George Herbert Dryer.

History of the Christian church (Volume 5) online

. (page 18 of 50)
Online LibraryGeorge Herbert DryerHistory of the Christian church (Volume 5) → online text (page 18 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

structive thought he left no mark. For temperance,
for the Antislavery cause, and against political, social,
and religious shams he struck sturdy blows. He
was a popular lecturer, but little permanent effect
remained from his work after his decease. His ances-
tors were participants in the Revolutionary struggle,
and stood high in the community. His father had a
small shop and a farm. There was nourished in study
and toil one of the most keenly-acquisitive intellects
of the century. At eight he had already read a good
deal of history and poetry. At seventeen he began to
teach district school, and at twenty entered Harvard
College. The next year financial stress drove him
to teaching in Boston; there he gave instruction in
Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, mathematics, and
philosophy. The following year he opened a private
school at Watertown, Mass. There he read Greek and
Latin authors. Cousin's Philosophy in French, and
Goethe, Schiller, and Klopstock in German, besides re-
citing in Hebrew at Cambridge. In 1834 he entered
the Cambridge (Unitarian) Divinity School, where
he remained until the summer of 1836. This was the
chief systematic instruction he enjoyed. After candi-
dating, he settled at West Roxbury in 1837, where he
remained until Januury, 1845. There he dipped into

The Christian Church in America. 251

various studies, read euormously, giviug the chief place
to German philosophy, and richly storing a marvelously
capacious and retentive memory. Here also he trans-
lated DeWette's "Introduction to the New Testa-
ment." In May, 1841, he preached a sermon on
"The Permanent and the Transient in Christianity."
In this he declared against the inspiration of the
Bible, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Church, the
ministry, and the Sabbath as divine institutions. In
1842 he published a "Discourse on Matters Pertain-
ing to Religion." In this he said: " Man's religion is
a just development from the nature within him and
the outward world; God, duty, and immortality are
conceptions which arise of themselves in human souls.
Out of these fundamental ideas all religious systems
have been built up."

In 1843, Parker went to Europe for a year's so-
journ. On returning, in January, 1845, he began his
work as the pastor of an independent congregation
meeting in a public hall in Boston. There was no
Church organization, and there were no sacraments.
There was one address each Sunday, which was lit-
erary or philanthropic quite as often as religious.
The audience were rfiostly free religionists out of
touch with the orthodox Churches. These never
failed to come in for a scourging of stinging sar-
casm, so that many felt that the great revival of 1858
was the fitting answer to his irreverent attacks.
Through overwork and lack of care for his health,
his strong physique began to give away in 1859. He
sailed for Santa Cruz, and then for Europe. In May,
i860, he died in Florence. He was a typical self-
made American, with high moral ideals and intense

252 History of the Christian Church.

energy. The failure of his work is a most impress-
ive lesson.

The Presbyterian Church stood at the farthest ex-
treme from Unitarian denial and theological radical-
ism. Its intelligent ministry, and the high average
of wealth and social position in its congregations,
gave it great influence. While the average ability of
its pastors was probably surpassed only by the Con-
gregationalists, if by them, it did not produce many
men of national reputation, certainly none the equal
of two presidents of Princeton College in the preced-
ing century — Jonathan Edwards and John Wither-
spoon .

John Mitchell Mason (i 770-1 829) worthily repre-
sented this Church in these years. He was born in
New York City, and graduated from Colum-

Marom ^i^ College in 1789. He then pursued his
divinity studies at Edinburgh. The death
of his father recalled him in 1792. The same year
he was chosen pastor of the Associated Reformed
Church of New York City, of which his father
had been pastor for thirty-one years. This position
he filled until 18 10, when he resigned, to establish a
new congregation. In 1804 he was associated in
the founding of the Union Theological Seminary,
in which he accepted a professorship. In 181 1 he
became also Provost of Columbia College and largely
increased the efficiency of that institution. In 1802
and 18 16 he visited Europe. From 1821 to 1824
he was president of Dickinson College. In 1822 he
united with the Presbyterian Church. From 1824 to
1829 he lived in retirement in New York. John M.
Mason was an earnest Christian, a high-minded con-

The Christian Church in America. 253

troversialist, as shown in his polemic with Bishop
Hobart. But he was a prince of pulpit orators ; few
men in America ever preached such occasional ser-
mons. His sermon upon the death of Alexander
Hamilton concentrated public indignation against
dueling. His sermon before the London Missionary
Society on ** Messiah's Throne" made Robert Hall
say, " I can never preach again."

