previous next

[52] The emphasis, it must be confessed, is now gone from his pages, and the singularity remains, a singularity little agreeable to the gust of today.

The party of conservatism numbered among its adherents every prominent minister of the greater churches. The organization propaganda of the Mathers spread widely, and in 1705 a group of men put forth a series of “Proposals” looking to a closer union of the churches, and greater control of the separate congregations by the ministerial association.1 Seven years later John Wise, pastor of the second church of Ipswich, published his Churches quarrel Espoused, and in 1717, his Vindication of the New England churches. The two works were a democratic counterblast to the Presbyterian propaganda, and stirred the thought of the churches so effectively as to nullify the Proposals, and put an end to all such agitation in Massachusetts.

Posterity has been too negligent of John Wise hitherto. Although possessed of the keenest mind and most trenchant pen of his generation of Americans, he was untainted by any itch of publicity, and so failed to challenge the attention of later times. Nevertheless, what we know of him is to his credit. An independent man, powerful of body, vigorous of intellect, tenacious of opinion, outspoken and fearless in debate, he seems to have understood the plain people whom he served, and he sympathized heartily with the democratic ideals then taking shape in the New England village. Some explanation of his democratic sympathies may be discovered in his antecedents. His father was a self-made man who had come over to Roxbury as an indented servant-most menial of stations in that old Carolinian world. There he doubtless taught his son independence and democratic self-respect, which stood John Wise in good stead when he later came to speak for the people against the arbitrary tax of Andros, the encroachments of the Mathers, or the schemes of the hard-money men.

When, in response to the challenge of the Presbyterians, he turned to examine critically the work of the fathers, he found in it quite another meaning than Cotton Mather found.

1 For an account of the movement, see Walker's History of the Congregational churches in the United States, pp. 201-213.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Wise (3)
William Walker (1)
Richard Mather (1)
Carolinian (1)
Edmund Andros (1)
Americans (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1717 AD (1)
1705 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: