PRELUDE TO IRONY
The Princeton Theology and the Practice of
American Presbyterian Missions in Northern Siam, 1867-1880
Herbert R. Swanson
A Dissertation submitted for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
The Melbourne College of Divinity, Melbourne University
Electronic Version 2012
|Table of Contents||Abstract||Illust. & Tables||Introduction||Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3||Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6||Conclusion||Appendices||Bibliography|
The Princeton Connection
2. The Personal Connection
2.2 The Princetonians
2.3 The Evangelicals
2.4 The Outcast
3. The Theological Connection
When the pioneer members of the Laos Mission arrived in Chiang Mai in the years up to 1880, they stepped into a social and historical world as unlike the United States as nearly anywhere in the world. They faced the one central question of how to best communicate the Christian message in their new situation. In spite of the cultural gap between themselves and the northern Thai, they chose to treat the people of northern Siam as if they were essentially the same as people in the United States. To us, that decision seems ill conceived. Why did it seem wise and proper to them? The answer to this question, we proposed in the Introduction, lies potentially in the system of meanings and doctrines the missionaries took with them, a system that seems to have been influenced by and reflected in the Princeton Theology. The question is, was there a theological and ideological link between Princeton and Chiang Mai? The records of the Laos Mission, when read in light of the writings of the Princeton theologians, suggest that a connection between the seminary and mission did exist. It was both a personal and a theological connection.
The link between the Princeton Theology and the work of the Laos Mission lay, first, in the missionaries themselves. In the years between 1867 and 1880, there were only nine members of the mission: three couples, the Rev. Daniel and Sophia McGilvary, the Rev. Jonathan and Kate Wilson, and Dr. Marion and Sarah Cheek; and three single individuals, Dr. Charles Vrooman, Edna Cole, and Mary Campbell. The McGilvarys, originally members of the Siam Mission, arrived in Chiang Mai in April 1867. The Wilsons, also members of the Siam Mission, reached the city in February 1868. Dr. Vrooman, a physician, first entered the city in January 1872, and his replacement, Dr. Cheek landed in Chiang Mai in March 1875. Cheek returned to Bangkok the following year to marry Sarah Bradley, Sophia McGilvary's stepsister, and the couple returned to Chiang Mai sometime in 1876, the exact date not being recorded. The last two missionaries to arrive in this period, Cole and Campbell, reached Chiang Mai in April 1879. These nine individuals represent three general theological orientations. McGilvary and Wilson were Princetonians; Cheek was at least partially one as well. All five women in the mission have clear links to orthodox evangelicalism and there is some evidence to suggest a direct Old School Presbyterian connection. It is not correct, however, to term them "Princetonians." Vrooman, as we will see shortly, stood alone and on the outside.
The Laos Mission was not merely a collection of nine undifferentiated individuals, and the influence of the Princeton Theology cannot be measured by simply counting heads. Some heads mattered more than others. As Table 2.1 (below) indicates, only the McGilvarys and the Wilsons served the mission in its pioneer era for an appreciable length of time and in any case Daniel McGilvary stood well above his colleagues in prestige and influence. His vision, initiative, and persistence played a large role in the creation of the mission in the first place, and as will be seen he set the tone for and initiated much of its program. His clear roots in Princeton count for a great deal in establishing that theology's theological and ideological impact on the Laos Mission. Wilson just as clearly occupied the number two position in the mission, and although he did not possess McGilvary's leadership skills he was no less of a "Princeton man" for that. These Princeton connections, in and of themselves, suggest that the Princeton Theology played a potentially important role in mission life. McGilvary's Old School and Princeton credentials are particularly important for an added reason. His correspondence with the Board contains occasional comments on the theological orthodoxy of his colleagues, orthodoxy meaning a theology compatible with Princeton. Leaving Wilson aside for the moment, we turn here to a brief theological biography of Daniel McGilvary (1828-1911).
McGilvary's Old School credentials are impressive. He was raised in a North Carolinian hotbed of conservative, Old School, Scottish immigrant Presbyterianism and into a pious family and a solid, Scottish congregation, the Buffalo Church. As a child, his days were filled with the exercises of Presbyterian piety and the lessons of a Presbyterian education; by the age of ten or so he had memorized all 107 questions and answers of the Shorter Catechism, no mean feat for someone much older than ten. The tiny library that he read at home contained religious books and periodicals that were mostly published in Philadelphia. He witnessed, year after year, the impressive sacred rites and social camaraderie of the "Buffalo Communion," a carryover from Scotland and Ulster of a communion ritual of an intensely evangelical brand of Presbyterianism. The event lasted for at least four days or more at a time and was attended by celebrants coming from up to forty miles away. Before becoming a missionary, McGilvary served as a local church elder, attended Princeton Seminary, and briefly served two Old School Presbyterian congregations as a pastor.
|Name||Chiang Mai||Furlough||Chiang Mai||Total in Chiang Mai|
Sources: BFM and Eakin Papers biographical files
The records of the Laos Mission demonstrate that Princeton significantly influenced McGilvary's thinking, he valued the theology he learned there, and he cherished his memories of his seminary professors. The evidence is as follows:
(1) During his examination for licensure before Orange Presbytery, McGilvary responded to one question by quoting fully and correctly two answers to questions in the Shorter Catechism, and one of his examiners remarked that he was "right on the Catechism." McGilvary comments, "In those days to be 'right on the Catechism' would atone for many failures in Hodge or Turretin." The phrase "Hodge or Turretin," is significant; Charles Hodge was the dean of the Princeton theologians. Francis Turretin (1623-1687) represented the culmination of the continental Reformed confessionalism, and his ponderous Latin work on systematic theology was Princeton Seminary's standard text in theology for some sixty years. Both McGilvary and Wilson had to master its contents in order to graduate. Only a Presbyterian already somewhat familiar with Princeton would make a passing comment like this one.
(2) When it came time for McGilvary to choose a seminary to attend, he selected Princeton, because of the good reputation of Drs. Hodge and Alexander.
(3) During the trip out to Siam in 1858, McGilvary and Wilson had occasion to counsel a young sailor troubled by his lack of faith. They gave him a copy of Flavel's Christ Knocking at the Door because they knew that Dr. Archibald Alexander, the founding father of Princeton Seminary, as a troubled young man had found deep meaning in this sermon. John Flavel (1630?-1691) was an English Presbyterian Puritan who had been widely read by colonial Presbyterians, and McGilvary remembered correctly that Flavel's sermon had brought comfort and joy to Alexander. The presence of this small book in Wilson or McGilvary's baggage plus McGilvary's knowledge of Alexander's religious experience suggest a comfortable familiarity with things Princeton as well as Presbyterian.
(4) Soon after his arrival in Chiang Mai, McGilvary forwarded a brief article entitled, "Brethren, Pray for us," to the Foreign Missionary. In that article, he quotes his former professor at Princeton, J. Addison Alexander, to the effect that Paul's injunction to the Thessalonian Christians to pray for him (I Thessalonians 5:25) almost amounts to a commandment. In this one instance, at least, McGilvary made a direct connection between what he learned at Princeton and his prayerful behavior as a missionary.
(5) In an 1872 letter to the Board, McGilvary responded to the news that it might not continue to send the Princeton Review out to the mission with the statement that he "would not like to forfeit the pleasure of its perusal." The Princeton Review was a key forum for the dissemination of the Princeton Theology, edited by Charles Hodge himself. McGilvary, apparently, enjoyed reading it regularly.
(6) In 1874, McGilvary visited the Orthodox Congregational Theological Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, and commented favorably on the fact that the professors were "all Orthodox men to the handle." He singled out one of them for special comment, writing, "Dr. Childs is a Princeton man, and interprets and teaches the Bible and the Shorter Catechism just as Drs. Hodge, Dabney or Plummer would." While he observed that the rest of the faculty all came "square up" to the accepted measures of Calvinist orthodoxy, it is notable that he singled out for special attention the one man from Princeton—and that he equated other Presbyterian theologians who were not directly linked to Princeton with Hodge.
(7) The following year, 1875, McGilvary commended Dr. Cheek, newly arrived in Chiang Mai, as being a man who loved the Bible and Charles Hodge's theology. Although this is a passing comment, it is again striking that McGilvary would equate the Bible and Hodge so intimately—or, for that matter, speak of someone "loving" Hodge's theology as if it were an object of evangelical piety.
(8) In his autobiography, McGilvary tells the story of how white ants once attacked his library "evidently not at all deterred by the learned discussions and deep thought of Dr. Joseph A. Alexander’s Commentary on Isaiah." J. A. Alexander, as we have mentioned previously, was one of his professors at Princeton.
