Chapter II a

Presbyterian Church from 1705 to 1729

Founding Ministers of the PCUSA

In the preceding chapter, it was shown that the materials of the Presbyterian Church were, towards the close of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, widely scattered over the middle and southern States, and that these materials increased with great rapidity for a long series of years. It was shown also that a large proportion of all the emigrants who arrived in this country during that period, from Great Britain and the continent of Europe, were Calvinists in doctrine and Presbyterians in discipline. It was natural that the Puritans from New England who settled in the middle provinces should unite in ecclesiastical con nections with these European emigrants. These Puritans were all Calvinists; many of them were Presbyterians, and those who were Congregationalists were accustomed to a far different Platform from any now in force. They were familiar with the government of churches, by elders, differing little in their functions from those in the Presbyterian Church. Their Synods, especially in Connecticut, were clothed with the power, which at present would be considered as little short of Presbyterianism.

That the early Puritans were rigid Calvinists, no one has ventured to deny. Cotton Mather informs us that a gentleman in New England having published a book in which he attempted to prove “that Christ bore not our sins by God’s imputation, and therefore also did not bear the curse of the law for them, the General Court of Massachusetts (the supreme civil authority), concerned that the glorious truths of the Gospel might be rescued from the confusion whereinto the essay of this gentleman had thrown them, and afraid lest the church of God abroad should suspect that New England allowed such exorbitant aberrations, appointed Mr. Norton to draw up an answer to that erroneous treatise. This work he performed with a most elaborate and judicious pen, in a book afterwards published under the title, ‘A discussion of that great point in divinity, the sufferings of Christ; and the questions about his active and passive obedience, and the imputation thereof.’ In that book the true principles of the Gospel are stated, with so much demonstration, as is indeed unanswerable. The great assertion therein explained and maintained is, according to the express words of the reverend author, ‘that the Lord Jesus Christ, as God-man, and Mediator, recording to the will of the Father, and his own voluntary consent, fully obeyed the law, doing the command in the way of works, and suffering the essential punishment of the curse, in the way of satis faction unto Divine justice, thereby exactly fulfilling the first Covenant; which active and passive obedience of his, together with his original righteousness, as a surety, God, of his rich grace, actually imputeth unto believers; whom by the receipt thereof by the grace of faith, he declareth and accepteth as perfectly righteous, and acknowledgeth them to have a right unto eternal life.’ And in every clause of this position, the author expressed, not his own sense alone, but the sense of all the churches in the country; in testimony whereof there was published at the end of the book, an instrument signed by five considerable names, Cotton, Wilson, Mather, Symmes, and Thompson, who, in the name of others declare, ‘As they believe, they also profess, that the obedience of Christ to the whole law, which is the law of righteousness, is the matter of our justification; and the imputation of our sins to Christ, and thereupon his suffering the sense of the wrath of God upon him for our sins, and the imputation of his obedience to us, are the formal cause of our justification, and that they who deny this, do now take away both of these, both the matter and form of our justification, which is the life of our souls and of our religion, and therefore called the justification of life.’”

With men holding such opinions, Presbyterians might well unite. To what extent these doctrines have become obsolete in New England, it is not for us to say. Dr. Beecher, in relation to a cognate doctrine says, “Our Puritan fathers adhered to the doctrine of original sin, as consisting in the imputation of Adam’s sin, and in a hereditary depravity; and this continued to be the received doctrine of the churches of New England until after the time of Edwards. He adopted the views of the Reformers on the subject of original sin, as consisting in the imputation of Adam’s sin, and a depraved nature transmitted by descent. But after him, this mode of stating the subject was gradually changed, until long since, the prevailing doctrine in New England has been, that men are not guilty of Adam’s sin, and that depravity is not of the substance of the soul, nor an inherent physical quality, but is wholly voluntary, and consists in the transgression of the law, in such circumstances as constitutes accountability and desert of punishment.” It is not to be presumed that all the New England clergy would assent to the correctness of this representation of their rejecting the doctrines of the Puritans and of Edwards, any more than the advocates of those doctrines would assent to the correctness of the exposition here given of the doctrine of depravity. Still no one doubts, that there has been an extensive change of views in New England upon all these subjects; and that the doctrines which the early Puritans declared to be the life of their souls and of religion, are by very many rejected.

The change has been equally marked as it regards discipline. Elders have been long discarded from their churches. No Synod has been held in Massachusetts for more than a century. The Cambridge Platform has become a dead letter; and a system differing but little from independency, has taken the place of the original discipline of their churches. It would, therefore, be a great mistake to suppose that the New England people, who before the middle of the last century associated themselves with the Presbyterian Church, brought with them the views on doctrine and discipline, which, to so great an extent, now distinguish the church in that part of our country.

It is the object of the present chapter to ascertain and exhibit the character of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, during its forming period, that is, from 1704 or 1705 to 1729. For this purpose it will be necessary to ascertain, as far as possible, the origin of the several congregations of which the church was originally composed, and the origin and character of the members of the first Presbytery; to learn what standard of doctrine was assumed by them, and what form of government they instituted and administered. This latter point can, of course, best be learned from the record of their proceedings, by ascertaining what powers the Presbytery exercised over the churches, and over its own members; and what relation the Synod, after its formation, assumed to the Presbyteries and churches.

