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reopening of the African slave-trade, Great Britain freed
all her slaves in her colonies in 1833. France did the
same in 1848. The New England Antislavery Society
was founded in 1834, and the American Antislavery
Society in 1836. William Lloyd Garrison and his fol-
lowers were tremendously in earnest. Often narrow
and unwise, they at last aroused increasingly the con-

236 History of the Christian Church.

science and the intellect of the North. The Churches
of the North could not resist the tremendous moral
pressure of the categorical imperative which, in secu-
lar politics, phrased itself in William H. Seward's
" Irrepressible Conflict," and in Abraham Lincoln's
" The country can not remain half slave and half free."

The day of decision came earlier to the Churches
than to the nation. The situation was difficult and
delicate. Possibly if, at the beginning, the Churches
had stood together against the iniquitous system be-
fore cotton became a great staple, emancipation could
have been secured. The difficulties were certainly
immense. On the other hand, after 1830, a Church
which should forbid its members to hold slaves would
simply have to emigrate and leave the South. Never-
theless, nothing could stifle the voice of conscience in
the North and the whole civilized world. This made
inevitable the Civil War. We can not say that it
might not have been avoided, but we may safely say
that only a united movement of all the moral forces
of the South could have averted it. The separation
of the strongest Churches in the South — the Presby-
terians in 1837, the Methodists in 1844, and the Bap-
tists in 1845 — made any such union impossible. The
Churches did not secure peaceful emancipation. Those
in the South became the apologists and strong sup-
porters of slavery, some even feeling called solemnly
to declare that it was of divine appointment.

In the North the Antislavery sentiment strength-
ened with each passing year. The Northern Churches
fortified the sentiment in favor of Union, and, at the
same time, declaring necessary the restriction of
slavery to the territory it already occupied. Thus was

The Christian Church in America. 237

prepared that great uprising which surprised the world
when the echoes of the first gun of Sumter reached
the North. Not less than of first historical impor-
tance were the efforts of the Northern Churches in
preparation, and then in effort and endurance, when
came the crisis out of which was born a free nation.

Slavery divided most of the Churches; but, aside
from this, it was an era of sectarian separation. The
division in each denominational group
will be mentioned later. Aside from these ptvision"
there arose the Christian denomination, the
Disciple, the Cumberland Presbyterian, and the
Methodist Protestant, which may fairly be called
Churches. It was an era of eager sectarian and de-
nominational rivalry. The divisions of this time
show that there did not exist the idea of an Evangel-
ical catholic Church. If we have missions we must
have a catholic Church, and neither national or racial
barriers can prevent its spread or divide it into sec-
tions. The time of these troubles is overpast, but the
results remain. On the other hand, the rapid Chris-
tianization of North America was due largely to
those sectarian divisions and the rivalry they called
forth. No one organization, however venerable, or
well disciplined, or wealthy, could have so reached the
people, or so planted the Christian Church in the lit-
tle communities, as well as cities, towns, and villages
throughout the land. In the light of this fact the
sectarian separation and attendant rivalry may be
called providential. To sow this great land with the
gospel and the institutions of the Christian Church
was the first great need. This was done, and no gen-
eration of men before ever saw so many places of

238 History of the Christian Church.

worship erected and consecrated to the service of the
Christian faith. Poor and humble though most of
them were, they were the forerunners of stately edi-
fices which should worthily express in enduring form
the faith and devotion of one of the greatest peoples
of the race. The sectarian controversy, bitterness, and
waste have largely passed away, as in the latter day a
truer light has shone from God's Word upon the
Church of the lyord Jesus Christ.

To these divergencies from the normal type were

added direct perversions. From William Miller arose

the Advent societies. Miller had com-

Perverslons. , . , . , . , , .

puted that the world would end in 1843,
and drew away tens of thousands to his convictions.
The failure of his predictions brought wide-spread re-
ligious disaster, as most of his followers were exem-
plary and devout Christians, and great was the shock
to their faith.

