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A History of American Christianity by Bacon

The American Missionary Association


[247:1] "Life of David Bacon," by his son (Boston, 1876).

[249:1] Compare the claim of priority for the Dutch church, p. 81, _note_.

[250:1] J. H. Allen, "The Unitarians," p. 194.

[250:2] "Autobiography of L. Beecher," p. 110.

[252:1] "Herzog-Schaff Encyclopedia," pp. 2328-2331.

[255:1] "The Baptists," by Dr. A. H. Newman, pp. 379-442.

[255:2] I have omitted from this list of results in the direct line from the inception at Andover, in 1810, the American Missionary Association. It owed its origin, in 1846, to the dissatisfaction felt by a considerable number of the supporters of the American Board with the attitude of that institution on some of the questions arising incidentally to the antislavery discussion. Its foreign missions, never extensive, were transferred to other hands, at the close of the Civil War, that it might devote itself wholly to its great and successful work among "the oppressed races" at home.

[256:1] It may be worth considering how far the course of religious and theological thought would have been modified if the English New Testament had used these phrases instead of _World to Come_ and _Kingdom of God_.

[258:1] The colored Baptists

of Richmond entered eagerly into the Colonization project, and in 1822 their "African Missionary Society" sent out its mission to the young colony of Liberia. One of their missionaries was the Rev. Lott Cary, the dignity of whose character and career was an encouragement of his people in their highest aspirations, and a confirmation of the hopes of their friends (Newman, "The Baptists," p. 402; Gurley, "Life of Ashmun," pp. 147-160).

[260:1] Leonard Bacon, "A Plea for Africa," in the Park Street Church, Boston, July 4, 1824.



The transition from establishment to the voluntary system for the support of churches was made not without some difficulty, but with surprisingly little. In the South the established churches were practically dead before the laws establishing them were repealed and the endowments disposed of. In New York the Episcopalian churches were indeed depressed and discouraged by the ceasing of State support and official patronage; and inasmuch as these, with the subsidies of the "S. P. G.," had been their main reliance, it was inevitable that they should pass through a period of prostration until the appreciation of their large endowments, and the progress of immigration and of conversion from other sects, and especially the awakening of religious earnestness and of sectarian ambition.

In New England the transition to the voluntary system was more gradual. Not till 1818 in Connecticut, and in Massachusetts not till 1834, was the last strand of connection severed between the churches of the standing order and the state, and the churches left solely to their own resources. The exaltation and divine inspiration that had come to these churches with the revivals which from the end of the eighteenth century were never for a long time intermitted, and the example of the dissenting congregations, Baptist, Episcopalian, and Methodist, successfully self-supported among them, made it easy for them, notwithstanding the misgivings of many good men, not only to assume the entire burden of their own expenses, but with this to undertake and carry forward great and costly enterprises of charity reaching to the bounds of the country and of the inhabited earth. It is idle to claim that the American system is at no disadvantage in comparison with that which elsewhere prevails almost throughout Christendom; but it may be safely asserted that the danger that has been most emphasized as a warning against the voluntary system has not attended this system in America. The fear that a clergy supported by the free gifts of the people would prove subservient and truckling to the hand by which it is fed has been proved groundless. Of course there have been time-servers in the American ministry, as in every other; but flagrant instances of the abasement of a whole body of clergy before the power that holds the purse and controls promotion are to be sought in the old countries rather than the new. Even selfish motives would operate against this temptation, since it has often been demonstrated that the people will not sustain a ministry which it suspects of the vice of subserviency. The annals of no established church can show such unsparing fidelity of the ministry in rebuking the sins of people and of rulers in the name of the Lord, as that which has been, on the whole, characteristic of the Christian ministers of the United States.

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