These passing comments, when taken together, provide substantial, if still circumstantial evidence that Daniel McGilvary took Hodge, the Alexanders, Turretin, and the Westminster Standards as authoritative benchmarks for his own theology, and he assumed those standards as his own so completely that he felt little need to call them to attention. The theological contents of McGilvary's letters and papers, furthermore, are so entirely like what a Princetonian would write that it is impossible to believe the matter purely coincidental, particularly in light of the fact that his fairly extensive correspondence and other writings contain no such passing references unrelated to Princeton similar those cited above. McGilvary's views on revivalism provide an important case in point.
While still a youth, McGilvary attended a Methodist church for a time and experienced the white heat of an emotional, radical evangelical revival. It was an event that might suggest influences on his life apart from Princeton and the Old School. In Chapter One, we saw that Princeton took a cool and thoughtful stance on revivals; it was not against them, but it disdained what it believed to be the emotional excesses of radical, frontier revivalism. After his father died when McGilvary was thirteen, he moved to Pittsboro, North Carolina, where with relatives he went to the local Methodist church. He relates how, on one occasion, a Methodist revivalist of "considerable reputation" stirred the Pittsboro congregation into "great excitement and not little confusion—exhortation, singing, and prayer going on all at once." McGilvary himself remained somewhat aloof from the proceedings and did not share in the intense conversion experience some of his friends felt; of his own conversion, he writes, "One night, in a quiet hour at home, the grounds and method of a sinner's acceptance of Christ became clear to me, and He became my Lord." He gently criticized the Pittsboro revival with its exhortations to repent and believe as lacking "clear and definite instruction regarding the plan of salvation, or the offices and work of Christ." How very like the Old School! Daniel failed to take part in the emotional upheaval of a Methodist revival but converted quietly, at home, and after things had become clear in his mind.
Subsequent events demonstrated how closely McGilvary adhered to Princeton's views on revivalism. In the last days of his pastorate in two rural North Carolina Presbyterian churches in 1858, he invited a guest preacher to preach at a communion service and at an evening service prior to the Sunday celebration of the sacrament. This preacher made a strong impression on the congregation, and McGilvary later reported that at the evening service there was a "deep seriousness throughout the congregation" that led to a desire to hold further services, which subsequently led to a series of evening meetings and a period of revival. In his contemporary comments on the event, McGilvary emphasized the solemn, still nature of the evening prayer meetings; there was no excitement, no shouting, and seldom any sighing or calling aloud. Only the speakers' voices broke the silence; McGilvary insisted that a "spirit of prayer" prevailed throughout the revival, which spirit was most clearly seen in the congregations' quiet, intense attention during the services. He felt that this profoundly quiet spirit confirmed that the revival was truly God's work and not contrived by any human agency. McGilvary's observations call to mind Archibald Alexander's warning that emotional revivalism only stirred up "feelings which belong almost entirely to our animal nature" and did not lead to a true "sincerity of love" or the true "character of God" at all. Alexander felt that such revivalism could end up being merely "an idol of our own imagination." Had he still lived, he would have fully approved of the deeply quiet and thoughtful revival in McGilvary's churches.
McGilvary's views on science provide a second key instance of how he sounded and acted like a Princetonian. Princeton Seminary valued the inductive, or Baconian, scientific method and believed that science and theology complimented each other as vessels of divine truth. Hodge and his colleagues had a special fondness for natural science, so long as it was discrete in its methodology and respectful of the voice of its sister science, theology. McGilvary shared both that fondness and those concerns. When he died in 1911, a colleague recalled that McGilvary gave place to none "in reverence for the truths of science" and in his respect "for the discoveries of research." McGilvary, he writes, "took pleasure in speaking and teaching the people of the revelations of science with which he kept in close touch for one living on the very borders of civilization." That colleague also noted, however, that McGilvary had no patience "for the advanced theories and acrimonious statements of criticism." He was "unmoved and unannoyed" with "advanced theories and iconoclastic speculations of extreme criticism." One could hardly wish for a more clear statement of Princeton's own love for true science and its fear of false science.
Daniel McGilvary thought about revivalism like a Princetonian. He thought about science like a Princetonian. And he thought about theology like Princeton. One example, the seat of and the remedy for sin, will suffice here to reinforce the point that McGilvary articulated views on a variety of theological subjects remarkably similar to those of the Princeton theologians.