Another delusion was of an altogether different
kind. Joseph Smith, Heber Kimball, and Brigham
Young were men brought up near each other in
Western New York, a few miles east of Rochester.
In 1839, Smith moved to Illinois, and at Nauvoo
he built a Mormon temple. He was killed by a mob
in 1844, and his followers were compelled to leave the
country. They made a perilous and weary march
beyond the Rocky Mountains. This, like Moham-
med's Hegira to Medina, was the turning-point in
their history. In 1843 polygamy was revealed as a
part of the Mormon faith. The early Mormon lead-
ers were ignorant, shrewd, and unscrupulous. They
made chief gain from the lower classes of the Evan-
gelically-trained population of the British Isles and

The Christian Church in America, 239

Scandinavia. Few or none came from Roman Cath-
olic countries or families.

This gigantic imposture is in part a mixture of
Christianity and Feeemasonry, and in part a retro-
gression to stark heathenism. Its estimate of woman
and practice of polygamy shows a permanent debasing
of the Christian ideal. Its power is first in caring for
and providing for the economic future of the poor
who come to its folds in a new country with an ad-
vance of working capital. This power is then con-
served and mercilessly used to further the ends of the
organization by the strictest and most minute forms
of hierarchical discipline. Its ability to send mis-
sionaries to the ends of the earth comes from the oath
every adult male is compelled to take to serve two
years as Mormon missionaries for his expenses.
These missionaries preach, for the most part, ordinary
Christian doctrine. The sting is in the tail, a few
words at the close of the address. Polygamy is for-
bidden by law, but is secretly practiced, and is openly
defended. The missionaries are generally ignorant
young men, knowing nothing of the Christian relig-
ion or Church except what they have been taught
among the Mormons. - They necessarily learn many
things, and are not the same Mormons when they re-
turn. They gather no converts from the Roman
Catholic or the Episcopal Churches, where their peo-
ple are instructed as to the meaning and value of the
Christian Church.

The Evangelical Churches have paid no higher
price in loss and shame for their neglect to emphasize
the nature and significance of the Christian Church
than in the rise and growth of Mormonism, though

240 History of the Christian Church.

this unfortunately is not alone. Probably no success-
ful effort can be made to reach the Mormon people
with the religion of Christ which does not add to the
work of the Church and school an organization, dis-
cipline, and economic provision equal to that afforded
by the Mormon Church. Failing this, the work of
increasing popular intelligence and changed economic
conditions must prepare the way for a return to the
Christian faith.

In 1849, a few miles east from the early home of
the Mormon leaders, lived the Fox sisters, from whose
rappings arose modern Spiritualism, which at one
time drew hundreds of thousands into its maelstrom
of delusion, and alienated them from the Christian

Among the mass of Christian believers there was
little doctrinal change except in the rejection of the
harsher tenets of Calvinism. The entire
chal'^'r* system was rejected by the Methodists, the
Free-will Baptists, and the so-called Chris-
tians, as well as the Disciples. The Cumberland
Presbyterians struck out its cardinal tenets; the
Oberlin Congregationalists omitted the articles in re-
gard to preterition and reprobation from their creed.
In the very stronghold of New England Calvinism
the Yale Divinity was a marked declension from the
teaching of Hopkins and Emmons. The man in
New England, probably, who did most to loosen its
hold was Horace Bushnell. The necessity for it he
clearly sets forth in the following paragraph :

" To see brought up in distinct array before us
the multitudes of leaders and schools and theologic
wars of only the century past, — the supralapsarians

The Christian Church in America. 241

and sublapsarians ; the Arminianizers and the Cal-
vinists; the Pelagians and the Augustinians ; the
Fasters and Exercisers; Exercisers by Divine effi-
ciency, and by human self-efficiency; the love-to-
being-general virtue, and the willing-to-be-damned
virtue, and the love-to-one's-greatest-happiness vir-
tue; no ability, all ability, and moral and natural
ability distinguished; disciples by new-creating act
of omnipotence, and by change of the governing
purpose; atonement by punishment and by expres-
sion, limited and general, by imputation and without
imputation, — nothing, I think, would more certainly
disenchant us of our confidence in systematic orth-
odoxy, and the possibility in human language of an
exact theological science, than an exposition so
practical and serious, and withal so indisputably
mournful — so mournfully indisputable."

