Saturday, May 18, 2013

Awakening & American Revolution

Great book by Bryan F. Lebeau 'Jonathan Dickenson and the Formative Years of American Presbyterianism' gives additional information on the debate surrounding New Side - Old Side.

New Sider Alexander Craighead plays a central role in both the New Side- Old Side debate and in the push for American independence as we can read in Hanna's book about the renewal of the covenant in november 1743.

Alexander Craighead was the son of the Rev. Thomas Craighead & Margaret Craighead, Alexander was born near Donegal, Ireland on March 18, 1707. His father was a Presbyterian minister who immigrated to America in 1715. His biography on 'This Day in Presbyterian History' states:
'Alexander was, in the modern parlance, homeschooled, taught by his father, even studying theology under his father’s guidance, and successfully so, in that he was licensed by the Donegal Presbytery in the fall of 1734.'
Note that 1734 was the year Samuel Finley arrived in America. A few quotes to demonstrate  Alexander Craighead's direct link to American Revolution:
"Another group of pioneers (Ulster Scots) settled nearer the present site of Charlotte and organized the Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church in 1755, with Rev. Craighead serving as pastor of both the Rocky River church and the Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church from the time each was organized until [his death in] 1766'
Precisely the region where the War of the Regulations started:
'While small acts of violence had been taking place for some time, mainly out of resentment, the first organized conflict was in Mecklenburg County in 1765. Settlers in the region, who were there illegally, forced away surveyors of the region assigned with designating land.'
 Harry Seabrook writes about Alexander Craighead's influence in Mecklenburg:

'Only the Presbyterian Church lined up solidly behind the colonists, and without them independence would not have been possible. Oh, and that Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson? It came along a full year after Scots-Irish Presbyterians in Charlotte, North Carolina, wrote their own declaration of independence. The Mecklenburg Declaration, written on May 20, 1775 , "by unanimous resolution declared the people free and independent, and that all laws and commissions from the king were henceforth null and void," as Lorraine Boettner writes. Jefferson's biographer notes: "Everyone must be persuaded that one of these papers must have been borrowed from the other." George Bancroft observes that the Mecklenburg assembly consisted of "twenty-seven staunch Calvinists, one-third of whom were ruling elders in the Presbyterian church, including the President and Secretary, and one was a Presbyterian minister." Ephraim Brevard, who drafted the document, and after whom Brevard, NC, is named, was a Presbyterian ruling elder and a Princeton graduate. (Mecklenburg is far more desirable than anything inspired by John Locke. It is interesting to note that these Charlotte Presbyterians, who had been under the guidance of Alexander Craighead, later rejected the non-covenantal national Constitution.)'
This mecklenburg declaration is apparently fake. The point of these posts is to demonstrate how Samuel Finley became the thoughtleader both inside the Presbyterian Church and the architect of the American revolution. The above introduction to Alexander Craighead serves as background and context in which we should place Samuel Finley's role. P. Fulton Stark confirms my theory in an email discussion on the Finley family history 'Aha! John Finleys separated by Old Sides/New Sides.':
"Here's how we're going to separate the two John Finleys - at least for the years 1730-1765. John Finley (and Thankful Doak) are aligned to the New Sides Finleys. Rev. Samuel Finley (son of Michael Finley) was called to the New Sides Presbyterian congregation at Nottingham in 1744 (then Pennsylvania, now Maryland.) His younger brother, James Finley, served The Rock Presbyterian congregation, a few miles east of Rising Sun (then PA, now MD). These two brothers were instrumental in the reunification of the New and Old Sides in 1758'
There you have the confirmation of what this research into presbyterian history before the American revolution has been focusing on all along:
'These two brothers were instrumental in the reunification of the New and Old Sides in 1758'
Amazing how little attention Samuel Finley's major role in American history has received from historians sofar. Or am I missing something? Richard Lyman Bushman does notice Samuel Finley's thoughtleadership in his book 'The Great Awakening: Documents on the Revival 1740-1745':
'His letter, "The Priests are Blind," is similar in perspective to Tennent's "The Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry.'
'Finley was not, however, merely a firebrand. He opened a school in the parsonage at nottingham'
Bill Willis, in an email, adds another important piece to the Samuel Finley New Side/Old Side puzzle:
 'Eventually, under his guidance the two congregations reunited, establishing a new church at the present site of the West Nottingham MH well south of Rising Sun'
If we want to know exactedly how Samuel Finley approached the Old Side - New Side controversy, we should read his sermon preached at Nassau-Hall, Princeton, May 28 1761, occasioned by the death of the Rev. Samuel Davies, A.M. Late President of the College of New Jersey on Romans 14 verse 7 and 8:
'For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.'
In this sermon Finley makes several essential points that are obviously aimed at adressing the New Side - Old Side conflict:
'That we may apprehend the scope and genuine sense of the words, it is necessary to observe, that warm debates at that time arose between the Jewish and Gentile converts, about the difference of meats and days established by the Mosaic Law'
 'The Apostle, in order to quell the growing strife, maturely determined that, though the Gentile held the right side of the question, yet both parties were wrong as to their temper of mind, and the manner in which they managed the controversy'
'Our rational powers statedly exercised, not in merely curious and amusing researches, but in matters the most useful and important.'
'Are we in pursuit of learning, that ornament of human minds, it should not be with a view only to shine more conspicuous, but that we may serve our generation to better advantage.'
'But far from gratifying his (Samuel Davies) natural inclination to the society of his friends, or consulting his ease, moved by conscience of duty, he undertook the self-denying charge of a dissenting congregation in Virginia, separated from all his brethren, and exposed to the censure and resentment of many.'
'The Lord, who counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry, succeeded his faithful endeavours, so that a great number, both of whites and blacks, were hopefully converted to the living God'
'But his persuasive voice you will hear no more. He is removed far from mortals, has taken his earial fligth, and left us to lament, that "a great man has fallen in Israel!'
'Nor should the decease of useful labourers, the extinction of burning and shining lights, only send us to the throne of grace for supplies, but excite us to greater diligence and activity in our business, as we have for the present the more to do.'

'Finally, this dispensation should lessen our esteem of this transitory disappointing world, and raise our affections to heaven, that place and state of permanent blessedness.'