Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 1.djvu/92

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1800.
81
INTELLECT OF NEW ENGLAND.

belief in error. He had said, "It does me no injury for my neighbors to say there are twenty gods, or no god," and that all the many forms of religious faith in the Middle States were "good enough, and suffi­cient to preserve peace and order." He was noto­riously a deist; he probably ridiculed the doctrine of total depravity; and he certainly would never have part or portion in the blessings of the New Covenant, or be saved because of grace.

No abler or more estimable clergyman lived than Joseph Buckminster, the minister of Portsmouth, in New Hampshire, and in his opinion Jefferson was bringing a judgment upon the people.

"I would not be understood to insinuate," said he in his sermon on Washington's death, "that contemners of religious duties, and even men void of religious principle, may not have an attachment to their country and a desire for its civil and political prosperity,—nay, that they may not even expose themselves to great dangers, and make great sacrifices to accomplish this object; but by their impiety . . . they take away the heavenly defence and security of a people, and render it necessary for him who ruleth among the nations in judgment to testify his displeasure against those who despise his laws and con­temn his ordinances."

Yet the congregational clergy, though still greatly respected, had ceased to be leaders of thought. Theo­logical literature no longer held the prominence it had enjoyed in the days of Edwards and Hopkins. The popular reaction against Calvinism, felt rather