The first subject of investigation, then, is the origin of the early Presbyterian churches. It might be inferred from the statements in the preceding chapter that Presbyterian churches would be formed nearly cotemporaneously in various parts of the country. And such in fact was the case. In a letter written by the Presby tery of Philadelphia to that of Dublin, and dated 1710, it is said, “In all Virginia we have one small congregation on Elizabeth river, and some few families favoring our way in Rappahannoc and York; in Maryland four, in Pennsylvania five, in the Jerseys two, which bounds with some places in New York, make up all the bounds which we have any members from, and at present some of these are vacant.”

Of the church on Elizabeth River little is known. It seems from Commissary Blair’s report on the state of the church in Virginia, that it existed before the commencement of the last century. From the fact of Mr. Makemie’s directing in his will, that his dwelling-house and lot on Elizabeth River should be sold, it has been inferred that he had resided there before he moved to the opposite side of the Chesapeake, and that the church in question was gathered by him. If so, it must have been formed before 1690, for at that time Mr. Makemie was residing on the eastern shore. Others have supposed that the congregation was composed of a small company of Scotch emigrants, whose descendants are still to be found in the neighborhood of Norfolk. Though reported by the Presbytery, they seem to have had little connection with that body. The name of their pastor, the Rev. Mr. Macky, never appears on the minutes as a member.

It is not easy to reconcile altogether the statements given in the Presbyterial letter quoted above, with the facts recorded on the minutes. For example, it is said there were four churches in Maryland in connection with the Presbytery in 1710, whereas the minutes mention at least five. It is probable, however, that when two congregations were under the care of the same pastor, they were not counted separately. These congregations were Upper Marlborough, Snowhill, Rehoboth, Monokin, and Wicomico. The first of these was formed by a company of Scotch emigrants, who came to this country with their pastor, Rev. Nathaniel Taylor, about the year 1690. The other four churches were in Somerset county, on the eastern shore, and were the fruits of Mr. Makemie’s labors. Of this there can be no reasonable doubt, as his memory is still cherished among them, and as there is neither tradition nor record of any other Presbyterian minister in that district at the date of their formation. Of Snowhill, Mr. Spence gives the following account: “A town to be called Snowhill, was established in Somerset, now Worcester county, by an act of the provincial legislature, passed in 1684, and I believe,” he adds, “that the Presbyterian church in that place is nearly or quite as old as the town. Snowhill was settled by English Episcopalians, and Scotch and Irish Presbyterians; and it is certain that persons resided there at the time, or soon after the time in which the town was laid out, who were afterwards members of the Presbyterian church. My ancestor, to whom I have already alluded, was a ruling elder in that church.” Of this family of churches Rehoboth is commonly considered to be the eldest. It consisted originally of English dissenters. Their first pastor was the Rev. Mr. Makemie, who, in his will, directs his executrix “to make over and alienate the lot on which the meeting-house is built, in an ample manner, to all intents and purposes, as shall be required for the ends and uses of a Presbyterian congregation, as if I were personally present, and to their successors for ever, and to none else but to such as are of the same persuasion in matters of religion.” It may be inferred from the terms of this bequest, and from the character of its founder, that this church was strictly Presbyterian—a point which, it is believed, has never been disputed. The congregations of Monokin and Wicomico were under the pastoral care of Mr. McNish, and were organized before 1705, the date of his application to the court for permission to preach. It can hardly be presumed that these five Presbyterian congregations with distinct church edifices, some of them within fifteen miles of each other, could, at so early a period, and in so thinly settled a part of the country, have been formed in a few years. And as they all existed prior to 1705, and as Mr. Makemie had resided and labored in that district for near twenty years before that date, it is altogether probable that several of them were formed before the commencement of the last century. That they were all Presbyterian churches never has been questioned. As early as 1723, as appears from a recorded deed, the church at Monokin had eight elders.

The Presbytery state in their letter that they had five congregations in Pennsylvania in 1710. The minutes, however, furnish the names of the following places, viz. Philadelphia, Neshaminy, Welsh Tract, New Castle, White Clay, Apoquinimi, and Lewes. Welsh Tract is first mentioned in the following minute, 1710: “Upon information that David Evans, a lay-person, had taken upon himself publicly to teach or preach among the Welsh in the Great Valley, Chester county, it was unanimously agreed that the said Evans had done very ill, and acted irregularly, in thus invading the work of the ministry, and was thereupon censured.” It may be inferred from this, that Mr. Evans was in some way connected with the Presbytery, but not that there was a church already organized among the Welsh. White Clay Creek, New Castle, and Apoquinimi were associated, as appears from the following record made in 1709: “Ordered that Mr. Wilson (pastor of New Castle) preach at Apoquinimi once a month upon a week-day, and one Sabbath in a quarter till the aforesaid meeting, provided always that the Sabbath-day’s sermon be taken from the White Clay Creek people their time.” These three places of preaching, therefore, were probably numbered as one congregation in the Presbytery’s letter.

The first church in Philadelphia was organized about 1698. A number of English and Welsh dissenters, together with some French Protestants, had for some time been accustomed to assemble for religious worship, in connection with a few Baptists, in a store house at the corner of Chestnut and Second streets, belonging to the Barbados Company. Neither party had a settled pastor, but the Rev. Mr. Watts, a Baptist minister of Pennepek, had agreed to preach for them every other Lord’s day. This gentleman says is his narrative, “that divers of the persons who came to that assembly were Presbyterians in judgment, they having no minis ter of their own, and we having hitherto made no scruple of hold ing communion with them in the public worship of God.” The Presbyterians, probably finding themselves unpleasantly situated, determined upon calling a minister, and invited the Rev. Jedediah Andrews, from Boston, who accepted their invitation, and arrived in Philadelphia in 1698. Shortly after his arrival, dissensions arose between the Baptists and Presbyterians, which resulted in their separation. The former withdrew, leaving the latter in pos session of the storehouse, where they continued to worship until 1704, when they removed to a new meeting-house on Market Street.1

The congregation at Neshaminy was a Dutch Presbyterian church. Their pastor was the Rev. Mr. Van Cleck, from Holland, and the letter addressed to them by the Presbytery is directed to the “Dutch people.” That they were regularly organized is evident from a minute recorded in 1711, which states that Mr. Van Cleck’s absence from Presbytery was accounted for “by one of his elders, sent for that purpose.”

