Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Quit Yourselves Like Men, Be Strong!"

Both William Jay and Benjamin Parham Aydelott were leading opponents of the high Church movement in the episcopal Church. At the same time they were both leaders in the abolitionist movement. An Aydelott quote, referencing the apostle Paul, that makes the connection:

'a spirit which, recognising.. the great attributes of a common human nature, refuses to bow down in abject servility to any'

A symptom of this same divide is the battle for and against the American Bible Society. The focus on the rights of man is equally present in Elias Boudinot's speech to the Cincinnati where he speaks of the rights of women. I also think of the divide between federalist Alexander Hamilton on the one hand and Jefferson / Washington on the other concerning the slave revolt in Haiti.

Salmon P. Chase and Abraham Lincoln's constitutional abolitionism can only be understood in this context. Barnett has written several valuable articles on the constitutional abolitionists.

Exploring this link also helps us in distinguishing federalism and constitutional abolitionism from conservatism as understood by Russell Kirk.  Rowan Strong writes:
'In 1790 Edmund Burke had published his Reflections on the Revolution in France; in which he warned that 'Rage and phrensy will pull down more in half an hour than prudence, deliberation; and foresight can build up in a hundred years.' Pusey agreed and quoted from the book in the second Enquiry. there is a lengthy passage in xhich Burke draws the distinction between the obstinate, who reject all improvement, and the thoughtless, who are tired of everything they own. This distinction Pusey applied to theology'
Isn't it curious that the son of William Wilberforce, Samuel, became a a major figure in the preservation of the Oxford Movement.

I believe this sufficiently establishes that abolitionism wasn't just a moral question, but part of a broader theological debate among protestant Americans since the revolution. Do we see this reflected in the writings of Charles Hodge? It doesn't look like Hodge was a fan of Reverend Pusey:
'In the early Church, however, there were some who held that there is no forgiveness for post-baptismal sins—a doctrine recently reproduced in England by the Rev. Dr. Pusey. The advocates of this doctrine make this passage teach that Christ was set forth as a propitiation for the forgiveness of sins committed before baptism, that is, before conversion or the professed adoption of the gospel. Rückert and Reiche, among the recent German writers, give the same interpretation. This would alter the whole character of the gospel.'

This  1836 quote from Hodge's commentary on the letter to the Romans would link Pusey to Novatianism :
'Novatian declared the lapsi blasphemers of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jerome’s Epistle XLII), an unforgivable sin'
 In Charles Hodge's correspondence Pusey and Puseyism comes up regularly, for example in a december 1855 letter by BISHOP M ILVAIN from Cincinnati who defends himself against Hodge's criticism:
'Apostolical succession is held in my opinion as much in one Church as the other the difference between the so holding and high-churchmanship in both, being when it is not held in such a sense as to exclude by the inferences drawn from it all other ministers than its own from validity and reality, nor other Churches from being real Churches of Christ whatever it may think of their defective conformity to the Apostolic pattern. Such Apostolic succession is vastly removed from that of Romanism and Puseyism, which not only makes a ministry so de- scended, essential to the being of the Church, and essential to the reality of all sacraments, but makes the communication of saving grace essentially dependent on the sacraments of that succession and thus it is the exclusive succession of the gifts of the Spirit as well as of a certain office.'
Along with John Henry Newman, Pusey was one of the most important leaders of the Oxford Movement. The contrast between Samuel Wilberforce's conservative opposition to evolution and Charles Hodge's development appropriation of evolution points to another key difference. Bradley Gundlach, in his book Process and Providence, writes:
'a close look at the course of Princetonian interaction with evolutionary notions reveals aa different pattern. Instead of refusing to think in categories of historical change, they came increasingy to see development over time as a very helpful category indeed: helpful not only in providing new insights into sacred and secular history, but also in furnishing the orthodox with potent arguments against relativizing the teachings of the Bible or revising the confession of faith. In their hands developmentalism supported calvinist orthodoxy and biblical authority.'
In an earlier post I characterized Princeton as the project that attempted to reconcile Edwardses idealism and Witherspoons realism. which in turn reminds us of Bavincks 'grace “restores” and “perfectsnature' 