A man of extraordinary force of character, of
great ability and accomplishment, was Eliphalet Nott
(177^-1866), the founder, and for sixty

^ n ^^ ' r^ ^^ XT EHphalet

years the president, of Union College. He ^^^^^
was born at Ashford, Wyndham County,
Conn. At four years of age he read through the
Bible; at sixteen he began teaching school, and was
the head of Plainfield Academy at eighteen. He
spent a year in Brown University, and then studied
theology under his brother, and was licensed to
preach in 1796. He labored as a schoolteacher and
missionary at Otsego Lake and Cherry Valley, 1795-
1798. In the latter year he became pastor of the
Presbyterian Church in Albany, and was the most in-
fluential pastor in that city. In 1804 his sermon on
the death of Alexander Hamilton gave him a national
reputation. In the same year he was elected president
of Union College, and this became his life work. In it
he achieved marvelous success, drawing to it students
from all parts of the Union, especially from the South.
He was an expert mechanic and a successful inventor.
As a financier he brought wealth to his college and to
himself. His "Counsels to Young Men on the For-
mation of Character" and '' Lectures on Temperance"
were not only popular, but of great value. But Dr.

254 History of the Christian Church.

Nott was at his best as a preacher ; carefully prepar-
ing, and yet never reading, he influenced the four
thousand 3^oung men who graduated from his training
as no other college president of that day in America.
Even to great age he preserved his vigor and influence.
In this century, until his death in 1836, William
White ( 1 748-1 836) was easily the foremost figure in

the Episcopal Church, and the most influ-
^'hite" ential clergyman of that communion in the

United States. His spotless character, his
wide sympathies, his evangelical teaching, and his
position as the dean of the Episcopate for all these
years, and practically the founder and leader of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States,
gave him unique claims upon the public men of the
nation of all communions. He linked together in
public service and acquaintance the administrations
of Washington and Jackson. He died respected and
honored by Christians of every name.

Next to Bishop White in national influence was
Charles P. Mcllvaine (i 798-1 873). His father was

United States Senator from New Jersey,
M^in'^vaine' ^^^ youug Mcllvaiue graduated from

Princeton in 1816. He was ordained dea-
con by Bishop White in 1820, and priest two years
later. From 1825 to 1827 he was Professor of Ethics
and chaplain at West Point. From 1827 to 1832 he
was Rector of St. Ann's in Brooklyn, N. Y. In the
latter year he was elected Bishop of Ohio, and did
honor to the Episcopate for the remaining years of
his life. He published a popular treatise on "Chris-
tian Evidences." He was a lifelong opponent of the
Oxford Movement. In 1841 appeared his "Oxford

The Christian Church in America. 255

Divinity Compared with that of the Romish and
Anglican Churches;" in 1844, "No Priest, no Altar,
no Sacrifice, but Christ;" in 1855, a volume of "Ser-
mons." These were highly commended and enjoyed
by such men as Lord Shaftesbury. Mcllvaine's posi-
tion as the leader of the Low Church party in this
country gave him a wide and lasting reputation and
influence. His warm Evangelical sympathies, shown
in his "Life of Simeon," as well as his personal con-
duct, made him one of the founders and a lifelong
friend of the Evangelical Alliance. His influence as
a patriot during the Civil War was widespread and

The Methodist Church in the early part of this
period was best known through the heroic labors and
matchless self-denial of Francis Asbury
(1745-18 1 6). In these years, amid many Xlbury.
infirmities and the burdens of advancing
age, he kept up his arduous labors and his extended
travels. Thus he finished one of the most successful
careers of Gospel Evangelism the Christian Church
has ever known. He laid the foundation of a great
Church and of the civilization of a great empire
in the heart of the American Continent. No other
man laid the molding hand of future destiny on so
many great communities and commonwealths.

The typical pioneer Methodist itinerant in many
respects, in the New West in these days, was Peter
Cartwright (i 785-1 872). He was born in
Virginia, and in 1793, with his father's cartwiight.
family, removed to Logan County, Ky.
There, at the age of sixteen, he was converted. The
next year he was licensed to exhort, and for a few

256 History of the Christian Church.

months attended Brown's Academy. In 1804 he en-
tered the Kentucky Conference, and four years later
was ordained elder. From 1812 to 18 16 he was pre-
siding elder. For the succeeding four years he trav-
eled as a circuit preacher in Kentucky. In 182 1 he
was again appointed presiding elder, an office which
he held until within three years of his death in 1872.
The wit, the muscular Christianity, and the famous
"Autobiography" of Peter Cartwright, made him
\nown in two continents. He was elected to twelve
General Conferences from 18 16 to 1858. In 1869 he
took a superannuate relation. He was a man of su-
perior mental vigor, keen knowledge of human na-
ture, and warm sympathies. For all time his figure
stands out among the backwoods preachers who sub-
dued sinners and formed spiritual empires.

