1752 JOHN McMILLAN. Original Eyeglasses of James McGready's Mentor. President Log College. Revival.

1752 JOHN McMILLAN. Original Eyeglasses of James McGready's Mentor. President Log College. Revival.

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What a wonderful piece of ephemera! The present glasses, passed down through the family of Catherine McMIllan Haines, granddaughter of John McMillan [1752-1833], Apostle of the West, were used apparently only for reading and are accompanied by their original ate 18th or early 19th century case.

John McMillan is one of the most significant people in the history of American Presbyterianism, especially as it relates to the Great Awakening and the Cane Ridge revival. McMillan's formative years, in the 1760's were spent under the ministry of two graduates of William Tennent's "Log College," Samuel and John Blair. Having had his conversion experience during revivals under the "New Light" Presbyterians, as the revivalists were called, he sensed a call to the Gospel Ministry. 

Heading to Princeton, it was that same year, under the President leadership of John Witherspoon, that Princeton experienced a tremendous revival of religion as well. And he would take that mantel on himself as he presided over the Log College and trained revivalist pastors and evangelists, including his close friend, James McGready. 

From the very beginning of his own ministry, first at Chartiers in 1781, revivals accompanied his preaching. That year, beginning on the Thanksgiving Day celebrating the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, saw the birth of his "Sabbath Night Societies," which were prayer meetings established to pray to God for a revival similar to the Great Awakening. The meetings continued and a revival commenced that lasted nearly 3 years straight. Another revival occurred under his preaching in 1795 and 1799. 

The 1799 revival may be thought to be of significance in that it was especially solemn, with scarcely a dry eye in attendance, and seems to have led directly into the Cane Ridge revivals under James McGready. 

McGready, leader of the Cane Ridge revival, had been a student and disciple of McMillan. At the commencement of the revival, McGready wrote to McMillan, " . . . people are sometimes alarmed, struck down" 

And McMillan, "It was no unusual thing [under his revivals] to see persons so entirely deprived of bodily strength that they would fall from their seats, or off their feet, and be as unable to help themselves as a newborn child. I have seen them lying in this condition for hours." 

McMillan had grown up hearing the preaching, seeing the spiritual manifestations, under the Tennents, George Whitefield himself, and he provided a vital linkage the experimental preaching of the Cane Ridge Revival through his leadership at the Log College. He heard the reports of jumping and jerking and fainting and other "bodily exercises." He reserved judgment on whether the physical actions themselves were the direct activity of Holy Spirit. Regarding whether or not they were a response to a legitimate encounter with the Spirit, on that he had no doubt. This was a revival, and people were responding to, if not directly influenced by, a powerful encounter with God. 

A wonderful physical artifact. He wore these while reading, likely with tears in his eyes, the letters from McGready of the new revival in Kentucky. He read his Scriptures, he wrote to and read work from a whole new generation of revivalists he was training through these lenses. 

Very good condition; wear to original period case. Accompanied by a letter of provenance dating from the death of Catherine McMillan Haines.

A full size statue is present at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, alongside those of John Witherspoon and Samuel Davies