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THE MIDDLE COLONIES: THE JERSEYS, DELAWARE, AND PENNSYLVANIA—THE QUAKER COLONIZATION—GEORGIA.
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 jurisdiction of New York, and to divide it for a time into two governments, 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.”6464 Corwin, pp. 58, 128.
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 government 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 themselves 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 insurrection 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 naturally 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 become 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 temptations 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 commercial 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 Christians, 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 Agreements” in forty-four articles, which were at once a constitution 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.6565 It is notable that the concessions offered already by Carteret and Berkeley in 1664 contained an unlimited pledge of religious liberty, “any law, statute, usage, or custom of the realm of England to the contrary notwithstanding” (Mulford, “History of New Jersey,” p. 534). 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.
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 1681 there had come fourteen hundred. Weekly, monthly, quarterly meetings were established; houses of worship were built; and in August, 1681, the Quaker hierarchy (if it may so be called without offense) was completed by the establishment of the Burlington Yearly Meeting. The same year the corporation, encouraged 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 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 arbiter 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 extended 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 possibilities, political, religious, and commercial, of American colonization. With admirable business shrewdness combined 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 splendid 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 documents, which is the essence of Protestantism. In Puritanism, reverence for the Scriptures is exaggerated to the point of superstition. The doctrine that God of old had spoken by holy men was supplemented by the pretension that God had long ago ceased so to speak and never would so speak again. The claim that the Scriptures contain a sufficient guide to moral duty and religious truth was exorbitantly stretched to include the last details of church organization and worship, and the minute direction of political and other secular affairs. In many a case the Scriptures thus applied did highly ennoble the polity and legislation of the Puritans.6666 See the vindication a the act of the New Haven colonists in adopting the laws of Moses as the statute-book of the colony, in the “Thirteen Historical Discourses of L. Bacon,” pp. 29-32. “The greatest and boldest improvement which has been made in criminal jurisprudence by any one act since the dark ages was that which was made by our fathers when they determined that the judicial laws of God, as they were delivered by Moses, and as they are a fence to the moral law, being neither typical nor ceremonial nor having any reference to Canaan, shall be accounted of moral equity, and generally bind all offenders and be a rule to all the courts.’” In other cases, not a few, the Scriptures, perverted from their true purpose and wrested by a vicious and conceited exegesis, were brought into collision with the law written on the heart. The Bible was used to contradict the moral sense. It was high time for the Quaker protest, and it was inevitable that this protest should be extravagant and violent.
In their bold reassertion of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, that his light “lighteth every man who cometh into the world,” it is not strange that the first Quakers should sometimes have lost sight of those principles the enunciation of which gives such a character of sober sanity to the apostolic teachings on this subject—that a divine influence on the mind does not discharge one from the duty of self-control, but that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets”; that the divine inworking does not suspend nor supersede man’s volition and activity, but that it behooves man to “work, because God worketh in him to will and to work.” The lapse from these characteristically Christian principles into the. enthusiastic, fanatic, or heathen conception of inspiration has been a perpetually recurring incident in the history of the church in all ages, and especially in times of deep and earnest spiritual feeling. But in the case of the Quaker revival it was attended most conspicuously by its evil consequences. Half-crazy or more than half-crazy adventurers and hysterical women, taking up fantastical missions in the name of the Lord, and never so happy as when they felt called of God to some peculiarly outrageous course of behavior, associated themselves with sincere and conscientious reformers, adding to the unpopularity of the new opinions the odium justly due to their own misdemeanors. But the prophet whose life and preaching had begun the Quaker Reformation was not found wanting in the gifts which the case required. Like other great religious founders, George Fox combined with profound religious conviction a high degree of tact and common sense and the faculty of organization. While the gospel of “the Light that lighteth every man” was speeding with wonderful swiftness to the ends of the earth, there was growing in the hands of the founder the framework of a discipline by which the elements of disorder should be controlled.6767 For the dealing of Fox with the case of John Perrot, who had a divine call to wear his hat in meeting, see the “History of the Society of. Friends,” by the Messrs. Thomas, pp. 197-199 (American Church History Series, vol. xii.). The result was a firmly articulated organization compacted by common faith and zeal and mutual love, and by the external pressure of fierce persecution extending throughout the British empire on both sides of the ocean.
Entering into continental Europe, the Quaker Reformation found itself anticipated in the progress of religious history. The protests of the Anabaptists against what they deemed the shortcomings of the Lutheran Reformation had been attended with far wilder extravagances than those of the early Quakers, and had been repressed with ruthless severity. But the political and militant Anabaptists were succeeded by communities of mild and inoffensive non-resistants, governing themselves by a narrow and rigorous discipline, and differing from the order of Quakers mainly at this point, that whereas the Quakers rejected all sacraments, these insisted strenuously on their own views of Baptism and the Supper, and added to them the ordinance of the Washing of Feet. These communities were to be found throughout Protestant Europe, from the Alps to the North Sea, but were best known in Holland and Lower Germany, where they were called Mennonites, from the priest, Menno Simons, who, a hundred years before George Fox, had enunciated the same principles of duty founded on the strict interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount.
The, combination of circumstances to promote the “Holy Experiment” of William Penn is something prodigious. How he could be a petted favorite at the shameful court of the last two Stuarts, while his brethren throughout the realm were languishing under persecution, is a fact not in itself honorable, but capable of being honorably explained; and both the persecution and the court favor helped on his enterprise. The time was opportune; the period of tragical uncertainty in colonization was past; emigration had come to be a richly promising enterprise. For leader of the enterprise what endowment was lacking in the elegantly accomplished young courtier, holding as his own the richest domain that could be carved out of a continent, who was at the same time brother, in unaffected humility and unbounded generosity, in a great fraternity bound together by principles of ascetic self-denial and devotion to the kingdom of God?
Penn’s address inviting colonists to his new domain announced the outlines of his scheme. His great powers of jurisdiction were held by him. only to be transferred to the future inhabitants in a free and righteous government. “I purpose,” said he, conscious of the magnanimity of the intention, “for the matters of liberty, I purpose that which is extraordinary—to leave myself and successors no power of doing mischief, that the will of one man may not hinder the good of a whole country;” and added, in language which might have fallen from his intimate friend, Algernon Sidney, but was fully expressive of his own views, “It is the great end of government to support power in reverence with the people, and to secure the people from the abuse of power; for liberty without obedience is confusion, and obedience without liberty is slavery.”6868 Quoted in Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 366. With assurances of universal civil and religious liberty in conformity with these principles, he offered land at forty shillings for a hundred acres, subject to a small quit-rent.
Through the correspondence of the Friends’ meetings, these proposals could be brought to the attention of many thousands of people, sifted and culled by persecution, the best stuff for a colony in all the United Kingdom. The response was immediate. Within a year three ship-loads of emigrants went out. The next year Penn himself went with a company of a hundred, and stayed long enough to see the government organized by the free act of the colonists on the principles which he had set forth, and in that brief sojourn of two years to witness the beginnings of a splendid prosperity. His city of Philadelphia consisted in August, 1683, of three or four little cottages. Two years afterward it contained about six hundred houses, and the schoolmaster and the printing-press had begun their work.6969 Bancroft, vol. ii., p. 392. The growth went on accelerating. In one year seven thousand settlers are said to have arrived; before the end of the century the colonists numbered more than twenty thousand, and Philadelphia had become a thriving town.7070 H. C. Lodge, p. 213.
But Great Britain, although the chief source of population, was not the only source. It had been part of the providential equipment of Penn for his great work to endow him with the gift of tongues and bring him into intimate relations with the many congregations of the broken and persecuted sects kindred to his own on the continent of Europe. The summer and autumn of 1678, four years before his coming to Pennsylvania, had been spent by him, in company with George Fox, Robert Barclay, and other eminent Friends, in a mission tour through Holland (where he preached in his mother’s own language) and Germany. The fruit of this preaching and of previous missions appeared in an unexpected form. One of the first important accessions to the colony was the company of Mennonites led by Pastorius, the “Pennsylvania Pilgrim,” who founded Germantown, now a beautiful suburb of Philadelphia. Group after group of picturesque devotees that had been driven into seclusion and eccentricity by long and cruel persecution—the Tunkers, the Schwenkfelders, the Amish—kept coming and bringing with them their traditions, their customs, their sacred books, their timid and pathetic disposition to hide by themselves, sometimes in quasi-monastic communities like that at Ephrata, sometimes in actual hermitage, as in the ravines of the Wissahickon. But the most important contribution of this kind came from the suffering villages of the Rhenish Palatinate ravaged with fire and sword by the French armies in 1688. So numerous were the fugitives from the Palatinate that the name of Palatine came to be applied in general to German refugees, from whatever region. This migration of the German sects (to be distinguished from the later migration from the established Lutheran and Reformed churches) furnished the material for that curious “Pennsylvania Dutch” population which for more than two centuries has lain encysted, so to speak, in the body politic and ecclesiastic of Pennsylvania, speaking a barbarous jargon of its own, and refusing to assimilate with the surrounding people.