Two young men of English birth brought the
Methodist Episcopal Church more before the public
than the long and successful labors of men of a dif-
ferent order of gifts.

John Summerfield (i 798-1825) was a child of
genius as a pulpit orator. From early youth he de-

,^^ lighted to hear the best speakers of the
Summer- pulpit, the bar, the legislature, or the stage.

field. Q£ ^ precocious intellectual development
and a nature equally intense and sympathetic, he had
the gifts of pleavSing popular address as few men of
his time. A signal conversion in 18 19 led him to an
earnestness, devoutness, and grace of spirit, as well as
speech, seldom equaled. His career was brief, but
his name was as ointment poured forth. In 1818 he
was received on trial in Ireland, and came to America

The Christian Church in America. 257

in March, 1821. His first appearance at the Anniver-
sary of the American Bible Society marked him as a
power in the pulpit. The largest churches could not
contain those who crowded to hear him until his
health broke down in June, 1822. He spent the next
year in France for the Bible Society until April, 1824.
Then, returning, he took up work as a missionary
speaker, and aided in the organization of the Amer-
ican Tract Society. In June, 1825, his work was
done, and he left behind the fragrance of a saintly
life of rare sweetness and charm.

George G. Cookman (i 800-1 841) had but a little
longer span of life before he went down in the ill-
fated steamer President. Like Summer-
field, he was the son of a Wesleyan local cookman*.
preacher. When twenty years of age he
came to this country on business for his father, and
was licensed as a local preacher at Schenectady, N. Y.
In 1 82 1 he returned to Hull, England, and entered
into business with his father, at the same time doing
the work ot a Methodist preacher. In 1825 he came
to Philadelphia, and was received the next year into
the Philadelphia Conference. The remainder of his
life was spent as an itinerant in Pennsylvania, New
Jersey, Maryland, and in the city of Washington. In
1 838-1 839 he served as chaplain to the House of Rep-
resentatives. His chaste language, the vividness of
his imagination, and his earnest appeals gave him a
national reputation, which he did not live to enjoy,
but which came as a legacy to his son, Alfred Cook-
man, a man of eloquence, of rare purity and personal

258 History of the Christian Church.

A man of equal or greater eloquence, and of

greater ability, was Thomas H. Stockton (i 808-1 868).

He was born at Mount Holly, N. J., and in

Thomas H. ^^ ^^^ converted and united with the

Stockton. ^

Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadel-
phia. In 1829 he began to preach in the Methodist
Protestant Church, of which he became a member.
In 1833 he was chosen chaplain to Congress, and held
this position for three successive sessions. He was
again chosen to this ofi&ce in 1862. He resided in
Philadelphia from 1838 to 1847; from 1847 to 1850 he
was in Cincinnati; in Baltimore, 1850 to 1856; and
again in Philadelphia from 1856 to 1868. In all
these places he served as pastor of a congregation of
the Church of which he was the most distinguished

Thomas H. Stockton offered the prayer at Gettys-
burg before Abraham Lincoln delivered his celebrated
Address. Those who knew him well and had a wide
experience in hearing eloquent men, pronounced him
as without a peer as a pulpit orator in this country.

These were the men most prominently before the
people of the whole country without reference to
Church communions or denominational preferences.
They were great men, and their influence was marked
and lasting. But often effects of wider and more
permanent value came from the labors of those who
were little known outside of their own communions,
but whose lives and work made those Churches a
power in the land and the world. We shall therefore
sketch briefly the history of the Churches of this
period, and, in outline, the lives of those who most
influenced their development.

The Christian Church in America. 259

The Congregationai, Church.

The Congregationalists in this period worked
with the Presyterians through the Plan of Union.
They led the American Churches in the organiza-
tion of the first Foreign Missionary Society, and in
theological education in the founding of Andover
Theological Seminary. New theological opinions at
Yale and Oberlin produced controversies. They suf-
fered the loss of the oldest historic Churches of Massa-
chusetts, and the wealthiest of Boston, and of Harvard
College, through the Unitarian Schism. They made
large gains in the newer West, and held their own in
New England through extensive revivals. Their
colleges, Yale, Williams, Bowdoin, Dartmouth, and
Amherst, gave them an intellectual leadership.

