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itself a distinctive name in America, and called forth the zeal of New Lights" and "Old Lights in both continents. The development of this principle is the third broadly distinctive phase of the evolution of Christianity, the first phase being dogmatic, the second that of the great institutional church.
Bryce, Holy Roman Empire, 325 ff.
"... but (the Reformation) was also something more profound and fraught with mightier consequences than any of them. It was in its essence the assertion of the principle of individuality—that is to say, of true spiritual freedom. Hitherto the personal consciousness had been a faint and broken reflection of the universal, obedience had been held the first of religious duties; truth had been conceived as a something external and positive, which the priesthood who were its stewards were to communicate to the passive layman, and whose saving virtue lay not in its being felt and known by him to be truth, but in a purely formal and unreasoning acceptance. . The universal consciousness became the Visible Church: the Visible Church hardened into a government and degenerated into a hierarchy. . . . All this system of doctrine .. was suddenly rent in pieces by the convulsion of the Reformation, and flung away by the more religious and more progressive peoples of Europe. That which was external and concrete was in all things to be superseded by that which was inward and spiritual.
It was proclaimed that the individual spirit, while it continued to mirror itself in the world-spirit, had nevertheless an independent existence as a centre of self-issuing force, and was to be in all things active rather than passive. Truth was no longer to be truth to the soul until it should have been by the soul recognized and in some measure even created; but when so recognized and felt, it is able under the form of faith to transcend outward works and to transform the dogmas of the understanding; it becomes the living principle within each man's breast, infinite itself, and expressing itself infinitely through his thoughts and acts. He who as a spiritual being was delivered from the priest, and brought into direct relation with the Divinity, needed not, as heretofore, to be enrolled a member of a visible congregation of his fellows, that he might live a pure and useful life among them. Thus by the Reformation the Visible Church as well as the priesthood lost that paramount importance which had hitherto belonged to it, and sank from being the depositary of all religious tradition, the source and centre of religious life, the arbiter of eternal happiness or misery, into a mere association of Christian men, for the expression of mutual sympathy and the better attainment of certain common ends."
To that part of the Virginia people who then became Baptists, this vitalizing principle of religious life did not seem to be in the Established Church, which neglected them; nor among the Quakers, who had long since covered it over with the veil of that rigid informal formality which still parts them from their fellow-citizens; nor in Presbyterianism, with its intellectual demands of an elaborate creed. These people needed a distinctive symbol and a comparatively formless faith; they found the one in adult baptism by immersion, and the other in the wide compass of Bible teaching, wherein the devout and emotional soul finds what it seeks. Among them, accordingly, as Leland tells us, some "held to predestination, others to universal provision; some adhered to a confession of faith, others would have none but the Bible; some practised laying on of hands, others did not.' They agreed among themselves to disagree; and they held together in their churches.
Another cause of the rapid spread of Baptist doctrine and association was social." The Established Church was the rich man's church unworthily administered; the Quakers were exclusive. The plain, ignorant people would none of either of these, for their wants were not satisfied by them. They wanted an organization, a ministry, a preaching, responsive to their own manner of thought and to their
The Rev. Dr. S. D. McConnell, of Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn, read some years ago before the Contemporary Society of Philadelphia a valuable paper on "The Next Phase of Christianity," in which he maintained that the next or fourth phase of Christianity was the practical one of the religion of conduct, as distinguished from dogmatism, institutionalism, and personal religion.
Leland quoted by Hawks, Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia, 122.
"Tidewater Virginia, we must remember, was emphatically Cavalier Virginia.
"The great Cavalier exodus began with the King's execution in 1649, and probably slackened after 1660. It must have been a chief cause of the remarkable increase of the white population of Virginia from 15,000 in 1649 to 38,000 in 1670.” Fiske, ii, 16.
