Hopkinsianism -- By: Enoch Pond

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 019:75 (Jul 1862)
Article: Hopkinsianism
Author: Enoch Pond


Rev. Enoch Pond

Hopkinsianism is Calvinism, in distinction from every form and shade of Arminianism; and yet not Calvinism, in precisely the sense of Calvin, or of the Westminster Confession of faith. It is a modification of some of the points of old Calvinism, presenting them, as its abettors think, in a more reasonable, consistent, and scriptural point of light. These modifications originated in New England, more than a hundred years ago. They commenced with the first President Edwards, and were still further unfolded in the teachings of his pupils and followers, Hopkins, Bellamy, West, the younger Edwards, Dr. Emmons, and Dr. Spring.

The name “Hopkinsian “is derived from Dr. Samuel Hopkins of Newport, R. I., and was fastened upon those who sympathized with him, not by himself, but by an opponent. It originated, as Dr. Hopkins tells the story, in this wise: “In the latter part of the year 1769, Mr. William Hart of Saybrook, published a dialogue, under the following title: ‘Brief Remarks on a Number of false Positions, and dangerous Errors, which are spreading in the Country; collected out of sundry Discourses lately published by Pr. Whittaker and Mr. Hopkins.’ Soon after, there was a small pamphlet published, which was doubtless written by the same Mr. Hart, in which the doctrines which I, and others who agreed with me, had published, were misrepresented and set in a ridiculous light; and with a particular design to disgrace me before the public, he called them Hopkintonian doctrines. This is the origin of the epithet; and since that time, all who embrace the Calvinistic doctrines as published by President Edwards, Dr. Bellamy, Dr. West of Stockbridge, and myself, have been called Hopkintonians or Hopkinsians.

Thus, without designing it, I am become the head of a denomination, which has since greatly increased, in which thousands are included, ministers and others, who, I believe, are the most sound and consistent Calvinists.”

In the year 1796, Dr. Hopkins says again: “About forty years ago, there were but few, perhaps not more than four or five, who espoused the sentiments which have since been called Edwardean and New Divinity, and still later (after some improvements made upon them), Hopkinsian sentiments. But these sentiments have so spread since that time, that there are now more than a hundred ministers in the United States, who espouse the same sentiments; and the number appears to be fast increasing.”1

Some have doubted whether President Edwards had much to do in originating the Hopkinsian peculiarities; but we have here the testimony of Dr. ...

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