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point of superstition. The doctrine that God of old had
spoken by holy men was supplemented by the pretension
that God had long ago ceased so to speak and never
would so speak again. The claim that the Scriptures
contain a sufficient guide to moral duty and religious
truth was exorbitantly stretched to include the last details
of church organization and worship, and the minute direc-
tion of political and other secular affairs. In many a case
the Scriptures thus applied did highly ennoble the polity
and legislation of the Puritans,^ In other cases, not a few,
the Scriptures, perverted from their true purpose and
wrested by a vicious and conceited exegesis, were brought
into collision with the law written on the heart. The Bible
was used to contradict the moral sense. It was high time
for the Quaker protest, and it was inevitable that this pro-
test should be extravagant and violent.

In their bold reassertion of the doctrine of the Holy
Spirit, that his light " lighteth every man who cometh
into the world," it is not strange that the first Quakers
should sometimes have lost sight of those principles the
enunciation of which gives such a character of sober sanity
to the apostolic teachings on this subject — that a divine

1 See the vindication of the act of the New Haven colonists in adopting
the laws of Moses as the statute-book of the colony, in the " Thirteen His-
torical Discourses of L. Bacon," pp. 29-32. " The greatest and boldest im-
provement which has been made in criminal jurisprudence by any one act
since the dark ages was that which was made by our fathers when they deter-
mined ' that the judicial laws of God, as they were delivered by Moses, and
as they are a fence to the moral law, being neither typical nor ceremonial nor
having any reference to Canaan, shall be accounted of moral equity, and gen-
erally Bind all offenders and be a rule to all the courts.' "


influence on the mind does not discharge one from the
duty of self-control, but that " the spirits of the prophets
are subject to the prophets"; that the divine inworking
does not suspend nor supersede man's volition and activ-
ity, but that it behooves man to " work, because God
worketh in him to will and to work." The lapse from
these characteristically Christian principles into the en-
thusiastic, fanatic, or heathen conception of inspiration has
been a perpetually recurring incident in the history of the
church in all ages, and especially in times of deep and
earnest spiritual feeling. But in the case of the Quaker
revival it was attended most conspicuously by its evil con-
sequences. Half-crazy or more than half-crazy adven-
turers and hysterical women, taking up fantastical missions
in the name of the Lord, and never so happy as when they
felt called of God to some peculiarly outrageous course of
behavior, associated themselves with sincere and consci-
entious reformers, adding to the unpopularity of the new
opinions the odium justly due to their own misdemeanors.
But the prophet whose life and preaching had begun the
Quaker Reformation was not found wanting in the gifts
which the case required. Like other great religious
founders, George Fox combined with profound religious
conviction a high degree of tact and common sense and
the faculty of organization. While the gospel of " the
Light that lighteth every man " was speeding with won-
derful swiftness to the ends of the earth, there was grow-
ing in the hands of the founder the framework of a discipline
by which the elements of disorder should be controlled.^
The result was a firmly articulated organization compacted
by common faith and zeal and mutual love, and by the

1 For the dealing of Fox with the case of John Parrot, who had a divine
call to wear his hat in meeting, see the " History of the Society of Friends,"
by the Messrs. Thomas, pp. 197-199 (American Church History Series,
vol. xii.).


external pressure of fierce persecution extending through-
out the British empire on both sides of the ocean.

Entering into continental Europe, the Quaker Reforma-
tion found itself anticipated in the progress of religious
history. The protests of the Anabaptists against what
they deemed the shortcomings of the Lutheran Reforma-
tion had been attended with far wilder extravagances
than those of the early Quakers, and had been repressed
with ruthless severity. But the political and mihtant
Anabaptists were succeeded by communities of mild and
inoffensive non-resistants, governing themselves by a nar-
row and rigorous discipline, and differing from the order
of Quakers mainly at this point, that whereas the Quakers
rejected all sacraments, these insisted strenuously on their
own views of Baptism and the Supper, and added to them
the ordinance of the Washing of Feet. These communi-
ties were to be found throughout Protestant Europe, from
the Alps to the North Sea, but were best known in Hol-
land and Lower Germany, where they were called Men-
nonites, from the priest, Menno Simons, who, a hundred
years before George Fox, had enunciated the same prin-
ciples of duty founded on the strict interpretation of the
Sermon on the Mount.

