The Eschatology Of The New England Divines -- By: Frank Hugh Foster

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 045:180 (Oct 1888)
Article: The Eschatology Of The New England Divines
Author: Frank Hugh Foster

The Eschatology Of The New England Divines

The Rev. Frank H. Foster


We have hitherto considered the great writers of New England down to Hopkins severally. We have traced the operations of their minds under the influence of the new ideas which had begun to germinate and grow, but had attained no ripe and perfect result. It will be better from this point on to consider the development of their ideas with less reference to individual peculiarities, and mark how they advanced, substantially in entire agreement, to meet an attack from without upon this portion of their cherished faith. Till now they had opposed individual errorists, and often found them among their own proper leaders. Now a movement was initiated from without, was soon organized into a new denomination, the Universalist, and hence had its defined line of attack, and could be better estimated and more effectively opposed. The corporate character of the attacking force gave unity and solidity to the defence. We may therefore treat less individually the replies made by men who speak now more as members of one host opposing another. In one respect this controversy is less interesting than one could wish. It is too involved with other controversies to possess the piquant interest derived from concentrated attention to one great theme. But history follows the actual course of affairs, and derives her true attractiveness not

from the development of some ideal plan, but from the sense of faithfulness to facts which in the providence of God are designed to teach us some form of eternal truth. If then it is impossible wholly to distinguish the Universalist from the Unitarian Controversy, the affinity of Universalism with that feeble apprehension of human guilt which is characteristic of Unitarianism, will do something to put the nature of the doctrines opposed by the New England divines in clearer light. Let us turn then to

VI. The Universalist Controversy

The first Universalist of America in the denominational sense of that term, was the Rev. John Murray, who, born in 1741, came to this country in 1770.1 As a theologian, he has no just claim to an independent consideration, since he derived his ideas from James Relly, of England, and remained a consistent Rellyan so long as he lived. We put first, therefore, the views of Relly.

I. James Relly

Mr. Relly’s views were set forth by himself in a book entitled “Union.”2 The occasion of the studies which led to the discovery and promulgation of the doctrine of Union, is said to have been the recu...

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