Chapter V b

Attacks on an “Unconverted Ministry.”

After all these unsuccessful attempts to effect a compromise, the question was put, whether the controverted rule should be repealed, or continued until some other expedient could be found, and it was decided that the rule should be continued in force. Against this decision the six ministerial brethren who had protested the year before against the adoption of the rule, renewed their protest, and were joined by Mr. Alexander Creaghead, of the Presbytery of Donegal, and Mr. John Cross, of that of New Brunswick. Messrs. Gillespie and Hucheson, of the Presbytery of New Castle, recorded their dissent from the decision, though they did not unite in the protest. The unhappy state of feeling in which the failure of all efforts at accommodation had left the Synod, was greatly aggravated by a new proceeding on the part of Mr. Gilbert Tennent and Mr. Blair. They produced formal papers of complaint against their brethren, which were read not only before the Synod, but a promiscuous audience. For this latter circumstance, however, Mr. Blair states that neither Mr. Tennent nor himself was responsible, as he proposed that the Synod should be alone when the papers were read. The Synod, however, said they were willing that all should hear what those brethren had to produce. Mr. Tennent then rose and read as follows :

“Moderator and reverend brethren, I think I am obliged in duty to God and you, to present the following paper to your consideration, which contains my reasons for suspecting that a number of the members of this Synod are in a carnal state.

“First, their unsoundness in some principal doctrines of Christianity, that relate to experience and practice, as particularly in the following points. 1. That there is no difference between the glory of God and our happiness ; that self-love is the foundation of all obedience. These doctrines do, in my opinion, entirely overset, if true, all supernatural religion, render regeneration a vain and needless thing; involve a crimson blasphemy against the blessed God, by putting ourselves on a level with him. 2. That there is a certainty of salvation connected to the labours of natural men. This doctrine supposes the greatest falsehood, viz. that there is a free will in man naturally to acceptable good ; and is attended with the most dangerous consequences, viz. fixing men upon their own righteousness, and utterly overthrowing the covenant of grace. For if there is a certainty annexed to the endeavours of natural men, it must be by promise; but a promise is a debt. As these opinions are contrary to the express testimony of the Scriptures, our Confession of Faith, and Christian experience, they give me reason to suspect at least that those who hold them are rotten­hearted hypocrites, utter strangers to the saving knowledge of God and of their own hearts.

“Secondly, there be these things in the preaching of some of our members which induces me to suspect the state of their souls, namely, 1. Their preaching seems to he powerless and unsavoury. Christ preached with authority, and not as the scribes. If any object and say, How can they be known ? I answer, Christ’s sheep hear his voice. Living men have sense and savour. 2. Too general, not searching sinners’ hearts so narrowly as they ought, nor giving them their different portions, according to the apostle’s directions to Timothy. 3. Soft and flattering. Some seem to be afraid to cry aloud and not spare; afraid to use the terrors of the Lord to persuade men. This seems too like men‑pleasing and fear of the cross, whatever plausible pretences are offered to palliate it, by cowardly, covetous souls, notwithstanding. 4. Legal; many are for crying up duties, duties, and urging natural men to them almost constantly, as if outward things were the whole of religion. Is not this like the foolish builders, to pretend to build a fabric without a foundation? It is true, the externals of religion are to be pressed in their place; but their insufficiency, without inward good principles, should be shown. He, sure, that would build high, must dig deep, and lay the foundation low; but I doubt there are not many among us that open the nature, and urge the neces­sity of our dangerous state by nature. 5. Unsuccessful, with the appearance of contentedness under it. Aaron’s rod blossomed, and brought forth almonds, while the rest of the rods were dry and barren; and by this the divine call of the tribe was manifested, while bare pretenders were blasted. God will not send ministers for nothing; no, sure, whom he sends, and who stand in his coun­sel, shall profit the people.

