John Humphrey No Yes And His “Bible Communists” -- By: Benjamin B. Warfield

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 078:310 (Apr 1921)
Article: John Humphrey No Yes And His “Bible Communists”
Author: Benjamin B. Warfield


John Humphrey No Yes And His “Bible Communists”

Benjamin B. Warfield

II. The Beginnings

It was into this atmosphere that John Humphrey Noyes was plunged by his conversion in August, 1831. He was an opinionated, self-assertive young man of twenty,1 who had been graduated from Dartmouth College the year before (1830), and meantime had been studying law in his brother-in-law’s office at Putney, where the family had been resident since 1823. The great revival of 1831 seems fairly to have rushed him off his feet. He took his conversion hard, yielding with difficulty; but when he yielded he yielded altogether. He himself sums up what happened in a rapid sentence, which is no more rapid, however, than the rush of the events it describes. “The great Finney revival found him,” he says of himself, “at twenty years of age, a college graduate, studying law, and sent him to study divinity, first at Andover, afterwards at New Haven.”2 He entered the Seminary at Andover four weeks after his conversion, and in less than three months after it he had placed himself at the disposal of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. But nothing that organized Christianity could offer could satisfy his morbid appetite for excitement, and in a little more than two years more he had turned his back upon it all and was seeking thrills along a new path.

He has himself described for us the stages of his progress.

“After a painful process of conviction, in which the conquest of my aversion to becoming a minister was one of the critical points” — it is thus that he describes his conversion,3 — “I submitted to God and obtained spiritual peace. With much joy and zeal I immediately devoted

myself to the study of the Scriptures, and to religious testimony in private and public. The year of 1831 was distinguished as ‘the year of revivals.’ New measures, protracted meetings, and New York evangelists had just entered New England, and the whole spirit of the people was fermenting with religious excitement. The millennium was supposed to be very near. I fully entered into the enthusiasm of the time; and seeing no reason why backsliding should be expected or why the revival spirit might not be maintained in its full vigor permanently, I determined with all my inward strength to be ‘a young convert’ in zeal and simplicity forever. My heart was fixed on the millennium, and I resolved to live or die for it. Four weeks after my conversion I went to Andover and was admitted to the Theological Seminary.”

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