Chronology of Mankind: 6,000 Years of History, Part IV :: By Randy Nettles

Authors note: Even though Epochs 16-19 only cover 373 years, the historical events are so plentiful, and due to lack of space, we will mostly be recording headlines and dates only. If you would like more information, I suggest you go to these sources:,,,, and When and Where in the Bible and Throughout History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten.

Nettles Chronology thus far: Epochs 1-15 = 5,608 years

Epoch 16: The Age of Reason (Enlightenment) and Revival (Great Awakening) – AD 1648 – AD 1787 = 139 years

“European politics, philosophy, science and communications were radically reoriented during the course of the “long 18th century” as part of a movement referred to by its participants as the Age of Reason, or simply the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers in Britain, in France and throughout Europe questioned traditional authority and embraced the notion that humanity could be improved through rational change. The Enlightenment produced numerous books, essays, inventions, scientific discoveries, laws, wars and revolutions. The American and French Revolutions were directly inspired by Enlightenment ideals and respectively marked the peak of its influence and the beginning of its decline. The Enlightenment ultimately gave way to 19th-century Romanticism.” {1)

In AD 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia was signed, which ended the Thirty Years War between the Protestants (Evangelical Union) and the Catholics (Catholic League). Year 5,608 from creation – AD 1648

Puritan leaders develop doctrine and policy known as the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Platform, which laid the foundation for American democracy – Year 5608 from creation – AD 1648

After forcing Charles II of England into exile, Oliver Cromwell, the commander in chief of the army, was named lord protector (head of state of England) of England in lieu of a king. Year 5,613 from creation – AD 1653. Cromwell ruled as lord protector until his death in AD 1658.

Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and physicist who invented the first mechanical calculating machine and discovered the theory of probability, is converted to the Christian faith. Year 5,614 from creation – AD 1654

John Milton, a scholar and government official under Oliver Cromwell, wrote Paradise Lost (his defining work) seven years before his death. Year 5,627 from creation – AD 1667.

Rembrandt van Rijn completes the last of his 2,300 known works of religious paintings, known as The Return of the Prodigal Son, in the same year of his death. Year 5,629 from creation – AD 1669

John Bunyan, an English tinker turned preacher, writes Pilgrim’s Progress (an allegory of the Christian life) while he was imprisoned by the Church of England. He wrote this great literary work, which has remained in print for more than 300 years and has been translated into more than 200 languages, seven years before his death. Year 5,638 from creation – AD 1678

William Penn, an English Quaker, founds Pennsylvania in America and draws up the city of Philadelphia on his newly gained land grant from King Charles II. Pennsylvania was the first seat of true religious toleration in America. Year 5,642 from creation – AD 1682

Sir Isaac Newton, an English professor of mathematics and physics at Cambridge University, publishes his defining work Philosophiae Naturalis Principis Matematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), which describes his theory of universal gravitation. Year 5,649 from creation – AD 1687. Newton was an ardent Bible student but was a deist who did not believe in the deity of Christ.

England’s “Glorious Revolution” begins between the Roman Catholic king of England, James II, and the Protestant, William of Orange of the Netherlands. Year 5,650 from creation – AD 1688. The following year, the new king of England, William of Orange, wrote the Bill of Rights and the Toleration Act for English citizens.

After a year of “witch hunts” in Salem, Massachusetts, the final execution in Salem took place on September 22, 1692, when one man and seven women were hanged on Witches Hill. In all, about 150 people were tried as witches, and 19 were convicted and hanged. Year 5,654 from creation – AD 1692

Peter the Great of Russia promotes missions in Siberia. Year 5,662 from creation – AD 1700

Yale College is founded. Year 5,663 from creation – AD 1701

Isaac Watts, an English pastor, publishes Hymns and Spiritual Songs, a collection of Christian songs. Year 5,669 from creation – Ad 1707. These hymns and songs broke the English restrictions against singing anything other than Psalms in public worship.