In the manuscript history of the church in New Castle, it is stated that the first account of a Presbyterian congregation in that town is about 1704, at which time the Rev. Mr. Wilson was the pastor. August 15, 1707, a deed for a lot of land was made to certain persons in trust “for the use of the Presbyterian congregation in New Castle, on which they were to build a house for public worship.” The church at Lewes was organized about the same time, though no record goes further back than 1708.

The two congregations in Jersey were Freehold and Woodbridge. The former was constituted principally by emigrants from Scotland about 1692. Their place of worship was long known as the “Scotch meeting-house.” It was mentioned in the preceding chapter that Woodbridge was settled partly by the Scotch, and partly by emigrants from New England. The congregation is first mentioned as in connection with the Presbytery, in a letter dated May 1708. In that letter, which is addressed to several New England clergymen, the Presbytery say, “We find by divers letters which have passed between you and sundry persons in Woodbridge, that you are not unacquainted with the confusions and distractions arising from the accession of Mr. Wade to be the minister of that town, and the aversion of a considerable part of the people to the accepting of him as such.” It is probable that it was the Scottish portion of the congregation that was opposed to Mr. Wade, as the first healing measure proposed by the Presby tery was that Mr. Boyd, the Scotch clergyman of Freehold, should preach every third Sabbath in Woodbridge; and Mr. Wade’s accession to the Presbytery in 1710 was with the view of reconciling the disaffected portion of his people. Whatever may have been the ground of the opposition, it came from the majority of the congregation.2

Besides the churches in connection with the Presbytery of Philadelphia, there were several others organized at an early date in various parts of the country. In his History of South Carolina, Dr. Ramsay says, “The Presbyterians formed congregations, not only in Charleston, but in three of the maritime islands, and at Wilton, Jacksonborough, Indian-land, Port-royal, and Williamsburg.”3 And again, “The Presbyterians were among the first settlers, and were always numerous in South Carolina. Their ministers in the maritime districts were mostly from Scotland and Ireland, men of good education, orderly in their conduct, and devoted to the systems of doctrine and government established in Scotland. In conjunction with them the Independents or Congregationalists were formed into a church in Charleston about the year 1690, and after being about forty years united, they separated and formed different churches. Rev. Archibald Stobs took charge of the church in the autumn of 1700, and the Rev. William Living ston in 1704.” The Presbytery of Charleston, he says, “was constituted at an early period of the 18th century, agreeably to the principles and practice of the Church of Scotland.” The distance of these southern churches from those about Philadelphia, and the difficulty of communication, sufficiently account for there being no connection between them. A union did not take place until the year 1800, when the Presbytery of Charleston connected itself with the Synod of Carolina.

Episcopal party to the whole______________4¼ to 10

Presbyterian party (including the French who retain their own discipline) to the whole________4½ to 10

Anabaptists to the whole_______________1 to 10

Quakers to the whole________________¼ to 10.”

What “the some places in New York” were, whence the Pres bytery had members, as stated in their letter of 1710, does not appear from the minutes. No minister, congregation, or elder, is there spoken of as belonging to that province. There were indeed Presbyterians in the city of New York, as early as 1707, who had principally emigrated from Great Britain and Ireland, but they were so few that they had neither a church to worship in, nor a minister to lead their worship. The congregation was organized, and Mr. Anderson called as their pastor in 1717. The church in Jamaica appears to have become connected with the Presbytery in 1712, that of Newtown in 1715, that of Southampton in 1716.

Several of the churches mentioned as belonging to the Presbytery in 1710 were not in connection with that body at the time of its organization. This was the case in regard to Neshaminy, the Welsh Tract, and Woodbridge. Of the remainder, it appears from the preceding account, that the four or five in Maryland were strictly Presbyterian. Those in Pennsylvania were all composed predomi nantly of Scotch and Irish Presbyterians, except the first church in Philadelphia. This appears from the statement of Mr. Blair, that “all our congregations in Pennsylvania, except two or three, chiefly are made up of people from that kingdom,” i.e., Ireland. This was written in 1744, when the Dutch congregation of Neshaminy, two Welsh congregations in the valley, besides the mixed church in Philadelphia, had long been connected with the Presby tery. The two or three exceptions, therefore, are accounted for; the remainder, which includes all the original churches, except that of Philadelphia, were, according to Mr. Blair, composed principally of Irish Presbyterians. There were, doubtless, a good many Dutch and Swedes included in the congregations in the lower counties on the Delaware, as they were the earliest and principal settlers of those counties, and as the names of church members occurring on the minutes would also seem to intimate. In Jersey, the church in Freehold was the only one at first belonging to the Presbytery. As far as can be ascertained, therefore, the congregations connected with the Presbytery at the time of its formation were all strictly Presbyterian, unless the First Church in Philadelphia be considered an exception. Up to 1710, the only Presbyterian church in which there was an appreciable number of New England men, was Woodbridge, and that, unfortunately, gave the Presbytery more trouble than all the rest put together. This, however, appears to have arisen quite as much, to say the least, from the character of the minister, as from that of the people.4 As far then as the character of the original congregations is concerned, it would be difficult to find any church more homogeneous in its materials than our own, certainly not the church of Scotland and certainly not the churches of New England. The former contained, proportionably, more members inclined to Episcopacy, and the latter more inclined to Presbyterianism, than were to be found in our church inclined to Congregationalism.

