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 of divinity in Harvard College. On his first visit to the colonies, Whitefield had made some unhappy remarks about the provincial universities as “abodes of darkness, a darkness which could be felt,” and about the collegians at Cambridge as “close Pharisees, resting on head knowledge.” On his second visit, he added insult to injury by saying that on account of these “unguarded expressions” a few “mistaken, misinformed, good old men were publishing half-penny testimonials against the Lord's Anointed.” The reference here is, among others, to Wigglesworth. The latter, in his reply, does not deign to defend the college against the charge of being a seminary of paganism, but proceeds to attack its defamer: first, because of his manners, next, because of his ways of making money, and lastly, because of the evil fruits of enthusiasm. He grants that an itinerant, who frequently moves from place to place, may have a considerable use in awakening his hearers from a dead and carnal frame. But while such an exhorter may have a manner which is very taking with the people, and a power to raise them to any degree of warmth he pleases, yet in thrusting himself into towns and parishes he destroys peace and order, extorts money from the people, and arouses that pernicious thing-enthusiasm. This attack was to be expected. The New England clergy, as chosen members of a close corporation, abhorred the disturbers of their professional etiquette and were alarmed at poachers upon their clerical preserves. It not only threatened their social pedestals but it touched their pockets to have these “new lights” taking the people from their work and business and leading them to despise their own ministers. This aspect of the Whitefield controversy shows that the causes of the opposition were largely social and economic, the same causes which worked-though in the other direction-in the opposition to the establishment of English episcopacy in the land. When the New England fathers had both “pence and power,” as Tom Paine would say, it was natural that they should not relish the loss of either, at the expense of high churchmen or low itinerants. But a cause deeper than the economic lay in this outraging of the spirit of the times. This was the age of reason, and the leaders of church and college
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