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be established." The Bishop of London, echoing this
complaint, speaks of the " total want of ministers and
divine worship, except among those of the Romish belief,
who, 'tis conjectured, does not amount to one of a hundred
of the people." To which his lordship replies that all


sects are tolerated and protected, but that it would be im-
possible to induce the Assembly to consent to a law that
shall oblige any sect to maintain other ministers than its
own. The bishop's figures were doubtless at fault ; but
Lord Baltimore himself writes that the nonconformists
outnumber the Catholics and those of the Church of Eng-
land together about three to one, and that the churchmen
are much more numerous than the Catholics.

After the Revolution of 1688 it is not strange that a like
movement was set on foot in Maryland. The " beneficent
despotism " of the Calverts, notwithstanding every conces-
sion on their part, was ended for the time by the efforts
of an " Association for the Defense of the Protestant Re-
ligion," and Maryland became a royal colony. Under the
new regime it was easier to inflict annoyances and disa-
bilities on the petty minority of the Roman Catholics than
to confer the privileges of an established church on the
hardly more considerable minority of Episcopalians. The
Church of England became in name the official church of
the colony, but two parties so remotely unlike as the
Catholics and the Quakers combined successfully to de-
feat more serious encroachments on religious liberty. The
attempt to maintain the church of a small minority by
taxes extorted by a foreign government from the whole
people had the same efTect in Maryland as in Ireland: it
tended to make both church and government odious. The
efforts of Dr. Thomas Bray, commissary of the Bishop of
London, a man of true apostolic fervor, accomplished little
in withstanding the downward tendency of the provincial
establishment. The demoralized and undisciplined clergy
resisted the attempt of the provincial government to abate
the scandal of their lives, and the people resisted the at-
tempt to introduce a bishop. The body thus set before
the people as the official representative of the religion of


Christ " was perhaps as contemptible an ecclesiastical or-
ganization as history can show," having " all the vices of
the Virginian church, without one of its safeguards or re-
deeming quaUties." ^ The most hopeful sign in the morn-
ing sky of the eighteenth century was to be found in the
growth of the Society of Friends and the swelUng of the
current of the Scotch-Irish immigration. And yet we
shall have proof that the life-work of Commissary Bray,
although he went back discouraged from his labors in
Maryland and although this colony took little direct bene-
fit from his efforts in England, was destined to have great
results in the advancement of the kingdom of Christ in
America; for he was the founder of the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. '

The Carolinas, North and South, had been the scene of
the earliest attempts at Protestant colonization in America.
The Huguenot enterprise at Beaufort, on Port Royal har-
bor, was planted in 1562 under the auspices of Coligny, and
came to a speedy and unhappy end. The costly and dis-
astrous experiment of Sir Walter Raleigh was begun in
1584 on Roanoke Island, and lasted not many months.
But the actual occupation of the region was late and slow.
When, after the Restoration, Charles II. took up the idea
of paying his political debts with free and easy cessions of
American lands. Clarendon, Albemarle, and Shaftesbury
were among the first and luckiest in the scramble. When
the representatives of themselves and their partners ar-
rived in Carolina in 1670, bringing with them that pom-
pous and preposterous anachronism, the " Fundamental
Constitutions," contrived by the combined wisdom of
Shaftesbury and John Locke to impose a feudal govern-
ment upon an immense domain of wilderness, they found

_ ^ H. C. Lodge, " British Colonies in America," pp. I19-124, with author-
ities cited. The severe characterization seems to be sustained by the evidence.


the ground already occupied with a scanty and curiously
mixed population, which had taken on a simple form of
polity and was growing into a state. The region adjoin-
ing Virginia was peopled by Puritans from the Nansemond
country, vexed with the paltry persecutions of Governor
Berkeley, and later by fugitives from the bloody revenge
which he delighted to inflict on those who had been in-
volved in the righteous rebellion led by Nathaniel Bacon.
These had been joined by insolvent debtors not a few.
Adventurers from New England settled on the Cape Fear
River for a lumber trade, and kept the various plantations
in communication with the rest of the world by their
coasting craft plying to Boston. Dissatisfied companies
from Barbadoes seeking a less torrid climate next arrived.
Thus the region was settled in the first instance at second
hand from older colonies. To these came settlers direct
from England, such emigrants as the proprietors could
persuade to the undertaking, and such as were impelled
by the evil state of England in the last days of the Stuarts,
or drawn by the promise of religious liberty.