“These things following respecting their practice, incline me to suspect their state. 1. Great stiffness in opinion, generally in smaller matters wherein good men may differ; continual pertness and confidence, as if they were infallible; which shows that the pride of their understanding was never broken, and that they feel not their need of Christ as a prophet. 2. Opposition to God’s servants and work ; insisting much upon the real or supposed imprudences of God’s servants, but passing over in silence their valu­able qualifications and worthy actions. This looks Pharisee-and­devil like, notwithstanding all the colourings of crafty men. 3. That there is no knowing of people’s states. Though there is no infallible knowledge of the estates of some attainable, yet there is a satisfactory knowledge to be attained. Ministers crying out against this, is an evidence of their unfaithfulness in neglecting to use the properest means to convince sinners of their damnable state. It shows also their ignorance of divine things; or manifests their consciousness of their own hypocrisy and fear of dis­covery. 4. Letting men out into the ministry without so much as examining them about their Christian experience, notwithstanding a late canon of this Synod enjoining the same. How contrary is this practice to the Scriptures, and to our Directory, and of how dangerous a tendency to the church of God! Is it probable that truly gracious persons would thus slight the precious souls of men? 5. More zeal for outward order than for the main points of practical religion. Witness the committee’s slighting and shuffling the late debate about the glory of God, and their present contention about the committee act. This is too much like the zeal of the old Pharisees in tithing mint, anise, and cummin, while they neglected the weightier matters of the law.

“These things, my brethren, I mention in the fear and love of God, without personal prejudice against any. That God who knows my heart is witness, that I heartily desire the conviction of those ministers whom I suspect, and that they may be as burning and shining lights in the church of God. But I am obliged in faithfulness to God and the souls of men, to make mention of these things, which are distressing to my heart, as some of the reasons why I protest against all restraints in preaching the everlasting gospel in this degenerate state of the church. Rules which are serviceable in ordinary cases, when the church is stocked with a faithful ministry, are notoriously prejudicial when the church is oppressed with a carnal ministry. Besides the remarkable success that God has given of late to Mr. Whitefield’s travelling labours, and several others in this country, makes me abhor the slavish schemes of bigots, as to confinement in preaching the blessed gospel of Christ. I am, reverend gentlemen, your well-wisher and humble servant, Gilbert Tennent.”

The paper read by Mr. Blair contained the same general complaints. Though milder in its language, it probably gave quite as much offence, as he was at that time comparatively a young man, and addressed himself to men, some of whom were in the ministry before he was born, and who had hitherto enjoyed the confidence of the church, and led lives of great labour and self-denial in her service.

The whole proceeding, though doubtless well intended, was in every point of view exceptionable. The charges were in general so vague, that they could neither be proved or disproved; they rested on hearsay evidence, for it is not to be supposed that Mr. Tennent or Mr. Blair had many opportunities of hearing how all their brethren preached ; and worst of all they were addressed indis­criminately against the body in general; thus the innocent and guilty were made to suffer alike. The Synod and the large audience which crowded the house, were made to know that Mr. Tennent thought that many or most of his brethren were in “a carnal state;” but who were intended no one could tell. Some of his charges referred specifically to many of the best men in the Synod; others might be applied to any or every one, just as the hearers pleased. The other members of the Synod of course expostulated with these brethren on the impropriety of this course, and “earnestly pressed and entreated them to spare no man in the Synod whom they could prove to be unsound in doctrine or immoral in practice, but prayed them only to take Christ’s methods with all such, and not to condemn the innocent with the guilty.” To this Mr. Tennent replies, “we did then offer to prove the matters of charge against particular members, if the Synod required it, but this was waived.” This is not a very fair statement. The Synod very properly waived taking up Mr. Tennent’s vague charges, and themselves instituting process on the ground of them. They urged him, however, to proceed properly, “by tabling charges in a regular way, against particular persons, and not to blacken all.” Mr. Tennent and Mr. Blair “frankly owned,” that they had not “spoken with the persons intended in the said libels,” and that they had not ” made any regular inquiries into the truth of said reports.” The Synod then declined proceeding with the matter until the persons aimed at had been apprized of the charges, and until they “had been regularly tried in their respective presbyteries.” And this trial these brethren were urged to institute at once. This course was urged upon them on another occasion not long afterwards. For it is stated, that “Messrs. Gilbert Tennent, Samuel Blair, and Charles Tennent, were most earnestly pressed by the Presbytery of New Castle to spare none of their number, but to table their com­plaints against them, if they could convict any of them of any, thing unbecoming a minister of the gospel. Nay, Mr. Gillespie entreated them in open Presbytery, for the Lord’s sake to do so ; but all to no purpose.”Mr. Tennent’s answer to this was, “That the said proposal was matter of surprise to him ; that he had no thought about any such thing before it was mentioned in the face of the judicatory; that his meeting with the Presbytery was merely accidental ; and that his entering on a judicial process was inconsistent with his design and appointments of itinerary preaching.” He certainly then ought not to have made the charges, unless he could stop to prove them. Besides, the Presbytery told him they would wait his leisure; or he might “leave them an account of the matter in writing, if he could not attend their meeting ; and that they would take it any way.”

