Arnold Dallimore explains that in the midst of the tremendous work of God that continued after Rev. Whitfield had departed the Colonies (see pg 179-182) attacks and weaknesses surfaced.
The religious community was split into two groups: pro- Revivalists and anti-Revivalists. The names amongst the denominations were (pg 182):
Congregationalists: New Lights and Old Lights.
Presbyterians: New School and Old School.
Baptists: Separatists and Regulars.
Within the pro-Revivalists a weakness arose called fanaticism which was simply extreme emotionalism. This was combatted though several publications: Jonathan Edwards, “The Distinguishing Marks of the Work of the Spirit of God“, Jonathan Dickinson, “A Display of God’s Special Grace“, and Jonathan Parson’s, “A Needful Caution in a Critical Day“. (pg 183).
The second part of fanaticism was assuming a special relationship with the Lord. Rev. James Davenport who, ‘claimed to be guided by direct revelations’. He claimed these were the last days and that he had been divinely chosen to receive ‘visions and dreams’ (pg 184).
Davenport challenged ministers by, ‘demanding of each an account of his religious experience, and condemning all who refuse to give it’.
Davenport denounced ministers as unconverted ‘without reserve’ and ‘urged the duty of all to sustain “the work” in defiance of the commands of parents and the laws of the Colony’ (pg 187).
Davenport in 1743 ‘in an attempt to cure the people of their idolatrous love of worldly things ‘ commanded that their ‘wigs, cloaks, breeches, hoods, gowns, rings, jewels and necklaces be brought to his room, that they by solemn decree, be committed to the flames’ (pg 187).
This relates to Rev. Whitefield in that the anti-Revival camp blamed Whitfield for these fanatical practices. Whitfield in his prior visit four years before had mentioned he had ‘impressions’ on his mind while reading the Scriptures, confirmed deep emotional responses from people under conviction and challenged unconverted ministers. (pg 187-188).
Many came to Whitefield’s defense, including Jonathan Edwards. In the end it was acknowledged by all that the Revival was a work of God even though abuses sprung up (see pg 188 for Whitefield’s response).