Charles Hodge believed that the human soul is a single entity comprised of heart and mind and that sin resides in the heart, the very depths of the soul. Sin, he felt, is an evil corruption of the heart. Hodge went on to state that regeneration of the heart and the whole soul requires knowledge of the truth—a knowledge that is objective and biblical—and it also requires the work of the Holy Spirit to make the truth effectual. Knowledge alone, without the Holy Spirit, cannot reach or change the heart. Those who learn the truth, acknowledge the wickedness of their heart, and feel the presence of the Spirit thereby experience regeneration and conversion, by which they obtain spiritual discernment and illumination. Their hearts are changed, their souls renewed. The process of conversion, at its simplest then, involves the Holy Spirit energizing objective theological information aimed at reaching and changing the human heart.
McGilvary knew this process well. While he does not state his views as systematically and fully as Hodge, his correspondence emphasizes the wickedness of the human heart, and he evidently felt that the conditions of "heathenism" in Siam made it even more difficult for the northern Thai people to submit to the "humbling doctrines of the Gospel." Regeneration, according to McGilvary, involves a process of enlightenment by which truth works through the mind to affect a clear change of heart. He summarized the whole process as follows,
God by His external providence may throw a man within reach of instruction but neither that providence nor that instruction will reach the heart unless the Holy Spirit attend it. It is not the force of logic, the power of arguments nor the eloquence of appeal, which leads men to the Saviour…God who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness must shine into the heart to give light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Whether according to McGilvary or Hodge, the steps of regeneration are precisely the same: objective knowledge (instruction), the energizing attendance of the Spirit, and a changed heart.
One can multiply the examples of parallels between the precepts taught at Princeton and those articulated by Daniel McGilvary. Both, for example, had an intense commitment to the missionary cause. Or, again, both exhibited a certain pattern of broad-minded and closed-minded attitudes that can be almost confusing at times. Hodge, for example, defied the common evangelical wisdom of his day by asserting the validity of Catholic baptism. Scovel states, "The Princeton group shared the anti-Catholic bias that pervaded almost all Protestant denominations in America, but they stopped short of identifying the Catholic Church or the Pope with Anti-Christ." In this and other instances, the Princetonians began with a certain narrowness of mind and unpacked from it a broader view of things in a way that could contradict the thinking of more rigid evangelicals. So it was with McGilvary, who, attended the controversial World Parliament of Religions held in 1893 in Chicago. He later criticized those evangelicals who stood aloof from the event or were openly hostile to it. He admitted that, at first, the idea of participating on an equal footing with representatives from many other faiths shocked him as it did many others, but he concluded that it was a good idea because it afforded American Protestants with an excellent opportunity to present a strong Christian message to the best, most earnest adherents of other religions. Both Princeton and McGilvary could be broad and closed-minded all in one stroke.
Daniel McGilvary never explicitly called himself a "Princetonian," and he probably would have thought it presumptuous to make such a claim, but he did consider himself an orthodox Calvinist who found strength and meaning in that system of doctrines. Given his upbringing as an Old School Presbyterian, the three years he spent at Princeton Seminary, the wide influence that seminary had in his denomination, his own passing expressions of admiration for the professors at Princeton, and the several carbon-copy parallels between their thinking and his—given all of this, it is impossible to see McGilvary as anything less than a faithful son of Princeton who equated Calvinist orthodoxy with Hodge and company. There is one more given. Given his importance to the Laos Mission, it is a matter of serious consequence to the life and work of the Laos Mission that Daniel McGilvary articulated his faith in the accents of Turretin's Geneva and Reid's Edinburgh.
Would that we could give so thorough a portrait of Jonathan Wilson's views on Princeton, or even be as sure of it as we are of McGilvary's version. Wilson (1830-1911), unfortunately, did not write an autobiography or conduct as prolific a correspondence as McGilvary, but what we do know about the man suggests that Princeton loomed large in his thinking as well. Born in western Pennsylvania, one of the strongest centers of the Presbyterian Church, Wilson himself later attested to the importance of his home church, the Bethlehem Church, in his personal development. Schmidt makes it clear that the Scottish and Ulster churches of western Pennsylvania and North Carolina shared the same immigrant Presbyterian culture, and we can only surmise that Wilson as a boy may also have been as impressed by the rites of the old Scottish communion festivals as was McGilvary. Pennsylvania Presbyterians, in any event, knew Princeton quite well, a relationship illustrated by the fact that seven other Pennsylvanians entered Princeton Seminary with him in 1853, including a classmate from Jefferson College. The eight Pennsylvanians comprised nearly one-fourth of Wilson and McGilvary's class, which numbered 31. Some 29 students from Pennsylvania, furthermore, enrolled in the seminary for the 1853-54 school year, out of a total student body of 108. After spending some time studying in the homes of two Presbyterian ministers, Wilson attended a church-related academy and then entered Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Upon graduating from Jefferson in 1851, he taught at Blair's Hall, Fagg Manor, Pennsylvania, for two years. Both Jefferson College and Blair's Hall had strong connections with William Tennet's "Log College," an eighteenth-century attempt to provide Presbyterian churches with American-trained clergy. The Synod of Virginia founded Jefferson College in 1802, and for a time the school served frontier Presbyterian churches as an important agency for training clergy. Blair's Hall shared a similar history, with many of its graduates going into teaching or the ordained ministry. Wilson graduated from Princeton Seminary in 1856, and after graduation he worked for a year as a Presbyterian missionary to the Choctaw Indians of Oklahoma, teaching at the Spencer Academy.