The conduct of Mr. Tennent and his friends in thus condemning his brethren unheard, seems to have produced a deep and general feeling of disapprobation. Before the New York brethren would consent to join with these New Brunswick brethren, in the forma­tion of a new Synod, it was expressly stipulated that, “if any member of their body supposes that he bath any thing to object against any of his brethren, with respect to error in doctrine, immo­rality in life, or negligence in his ministry, he shall on no account propagate the scandal, until the person objected against is dealt with according to the rules of the gospel, and the known methods of their discipline.” And it has already been mentioned that Mr. Tennent himself, as soon as the excitement of the revival had subsided, condemned with unsparing severity the “God-provoking sin” of rashly judging men to be graceless who were sound in essential doctrines, and regular in their lives. At this time, however, as he says himself, he abhorred all confinement in preaching the gospel, and would keep no terms with any man who did not come up to the standard of his own ardent zeal.

It was in this year he preached his famous Nottingham sermon on the danger of an unconverted ministry. As this sermon may be regarded as one of the principal causes of the schism, it demands particular attention. His text was Mark vi. 34 : “Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion towards them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd;” from which he deduces the following proposition: “The case of such is much to be pitied who have no other but pharisee-shepherds or unconverted teachers.” Under the first head of his sermon, he describes the character of the ancient pharisees, which he unfolds under the heads of pride, policy, malice, ignorance, covetousness, and bigotry to human inventions in religious matters. “Although,” he says, “some of the old pharisee‑shepherds had a very fair and strict outside, yet were they ignorant of the new birth. Witness Rabbi Nicodemus, who talked like a fool about it. Hear how our Lord cursed those plastered hypocrites. Matthew xxiii. 27, 28. Ay, if they had but a little of the learning then in fashion, and a fair outside, they were presently put into the priest’s office, though they had no experience of the new birth. O sad ! The old pharisees, for all their prayers and other pious pretences, had their eyes with Judas fixed on the bag. Why, they came into the priest’s office for a piece of bread ; they took it up as a trade, and therefore endea­voured to make the best market of it they could. O shame !”

Under his second head, he shows why those who have no other than pharisee teachers are to be pitied. His reasons are, 1. Be­cause natural men have no call of God to the ministry, under the gospel dispensation. 2. Because the ministry of natural men is uncomfortable to gracious souls. 3. The ministry of natural men is for the most part unprofitable. “What if some instances could be shown of unconverted ministers being instrumental of convincing sinners of their lost state ? The thing is very rare and extraordi­nary. And for what I know, as many instances may be given of Satan’s convincing persons by his temptations. Indeed, it is a kind of chance-medley, both in respect of the father and his children, when any such event happens. And is not this the reason why a work of conviction and conversion has been so rarely heard of for a long time in the churches till of late, viz.: That the bulk of her spiritual guides are stone blind and stone dead ?” 4. The ministry of natural men is dangerous, both in respect to the doc­trines and practice of piety. ” The doctrines of original sin, justification by faith alone, and the other points of Calvinism, are very cross to the grain of unrenewed nature. And though men, by the influence of a good education, and hopes of preferment, may have the edge of their natural enmity against them blunted, yet it is far from being broken or removed. It is only the saving grace of God that can give us a true relish for those nature-humbling doctrines, and so effectually secure us from being infected by the contrary.”

In answer to the objection to what he had said about the ministry of natural men, that Judas was sent by Christ, he answers, 1. That the ministry of Judas was partly legal. 2. That it was extraordi­narily necessary, in order to fulfil some ancient prophecies concern­ing him. “I fear that the abuse of this instance has brought many Judases into the ministry, whose chief desire, like their great grand­father, is to finger the pence and carry the bag. But let such hireling murderous hypocrites take care that they don’t feel the force of a halter in this world, and an aggravated damnation in the next.”

