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accessions, added to itself from time to time other believers
on the evidence and confession of their faith in Christ.
The ministers, all or nearly all of whom had been clergy-
men in the orders of the Church of England, were of one
mind in declining to consider their episcopal ordination in
England as conferring on them any spiritual authority in
a church newly gathered in America. They found rather
in the free choice of the brotherhood the sign of a divine
call to spiritual functions in the church, and were inducted
into office by the primitive form of the laying on of hands.

In many ways, but especially in the systematized rela-
tions of the churches with one another and in their common
relations with the civil government, the settled National-
ism of the great Puritan migration was illustrated. With
the least possible constraint on the individual or on the
church, they were clear in their purpose that their young
state should have its established church.

Through what rude experiences the system and the men
were tested has been abundantly told and retold.^ Roger
Williams, learned, eloquent, sincere, generous, a man after
their own heart, was a very malignant among Separatists,
separating himself not only from the English church, but
from all who would not separate from it, and from all who
would not separate from these, and so on, until he could
no longer, for conscience' sake, hold fellowship with his
wife in family prayers. After long patience the colonial
government deemed it necessary to signify to him that if
his conscience would not suffer him to keep quiet, and re-
frain from stirring up sedition, and embroiling the colony

1 As, for example, with great amplitude by Palfrey; and in more con-
densed form by Dr. Williston Walker, " Congregationalists " (in American
Church History Series).

AfJ SSA C/Il'SE 7 -k 'S' iiXCL ^STkEii li'SS. I O I

with the English government, he would have to seek free-
dom for that sort of conscience outside of their jurisdiction ;
and they put him out accordingly, to the great advantage
of both parties and without loss of mutual respect and
love. A little later, a clever woman, Mrs. Ann Hutchin-
son, with a vast conceit of her superior holiness and with
the ugly censoriousness which is a usual accompaniment
of that grace, demonstrated her genius for mixing a theo-
logical controversy with personal jealousies and public
anxieties, and involved the whole colony of the Bay in an
acrimonious quarrel, such as to give an unpleasant tone of
partisanship and ill temper to the proceedings in her case,
whether ecclesiastical or civil. She seems clearly to have
been a willful and persistent nuisance in the little commu-
nity, and there were good reasons for wanting to be rid of
her, and right ways to that end. They took the wrong
way and tried her for heresy. In like manner, when the
Quakers came among them, — not of the mild, meek, in-
offensive modern variety to which we are accustomed, but
of the fierce, aggressive early type, — instead of proceed-
ing against them for their overt offenses against the state,
disorderly behavior, pubhc indecency, contempt of court,
sedition, they proceeded against them distinctly as Qua-
kers, thus putting themselves in the wrong and conceding
to their adversaries that crown of martyrdom for which
their souls were hankering and to which they were not
fully entitled.

Of course, in maintaining the principle of Nationalism,
the New England Puritans did not decline the implications
and corollaries of that principle. It was only to a pro-
phetic genius like the Separatist Roger Williams that it
was revealed that civil government had no concern to en-
force "the laws of the first table." But the historical
student might be puzzled to name any other church es-

102 AMEklGAN CHRISTIANITY. [Chap. viii.

tablishment under which less of molestation was suffered
by dissenters, or more of actual encouragement given to
rival sects, than under the New England theocracies. The
Nationalist principle was exclusive ; the men who held it
in New England (subject though they were to the tempta-
tions of sectarian emulation and fanatic zeal) were large-
minded and generous men.

