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is not the custom here, as it is in måny other churches in this country, to make a credible relation of their inward experiences, the ground of their admission 10 the Lord's supper.” Nor did the third church in Windham in Connecticut, follow that custom, as appears from a pamphlet before us, published in 1747. It contains twelve charges against the church exhibited by several of its members, as reasons of their separation from it, and also the answers of the church to those charges. One of the allegations is that, " They receive members into the church without giving personal satisfaction to the church that they are true members of Christ, by declaring what God hath done for their souls." The reply gave no satisfaction to the aggrieved brethren ; and indeed ought to have given none, for the practice complained of is incapable of justification. It was one of the many subjects of controversy that caused discord among brethren throughout NewEngland; and though at this period, the evil was considerably diminished, it was not wholly removed by the most powerful reasonings of the ablest divines of the day.
We proceed to a hasty sketch of the third class of evils which characterized these times.
Doctrinal errors are often, if not generally, associated with more or less practical delinquency. The relation between them, is that of cause and effect. This was the case during the great revival, and for many years afterwards; and the disorders chargeable on one considerable portion of the community, were much increased by the ecclesiastical grievances which have been mentioned. Both the Arminians and the disguised Arians, who violently opposed that work of grace, as well as the Antinomians whose efforts to promote it were irregular and extravagant, disfigured its character and hindered its progress, by their intemperate proceedings. We take no pleasure in disclosing the disorders to which we allude; and would pass over them in silence, were it not that the summary recital which we contemplate, may afford a salutary lesson to the churches at the present day.
The revival at its commencement was opposed by the majority of the people ; for although the acknowledged followers of Whitby did not constitute a large proportion of the population, yet, in their aversion to that extraordinary work of grace, and in their efforts to stifle it, they received the countenance of more than half the residue of the community. The bulk of the pastors and churches, though they professed to adhere to the public confession of faith, which had been in use almost half a century, had become cold in heart and lax in sentiment, and therefore yielded but a reluctant and qualified assent to some of its most humbling truths. Thus they were prepared to co-operate with those who avowedly belonged to the Arminian school. In giving an account of the
misconduct of the latter, we must therefore, blend with them as associates that numerous class, who had already begun to denominate their scheme of doctrines “ Moderate Calvinism."
Thus the adherents of Whitby, abetted by that large body of pastors and people who had degenerated from the orthodoxy of their ancestors, were violent in their outcries against the revival and its friends. Every species of misrepresentation and calumny was employed to bring disgrace upon the work itself, and upon all who favored it. “By some,” says Dr. Trumbull, “it was termed a distemper, which affected the mind and filled it with unnecessary concern and gloominess; by others it was termed the work of the devil; by others Quakerism, enthusiasm, Antinomianism, and distraction. The zealous experimental christians, were termed new lights, following an ignis fatuus, which would lead them to destruction.” Indeed the same language of scurrility and even of blasphemy was extensively used, which is occasionally employed in these days by the most abandoned of our race, to asperse good men, and genuine revivals of religion. They saw no distinction, and by the ablest divines could be made to see none, between such a work of God's Spirit, and the extravagances which sometimes unfortunately attend it. Hence they identified with it all the wildness and irregularities of those who were chargeable with fanaticism; and of this description there were not a few.
For several years the great body of magistrates, and other leading men in Connecticut, took an open stand against the revival; and to put an end to it, if possible, the legislature repealed some former laws of a tolerant, and enacted others of a persecuting, nature. Thus in 1742 it was enacted that if a settled minister preached in a parish not his own, without being invited both by the minister, if there was one, and by the majority of the church and society in said parish, his own people should withhold his stipulated salary for that year. A law was passed also, that no civil officer should sign a warrant for the collection of a minister's annual stipend, without a writing from the clerk of the society, certifying that no information had been lodged against the pastor for preaching, without invitation, in other parishes. Moreover it was enacted, that if an unordained minister preached in any parish without such a formal request, he should be bound over to the next county court in the sum of one hundred pounds; and that if any minister belonging to another colony, preached or exhorted under such circumstances in any parish, he should by a civil warrant be transported out of Connecticut as a vagrant.
These cruel laws were designed to bear upon some of the most intelligent and pious ministers in the land ; who, to promote that glorious revival, traveled great distances and gratuitously be
stowed their labors wherever there was a particular call for them. Several of those men of God were actually persecuted under these oppressive laws. Some were arraigned before the county courts, and some before the General Assembly. Some were transported out of the colony; some were deprived of their salary; and all, whether conforming to the laws or not, had reason to fear the loss of their stipulated support; for their enemies bad only to lodge with the clerks of their respective parishes an information against them, however false it might be, and then the laws forbade the collection of their salary.
Many of the lay preachers and exhorters among the Separatists, growing more zealous and bold under the hardships imposed on them, refused to give the required bonds not to repeat their alledged offenses; and, continuing to hold forth when and where they pleased, were cast into prison.
Although the duty we have assigned to ourselves is concerned rather with facts, than with the reflections they might suggest we cannot but remark, that the practice condemned by the legislature was as susceptible of vindication, as that of the Reformers, whose itinerant preaching was a powerful engine against the Papacy; or as that of the Puritans, many of whom, in the face of the unrighteous enactments of parliament, continued to preach in any diocese or parish, where hearers could be found. The legislature, however, bent on the extinction of the prevailing religious excitement, may be allowed a degree of credit on the score of their impartiality; for in the year following, they proceeded to exclude from civil offices all such persons as appeared in favor of the cause or the measures of those, who were now generally known by the appellation of “ new lights.”
