In the 1730s and 40s, New England and others of the colonies were in the midst of that great dispensation of God’s grace that we call The Great Awakening. Through the itinerant preaching of George Whitefield and the theological ministry of Jonathan Edwards, large numbers were coming under the conviction of sin and turning to God in repentance and faith in Christ.
Yet in the thick of these revivals many of those who professed Christ would be so caught up with themselves emotionally that the display of “affections” became to be the marker of spiritual maturity. If you were powerfully affected by the truth of spiritual things, you could be assured that your state before God was acceptable.
In response to this, others began to become suspicious of such displays of religious affections, recognizing that they can be easily fabricated and resembled mere “swoonings.” The pendulum had swung, and the trend became to deny the importance of affections altogether, and rather emphasized reason and judgment only.