Project Canterbury

The Beginnings of the Episcopal Church in New Haven
A Discourse delivered in Trinity Church, New Haven December 30, 1894.

By the Rector, Edwin Harwood, D.D.

New Haven: Published by the Wardens and Vestry, 1895.

ABOUT the year 1750, if a man of the world,--or, as he would have been called in those days, a man of wit and fashion,--had seen the little town of New Haven, and known anything of the tastes and the pursuits of its people, he would have described it as a well planned but thinly settled country village, the inhabitants of which were devoted to saving their own souls, to money making, and to perpetual quarrelling with each other on topics of theological interest.

The town was then a little more than one hundred years old; the original settlement and government of the little colony were very extraordinary. The colonists proposed to found here, by the waters of Long Island Sound, a state which should own allegiance neither to king nor foreign potentate of any description, and which should be governed solely by the church which they had proceeded to organize. [Not perhaps by the organization as such, but by the ideas and principles which governed it.] They proposed to establish a genuine civitas Dei, the laws and the spirit of which should be in exact accordance with the laws and the spirit of the Holy Scriptures. Mr. [3/4] Levermore, in his "Republic of New Haven," has clearly stated the similarity and almost identity of views between the great Richard Hooker and John Davenport, the leader of the colony, on the relations of the church and the state. But the magnificent splendor of Hooker on the one side, and the obscure, beclouded english of Mr. Davenport on the other, are apt to make readers inattentive to this interesting fact. Hooker applied his principles in one way, and the leaders of the New Haven colony in another. In the case of Hooker, the state dominated the church; in the case of the New Haven colonists, the church was to dominate the state. The colonists had no doubt they were right, nor had they any doubt that all people who differed from them were wrong. But the conception, striking as it may have been, proved a complete failure. They were soon awakened from their dream of independence by the fact that the Dutch, at New Amsterdam, were on one side of them, and Indians and Englishmen who might become unfriendly, were on the other. Their mercantile instincts, like the mercantile instincts of the English race, were strong. They soon embarked in commercial enterprises, or in trading enterprises, which were largely unsuccessful, and the spirits of the people, though not broken, were very speedily sobered, and they came to the conclusion that they might as well be colonists [4/5] relying upon the strength of the mother country which they had left behind them.

It is not my purpose, however, to dwell upon the political beginnings of the town of New Haven. I simply seek to refresh your memory with these few facts, and must now proceed to consider the state of things after three generations had passed away. The zeal of the first settlers had abated. There was, of course, a new generation with a lessened tension, with church notions somewhat modified in respect of discipline, and the religious interests of the people were somewhat subdued, and there was just the torpor, moral and spiritual, which inevitably follows in the wake of what is known as a dead orthodoxy. The morals of the people had deteriorated. Their life was sombre, and I should think, sa4. The ministers and magistrates were occasion ally troubled over the state of things, but, nevertheless, they would have gone on still in their old way, had not a new spirit made itself manifest, which convulsed all the settlements of the New England colonies.

This convulsion was known as the great awakening. People were alarmed for their salvation; they deplored their sins and the sins of their children and of their parents; they besought almighty God to keep back his hand and not to smite nor slay; the one subject thought of was religion; strange men [5/6] made strange speeches; the noise and babble of public worship were often most bewildering, and for many years all Connecticut was torn, partly, by fear, and inspired, partly, by the hope of the speedy coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory.

Great relaxation of morals followed this revival, and it would seem as if some kind of moral paralysis were settling down upon a portion of the community. Now it was at this time (it is well to remember the dates in a general way, 1740-1750) that the church at New Haven suffered a serious schism. The magistrates, the college and the pastor had been entirely out of sympathy with the revival. The pastor was the Rev. Joseph Noyes, who was said to be gifted in prayer but dull as a preacher. He could not satisfy, or did not satisfy, that portion of the congregation which had felt the influence of the revival, and the consequence was that a movement was made to bring about his withdrawal, or, in the event of its failure, to establish a new congregation. The attitude of the Rev. Mr. Noyes is stated thus by Dr. Trumbull in his History of Connecticut:

"Soon after the commencement of the religious awakening, in Connecticut and New England, there arose a great uneasiness and dissatisfaction, in a considerable number of the first church congregation in New Haven, under the preachings and administrations of their pastor, the Rev. Mr. Noyes. [6/7] Though he had the gift of prayer and was edifying in that part of worship, yet he was animating and unpopular in his preaching. His language was vulgar, and his zealous calvinistic hearers did not consider him as so plainly and faithfully preaching the doctrines of human depravity, of regeneration by the supernatural influences of the divine Spirit, and of its absolute necessity that men might be saved; of effectual calling and justification by faith only, as a minister of the gospel ought by all means to do. They did not conceive him as making proper distinction between true and false religion and preaching in such a manner as had a tendency to show to hypocrites and secure sinners, their danger and misery. From the manner of his preaching, especially on sacramental occasions, suspicions arose, that he did not hold the real divinity of the Saviour. Besides, he appeared wholly unfriendly to the religious awakening and concern in the country, and to the zealous and experimental preachers by whom it was promoted. He excluded them from his pulpit, and openly approved of the persecuting laws and measures of the civil authority of that day. These were all matters of grievance to them. They could not hear such preaching at home as they desired, nor could they go abroad without giving offence. After repeated conversations with Mr. Noyes on their grievances and much pains to obtain satisfaction, they could obtain none either in private conversation nor by his preaching in public. They drew articles of charge or grievance and presented them to Mr. Noyes, desiring that they might be communicated to the church and society and solicited a mutual council, to hear and give advice in their difficulties. But instead of this, their grievances were greatly increased by Mr. Noycs' leading his [7/8] church to vote on the Saybrook platform, and at the same time excluding some from the privilege of voting in the affair. In these circumstances, and as they could not obtain a mutual council, nor any redress of their grievances, they took benefit of the act of toleration, and separated from the worship and ordinances in the first church, to which they originally belonged, and set up a distinct worship by themselves. They professed their desires, how ever, to have their grievances heard by a mutual council; but Mr. Noyes would not consent. Therefore, soon after their separation, they proceeded to call a council of their own. It consisted of the Rev. Messrs. Samuel Cooke, John Graham, Elisha Kent and Joseph Bellamy. They convened at New Haven, on the 5 of May, 1742. After a full hearing of the aggrieved brethren, they came to the following resolution, in effect, That the first church in New Haven were, by their own religious and solemn profession and confederation, a particular church of Christ, vested with all powers necessary for their own confirmation, government and edification, long before, until and at the time of the Synod at Saybrook, in 1703, and consequently were not dependent on it, nor anything consequent thereon." [See Trumbull's History of Connecticut, vol. 2, pp. 340, 341.]