It would greatly abate the regret we feel in view of the disorders of those times, could we exempt all the clergy from a share of the blame, attached to proceedings, so contrary to the spirit of the gospel. But it is an undeniable truth, that the persecuting laws of which we have spoken, owed their existence as much to the direct influence of a considerable number of the pastors, as to the personal prejudice and enmity of the legislature. And while one district association passed a formal vote of thanks to the General Assembly for these unrighteous enactments, most of the clerical opposers of the revival spoke of them with approbation, and vindicated the execution of them.
In several instances ministers proceeded, on their own authority, to suspend members of their churches from communion, merely for hearing the preachers who were zealous in their labors to advance the work of grace. Some were thus debarred access to the Lord's supper ten or twelve years, till other pastors succeeded those, by whom they had been excluded. Frequently too, hostitility to the awakening led clergymen to press and effect the settlement of pastors against the wishes and remonstrances of large minorities, and in some instances against the desires of the major part of voters in the churches; thus violating the ecclesiastical constitution, as well as the spirit of the gospel. Nor was the situation of evangelical ministers already seuled, secure. In several instances their pastoral relation to their flocks was dissolved, in consequence of the animosity and management of their brethren. The proceedings of the association just alluded to, were extremely violent and oppressive. For an expression which, in times of less irritability, could hardly be considered as indiscreet, they effected the dismission of one of their best members from his people. He lamented the language which he had used, and offered a suitable confession of its impropriety ; but they rejected it, and boasted, soon after his dismission, “that they had blown out one new light, and that they would blow them all out." Nor were they long in putting this menace into execution, so far as to suspend from associational communion four of their other members; two because they had assisted in settling an evangelical minister over a people who had adopted the Cambridge Platform, in preference to that which had been generally received in the colony; one because he had delivered a sermon to a baptist congregation, and the other because he had committed both of these alledged offenses. Thus the association having finished the work of expurgation, by suspending such of its members as were active in promoting the revival, were the better prepared to prosecute other unkind, not to say unchristian, measures which our limits will not allow us to recount.
The general association of Connecticut, composed as it was for many years, of members the majority of whom were inveterately hostile to the revival, (chiefly we believe on account of the irregularities that attended it,) fixed the eye of suspicion on its friends; encouraged the dissatisfaction and clamors of all who were displeased with their pastors for laboring to advance it; and urgently advised the ministers in the colony to refuse Mr. Whitfield the use of their pulpits, at the same time cautioning the people against hearing him, if he should preach. It is believed, that the ministers who rejoiced in that work of grace, did not become a majority in Connecticut, till twelve or fifteen years after its commencement. And no sooner did they become so numerous as to have any considerable influence in the general association, than those of the opposite party very generally refused to attend the sessions of that body. In 1749, it was composed of only four members; and at two successive meetings the members who attended were so few, that no business was transacted.
As was to have been expected in such a time of religious dis
sention, the press was extensively employed both to censure and defend the opinions and practices of those who espoused opposite sides. In the writings of the evangelical divines, while we observe little that bespeaks a want of christian meekness and kindness, we perceive much that indicates enlightened views of truth, purity of motive, and devoted attachment to the welfare of souls, in spite of derision, and obloquy, and even civil disabilities. We wish we were authorized to bestow a similar eulogy on the writings of those who took a hostile stand against them. But in general, the same uncharitableness, misrepresentation, and virulence that characterized their other proceedings, were displayed in their publications. In one respect the task of some of them was difficult. Professing, as a portion of them did, to believe in the necessity of a special divine influence, to awaken and renew the sinner, and in the fact that the existing excitement was connected with some instances of real conversion, it was hard for them to speak of the prevalent work of God, at all times, in terms accordant with their occasional language of censure or contempt. Even Dr. Chauncey, the ablest and not the least bitter opposer of the “new lights,” sometimes speaks favorably of certain things pertaining to a general work of the spirit, which on other occasions, he loads with reproach. It is remarkable that in his celebrated book against Whitfield and his associates in New England, he mentions as evidences of such a work, those very things which were undeniably among the most conspicuous fruits of that glorious revival, which his whole volume was designed to disparage and exterminate. But the great body of the writers under consideration, were uniformly consistent in their reproachful publications.
It is not wonderful that such general opposition, when found to be unsuccessful, should have led many to seek a kind of revenge, in breaking loose from their ecclesiastical relations, and attaching themselves to some other denomination more congenial with them in sentiment, as regarded doctrine and religious fervor. They could not, however, consistently unite with the Baptists, who were generally as far from Arminianism, as the new lights themselves; and they abhorred the Separatists and their churches. The only alternative was to remain as they were, while the objects of their aversion were fast becoming a majority in Connecticut, or to join themselves to the Episcopalians, who, though their number was hitherto very inconsiderable, were equally opposed to Calvinism, and not less so to the extraordinary attention to religion. Multitudes, therefore, preferred the latter course; and by this means the few Episcopal churches then established, were in a few years considerably enlarged, and others were organized. We know not that history has ever recorded the fact, but we have unquestionable authority for the statement, that in one town