It was the rough estimate of Dr. Franklin that colonial Pennsylvania was made up of one third Quakers, one third Germans, and one third miscellaneous. The largest item under this last head was the Welsh, most of them Quakers, who had been invited by Penn with the promise of a separate tract of forty thousand acres in which to maintain their own language, government, and institutions. Happily, the natural and patriotic longing of these immigrants for a New Wales on this side the sea was not to be realized. The “Welsh Barony” became soon a mere geographical tradition, and the whole strength of this fervid and religious people enriched the commonwealth.7171 For a fuller account of the sources of the population of Pennsylvania, see “The Making of Pennsylvania,” by Sydney George Fisher (Philadelphia, 1896).
Several notable beginnings of church history belong to the later part of the period under consideration.
An interesting line of divergence from the current teachings of the Friends was led, toward the end of the seventeenth century, by George Keith, for thirty years a recognized preacher of the Society. One is impressed, in a superficial glance at the story, with the reasonableness and wisdom of some of Keith’s positions, and with the intellectual vigor of the man. But the discussion grew into an acrimonious controversy, and the controversy deepened into a schism, which culminated in the disowning of Keith by the Friends in America, and afterward by the London Yearly Meeting, to which he had appealed. Dropped thus by his old friends, he was taken up by the English Episcopalians and ordained by the Bishop of London, and in 1702 returned to America as the first missionary of the newly organized Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. An active missionary campaign was begun and sustained by the large resources of the Venerable Society until the outbreak of the War of Independence. The movement had great advantages for success. It was next of kin to the expiring Swedish Lutheran Church in the three counties that became afterward the State of Delaware, and heir to its venerable edifices and its good will; it was the official and court church of the royal governors, and after the degenerate sons of William Penn abandoned the simple worship, as well as the clean living, in which their father delighted, it was the church promoted by the proprietary interest; withal it proved itself, both then and afterward, to hold a deposit of truth and of usages of worship peculiarly adapted to supplement the defects of the Quaker system. It is not easy to explain the ill success of the enterprise. In Philadelphia it took strong root, and the building, in 1727, of Christ Church, which survives to this day, a monument of architectural beauty as well as historical interest, marks an important epoch in the progress of Christianity in America. But in the rural districts the work languished. Parishes, seemingly well equipped, fell into a “deplorable condition”; churches were closed and parishes dwindled away. About the year 1724 Governor Keith reported to the Bishop of London that outside the city there were “twelve or thirteen little edifices, at times supplied by one or other of the poor missionaries sent from the society.” Nearly all that had been gained by the Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania, where the “Venerable Society” had maintained at times forty-seven missionaries and twenty-four central stations, was wiped out by the Revolutionary War.7272 Tiffany, “Protestant Episcopal Church,” pp. 210-212, 220. In a few instances the work suffered from the unfit character of the missionaries. A more common fault was the vulgar proselyting spirit which appears in the missionaries’ reports (“Digest of S. P. G. Records,” pp. 12-79). A certain naïf insularity sometimes betrays itself in their incapacity to adapt themselves to their new-world surroundings. Brave and zealous Mr. Barton in Cumberland County recites a formidable list of sects into which the people are divided, and with unconscious humor recounts his efforts to introduce one sect more (ibid., p. 37). They could hardly understand that in crossing the ocean they did not bring with them the prerogatives of a national establishment, but were in a position of dissent from the existing establishments. “It grieved them that Church of England men should be stigmatized with the grim and horrid title of dissenters” (“The Making of Pennsylvania,” p. 192). One of the most pathetically amusing instances of the misfit of the Englishman in America is that of the Rev. Mr. Poyer at Jamaica, L. I. The meeting-house and glebe-lands that had been provided by the people of that parish for the use of themselves and their pastor were gotten, neither honorably nor lawfully, into the possession of the missionary of the “S. P. G.” and his scanty following, and held by him in spite of law and justice for twenty-five years. At last the owners of the property succeeded in evicting him by process of law. The victim of this persecution reported plaintively to the society his “great and almost continual contentions with the Independents in his parish.” The litigation had been over the salary settled for the minister of that parish, and also over the glebe-lands. But “by a late Tryal at Law he has lost them and the Church itself, of which his congregation has had the possession for twenty-five years.” The grievance went to the heart of his congregation, who bewail “the emperious behaviour of these our enemies, who stick not to call themselves the Established Church and us Dissenters” (“Digest of S. P. G. Records,” p. 61; Corwin, “Dutch Church,” pp. 104, 105, 126, 127).