According to Dr. Munger, in his very interesting historical discourse:

"The first recorded movement toward the formation of this society was the presentation of a petition, signed by thirty-eight persons, to the annual meeting of the First Society, December 28th, 1741, asking leave for the signers to go off and form a society by themselves, for the reason [8/9] assigned, that they had found by long and sorrowful experience that the preaching and conduct of Mr. Noyes was unprofitable to them, and they suspected he differed from them in some points of faith. At that period the pastor was settled for life. The society was bound to give him a comfortable support. Everybody residing in the town, except those belonging to the Episcopal Society, belonged by law to the First Ecclesiastical Society, and their property in the grand list was subject to taxation for its support, very much as at this day persons belong to the School District in which they reside and their property is subject to taxation for school purposes. [Apparently there was no Episcopal Society in 1741.] After this petition in terms offensive to the pride of Mr. Noyes and his friends, and proposing to deprive him of a part of the dignity and importance of his position and the society of a considerable part of its strength, had been discussed, the record very naturally reads that it was voted to do nothing about it. It is evident from the time of this vote for a period of seventeen years there was trouble in the First Church and Society. The petitioners became obstructionists. At the January term of the County Court, held the fourth Tuesday of January, A. D., 1742, they obtained leave to worship by themselves under the law known as the Toleration Act of William and Mary, by which means they were exempted from penalty for not attending the legally constituted church, although not relieved from their share of its support."

It is not my purpose to discuss the dissensions in the First Church, and the long and tortuous steps which were taken to form and establish the [9/10] seceding part of the congregation as an independent church. The fact is interesting that nearly seven teen years had passed before the final completion of the legal status of the seceding congregation was established; but what I have said seems to be necessary to our story, to show you how the little community of New Haven was agitated by theological controversies and by the quarrels of parishoners with their pastors. That feature in the life of the congregational churches of Connecticut was very common. We read of dissensions, difficulties, fault-findings, at Guilford, at Milford, at Branford, and other towns, and it would seem as if a large part of the energy of the people, such as it was, was spent in the self-imposed task of trying to regulate the opinions and the public life of their pastors. Of course much bad feeling was engendered, the effects of which were felt for a long time.

To understand still better the peculiar position of New Haven in the period referred to, the attitude and general policy of the college deserve rather extended notice.

Many people, considering the college with its impressive vigor and abundant life, are apt to over look the fact that it had but small beginnings. It was the outcome of conferences upon the needs of the colony for the proper education and training [10/11] of young men for the sacred ministry. The ministers, of course, took the lead; it was, in point of fact, their own creation. The people were poor, for the most part, and it was felt that a residence at Cambridge involved expenditure of money which they could ill afford.

It is needless at present and would be entirely out of place, to recount fully the steps which resulted in the organization of the college and its final establishment at New Haven. Suffice it to say that the supreme aim of the founders was to impart theological instruction, and the subordinate aim was the general secular training such as a college might be expected to give. The ministers, both of Massachusetts and Connecticut, had no taste for humane letters. Their entire interest was in theology. They did not like poetry; they did not like works of fiction; they did not like history; they did not care for scientific pursuit, but they did like theology, and with the earnestness which characterized them, they devoted them selves assiduously to the study of Hebrew, of Greek, and of course, of Latin. The taste of the ministers was theological, and not literary, as I have just said. The fact should be emphasized; for it accounts for much in the public and social life in New England. Mr. Charles Francis Adams, in his recent work on Massachusetts, has pointed [11/12] out with acrid astuteness that there was no literature and there was no taste for letters in Massachusetts during the whole period of the supremacy of the ministers, and that no book, of any note, in the field of letters, was written by any Massachusetts man, with the exception of Cotton Mather's "Magnalia." In Connecticut, no purely literary work was attempted or achieved. The people were not taught to love literature, and as long as the influence of the ministers lasted unimpaired, literature was unknown to the people who had the natural intelligence to have enjoyed it. The absence of taste for history was an especial characteristic of the ministers. Had they known history they might have had different ideas about the constitution of the church, but as it was, they formed their theory of it from the abstract study of disjointed texts of scripture. And yet, all honor to the ministers who brought volumes they could ill afford to give, and laid them on a table as their first offerings for the establishment of a library in the new college.

Now it can readily be seen that, inasmuch as the founders of the college were congregational ministers of the standing order, and that their object was supremely to prepare students for the ministry, the theological spirit of the new college, and the aims and the policy of the ministers in the conduct of it, [12/13] were likely to be just as rigid as the polity of the churches in the colony. "They were grounded in polemical divinity according to the Assembly's Catechism and Dr. Ames' Medulla and Cases of Conscience," and special care was taken in the education of the students, not to suffer them to be instructed in different principles or doctrines, and all "proper measures" were taken to promote the power and purity of religion and the best edification and peace of the churches.

