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constitution of the Brattle-street church, there are no expressions which we may think unwarrantably severe. But thus much may at least be said,--the controversy was conducted with more decency on his part, than on the other; and the severe expressions, on both sides, are to be attributed more, probably, to the fashion of the age, than to the spirit and character of the men. And as Mr. Peirce justly remarks,“ it is unfair to take a man out of his own age, and try him by the standard of another."
It must be said also, in relation to this whole controversy, that the points for which President Mather contended were of a vitally important character. So he regarded them; and so they are regarded by evangelical Christians at the present day. He saw that if the principles of Stoddard, and the Brattles, and Leverett, and many others, in regard to the admission of persons to the church, were generally adopted, the churches, erelong, would be filled up with unconverted members, and even the pulpits with unconverted ministers, and that the vital power of the gospel, if not its most essential truths, would be fost sight of and discarded. He saw that if the churches gave up the primitive, inestimable right of electing, independently, their own ministers, very soon they would have ministers placed over them, from whose unholy influence they must flee away, or under it they must consent to remain, and be corrupted.
The experience of almost a century and a half has shown, that President Mather's forebodings were well founded. In regard to many of the Pilgrim churches, the worst that he feared from the mistakes of his contemporaries has been more than realized. And that the desolations resulting, in part, from the innovations then made had not an earlier and a wider spread is owing, in no small degree, to the resistance which he opposed to them. So that now, after the lapse of five generations, we may look back
Increase Mather as the man, who, in the face of much obloquy and personal sacrifice, not only gave to Massachusetts a constitution of government, but saved the great body of her churches from a tide of ruin which was beginning to set in, and threatening to roll over them.
Another of President Quincy's objections to Dr. Mather relates to his treatment of Gov. Dudley. On the 12th of September, 1707, Vice President Willard died; and in the month following, John Leverett was elected President of Harvard College. His election was confirmed and he inaugurated on the 14th of January, 1708. This election was, without doubt, displeasing to Dr. Mather. President Quincy thinks that he expected to be himself elected; or at least, that the office would have been given to his son. He
that Dr. Mather was so much displeased with Gov. Dudley, for defeating his own or his son's appointment, and favoring the election of Mr. Leverett, that he immediately addressed to the governor'a letter,“ breathing a spirit of abuse and virulence, of which the records of party animosity contain but few parallels.” Vol. I.
With respect to this letter to Gov. Dudley, I have several remarks to offer. And in the first place, if President Quincy's dates are correct (which there is some reason to doubt), the letter was written months before the death of Vice President Willard, or the election of Leverett, and of course could not have been prompted by any feelings which the writer entertained, in consequence of that event. The date of the letter, in the history before us, is “ 20th of January, 1707 ;" whereas Willard died in the September following; and President Leverett was not inaugurated till January of the next year. Vol. I.
But whatever may be thought as to the correctness of dates, I remark, secondly, there is not in this letter of Dr. Mather á single word, or the remotest allusion, respecting any expectations of the writer as to the presidency, either for himself, or for his son.
What President Quincy has published on this subject seems to be matter of pure suspicion, or conjecture. Neither does the letter contain the slightest allusion to the election of Mr. Leverett, or to any influence which the governor may be supposed to have exerted in favor of that event. Indeed, the letter contains but a single reference to the college, in any way; and that, as we shall see, is quite distinct and remote from the subject of the presidency.
But not to dwell on points of this nature, let us come to the letter itself. And in order to understand the full purport of it, it will be necessary to give a short previous account of Gov. Dudley. He was the son of Thomas Dudley, one of the first settlers and governors of the Massachusetts colony, and was graduated at Harvard College, in 1665. In younger life, he seemed to be truly religious, and used to speak of Dr. Mather as his “ spiritual father.” Whether he ever entered the ministry, does not appear; but it is certain that he was educated
for it, and was once talked of as a colleague for Dr. Mather in Boston. He soon engaged, however, in civil pursuits; after which his religious impressions seem to have presented no obstacle in the way of his ambition. He was in high favor with the oppressors of the colony, at the time when the charter was taken away, and afterwards. He was the first officer in the government before Andros came. Under him, he was president of the council, and chief justice, and was deeply concerned in all the oppressions of those troublous times.* In the subsequent revolution, when Andros and his creatures were imprisoned, Dudley was kept in close confinement with them, and was treated even more hardly than any of them, as being thought more inexcusable and guilty. He was ordered to England in 1689; and the next year was made chief justice of New-York. While Sir William Phipps was Governor of Massachusetts, Dudley exerted all his influence and cunning to injure him, hoping to succeed him in the government, if by any means it could be got out of his hands. During the short administration of Lord Bellamont, he was intriguing to secure favor, both in Old England and in New, that he might, if possible, be again seated in the chair of his native state. He had always professed a great regard for the Mathers, and had the address to procure a letter from Cotton Mather to King William, which had much influence in his favor.t He became governor of Massachusetts in 1702, in which situation he continued during the next fourteen years. “ The first seven years,” says Elliot,
were spent in debates with the house of representatives, or in private disputes with men who ceased not to accuse him of artifice and deception, of arbitrary conduct, and of enmity even to those privileges which they had obtained by the new charter.”I It was near the close of these first seven years, that Dr. Mather, considering the former relations which had subsisted
*“Mr. Dudley led the van in that tragedy.” Letter from Thomas Danforth to Increase Mather. Hutchinson's Collections, p. 567.