The Rev. Francis Makemie, who is often spoken of as the father of our church, was settled in Accomac county, Virginia, anterior to the year 1690, when his name first appears upon the county re­cords. According to some accounts he was a native of Scotland—according to Mr. Spence, of the North of Ireland. Mr. Spence thinks that he was ordained by the Presbytery of Donegal. It is certain, however, that he came to this country an ordained minister, and was “in principle and upon conviction, a thorough Presbyterian.” He is represented as having been “a venerable and im posing character, distinguished for piety, learning, and much steady resolution and perseverance.” His successful labors in the eastern shore of Maryland, his imprisonment in New York for preaching in that city, and his able defense upon his trial, are familiarly known to the public. He died in 1708, leaving a large estate. In 1701, he went to Europe and returned the following year, accompanied by two Presbyterian ministers from Ireland, Messrs. Hampton and McNish. The former became the pastor of Snowhill, the latter of Monokin and Wicomico, in the first instance, but removed in 1712 to Jamaica, upon Long Island.

It is probable that the Rev. Samuel Davis was another of the ministers whom Mr. Makemie, during his last visit to Europe, induced to come to this country. The scene of his labors, from 1705 or 1706 onwards, was the churches planted by Mr. Makemie, or those in their immediate vicinity. He was appointed to take part in the installation of Mr. Hampton, at Snowhill, in con nection with Mr. McNish. And subsequently he was associated in another service with Mr. Hampton and Mr. Henry. It appears from the minutes of 1715 that he had for some time been fixed at Lewes or its neighborhood, as the people applied to have another minister, as Mr. Davis could not take the pastoral charge of the congregation. He finally succeeded Mr. Hampton as minister of Snowhill. All these circumstances connect him with the churches in the peninsula, all whose ministers—Makemie, Hampton, McNish, Henry, Clement, Steward, Thompson—were from Scotland or Ire land. If Davis was not, he is the only exception. In the absence of all evidence to the contrary, or of any circumstance connecting him with New England, it is in the highest degree probable that he had the same origin with his associates.

Mr. Nathaniel Taylor, as stated in the preceding chapter, was a minister from Scotland, who came to this country with his congregation and settled in Upper Marlborough about 1690. Mr. John Wilson was the pastor of the church in New Castle. As he died in 1708, there are few memorials of him now preserved. That he was from Scotland may be inferred not only from the place of his labors and his associates, but from his being appointed to conduct the cor respondence with that country. It was natural that those members of the Presbytery, who came from Scotland or Ireland, should be designated to write, as occasion required, to the places whence they came. This natural rule, it is evident from the minutes, was actually adopted. Mr. Andrews was the great penman of the Presbytery, and, as he lived in Philadelphia and kept the books, a great part of the burden of conducting the correspondence of the body, which was no slight matter, was devolved upon him. Yet it is believed there is no instance in the early minutes of his being appointed to write to either Scotland or Ireland. This duty was assigned to Makemie, Wilson, Anderson, Gillespie, Henry. As all these are known to have been Scotch or Irish, it is hardly to be doubted, as there is not the slightest evidence to the contrary, that Mr. Wilson was also. Mr. John Boyd, the minister of Freehold, who became a member of the Presbytery in 1706, was also a native of Scotland.

As far then as can be ascertained, all the original members of the Presbytery were either Scotch or Irish, except Mr. Andrews. As this gentleman was among the first, so he was one of the most laborious and useful members of the Presbytery. All the minutes, both of the Presbytery and Synod, for a long series of years, are in his handwriting. He was also the treasurer of the Synod, and seems to have been one of its most punctual and active members. He was probably a moderate man. His name never appears at tached to any protest or counter-protest, and he says he was often instrumental in healing differences between the brethren of conflicting views. He did not join in the protest excluding the New Brunswick Presbytery from the Synod, at the time of the schism, though he adhered to the “old-side” throughout, and took part in all their ulterior measures.

So much stress has been laid upon the origin of the founders of our church, and is in reality due to it, that the preceding investi gation cannot be deemed superfluous. If all, or any large proportion of them, had been previously Congregationalists, the presumption would undoubtedly be that the form of government which they instituted was more or less allied to Congregationalism. And, on the other hand, if they were all, with one exception, Scotch or Irish Presbyterians, the presumption is equally strong that the system which they adopted was in accordance with that to which they had been accustomed. It is, however, but a presumption in either case. The decisive evidence must be sought in their declarations and acts.