emotions. The Baptist organization supplied the demands of their thought and their emotion, and on a plane congenial to their habit of speech and of life. Now, social classes were sharply defined in Virginia in 1770, and the assertion by unlettered men of the right to think for themselves and to lead others was first ridiculed and then resented. After due allowance has been made for civil alarm and ecclesiastical jealousy, it seems certain that there was, during those early years and down into the practical beginnings of the Revolution, say in 1774-1775, a strong current of social · antagonism setting against the Baptists, and, of course, a corresponding feeling on the part of the Baptists for those hostile to them. Fristoe says, speaking of the years prior to 1774: "The cant word was they are an ignorant, illiterate set-and of the poor and contemptible class of the people." Born about 1748 in Stafford county, converted very early in life, preaching at nineteen, chosen moderator of his Association at twenty-six, Fristoe had lived through the struggle and seen its successful issue when, at sixty years of age, he published his book in 1808. The Rev. John Waller, so noted afterwards as a Baptist preacher, illustrates both phases of the situation; for as wild, "Swearing Jack Waller," the dissolute member of a well-known family, he was one of the Grand Jury that presented Lewis Craig for disturbing the peace by his preaching. Leland, probably the ablest man in the Baptist ministry in Virginia during the Revolution, comments with ill-concealed contempt in his "Virginia Chronicle" (p. 117), on the cropped heads of the Baptist men and the plain dress of the women; and Semple, speaking of Leland's call to the pastorate of Mount Poney Church in 1777, says: "The habits of the Baptists in New England and of those in Virginia respecting apparel were also much at variance. Mr. Leland and others adhered to the customs of New England, each one putting on such apparel as suited his own fancy. This was
56 Fristoe, History of Ketocton Association, 64.
offensive to some members of the Church. The contention on this account became so sharp that on the twenty-fifth of July, 1779, about twelve members dissented from the majority of the Church, and were of course excluded.'
The first attempts (1768-1769) to bring together the Regulars and the Separates were defeated by this matter of dress apparently. "Among the Separates, the objections raised by a few popular characters prevailed. They, it seems, thought the Regulars were not sufficiently particular in small matters, such as dress, etc.' So, too, in 1773, Elijah Craig and David Thomson, delegates from the General Association of Virginia to the Kehukee Association (August, 1773) in Halifax county, North Carolina, stated among objections "to a communion with them. . . . Secondly, they were, as they alleged, too superfluous in their dress; contending that excessive dress ought to be made a matter of church discipline." This reads like a chapter from Puritan England. Contrast it with what Semple says of the Baptists twenty years later, in 1792: "They were much more numerous and, of course, in the eyes of the world, more respectable. Besides, they were joined by persons of much greater weight in civil society. . . . This could not but influence their manners and spirit more or less. Accordingly, a great deal of that simplicity and plainness, that rigid scrupulosity about little matters, which so happily tends to keep us at a distance from greater follies, was laid aside."
Evidently we are dealing with a social upheaval as well as with a religious and political revolution. As this became plainer to the contemporary generation, more and more members of the well-to-do and intelligent classes began to join the Baptists, so that with the opening of the Revolution the attitude of the denomination before the public was already changed. The "cant word" that so vexed Fristoe was no longer true in the manner and to the ex
'Semple, 177-178. Semple, 45-46. Ibid., 349. Semple, 39.
tent that it had been. This change continued increasingly during the course of the war and left the Baptists at its close, as Semple says, "in the eyes of the world more respectable."
The economic cause was also at work; had been at work for years. That had been the mainspring in bringing about the victory in the famous "Parsons' Cause" in 1763, when all the laity of Virginia stood together as against the Establishment. The irritation from that old burden was intensified by the new theological antagonism. "To pay taxes," they said within themselves, "to a set of lazy parsons was hard to bear when a man was still in the bonds of iniquity; but for a man who had learned to dwell within the gates of Zion to pay taxes to this bastard brood of the Scarlet Woman, was abominable. The servants of the Lord who daily went in and out before them, ministering to their spiritual wants, received no worldly reward save as freewill offering; and yet they must feed fat these ravening wolves in sheep's clothing. It was intolerable."
It is perhaps not too much to say that the Virginia Baptists of 1774 deserve credit for not breaking out into the excesses of mob violence.
The Separate Baptists at first disapproved sternly of their ministers receiving any salary. This was the natural result of their religious enthusiasm and of their hostility to the salaried clergy. Its inconveniences were soon felt. Taylor repeats a pathetic story (taken from "The Baptist," Tenn., R. B. C. Howell, Editor), which "if not true is well found," of the pitiful condition to which a young farmer-preacher's zeal had reduced his family. They were found in a state of destitution by the famous Samuel Harriss, the very man who had denounced hireling ministers and who was responsible for this young preacher's conduct, but who now saw the error of his former opinion. J. B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers, 1st Series, 37.
The Maintenance of the Ministry.
As gospel ministers should not, if it can be helped, entangle themselves with the affairs of their life, but spend all their time in watching over and providing food for the flocks committed to their care, so it is most reasonable, that they should be supported as to temporal things, by those who enjoy their labors." Thomas, The Virginian Baptist, 25.
This Regular view is in sharp contrast to the early Separate view.