Wilson's letters and papers also contain clear traces of Princeton. He too, for example, shared in its love of science. One of his colleagues remembered, "Father Wilson was a poet and his name will always suggest to us the songs of Zion; but in theology and in natural science also he was a deep thinker. His Schaff-Herzog Cyclopedia was studied and marked page by page showing no superficial reading." Wilson himself proposed the use of both science and medicine as ways to undermine northern Thai confidence in "the muttering of charms and the incantations of the spirit-doctor." In 1894, he had occasion to comment on the burning issue of biblical inerrancy, an issue that in 1893 had exploded on the floor of the Presbyterian General Assembly during the famous Briggs heresy trial. Wilson voiced himself in full support of the orthodox views championed by Princeton Seminary and admonished the Board of Foreign Missions to send to northern Siam only missionaries who rejected Higher Criticism. Although we can speak with less certainty about his other theological views, they do seem to be well within Princeton's parameters, his views on heart and mind, for example, not being discernibly different from those described above for Hodge and McGilvary. The heart is wicked. The way to reach it is through the mind with the aid of the Spirit. He also supported the cause of evangelical revivalism, commenting in 1858 how happy he was to hear about the progress of revivals in the United States and elsewhere that year and how he trusted God would not pass by Siam either.
The records we have leave us with no reason to doubt and every reason to assume that Jonathan Wilson was as much a child of Princeton as was McGilvary. This is not to say, however, that he was quite the exact duplicate that McGilvary seems to have been—for Wilson had what might be termed a "proto-romantic" streak or romantic-like inclination in him that appears to have cut a deeper channel than was usual for Princetonians. Scovel has charged the good professors with being men of a bland, conventional piety who lived happily settled middle class lives. They were not prepared, he argues, to struggle with deeper tensions and anxieties, and he characterizes them as having limited religious experience and insists that the word "conventional" is an apt summary of their religious mentality and spirituality. His description, probably not entirely fair in any event, certainly does not fit Wilson—or McGilvary for that matter. In Wilson's case, death had been a constant companion over the years, taking from him two wives and three children during his missionary career. Those deaths touched a deep, emotional core in him that flowed through his life in a mix of sorrow, joy, anger, and faith that eventually found expression in the lyrics of the hundreds of hymns he translated into northern Thai, including some he wrote himself. Hints of his romantic inclinations are also found in the flowery language of his tearful, emotional letters to the Board as one loved-one after another died. It was in his hymns, however, that his colleagues most clearly saw the more poetical, semi-romantic side of his nature. Just after his death one of them wrote, "Dr. Jonathan Wilson was born with a poetic nature, but it was only after more than a life time of service had been given to other lines of missionary work that he began to put into permanent form the songs that had for years been thrilling his soul." Wilson lived on the furthest frontiers of American Presbyterianism and cannot be written off as merely another bland, conventional Princetonian living a comfortable middle class life in central New Jersey. His romantic inclinations, however, still blended well with Princeton's scholasticism. Even as he advocated the joy of singing, thus, he mixed in with it the necessities of the mind, writing at one point, "May God grant us grace, not only to sing with the spirit and with the understanding, but also to teach with all wisdom, with all meekness and with all earnestness."
