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was the waking up of the conscience of a whole people, from the long death-sleep in which it had fallen, and the reformations which it wrought, both in the piety of the churches and the morals of the people, were long apparent. The religions interest thus awakened had, however, in a great degree, fallen away, when in the midst of a second, and more general awakening, there appeared in New England a preacher, whose influence, direct and indirect, was destined to work an important change in the religious character and habits of the people. This was no other than George Whitefield, who landed for the second time on these shores in 1739, and after a number of months spent at the South, at length arrived in Boston, at the earnest invitation of the clergy of the town. The master of a peculiar and original eloquence, which burst in artless strength from the fountains of his own fervid and impassioned nature, and wielded at will the thousands who assembled to witness its exhibitions, he stood in the pulpits of America “a minister of the church of England, renovating the piety of the Puritans, seeking to walk in their steps, and giving the right hand of fellowship, without reserve, to all the followers of Christ.” Of the character of the influence exerted by this remarkable man, different opinions have been entertained. The candid student of the history of these excited times will find little reason to question that his labors did much to increase the fervor, and deepen the tone of general piety in the churches, and as little, we think, that they also did much to diminish the respect of the people for the existing clergy, to sow the seeds of that religious radicalism, which has since borne so luxuriant harvests, and to multiply the herd of those irregular preachers, who, like himself, breaking away from all ordinary usages, and itinerating from place to place, were accustomed to deal out the most unsparing vituperations, and even to threaten the vengeance of Heaven against all who ventured to oppose the progress of their views. In the autumn of 1740, he made his first visit to New Haven, where the Rev. Joseph Noyes had, for twenty-five years, been the successful and honored pastor of the church. Here he preached with the same boldness and the same success which had already marked his progress through the towns of Massachusetts, and here too, very soon began to appear the bad results which seldom failed to follow his
irregular ministrations. Up to the period of Whitefield's visit, the labors of Mr. Noyes had been regarded with confidence and respect, and without suspicion of either his orthodoxy or his piety. “But soon afterwards,” says Mr. Bacon, “an opposition was organized against him, which not only resulted in a large secession from the church, but involved all the evening of his life in storm and conflict.”
Among the wildest and most enthusiastic of the itinerating disciples of Mr. Whitefield, was the Rev. James Davenport, a remote descendant of the first minister of New Haven. In furious denunciation of the ministers who opposed the “new measures” then coming into vogue, and in rude familiarity with sacred things, Davenport went far beyond the man, to the imitation of whose peculiarities he owed a large part of his importance and his power. New Haven, it would seem, was the chosen theatre of his misguided labors, and Mr. Noyes the special victim of his phrenzied enthusiasm. In an account published at the time, it is recorded that " Mr. Davenport, in almost every prayer, vents himself against the minister of the place, and often declares him to be an unconverted man, and says that thousands are now cursing him in hell for being the instrument of their damnation. He charges all to pray for his destruction and confusion. He frequently calls him a hypocrite, a wolf in sheep's clothing, and a devil incarnate." If such were the spirits raised and sent forth by the preaching of Whitefield, it is not surprising that his second progress through New England was greeted with diminished cordiality by the wisest and best ministers of the time, or that the ultimate utility of his labors has since been so often called in question. As we review the history of his ministry in Massachusetts and Connecticut, along with many indications of a true religious awakening, we are every where presented with the repulsive picture of churches disordered, of ministers alienated from each other, and from the people of their care, herds of lay exhorters and itinerant preachers usurping the stations and assuming the responsibilities of regular pastors, and spreading over all the flames of a religious excitement, more extravagant and fearful than any to which our own age has given origin.
That all these results are to be attributed even indirectly to the labors of Whitefield alone, we would by no means assert. Many of them, doubtless, might have appeared had he never visited these shores, and many are but the legitimate consequences of any bold and faithful promulgation of the gospel in the ears of a slumbering people. Still less would we insinuate any distrust of the sincerity of his zeal, or the purity of his motives. He entered the field to which he, doubtless, considered himself summoned by Heaven, and however we may deem him to have erred in his mode of accomplishing the work to which he was sent, we yet would respect the philanthropic purposes which filled his heart and prompted his actions. His life, -the memorials of which still remain to be gathered in any enduring form,-is one of singular interest; and the fame which he has left, peculiar though it be, will long be cherished both in England and America. But while we admire his bold and brilliant eloquence, and his unwearied zeal in the cause of benevolence, while we call to mind the multitudes whom he gathered to the church of Christ, by the unequalled force of his appeals, we yet cannot but regard his irregular and startling preaching as scarcely better fitted to promote the continued peace and the religious progress of society, than the lightning which blazes along the sky is fitted to be the permanent medium of vision.