Russian czar, Peter the Great, issues a “Spiritual Regulation” and establishes a Holy Synod to bring the Russian Orthodox Church under his control. Year 5,683 from creation – AD 1721

Johann Sebastian Bach was an orthodox Lutheran from Germany and was a gifted organist and composer. His greatest work was known as St. Matthew Passion which was published in AD 1729. Year 5,691 from creation

“The Great Awakening was a religious revival that impacted the English colonies in America during the 1730s and 1740s. The movement came at a time when the idea of secular rationalism was being emphasized, and passion for religion had grown stale. Christian leaders often traveled from town to town, preaching about the gospel, emphasizing salvation from sins and promoting enthusiasm for Christianity. The result was a renewed dedication toward religion. Many historians believe the Great Awakening had a lasting impact on various Christian denominations and American culture at large.” {2}

First Moravian Missionaries set sail for the West Indies to set up missionaries. Year 5,694 from creation – AD 1732. Over a 50-year period, the Moravians had baptized about 13,000 converts. By the mid-18th century, more than 200 Moravian missions had been established in Australia, North/South America, Tibet, Russia, and parts of Africa.

Jonathan Edwards, a Northampton, Massachusetts Anglican minister, began preaching in AD 1735 and was largely credited with a great revival that came into the area. He is considered one of the chief fathers of the Great Awakening and one of America’s greatest theologians. Year 5,697 from creation – AD 1735. On July 8, 1741, Edwards preached to an indifferent audience in Enfield, Connecticut. The title of the sermon was called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and was in reference to God’s wrath and man’s sinfulness. The audience went from being indifferent to fearful for their souls, and some began to cry and shout out, “What shall I do to be saved?” Many were converted that day in Enfield, Connecticut. Edwards wrote many books, including The End for Which God Created the World, The Life of David Brainerd, and Religious Affections.

George Whitefield was educated at Oxford’s Pembroke College and joined a small Christian group at Oxford University in AD 1733, which included Charles and John Wesley. Some students made fun of the group and referred to them as the “Holy Club” or “Methodists.” However, Whitefield was not actually converted until AD 1735. Year 5,697 from creation. He was ordained in the Church of England the following year. Whitefield traveled to the New World seven times, is considered to be the founder of American revivalism, and was considered to be the leader of the Great Awakening in America.

John and Charles Wesley go to the colony of Georgia on a missionary trip to convert Indians that was mostly unsuccessful. They were still of the belief in the theology of works and not faith, and so they failed in their mission and returned to England. Year 5,697 from creation – AD 1735

Three years after the Wesley’s unsuccessful trip to America, the brothers came under the influence of Peter Boehler, a Moravian preacher who taught on justification by faith and not works. They also began reading Martin Luther’s writings on Galatians and Romans. They were both converted to Christ in AD 1738. Year 5,700 from creation. Charles went on to write over 7,000 hymns and became known as the “sweet singer of Methodism.” John became a powerful speaker and evangelist and later became known as the “founder of Methodism.”

Revival begins at Fetter Lane Chapel in London, England, on New Year’s Eve, AD 1738 – Year 5,700 from creation. There were about 60 people in attendance, including George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, and other former members of the “Holy Club” at Oxford University. Their annual Watch Night service followed Moravian custom, where they held a prayer service and “love fest,” and then the Lord’s Supper. At about three in the morning, the group was moved by the Holy Spirit and experienced what Whitefield called “a Pentecostal season indeed.” This Moravian service began what came to be known as the Evangelical Revival and reverberated throughout England.

George Whitefield begins his practice of preaching in the open air at Bristol, England, in AD 1739 – Year 5,701 from creation. In AD 1740, Whitefield returned to New England and preached more than 175 times to tens of thousands. He also made fifteen visits to Scotland, two to Ireland, and one each to Bermuda, Gibraltar, and the Netherlands. In his 34-year career, Whitefield gave more than 15,000 sermons to millions of people, of which 78 have been published.

John Wesley also began his itinerant (open-air) preaching in AD 1739. Year 5,701 from creation. He was a member of the Church of England, and his mission was to evangelize Great Britain. John Wesley is known as the father of Methodism. It is estimated that in his lifetime, he rode 250,000 miles on horseback, preached 40,000 sermons, and published, edited, or abridged nearly 400 publications.

George Frideric Handel, a German-born son, was of Lutheran heritage and possessed uncommon musical talent. Handel could play the harpsichord, organ, violin, and oboe by the age of seventeen. After moving to England, Handel wrote about forty operas and oratorios. He composed his most famous work, Messiah, in AD 1741, which tells the story of Christ from prophecy to fulfillment. Year 5,703 from creation – AD 1741. Handel inspired later composers like Haydn, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn.

David Brainerd was born in Haddam, Connecticut, and was converted at the age of twenty-one. He became involved with the Great Awakening in AD 1742 when he was commissioned as a missionary to the Indians. Year 5,704 from creation – AD 1742. He died at an early age from tuberculosis, and his friend Jonathan Edwards published Brainerd’s diary, which became a devotional classic.

