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and other places, the people at Stratford fell into the same unhappy divisions and controversies in regard to the same subjects.” And on page 113, it was stated, that the principal cause of difference was in regard to church membership, baptism, and the discipline of church members. What the precise nature of the controversy was could not be distinctly understood by the most learned and pious, even of that day. It was the same as that which existed at Hartford, Wethersfield, and other places. One would say, at this distance of time, that the question to be decided was, whether the “Half-way Covenant Practice should be introduced into the church, or not. Upon this question, there was the most grave difference of opinion among the best and most distinguished men in New England.”

It is not denied that the foregoing, taken together, is a substantially accurate statement of the differences among the people of Stratford at that date. But the writer, from all the evidence then at his control, and brought to his attention, inferred, that the “Half-way Covenant" doctrine was the principal cause of the dissension, and his history of the matter proceeded on that theory. The “Stratford View” does not admit that the “Half-way Covenant" practice had much, if any thing, to do with the controversy, for two reasons. First, because that system was practiced in the first church, from the earliest records of the church now extant, till after the commencement of the eighteenth century. The town was planted in 1639, and the church was no doubt coeval in date, as all the early towns had an ecclesiastical foundation. It was the first thing attended to. But, unfortunately, the records of the church were burned in the meeting-house, which was struck by lightning, in 1785, and all the records previous to 1675 were destroyed, while the records of the town, to the year 1650, are also not extant. This is a great misfortune, for if the records of the church from its foundation had been preserved, the question now under discussion could not have arisen. So far as the history of the Second church of Stratford, now the First church of Woodbury, is concerned, its records have been preserved from the day of its organization, May 5th, 1670. No dispute has arisen, or can arise on them, and they have the advantage over those of the First church, in reaching back to a date five years earlier. It has always been a matter of wonder to the writer that there should be any sensitiveness on the part of any in Stratford in regard to the view taken by him, as he gave the First church the credit of having adhered to the “ old landmarks,” set up by the fathers in the colony, and as the “Half-way Covenant” plan has been generally repudiated as unsound for nearly three-quarters of a century.

But to those who are interested in tracing the ancient records, the truth of history is a more controlling consideration than mere pride of opinion, or indeed any other. While an opinion, once deliberately formed, on due examination of all the facts, should not be lightly thrown aside by an opposing opinion, yet it may often furnish the occasion for a re-examination of the matter, as well as for the search for additional facts and further light. With this view, the writer has carefully re-examined the question, in all its bearings, and has decided to introduce here the “Stratford View," as well as all other documents and information which have been any where preserved, that throw any light upon the subject, with such observations as occur to him.

The sole aim of every writer should be to discover and perpetuate the truth, especially in matters religious and historical. There can be no inducement to follow any other course.

In order to carry out this design, the writer applied to Rev. Benjamin L. Swan, of Oyster Bay, N. Y., who was for five years pastor of the First church in Stratford, who gave great attention, during his stay there, to antiquarian, archæological and genelogical inquiries, and who is, withal, a most careful, thoughtful, and judicious investigator of the ancient ways,"—to furnish him the “Stratford View" of this subject. Mr. Swan very kindly consented, and it is as follows:

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"On the part of the Church in Stratford, a different view is taken of the controversy, that issued in the settlement of Woodbury, from that given in the History of Ancient Woodbury. That the “Half-way Covenant," as being held by one party and rejected by the other, was not the ground of dispute, we feel assured for several reasons."

It appears by Town Record in Stratford, that 1. Mr. Chauncey was not settled as minister of the parish in 1665, but on April 20th of that year, 'the town did consider of giving Mr. Chancie a call to help Mr. Blakeman in the ministry for a year,' and voted so to do. Mr. Blakeman died Sept. 7, 1665. In March, 1665 ®, upon the question of a parsonage lot and house, the vote of the town was divided, not that they were against the ministry,' i. e. of Mr. Chauncey.

“June 1, 1666. At a lawfull Town meeting, the inhabitants generally pres"ent, a paper was offered containing divers propositions to Mr. Israel Chauncey, in order to a mutual agreement for his settling among us in Stratford.” “It

was voted and agreed, that the said papers should by the townsmen of Strat. "ford be subscribed in the name of the town, and presented to Mr. Chauncy." Signed,

JOHN MINOR, Recorder.


