BLTC Press Titles

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Calvinism in History

by Nathaniel S. MacFetridge


Let us come at once to the great Revolutionary conflict by which the colonies became a free and independent nation. My proposition is this—a proposition which the history clearly demonstrates: That this great American nation, which stretches


her vast and varied territory from sea to sea, and from the bleak hills of the North to the sunny plains of the South, was the purchase chiefly of the Calvinists, and the inheritance which they bequeathed to all liberty-loving people.

It would be almost impossible to give the merest outline of the influence of the Calvinists on the civil and religious liberties of this continent without seeming to be a mere Calvinistic eulogist; for the contestants in the great Revolutionary conflict were, so far as religious opinions prevailed, so generally Calvinistic on the one side and Arminian on the other as to leave the glory of the result almost entirely with the Calvinists. They who are best acquainted with the history will agree most readily with the historian, Merle D'Aubign<5, when he says: "Calvin was the founder of the greatest of republics. The Pilgrims who left their country in the reign of James I., and, landing on the barren soil of New England, founded popul Jus and mighty colonies, were his sons, his direct and legitimate sons; and that American nation which we have seen growing so rapidly boasts as its father the humble Reformer on the shores of Lake Leman."*

There was no place on this continent where the * Hist. Ref. in the Time of Calvin, i. 5.

political agitation which resulted in independence was be vigorously kept up as in the city of New York. The two leading parties of that city, in wealth and influence, in politics and religion, at that time, were the Livingstons and De Lanceys. The Livingstons were Presbyterians, and consequently flaming republicans or Whigs, and were supported almost unanimously by the dissenters; the De Lanceys were Episcopalians, and staunch loyalists, or Tories, and were supported as unanimously by the Episcopalians.* Hence the religious beliefs and differences contributed very largely to inflame the spirit of the opposing parties and to sustain it throughout the conflict; for not then as now, it will be remembered, did such liberal and fraternal sentiments pervade the various denominations. It was a formative, trying period, when the heat of debate and contention was felt and exhibited by all parties.

The various bodies of dissenters, mainly Calvinists, which had settled in the colonies, had been driven away from their fatherland, not by the persecutions of the Romish Church, but by the tyranny of British sovereigns and the intolerance of the Anglican Church. It is to be remembered that the * Jones's Hist. N. Y., vol. ii. p. 291.

settlement of New England was the result, not of the contest between the Reforming opinions and the authority of Rome, but, as Bancroft says, "of the implacable differences between Protestant dissenters and the established Anglican Church. ... A young French refugee (John Calvin) skilled in theology and civil law, in the duties of magistrates and in the dialectics of religious controversy, entering the republic of Geneva, and conforming its ecclesiastical discipline to the principles of republican simplicity, established a party of which Englishmen became members and New England the asylum."* The same radical and implacable differences which existed between the dissenters and the Episcopalians in England continued between them on this side of the Atlantic, and finally brought them into open conflict. The Episcopal Church, being the estab lished Church of the English nation, having her supreme authority vested in the English sovereign, claimed the right to be the only Church to exist under the British flag. Hence the non-conformists could not find a place for the soles of their feet on which to rest wherever that Establishment had the power. Their only relief was in flight from the homes of their childhood and the graves of their * Hist. U. S., vol. i. p. 266.

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