The combination of circumstances to promote the " Holy
Experiment" of William Penn is something prodigious.
How he could be a petted favorite at the shameful court
of the last two Stuarts, while his brethren throughout the
realm were languishing under persecution, is a fact not in
itself honorable, but capable of being honorably explained ;
and both the persecution and the court favor helped on
his enterprise. The time was opportune ; the period of
tragical uncertainty in colonization was past; emigration
had come to be a richly promising enterprise. For leader
of the enterprise what endowment was lacking in the ele-


gantly accomplished young courtier, holding as his own
the richest domain that could be carved out of a continent,
who was at the same time brother, in unaffected humility
and unbounded generosity, in a great fraternity bound
together by principles of ascetic self-denial and devotion
to the kingdom of God?

Penn's address inviting colonists to his new domain
announced the outlines of his scheme. His great powers
of jurisdiction were held by him only to be transferred to
the future inhabitants in a free and righteous government.
" I purpose," said he, conscious of the magnanimity of the
intention, " for the matters of liberty, I purpose that
which is extraordinary — to leave myself and successors
no power of doing mischief, that the will of one man may
not hinder the good of a whole country;" and added, in
language which might have fallen from his intimate friend,
Algernon Sidney, but was fully expressive of his own
views, " It is the great end of government to support
power in reverence with the people, and to secure the
people from the abuse of power ; for liberty without obe-
dience is confusion, and obedience without liberty is slav-
ery."' With assurances of universal civil and religious
liberty in conformity with these principles, he offered land
at forty shillings for a hundred acres, subject to a small

Through the correspondence of the Friends' meetings,
these proposals could be brought to the attention of many
thousands of people, sifted and culled by persecution, the
best stuff for a colony in all the United Kingdom. The
response was immediate. Within a year three ship-loads
uf emigrants went out. The next year Penn himself went
with a company of a hundred, and stayed long enough to
see the government organized by the free act of the colo-
1 Quoted in Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 366,


nists on the principles which he had set forth, and in that
brief sojourn of two years to witness the beginnings of a
splendid prosperity. His city of Philadelphia consisted in
August, 1683, of three or four httle cottages. Two years
utLerward it contained about six hundred houses, and the
schoolmaster and the printing-press had begun their work.i
The growth went on accelerating. In one year seven
thousand settlers are said to have arrived ; before the end
of the century the colonists numbered more than twenty
thousand, and Philadelphia had become a thriving town.2
But Great Britain, although the chief source of popula-
tion, was not the only source. It had been part of the provi-
dential equipment of Penn for his great work to endow
him with the gift of tongues and bring him into intimate
relations with the many congregations of the broken and
persecuted sects kindred to his own on the continent of
Europe. The summer and autumn of 1678, four years
before his coming to Pennsylvania, had been spent by him,
in company with George Fox, Robert Barclay, and other
eminent Friends, in a mission tour through Holland (where
he preached in his mother's own language) and Germany.
The fruit of this preaching and of previous missions ap-
peared in an unexpected form. One of the first impor-
tant accessions to the colony was the company of Men-
nonites led by Pastorius, the " Pennsylvania Pilgrim,"
who founded Germantown, now a beautiful suburb of
Philadelphia. Group after group of picturesque devotees
that had been driven into seclusion and eccentricity by
long and cruel persecution — the Tunkers, the Schwenk-
felders, the Amish — kept coming and bringing with them
their traditions, their customs, their sacred books, their
timid and pathetic disposition to hide by themselves, some-
times in quasi-monastic communities like that at Ephrata,

1 Bancroft, vol. ii., p. 392. ^ H. C. Lodge, p. 213.


sometimes in actual hermitage, as in the ravines of the
Wissahickon. But the most important contribution of
this kind came from the suffering villages of the Rhenish
Palatinate ravaged with fire and sword by the French
armies in 1688, So numerous were the fugitives from the
Palatinate that the name of Palatine came to be applied
in general to German refugees, from whatever region. This
migration of the German sects (to be distinguished from
the later migration from the established Lutheran and
Reformed churches) furnished the material for that curious
" Pennsylvania Dutch " population which for more than
two centuries has lain encysted, so to speak, in the body
politic and ecclesiastic of Pennsylvania, speaking a bar-
barous jargon of its own, and refusing to assimilate with
the surrounding people.