The increase of the church after the organization of the Presby tery was rapid, and arose principally from the constant immigration of Presbyterians, ministers as well as people, from abroad, and from the organization of those already scattered through the coun try. In 1707, the number of ministers was eight, all but one from Scotland or Ireland. In 1716, the whole number was twenty-five, of whom seventeen were still living and in connection with the Presbytery. In that year it was determined to form four Presbyteries, the first to consist of the following members: viz. Messrs. Andrews, Jones, Powell, Orr, Bradner, and Morgan, and to meet at Philadelphia or elsewhere; the second of Messrs. Anderson, Magill, Gillespie, Wotherspoon, Evans, and Conn, to meet at New Castle; the third to consist of Messrs. Davis, Hampton, and Henry, to meet at Snowhill; and the fourth of Messrs. Mc Nish and Pumry, on Long Island, who were directed to endeavor to induce some of the neighboring ministers to associate with them in forming a Presbytery. The Presbytery of Snowhill does not appear ever to have met. Most of its members became attached to that of New Castle. Of the above seventeen ministers, Mr. Andrews and Mr. Pumry are the only two of whom there is any evidence that they were from New England, and the latter had joined the Presbytery the preceding year. Almost the whole amount of New England influence, therefore, in the Presbytery, from the time it was formed until after the constitution of the Synod, rests with Mr. Andrews. Of the two other New England members, Mr. Smith never met the Presbytery but once, and Mr. Wade but twice.5

From 1716 to 1729, the proportion of New England ministers was considerably increased; several of the most prominent and useful members of the Synod were from that section of the country. They formed, in 1728, from a fourth to a third of the whole body. This review shows the great injustice of representing the Scotch and Irish members as mere intruders, and the New England or Congregational portion as the true original Presbyterian Church. As far as the character of the body may be inferred from that of its founders, it was a purely Presbyterian church from the beginning. It was not founded upon Congregationalism, nor by Congregationalists. It was founded by Presbyterians, and upon Presbyterian principles, and those who subsequently joined it, joined it as a Presbyterian body. Mr. Andrews was the only minister from New England who had any permanent connection with the church before 1715, and he so far from being a Congregationalist, was an “old-side” Presbyterian. Of the six or seven additional New England members who joined the Synod before 1729, some were among the strictest Presbyterians of the whole body, and not one of them was either a Congregationalist or inclined to Congregationalism, if any dependence is to be placed upon their declarations or acts.

Having taken this view of the origin of the Presbyterian Church during its forming period, in order to ascertain its character, as far as it may be inferred from the materials of which it was composed, it is time to inquire more particularly into its doctrines and disci pline during the same period. As it regards doctrines, the point to be ascertained is whether the Presbyterian church was a Calvinistic body, and required adherence to that system of doctrine as a condition of ministerial communion, or whether it demanded nothing more than assent to the essential doctrines of the gospel. The latter position, as was shown in the introductory chapter, has been unequivocally assumed. That this assumption is incorrect, and that our church has from the beginning required adherence to Calvinism as a condition of ministerial communion, can be made very clearly to appear. It is admitted that the Presbytery required of its mem bers what it considered soundness in the faith, or orthodoxy. The only question then is, what was orthodoxy, in the estimation of the founders of our church? Was it faith in the essential doctrines of the gospel? Or was it faith in that system of doctrines, which, for convenience’ sake, has obtained the name of Calvinism? This is the only important question. The method which they adopted to decide upon the orthodoxy of a member is of very subordinate con sequence. Whether it was by personal examination, by satisfactory testimonials, or by assent to a prescribed formula of doctrines, is comparatively of but little moment. The question is, what they did require? Not, how did they satisfy themselves? It seems a matter of supererogation to prove that men educated towards the close of the seventeenth, or the beginning of the eighteenth century, in Scotland, Ireland, or New England, regarded Calvinism as the true doctrine of the Scriptures, and considered any essential deviation from it as a disqualification for the work of the ministry. Is the faith of the church of Scotland at that period a matter of doubt? Was she not still reeking with the blood of her children, martyrs for her faith and discipline? Were men who had suffered so much in their own persons, or in those of their friends, for Presbyterian ism, likely to cast it away, the moment they got to a place of perfect security? It has never yet been made a question, what was the faith of the Puritans who first settled New England, or what was the standard of orthodoxy among her churches. No one has ventured to assert that Christianity, in the general adherence to doctrines absolutely fundamental, was all that was there required of ministers of the gospel. And why not? Not because there is documentary evidence that every candidate for ordination was required to sign a particular formula, but because the opinions of those Puritans are a matter of notoriety. Their opinions, however, were neither more pronounced, nor more notorious than those of the churches of Scotland or Ireland. Why then should it be assumed that the ministers of the latter were so latitudinarian, as soon as they reached this country, when no such assumption is made with regard to the former?

It is to be remembered that the great majority of the early minis ters of our church were either ordained or licensed before they be came connected with it. The very testimonials which they brought with them, if they came from Scotland or Ireland, stated explicitly that they had adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith; if they came from New England, they brought evidence of their Calvinism just as unequivocal. No doubt could be entertained what was meant by “orthodoxy,” in certificates given by men who expressed so much alarm lest “the churches of God should suspect that New England allowed such exorbitant aberrations” as the denial that Christ bore the penalty of the law. It was just as natural, and as much a mat ter of course, for the Presbytery of Philadelphia to receive with confidence men coming from the Scotch and Irish Presbyteries, as it is for one of our Presbyteries to receive the members of another. The moment, however, it was discovered that these certificates deceived them, they began to adopt other methods to ascertain the Calvinism of those whom they admitted.