It was high time for the religion of the Puritans
to get out of this wilderness and to face realities —
to preach a faith that could evangelize and win the
heathen. On the other hand, the Presbyterians re-
mained true to the old Calvinist standards, the Old
School strictly so. At Princeton, Dr. Charles Hodge
taught a limited atonement —that Christ died for the
elect only— but he regarded the Arminian doctrine as
not an essential error, and that men holding it could
be, and were, greatly blessed of God in building up
his kingdom. How strong was the Calvinism of the
ordinary Presbyterian pastor may be seen by any
one who will read Dr. Ichabod Spencer's " Pastoral
Sketches." Nor did most of them, especially in the
West, hold Dr. Hodge's charitable view in regard to
Arminianism. Father Daniel Rice, of Kentucky,

242 History of the Christian Church.

stated the process of descent to be as follows : " Cal-
vinism to Arminianism, Arminianism to Pelagianism,
Pelagianism to Deism, Deism to Atheism." So, ac-
cording to his statement, Arminianism led directly to
Atheism. If it did not arrive there, it was no fault of
the logic of the process.

As a rule, the Baptists were strong Calvinists;
the Primitive, or so-called Hardshell, Baptists were
the sternest of all in their adherence to the sj^stem of
the Reformer of Geneva. The deflection in regard to
the Divinity of Christ, and in regard to the future
punishment of the wicked, will be treated in connec-
tion with the Unitarians and Universalists.

There were some ministers whose influence reached
far beyond the bounds of the Church or denomination
they served, and aflected all the Churches,
Clergy*"^ and even the nation itself. There were
others whose influence was only indirectly
felt beyond their Church, but whose work in this
sphere was permanent and often transforming. An
attempt will be made to group together the represent-
ative clergymen of this era belonging to the first
class. This group would include, in the Congrega-
tional Churches, Timothy Dwight, Lyman Beecher,
and Charles G. Finney; among the Unitarians,
William E. Channing, Ralph W. Emerson, and Theo-
dore Parker; among the Baptists, Adoniram Judson
and Francis Wayland; in the Presbyterian Church,
Dr. John M. Mason and Albert Barnes; in the Episco-
palian, Bishop White and Bishop McUvaine; among
the Methodists, Francis Asbury, Peter Cartwright,
Thomas H. Stockton, John Summerfield, and George
G. Cookman. These men all made their work felt, in

The Christian Church in America. 243

wider or narrower circles, far beyond the bounds of
their own Communion. These were all remarkable
men, and they wrought together mightily to make
Christian the people of the United States.

Timothy Dwight (1752-18 17) is known to all
Christians as the author of the hymn, "I love thy
kingdom, Lord;" to all who know the re-
ligious history of the United States, as the ^^ghtf
man who first stemmed the current of
French infidelity among men of education while pres-
ident of Yale College, 1795-18 17. For this service he
was admirably fitted by descent and training. His
grandfather was Jonathan Edwards, and he was born,
the eldest of thirteen children, at Northampton, Mass.
At seventeen he graduated at Yale, and, after two
years, was called there to serve as tutor for the next
six years. In 1777 he resigned, to serve as chaplain
in the Continental Army. After a year's service, the
death of his father called him home to care for the
orphans. For the next five years he taught school to
add to the financial resources of his own and his
father's family. In 1783 he became pastor at Green-
field, Conn., and remained until called to the presi-
dency of Yale College. ^ While at Greenfield, to add to
his slender resources, and make them adequate to the
care of the family, he conducted an academy, in
which, in these years, he taught a thousand students.
When he came to Yale, infidelity was rife. Thomas
Paine was a favorite author, and but few of the stu-
dents were Christians. President Dwight was the
man for such a crisis. He taught, and in the lecture-
room solicited questions in regard to the Christian re-
ligion, and answered them. He preached, and in eacli

244 History of the Christian Church.

four years brought before the students a complete
body of Divinity. He wrote "The Nature and Dan-
ger of Infidel Philosophy," and infidelity was ban.
ished from Yale, while extensive and fervent revivals,
from '1797 on, made the students almost universally
Christians. This marked the turning of the tide in
favor of the Christian faith. The whole land profited
by his manly and successful work.