Princeton University is founded. Year 5,707 from creation – AD 1746

John Newton, the son of a merchant sea captain, was forced into the British Royal Navy at age nineteen. After trying to escape, Newton was caught and flogged. Later, he went to work on a slave-trader vessel shipping slaves from Africa. In AD 1748, Newton’s ship nearly sank in the North Atlantic. That is when he prayed to God for deliverance, and the result was the ship and crew survived. John Newton was now a converted man and put his faith in God. Year 5,709 from creation – AD 1748. Later, Newton wrote perhaps the greatest hymn of all time, “Amazing Grace,” which was based on his life experiences and subsequent salvation.

The famous French philosopher Voltaire writes the satirical critique of the common ideas about good and evil, Candide, in AD 1759. Year 5,719 from creation – AD 1759. Voltaire was one of the greatest spokesmen for the Age of Enlightenment, advocating the use of reason over religion. He considered the Catholic Church to be superstitious and intolerant. Thirty-nine of his works were banned by the Roman Catholic Church. Voltaire was a humanist and emphasized tolerance as the major characteristic of society. Voltaire’s beliefs were widely held among the educated in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Francis Ashbury was the son of some of the followers of John Wesley. He joined the movement and traveled to America as a missionary. He set sail in AD 1771. Year 5,731 from creation. Once in America, Ashbury became an itinerant preacher and preached the message of Christ. He was the only Methodist missionary who remained in America once the Civil War broke out. By the end of Ashbury’s life, it is estimated that he had ordained more than 4,000 preachers, preached more than 16,000 messages, and more than 214,000 Methodists had joined the ranks in the U.S.

On April 19, 1775, the Civil War of the United States started in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. In the summer of that year, the Continental Congress appointed George Washington commander of the Continental army. The next year on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, declaring the colonies’ independence from British rule, and the United States of America emerged as a new and sovereign nation. Year 5,736 from creation – AD 1776. The Revolutionary War ended on September 3, 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed between Great Britain and the United States, then ratified the following spring.

John Wesley writes the Articles of Religion as the official doctrinal standard for American Methodists. Year 5,744 from creation – AD 1784. The same year, Thomas Coke joined Francis Ashbury in America as a joint superintendent for the Methodists in America. Thomas Coke was one of the most influential figures in the Methodist movement.

The Abolition Society was the first organized group that sought to abolish slavery. This group was formed in England by Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce, and the Abolition movement began at this time. Year 5,747 from creation – AD 1787

The Second Great Awakening in the United States begins at Hampden-Sydney College. Revival then spreads to Washington College, Williams, Dartmouth, Yale, and Amherst. Year 5,747 from creation – AD 1787. The Second Great Awakening in America, which was led by preachers and students alike, lasted from 1787 to 1825.

5,608 years (Epochs 1-15) + 139 years (Epoch 16) = 5,747 years

Epoch 17: The Age of Revolution – AD 1787 to AD 1871 = 84 years

Author’s note: The Age of Revolution was probably started in AD 1775-1786 when the Revolutionary War started between the 13 colonies of America and the British. However, I included it in the Age of Revival as Francis Ashbury, Thomas Coke, and other Methodists were doing great missionary work and revival in America during the late 18th century. Also, the Second Great Awakening began in this time period, so the two ages overlap somewhat. We will start the time of the Age of Revolution with the next great revolution…the French Revolution.

“The French Revolution was a watershed event in modern European history that began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. During this period, French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape, uprooting centuries-old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system. The upheaval was caused by widespread discontent with the French monarchy and the poor economic policies of King Louis XVI, who met his death by guillotine, as did his wife Marie Antoinette. Although it failed to achieve all of its goals and at times degenerated into a chaotic bloodbath, the French Revolution played a critical role in shaping modern nations by showing the world the power inherent in the will of the people.” {3}

The revolution not only overthrew the monarchy but it also attempted to abolish the Catholic Church in France by removing Christianity from French culture. The French Revolution started in AD 1789 – Year 5,694 from creation.

Catherine the Great of Russia establishes the Pale of Settlement, an area the Jewish people were restricted to and isolated from the rest of Russian society. Year 5,751 from creation – AD 1791

The U.S. Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution, is ratified by Congress. Year 5,751 from creation – AD 1791. The First Amendment declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government of a redress of grievances.”

