There was a difference in the time of John Wesley in the 18th century England. Wesley was a preacher of righteousness who exalted the holiness of God in his two to three hour open air sermons. He dwelt on the law of God, the justice of God, and the wisdom of His requirements. He would depict to sinners the enormity of their crimes and their open rebellion and treason and anarchy. The power of God would so descend on the congregation that people were smitten to the ground, utterly unconscious. They had had a revelation of the holiness of God and had seen the enormity of their sins. The Spirit of God had penetrated their minds and hearts.
This phenomenon also happened in America in the 18th century at Yale University during the time of John Wesley Redfield. Outdoor evangelistic meetings were held in the amphitheater at Yale University. Policeman controlling the crowds were cautioned to delineate between the common drunk, whose alcohol breath betrayed him and who was to be locked up for drunken behavior, and those who had been smitten by God and were diagnosed as having “Redfield’s disease.” They were to be removed to a quiet place until they returned to consciousness. Lives were transformed. If men had been drunkards, they stopped drinking; cruel persons changed; immoral people gave up immorality. Thieves repented and returned what had been stolen. Men and women had seen the holiness of God and the enormity of their sin. The Spirit of God had driven them down into unconsciousness because of the weight of their guilt. Somehow in the overspreading of the power of God, sinners repented of their sin and came savingly to Christ.