The First Evangelical Magazine
Thomas Prince Sr. may have worried that the Great Awakening was fading when he and his son started the first evangelical magazine in 1743. But he wanted to publish a journal that would document the revival that had been spreading through the American colonies. Future generations could turn to the Christian History magazine and remember God's faithfulness. He also hoped the periodical would keep the awakened community from fracturing, encourage recent converts, and perhaps even prompt a few new ones. Whether or not the Boston pastor succeeded in all his aims, we are indebted this progenitor of evangelical publishing, who inspired generations of journalist/historians to support the church by documenting the gospel's progress.
"Where there had been no specifically evangelical periodical publication in the first forty years of the [eighteenth] century," Susan [Durden] O'Brien observes, "by the last forty years such literature had become a normal means of communication and propagation for several denominations."
Writing in the first issue, published on March 5, 1743, editor Thomas Prince Jr. told readers what they could expect. New England ministers would submit authentic, trustworthy accounts of the contemporary revival. He planned to publish extracts from the "most remarkable" revival stories in history. He solicited revival narratives from ministers in England and Scotland. And he excerpted letters between pastors from various locales, anywhere from Scotland to Georgia. This correspondence provided readers with the most reliable, recent news from the awakening's front lines.
The first seven issues of the weekly magazine shared news from the contemporary Kilsyth revival in Scotland. "As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good ...