" The foregoing extract, verbatim from the Town Record, is of vital import

because the paper and agreement to which it relatas is that given on page 119 of Hist. of Woodbury, as prepared May 13, 1669, by the dissentient townsmen, not members of the church; whereas it was the original overture of the town (for all the ecclesiastical business was then done town-wise, so far as related to the settlement or dismission of a minister) to Mr. Chauncy, in June, 1666, and follows immediately, on the record, the foregoing vote, and is entitled both “Town propositions to Mr. Chauncy,' and Church Covenant' with Mr. Chauncey. He accepted the propositions, and was settled as pastor, remaining such till his death, in 1703.

A copy of this · Call’ is on file in Hartford State Archives, where it is endorsed as filed by Secretary Allyn, May 13, '69. Some one, mistaking this for the date of the paper itself, copied it for Mr. Cothron as belonging to a period after Mr. Chauncy's settlement, and as being an overture from those aggrieved by his seitlement. On the Town record, it dates June 1, 1666, and was recorded by John Minor, Recorder, June 25, 1666. The church and town of Stratford voted together, parish-wise, in town meeting in all things relating to the ministry, until Episcopacy was established, after 1700.”

It is not disputed that these “ Town propositions” embrace the principles of the half-way covenant. That, therefore, could not have been the ground of dissension. Moreover, the earliest 'records now extant of Mr. Chauncy's ministry show that he did practice on these principles.,'

· Again, uniform tradition in Stratford, even in families of important men in Mr. Walker's, party, (such as Joseph Judson, of whom the late Dea. D. P. Judson was a descendant,) denies that the half-way covenant made the difficulty.

"Again, in none of the papers extant, which passed between the parties, is that measure set forth as in dispute. There is, however, frequent allusion to principles of church government, discipline, &c., in which, beyond doubt the mystery lies. Too much space would be required for exhibition here of the evi. dence in point.

“The papers on pages 115-117 of Hist. Anc. Woodbury, bearing dates in old style, belong to January and February, 1866, and with the next ensuing paper, pp. 117, 118, preceded the parish call of June 1, 1666, on Mr. Chauncy to settle. The remark, therefore, on page 118, “Mr. Chauncy had been settled by a majority of the members of the church alone,” is doubly incorrect, for, at that date, April, 1666, he had not even been called to settle, and his call, when given in June, was given by a large majority of the whole parish acting in town meeting. Indeed, by inspection of the list of inhabitants, it would seem that Mr. Walker's adherents polled but nineteen votes out of eighty-three, who were freemen of Stratford. There is no instance, during the whole discussion between the two parties, of a majority in town meeting adverse to Mr. Chauncy.

It appears, by a vote Dec. 18, 1666, that the opponents of Mr. Chauncy labored, at first, to obtain his brother-in-law, Rev. Peter Bulkley, for their pastor, and, only after he declined, settled on Mr. Walker.

The differences between the two churches are declared by Mr. Chauncy's people, June 14, 1669, to be not doctrinal.' If it is said, what are our differences ! “We conceive they are matters of civil concernment. If our differences are ec. clesiastical, what are they? Mr. Walker's statement, May, 1670, 'nothing had appeared of any such great distance in our apprehensions as might be inconsistent' with an union,' and his adherents in their letter to the church, Feb. 9, 1665 €, distinctly point at the chief cause of dissension in specifications, which involve the controversy between Presbyterian and Congregational schemes of church order. These protestants insist, that examination for church nembership should be by the minister and elder only. They also strenuously object to the re-examination of persons already professors of religion, when received to other churches. They desire 'not to be further troubled with any imposition of that nature. The controversy about church government and discipline seriously disturbed not a few of the original New Eugland churches.

An error occurs on page 115, in representing the letter there given as the opening of the case, whereas it is entitled, in the Ecclesiastical Documents at Hartford, ' An Answer to Mr. Chauncy's' letter. That letter seems to have been lost. This letter is itself a reply to a previous letter from Mr. Chauncy, by order of the church of which he was then only a 'stated supply.'

