Robert Baird, Religion in America, Or, An Account of the Origin, Progress, Relation to the State, and Present Condition of the Evangelical Churches in the United States: With Notices of the Unevangelical Denominations. New York: Harper, 1844. Google Books.

[99, of first generation of New Englanders] They could have maintained silent, personal, individual communion with their heavenly Father in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, or in Holland, as did some recluses in the monastic institutions of the earlier and Middle Ages. But they had no such purpose. Their Christianity was of a diffusive kind; their hearts yearned for opportunities of extending it. Religion with them was not only a concern between man and God, but one in which society at large had a great interest. Hence some fruits of this high and holy principle might be expected in the communities which they founded, and we not unreasonably desire to know how [100] the result corresponded with such excellent intentions. […]

This [1607-1660] This was the period in which those excellent men who either came over with the first colonies, or soon afterward joined them, laboured long, and very successfully, for the salvation of souls. [names several in Mass. Bay, Plymouth, Conn., New Haven, Va.] To these we must add Roger Williams, who was pastor, and, for a time, governor in Providence.

This was the golen Age of the colonial cycle. God poured out his Spriit in many places. Precious seasons were enjoyed by the churches in Boston, in Salem, in Plymouth, in Hartford, and in New-Haven. Nor were the labours of faithful men in Virginia without a rich blessing. Religion was felt to be the most important of blessings, both for the individual man and for the State. Revivals were highly prized, and earnestly sought; nor were they sought in vain. The journals of Governor Winthrop, and other good men of that day, present most interesting details in proof of this. America has seen more extensive, but never more unequivocal, works of grace, or more indubitable operations of the Spirit.

[ment. missions to “the aboriginal heathen”}

The commencement of the colonization of America was certainly auspicious for the cause of true religion.

[second, or “brazen age of the colonies, 1660-1720 — wars and rebellions, growing prosperity]

These causes concurring with the disastrous consequences of the union of Church and State already described, led to a great decline of vital Christianity, and although partial revivals took place, the all-pervading piety that characterized the first generation suffered a great diminution. The light of holiness gres faint and dim, and morality, in general, degenerated in a like degree. The Fathers had gone to the tomb, and were succeeded, upon the whole, [101] by inferior men.

[third period, 1720-1750] The Great Awakening, as it has been called, infused a new life into the churches, more especially in New-England, in certain parts of New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, and some other colonies, and its efforts were visible long afterward in many places. It is true that fanatical teachers did much mischief in several quarters by associating themselves with the work of God, and introducing their own unwarrantable measures, so as to rob it, in the end, of much of the glorious character that distinguished it at first. Yet it cannot be denied that it was a great blessing to the churches.


[53ff] John Winthrop, “one of the purest characters in England,” — founding of Mass. Bay Colony in 1630


[93 — Roger Williams]

Taught by persecution to examine how far human governments are authorized to legislate for the human mind, and to bind its faculties by their decisions, Williams soon perceived that a course was pursued in America which he could not but condemn as repugnant to the rights of conscience. Regarding all intolerance as sinful, he maintained that “the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience is most evidently and lamentably contrary to the doctrine of Jesus Christ.” The law required the attendance of every man at public worship; Williams pronouced this to be wrong, for to drag the unwilling to public worship looked like requiring hypocrisy. Not less did he oppose the law that taxed all men for the support of a system of religious worship with some might dislike and conscientiously disapprove. […] Public functionaries were to be taken only from among members of the Church; Williams argued that, with like propriety, “a doctor of physic, or a pilot, might be selected according to his skill in theology and his standing in the Church.” * In the end, Roger Williams was banished from the colony, and having retired to Narragansett Bay, there he became a Baptist, and founded what is now the state called Rhode Island. Absolute religious liberty was established there from the first. [Cited to Bancroft’s Hisotyr of the United States, 1.379]

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