The title "Princetonian" might be applied, possibly, to only one other pioneer member of the Laos Mission, Dr. Marion Cheek (1852-1895). Cheek arrived in Chiang Mai in March 1875 and for a time in the 1880s exerted some influence on the life of the mission, but for the period under study here Cheek was still a young, inexperienced missionary doctor finding his way into his work. He also made several trips down river to Bangkok, each of which took him away from Chiang Mai for months at a time. We only have McGilvary's word for it, as already mentioned above, that Cheek loved the Bible and Charles Hodge's theology. He was not theologically trained, and his correspondence whether before or after 1880 contains nothing identifiably Princeton or even Old School. He did, however, write an article for a book published by the Board of Foreign Missions that shows that, at the very least, he shared the Old School's interest in science and Baconian induction. In that article, he contrasted northern Thai superstition and speculation to the Western medical methods of patient observation and intelligent experimentation. What evidence we have, however, suggests that the Princeton Theology influenced Cheek only to a limited degree. McGilvary, at least, later complained to the Board that Cheek eliminated evangelism from his practice of medicine, something neither McGilvary nor his professors at Princeton could condone.
The records of the Laos Mission indicate beyond any reasonable doubt that Princeton Seminary shaped the thinking of the two most influential figures in its early years, McGilvary and Wilson. It possibly also had some minimal influence on Dr. Cheek, a minor figure before 1880. This leaves us with the remaining six members of the mission, five women and one man. The five women, interestingly enough, fall into a single category.
Although one catches the slightest hints of the Princeton Theology in the records of the mission's women, those records do not document a clear, direct link between the seminary and Chiang Mai. The mission's records do establish a connection between all five women and orthodox evangelicalism, although one must keep in mind that some of these individuals were born and raised after the distinction between orthodox and radical evangelicalism had lost much of its immediacy. In terms of the impact on the direction and administration of the Laos Mission up to 1880, however, the fact is that the mission's women had only a limited influence on its work. Cole and Campbell joined the mission at the very end of that era, in 1879. Sophia McGilvary and Kate Wilson arrived on the field as early as their husbands (see Table 2.1 above), but both of them gave birth to infants in 1868 and thereafter largely devoted themselves to raising their families. Kate Wilson also constantly struggled with ill health and generally could not contribute a great deal to the regular work of the mission. Sophia made a greater contribution, both in early evangelistic work and, later, in educational work, but in both cases her efforts were those of an assistant. This is not to say that the two senior women were mere ciphers in the life of the Laos Mission, but it is apparent that in terms of theology and policy their voices were muted and complimented rather than contradicted the Princetonian theologies of their husbands.
Sophia Bradley McGilvary's (1839-1923) marriage to McGilvary may have raised some eyebrows in the "Board rooms" back in New York; she was born in Bangkok into a considerably different social and religious setting from that of her husband. Sophia's father, Dr. Dan Beach Bradley, grew up in the heart of the "burned-over district" of western New York, one of the key centers of the radical frontier revivalism of the Second Great Awakening. He himself underwent a conversion experience in the white heat of those revivals and later adopted Finney's revivalist views on sinless perfection, which held that it is possible for humans to live free of sin, if they live the way Jesus did. The majority of orthodox evangelicals considered Finney's views outlandish and heretical, and Bradley had to withdraw from the mission he served, the ABCFM, because of them. His biographer notes that even his former mentor in New York City, Dr. Gardiner Spring, a Presbyterian minister with a revivalist background, rejected Bradley for having gone over to Finneyism. Sophia, thus, came from a New School, Finneyite background unacceptable to the Old School.
McGilvary sought to reassure the members of the Board concerning his wife's theological legacy by explaining the truth of the situation to them, namely that Sophia was a woman of devoted piety who had been raised in a missionary family by the best of Christian parents. He stated of her family and father,
Their doctrinal views differed once considerably from our Old School standards—but one whose heart is so near right & who loves the Saviour & his cause so much as Dr. Bradley could not help from coming right. He possibly might not yet assent to some of our statements of doctrine but I've found him quite an orthodox Calvinist.
There is little else we can say about Sophia's theology. She was raised in a pious, orthodox home and McGilvary, our theological barometer, felt no qualms about marrying her and into her family. The few records we have from her own hand add nothing to an understanding of her doctrinal views, but so far as we can tell she seems to have generally shared in the larger American evangelical ideological orientation of which Princeton was a particular refinement.