The single consideration, then, that all the early ministers of our church came from places where Calvinism not only prevailed, but where it was strenuously insisted upon, is, in the absence of all evidence to the contrary, sufficient to prove that they were not so sin gular, or so much in advance of the spirit of their age, as to bring down their demands to the low standard of absolutely essential doctrines. It is not, however, merely the origin, but the known opin ions of these ministers, which are relied upon to prove the Calvinistic character of our church. There is not a single minister, whose sentiments are known at all, who was admitted to the church, or allowed to remain in it during the period under review, who is not known to have been not only a Calvinist, but a rigid one. This was the case with the members of the strict Presbytery of New Castle, the men who are now reproached for sectarian bigotry for their zeal for this very subject. It was the case with Jonathan Dickinson, Gilbert Tennent, and every other minister connected with the church before 1729, who has left any memorials of his opinions. It is contrary to all experience, and to the principles of human nature, that men, who have been accustomed to one standard of doctrines, should suddenly lower their demands, unless they themselves were disaffected towards those doctrines.

Another evidence of the Calvinistic character of our church may be found in the circumstances attending the reception of the Rev. William Tennent in 1718. That gentleman had been episcopally ordained in Ireland, but on coming to this country, applied to be received as a member of the Synod of Philadelphia. That body required him to state in writing the reasons of his dissent from the Episcopal church. One of the most prominent of those reasons was that the church of Ireland connived “at Arminian doctrines.” Are we then to believe that Mr. Tennent left one church because it connived at Arminianism, to join another which tolerated Pelagian ism, nay, that required nothing more than assent to the absolutely essential doctrines of the Gospel? Surely the Synod would have had too much self-respect to insert in their minutes a document charging it as a crime upon a sister church, that she connived at Arminianism, if they themselves did the same, and more.

  1. Hazard’s MS. History. Dr. Jackson, who, thirty years ago, was one of the oldest members of the Market street congregation, gave Mr. Hazard the following account of the origin of the First Church. “A number of English dissenters, Welsh people, and French Huguenots, that had been banished for their attachment to what were called Puritanical principles, not being satisfied with the Episcopal persuasion (of which denomination there was already a congregation in the city), united in calling the Rev. Jedediah Andrews, from Boston, or some part of New England. Accordingly, in 1701, the Rev. Mr. Andrews settled in Philadelphia. In 1704, a small Presbyterian church was raised in Market Street between Second and Third streets. Mr. John Snowden, tanner, and Mr. Wm. Gray, baker, were elders connected with Mr. Andrews. In process of time the society was greatly augmented as to numbers by emigrants from Ireland.” Mr. Andrews’ elder, as given in the minutes of Presbytery, was Mr. Joseph Yard, whose name appears without intermission for ten years. Dr. Hill says, “that the records of the First Church in Philadelphia, which Mr. Andrews organized in 1701, and served to his death, in the year 1747, and even after that time till 1770, show that the church was managed by the minister and committee-men alone, without what we would call an eldership or a session at all. In the year 1770, they chose a bench of elders, who were to serve but one year, and to sit and act conjointly with the committee in managing their ecclesiastical affairs.” (Sketches, No. 8.) Mr. Spence, whose Letters are repeatedly and strongly recommended by Dr. Hill, is unwilling to allow the First Church in Philadelphia to have been Presbyterian at all. He says, “It was an association of Congregationalists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, and their minister was a preacher of the Baptist persuasion. Was that a regularly constituted Presbyterian church? I cannot consider any congregation organized as regularly Presbyterian, unless constituted according to the principles of that form of government adopted by an act of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, on the 10th day of February, 1645…The Kirk of Scotland, so far as human arrangement is concerned, is certainly the mother of the Irish and American churches, and to be a Presbyterian church, her principles of government must be adopted.” (p. 87.) Mr. Spence’s zeal for the priority of the Maryland churches carries him too far. The First Church in Philadelphia was not a motley collection of Presbyterians and Baptists. The two parties separated and formed distinct congregations after Mr. Andrews’ arrival. Irish Presbyterians soon constituted a large, if not a predominant part of the congregation, and the people, and all their early pastors, Andrews, Cross, and Ewing, especially the two latter, were through evil and through good report, “old-side” men, strenuous to a fault. 

  2. In the letter just quoted it is said, “a considerable part of the people” were opposed to Mr. Wade. In another letter they speak of “ a great part of the people” as being opposed to him; and in the minutes for 1712, it is said that he acted in opposition “to the greatest part of the people:” Besides the two congregations in New Jersey, mentioned in the text, there was a third which had some connection with the Presbytery as early as 1708. In that year a request was presented from the people of Cohanzy that Mr. Smith should be ordained as their pastor. This request was granted, and in 1709 Mr. Smith appears as a member of the Presbytery. In the same year, however, he is spoken of as going to New England. The congregation is not mentioned again until 1712, when they presented another petition to the Presbytery, and a letter was written to them. In 1714, the Rev. Howell Powell, a member of the Presbytery, became their pastor, and their connection with that body was thus established. The whole country before the Revolution, about the Cohanzy river, Cumberland county, New Jersey, was called by that name; but the congregation so designated upon our minutes must have been the one which is now called Fairfield, as what is called Cohanzy in the early minutes is called Fairfield in the minute relating to their pastor, Rev. Henry Hook, made in 1722. This congregation had its origin from Connecticut, as appears from a law passed in 1697, which enacts, “that the tract of land in Cohanzy, purchased by several people lately inhabitants from Fairfield in New England, from and after the date hereof, be erected into a township and be called Fairfield.” … The people of Maidenhead and Hopewell, West Jersey, are also mentioned in the minutes as early as 1709, when Mr. Smith was directed to preach to them on his way to or from New England. In 1711, they applied to the Presbytery for assistance in obtaining a pastor. 