William Carey sails for India to establish missionaries. Carey and his evangelists established 26 churches and more than 125 schools. He translated Scripture into at least 35 languages and baptized 1,800 converts. William Carey is known as the father of Modern Missions. Year 5,753 from creation – AD 1793

The Methodists begin to separate from the Church of England – Year 5,757 from creation – AD 1797

Napoleon Bonaparte becomes the Emperor of France in 1804 – Year 5,764 from creation – AD 1804. He reigned for 10 years until AD 1814.

Due to the power and pressure from Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor Francis II resigned, and the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved. Year 5,766 from creation – AD 1806. The H.R.C. was replaced by Napoleon’s Confederation of the Rhine.

English Parliament votes to abolish the slave trade from the British Empire. Year 5,767 from creation – AD 1807. The actual act of abolition of slavery was finally adopted in AD 1833.

Princeton Seminary is founded by Archibald Alexander, a Presbyterian minister in Princeton, New Jersey. Year 5,772 from creation – AD 1812.

In AD 1815, after Napoleon’s defeat, Pope Pius VII re-established the Ghetto of Rome, which forced the Jews in Rome to live within its confines. Year 5,775 from creation – AD 1815

The American Bible Society was founded in AD 1816 in New York City by representatives of regional Bible societies throughout the country. John Quincy Adams and Francis Scott Key were among the Society’s first officials. Year 5,776 from creation – AD 1816

Lott Carey becomes the first black missionary to Africa. Year 5,781 from creation – AD 1821

Czar Nicholas I issues the Cantonist decrees in Russia for the indoctrination of Jewish boys and young men into military service. It also forced the Jewish boys into Russian Orthodox Christianity. Year 5,787 from creation – AD 1827

Joseph Smith Jr. and five other people meet in Fayette, New York, to found a new religion called the Church of Christ (later renamed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormon Church). Year 5,790 from creation – AD 1830. In contrast, the same year of 1830, John Nelson Darby revives the hermeneutics of dispensationalism and the eschatology of the pretribulation rapture based on the writings of the apostle (to the Gentiles) Paul.

The missionary David Livingstone sails for Africa on a missionary expedition to take Christianity to Africa, as well as fighting to end the slave trade. Year 5,800 from creation – AD 1840

William Miller forms a group based on his predictions of the date of the Second Coming of Christ. His first prediction date was for March 21, 1843. When Christ failed to return during that period, Miller recalculated the date to be October 22, 1844. When that date failed as well, many left the group, but those who remained formed the foundation for what later became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Year 5,804 from creation – AD 1844

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels write the Communist Manifesto. Year 5,808 from creation – AD 1848

Charles Haddon Spurgeon begins his pastorate at New Park Baptist Chapel (later renamed Metropolitan Tabernacle) in Southwark, London, at age 19. Year 5,814 from creation – AD 1854. Spurgeon authored sermons, an autobiography, commentaries, books on prayer, devotionals, magazines, poetry, and hymns. Many sermons were transcribed as he spoke and were translated into many languages during his lifetime. Spurgeon’s great oratory skills and gift for preaching is evidenced by the fact that his sermons are still popular and available today.

Pope Pius IX issues a papal bull statement regarding Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, declaring that, “from the first moment of her conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary was, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of Mankind, kept free from all stain of Original Sin.” Of course, Protestants rejected the dogma. Year 5,814 from creation – AD 1854.

Charles Darwin, the naturalist, publishes The Origin of Species in regards to the theory of evolution, Year 5,819 from creation – AD 1859

The Seventh Day Adventist Church is formally founded. Year 5,820 from creation – AD 1860. Ellen Gould White was the most prominent leader of the group that formally organized in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1860. White claimed to have experienced some 2,000 visions in her lifetime.

On April 12, 1861, the United States Civil War begins at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. This war was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America (eleven southern states that left the Union in 1860 and 1861). Year 5,821 from creation – AD 1861. The Civil War lasted for four bloody years until the Confederate States surrendered to the Union.

On December 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified. This amendment officially ended slavery in the United States. Year 5,825 from creation – AD 1865

In 1871, Chancellor of Prussia Otto von Bismarck arranged for William I to be crowned emperor of Germany and established an elected governing body. Knowing most of the German empire was Protestant, Bismarck initiated a campaign against the Roman Catholic Church. Year 5,831 from creation – AD 1871

5747 years (Epochs 1-16) + 84 years (Epoch 17) = 5,831 years

The next article, Part V, will complete this series on the Chronology of Mankind: 6,000 Years of History.


1} Enlightenment

{2} Great Awakening

{3} French Revolution