Obrazy na stronie

this was not incumbent on them, or to be expected from them.

But it is not enough for the clearing of Whitefield, to show that, in the sense in which he used language, his charges were substantially true. “The truth is not to be spoken at all times”—nor under all circumstances. Was it discreet and proper for him-a young man, and almost a stranger in New England—to utter such charges against the churches, and ministers, and colleges of the country, and to publish them in the pages of his journal ? We think not. And so thought Jonathan Edwards at the time, and endeavored to dissuade his young friend from his severe rebukes of unconverted ministers. And so thought Whitefield himself afterwards, and humbly asked the forgiveness of those whom he had in this way offended. He regretted that he had relied so implicitly on hearsay evidence, and yielded so much to the persuasions of zealous but misguided friends. Among these friends, and very prominent among them, no doubt, was Governor Belcher. He used to say to the young evangelist : “ Go on, Mr. Whitefield, in stirring up ministers; for reformation must begin at the house of God. And do not spare rulers—no, not the chief of them—any more than ministers.” But at this early period of his ministerial career, Whitefield needed no such advice as this. He needed the bit more than the spur. He needed the judicious counsels of such a friend as Jonathan Edwards, more than the stirring incitements of the ardent but well-meaning Governor Belcher. And so he himself regarded the subject at a later period.

The controversy between Whitefield and his friends, and the college and its friends, was carried on warmly for a time; in which President Quincy would persuade us that nearly all the truth, and the decency, were on one side. We think, however, that an impartial critic, who should read all the pamphlets, would judge differently.* In the spirit of Whitefield, there was little that was bitter, and nothing vindictive. He became, afterwards, not only a friend of Harvard College, but one of

* Among the champions of Whitefield was the learned and eloquent Rev. William Hobby, of Reading. His book was replied to by a Layman of Boston, in a publication entitled, “ A Twig of Birch for Billy's Breech.In point of decency, the whole work was very coincident with its title.

its benefactors. In the latter part of his life, he presented to the college library a new edition of his journals, and “procured for it large benefactions from several benevolent and respectable gentlemen” in England ;- for which he received a vote of thanks from the corporation, in the year 1768.*

The controversy respecting Whitefield and the revival was not confined to Harvard College. It spread through the vicinity, and indeeed through the greater part of New England. The evils of it, like almost all other evils, are ascribed, in the work before us, to the views, preaching, and measures of “ the strict Calvinists." Unfortunately, however, for President Quincy, his very special and liberal friend, Dr. Colman, stands now in the foremost rank among the patrons of Whitefield and the revival. It was Colman and Cooper, who first invited Whitefield into New England. It was a brother-in-law of Colman with whom he lodged, during his visit to Boston. It was in the Brattle-street church that he commenced his labors. Dr. Colman continued to follow and laud him, to defend and support him, during the whole of his first visit to New England. And when he came into the country the second time, in 1745— when many of the ministers had denounced him, and the officers of college had published their testimony against him ; still, Dr. Colman was his unfailing friend. He not only received him directly to his pulpit, but invited him to administer the Lord's supper to his church; much to the grief of some of his more exclusive and less liberal ministerial friends. I say less liberal ministerial friends: for Dr. Colman was not only a decided Calvinist, but a truly liberal man. And so was Whitefield a liberal man. Yes, if there was ever a man who deserved to be called a truly liberal Christian, that man was George Whitefield. He loved all those who seemed to him t) love his Master. He opened his heart, and extended his Christian fellowship, to all alike. It was no part of his object, anywhere, to build up a sect. If he could arouse the careless, alarm the secure, and bring wandering sinners to the fold of Christ, they might join any church, or go to any sect they pleased.

Dr. Colman was now a venerable father in Israel, and lived but a few years after the second visit of Whitefield to New England. But his regard for him seems never to have abated.

* Gillie's Life of Whitefield, p. 194.

He continued his unwavering friend to the last. He was also the friend of the other more respectable Revivalists, both in this country and in Europe. By his letters, he encouraged them; and by his earnest recommendations, he endeavored to promote the circulation of their books.* And not only Dr. Colman, but most of the other ministers in Boston and the vicinity, who were friendly to Whitefield and the revival at the first, continued to be so to the end. In the summer of 1743, almost three years after the revival commenced, there was a convention in Boston, the day after commencement, at which ninety ministers, from different parts of the country, bore their united testimony to the “late happy revival of religion, through a remarkable Divine influence, in many parts of this land.” Forty-five ministers, who could not be present, making no less than one hundred and thirty-five in all, sent in written attestations, of the same general import. Among these was the venerable Dr. Appleton, of Cambridge.