Lyman Beecher (i 775-1 863), a scholar of Dwight's,
was a man of national reputation as a preacher and a

reformer. Next after Dr. Benjamin Rush
BeecITe". ^^ Stands in the lead of the temperance

reform in America. His six " Sermons on
Intemperance" have never been surpassed in their
effect. Lyman Beecher was an independent thinker,
a strong reasoner in the pulpit, mingling humor with
pathos, but most effective in practical application and
fervent appeal. While his occasional sermons are
models of pulpit eloquence, he was a most earnest
and successful revival preacher. He graduated from
Yale in 1797. After studying Divinity for a year with
President D wight, he accepted a pastorate at Kast-
hampton, Long Island, where he remained on a salary
of $300 a year for twelve years. While there he
preached his famous sermon against dueling. In
18 10 he removed to Litchfield, Conn., which was the
scene of his labors for the ensuing sixteen years.
The next six years he served Hanover Street Church,
Boston. There he was at his best as a successful re-
vivalist and a sturdy and successful opponent of the
prevalent Unitarianism. In 1832 he was called to
Cincinnati, Ohio, as the president of Lane Theological
Seminary and the pastor of the Second Presbyterian

The Christian Church in America. 245

Church. This position he held for twenty years.
Though seventy students left Lane to found Oberlin,
and he was in 1835 tried and acquitted for heresy, his
influence increased as a preacher, an antislavery re-
former, and a man. Lyman Beecher's three wives
bore him thirteen children, among them Henry Ward
Beecher and Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author
of *' Uncle Tom's Cabin." He was said to be the
father of more brains than any other man in America.

Charles G. Finney (i 792-1 875) had a diff"erent
training. After getting what education he could in
the schools of Northern New York, and
after teaching school for some time, he p"I,^ey. '
studied law and practiced. At the age of
twenty-nine he was converted; three years later he
was licensed to preach, and became the most success-
ful revivalist of the first half of the nineteenth cen-
tury. From 1824 to 1832 he labored as a revivalist,
and the influence of his labors yet remains. For the
next two years he was at the Tabernacle Church in
New York. In 1835 he went to Oberlin College as
president, where he remained for forty years. His
work and influence there have made the town and
college, and their spirit, his best monument.

The men best known beyond the bounds of the
Baptist Church were Adoniram Judson and Francis

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was the first Amer-
ican Baptist missionary, and his noble wife, Ann Has-
seltine, the first American woman engaged

1 TT J ^ J Adoniram

in foreign mission work. He graduated judson.
from Providence College (now Brown Uni-
versity) in 1807. Though not a professing Christian,

246 History of the Christian Church.

he went to Andover Theological Seminary, and there
was converted in 1809; the next year he resolved to
become a missionary. On business connected with
missions, he went to I^ondon in 181 1. With Newell
and Rice he sailed for India, February, 181 2. Novem-
ber I, 18 1 2, he was baptized by Ward, the Baptist
missionary, having changed his views on baptism
during the voyage. Judson was not allowed to re-
main in Hindustan by the East India Company, and,
after sailing to the Isle of France, he returned to Bur-
mah, making that the land of his labors, and arriving
there in July, 1813. June 27, 1819, Judson baptized
his first Burmese convert. In 1820 he went to the
capital, Ava, and sought, without success, to obtain
protection for his mission. Twice afterwards he was
at the capital to found there, if possible, a mission.
When war broke out between England and Burmah,
in June, 1824, Judson and his heroic wife endured the
horrors of a loathsome imprisonment and threatened
death. Judson was in prison one year and nine
months — nine months in three pairs, and two months
in five pairs of fetters; then six months in one pair.
His wife never recovered the strain of those days, dy-
ing October 24, 1826. Six months later her last child
followed her. In 1828, Judson and Boardman began
the successful mission to the Karens, one of the tri-
umphs of modern missions. In 1834 he completed
the translation of the Bible into Burmese. Later he
finished a Burmese and English Dictionary. Few
missionaries ever mastered a native tongue as did
Adoniram Judson, and this was one of the secrets
of his success.

Mrs. Judson had visited America in 1824. Her

The Christian Church in America. 247

husband refused an invitation to return for a season to
his native land. After the death of his wife he
remained a widower for more than seven years. Then
he married, April, 1834, Mrs. Sarah H. Boardman^
whose missionary husband, George D. Boardman,
died in February, 1831.