The reader of the works we have placed at the head of this article, will be surprised to find that neither of their authors admits the existence of those absurd and ridiculous laws, known under the name of “ blue laws,” which are so osten mentioned as the reproach of the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven. That the absurdity of such laws would find great palliation in the spirit of the times, and the peculiar views of the Puritans, it would be easy to show; but few, however, are prepared for the conclusion that they never had any existence. The fact cannot surely have escaped the notice of these writers, that laws regulating the private and unimportant habits of individuals, formed a part of the code of Governor Eaton, and were, in some measure, incorporated into the “Laws, liberties and orders made, granted and established at several times, by the General Court of New Haven, for and to the inhabitants of that jurisdiction," &c., which were published for the use of said colony in London, in 1656. Indeed, we have now before us a collection of the blue laws of New Haven and other colonies, coming, as is said, from respectable authority, and printed at Hartford during the past year. The genuineness of many of them is supported by the most unquestioned testimony, and how their existence even, is to be reconciled with the views of Professor Kingsley and Mr. Bacon, we leave it for antiquarians to decide.
The view of the early age of New England history, presented in the works before us, inclines us strongly to distrust the prevailing sentiment with respect to the degeneracy of our own times. In the Discourses of Mr. Bacon, though there is no lack of disposition to vindicate and eulogize every thing relating to the Puritans, there is yet evidence enough that the very evils we are most wont to complain of as characterizing our own age, were not wanting in the days of the Davenports and Eatons, the Mathers and the Winthrops. The agitations and tumults that disturb the peace of society now, swept with even greater violence, though it may be in somewhat different forms, over the age of our early fathers. We would have these things, and the faults of private or public character from which they sprang, recorded in impartial history. Truth, even though it be prejudicial to the fame of ancestral worth, is incalculably better than error; and the founders of New England have virtues enough to irradiate with unfading glory all the frailties that may be found in their character.
BROUGHAM’S HISTORICAL SKETCHES, SECOND SERIES.
Historical Sketches of Statesmen who flourished in the
time of George III. Second Series. By Henry LORD BROUGHAM, F. R. S., and Member of the National Institute of France. 2 vols. pp. 212, 196.
These volumes, though, in the main, interesting, are decidedly inferior to the preceding series. This, however, may be attributed to the inferiority of the subjects. With the exception of George IV, Lord Eldon, Lords Castlereagh, Liverpool and Stowell, there are none of the English statesmen here commemorated, in whom we feel a special interest. The list of foreigners is rich in great names, but we think Lord Brougham decidedly at home no where else but in Great Britain. His best portraits, without question, are those of his own countrymen; next, and near to them, are those of Americans; after these, though at a considerable interval, come the continental statesmen. Of these latter, the best are those of Carnôt and Napoleon. Of Americans, as was meet, the best is that of Washington.
Of George Fourth we have here a full length portrait, drawn by one who knew him well. A more disgusting picture could scarcely be looked upon. The ruler of the most illustrious nation upon earth; the son of pious and exemplary parents; the head of the Protestant Episcopal church in his realm; called to the throne at the most perilous crisis that his kingdom had for centuries seen; with very respectable talents, and all the impulses which would naturally have rendered him popular, he came forth into public life the arbiter elegantiarum of drawing rooms, the copyist of every new invention for the tying on of a cravat; squandering the people's money by millions at the gambling table, and allowing the women whom he had ruined to perish by starvation ; rioting in licentiousness, which set all the morality even of courts at defiance, deliberately planning intrigues for the ruin of his wife's honor, and then commanding his ministers to bring in a bill of pains and penalties against her for infidelity to his bed; claiming to be esteemed the “first gentleman in Europe,” and quietly submitting to be turned out of a jockey-club for cheating at a horse race; such are the titles to respect which cluster around the character of this “illustrious personage.” But few years have passed since his death, and now none but his parasites speak of him with the semblance either of respect or affection, and even they dare do no more than feebly hint an apology for his baseness. They tell us that his taste originally was good, although he wasted millions upon his hideous pagoda at Brighton. When we say he was a rake, they assure us that he made an elegant bow. When we accuse him of unbridled profligacy, they inform us that he cut Beau Brummel for insulting him. When we denounce him as a villain, who not only perpetrated a horrid lie, in denying