The general uniformity of church organization among
the Puritan plantations is the more remarkable in view of
the notable independence and originality of the leading
men, who represented tendencies of opinion as widely di-
verging as the quasi-Presbyterianism of John Eliot and
the doctrinaire democracy of John Wise. These variations
of ecclesiastico-political theory had much to do with the
speedy diffusion of the immigrant population. For larger
freedom in building his ideal New Jerusalem, the states-
manlike pastor, Thomas Hooker, led forth his flock a sec-
ond time into the great and terrible wilderness, and with
his associates devised what has been declared to be " the
first example in history of a written constitution — a dis-
tinct organic law constituting a government and defining
its powers." ^ The like motive determined the choice
company under John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton to
refuse all inducements and importunities to remain in
Massachusetts, choosing rather to build on no other
man's foundations at New Haven. ^ At the end of a hun-
dred years from the settlement of Boston the shores and

1 L. Bacon, " Early Constitutional History of Connecticut."
'^ L. Bacon, "Thirteen Historical Discourses." The two mutually inde-
pendent republics at Hartford and New Haven represented opposite tenden-
cies. That at New Haven was after the highest type of theocracy; the
Connecticut colony inclined to the less rigorous model of Plymouth, not
exacting church-membership as a condition of voting. How important this
condition appeared to the mind of Davenport may be judged from his excla-
mation when it ceased, at the union of New Haven with Connecticut. He
wrote to a friend, " In N. H. C. Christ's interest is miserably lost;" and
prepared to turn his back forever on the colony of which he was the father.


river valleys of Massachusetts and Connecticut were
planted with towns, each self-governing as a pure democ-
racy, each with its church and educated minister and its
system of common schools. The two colleges at Cam-
bridge and New Haven were busy with their appointed
work of training young men to the service of God " in
church or civil state," And this great and prosperous and
intelligent population was, with inconsiderable exceptions,
the unmingled progeny of the four thousand English
families who, under stress of the tyranny of Charles Stuart
and the persecution of William Laud, had crossed the sea
in the twelve years from 1628 to 1640. •

The traditions of the fathers of New England had been
piously cherished down to this third and fourth genera-
tion. The model of an ideal state that had been set up
had, meanwhile, been more or less deformed, especially
in Massachusetts, by the interference of England; the
dominance of the established churches had been slightly
infringed by the growth here and there of dissenting
churches. Baptist, Episcopahan, and Quaker; but the
framework both of church and of state was wonderfully
little decayed or impaired. The same simplicity in the
outward order of worship was maintained ; the same form
of high Calvinistic theology continued to be cherished as
a norm of sound preaching and as a vehicle of instruction
to children. All things continued as they had been ; and
yet it would have been a most superficial observer who
had failed to detect signs of approaching change. The
disproportions of the Calvinistic system, exaggerated in
the popular acceptation, as in the favorite " Day of Doom "
of Michael Wigglesworth, forced the effort after practical
readjustments. The magnifying of divine sovereignty in
the saving of men, to the obscuring of human responsibility,
inevitably mitigated the church's reprobation of respectable


people who could testify of no experience of conversion,
and yet did not wish to relinquish for themselves or their
families their relation to the church. Out of the conflict
between two aspects of theological truth, and the conflict
between the Nationalist and the Separatist conceptions of
the church, and especially out of the mistaken policy of
restricting the civil franchise to church-members, came
forth that device of the " Half-way Covenant " which
provided for a hereditary quasi-membership in the church
for worthy people whose lives were without scandal, and
who, not having been subjects of an experience of con-
scious conversion, were felt to be not altogether to blame
for the fact. From the same causes came forth, and
widely prevailed, the tenet of " Stoddardeanism," so called
as originating in the pastoral work, and, it is said, in the
personal experience, of Solomon Stoddard, the saintly
minister of Northampton from 1669 till 1729, when he
was succeeded by his colleague and grandson, Jonathan
Edwards. It is the view that the Lord's Supper is insti-
tuted as a means of regeneration as well as of sanctification,
and that those who are consciously " in a natural condi-
tion " ought not to be repelled, but rather encouraged to
come to it. From the same causes, by natural sequence,
came that so-called Arminianism ^ which, instead of urging
the immediate necessity and duty of conversion, was con-
tent with commending a " diligent use of means," which
might be the hopeful antecedent of that divine grace.