South Carolina, on the other hand, was settled direct
from Europe, first by cargoes of emigrants shipped on
speculation by the great real-estate " operators " who had
at heart not only the creation of a gorgeous aristocracy
in the West, but also the realization of fat dividends on
their heavy ventures. Members of the dominant politico-
religious party in England were attracted to a country in
which they were still to be regarded before the law as of
the "only true and orthodox" church; and religious dis-
senters gladly accepted the offer of toleration and freedom,
even without the assurance of equaUty. One of the most
notable contributions to the new colony was a company of
dissenters from Somersetshire, led by Joseph Blake, brother
to Cromwell's illustrious admiral. Among these were


some of the earliest American Baptists ; and there is clear
evidence of connection between their arrival and the com-
ing, in 1684, of a Baptist church from the Massachusetts
Colony, under the pastorate of William Screven. This
planting was destined to have an important influence both
on the religious and on the civil history of the colony.
Very early there came two ship-loads of Dutch Calvinists
from New York, dissatisfied with the domineering of their
Enghsh victors. But more important than the rest was
that sudden outflow of French Huguenots, representing
not only religious fidelity and devotion, but all those per-
'.onal and social virtues that most strengthen the founda-
tions of a state, which set westward upon the revocation
of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. This, with the later in-
flux of the Scotch-Irish, profoundly marked the character
of South Carolina. The great names in her history are
generally either French or Scotch.

It ought to have been plain to the proprietors, in their
monstrous conceit of political wisdom, that communities
so constituted should have been the last on which to im-
pose the uniformity of an established church. John Locke
did see this, but was overruled. The Church of England
was established in name, but for long years had only this
shadow of existence. We need not, however, infer from
the absence of organized church and official clergy among
the rude and turbulent pioneers of North Carolina that the
kingdom of God was not among them, even from the be-
ginning. But not until the year 1672 do we find mani-
festation of it such as history can recognize. In that year
came William Edmundson, " the voice of one crying in the
wilderness," bringing his testimony of the light that light-
eth every man that cometh into the world. The honest
man, who had not thought it reasonable in the Christians
of Massachusetts to be offended at one's sitting in the


steeple-house with his hat on, found it an evidence that
" they had Httle or no rehgion " when the rough woodsmen
of CaroHna beguiled the silent moments of the Friends'
devotions by smoking their pipes ; and yet he declares that
he found them "a tender people." Converts were won
to the society, and a quarterly meeting was established.
Within a few months followed George Fox, uttering his
deep convictions in a voice of singular persuasiveness and
power, that reached the hearts of both high and low. And
he too declared that he had found the people " generally
tender and open," and rejoiced to have made among them
"a Httle entrance for truth." The church of Christ had
been begun. As yet there had been neither baptism nor
sacramental supper ; these outward and visible signs were
absent ; but inw^ard and spiritual grace was there, and the
thing signified is greater than the sign. The influence
diffused itself like leaven. Within a decade the society
was extended through both the Carolinas and became the
principal form of organized Christianity. It was reckoned
in 1 7 10 to include one seventh of the population of North

The attempt of a foreign proprietary government to es-
tablish by law the church of an inconsiderable and not
preeminently respectable minority had little effect except
to exasperate and alienate the settlers. Down to the end
of the seventeenth century the official church in North
Carolina gave no sign of life. In South Carolina almost
twenty years passed before it was represented by a single
clergyman. The first manifestation of church life seems to
have been in the meetings on the banks of the Cooper and
the Santee, in which the French refugees worshiped their
fathers' God with the psalms of Marot and Beza.

But with the eighteenth century begins a better era for

1 Tiffany, " Protestant Episcopal Church," p. 237.


the English church in the Carolinas. The story of the
founding and the work of the Society for the Propagation
of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, taken in connection with
its antecedents and its results, belongs to this history, not
only as showing the influence of European Christianity
upon America, but also as indicating the reaction of Amer-
ica upon Europe.

In an important sense the organization of religious so-
cieties which is characteristic of modern Christendom is
of American origin. The labors of John Ehot among the
Indians of New England stirred so deep an interest in the
hearts of English Christians that in 1649 an ordinance was
passed by the Long Parliament creating a corporation to
be called " The President and Society for the Propagation
of the Gospel in New England " ; and a general collection
made under Cromwell's direction produced nearly twelve
thousand pounds, from the income of which missionaries
were maintained among some of the Northern tribes of
Indians. With the downfall of the Commonwealth the
corporation became defunct ; but through the influence of
the saintly Richard Baxter, whose tender interest in the
work of Eliot is witnessed by a touching passage in his
writings, the charter was revived in 1662, with Robert
Boyle for president and patron. It was largely through
his generosity that Eliot was enabled to publish his Indian
Bible. This society, " The New England Company," as it
is called, is still extant — the oldest of Protestant mission-
ary societies. 1

It is to that Dr. Thomas Bray who returned in 1700 to
England from his thankless and discouraging work as
commissary in Maryland of the Bishop of London, that the
Church of England owes a large debt of gratitude for hav-

1 " Digest of S. P. G. Records," pp. 2, 3; " Encyclopaedia Britannica, "
vol. xvi., p. 514.

rorxDTA'G or the " s. p. g." 67

ing taken away the reproach of her barrenness. Already
his zeal had laid the foundations on which was reared the
Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. In
1 70 1 he had the satisfaction of attending the first meeting
of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in For-
eign Parts, which for nearly three quarters of a century,
sometimes in the spirit of a narrow sectarianism, but not
seldom in a more excellent way, devoted its main strength
to missions in the American colonies. Its missionaries,
men of a far different character from the miserable incum-
bents of parishes in Maryland and Virginia, were among the
first preachers of the gospel in the Carolinas. Within the
years 1 702-40 there served under the commission of this
society in North Carolina nine missionaries, in South
CaroHna thirty- five. ^

But the zeal of these good men was sorely encumbered
with the armor of Saul. Too much favorable legislation
and patronizing from a foreign proprietary government,
too arrogant a tone of superiority on the part of official
friends, attempts to enforce conformity by imposing disa-
bilities on other sects — these were among the chief occa-
sions of the continual collision between the people and
the colonial governments, which culminated in the struggle
for independence. By the time that struggle began the
established church in the Carolinas was ready to vanish

1 " Digest of S. P. G. Records," pp. 849, 850.






When the Englishman Henry Hudson, in the Dutch
East India Company's ship, the " Half-moon," in Septem-
ber, 1609, sailed up "the River of Mountains" as far as
the site of Albany, looking for the northwest passage to
China, the English settlement at Jamestown was in the
third year of its half-perishing existence. More than
thirteen years were yet to pass before the Pilgrims from
England by way of Holland should make their landing on
Plymouth Rock.

But we are not at liberty to assign so early a date to
the Dutch settlement of New York, and still less to the
church. There was a prompt reaching out, on the part of
the immensely enterprising Dutch merchants, after the
lucrative trade in peltries ; there was a plying to and fro
of trading- vessels, and there were trading-posts established
on Manhattan Island and at the head of navigation on the
Hudson, or North River, and on the South River, or Del-
aware. Not until the great Dutch West India Company
had secured its monopoly of trade and perfected its organ-
ization, in 1623, was there a beginning of colonization.