Paul C. Gutjarh writes in his biography of Hodge:
 'It was the stress on the invisible, universal church that madde Hodge stand so adapmantly against theologies that emphasized the visible church like the catholics, the Oxford Movement and those at Mercersburg with their "Romanizing tendencies'
In 1860 at the General Assembly(the minutes of the GA in Pittsburgh may 1860)  Charles Hodge argued that Thornwell embraced "superlative high churchism". Taking into account the context of the looming civil war, this comment once again suggests a link between the abolitionist battle against slavery and the fight against the oxford movement. The characterization of Southern presbyterianism as 'high churchism' goes to the heart of the debate. This indicates to me that Thornwell's theory of the 'spirituality of the church' was not the central issue of contention to Charles Hodge.Thornwell, just as Episcopal Bishop Hobart opposed volontary organisations (like the American Bible Society ?) Hodge took the opposite view and argued that the larger scriptural principle of preaching the gospel message to every creature took precedent. Note that Thornwell had accused Hodge of supporting a move towards high churchism at the 1843'd general assembly. 
Albert H Freundt writes about this:
'Thornwellian polity, it seems to me, must indeed be recognized as an expression of a kind of High Church Presbyterianism. It was in part the kind of reaction which had its counterparts in other denominations.'
Note that this same controversy pops up at the Gettysburg College after Schmucker and in the discussion between Nevin and Hodge. The high church - low church question was a hotly discussed topic, as attested by Reverend Shimeall's 1852 book 'End of Prelacy: including a demonstration of the Romanism of the system, so called, of evangelical low-churchism' which mentions Aydelott's book The Present Condition and Future Prospects of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United states. Reverend William Meade(Episcopal) of Virginia is mentioned on the cover of the book:
 'the battle of the reformation is again to be fought'.
The claims of Episcopacy refuted by John M Mason is mentioned in Shimeall's book. John M. Mason(who lived between 1770 and 1828) wrote it at the beginning of the 19th century. John M. Mason's views can be learned from this short anecdote during his time as pastor in New York.

The leaders of the high-church faction inside the Episcopal church, Hobart and Onderdonk, also surface concerning black episcopaleans in antebellum New York:
'Qualified black priests faced nearly insurmountable barriers to ordination. Williams' advancement from lay reader to deacon and, finally, to ordained priest, was painfully slow due to the Hobart's paternalism.'
'Though shy and cautious, the newly consecrated leader of St. Philip's tried to balance loyalty to his bishop's High Church traditions with his growing involvement in the early abolition movement and opposition to the American Colonization Society. The result was nearly disastrous. Although Townsend does not discuss any collaboration between Williams and other African-American clergymen, such as Presbyterian ministers Rev. Samuel Cornish and Rev. Theodore Wright, an anti-abolition mob made St. Philip's Church one of its main targets during the riots of 1834. Perhaps more damaging was the response of the new Episcopal bishop, Benjamin Treadwell Onderdonk. He demanded that Williams immediate resign from the American Anti-Slavery Society and renounce all activism not related directly to his church duties'
In 1836 future Supreme Court chief-justice and member of the Episcopalean diocese of Ohio, Salmon P. Chase, was among the forty friends that came to the defense of James Birney when his press was destroyed, once more, during the Cincinnati riots. In 1834 Birney had declared himself an abolitionist. In 1835 James Birney had moved to Cincinnati to protect his anti-slavery paper. Unsurprisingly Aydelott's Ohio diocese uses the Carey affair to pass a resolution in 1843 condemning Onderdonk. So while high-church Onderdonk succeeded in having reverend Peter Williams resign from the American Anti-slavery Society('and renounce all activism not related directly to his church duties'!), his opponents inside the Episcopal diocese of Ohio took note. Peter Williams had been involved in the starting of the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States, the Freedom's Journal. Michael Hines discusses this same period in his 2013 paper on Learning Freedom: Education, Elevation; And New York's African american middle Class 1827- 1829.

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