1 The name, applied at first as a stigma to the liberalizing school of New
England theology, may easily mislead if taken either in its earlier historic
sense or in the sense which it was about to acquire in the Wesleyan revival.
The surprise of the eighteenth century New England theologians at finding
the word associated with intense fervor of preaching and of religious experi-
ence is expressed in the saying, " There is all the difference between a cold
Arminian and a hot Arminian that there is between a cold potato and a hot
potato." For a lucid account of the subject, see W. Walker, " History of
the Congregational Churches," chap. viii.


These divergences from the straight lines of the primeval
New England Calvinism had already begun to be manifest
during the Hfetime of some of the founders. Of not less
grave import was the deflection from the lofty moral
standard of the fathers. A great New Englander, Horace
Bushnell, maintaining his thesis that great migrations are
followed by a tendency to barbarism, has cited in proof
this part of New England history.^ As early as the sec-
ond generation, the evil tendency seemed so formidable
as to lead to the calling, by the General Court of Massa-
chusetts, of the "Reforming Synod" of 1679. No one
can say that the heroic age of New England was past.
History has no nobler record to show, of courage and
fortitude in both men and women, than that of New Eng-
land in the Indian wars. But the terrors of those days
of tribulation, the breaking up of communities, the deci-
mation of the population, the long absences of the young
men on the bloody business of the soldier, were not fa-
vorable for maturing the fruits of the Spirit. Withal, the
intrigues of British politicians, the threatened or actual
molestations of the civil governments of the colonies, and
the corrupting influences proceeding from every center of
viceregal authority, abetted the tendency to demoraliza-
tion. By the end of the first third of the eighteenth
century. New England, politically, ecclesiastically, theo-
logically, and morally, had come into a state of unstable
equilibrium. An overturn is impending.

The set and sturdy resolution of the founders of the four
colonies of the New England confederacy that the first
planting of their territory should be on rigorously exclu-
sive principles, with a homogeneous and mutually con-
genial population, under a firm discipline both civil and
1 Sermon on " Barbarism the First Danger."


ecclesiastical, finds an experimental justification in the
history of the neighbor colony of Rhode Island. No
commonwealth can boast a nobler and purer name for its
founder than the name of Roger Williams. Rhode Island,
founded in generous reaction from the exclusiveness of
Massachusetts, embodied the principle of " soul-liberty "
in its earliest acts. The announcement that under its
jurisdiction no man was to be molested by the civil power
for his reUgious belief was a broad invitation to all who
were uncomfortable under the neighboring theocracies.^
And the invitation was freely accepted. The companions
of Williams were reinforced by the friends of Mrs. Hutch-
inson, some of them men of substance and weight of
character. The increasing number of persons inclined to
Baptist views found in Rhode Island a free and congenial
atmosphere. Williams himself was not long in coming to
the Baptist position and passing beyond it. The Qua-
kers found Rhode Island a safe asylum from persecution,
whether Puritan or Dutch. More disorderly and mis-
chievous characters, withal, quartered themselves, unwel-
come guests, on the young commonwealth, a thorn in its
side and a reproach to its principles. It became clear to
Williams before his death that the declaration of individual
rights and independence is not of itself a sufficient founda-
tion for a state. The heterogeneous population failed to
settle into any stable polity. After two generations the
tyranny of Andros, so odious elsewhere in New England,
was actually welcome as putting an end to the liberty that
had been hardly better than anarchy.

The results of the manner of the first planting on the
growth of the church in Rhode Island were of a like sort.

1 And yet, even in the Rhode Island communities, the arbitrary right of
exclusion, in the exercise of which Roger Williams had been shut out from
Massachusetts, was asserted and adopted. It was forbidden to sell land to a
newcomer, except by consent of prior settlers.