Another great beginning that comes within the field of vision in the first four decades of the eighteenth century is the planting of the great national churches of Germany. We have observed the migration of the minor sects of Germany—so complete, in some cases, that the entire sect was transplanted, leaving no representative in the fatherland. In the mixed multitude of refugees from the Palatinate and other ravaged provinces were many belonging both to the Lutheran and to the Reformed churches, as well as some Catholics. But they were scattered as sheep having no shepherd. The German Lutheran and Reformed immigration was destined to attain by and by to enormous proportions; but so late was the considerable expansion of it, and so tardy and inefficient the attention given to this diaspora by the mother churches, that the classical organization of the Reformed Church dates only from 1747, and that of the Lutheran Church from 1760.7373 Dubbs, “Reformed Church,” p. 281; Jacobs, “The Lutherans,” p. 260. The beautiful career of the Moravians began in Pennsylvania so late as 1734. In general it may be said that the German-American church was affected only indirectly by the Great Awakening.
But the greatest in its consequences, both religious and political, of the great beginnings in the early part of the eighteenth century, was the first flow of the swelling tide of the Scotch-Irish immigration. Already, in 1669, an English Presbyterian, Matthew Hill, persuaded to the work by Richard Baxter, was ministering to “many of the Reformed religion” in Maryland; and in 1683 an appeal from them to the Irish presbytery of Laggan had brought over to their aid that sturdy and fearless man of God, Francis Makemie, whose successful defense in 1707, when unlawfully imprisoned in New York by that unsavory defender of the Anglican faith, Lord Cornbury, gave assurance of religious liberty to his communion throughout the colonies. In 1705 he was moderator of the first presbytery in America, numbering six ministers. At the end of twelve years the number of ministers, including accessions from New England, had grown to seventeen. But it was not until 1718 that this migration began in earnest. As early as 1725 James Logan, the Scotch-Irish-Quaker governor of Pennsylvania, speaking in the spirit of prophecy, declares that “it looks as if Ireland were to send all her inhabitants hither; if they continue to come they will make themselves proprietors of the province.” It was a broad-spread, rich alluvium superimposed upon earlier strata of immigration, out of which was to spring the sturdy growth of American Presbyterianism, as well as of other Christian organizations. But by 1730 it was only the turbid and feculent flood that was visible to most observers; the healthful and fruitful growth was yet to come.7474 R. E. Thompson, “The Presbyterian Churches,” pp. 22-29; S. S. Green, “The Scotch-Irish in America,” paper before the American Antiquarian Society, April, 1895. “The great bulk of the emigrants came to this country at two distinct periods of time: the first from 1718 to the middle of the century, the second from 1771 to 1773. . . . In consequence of the famine of 1740 and 1741, it is stated that for several years afterward 12,000 emigrants annually left Ulster for the American plantations; while from 1771 to 1773 the whole emigration from Ulster is estimated at 30,000, of whom 10,000 are weavers” (Green, p. 7). The companies that came to New England in 1718 were mainly absorbed by the Congregationalism of that region (Thompson, p. 15). The church founded in Boston by the Irish Presbyterians came in course of time to have for its pastor the eminent William Ellery Channing (Green, p. I I). Since the organization of the annual Scotch-Irish Congress in 1889, the literature of this subject has become copious. (See “Bibliographical Note” at the end of Mr. Green’s pamphlet.)