It was the rough estimate of Dr. Franklin that colonial
Pennsylvania was made up of one third Quakers, one third
Germans, and one third miscellaneous. The largest item
under this last head was the Welsh, most of them Qua-
kers, who had been invited by Penn with the promise of
a separate tract of forty thousand acres in which to main-
tain their own language, government, and institutions.
Happily, the natural and patriotic longing of these immi-
grants for a New Wales on this side the sea was not to be
realized. The " Welsh Barony " became soon a mere geo-
graphical tradition, and the whole strength of this fervid
and religious people enriched the commonwealth.i

Several notable beginnings of church history belong to
the later part of the period under consideration.

An interesting line of divergence from the current teach-
ings of the Friends was led, toward the end of the seven-

1 For a fuller account of the sources of the population of Pennsylvania,
see " The Making of Pennsylvania," by Sydney George Fisher (Philadel-
phia, 1896).


teenth century, by George Keith, for thirty years a recog-
nized preacher of the Society. One is impressed, in a
superficial glance at the story, with the reasonableness and
wisdom of some of Keith's positions, and with the intellec-
tual vigor of the man. But the discussion grew into an
acrimonious controversy, and the controversy deepened
into a schism, which culminated in the disowning of Keith
by the Friends in America, and afterward by the London
Yearly Meeting, to which he had appealed. Dropped
thus by his old friends, he was taken up by the English
Episcopalians and ordained by the Bishop of London, and
in 1702 returned to America as the first missionary of
the newly organized Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel in Foreign Parts. An active missionary campaign
was begun and sustained by the large resources of the
Venerable Society until the outbreak of the War of
Independence. The movement had great advantages for
success. It was next of kin to the expiring Swedish
Lutheran Church in the three counties that became after-
ward the State of Delaware, and heir to its venerable
edifices and its good will; it was the official and court
church of the royal governors, and after the degenerate
sons of William Penn abandoned the simple worship, as
well as the clean living, in which their father delighted, it
was the church promoted by the proprietary interest;
withal it proved itself, both then and afterward, to hold a
deposit of truth and of usages of worship peculiarly adapted
to supplement the defects of the Quaker system. It is
not easy to explain the ill success of the enterprise. In
Philadelphia it took strong root, and the building, in 1727,
of Christ Church, which survives to this day, a monu-
ment of architectural beauty as well as historical interest,
marks an important epoch in the progress of Christianity
in America. But in the rural districts the work languished.


Parishes, seemingly well equipped, fell into a " deplorable
condition " ; churches were closed and parishes dwindled
away. About the year 1724 Governor Keith reported to
the Bishop of London that outside the city there were
*' twelve or thirteen little edifices, at times supplied by one
or other of the poor missionaries sent from the society."
Nearly all that had been gained by the Episcopal Church
in Pennsylvania, where the "Venerable Society" had
maintained at times forty-seven missionaries and twenty-
four central stations, was wiped out by the Revolutionary

Another great beginning that comes within the field of
vision in the first four decades of the eighteenth century
is the planting of the great national churches of Germany.
We have observed the migration of the minor sects of
Germany — so complete, in some cases, that the entire sect
was transplanted, leaving no representative in the father-
land. In the mixed multitude of refugees from the Palat-
inate and other ravaged provinces were many belonging
both to the Lutheran and to the Reformed churches, as
well as some Catholics. But they were scattered as sheep
having no shepherd. The German Lutheran and Re-
formed immigration was destined to attain by and by to

1 Tiffany, " Protestant Episcopal Church," pp. 210-212, 220. In a few
instances the work suffered from the unfit character of the missionaries.
A more common fault was the vulgar proselyting spirit which appears in the
missionaries' reports (" Digest of S. P. G. Records," pp. 12-79). -^ cer-
tain w^i/" insularity sometimes betrays itself in their incapacity to adapt them-
selves to their new-world surroundings. Brave and zealous Mr. Barton in
Cumberland County recites a formidable list of sects into which the people
are divided, and with unconscious humor recounts his efforts to introduce one
sect more {ibid., p. 37). They could hardly understand that in crossing the
ocean tliey did not bring w ith them the prerogatives of a national establish-
ment, but were in a position of dissent from the existing establishments. " It
grieved them that Church of England men should be stigmatize^ with the grim
ami horrid title of dissenters" ("The Making of Pennsylvania," p. 192).
One of the most pathetically amusing instances of the misfit of the English-
man in America is that of the Rev. Mr. Poyer at Jamaica, L. I. The meet-
ing-Iiouse and glebe-lands that had been provided by the people of that parish


enormous proportions; but so late was the considerable
expansion of it, and so tardy and inefficient the attention
given to this diaspora by the mother churches, that the
classical organization of the Reformed Church dates only
from 1747, and that of the Lutheran Church from 1760.^
The beautiful career of the Moravians began in Pennsyl-
vania so late as 1734. In general it may be said that the
German-American church was affected only indirectly by
the Great Awakening.

But the greatest in its consequences, both religious and
political, of the great beginnings in the early part of the
eighteenth century, was the first flow of the swelling tide
of the Scotch-Irish immigration. Already, in 1669, an
English Presbyterian, Matthew Hill, persuaded to the
work by Richard Baxter, was ministering to " many of the
Reformed religion" in Maryland; and in 1683 an appeal
from them to the Irish presbytery of Laggan had brought
over to their aid that sturdy and fearless man of God,
Francis Makemie, whose successful defense in 1707, when
unlawfully imprisoned in New York by that unsavory de-
fender of the Anglican faith, Lord Cornbury, gave assur-
ance of religious liberty to his communion throughout the
colonies. In 1 705 he was moderator of the first presby-

for the use of themselves and their pastor were gotten, neither honorably nor
lawfully, into the possession of the missionary of the " S. P. G." and his
scanty following, and held by him in spite of law and justice for twenty-five
years. At last the owners of the property succeeded in evicting him by
process of law. The victim of this persecution reported plaintively to the
society his " great and almost continual contentions with the Independents in
his parish." The litigation had been over the salary settled for the minister
of that parish, and also over the glebe-lands. But " by a late Tryal at Law
he has lost them and the Church itself, of which his congregation has had the
possession for twenty-five years." The grievance went to the heart of his
congregation, who bewail " the emperious behaviour of these our enemies,
■who stick not to call themselves the Established Church and us Dissenters "
(" Digest of S. P. G. Records," p. 61 ; Corwin, " Dutch Church," pp. 104,
105, 126, 127).

i Dubbs, "Reformed Church," p. 281; Jacobs, "The Lutherans,"
p. 260,


tery in America, numbering six ministers. At the end of
twelve years the number of ministers, including accessions
from New England, had grown to seventeen. But it was
not until 1718 that this migration began in earnest. As
early as 1725 James Logan, the Scotch-Irish-Quaker gov-
ernor of Pennsylvania, speaking in the spirit of prophecy,
declares that " it looks as if Ireland were to send all her
inhabitants hither; if they continue to come they will
make themselves proprietors of the province." It was a
broad-spread, rich alluvium superimposed upon earlier
strata of immigration, out of which was to spring the
sturdy growth of American Presbyterianism, as well as of
other Christian organizations. But by i 730 it was only
the turbid and feculent flood that was visible to most
observers; the healthful and fruitful growth was yet to

The colony of Georgia makes its appearance among the
thirteen British colonies in America, in 1733, as one born
out of due time. But no colony of all the thirteen had a
mare distinctly Christian origin than this. The founda-
tions of other American commonwealths had been laid in
faith and hope, but the ruling motive of the founding of
Georgia was charity, and that is the greatest of these
three. The spirit which dominated in the measures taken