The college reflected the dominant spirit of the religious and theological temper of the entire people. It was regarded with great pride. It was the subject of many prayers and of much thought, and its course was tranquil until the year 1722, when, to the consternation of the whole colony, Dr. Cutler, rector of the college, declared for episcopacy. He was not alone. He had companions, friends, fellow students, who had read, talked and conferred with him, most conspicuous of whom was Mr. Johnson, then of West Haven. They had read themselves into a belief that the true ministry of the church of Christ was not such a ministry as the congregational churches possessed, but was episcopal, that the episcopal type of the ministry was the original type, and was binding upon the practice of the church and the consciences of Christians for all time. No such theological or ecclesiastical [13/14] convulsion had ever been experienced in the colony. Mr. Cutler was promptly dismissed from his office, and he retired from New Haven, so that his direct influence upon the fortunes of the episcopal church in Connecticut were not considerable, but Mr. (subsequently, Dr.) Johnson is regarded, justly, as the father of episcopacy in Connecticut.

Dr. Cutler was very much admired for his character and abilities, and found a warm welcome among some of the churchmen of Boston, whither he went after having left New Haven. I say by some of the churchmen of Boston, but not by all, for Dr. Cutler, having "read himself" into the episcopal church, adopted what, in his day, were considered high church principles, and the Hanoverian Whig clergy of Boston had but little sympathy with him, and no sympathy with his principles. [Perry's Massachusetts, and especially a letter from Mr. Harris to the Bishop of London, pp. 156-162.]

It can readily be understood that the conversion of these gentlemen, young men as they were, to episcopacy, while it created a panic in the college and in the colony, did but tend to make hostility more bitter and the polity of the college in respect of the members of the church of England, more rigorous. They did not desire the presence of students who were members of the church of England.

[15] Our concern at present is not with the college in itself, but in the attitude toward the church in which it was placed by the authorities. The hostility was pronounced and even violent, but, as might have been foreseen, the wisdom and spirit of its polity began to be questioned. An influential minority, composed of churchmen and of all others who disliked the theology of the standing order, began to talk and to write against it. Among the dissidents there were probably some free thinkers and deists: in fact all men who thought that they were under the yoke of an intolerable tyranny were ranked in the opposition. But all opposition was powerless. The magistrates and the churches gave entire support to the college and endorsed its opposition to the church. So it stood with the college; so it stood with the churches; so it stood with the people of influence and position in New Haven in the year 1750. True, time had done something; gentler memories of the old home might have softened some, hearts; new corners might have qualified somewhat the general bitterness, but the fathers had eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth were set on edge.

As just stated, the people were not a complete unit. What free people ever are, long? The political and religious dissidents, no doubt, counted themselves and were counted. The members of the [15/16] church of England and sympathizers with it, were becoming more and more resolute, and were thinking, by this time, of building a house of worship, of modest dimensions, suited alike to their numbers and their pecuniary resources. I name 1750 as a sort of central date to be kept in mind, and my subject is the beginnings of the episcopal church in New Haven. Dr. Johnson probably was the first man who ever read the service of the Book of Common Prayer in New Haven. He came hither, occasionally, between 1730 and 1740 from Stratford and officiated, of course, in a private house. He cast longing eyes upon New Haven, for he was an alumnus of the college, and had lived over in West Haven, and was very much attached to the place. His infrequent ministrations did not lead to any public results, but in the year 1736 the Rev. Jonathan Arnold, a native of Connecticut, who conformed to the church in 1734, was in London, whither he had gone for his ordination. He evidently had made himself acquainted with some of the traditions New Haven about a valuable piece of land near the centre of the town, which was sup posed to have been bequeathed by Mr. Gregson to the church. He also had evidently studied New Haven county, and he made an application to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts for an appointment as a missionary [16/17] of the society. His letter to the secretary should be quoted in full, because, as a result of it, we may say that then the first serious efforts were made for the establishment of the church in New Haven. His letter is as follows:

"I have the pleasure to be informed that my case is referred to your compassionate consideration, and that it is expected that I make a reply to the two following questions, namely: First, what towns there are adjacent to New Haven which I should be willing to be serviceable to, making New Haven the place of my residence; Second, what reward I should expect from the Society for such service.

"In answer to the first question: there is Mil ford, ten miles distant; Derby, ten miles distant; Waterbury, twenty miles; Cheshire, twenty miles; Wallingford, twelve miles; Guilford, twenty miles distant from New Haven, all of which I am willing occasionally to visit and administer to.

"In answer to the second inquiry, relating to my reward, I am truly willing to spend and to be spent in the Society's service, and whatever the Society shall bestow will be thankfully accepted and shall be faithfully used for the good ends designed, and that God may enlarge the Society's abilities in proportion to their desire of doing good is the sincere prayer of, Reverend Gentlemen, Your most obedient servant."

You see the extent of the field he proposed to occupy. He evidently knew how large it was. The plan was to make New Haven the centre of his operations. He received the appointment, but [17/18] without salary. He was a man of some means, though not large. This letter was written in Lon don, and, clearly, the plan was that he should make New Haven the place of his residence; but the next letter written to the society was dated at West Haven, which leads me to think that he could not find a home in New Haven; in fact, that nobody would rent him a house. The letter is rather interesting. Under date of the 22nd of September, 1736, he writes:

"I beg leave humbly to present my duty to the Honorable Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and also an account of my proceedings and success. After a long passage and tedious fit of sickness, I arrived to my family in July last, and have, in the best manner I could, attended divine service in the several towns to which I am sent, preaching two sermons every Sunday, and frequent lectures at other times. By reason of the great distance of the towns where those dwell that are under my care, my work is made very charge able and difficult, but withal very pleasant from the fair prospect of success. I have admitted thirteen persons to the communion, and the number of communicants are fifty-six. I have baptized seven, of which five were infants, two adults, one of which was a negro. I performed divine service last Sunday in Milford, one of the most considerable towns in Connecticut Colony, where the use of the Lord's Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments, and the reading of the Scriptures in divine service, was never before known. There was a very numerous auditory, most attentive and desirous [18/19] to be instructed in the worship of the Church of England, but those who are looking towards the Church are commonly the poorer sort of people, for the staff of government being in the hands of the dissenters, who rule the church with an iron rod, those who receive honor one of another set themselves in distance, who allow their rage and revenge to increase in proportion to the increase of the Church."

Mr. Arnold frequently makes mention of his ministrations in the towns already named, but is utterly silent about New Haven. Whether he preached in New Haven, or how often, or what the extent of his ministrations was, we are unable to determine.

