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 towards universalism. A similar course of thought, but expressed with far higher literary skill, may be pursued in the writings of the Connecticut scholar Samuel Johnson (1696-1772), a graduate of Yale College in 1714, a disciple of George Berkeley when he came to Rhode Island in 1729 and, in 1754, the first head of King's College,1 New York. Especially does Johnson's Elementa Philosophica strike a balance between extremes. Like the Alciphron of Berkeley, to whom the Elements was dedicated, Johnson's work was directed against both fatalists and enthusiasts. The author's situation was logically fortunate. He was familiar with both “predestination and fanatical principles” and avoided the excesses of each. Brought up in Yale College, under the rigid Rector Clap, he came to dislike the severities of Puritanism. Acquainted with the ways of “that strange fellow Whitefield,” he was also opposed to the doctrines of grace, as preached in the revivals. Strict Calvinism, as he contended against Jonathan Dickinson, “reflects dishonour upon the best of Beings” ; while this “odd and unaccountable enthusiasm,” as he wrote to Berkeley, “rages like an epidemical frenzy” and, by dividing the dissenters, proves to them a source of weakness rather than of strength. Johnson's position was that of a moderate man. Add to that his cheerful and benevolent temper, and he appears one of the most attractive of the colonial thinkers. His education in Connecticut, his trip to England, his friendship with Benjamin Franklin, were all part and parcel of his training in letters. Educated at New Haven at a time when the old lights framed the policy of the college, Johnson, as he says in his autobiography, “after many scruples and an intolerable uneasiness of mind” went over to “that excellent church, the Church of England.” This change, which necessitated a public disavowal of his former faith, was due in large measure to browsing in forbidden fields. Before Johnson's graduation, some of the speculations and discoveries of Descartes, Boyle, Locke, and Newton had been heard in the Connecticut colony. But the young men were cautioned against these authors, as well as against a new philosophy which was attracting attention in England. The reason given was that the new thought would
1 Now Columbia University.
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