1 R. E. Thompson, "The Presbyterian Churches," pp. 22-29; S. S.
Green, " The Scotch-Irish in America," paper before the American Antiqua-
rian Society, April, 1895. " The great bulk of the emigrants came to this
country at two distinct periods of time: the first from 1718 to the middle of
the century, the second from 1 771 to 1773. ... In consequence of the
famine of 1740 and 1741, it is stated that for several years afterward 12,000
emigrants annually left Ulster for the American plantations ; while from 1771
to 1773 the whole emigration from Ulster is estimated at 30,000, of whom
10,000 are weavers " (Green, p. 7). The companies that came to New
England in 1718 were mainly absorbed by the Congregationalism of that
region (Thompson, p. 15). The church founded in Boston by the Irish
Presbyterians came in course of time to have for its pastor the eminent
William Ellery Channing (Green, p. 11). Since the organization of the
annual Scotch-Irish Congress in 1889, the literature of this subject has become
copious. (See " Bibliographical Note " at the end of Mr. Green's pamphlet.)


for the beginning of the enterprise was embodied in one
of the most interesting personages of the dreary eighteenth
century — General James Oglethorpe. His eventful life
covered the greater part of the eighteenth century, but in
some of the leading traits of his character and incidents of
his career he was ratker a man of the nineteenth. At the
age of twenty-one he was already a veteran of the arm}^
of Prince Eugene, having served with honorable distinc-
tion on the staff of that great commander. Returning to
England, in 1722 he entered Parliament, and soon attained
what in that age was the almost solitary distinction of a
social reformer. He procured the appointment of a special
committee to investigate the condition of the debtors'
prisons ; and the shocking revelations that ensued led to a
beginning of reformation of the cruel and barbarous laws
of England concerning imprisonment for debt. But being
of the higher type of reformers, he was not content with
such negative work. He cherished and elaborated a scheme
that should open a new career for those whose ill success
in life had subjected them to the pains and the ignominy
due to criminals. It was primarily for such as these that
he projected the colony of Georgia. But to a mind like
his the victims of injustice in every land were objects of
practical sympathy. His colony should be an asylum for
sufferers from religious persecution from whatever quarter.
The enterprise was organized avowedly as a work of char-
ity. The territory was vested in trustees, who should
receive no pay or emolument for their services. Ogle-
thorpe himself gave his unpaid labor as military and
civil head of the colony, declining to receive in return so
much as a settler's allotment of land. An appropriation
of ten thousand pounds was made by Parliament for the
promotion of the work — the only government subsidy
ever granted to an American colony. With eager and


unselfish hopes of a noble service to be rendered to
humanity, the generous soldier embarked with a picked
company of one hundred and twenty emigrants, and on
the 1 2th of February, 1733, landed at the foot of the bluff
on which now stands the city of Savannah. The attrac-
tions of the genial climate and fertile soil, the liberal terms
of invitation, and the splendid schemes of profitable in-
dustry were diligently advertised, and came to the knowl-
edge of that noble young enthusiast, Zinzendorf, count
and Moravian bishop, whose estate of Herrnhut in Lusatia
had become an asylum for persecuted Christians; and
missionary colonists of that Moravian church of which
every member was a missionary, and companies of the ex-
iled Salzburgers, the cruelty of whose sufferings aroused
the universal indignation of Protestant Europe, were min-
gled with the unfortunates from English prisons in succes-
sive ship-loads of emigrants. One such ship's company,
among the earliest to be added to the new colony, included
some mighty factors in the future church history of Amer-
ica and of the world. In February, 1736, a company of
three hundred colonists, with Oglethorpe at their head,
landed at Savannah. Among them was a reinforcement
of twenty colonists for the Moravian settlement, with
Bishop David Nitschmann, and young Charles Wesley,
secretary to the governor, and his elder brother, John,
now thirty-three years old, eager for the work of evangel-
izing the heathen Indians — an intensely narrow, ascetic.
High-church ritualist and sacramentarian. The voyage
was a memorable one in history. Amid the terrors of a
perilous storm, Wesley, so liable to be lifted up with the
pride that apes humility, was humbled as he contrasted
the agitations of his own people with the cheerful faith

Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconA history of American Christianity → online text (page 10 of 34)