He was an active, resolute man, who repaid the bitterness with which he was regarded, by the standing order, with an acerbity, combined with a vigor of english, which must have made him an object of dislike personally, to say nothing of the aversion with which his mission was regarded. Mr. Arnold attempted to take possession of the land to which reference has already been made, by sending servants to plow it up, but, before the sun went down, his men were driven off the ground by a great mob, and he desisted from all further attempts to claim it. A copy of the will under which Mr. Arnold acted may be found in the land records of New Haven.

[20] "The six Episcopal clergymen of Connecticut," says Dr. Beardsley, "and Mr. Wetmore of Rye--who from nearness to this colony and sympathy with them always cooperated as far as he might with Dr. Johnson and his associates in their efforts to advance the prosperity of the Church--sent home to the Honorable Society a statement of this resistance. The testimony of such witnesses is reliable, and proves that there was some foundation in equity for the claim under the deed of William Gregson." [See Croswell's History of Trinity church, New Haven, Historical Society Papers, vol. i, pp. 76-78. and Beardsley's History. vol. i, pp. 169-170.]

This is about all I know of Mr. Arnold's minis try in the town of New Haven--not much, certainly. He evidently was a restless man, a man not of solid judgment, a man of large enterprises which he was unable to carry out, and his mission work in the county did not last long.

The clergy of Connecticut had many grievances. In a letter dated Boston, December 14th, 1738, Mr. Arnold again addresses the secretary of the S. P. G., as follows

"The government in Connecticut under which we are, having taken many severe measures against the church tending to crush and demolish it, my brethren were desirous that I should come home to represent our grievances and seek some relief, but being disappointed, would beg leave to lay before [20/21] the Honorable Society my own distressed state, earnestly requesting their compassionate' notice. My difficulties experienced in my mission is equal if not superior to any missionary's for there is no clergyman in the large county of Hartford nor in New Haven but myself, and I am frequently called upon and do officiate in several towns at a great distance, namely, Wallingford, Wethersfield, Simsbury, Farmington, etc., besides my special cure is large and very difficult, being much scattered, and though much oppressed increases greatly."

The concluding paragraph of the letter enables us, perhaps, to get a glimpse of Mr. Arnold's personal peculiarities for if he were the owner of an estate or possessed of any private means, as he undoubtedly was, why should he write to the secretary in this way:

"If they are in a capacity to make an addition to my substance I shall be most thankful if the Society should consider my low, distressed estate, I have a wife and five small children, and the cries for want of bread are very piercing. I have been forced to sell considerable of my land, and shall be obliged to sink my estate if relief cannot be obtained."

We can understand thoroughly that Mr. Arnold may have been in an embarrassed condition, but we cannot understand that a man of property could possibly have heard the piercing cries of his own children for bread. Still, Mr. Arnold was fairly successful in his general missionary work, and he enjoyed the confidence of his brethren, as the [21/22] following extract from a letter, addressed to the secretary by Messrs. Johnson, Wetmore and Beach, will show. They say in a communication dated New Haven, November 16th, 1738:

"We are met together upon the particular exigencies of the Church in this colony, and have put into the hands of our Reverend Brother, Mr. Arnold, our address to the Honorable Society, setting forth the grievances of the Church, and such papers as relate thereto, but having therein omitted the mentioning of what we think would be proper upon this occasion in behalf of our Reverend and worthy Brother, we beg leave hereby to acquaint the Honorable Board, that since his being appointed a missionary here he has, with a great deal of labor and zeal, served the interests of the Church, and with good success, in the several places of his itinerant mission."

Up to this time Mr. Arnold was well thought of by his brethren in the ministry, though they say not a word of any work of his in New Haven itself. But Mr. Arnold became so eccentric that the suspicion has crossed my own mind that he was probably unhinged. The project which they recommended miscarried; Mr. Arnold did not go to London. He left Connecticut and removed to New York. Dr. Johnson said: "Mr. Arnold has been in a very unsettled disposition of late, and is now about moving to Staten Island, New York, so that I question whether he will go home at all."

[23] This is all that we know of Mr. Arnold and his work in New Haven. He was succeeded by the Rev. Theophilus Morris, an Englishman by birth, and, presumably by education. His first report made to the society, was dated September 13th, 1740. He seems to have made, at first, an agreeable impression, because the people of West Haven expressed their thanks and gratitude to the honor able society for "sending the Rev. Mr. Morris to succeed Mr. Arnold, and if sincerity and zeal for the interests of the established Church can plead for us, that worthy clergyman you have been pleased to send us, and others of the clergy who know, can sufficiently testify for us."

Mr. Morris himself seemed pleased with his field of operation. But he had defects, some of which made him ill-fitted to minister to the people of New Haven, and others which made him unfit to minister anywhere. Apparently he neither knew nor cared for the tastes and general habit of mind of the people of Connecticut; at the same time he did endeavor to present the church in a favorable light to all persons, with whom he came in contact. To this extent his manners and ministry were conciliatory. He reported that the poorer people felt that it was against their worldly interests and prospects to conform to the church. Nothing of special interest occurred during his ministry, and he left the field much as he found it.

[24] Mr. Morris was, unfortunately, not simply a sip, but an informer. He complained of Arnold in the following manner, in a letter to secretary of the S. P. G.:

"I should further inform you that his frequenting the dissenters' meeting during his residence in this country has given no small uneasiness. He is not the only person that has run into such practices, and give me leave to assure you, sir, that it would con tribute to the welfare of the Church if you thought proper to restrain such liberties in clergymen."