Two statements regardihg the pulpit in Stratford need correction, 1. The Walker and Reed story. This is a re-issue of a Scotch anecdote about two candidates in Edinburg, and belongs to a period a hundred years later than the Chauncy and Walker times. 2, Mr. Chauncy's ordination. The current story of his ordination in the independent mode, and with the laying on of Elder Brinsmade's mittened hand, is, doubtless, pure fiction. As Mr. Chauncy, having already preached a year, had his call in June, it is not credible that mittens were were worn in the season of his ordination. Moreover, there was no such person as · Elder' Brinsn.ade. Philip Grove was the only elder of Stratford church: Nor is it conceivable that the church in Stratford disowned or neglected the fellowship of the churches in this ordination, for as early as 1645, the church had been in a council called by the Milford church for the ordination of a ruling elder, and had otherwise cultivated that friendship."

Such is the “Stratford View," and such the reasons for holding it. The fact that it is the theory held by some friends, for whose sincerity and general correctness of judgment and of information the writer has the highest respect, has led him to a full and care

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1 The Hist. of Woodbury is not responsible for either of these stories, nor has the author ever credited them, as will be seen, in part, by note to page 133. The statement, that "there was no such person as Elder Brinsmade, however, is in correct. In a list of the Freemen of Stratford, reported pursuant to the Statute to the General Court, "8 mth., 7 d., '69," recorded in 2 Trumbull's Records of Conn. Col., p. 521–2, appears the name of John Brinsmead, elder. This list of Freemen was taken in October, 1669, and Mr. Walker was ordained over the Second church in May, 1670. It contains sixty-four names, and is the legal and accurate list of Freemen in the town, at the date of the organization of the Second church. The “Stratford View” is therefore mistaken in stating the number sf Freemen to be eighty-three, and the part voting with the Second church at nineteen. The Second church organized with twenty-seven members. and four more males were added the following year, thus embracing nearly hal of the Freemen of the town,

ful review of all the facts in the case, actuated by the sincere desire to “discern the truth” of the matter. And upon such careful review he has become more fully confirmed in the substantial correctness of the “ Woodbury View,” which is set forth fully in the former edition of this work. There are some minor errors of statement, but that the “ Half-way Covenant" system and cognate theories were the substantial and overshadowing cause of the dissensions among the people of Stratford, he is most fully persuaded. Nothing short of something most vital in doctrine--something that concerned the spiritual welfare of the soul to all ages--something, the abandonment of which involved a loss eternal, can furnish an explanation for that long, earnest, intense dissension which resulted in the formation of the Second church in Stratford, now the First church in Woodbury. Trivial differences, as between the Congregational and Presbyterian modes of Church government, while both parties were imbued with the same faith, and acknowledged the same covenant of grace, theoretically and formally, could never be the occasion of a dispute so heated, in a new and feeble community, struggling for existence, surrounded by external dangers and difficulties, in a wilderness land,-among Christians as earnest and conscientious as were the fathers of Stratford and Woodbury. Spiritual pride, or pride of opinion, could not go so far as that among a people so strictly conscientious. It was also quite too early in the ecclesiastical history of the colony for the laity, with whom these questions began, to be so thoroughly conversant with the systems of church government, and so well grounded in the "fundamentals," or Christian authority for their views, as to induce them to run the risk of such open opposition to the polity or order of the Puritan churches, as to involve their excision from the church and deprivation of all the church ordinances for themselves and their children, for the enjoy. ment of which, in every recorded word and act of theirs, they showed so earnest a solicitude. Presbyterianism, as such, had not at that date a place for the sole of its foot," in all the colonies, Dissatisfied individuals were, indeed, in various places, waiting a safe occasion to introduce Presbyterian and Episcopalian views of church discipline and government. But their efforts were “without form and void,” to a period long after this date, so far as Presbyterianism is concerned. Says Dr. Sprague, in an srticle on Presbyterianism in the New American Encyclopædia, vol. 13, p. 557: “ The Presbyterian church of the United States is undoubt

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