  3. Mr. Hazard’s MSS. contain the following extract from a “Letter from South Carolina,” published in London, 1732 (second edition), but dated, “Charleston, June 1, 1710.” “There are eight ministers of the Church of England; three French Protestant churches, whereof two of their ministers have lately proselyted to the church; five of British Presbyterians; one of Anabaptists; and a small number of Quakers. The ministers of the Church Of England have each £100 paid out of the public treasury, besides contributions and perquisites from their parishioners. The other ministers are maintained by voluntary subscriptions. The proportions which the several parties in religion do bear to each other, and to the whole, are at present as follows: 

  4. It is evident that the opposition to Mr. W. was not made on ecclesiastical grounds exclusively. The Presbytery in their letter to the people in Woodbridge, announcing his accession to their body, say, “Nothing appearing against him sufficiently attested, we judged it unjust to deny his desire.” In the fol lowing year, 1711, they say, “Diverses of the people of Woodbridge appeared, some for and some against Mr. Wade, and grievous scandals were charged against him, against which he made the best vindication he could, but not so good but that we thought it convenient to advise him to demit his pastoral re lation to the whole people of Woodbridge.” (See letter to Cotton Mather.) In the same letter the Presbytery accused him of having violated his promise to them. Wearied out by these contentions and misconduct, they at last, in 1712, authoritatively dismissed him, and appointed Mr. Gillespie to supply the congregation. There was every prospect of the people uniting in him, when Mr. Wade returned from Boston, bringing a letter from Dr. Mather, in which he recommended a Mr. Wiswall for their pastor. This renewed the contention, come declaring for that gentleman, and some for Mr. Gillespie. It was to re monstrate with Dr. Mather for this unfortunate interference, and to beg him to use his influence with the New England portion of the people, to unite in settling Mr. Gillespie, that the above quoted letter was written. This the Doctor appears to have done, though not with much effect, as Mr. Gillespie soon left the place. Within a year or two, Mr. John Pierson took charge of the congregation, and things went on smoothly, which seems to show that the opposition to Mr. Wade was something more than opposition to New England men. The next subject of inquiry is the character of the ministers of which the Presbytery was at first composed. The original members, as far as can be ascertained from the minutes, were Messrs. Francis Makemie, Jedediah Andrews, George McNish, John Wilson, Nathaniel Taylor, and Samuel Davis. To these may be added John Boyd, who became a member by ordination in 1706. Of the original members of the Presbytery, Mr. Hazard says, “It is probable that all, except Mr. Andrews, were foreigners by birth, and that they were ordained to the gospel ministry in Scotland and Ireland.” The correctness of this statement can be proved by documentary evidence in regard to most of these gentlemen, and by the strongest circumstantial evidence with regard to the others. 

  5. It is very difficult, after such a lapse of time, to ascertain the origin of the different members of the Presbytery. The following notices contain all the information which the writer, after a good deal of search, has been able to obtain.
    • Presbytery of Philadelphia
    • § Mr. Andrews, known to have been from Boston, a graduate of Harvard College and pastor of the First Church, Philadelphia.

      § Rev. Malachi Jones, pastor of the church at Abingdon, admitted to the Presbytery as an ordained minister in 1714. He was from Wales, as appears from a letter of Mr. Andrews to Dr. Colman of Boston.

      § Rev. Howell Powell, pastor of the Cohanzy church, was received as an or dained minister in 1713, and was directed to obtain further testimonials from his friends in England. He therefore was probably English or Welsh.

      § Rev. Robert Orr, pastor of the congregations of Maidenhead and Hopewell, New Jersey, afterwards a member of the Presbytery of Donegal; was received as a licentiate, and ordained by the Presbytery in 1715.

      § Rev. John Bradner, pastor, first of Cape May, afterwards of Goshen, New York; was ordained by the Presbytery in 1714. It is stated in MS history of Goshen that he was from Scotland.

      § Rev. Joseph Morgan, settled first at Freehold, and then at Maidenhead and Hopewell; was admitted as an ordained minister in 1710. He was probably from Great Britain.

    • Presbytery of New Castle (and Snowhill)
    • § Rev. James Anderson, settled first in New Castle, afterwards in New York, and finally in Donegal; was an ordained minister from the Presbytery of Irvine in Scotland; came to this country in 1709, and was received into the Presbytery in 1710. See Dr. Miller’s Life of Dr. Rodgers.

      § Rev. Daniel Magill, in the first instance pastor of the church at Patuxent or Upper Marlborough; was sent out at their request by one of the Presbyteries in Scotland, as is stated in the MS history of that church, and received into the Presbytery in 1710.

      § Rev. George Gillespie, first settled at White Clay creek near New Castle; was received as a licentiate from the Presbytery of Glasgow in 1712.

      § Rev. David Evans, pastor of the congregation on the Welsh Tract, ordained by the Presbytery in 1714.

      § Rev. Robert Wotherspoon, first settled at Apoquinimi, near New Castle, was received as a licentiate and ordained by the Presbytery in 1714. He was probably from Scotland.

      § Rev. Hugh Conn, settled in Baltimore county, Maryland, received as a licentiate and ordained by the Presbytery in 1715. He was probably from Ireland.

      § Rev. Samuel Davis, settled in the peninsula; was one of the original mem bers of the Presbytery. Believed to have been from Ireland.

      § Rev. John Hampton, pastor of Snowhill; was one of the original members Of the Presbytery, and came from Scotland or Ireland.