He also complained that Mr. Arnold had refused to let him have the Bible and Common Prayer Book for the use of his people in the mission. Not content, however, with complaining against Mr. Arnold, he undertook to lessen the respect of the society for Mr. Johnson, who was certainly, at that time, the most influential clergyman of our church in Connecticut. Of Johnson he complained, likewise, that he had gone to hear dissenters and disorderly persons preach, and he made such an impression upon the society that Johnson felt himself compelled to make an explanation. He said he went once, with two or three of his brethren of the clergy, one night, in the dark, and perfectly incognito, among a vast crowd, to see and hear the management and ravings of James Davenport. He also felt called upon to [24/25] write to Mr. Morris, expostulating with him for his conduct, and said to him:

"I hope your conscience is now entirely easy, having so effectually disburdened it at the Convention, and procured a chastisement to be sent to me, which I have received."

Mr. Morris seems to have entertained a strong dislike of Dr. Johnson, and when the clergy of Connecticut sent a petition to the society that Dr. Johnson be appointed commissary, Mr. Morris was the only clergyman in the colony who refused to join with his brethren in the application.

But Mr. Morris had another defect of character, I judge, because Mr. Price, the commissary of the Bishop of London, wrote from Boston to the secretary in 1743 as follows:

"The people of New London are full of com plaints against Mr. Morris, and charge him with being frequently disguised with strong liquors. If he should be innocent of this crime, which I shall inquire into, yet it is my opinion he has not discretion enough to be of great service in that town, which is a place of considerable importance." [Perry's Massachusetts, p. 374.]

He seems to have been in bad odor both in Connecticut and Massachusetts. This is all that need be said of Mr. Morris; he disappeared henceforth.

[26] Then came the Rev. James Lyons, an Irishman. If Mr. Morris lacked discretion in one way, Mr. Lyons was equally deficient in another. He was a man, however, of a better type than Mr. Morris. He was active, industrious, and somewhat energetic, and in a letter dated New Haven, May 30th, 1745, he makes a statement which is very important, as it throws light upon the way in which parishes were organized in Connecticut. Everyone who has examined the history of the church has been disturbed by the fact that information respecting the organization of parishes is so scanty and the records so few. The fact would seem to be,--inasmuch as what I am about to mention is stated as if it were nothing extraordinary,--that the missionaries themselves did all "in the way of organization" that was or could be done, and I suspect this is the key to the solution of the whole subject. In this letter Mr. Lyons says (May 30th, 1745):

"I preached thrice at Middletown, and appointed church wardens and resolved to give them liberty to read prayers and sermons, as in other places."

That must have been the extent of organization in many of our parishes which are now parishes of importance and influence. Mr. Lyons further reports:

[27] "The people of Derby continue divided by a national spirit which prevails and is industriously propagated by some of them and the neighboring clergy. However, after all attempts made and unchristian means used by some to render me unacceptable by hauling me once and again before an independent justice of the peace, as I mentioned in some former accounts, yet through the goodness of God my innocency and integrity protected me, and I continue irreprovable having a good understanding with the most of my extensive mission."

There is nothing further in the work of Mr. Lyons which requires special comment. Not a word is said about New Haven by these missionaries. The design to make New Haven the centre of church influence proved abortive. The adverse influences were too strong. The character and the ability of the missionaries were not sufficiently imposing to have made any impression upon the New Haven public at large. We are, however, approaching a time when the church assumed somewhat more the character of a distinct parish. Not that I am able to tell you anything in the way of a remarkable change, for no remarkable change happened.

Mr. Lyons was succeeded by Mr. Ebenezer Punderson, and Mr. Punderson's is the first name that suggests itself as really connected with this parish. Ebenezer Punderson was born in New Haven in the year 1705. He studied theology after having [27/28] graduated at the college, and was called to be the pastor of the church of the standing order which had just been formed in the north parish in Groton, now the town of Ledyard. He had not been many years in this pastorship before he "astounded his people by avowing himself a conformist to the Church of England." After spending several years in Groton, he was, at his own request, transferred to New Haven. Mr. Punderson seems to have removed from Groton to New Haven in the year 1753. The episcopalians had mustered courage, and had increased, probably, enough to have begun actively, in the year 1752, the project of building a house of worship. But I see as yet no traces of parochial organization, for Mr. Samuel Mix (he must have been a man of great courage), in July "did give, grant, bargain and sell unto Enos Alling and Isaac Doolittle, for the building of a house of worship agreeably and according to the establishment of the Church of England," a lot situated on the east side of Church street, south of Chapel. You observe that the gentlemen above n have no official style or title, and considering what seems to have been the universal custom of the time, the inference is that the so-called organization had not been made. It is universally conceded that "the exact time of the organization of Trinity Church [28/29] has not been ascertained." [Frederick Croswell, Dr. Beardsley and others.] My belief is, that with the advent of Mr. Punderson, about the time of the building of the church, he appointed wardens, as Mt Lyons had done in Middletown, and, probably named the church, as he named the North Haven church, some years later on. This fact, then, remains: the church was built, certainly, between July 1752 and the summer of 1753. Mr. Punderson himself contributed much of the timber, while the poverty of the churchmen is illustrated by the fact I am about to narrate. A former resident of this city, now nearly ninety years of age, and blessed with an extraordinary memory, in a letter recently written and which has been kindly loaned, says that Trinity Church "was built by my grandfather, Thomas Davis. Among the number (I presume he means either of church members or of contributors) were Benjamin Sanford and Enos Alling. The names of the others I do not know. I have heard my grandmother tell about boarding the workmen for a week, and they would board with others in turn, so that every eight weeks she would have to board them, until the church was finished."

They were probably imported workmen. Possibly the resident mechanics declined to have anything to do with the new church which they had been taught to hate so much. But, still, we have here a glimpse into the homely conditions of the life of [29/30] the people, especially of the poor churchmen. I know no more of the contributors. There is a tradition that, "when the frame of the building was raised, the heads of all the episcopal families then in New Haven sat down upon the door-sill and spoke hesitatingly of their future growth."

The church was a small, wooden structure, measuring 58 feet by 38, and capable of seating only one hundred and fifty persons. It was very insignificant when compared with the new brick church, which measured 76 by 54, or even with the blue church, which was 65 by 45. [These are the figures of Dr. Stiles in his Itinerary.]