As in the case of Sophia McGilvary, we also have relatively little information concerning the life and work of Kate Wilson (1833-1885), other than that she did some translation and writing and used her musical talents for the work of the mission. We can infer, however, something of her religious experience and, possibly, theological orientation from the fact that, when she left Chiang Mai permanently in 1876 because of illness, she moved to Oxford, Ohio, where she maintained a close association with the Western Female Seminary, located in that community. At those times when she was too ill to care for herself, she stayed at the seminary, and her children went to school there in what she called a "Christian environment." Founded in 1853, the school grew out of a New England-based movement in women's education that went back into the 1820s and endeavored to promote Christian home life through training girls in a Christian environment. Helen Peabody, Western's founder, studied and taught at Mt. Holyoke Seminary in Massachusetts, one of the most influential institutions of the female seminary movement. Western emphasized domestic training, academic study, and Christian piety; students, as a rule, boarded at the school. The school also prided itself on the fact that between 1853 and 1880 forty-one of its graduates became missionaries. During the winter months of 1878, the school experienced a period of intense revival. We can infer from Kate Wilson's long, close relationship with Western Female Seminary that she felt comfortable with the evangelical New England heritage of the school, a heritage grounded in the same orthodox wing of evangelicalism as the Presbyterian Old School.
Of the remaining three women, Sarah Bradley Cheek (1850-1933) might have exercised the most influence, but unfortunately, we know almost nothing about her role in the Laos Mission after she married Dr. Cheek in 1876, other than that she helped him as a translator. We can only guess that her general religious orientation would have roughly approximated that of her stepsister, Sophia. Edna Cole (1855-1950) and Mary Campbell (1858-1881) were classmates and close friends at Western Female Seminary, Oxford, Ohio, where they graduated in 1878. During their last year, the school underwent its revival of 1878, mentioned above, which experience encouraged each of them to respond positively to a request from the Laos Mission for missionary teachers. They both had Presbyterian connections, Campbell's being the strongest. She came from Lexington, Kentucky, where her father served as a Presbyterian minister. Her father, furthermore, had attended Jefferson College, where he formed a close friendship with Jonathan Wilson. Edna Cole came from St. Louis and belonged to the Second Presbyterian Church there. If we, again, turn to Daniel McGilvary for guidance, it appears that Western Seminary fell entirely within acceptable, orthodox parameters. He mentions in passing that he visited the school in 1880 while on furlough, surely partly to visit Kate Wilson and also to meet yet another student, Lizzie Westervelt, who was preparing for service with the Laos Mission. He noted with pleasure that the school was "pervaded by a deep religious righteousness." Cole and Campbell's correspondence, additionally, suggests the kind of enthusiastic, pious, vaguely romantic orthodoxy that we would expect of missionaries who studied at Western and were acceptable to McGilvary: an abiding sense of trust in God's calling and a feeling of personal closeness to Jesus abounds. Cole and Campbell did not arrive in Chiang Mai until 1879, at the very end of the period under study here, and played only a brief, minor role in the early history of the Laos Mission.
This leaves Dr. Charles Vrooman (1841-1882), the only pioneer member of the Laos Mission who failed to pass theological muster with McGilvary. In the very same letter to the Board in which he praised Cheek's love of the Bible and Hodge's theology, McGilvary wrote that Vrooman had been a failure as a missionary because he lacked a strong foundation in religious orthodoxy, such as Cheek had. Vrooman, a Canadian, trained at the Medical Department of the University of Michigan and arrived in Chiang Mai in April 1872. He stayed only for a short time, during which he suffered health problems and may also have experienced some inter-personal tensions with other members of the mission. He left Chiang Mai permanently in June 1873. McGilvary did not make clear the precise nature of Vrooman's theological failings, but in a letter to the Board, Dr. Samuel R. House of the Siam Mission complained of Vrooman that, "His doctrinal and denominational sympathies are all with the Wesleyan Church in which he was born and brought up." It can be inferred from McGilvary and House's comments that Vrooman showed evidence of a Methodist Arminian piety, such as would be unacceptable to these committed Old School missionaries. He is, in any event, the exception that proves the rule in terms of the importance of Princeton to the study of Presbyterian missions in northern Siam.