In 1 80 1 the Congregationahsts and Presbyterians
arranged that, in all the new Churches in the West,
the Churches composed of Congregational- ^^^ ^^^^
ists and Presbyterians should belong to of union,
the Church of which the pastor was a
minister, unless the congregation objected. This
arrangement brought almost all the New England
emigrants, the most enterprising citizens of the new
communities, into the Presbyterian Church, as the
Congregationalists made little effort to plant Churches
west of New York until after the founding of Ober-
lin. But this New England element in Presbyterian-
ism brought in a more Congregationalist form of
Church government, and also a more liberal form of
Calvinistic theology. These things were an offense to
the more rigid Presbyterians.

On the other hand, the Presbyterians supported

26o History of the Christian Church.

the Congregational foreign missions through the
American Board. It thus came to pass that in the
new West the gain was to the Presbyterians, while
the Foreign Mission Churches were Congregational.
The separation of the Presbyterians in 1837 caused
the Old School Presbyterians to withdraw from the
Plan of Union and to begin their own foreign mis-
sions. The Congregationalists themselves renounced
the Plan of Union in the Albany Convention of 1854,
and from that date began an active, aggressive cam-
paign in the West ; but the ground lost in these first
fifty years can never be made up. Methodists, Bap-
tists, and Presbyterians then secured a leadership
which will not soon pass away. In 1869, on the re-
union of the Old and New School Presbyterians, the
New School ceased to co-operate with the Congrega-
tionalists, and the American Board of Foreign Mis-
sions became for the first time exclusively a Congre-
gational Society. During this period the first
Congregational Churches were founded in the West
as follows: Oregon, 1836; Iowa, 1840; Michigan,
1842; Illinois, 1846.

The first open breach between the orthodox Con-
gregationalists and the Unitarian party came in 1803,

^^g in the election of the Hollis Professor of
Unitarian Divinity at Harvard College. The pro-
schism. fessorship was founded in 172 1 by an Eng-
lish Baptist; but in February, 1803, Rev. Henry Ware,
a Unitarian, was chosen professor, and practically from
that date Harvard College became a Unitarian institu-
tion. In the same year Channing began his ministry
in Boston. In the same year also was founded the
new organ of the party, the Monthly Anthology. In

The Christian Church in America. 261

June, 1805, the leader of the Orthodox Congregation-
alists founded the Payioplist, a vigorous controversial
periodical. In 181 1, Dr. Edward Griffin came to the
Park Street Church of Boston. In the following year
he and Dr. John Codman refused to exchange pulpits
with the Unitarians, which caused great bitterness of
feeling. In 1815 there was published ** American
Unitarianism," being letters from prominent Boston
clergymen to the English Unitarian, Theophilus Lind-
sey, which were republished in England. This made
quite a sensation, as the letters marked a far wider di-
vergence from the ancestral faith of the Congrega-
tional Churches than their writers in this country
were wont to acknowledge. The final break came in
18 19, when Channing preached the installation sermon
of Jared Sparks at Baltimore, though the origin of the
American Unitarian Church is usually dated from
1815. Channing's sermon was replied to by the An-
dover professors, Leonard Woods and Moses Stuart;
to them replied Henry Ware and Andrews Norton.

The right of the Unitarians to the church property,
given and dedicated by men who abhorred the views
which they preached, was affirmed by the Supreme
Court of Massachusetts in the Dedham Church case,
in 1820. In this case the majority of the inhabitants
of the parish called Rev. Alvan Lamson, a Unitarian,
to be pastor of the Church. Two-thirds of the mem-
bers of the Church protested, but the court decided
in favor of the parish as against the Church. This
connection of the Church with the State cost the de-
scendants of the Puritans the most grievous loss they
ever sustained. Nothing like it could now be done.
The first of the churches thus to be lost to the Con-

262 History of the Christian Church.

gregationalists was the Mother Church of them all,
the old Pilgrim Church at Plymouth.