+ In a letter to Increase Mather, dated May 17th, 1686, Mr. Dudley says: “For the things of my soul, I have these many years hung upon your lips, and ever shall ; and in civil things, I am desirous you may know, with all plainness, my reasons of procedure, and that they may be satisfactory to you."
| Biog. Dictionary.
between himself and the governor, and being wearied and disgusted with the course of his administration, addressed to him the letter of which we now speak. Most gladly would we publish it entire in these pages, did our limits permit. It is a plain, searching, faithful letter, such as few governors of Mr. Dudley's character have ever received, and which he ought to have improved to his spiritual and eternal good.*
In the first place, Dr. Mather expresses his fears that the governor had been guilty of “bribery and unrighteousness ;" and mentions several instances of this nature, which had been sworn to by some of the most respectable men in the province.
Next, he acquaints the governor with his fears that he had been contriving to destroy the charter privileges of the province,” and introduce another government, like that of Andros. And Mr. Bancroft affirms, in his History of the United States, that this was true. He says expressly, that “Gov. Dudley, and for a season his son also, became the active opponents of the chartered liberties of New England, endeavoring to effect their overthrow, and the establishment of a general government, as in the days of Andros."
In the third place, Dr. Mather expresses to the governor his fears that he had been hypocritical and inconsistent, in respect to the college; particularly (if I understand him) in his attempts to revive, through the provincial legislature, the college charter of 1650, which he had often before represented as dead, and never to be revived, but by the authority of the sovereign. And President Quincy, it seems, is of the same opinion with
* This letter may be found in the Mass. Historical Collections, 1st series, Vol. IIl. p. 126. Cotton Mather wrote the governor a letter of the same date, on which I shall remark hereafter.
+ Vol. III. p. 100. Mr. Bancroft further says, that Dudley " tried to destroy the liberties of Connecticut; prepared a volume of complaints; and urged the appointment of a governor over Connecticut, by the royal prerogative.” p. 70. It was about this time, or a little earlier, that a letter from his son, Paul Dudley, to the English court, was intercepted, in which he says:
“ This country (New England) will never be worth living in for lawyers and gentlemen, till the charter is taken away. My father and I sometimes talk of the queen's establishing a court of chancery in this country.” See Hutchinson's History, Vol. II. p. 140.
Dr. Mather, in regard to this point. He represents this act of Dudley, in reference to the college, as“ apparently irreconcilable with the duties growing out of the relation in which he stood to the British crown. It was, in fact,” says he, “a measure in contradiction of the avowed principles, which the
government of the parent state had adopted and acted upon in relation to Massachusetts ;”—“principles, which Dudley himself had openly asserted and publicly maintained.” Vol. I.
159. In the fourth place, Dr. Mather says: “I am afraid that the guilt of innocent blood is still crying in the ears of the Lord against you. I mean the blood of Leisler and Milburn.' These men were concerned in the revolution in New-York, at the time of the accession of William and Mary, and were publicly executed, while Dudley was chief justice of that province. Lord Bellamont afterwards declared, that“ these men were not only murdered, but barbarously murdered.” Mr. Bancroft, in his history, speaks of their execution as “ judicial murder.” Vol. III. pp. 54–56. The English Parliament, it seems, were of the same opinion; for, by a special act, they removed the attainder from these executed men, and restored their estates to their families.
Dr. Mather's fifth and last fear for the governor was, that “ the Lord is offended with you, in that you ordinarily forsake the worship of God, in the holy church to which you are related, in the afternoon of the Lord's day, and spend the whole time, after the public exercise, with some persons reputed very ungodly men.”
În conclusion, Dr. Mather says: “How glad should I be, if I could receive satisfaction, that my fears of your being faulty in the matters I have faithfully mentioned to you are groundless ; but if otherwise, I am under pressure of conscience to bear a public testimony, without respect of persons; and I shall rejoice, if it may be my dying testimony. I am now aged, expecting and longing for my departure out of the world, every day. I trust in Christ that, when I am gone, I shall obtain a good report of my having been faithful before him. To his mercy I commend you,” etc.
Such is the celebrated letter of Increase Mather to Governor Dudley ;-a letter which, in the judgment of President Quincy, “breathes a spirit of abuse and violence, of which the records of party animosity contain but few parallels.” I have only to say farther in regard to it, that I think not so; and I doubt not that