There is no room for question that the material of a true
church was there, in the person of faithful and consecrated
disciples of Christ, and therefore there must have been
gathering together in common worship and mutual edifi-
cation. But the sense of individual rights and responsi-
bilities seems to have overshadowed the love for ths whole
brotherhood of disciples. The condition of the church
illustrated the Separatism of Williams reduced to the ab-
surd. There was feeble organization of Christians in knots
and coteries. But sixty years passed before the building
of the first house of worship in Providence, and at the end
of almost a century " there had not existed in the whole
colony more than eight or ten churches of any denomina-
tion, and these were mostly in a very feeble and precarious
state." 1

Meanwhile the inadequate compensations of a state of
schism began to show themselves. In the absence of any
organized fellowship of the whole there grew up, more than
elsewhere, a mutual tolerance and even love among the
petty sects, the lesson of which was learned where it was
most needed. The churches of " the standing order " in
Massachusetts not only admired but imitated " the peace
and love which societies of different modes of worship en-
tertained toward each other in Rhode Island." In 1718,
not forty years from the time when Baptist churches
ceased to be religio illicita in Massachusetts, three fore-
most pastors of Boston assisted in the ordination of a
minister to the Baptist church, at which Cotton Mather
preached the sermon, entitled "Good Men United." It
contained a frank confession of repentance for the persecu-
tions of which the Boston churches had been guilty.-

1 Dr. J. G. Vose, " Congregationalism in Rhode Island," pp. l6, 53, 63.

2 Ibid., pp. 56, 57. " Good men, alas! have done such ill things as these.
New England also has in former times done something of this aspect which
would not now be so well approved ; in which, if the brethren in whose house


There is a double lesson to be learned from the history
of these neighbor colonies : first, that a rigorously exclu-
sive selection of men like-minded is the best seed for the
first planting of a commonwealth in the wilderness; sec-
ondly, that the exclusiveness that is justified in the infancy
of such a community cannot wisely, nor even righteously,
nor even possibly, be maintained in its adolescence and
maturity. The church-state of Massachusetts and New
Haven was overthrown at the end of the first generation
by external interference. If it had continued a few years
longer it must have fallen of itself; but it lasted long
enough to be the mold in which the civilization of the
young States should set and harden.

we are now convened met with anything too unbrotherly, they now with sat-
isfaction hear us expressing our dislike of everything which looked like per-
secution in the days that have passed over us."





The bargainings and conveyancings, the confirmations
and reclamations, the setting up and overturning, which,
after the conquest of the New Netherlands, had the effect
to detach the peninsula of New Jersey from the jurisdic-
tion of New York, and to divide it for a time into two gov-
ernments, belong to political history; but they had, of
course, an important influence on the planting of the church
in that territory. One result of them was a wide diversity
of materials in the early growth of the church.

Toward the end of the Dutch occupation, one lonely
congregation had been planted in that region which, at a
later time, when the Dutch church in America had awaked
from its lethargy, was to become known as " the garden of
the Dutch church." ^

After the extinction of the high theocracy of the New
Haven Colony by the merger of it in Connecticut, a whole
church and town, headed by the pastor, having secured
such guaranty of their political liberty as the unstable gov-
ernment of New Jersey was able to give, left the homes
endeared to them by thirty years of toil and thrift, and
lifting the ark of the covenant by the staves, set them-

l Corwin, pp. 58, 128.


selves down beside the Passaic, calling their plantation the
New-Ark, and reinstituted their fundamental principle of
restricting the franchise to members of the church. Thus
" with one heart they resolved to carry on their spiritual
and town affairs according to godly government." The
Puritan migration, of which this was the nucleus, had an
influence on the legislation and the later history of New
Jersey out of all proportion to its numbers.

Twenty years later the ferocious persecution of the
Scottish Covenanters, which was incited by the fears or
the bloody vindictiveness of James II. after the futile in-
surrection of Monmouth, furnished a motive for emigration
to the best people in North Britain, which was quickly
seized and exploited by the operators in Jersey lands.
Assurances of religious liberty were freely given ; men of
influence were encouraged to bring over large companies ;
and in 1686 the brother of the martyred Duke of Argyle
was made governor of East Jersey. The considerable
settlements of Scotchmen found congenial neighbors in the
New Englanders of Newark. A system of free schools,
early established by a law of the commonwealth, is natu-
rally referred to their common influence.