In that year a company of Walloons, or French-speaking
Hollanders, was planted near Albany, and later arrivals
were settled on the Delaware, on Long Island, and on
Manhattan. At length, in 1626, came Peter Minuit with
an ample commission from the all-powerful Company, who
organized something Hke a system of civil government
comprehending all the settlements. Evidences of pros-
perity and growing wealth began to multiply. But one is
impressed with the merely secular and commercial char-
acter of the enterprise and wath the tardy and feeble signs
of religious life in the colony. In 1626, when the settle-
ment of Manhattan had grown to a village of thirty houses
and two hundred souls, there arrived two official " sick-
visitors," who undertook some of the public duties of a
pastor. On Sundays, in the loft over the horse-mill, they
would read from the Scriptures and the creeds. And two
years later, in 1628, the village, numbering now about two
hundred and seventy souls, gave a grateful welcome to
Jonas Michaelius, minister of the gospel. He rejoiced to
gather no less than fifty communicants at the first cele-
bration of the Lord's Supper, and to organize them into a
church according to the Reformed discipline. The two
elders were the governor and the Company's storekeeper,
men of honest report who had served in like functions in
churches of the fatherland. The records of this period are
scanty ; the very fact of this beginning of a church and
the presence of a minister in the colony had faded out of
history until restored by the recent discovery of a letter
of the forgotten Michaelius.^

The sagacious men in control of the Dutch West India
Company were quick to recognize that weakness in their
enterprise which in the splendid colonial attempt of the

1 Dr. E. T. Corwin, "History of the Reformed (Dutch) Church in
America" (in the American Church History Series), pp. 28-32.


French proved ultimately to be fatal. Their settlements
were almost exclusively devoted to the lucrative trade with
the Indians and were not taking root in the soil. With
all its advantages, the Dutch colony could not compete
with New England.^ To meet this difficulty an expedient
was adopted which was not long in beginning to plague
the inventors. A vast tract of territory, with feudal rights
and privileges, was offered to any man settling a colony
of fifty persons. The disputes which soon arose between
these powerful vassals and the sovereign Company had for
one effect the recall of Peter Minuit from his position of
governor. Never again was the unlucky colony to have
so competent and worthy a head as this discarded elder of
the church. Nevertheless the scheme was not altogether
a failure.

In 1633 arrived a new pastor, Everard Bogardus, in the
same ship with a schoolmaster — the first in the colony —
and the new governor. Van Twiller. The governor was
incompetent and corrupt, and the minister was faithful and
plain-spoken; what could result but conflict ? During Van
Twiller's five years of mismanagement, nevertheless, the
church emerged from the mill-loft and was installed in a
barn-like meeting-house of wood. During the equally
wretched administration of Kieft, the governor, listening
to the reproaches of a guest, who quoted the example of
New England, where the people were wont to build a fine
church as soon as they had houses for themselves, was
incited to build a stone church within the fort. There
seems to have been little else that he did for the kingdom
of heaven. Pastor Bogardus is entitled to the respect of
later ages for the chronic quarrel that he kept up with the

1 " The pro^■ince, under the long years of Dntch supremacy, had gathered
only some seven thousand inhabitants, against the hundred and twenty thou-
sand of their New England neighbors '" (Lodge, " English Colonies, " p. 297;.


worthless representatives of the Company. At length his
righteous rebuke of an atrociously wicked massacre of
neighboring Indians perpetrated by Kieft brought matters
to a head. The two antagonists sailed in the same ship,
in 1647, to lay their dispute before the authorities in
Holland, the Company and the classis. The case went to
a higher court. The ship was cast away and both the
parties were drowned.

Meanwhile the patroon Van Rensselaer, on his great
manor near Albany, showed some sense of his duty to the
souls of the people whom he had brought out into the
wilderness. He built a church and put into the pastoral
charge over his subjects one who, under his travestied
name of Megapolensis, has obtained a good report as a
faithful minister of Jesus Christ. It was he who saved
Father Jogues, the Jesuit missionary, from imminent tor-
ture and death among the Mohawks, and befriended him,
and saw him safely off for Europe. This is one honorable
instance, out of not a few, of personal respect and kindness
shown to members of the Roman clergy and the Jesuit
society by men who held these organizations in the sever-
est reprobation. To his Jesuit brother he was drawn by
a peculiarly strong bond of fellowship, for the two were
fellow-laborers in the gospel to the red men. For Domine
Megapolensis is claimed^ the high honor of being the first
Protestant missionary to the Indians.