Under the third head he shows “how pity should be expressed on this mournful occasion.” 1. We should mourn over those who are destitute of a faithful ministry, and sympathize with them. 2. We should pray for them, and especially pray the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth faithful labourers into his harvest. 3. We should join our endeavours to our prayers. “The most likely method to stock the church with a faithful ministry, in the present state of things, the public academies being so much cor­rupted and abused generally, is to encourage private schools or seminaries of learning, which are under the care of skilful and experienced Christians, into which those only should be admitted, who, upon a strict examination have, in the judgment of charity, the plain evidences of experimental religion.”

His first inference from this subject is, ” If it be so, that the case of those who have no other and no better than pharisee-teachers is to be pitied, then what a scroll and scene of mourning, lamentation, and woe is opened, because of the swarms of locusts, the crowds of pharisees, that have as covetously as cruelly crept into the ministry, in this adulterous generation ! who as nearly resemble the character given of the old pharisees, in the doctrinal part of this discourse, as one crow’s egg does another. It is true some of the modern pharisees have learned to prate a little more orthodoxly about the new birth, than their predecessor Nicodemus, who are, in the meantime, as great strangers to the feeling experience of it as he. They are blind who see not this to be the case of the body of the clergy of this generation.”

  1. “From what has been said, we may learn that such who are contented under a dead ministry, have not in them the temper of that Saviour they profess. It is an awful sign, that they are as blind as moles, and as dead as stones, without any spiritual taste and relish. And alas! is not this the case of multitudes ? If they can get one that has the name of a minister, with a band and a black coat or gown, to carry on a sabbath‑day among them, although never so coldly and unsuccessfully, if he is free from gross crimes in practice, and takes care to keep at a due distance from their consciences, and is never troubled by his unsuccessfulness, O !think the poor fools, that is a fine man, indeed, our minister is a prudent charitable man, he is not always harping upon terror, nor sounding damnation in our ears, like some rash-headed ministers.”

  2. Such as enjoy a faithful ministry should glorify God on that account, and walk worthy of so distinguished a privilege.

  3. “If the ministry of natural men be as it has been described, then it is both lawful and expedient to go from them to hear godly persons; yea, it is so far from being sinful to do this, that one who lives under a pious minister of lesser gifts, after having honestly endeavoured to get benefit by his ministry, and yet gets little or none, but doth find real benefit, and more benefit elsewhere, I say, he may lawfully go, and that frequently, where he gets most benefit to his precious soul, after regular application to the pastor where he lives, for his consent, and proposing the reasons thereof; when this is done in the spirit of love and meekness, without contempt of any, as also without rash anger, or vain curiosity.” He then argues at length the propriety of people leaving their pastors, first, when the pastor is pious, but of inferior gifts ; and, secondly, when he is unconverted. As to the former case, he says, it is matter of instinct to seek the greater good in preference to the less; we are commanded to covet earnestly the best gifts; there is diversity of gifts among ministers, and God ordinarily blesses the best gifts to the greater edification of the people; as people have a right to the gifts of all God’s ministers, they may use them as they have opportunity; Christ did not reprove John’s disciples for coming to hear himself, not only on week-days, but on the Sabbath; to bind men to a particular minister against their inclination is carnal with a witness, it is a cruel oppression of tender consciences, and an in­fringement of Christian liberty ; if the great end of hearing can be better attained elsewhere, then, “I see not why we should be under a fatal necessity of hearing our parish minister, perpetually or generally.”

With regard to the latter case he is more strenuous. “If it be lawful to withdraw from the ministry of a pious man, in the case aforesaid, how much more from the ministry of a natural man! Surely it is both lawful and expedient, for the reasons offered in the doctrinal part of this discourse; to which let me add a few words more.”

The additional considerations which he urges are the following. 1. It is unwise to trust the care of our souls to those who have no care of their own. 2. God does not ordinarily use the ministry of his enemies to turn others to be his friends. God has not given any promise that he will bless the labours of natural men. If he had he would be as good as his word; but I can neither see nor hear of any blessing upon these men’s labours, unless it be a rare wonderful instance of chance-medley; whereas the ministry of faithful men blossoms and bears fruit, as the rod of Aaron. 3. We are commanded to turn away from such as have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. 4. Our Lord advised his disciples to beware of the leaven of the pharisees, by which he meant their doctrine and hypocrisy, which were both sour enough. 5. He refers to Matt. xv. 12, &c. “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the pharisees were offended? And he answered and said, Every plant that my heavenly Father bath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind ; and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”