The opening of the episcopal church in New Haven was, perhaps, both the cause and the occasion of a new and violent controversy touching the policy of the college. The churchmen, aided by a portion of the minority in the colony, in the opposition, demanded certain privileges for the students belonging to the church, which the authorities of the college were unwilling to grant The point in dispute was far more serious, however, than any question which might have arisen between a small congregation, on the one side, and a college struggling into a position of influence and power on the other. It had been the contention of the majority, as I have already said in this discourse, that Yale College was to be supremely a school of theological [30/31] learning, and this position was maintained with great tenacity and resisted with great power. It was contended by the minority that the supreme "design of colleges was to teach the arts and sciences only, and that religion was no part of a college education, and therefore that no religious worship ought to be upheld or enjoined by the laws of the college, and that every student should be allowed to worship how and where he pleased, or as his parents and guardians should direct." [Trumbull, Vol. II, p. 320 et seq.] This was the contention. They who made the issue were, of course, ignominiously beaten; but the discipline of Yale College for many years last past, in respect of what was called the design of colleges, has been in substantial agreement with the attitude of the minority of one hundred and fifty years ago. For the attitude of the authorities of the college has thoroughly changed. The spirit of the, college has been completely revolutionized. It has developed into a great university, and the study of theology is confined to but one department, while, undoubtedly, it is under stood that it is the "design of colleges to teach the arts and sciences only." The beaten minority has had its revenge. The argument was simply an anticipation of what has come to pass. Realized predictions suggest more insight into the developments of history than a view of things shaped by [31/32] the present and colored only by the memories of the past. But the president, Dr. Clap, was no less vigorous than the opponents of the college. He showed, and he showed conclusively, that a college was entitled; bylaw and by reason, to frame its own regulations for its own government; that a college could not exist if this right of its authorities were withheld. At the same time, the president found himself in a position of some difficulty, when it was charged that larger liberty should be granted to the students in the matter of attending divine worship, because Governor Yale and Bishop Berkeley, who were churchmen, made large donations to the college. It was maintained that the donations never would have been made had the donors fore seen the imposition of such severe restrictions upon the students who might be members of the church of England. The president felt the force of the attack, and it was said that the "corporation had a just sense of the generosity of those gentlemen, and for that and for many other reasons were willing to do all they could to gratify the gentlemen of the church of England consistent with the design of the founders, and particularly, had given liberty to those students who had been educated in the church of England and were of that communion, to be absent at those times when the sacrament was administered in that church, upon Christmas and [32/33] some such other times as would not be an infraction of the general and standing rule of the college." The argument of the president was thought to be satisfactory, and at the time no further con cessions were made to the church people who were so clamorous for freedom. But the english-speaking world did not then understand the principles of religious freedom as applied either to educational institutions or to public worship. You will perceive, then, how the case stands. The disaffected minority was arguing for an education and for a freedom, in the matter of the worship of the students, entirely in advance of their own time. The dissatisfied minority is always the party pleading for freedom, whether in the church or in the state. The governing majority naturally does not criticise its own conclusions nor demand reformation and revolution.

The attitude of the college caused Dr. Johnson to address President Clap a very impassioned letter. It was written in February, 1754, and in the course of it he writes as follows:

"The only point in question, as I humbly conceive, is whether there ought of right to be any such law in your college as either in words or by necessary consequence forbids the liberty we con tend for. What we must beg leave to insist on is, that there ought not, and that it is highly injurious to forbid it, unless you can make it appear that you [33/34] ever had a right to exclude the people of the Church belonging to this colony from having the benefit of public education in your college without their submitting to the hard condition of not being allowed to do what they believe in their conscience it is their indispensable duty to do--i. e., to require their children to go to Church whenever they have opportunity--and a right to accept and hold such vast benefactions from gentlemen of the Church of England wherewith to support you maintaining such a law in exclusion of such a liberty. Can you think these gentlemen would ever have given such benefactions for such a purpose?"

This is the substance of Dr. Johnson's warm and impassioned plea. He was right in theory, right in principle, but mistaken as to what was the common sentiment and practice of the english-speaking race. They did not even then understand religious liberty. This is the point to be remembered in the history of this debate. We can scarcely blame President Clap for not being above the level of his race, and time and surroundings, and Dr. Johnson himself, right as he was in his plea, probably did not know (for the reporter was not then abroad in the land) that, just about six months before the composition of this letter, a remarkable boy named Edward Gibbon had been expelled from the University of Oxford because he had become a Roman Catholic. So it may be said, not in the way of compromise, but of fact, that both sides in the controversy had a [34/35] certain measure of right. What was right and true has become triumphant; what was mistaken and false has been buried out of sight.

But to come back to the church. Though the churchmen had at last seen their hopes realized, and they could worship in the house of God according to their cherished and inextinguishable convictions, the congregation did not increase in any way to stimulate the hopes or to arouse the enthusiasm of the people. In fact, our story is still somewhat melancholy. While churchmen were brave, persistent, determined and vigilant, New Haven still remained obdurate, it still looked upon the church with angry eyes. In the year 1760 (I am again indebted to Dr. Stiles' Itinerary) it appears that the whole number of members of the church of England in New Haven was less than a hundred. [I am indebted to the courtesy of Prof. Dexter for the opportunity of examining this unprinted and valuable diary.] No church record preserves their names, but I have found them in Stiles, and will read them: Enos Ailing, 1, Stephen Ailing, 3; Stephen Mansfield, Timothy Bonticu, 6; Timothy Bonticu, Jr., 5; Isaac Doolittle, 7; Benjamin Mugford, 1; William Punchard, 4; John Danielson, 2; Thomas Davis, 4; Benjamin Sanford, 5; John Leak, 5; Daniel Russell, 7; William Cable, 3; Timothy Ford, 1; Joshua May, 3; Nicholas Leckmore, 6; Stephen Bradley, 5; Mathers Noble, 2; Thomas Dodd, 5; James [35/36] Woodhouse, 2; Jonathan Miles, 7; Mrs. Greenough, 2; John Read, 2. These numbers denote the size of the families. The whole population, including 200 students, was about 1500. The people were disheartened. Dr. Johnson, whose heart had been in New Haven so long, spoke out of the fullness of it in a letter to Archbishop Secker:

"Mr. Punderson," said he, "seems a very honest and laborious man, yet the Church at New Haven appears uneasy and rather declining under his ministry; occasioned, I believe, partly by his want of politeness and partly by his being absent so much, having five or six places under his care. I wish he was again in Groton, and some politer person in his place and another at Guilford and Branford."

