and then he has answered their prayers far beyond their highest expectations.”

For more information on James M’Gready and his ministry, please visit here.


Dustin Benge serves as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Kentucky. He is also a PhD candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a junior fellow at The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. Dustin and his wife, Molli, live in Jackson.