Rev. James Kendall, a Unitarian, was called to be
pastor of the Church, and in October, 1801, one less
than half of the Church members withdrew, and
formed the Orthodox Congregational Church of Plym-
outh. Ninety-six Churches, including those earliest
planted, and the pride and joy of their hearts. Har-
vard College, were lost to the Congregationalists. In
Boston all but two Churches forsook the ancestral
faith. One of those which stood fast was the Old
South Church. In eighty-one churches that were di-
vided, 3,900 Orthodox Congregationalists left $600,000
worth of church property to 1,282 Unitarians. Not
only so, but the leading families in wealth and culture
espoused the new doctrine. Such were the Adams,
Quincy, Bigelow, Shaw, Lowell, Perkins, and Apple-
ton families. On the other hand, though the defec-
tion was general, it was circumscribed. A circle, with
a radius of thirty-five miles from Boston as a center,
inclosed almost all of the Unitarian Churches. There
was but one in Connecticut, and only a few in West-
ern Massachusetts and Vermont. This schism con-
solidated, and made more aggressive, the Congrega-
tional Churches. The change in the State Constitu-
tion of Connecticut in 18 18, and in that of Massachu-
setts in 1833, caused them to cease to be Established
Churches. As the Congregationalists had no Churches
in the South, the slavery question did not divide
them; but the rather they, with the Unitarians, be-
came the foremost of the American Churches in the
furtherance of the Antislavery cause. Perhaps these
did more than all others to prevent Kansas from be-

The Christian Church in America, 263

coming a slave State. The town of Lawrence, Kansas,
and the University stand as unmistakable memorials
of those days and of those men.

A few students of Williams College, meeting for a
prayer-meeting in the shelter of a haystack, were the
founders of the foreign mission work of
the American Churches. They went to The American

"' t>oara.

the Andover Theological Seminary, and
were joined by some like-minded, and the whole
band devoted themselves to mission work. The
Williams College men were Samuel J. Mills, Jr.,
Gordon Hall, James Richards, Samuel Newell, and
Luther Rice, and Samuel Nott, Jr., joined them. In
June, 1 8 10, the American Board of Commissioners of
Foreign Missions was organized. It was constituted
on the lines of the London Missionary Society, and,
in 181 1, Judson was sent to London to study the
workings of that organization. September 19, 18 12,
there sailed from Salem Mr. and Mrs. Judson and
Samuel Newell and wife, the first American mission-
aries for foreign lands. They were followed by Luther
Rice, Gordon Hall, and Samuel Nott, Jr. After Jud-
son and Rice became Baptists, work was begun in
Bombay by Hall and Nott in 18 14, and extended to
Ahmednuggur, Satara, Kolapur, Madura, Arcot, and
Madras. They carried on a very successful work
among the Cherokee Indians. In 1820 they begun
the Syrian mission, and later that to the Armenians
and Nestorians. In 18 19 a most successfal mission
was established in Hawaii under Messrs. Bingham,
Thurston, and Coan, through which the islands be-
came Christian. Work was begun in Africa in 1830,
and in China in the same year.

264 History of the Christian Church.

The American Board, in the years 181 1 to 1851,
received from collections $4,774,834, and from lega-
cies $440,701, or a total of more than $5,200,000.
Ten years later they reported, from the beginning,
1,200 missionaries, 163 churches, and 20,621 members,
of whom 14,413 were in Hawaii.

Besides the older colleges, the Congregationalists
established in those years Amherst College, at North-
ampton, Mass., in 1821; Oberlin, at Ober-
Education. ^^^^ ^^ ^^ 1833 ; lowa, 1847, ^^"^ Grinnell,
at Grinnell, Iowa; and Beloit, at Beloit, Wis., in 1847.

The first and most influential of Congregational

theological schools was Andover, founded May 10,

1808, and opened the September following.

Theological ^^^^^ ^^s founded in 1 8 1 6 ; Yale Divinity

dcnools. *=•

School in 1822. In opposition to the Yale
Divinity, Bennett Tyler, former president of Dart-
mouth, founded the East Windsor, afterwards Hart-
ford Theological Seminary, in 1834.

It was not schools, but teachers, that
Theologians. ^^^^ ^^ -j^^^ England CougregationaHsts

strong in this new time.

Leonard Woods (i 774-1 854), more than any other
man, was the founder of Andover Theological Sem-
inary, where he was Professor of Theology
woodl^ from its beginning in 1808 until 1846. He
graduated from Harvard in 1796 ; becoming
converted, he became a pastor in 1798. He was a
sturdy and consistent defender of New England Cal-
vinism. He did not quarrel with the followers of
Hopkins, though he accented the system differently.
He was the bulwark against the Unitarian teaching.

Online LibraryGeorge Herbert DryerHistory of the Christian church (Volume 5) → online text (page 18 of 50)