It may be said in all truth that the flame of episcopacy in New Haven was but feeble and flickering. Yet the adverse winds from the college and from the church did not put it out. Mr. Punderson was a good and generous man, thoroughly conscientious, but he became embroiled in quarrels with his neighbors, and the congregation diminished. People whom he could ill afford to lose dropped away; his life was embittered, and his residence in New Haven must have become very disagree able. He seems, however, to have kept a stout heart, and in the year 1762 writes to the secretary of the society as follows:

[37] "Ever since I have been in this mission, which is eight years and a half, I have to the utmost of my power been endeavoring to promote the religion of our ascended Redeemer as professed by our most excellent Church, and blessed be God, my labors have been attended with uncommon success, notwithstanding the continual endeavors of the numerous and powerful as well as subtle adversaries of our Church to disquiet my life and render my endeavors abortive."

It is difficult to understand what he meant by claiming that his ministry was attended with uncommon success. I presume he must have referred to his work elsewhere in the neighboring towns, for he says:

"I am eased of North Haven, a Church almost entirely of my raising up, and which I preached in the Sunday after Christmas, and dedicated to St. John, as it was his day. Had upwards of twenty communicants, although excessive cold, 2 degrees in extreme (sic)." (March 1762).

At the end of the year he received an invitation from the church at Rye, which he gladly accepted, though his removal was attended with complications, because the society at home, without having been informed of the action of the vestry at Rye, had appointed Mr. Palmer to the mission. The consequence was that there were two claimants for the same place. But the difficulty was speedily and amicably adjusted. Mr. Punderson remained at [37/38] Rye until the close of his life, where his ministry was very successful, and Mr. Palmer was transferred to New Haven, and entered upon his duties immediately, with great industry, vigor and enthusiasm. Mr. Punderson's memory should be cherished with great respect, for he did his life work with fidelity and generosity, and bore up manfully under the disappointments of his ministry here, especially during the latter part of the time.

The episcopalians had been attempting a religious census of the colony, and Dr. Stiles had become cognizant of it, and with his usual endeavor to find out everything about everybody, writes, May 8th, 1760:

"The total of Episcopalians in New England in 1760 does not exceed thirty common Presbyterian meetings, the work of forty years, since the Society (S. P. G.) directly attempted the proselyting of our Churches. . . . Since that time (namely, 1748) they (the Society) have been exhausted, and probably their annual contributions are at their akme and will never much exceed the demand of the present missions, and there are but three of these who will in many years be able to support themselves, . . . so that perhaps half a dozen more will exceed the number they will ever be able to support at a time. The creating new missions has evidently been clogged ever since the year 1742. And perhaps in the last 20 years there have not been 10 new missions created. It is therefore [38/39] most probable that in the 20 years next to come they cannot create 10 new ones or increase the number of clergy to 40, except by proselyting, And as the great motive of relaxation from ministerial taxes already begins to cease, or rather has ceased, there remains the only way for numerous additions, viz., by continuing to open the arms of the Church to malcontents of our communion, and debauching of some few that are carried away by the struggle of party. But our Churches are in the progress of a most rapid increase, and do now make annually four new parishes to one new reading house of Episcopalians, and will increase beyond this. . . . It is probable, therefore, that the era of swift increase of the Church of England is now elapsed; that for the future the increase will decline: while our Churches continue in steady but most rapid increase of doubling once in 30 years, which must constantly diminish the proportion of the Church to the Congregationalists. For it is probable 30 years hence the Church will not have above 40 missions and at most five other congregations that support themselves; at which time by the blessing of Providence our churches will have increased to 1000."

And to Dr. Chauncy, in July, 1761, he used this language:

"The Episcopalians compute 2000 families in Connecticut. There are but 30 places of public worship now. And from the largest allowances I cannot make but about 1240 families in Connecticut, nor indeed do I think there are so many by 200. However, I do not know but it might have been as well to allow 200 instead of 2100 for all New England. . . . However, I believe the [39/40] Episcopalians do not in truth exceed 2000 families, yet I would willingly give them large allowance, as there will be enough left for us for a basis of as large an increased body a century hence as we can wish. I mean to keep ourselves in countenance so far as numbers ought to do it, which I regard of no great moment indeed besides barely the security of liberty."

But prophesy evidently was not one of the gifts of Dr. Stiles. To be sure, as we have seen, the church in New Haven was in a most depressed condition, but many of our congregations elsewhere through out the colony were flourishing. Dr. Stiles might have found some consolation and some ground for his hope that the church had seen its best days already in New England from the state of things in New Haven, but the church in New Haven had then touched its lowest point of depression. The Rev. Solomon Palmer, who, as we have already seen, succeeded Mr. Punderson, appears at once to have been successful in his ministry. They who had dropped off from the congregation found their way back, and while nothing of special interest may have occurred during Mr. Palmer's day, he nevertheless left New Haven in the year 1766, having complained "that he could not support his large family in the expensive town of New Haven on his salary." He removed to Litchfield late in 1766, and after a ministry of some five years there he [40/41] died, mourned and respected by the churchmen of the colony.

The church for many years, as we have seen, ate the bread of adversity and drank the waters of affliction. The persecuting spirit was still violent; the church was spoken of in a way, partly contemptuous and partly bitter, but notwithstanding all opposition, it was progressing and strengthening. For what did it stand in those days? It stood for toleration, for latitude, for comprehensiveness. It stood for what we of this day prize so much--the old order and the free spirit.