He next considers the objections to such a course, as, 1. We are commanded to hear those who sit in Moses’ seat. This only means that we are bound to obey the lawful commands of the civil magis­trates. 2. Such a practice would cause contentions among the people. It may occasion them, but not properly cause them. If we give up every duty that is the occasion of contention and division, we must give up powerful religion altogether. 3. 1 Cor. i. 12, which speaks of Paul and Apollos, is not against the course recommended, for that only speaks of making sects. 4. Such a course would tend to grieve our parish minister, and to break up congregations. “If our parish minister be grieved at our greater good, or prefer his credit before it, then he has good cause to grieve over his own rottenness and hypocrisy. And as for breaking of con­gregations to pieces, upon account of people’s going from place to place to hear the word, with a view to get greater good, that spirit­ual blindness and deadness which so generally prevail, will put this out of danger. It is but a few that have got any spiritual relish. The most will venture their souls with any formalist, and be well satisfied with the sapless discourses of such dead drones.” 5. Paul and Apollos are said to be nothing. True, they were nothing as efficient causes, but they were something as instruments. 6. Finally, it is objected, people do not get more good over their parish line, for they are out of God’s way. There are three monstrous ingredients in this objection, a begging the question, rash judging, and limiting of God. It is a mean thing in reasoning to beg the question in debate. Let it be proved that they are out of God’s way. It is rash judging to say people do not get good, when we cannot know it to be so; and it is to limit God to confine him to one mode of action.

He concludes by exhorting those who have a faithful ministry, to make a speedy and sincere use of so rare a privilege. He ex­horts gracious souls to pity those who have none but pharisee‑teach­ers. He urges “those who live under the ministry of dead men, whether they have the form of religion or not, to repair to the liv­ing, where they may be edified ; let who will oppose it.” He ex­horts vacant congregations to be careful in trying those whom they think of calling as pastors. “I beseech you, my brethren, to con­sider that there is no probability of your getting good by the ministry of Pharisees ; for they are no shepherds, (no faithful ones,) in Christ’s account. They are as good as none; nay, worse than none on some accounts. For take them first and last, they do more harm than good. They strive to keep better men out of the places where they live; nay, when the life of piety comes near their quarters, they rise up in arms against it, as a common enemy that discovers and condemns their craft and hypocrisy. And with what art, rhetoric, and appearances of piety, will they varnish their opposition to Christ’s kingdom ! As the magicians imitated the wonders of Moses, so do false apostles and deceitful workers, the apostles of Christ.”

This sermon had an extensive circulation. Two editions of it were published in Philadelphia, and a third in Boston. Two of the principal grounds of complaint against Mr. Tennent and his friends, were the censorious condemnation of their brethren, and the en­couragement they gave the people to separate from their pastors. Though this sermon was by no means the only ground of these complaints, it was one of the most tangible proofs of their justice, and hence was constantly appealed to in the controversies of that day. On this account a knowledge of its contents and character is necessary to a proper understanding of the history of the period now under consideration.

In this discourse Mr. Tennent describes the body of the minis­ters of that generation as letter‑learned Pharisees, plastered hypocrites, having the form of godliness but destitute of its power. That this description was intended to apply to his brethren in the synod, it is believed was never doubted. Considering the circumstances under which it was delivered, and his frequent avowals of similar sentiments respecting them on other occasions, it could hardly have any other application. In the sermon itself he tells the people that the reason why they had seen so few cases of conviction or conversion among them, was, that “the bulk of their spiritual guides were stone blind and stone dead.” In answer to the criticism which it occasioned, he says, “When I composed it, I expected it would be judged, by that tribe which it detected, as guilty of scandalum magnatum, as worthy of stripes and of bonds. I supposed it would be like rousing a wasp’s nest, and I have found it according to my expectations. The opposers of God’s work have dipt their tongues and pens in gall, and by their malignant invectives have endeavoured to bury its author in ruins; but peradventure it may have a resurrection to their terror and shame.” Some members of the Synod had placed together in dreadful array the terms of invective contained in this discourse. In reference to which he says, “I have heard people of piety and good sense observe upon this popular paragraph, that the gentlemen who had put it together in its present form, had taken a pretty deal of pains to draw their own pictures.” He denies that the Nottingham sermon had been the cause of contention; “No,” says he, “the true cause is grace­less ministers opposing it. Methinks it would be more to their credit, prudently to let it alone on their own account, for when they keep muttering, growling, and scolding at it, it does but give people ground to suspect that they are of that unhappy tribe and party themselves, which is therein detected and censured.”