      § Rev. John Henry, successor of Mr. Makemie at Rehoboth; was received as an ordained minister in 1710. He came from Ireland.

    • Long Island Presbytery
    • § Rev. George McNish, pastor first of Monokin, Maryland, afterwards of Jamaica; was one of the original members of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, and came from Scotland or Ireland. See Spence’s Letters.

      § Rev. Samuel Pumry, minister of Newtown; was received as an ordained minister in 1715. He was from Connecticut, as the writer learns from Rev. John Goldsmith, pastor of the church in Newtown.

    The following list contains the names, residence, and origin of the several members who joined the Synod from 1717 to 1729, as far as the writer has been able to ascertain the facts. It is hoped that others may be able to correct its mistakes, or supply its deficiencies.
    • Rev. John Thompson, settled first at Lewes, afterwards at Chestnut Level, was received as a probationer, and ordained by the Presbytery in 1717. His arrival in the country and first application to the Presbytery took place in 1715. He was from Ireland.
    • Rev. John Pierson, settled at Woodbridge. He was ordained by the Presbytery in 1717. He was from New England.
    • Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, pastor of Elizabethtown, appears as a member of the Synod, for the first time in 1717. He was a native of Massachusetts.
    • Rev. Samuel Gelston, settled first at Southampton, afterwards near Elk River; was ordained 1717. His first application to the Presbytery as a licentiate was in 1715. He was, it is believed, from Long Island.
    • Rev. Henry Hook, settled at Cohanzy, was received in 1718. He was from Ireland, as appears from the minutes for 1722.
    • Rev. William Tennent, settled at Neshaminy, was received as an ordained minister of the established church of Ireland in 1718.
    • Rev. Samuel Young, settled _____; was received as an ordained minister from the Presbytery of Armagh in 1718.
    • Rev. John Clement, settled at Rehoboth; was received as a probationer from Britain in 1718.
    • Rev. William Steward, settled at Monokin, received as a probationer from Britain in 1718, and ordained by order of Synod, together with Mr. Clement.
    • Rev. George Philips, _____, Long Island, first mentioned as a member of Synod in 1718.
    • Rev. Joseph Lamb, _____, Long Island, first mentioned as a member in 1718. These two gentlemen were associated with Messrs. McNish and Pumry in the Presbytery of Long Island. Their names are very rarely mentioned on the minutes, except in the list of absent members.
    • Rev. Robert Cross, settled first at New Castle, afterwards at Jamaica, Long Island, and finally over the First Church, Philadelphia; received as a licen tiate and ordained by the Presbytery of New Castle in 1719. He was a native of Ireland, as is stated on his tombstone.
    • Rev. Joseph Webb, pastor of the church in Newark; is first mentioned as a member of Synod in 1720. He was from New England.
    • Rev. John Orme, pastor of the church of Upper Marlborough; is first mentioned as a member of Synod in 1720. He was from Devonshire, England, as is stated in the history of his congregation.
    • Rev. Moses Dickinson, _____, mentioned as a member of Synod in 1722, brother of President Dickinson. He was settled, after leaving the Presbyte rian church, in Norwalk, Connecticut.
    • Rev. Thomas Evans, Welsh Tract (Penkader), licensed by the Presbytery of New Castle in 1720, and stated in their minutes to have presented creden tials from the Presbytery of Carmarthenshire, South Wales. Belonged to the Presbytery of New Castle.
    • Rev. Alexander Hucheson, pastor of Bohemia and Broad Creek, received as a probationer from the Presbytery of Glasgow in 1722. Belonged to the Presbytery of New Castle.
    • Rev. Robert Laing, Somerset county, Maryland, received as a minister from Great Britain in 1722, and referred to the Presbytery of New Castle.
    • Rev. Thomas Creaghead, White Clay Creek, received by the Presbytery of New Castle in 1724. It is recorded on their minutes, p. 77, that he had “lately come from New England.” Whether a native of that part of the country or of Ireland is not known.
    • Rev. Joseph Houston, Elk River, received by the New Castle Presbytery, as a probationer, “lately from New England” in 1724, and ordained by them.
    • Rev. Adam Boyd, settled in Octarara, received by the New Castle Presby tery as probationer, “lately from New England,” in 1724, and ordained by them.
    • Mr. William McMillan. The minutes of the New, Castle Presbytery contain the record of his licensure in 1724, and he was directed to labor among the people in Virginia, where he resided.
    • Rev. Noyes Parris, settled for a time at Cohanzy, mentioned as a member of Synod in 1725. He was probably from New England, as his name would indicate (Mr. Noyes was one of the early ministers of Massachusetts. Ma ther’s Magnalia, Vol. I, p. 436.), and when he left the Synod in 1727 or 1728, he is reported as having gone to New England.
    • Rev. Archibald Cook, Kent county in Delaware, received by the New Castle Presbytery, “as late from Ireland,” and ordained by them in 1726.
    • Rev. Hugh Stevenson, Snowhill, received by the New Castle Presbytery, “as late from Ireland,” in 1726, and ordained by them in 1728.
    • Rev. Gilbert Tennent, New Brunswick, afterwards pastor of the Second Church, Philadelphia. He is mentioned in the New Castle book as a licentiate in 1725. His name first appears as a member of Synod in 1727. He was from Ireland.
    • Rev. Nathaniel Hubbell, Westfield, New Jersey; first appears as a member of Synod in 1728. He was from Massachusetts, as is stated in the MS History of Westfield.