After thirty-two years' absence, Judson sailed for
America in April, 1845, on account of the health of
his wife. She, after bearing him eight children, died
at St. Helena, September, 1845. Judson sailed on to
America, where he aroused great enthusiasm for the
cause of missions. In June, 1846, he married Miss
Emily Chubbock, and they sailed for Burmah in July
of the same year. For more than three years he
toiled in the land of his love and missionary labors,
and then, under medical advice, he sailed for the Isle
of Bourbon, but died at sea, April 12, 1850, in the
sixty-second year of his age. The first of American
foreign missionaries proved one of the most heroic,
laborious, and successful.

Few men had a more permanent influence in the
Baptist Church than Francis Way land (i 796-1865).
His parents came to the United States from
England three years before his birth. His way"and.
father became a Baptist minister. The son
was able to enter Union College in the sophomore
year, and graduated in 18 13. He studied medicine,
and began its practice, when his conversion made a
change in his career. He studied for the ministry for
one year at Andover, and then he was offered the
position of tutor at Union College. There he taught
for the next four years. At twenty-five years of age
he was called to the pastorate of the First Baptist

248 History of the Christian Church.

Church in Boston. For five years he was pastor at
Boston, building up an enviable reputation as a strong
thinker and a hard worker. In 1826 he was called to
the chair of Moral Philosophy at Union College; but
after a few months' service he left the position, to
become president of Brown University, 182 7-1 855.
There his high educational ideals, and success in real-
izing them, made him a name among college instruct-
ors of his time. His literary work and sermons, and
especially his text-books on Moral and Intellectual
Philosophy and Political Economy widened his influ-
ence. His thought was always clear, and his illustra-
tions often admirable. Few can estimate the value of
his work at Brown University to that institution, to
his Church, and to American Christianity.

William Ellery Channing (i 780-1 842) was the

most distinguished American clergyman of this

William period in literary work and its influence in

Ellery Europc and America. His character, his

ann ng. g^j^^j-Q^g nature, his eloquence, and his
unfaltering labors for the enslaved, the poor, and the
distressed, gave him a unique reputation. In many
respects he was the most famous American clergyman
in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Channing was born at Newport, R. I., and in his
nineteenth j^ear graduated at Harvard College. For
two years he taught as a private tutor in Richmond^
Va. He held a subordinate position at Harvard for
the two ensuing years, and in June, 1803, he began
his pastorate at Federal Street Church, Boston, which
ceased only with his death. All these years he was
the most popular preacher in Boston. His sermon
in Baltimore in 18 19 makes the distinctive outward

The Christian Church in America. 249

separation of the Unitarians from the orthodox
Churches, though he was always more of an Arian
than a Socinian. In 1822 he visited Europe, and in
1830 the West Indies. His literary career began in
1826, and his work for the slave in 1835. For high
ethical impulse and ideal, and for a certain intellec-
tual breadth, though not profound in thought, and
for a transparent clearness of style, Channing will
always hold his place.

A different man was Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882). A descendant of a long series of New
England divines, he was the American p^, j^
exponent of the Romantic Movement, and waido
was influenced by the pantheism with ^'"*"°"-
which it was allied in Germany. As a poet and
essayist he has left his lasting mark upon American
literature. His theology was too hazy to allow him
ever to be a preacher. In 1829 he was called to
Second Church in Boston, but resigned in 1832 be-
cause of doctrinal divergence, and because he wished
to abolish, or entirely change, the significance of the
Lord's Supper. In 1836 he delivered his pantheistic
address on " Nature," and two years later his Di-
vinity School address^ in which he broke with his-
toric Christianity. As a clergyman, Emerson had
little influence, but he led the new departure of the
Unitarians from the school of Channing, Buckminster^
and Ware to that represented by Theodore Parker
and the radical wing of the later generation. As a
thinker he became less iconoclastic in his later years,
though he always was an idealistic individualist, who
had little perception of the meaning or value of his-
toric institutions, or even those of more recent date.

250 History of the Christian Church.

Theodore Parker (i 810-1860) was a man of in-
tense intellectual vigor and indefatigable industry.
Self-reliant and courageous, he knew no
Parker? fevereuce, could not appreciate the intel-
lectual position of those who differed from
him, and had no historical perspective. From Emer-
son he derived his denials, but more than any other
man of his time he was a furious iconoclast. In con-

Online LibraryGeorge Herbert DryerHistory of the Christian church (Volume 5) → online text (page 17 of 50)