The Nottingham sermon, though the principal printed example of Mr. Tennent’s manner of treating his brethren, is by no means the only one. In most of his controversial writings of this period, he speaks of them as the malignant opposers of true religion, and ascribes their conduct to the most unworthy motives. In a work published in 1743, we find, for example, the following passage. “Give me leave to propose this query to Mr. Thompson and his associates, whether it was because that such as were convinced of sin had generally a less esteem for his ministry, and of some of the rest of his party, that he and some, at least, of them have so fiercely opposed the blessed operations of the Holy Ghost in alarm­ing and convincing a secure world of sin, righteousness, and judgment? If so, is it not selfish and sordid with a witness, and a blow at the root of all piety ? For my own part I must say, that I humbly conceive that to be the secret of the story, of their opposition, the bottom of the mystery, the true spring of their malig­nant contending against vital godliness. The false and ungenerous methods, as well as long continuance of their opposition to the work of God, under so much advantage of light and evidence in favour of it, together with their dangerous errors before mentioned, free me from the just imputation of rash judging in thinking as I have expressed.”

Mr. Tennent was so completely the soul of the party to which he belonged, that without him it never would have existed. He is often, therefore, addressed as the party itself, and his writings and declarations are referred to as speaking the language of his asso­ciates. Though the most prominent and the most violent, he was not the only one who indulged in these vehement denunciations of his brethren. Mr. Blair, though a much milder man, was scarcely less severe in his judgments; and Mr. Creaghead, Mr. Finley, and others followed in the same course. Such denunciations as we find in the Nottingham sermon and other writings of that day, cannot be excused on the plea of zeal or fidelity. Their only tendency was to exasperate. Other men as faithful as Mr. Tennent, were never guilty either of his censoriousness or violence. We never hear of any complaints against President Dickinson, Mr. Pierson, Mr. Pemberton, and other active friends of the revival. For these gentlemen the highest respect and the kindest feelings were, on all occasions, expressed by those who differed from them in opinion, as to the general character and probable results of the religious excitement which then prevailed. There can be no doubt, therefore, that Mr. Tennent’s unhappy violence was one of the princi­pal causes of that entire alienation of feeling, which soon resulted in an open rupture. When such denunciations come from men of doubtful character or feeble intellect, they are commonly and safely disregarded. But when they are hurled by such men as Tennent, men of acknowledged piety and commanding power, they can hardly fail to shatter the society among which they fall. Mr. Ten­nent became fully sensible of the impropriety of this censorious spirit, and laboured hard to correct the evils it had occasioned. It is difficult to believe that the same man could write the Notting­ham Sermon and the Irenicum Ecclesiasticum. The former is full of coarse invective; the latter is distinguished for mildness, liberality, and a conciliatory spirit. And what makes the case the more remarkable, the latter excuses, vindicates, and even praises the very men whom the former denounced. In the Irenicum he lays down the canon, that to declare those persons to be graceless, who are “sound in the fundamental truths of religion, and regular in life,” is a grievous offence against God and the church. Yet the brethren whom he denounced, be describes in general as letter-learned orthodox, having a fair outside, the form of godliness, and even in some cases, a great appearance of religion. They were, therefore, both sound and regular. There is no doubt, however, that he understood his brethren of the Synod as coming within the scope of his rule; for it is in express reference to them that he lays it down. His object was to convince the people of his own party, that they had no right to regard those brethren as graceless, and on that ground refuse to unite with them. Mr. Tennent, therefore, being judge, the denunciation of his ministerial brethren was “an evil pregnant with pride, malice, and mischief, though perhaps not perceived or intended; an evil which, under a cloak of misguided zeal for God, Christian liberty, and superior attainments in knowledge and religion, rebelliously opposes the clearest dictates of reason and humanity, and the plainest laws of revealed religion ; an evil that, under the pretext of kindness and piety, cruelly rends our neighbour’s character, saps the foundation of the church’s peace, and turns its union, order, and harmony, into the wildest confusion of ungoverned anarchy, schism, prejudice, and hate.”