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To examine fully the correctness of this view of our Lord's coming is beyond the scope of the present article. But some hints may be offered as to the method of interpretation that leads Prof. Calderwood to it.
He evidently interprets too loosely some portions of what is merely figurative statement in the parabolic form. This is an error that confuses bim in regard to the dividing line of the two contrasted states of existence, and the time at which character is tested. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, death is the point at which the conditions of moral life are changed ; and Prof. Calderwood, in his treatment of that parable, accepts this as the literal fact. But in the parable of the Virgins, the parabolic statement changes, and the point at which character is tested is marked by the coming of Christ; and here Prof. Calderwood accepts this as the literal fact. Hence he is involved in confusion. The reader can not fail to see that the fact, as presented by Jesus, is the same in both parables, and that the statement varies in imagery to accord with the general form of each parable. The thing to be sought is that which is symbolized in one parable by death, and in the other by the coming of Christ.
Again, something ought to be suggested as to the meaning of Christ's coming from the side of experience. For instance, in the parable of the Talents there is a day of distribution when the talents are entrusted to the servants, as well as a day of reckoning when the same talents are demanded with interest. The talents here include all that a man has and is, all the gifts of life. Now, experience teaches something as to the manner and time in which these gifts are distributed. Ought not the interpretation of the day of distribution, which experience supplies, teach something of the time and manner of account, represented as a day of reckoning? But the work in review interprets the day of distribution as merely the parabolic representation of the gifts of life, and the day of reckoning as an almost literal account of a future general judgment.
Finally, in order to understand what Christ meant jy his coming, the parables must be studied in the light of their historical reference. This study Prof. Calderwood has neglected. Once, indeed, he asks whether the Saviour is pointing to any historical event, or series of events, in speaking of his coming to judge the world, under the guise of the king who sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” This is his answer : “ Such questions are apt to turn attention aside from the only true principle of interpretation. The parable sets forth what holds true of God's spiritual kingdom in the world. Our Lord is speaking for all times, and not for any particular occasion, however important. If the words seem to apply to any historical event, it is because the occasion illustrates the general rule, not because the principle of government had been introduced for the occasion." In this brief paragraph is set aside all criticism that seeks an interpretation of certain parables in the history of the Jews, and the early church. Admitting the position, however, that the principle is not introduced for the occasion, it may be suggested as not unwise to risk a better understanding of the principle by a study of an instance of its application. Often in his teachings Jesus presents the concrete case from which the principle is learned, and not the principle applying to the case. And if there are any historical events to which the parables allude, a better understanding will surely be gained of the principles taught by a study of the events to which they apply. If Prof. Calderwood had given more attention to a study of the parables in connection with those historical events which furnish the coloring for many of them, he would not have fallen into the confusion that marks his statements concerning the coming of Christ.
It is with something like regret that we feel compelled to say, in dismissing the work of Prof. Calderwood, that there is failure in the main feature of his undertaking, and a strange confusion of ideas throughout his entire treatment of the parables of our Lord. We more especially regret this because of what readers have a right to expect of an author whose reputation in another department of thought is justly earned.
Reminiscences of Early American Universalism.
FIRST PAPER. 1
Reminiscence and biography ever contain an attractive and fascinating romance. The early pioneers of the Universalist faith left a story in their lives filled with interest. They, as forerunners of our Church in a contest with much prejudice and with the dominant religious ideas of a century ago, proved themselves brave men.
Forerunners must be men of courage. Only the strong endured the battle, and these men we love to honor.
Hence we write of the early heroes who felt the breathings of the Gospel, the tenderness of the Father's allembracing and unfailing love, and were bold and strong enough to advocate “the doctrines all divine."
The people of the southern towns of Worcester County were drawn to the subject of the Universalist doctrines at an early date through the preaching of Dr. Isaac Davis, Caleb Rich, and Adams Streeter.
1 Portions of these papers were written while the author was pastor in Charlton, Mass., and delivered to interested audiences. It must be borne in mind that Charlton adjoins the town of Oxford, and was, until 1755, a part of it; and from this town the early parish in Oxford received a large share of its influence and wealth. Our study since has enabled us to add to them, and are now presented to the public. Much of that, which has been published, relating in general to the same parties and times, in the QUARTERLY and denominational books, we will refer to in notes, and only present information, for the first time published or only partially stated by other denominational historians.
2 For an account of Dr. Isaac Davis, and about all which we know of him, vide Universalist QUARTERLY, April, 1878, in a letter we wrote the Editor. Since then we have only been able to learn little of him. Dr. Davis married Rachel Sheldon of Suffield, Conn., May 15, 1745, as appears from the “ Sheldon Magazine,” page 12, and the “Faxon Family History."
8 Various accounts recite that Caleb Rich was in the continental service, with the army about Boston, during a part of the year 1775; and that in the winter following, while on a furlough, preached to the scattered friends of this new cause. Mr. Rich had seen slight service in April and May of that year, as we find his name upon the "Roll of Lexington Alarm Men (Vol. XIII. Doc. 180] in the State House, Boston. He marched from Warwick (or Northfield], April 20, 1775, on receiving the news from Lexington, in the Company of Capt. Eldad Wright, Minute Men, Col. Samuel William's Regiment, and served twenty-three days. A Thomas Rich was Lieutenant of same Company. Rev. W. S. Balch, in QUARTERLY, January, 1872, p. 66, gives an extended account of Caleb Rich.
We find no account of the earliest preaching of Dr. Davis ; but as he established quite a reputation before his death in 1777, his preaching tours, from his home in Somers, Conn., into the surrounding towns, must have been early. Dr. Peters notices him at length, in his History of Connecticut, published in 1780, and re-published in 1877. It is said that through the efforts of friends, Caleb Rich was furnished a substitute in the Army, (which may account for the omission of his name in the Roll of Continentals) and that he labored for his brother-in-law, and preached from house to house, as the friends desired, during the winter of 1775–76. In a jour. nal of Mr. Rich is recorded, “When my time with my brotherin-law had expired, the brethren in Sutton, Charlton, and Douglas numbered forty or fifty persons.” By the words of these laborers an interest became awakened, and their influence spread. The Church of the “ Standing Order” in Oxford suffered, as will be seen by the following, written by Rev. Peter Whitney,4 concerning Rev. Joseph Bowman, settled over the First Church in 1764.
“Mr. Bowman lived in great harmony with the people of Oxford until 1775, when the state of the country, as to the controversy and war with Great Britain, occasioned differences among the people ; these led a number to profess themselves Quakers, and afterwards declared themselves of the sect Universalists, which finally ended in Mr. Bowman's dismission, at his own desire, with advice of Council, August 28th, 1782."
Adams Streeter was one of the earliest of the Americanborn advocates of Universalism. Little has been known of him. Brief hints from records and traditions are all that have been published. Rev. Richard Eddy, in Universalist QUARTERLY of July, 1874, p. 330, gave as full an account of 4 Whitney's History of Worcester County. 1793. p. 85. Mr. Whitney also states in another place that about one-fifth of the inhabitants of Oxford were Universalists. This is, we have no doubt, exaggerated. In all probability Mr. Whitney counted all who refused to believe the creeds, or refused to support the preaching services of the “ Standing Order," or perh:ips for the sake of opposition, favored those who from conviction were out-spoken Universalists, in their work of opposition.
him as there is in any one place. To what has been published, it is our privilege to supplement the following:
Adams Streeter was born in Framingham, Mass, December 31, 1735, the son of Stephen and Catharine Streeter.5 Before Adams reached the age of nine years, the family removed from Framingham back to Douglas, and settled in the great tract lying to the west of Douglas Centre. Here the father died September 22, 1756, at which time Adams was twentyone years old. He was one of a numerous family. His brother Zebulon, born in Douglas, March 24, 1731,6 became a preacher of the Baptist order, and later in life became a Universalist preacher. He lived some years in the town of Douglas where some at least of his children were born. He died in Surry, N. H., quite aged. The late Dr. Ballou i supposes him to have been a Baptist
7 preacher, and to have become a Universalist about 1777 or 1778. The records of the town of Charlton mention an Adams Streeter who had his tax abated in 1758, whom we think to be the same person, as it was in the same section where he ever lived. At this time in Charlton there was a small company of Baptist believers who had occasional preaching from house to house. The edifice of the Baptists was not erected until 1763. He, like many preachers of this order, may have traversed several towns and preached to small companies gathered in the house of a neighbor. If Mr. Streeter resided in Charlton, it was only for a short time.
There is scarcely a locality where there were more Universalists previous to 1780, than in the towns of Oxford, Sutton, Douglas, and Charlton. These towns were settled by people from “ down the coast,” and Rhode Island. In the ten years previous to 1780, the citizens of these towns had seen much of the world. All the male portion had seen more or less service in the army about Boston, and many of them had been to Rhode Island to protect the colony at various times; and beside this, the presence of the army at these points afforded 6 Barry's History of Framingham, p. 414. 8 Douglas Town Records. 7 QUARTERLY, Vol. V. p. 93.