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A Republic of RighteousnessThe Public Christianity of the Post-Revolutionary New England Clergy$
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Jonathan D. Sassi

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195129892

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019512989X.001.0001

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The Two Kingdoms in Concert 1783–1799

The Two Kingdoms in Concert 1783–1799

(p.52) Two The Two Kingdoms in Concert 1783–1799
A Republic of Righteousness

Jonathan D. Sassi (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Along with their providential interpretations, Congregational ministers during the last two decades of the eighteenth century offered their prescriptions for how to build a righteous social order and safeguard the republican experiment. They called for the elite leadership of magistrate and minister, or “Moses and Aaron,” in order to shield society from moral breakdown, the decay of virtue, and divine chastisement. In this symbiotic arrangement, civil rulers would prosecute sinfulness, exemplify godliness, and support the religious establishment, while clergymen were to sow Christian piety, urge repentance from sin, and instruct the people in obedience to those in power. Although they shared the Congregationalists’ concern for social morality and a strong belief in Providence, religious minorities led by the Baptists dissented from the standing order's social vision on practical, ideological, and theological grounds, and instead they called for a strict separation of church and state. By the second half of the 1790s, both the French Revolution and the rise of domestic political contentions led standing‐order ministers to issue a conservative call for renewed allegiance to religion and government which allied them with the Federalist party.

Keywords:   Baptists, Congregationalists, Federalist party, French Revolution, religious establishment, separation of church and state, social morality, standing order

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