In 1647, to the joy of all the colonists, arrived a new
governor, Peter Stuyvesant, not too late to save from utter
ruin the colony that had suffered everything short of ruin
from the incompetency and wickedness of Kieft. About
the time that immigration into New England ceased with

* See Corwin, p. 37; but compare the claim made in behalf of the Puritan
Whitaker, " apostle to the Indians " thirty years earlier (Tiffany, " Protes-
tant Episcopal Church," p. 18); compare also the work of the Lutheran
Campanius in New Sweden (Jacobs, " The Lutherans," p. 83).


the triumph of the Puritan party in England, there began
to be a distinct current of population setting toward the
Hudson River colony. The West India Company had
been among the first of the speculators in American lands
to discover that a system of narrow monopoly Is not the
best nurse for a colony ; too late to save itself from ulti-
mate bankruptcy, it removed some of the barriers of trade,
and at once population began to flow in from other col-
onies, Virginia and New England. Besides those who
were attracted by the great business advantages of the
Dutch colony, there came some from Massachusetts, driven
thence by the policy of excluslveness in religious opinion
deliberately adopted there. Ordinances were set forth as-
suring to several such companies " liberty of conscience,
according to the custom and manner of Holland." Grow-
ing prosperously in numbers, the colony grew in that
cosmopolitan diversity of sects and races which went on
increasing with its years. As early as 1644 Father Jogues
was told by the governor that there were persons of
eighteen different languages at Manhattan, including Cal-
vinlsts, CathoHcs, English Puritans, Lutherans, Anabaptists
(here called Mennonlsts), etc. No jealousy seems to have
arisen over this multiplication of sects until, in 1652, the
Dutch Lutherans, who had been attendants at the Dutch
Reformed Church, presented a respectful petition that they
might be permitted to have their own pastor and church.
Denied by Governor Stuy vesant, the request was presented
to the Company and to the States- General. The two Re-
formed pastors used the most strenuous endeavors through
the classls of Amsterdam to defeat the petition, under the
fear that the concession of this privilege would tend to the
diminution of their congregation. This resistance was
successfully maintained until at last the petitioners were
able to obtain from the Roman Catholic Duke ©f York


the religious freedom which Dutch Calvinism had failed
to give them.

Started thus in the wrong direction, it was easy for the
colonial government to go from bad to worse. At a time
when the entire force of Dutch clergy in the colony
numbered only four, they were most unapostolically zealous
to prevent any good from being done by " unauthorized
conventicles and the preaching of unqualified persons,"
and procured the passing of an ordinance forbidding these
under penalty of fine and imprisonment. The mild re-
monstrances of the Company, which was eager to get
settlers without nice inquiries as to their religious opinions,
had little effect to restrain the enterprising orthodoxy of
Peter Stuyvesant. The activity of the Quakers among
the Long Island towns stirred him to new energy. Not
only visiting missionaries, but quiet dwellers at home, were
subjected to severe and ignominious punishments. The
persecution was kept up until one of the banished Friends,
John Bowne, reached Amsterdam and laid the case before
the Company. This enlightened body promptly shortened
the days of tribulation by a letter to the superserviceable
Stuyvesant, conceived in a most commercial spirit. It
suggested to him that it was doubtful whether further
persecution was expedient, unless it was desired to check
the growth of population, which at that stage of the enter-
prise ought rather to be encouraged. No man, they said,
ought to be molested so long as he disturbed neither his
neighbors nor the government. " This maxim has always
been the guide of the magistrates of this city, and the
consequence has been that from every land people have
flocked to this asylum. Tread thus in their steps, and we
doubt not you will be blessed."

The stewardship of the interests of the kingdom of Christ
in the New Netherlands was about to be taken away from


the Dutch West India Company and the classis of Am-
sterdam. It will hardly be claimed by any that the account
of their stewardship was a glorious one. The supply of

Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconA history of American Christianity → online text (page 6 of 34)