Meanwhile a series of events of the highest consequence
to the future of the American church had been in progress
in the western half of the province. Passing from hand to
hand, the ownership and lordship of West Jersey had be-
come vested in a land company dominated by Quakers.
For the first time in the brief history of that sect, it was
charged with the responsibility of the organization and
conduct of government. Hitherto it had been publicly
known by the fierce and defiant and often outrageous
protests of its representatives against existing governments
and dignities both in state and in church, such as exposed
them to the natural and reasonable suspicion of being wild


and mischievous anarchists. The opportunities and temp-
tations that come to those in power would be a test of the
quality of the sect more severe than trial by the cart-tail
and the gibbet.

The Quakers bore the test nobly. Never did a commer-
cial company show itself so little mercenary; never was
a sovereign more magnanimous and unselfish. With the
opening of the province to settlement, the proprietors set
forth a statement of their purposes : " We lay a foundation
for after ages to understand their liberty as men and Chris-
tians, that they may not be brought into bondage but by
their own consent; for we put the power in the people."
This was followed by a code of " Concessions and Agree-
ments " in forty-four articles, which were at once a consti-
tution of government and a binding compact with such as
should enter themselves as colonists on these terms. They
left little to be desired in securities for personal, political,
and religious liberty.^

At once population began to flow amain. In 1677 two
hundred and thirty Quakers came in one ship and founded
the town of Burlington. By 1 68 1 there had come fourteen
hundred. Weekly, monthly, quarterly meetings were es-
tablished ; houses of worship were built; and in August,
1 68 1, the Quaker hierarchy (if it may so be called without
offense) was completed by the establishment of the Burling-
ton Yearly Meeting. The same year the corporation, en-
couraged by its rapid success, increased its numbers and
its capital, bought out the proprietors of East Jersey,
and appointed as governor over the whole province the

1 It is notable that the concessions offered already by Carteret and Berke-
ley in 1664 contained an unlimited pledge of religious liberty, "any law,
statute, usage, or custom of the realm of England to the contrary notwith-
standing" (Mulford, " History of New Jersey," p. 134). A half-century of
experience in colonization had satisfied some minds that the principle adopted
by the Quakers for conscience' sake was also a sound business principle.


eminent Quaker theologian, Robert Barclay. The Quaker
regime continued, not always smoothly, till 1688, when it
was extinguished by James II. at the end of his perfidious
campaigns against American liberties.

This enterprise of the Quaker purchase and settlement
of New Jersey brings upon the stage of American history
the great apostle of Christian colonization, William Penn.
He came into relation to the New Jersey business as arHter
of some differences that arose between the two Friends who
had bought West Jersey in partnership. He continued in
connection with it when the Quaker combination had ex-
tended itself by purchase over the whole Jersey peninsula,
and he was a trusted counselor of the corporation, and the
representative of its interests at court. Thus there grew
more and more distinct before his peculiarly adventurous
and enterprising mind the vision of the immense possi-
bihties, political, religious, and commercial, of American
colonization. With admirable business shrewdness com-
bined with courtly tact, he canceled an otherwise hopeless
debt from the crown in consideration of the concession to
him of a domain of imperial wealth and dimensions, with
practically unlimited rights of jurisdiction. At once he
put into exercise the advantages and opportunities which
were united in him so as never before in the promoter of
a like enterprise, and achieved a success speedy and splen-
did beyond all precedent.

The providential preparations for this great enterprise
— " the Holy Experiment," as Penn delighted to call it —
had been visibly in progress in England for not more than
the third part of a century. It was not the less divine
for being wholly logical and natural, that, just when the
Puritan Reformation culminated in the victory of the
Commonwealth, the Quaker Reformation should suddenly


break forth. Puritanism was the last expression of that
appeal from the church to the Scriptures, from existing
traditions of Christianity to its authentic original docu-
ments, which is the essence of Protestantism, In Puritan-
ism, reverence for the Scriptures is exaggerated to the

Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconA history of American Christianity → online text (page 9 of 34)