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The Protestant Interest

The Protestant Interest: New England After Puritanism

Thomas S. Kidd
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The Protestant Interest
    Book Description:

    During the early eighteenth century, colonial New England witnessed the end of Puritanism and the emergence of a revivalist religious movement that culminated in the evangelical awakenings of the 1740s. This engrossing book explores the religious history of New England during the period and offers new reasons for this change in cultural identity.

    After England's Glorious Revolution, says Thomas Kidd, New Englanders abandoned their previous hostility toward Britain, viewing it as the chosen leader in the Protestant fight against world Catholicism. They also imagined themselves part of an international Protestant community and replaced their Puritan beliefs with a revival-centered pan-Protestantism. Kidd discusses the rise of "the Protestant interest" and provides a compelling argument about the origins of both eighteenth-century revivalism and the global evangelical movement.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12840-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    With news flooding the Boston presses of George Whitefield’s awakenings, Thomas Prince preached one of the masterpieces of eighteenth-century evangelicalism,The Endless Increase of Christ’s Government(May 25, 1740). In this sermon, Prince argued that the kingdom of God was advancing inexorably toward the conversion of millions across the nations, bringing people from all over the world into the fold of Christ before his final return. His vision was internationalist and utterly optimistic about God’s ultimate triumph in the end of history. Perhaps Prince hoped that the victory of God was beginning at that moment:

    For as this gospel of...

  5. CHAPTER ONE “Fidelity to Christ and to the Protestant Succession”: Benjamin Colman and the Protestant Interest
    (pp. 29-50)

    As new converts flocked to the Brattle Street Church in October 1740, Benjamin Colman knew that something significant in redemptive history was happening through the ministry of the “singular servent and holy Youth,” George Whitefield. For the evening lecture on October 21, Colman chose as his text the millennial passage Isaiah 60:8, telling the overflow audience that the nations would come to the Messiah in great numbers at the end of the age. Was this the promised time? He thought perhaps so, but he equivocated: “The Prophecy is daily fulfilling, and at Times in more remarkable Measure; but more especially...

  6. CHAPTER TWO “Let Hell and Rome Do Their Worst”: World News, the Catholic Threat, and International Protestantism
    (pp. 51-73)

    TheBoston News-Letter’s editors worried in 1722 that the time might have come for the long-expected resumption of war between Europe’s Protestant and Catholic powers. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 brought a tenuous peace, but world war still looked possible if not imminent. The newspaper evaluated the balance sheet of Protestant versus Catholic Christianity in the known world, and was concerned, but optimistic. Reprinting an analysis from London’sPost-Man,theNews-Letteroffered reasons for hope. The report acknowledged that some readers were “Phlegmatick” about Protestant prospects in a world war and thought that “Popery is in a formidable flourishing...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Protestants, Popery, and Prognostications: New England Almanacs
    (pp. 74-90)

    During the early years of the eighteenth century, Samuel Clough annually brought his new almanac to his printers, Nick Boone and Benjamin Eliot, hoping that its charts and ruminations would instruct, illuminate, and edify his readers and hearers. Borrowing from the famous London almanacker John Partridge, Clough’s 1706Kalendarium Nov-Anglicanumreflected on the future of Christianity in the Atlantic world and continental Europe. For 1702, the “Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aries that year” meant that war would come: “I judge it will be Universal, and will spread . . . all over Europe, and also in some parts...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR “The Devil and Father Rallee”: Narrating Father Rale’s War
    (pp. 91-114)

    Cotton Mather’s calendar had just rolled over to January 1, 1723, and with the turn he wrote his friend Robert Wodrow of Scotland concerning frightening though unsurprising news: “The Indians of the East, under the Fascinations of a French Priest, and Instigations of our French Neighbours, have begun a New War upon us.”¹ Though they had enjoyed a respite from actual war since the Peace of Utrecht postponed hostilities between the French and British in 1713, New Englanders always knew that it was only a matter of time before the aggressive interests, uncertain borders, and conflicting visions of the religious...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE “The Madness of the Jacobite Party”: Imagining a High-Church Jacobite Threat
    (pp. 115-135)

    Marblehead’s George Pigot was concerned for his parishioners. Anglican congregations had enjoyed official toleration in New England since the coming of King’s Chapel to Boston in 1686, but many in New England’s clerical establishment still viewed Anglicans with a jaundiced eye, and would continue to do so for many years. So it came as no surprise to Pigot in December 1729 that some of his congregants were being harassed in the streets concerning that supposedly popish festival Christmas. “What is become of your Christmas Day now; for Mr. Barnard has proved it to be Nothing else but Heathenish Rioting?” yelled...

  10. CHAPTER SIX “The Dawning of that Sabbath of Rest Promised to the People of God”: Eschatology and Identity
    (pp. 136-166)

    It was 1700, and in his course of preaching Cotton Mather had come to Romans 2:16: “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” Mather knew that this topic would raise the interests of pious congregants at the Old North Church, who would want to know when that “day” might come. “If you ask when,” Mather opined, “I answer it will be in the End of the World.” But Mather cautioned that some things would have to happen first before the secrets of men would be judged, “that is the...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 167-176)

    The rise of the Protestant interest explains a great deal about how prominent New Englanders responded to the massive political and cultural changes they faced in the decades after 1689. The combined effects of the Protestant succession, British wars with Catholic powers, and increasing concern for the fate of international Protestantism led New Englanders to shed vestiges of their old Puritan identity in favor of a new identification with the Protestant interest. Abandoning their seventeenth-century precisionism and hostility toward the growing Restoration empire, they became intensely devoted to the British nation, empire, and monarchy, especially as Britain fought Catholic enemies...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 177-206)
  13. Index
    (pp. 207-212)