“ Very few of these ministers,” says Rev. Mr. Prince, “complained of errors or disorders in the congregations they belonged to. Several declared that there had been none from the beginning; but in the extraordinary revival of religion among their people, the work had been carried on with great seriousness and regularity.” Mr. Prince further says, “ that as far as they could learn, the greatest errors and disorders were in those places where the ministers opposed the work, and thereby lost much of their respect and influence.”f

The leading opponent of this great revival of religion was the celebrated Dr. Chauncy, long pastor of the first church in Boston. He was unfriendly to it from the first, and in 1743-after having travelled hundreds of miles, for the purpose of hearing stories, and collecting testimonies—he published his “ Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in New England,” for the purpose of exposing and suppressing it. In this and some of his other publications, he treats Whitefield with inexcusable and even shameful severity. He suggests that

* He and his colleague, Mr. Cooper, wrote a preface to Mr. Smith's sermon on the character of Whitefield. He wrote an appendix to one of President Edwards's revival sermons. He united with others in commending a work of Rev. Mr. Dickinson, of New Jersey. See Chris. Hist. Vol. II. pp. 366, 386, 409.

+ Christian History, Vol. I. pp. 155—200.

vanity may have been the cause of his incessant travels and labors; and that, in collecting subscriptions and contributions, he may have " a fellow feeling with some of the orphans in Georgia !!”

President Quincy is mistaken, however, in supposing that even Chauncy was at this time an anti-Calvinist. In the work to which I have here referred, he indignantly repels the charge of Arminianism, and professes to “ approve of the Confession of Faith agreed on by the churches of New England, and by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster.")*


The representations of President Quincy in regard to President Edwards are not quite accurate or fair. He speaks of his sermons as “ extemporaneous effusions ;'-a statement which will be surprising to the friends of Edwards, it being well understood that he generally, if not always, preached from notes. II. p. 58.

Another alleged characteristic of his preaching will be thought equally strange, viz., that he “took captive the imagination,while he “ paralyzed the action of human reason, by denying its authority.” p. 55. That Edwards was not destitute of imagination is very true; though with him, this seems to have been rather a neglected, than a cultivated power. But that a man who taxed so severely and incessantly his understanding—who, in all his performances, whether philosophical or theological treatises or sermons, was accustomed, beyond almost any one that ever lived, to exercise his reason, should have “ denied the authority of huinan reason,” or “paralyzed its action,” is very strange.t

Moreover, we think it hardly fair to select from the works of Edwards his more exceptionable, perhaps we might say fanciful passages, and hold them up as specimens of the entire man.

* Seasonable Thoughts, etc., pp. 398, 417.

+ The Christian Examiner ch«racterizes the preaching of Edwards very differently, and much more accurately. “Grant hiin his premises, and you are led on, step by step, to the conclusion. The mind struggles in vain, but is obliged to sub. mit ;—and then comes the terrible application.Vol. IV. p. 468. Still more unfair is it, to select what seems to have been altogether peculiar to him, and with him was only matter of conjecture,I refer to the passage in which he suggests the probability that this earth, in its state of conflagration, may be the place of future misery-and exhibit it as one of the doctrines of Calvinism. pp. 53, 57.

We scarcely see the propriety of bringing in the name of Jonathan Mayhew, in connection with the revival controversy; as he was not settled till the year 1747, and published nothing for two or three years afterwards. That he possessed a vigorous and highly cultivated understanding, a ready wit, and a fluent tongue, all which served to render him a most formidable controversialist, none, who are acquainted with his works, will be disposed to deny. But that these were associated with a proud, untractable, bitter spirit, will be equally obvious to every unprejudiced reader. We have long considered Jonathan Mayhew and Charles Chauncy as the great corruptors of the religion of Boston. To be sure, they did not operate alone; nor did they attempt to mould uncongenial minds; but on them, more than on any other two individuals, rests the responsibility of breaking down the ancient, Puritan landmarks, and of revolutionizing, for a time, the religion of the metropolis of New England.

President Quincy represents “ the controversy with Whitefield as the last of a theological character, in which the gove ernors of the college have directly engaged.” p. 52. We know not whether Dr. Ware and Prof. Norton, during their connection with college, were reckoned among its “governors.” They were as much so, it is to be presumed, as was Prof. Wigglesworth, who wrote 'in opposition to Whitefield. That they have been deeply engaged, at times, in theological controversy, their publications are a standing proof.


The length to which this article has been already extended, renders it necessary that we pass more briefly over the remaining topics in the history before us. The fact, too, that the narrative is now approaching the times in which we live, may be a reason for less prolixity.

President Holyoke died in 1769, at the advanced age of

« PoprzedniaDalej »