The colony of Georgia makes its appearance among the thirteen British colonies in America, in 1733, as one born out of due time. But no colony of all the thirteen had a more distinctly Christian origin than this. The foundations of other American commonwealths had been laid in faith and hope, but the ruling motive of the founding of Georgia was charity, and that is the greatest of these three. The spirit which dominated in the measures taken for the beginning of the enterprise was embodied in one of the most interesting personages of the dreary eighteenth century—General James Oglethorpe. His eventful life covered the greater part of the eighteenth century, but in some of the leading traits of his character and incidents of his career he was rather a man of the nineteenth. At the age of twenty-one he was already a veteran of the army of Prince Eugene, having served with honorable distinction on the staff of that great commander. Returning to England, in 1722 he entered Parliament, and soon attained what in that age was the almost solitary distinction of a social reformer. He procured the appointment of a special committee to investigate the condition of the debtors’ prisons; and the shocking revelations that ensued led to a beginning of reformation of the cruel and barbarous laws of England concerning imprisonment for debt. But being of the higher type of reformers, he was not content with such negative work. He cherished and elaborated a scheme that should open a new career for those whose ill success in life had subjected them to the pains and the ignominy due to criminals. It was primarily for such as these that he projected the colony of Georgia. But to a mind like his the victims of injustice in every land were objects of practical sympathy. His colony should be an asylum for sufferers from religious persecution from whatever quarter. The enterprise was organized avowedly as a work of charity. The territory was vested in trustees, who should receive no pay or emolument for their services. Oglethorpe himself gave his unpaid labor as military and civil head of the colony, declining to receive in return so much as a settler’s allotment of land. An appropriation of ten thousand pounds was made by Parliament for .the promotion of the work—the only government subsidy ever granted to an American colony. With eager and unselfish hopes of a noble service to be rendered to humanity, the generous soldier embarked with a picked company of one hundred and twenty emigrants, and on the 12th of February, 1733, landed at the foot of the bluff on which now stands the city of Savannah. The attractions of the genial climate and fertile soil, the liberal terms of invitation, and the splendid schemes of profitable industry were diligently advertised, and came to the knowledge of that noble young enthusiast, Zinzendorf, count and Moravian bishop, whose estate of Herrnhut in Lusatia had become an asylum for persecuted Christians; and missionary colonists of that Moravian church of which every member was a missionary, and companies of the exiled Salzburgers, the cruelty of whose sufferings aroused the universal indignation of Protestant Europe, were mingled with the unfortunates from English prisons in successive ship-loads of emigrants. One such ship’s company, among the earliest to be added to the new colony, included some mighty factors in the future church history of America and of the world. In February, 1736, a company of three hundred colonists, with Oglethorpe at their head, landed at Savannah. Among them was a reinforcement of twenty colonists for the Moravian settlement, with Bishop David Nitschmann, and young Charles Wesley, secretary to the governor, and his elder brother, John, now thirty-three years old, eager for the work of evangelizing the heathen Indians—an intensely narrow, ascetic, High-church ritualist and sacramentarian. The voyage was a memorable one in history. Amid the terrors of a perilous storm, Wesley, so liable to be lifted up with the pride that apes humility, was humbled as he contrasted the agitations of his own people with the cheerful faith and composure of his German shipmates; and soon after the landing he was touched with the primitive simplicity and beauty of the ordination service with which a pastor was set over the Moravian settlement by Bishop Nitschmann. During the twenty-two months of his service in Georgia, through the ascetic toils and privations which he inflicted on himself and tried to inflict on others, he seems as one whom the law has taken severely in hand to lead him to Christ. It was after his return from America., among the Moravians, first at London and afterward on a visit to Herrnhut, that he was “taught the way of the Lord more perfectly.”7575 The beautiful story of the processional progress of the Salzburg exiles across the continent of Europe is well told by Dr. Jacobs, “History of the Lutherans,” pp. 153-159, with a copious extract from Bancroft, vol. iii., which shows that that learned author did not distinguish the Salzburgers from the Moravians. The account of the ship’s company in the storm, in Dr. Jacobs’s tenth chapter, is full of interest. There is a pathetic probability in his suggestion that in the hymn “Jesus, lover of my soul,” we have Charles Wesley’s reminiscence of those scenes of peril and terror. For this episode in the church history of Georgia as seen from different points of view, see American Church History Series, vols. iv., v., vii., viii.
The three shipmates, the Wesleys and Bishop Nitschmann, did not remain long together. Nitschmann soon returned to Germany to lead a new colony of his brethren to Pennsylvania; Charles Wesley remained for four months at Frederica, and then recrossed the ocean, weary of the hardness of the people’s hearts; and, except for the painful and humiliating discipline which was preparing him to “take the whole world to be his parish,” it had been well for John Wesley if he had returned with his brother. Never did a really great and good man act more like a fool than he did in his Georgia mission. The priestly arrogance with which he attempted to enforce his crotchets of churchmanship on a mixed community in the edge of the wilderness culminated at last in his hurling the thunderbolts of excommunication at a girl who had jilted him, followed by his slipping away from the colony between two days, with an indictment for defamation on record against him, and his returning to London to resign to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel his commission as missionary. Just as he was landing, the ship was setting sail which bore to his deserted field his old Oxford friend and associate in “the Methodist Club,” George Whitefield, then just beginning the career of meteoric splendor which for thirty-two years dazzled the observers of both hemispheres. He landed in Savannah in May, 1738. This was the first of Whitefield’s work in America. But it was not the beginning of the Great Awakening. For many years there had been waiting and longing as of them that watch for the morning. At Raritan and New Brunswick, in New Jersey, and elsewhere, there had been prelusive gleams of dawn. And at Northampton, in December, 1734, Jonathan Edwards had seen the sudden daybreak and rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
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