We have seen that the people were composed chiefly of the poorer class. They were men neither of influence, nor of distinction. I have named no one who was conspicuous here for genius or for learning. But, of the small number of churchmen, one person stands out to my mind with preeminent interest. Mr. Enos Alling, a native of New Haven and a graduate of the college, of the class of 1746, became a churchman, and having once resolved upon his allegiance to the church, he defended it at all times, and in all places, with vigor, with dignity, and with a sweetness hitherto unknown to the people of New Haven. He is described by the Rev. Solomon Palmer as truly catholic in his tem per; as having been the greatest benefactor to this church in New Haven, and would, he proceeds, [41/42] "I doubt not, do all he could for the interests of the Society and the furtherance of their pious and charitable designs." He had the sagacity to secure for the church its dower. To him more than to any other man connected with the history of this parish from its beginning, is Trinity Church to-day indebted for its material resources. The history of the legal process by which he secured the property to Trinity parish has been printed more than once, and is of easy access. I shall not, therefore, occupy your attention with a repetition of it. It is enough for us to do honor to-day to the name of Enos Alling. The parish has treated his memory with indifference. His name is unknown to a large majority of our people, but it is impossible to read the history of our parish without becoming acquainted with the extraordinary value of his life, his example, and his services. He lies buried in a plot, belonging to the parish, in the old cemetery. Throw a flower upon his grave. I have said that he had more sweetness of disposition than was common in his day and generation, and I will conclude my notice of him by reading a letter he wrote to the society in behalf of the missionary, the Rev. Mr. Palmer, and of the neighboring missions in the county. The letter is dated New Haven, December 16th, 1765.

[43] "By seeing my name in the list of the members of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, in their last abstract, I have learned my election as a member of that Honorable Corporation, and therefore take this earliest opportunity to acknowledge the honor they have therein done me, and assure them I will do everything in my power to further their pious designs; and as a specimen of which, will pay to the Rev. Mr. Palmer the sum of ten pounds sterling, as part of his annual salary from the venerable Society, as soon as they shall give him orders to receive it.

"Mr. Palmer complains that his income is not equal to his family and incidental charges, and that as he has already spent a considerable part of his little estate he must soon spend the whole, and have nothing left for his children unless he should be speedily helped.

"As his family is large and his occasional expenses great, I believe his complaint is just, and I heartily wish, as by reason of the great expense we have lately been at, in finishing our church, purchasing a small glebe and building a house upon it, we have rendered ourselves unable, the Society would in pursuance of their charitable purposes help him. A gratuity of £20 sterling he thinks would be sufficient to supply his present necessities and carry him along until we shall have paid our present public debts, and be able better to provide for him; which if not granted he imagines he shall be obliged so far to involve himself in debt as he shall never be able to pay, and thus by wronging his creditors, fall under disgrace, which, as at the same time, it would greatly hurt his influence and reflect dishonor upon the Church, affords him but a melancholy prospect.

"Mr. Palmer by his private conversation which has been agreeable to his character, and by his [43/44] public administrations which have been to the acceptance and satisfaction of his responsive congregation, has rendered himself worthy of the Society's past favors. Under him this Church has flourished and grown into such repute that numbers of dissenters frequently come to it, and join with us in our way of worship, and with respect to our missionaries in general in Connecticut, I should not do them justice if I did not recommend them as a truly venerable, respectable and learned body of men, faithfully discharging the duties of their mission, whose ministrations have been blessed to the great increase of the Church, and promotion of true religion, peace and good order."

Later on, after Mr. Hubbard had been transferred to New Haven, Mr. Alling wrote again in the following terms:

"I beg leave, moreover, to acquaint you that the situation of this mission, it being in a capital town, and what with the college, the General Assembly and the courts, which brings in many people and unavoidably renders the place very expensive to our clergyman, I might add that an annual Convention [though a mere voluntary assemblage was the rudimentary germ of our present conventions], of the clergy is held here every Commencement; that what with this expense and furnishing a bed for travelling clergymen I believe it cannot be a less expense to him than fifteen or twenty pounds sterling per annum.

"The Church people are willing to do everything in their power to give a decent support to their minister and to enable him to appear in character, but we are much smaller in number than our [44/45] dissenting brethren, but what we give Mr. Hubbard in New Haven is thirty pounds sterling, together with a decent house and garden. This with the forty pounds sterling from the Society, which I hope we receive with gratitude, makes but a small support to a minister in this large town, and would the Society in their great goodness but add the ten pounds which they have been pleased to take off from this mission, it would be a very seasonable relief to our minister in his needy circumstances, and would be very thankfully received. Could the Society be prevailed on to do this, I would with their approbation cheerfully pay two guineas a year to him from the date of his letter which was some time in April last.

"I have the pleasure to see the Church daily increasing by the prudent and discreet behavior of Mr. Hubbard, who is very well esteemed not only by our own people, but by those of the dissenters among us."

Mr. Bela Hubbard was appointed in the year 1767, and at once secured the esteem and respect of the people.

The ship is now over the bar, and the first chapter of the history of the church in New Haven is ended.

I must add a few words in conclusion. This is the season of peace and good will. [Sunday after Christmas.] It is a matter of great joy to think that the old bitter theological and ecclesiastical passions are buried and gone. We are living in a better day. There is a more [45/46] generous conception of Christianity and of human duties of service and charity No reasonable man living a hundred and thirty years ago could have supposed that before the closing of this century the little congregation of episcopalians would worship in a church like ours, standing upon the public green, and that our relations with the older ecclesiastical societies would become, as they have become, friendly, cordial and fraternal. No reasonable man could then have supposed that the college would expand into a great university and that one of its departments would bear the name of a member of this congregation, [The late Joseph E. Sheffield, Esq.] and that a building would stand on the campus--a building which is the glory of collegiate architecture on this continent--would bear the name of another member of our church. [Cornelius Vanderbilt, Esq., of New York.] What a revolution has come. We are nearer the reunion of Christendom. Humanity is acquiring a finer texture. There is ground for hope that efforts for God and man will continue to move on a nobler level. Let us then with thankful hearts sing, We praise thee O God: We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.

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