If we were to total up Princeton's "scorecard" in Chiang Mai, it might look something like Table 2.2, below.
|Importance to the
|S. McGilvary||Moderate||Slight or None|
|K. Wilson||Moderate or Limited||Slight or None|
|M. Cheek||Limited||Moderate or Slight|
|S. Cheek||Slight or None||Slight or None|
This table is somewhat fanciful because we have so little information on the theological background of all the mission's members, except McGilvary and Wilson, but it does help to make several important points: First, Princeton's influence on the Laos Mission was by no means uniform. Second, that influence tended to be greatest over those with the most influence in the mission. Third, with the exception of Vrooman, Princeton seems to have had more sway among the men in the mission than the women, the men, again, being more influential. Finally, we can presume that the Princeton Theology did influence the formation of the Laos Mission, but it is still not at all clear what this presumption means or to what degree it is correct. We have not yet established, that is, a clear cognitive link between Princeton and Chiang Mai, however much the data contained in this section suggests that such a link must exist.
Another way to gain further insight into the ideological-theological relationship between the Princeton Theology and the formation of the Laos Mission is to look at the collective theology of the nine pioneer members of the mission and determine its congruence to the Princeton Theology. The greater that congruence, the more likely it is that Princeton influenced the Laos Mission's system of doctrines and meanings. What we are seeking to establish, in any event, is not so much the direct influence of the Princeton Theology per sé on the Laos Mission as to discover whether or not the two shared a common or, at least, similar system of doctrines and meanings. The theological biographies of its early missionaries strongly suggests the possibility that they did have a common, or, at least, parallel system, and a comparison of Princeton's theological views with those of the members of the Laos Mission confirms the impression that a high degree of theological compatibility existed between the two.
Assembling a cogent description of missionary theology in northern Siam up to 1880 is itself an exercise in Baconian induction, accomplished only by compiling many scattered, brief statements and passing comments, searching for major threads and cross-connections, and then seeking to give order to a theology that by its very nature seems to defy order. The result is a surprisingly rich, textured system of thought centered on the three themes of God, Heathenism, and Conversion—which were the mission's reworking of the traditional Reformed doctrines of Divine Sovereignty, Sin, and Salvation. The result is a system of religious thought wholly in keeping with Princeton.
The pioneer members of the Laos Mission affirmed, before all else and in all else, that God acts in human affairs and can be known through that activity. Much of what they wrote about God grew out of a heart-felt need to fathom divine activity, to the extent that epistemological issues weighed heavily in their thinking about God and the Christian faith. They expressed what they believed about God's active presence in human affairs in traditional Trinitarian terms, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Father. The pioneer members of the Laos Mission centered their faith on the simplest of theological propositions: God acts. In an October 1876 letter to the Board, McGilvary observed that to that date the Laos Mission had experienced dizzying cycles of divine mercy and judgment, advance and decline, with one following the other so closely that the cycles mixed themselves into the same event. In an earlier article, he stated that those who had an honest, faithful attitude could plainly discern the workings of God's providence in this mélange of rapidly passing events. Only rarely did the missionaries write that the God who acts is sovereign over the world, but that assumption suffused their theological reflections. It informed, for example, their perception that God's divine justice held every person accountable for their sins. In a shipboard letter written while in route to Bangkok in 1858, McGilvary made it clear that the fact that all of the heathen stood under judgment was what motivated him to become a missionary in the first place. Nor were the missionaries excused from judgment, Wilson once sorrowfully speculating that perhaps God was using the deaths of his loved-ones to warn him to leave Siam.
The pioneers of the Laos Mission more frequently looked upon God's sovereign relationship with them and the world in terms of grace, however, rather than as judgment and condemnation. When his two churches in North Carolina experienced a period of intense revival before his departure for Siam, McGilvary praised God's "infinite goodness" for causing them to "witness unusual displays of his grace." Wilson praised God's goodness when his daughter was born. McGilvary felt God's goodness in his calling to the mission field. Mary Campbell summed up the feelings of the members of the Laos Mission on these and many other occasions when she wrote that, "our Saviour has been so good to us, there is no room for gloom." The missionaries experienced God's goodness, mercy, and providential care particularly in prayer, and the missionary literature points to numerous occasions when they felt God had answered their prayers. McGilvary once called God, the "Hearer of prayer," while Campbell marveled at "How wonderfully God answers prayer." Indeed, even when individual members experienced "chastisements" in the guise of illness, obstacles, or even the death of a colleague or loved one, they still believed that God was acting the part of a stern but loving Father who used the rod of discipline to direct human behavior. In early 1873, for example, McGilvary met with "an old princess" in Lampang who had been going through serious family problems that she found difficult to reconcile with her devotion to making merit, merit which was supposed to free her from such problems. McGilvary wrote, "It was pleasant to be able to explain it as in all probability the fatherly strokes of her true and loving Father who I hope has purposes of mercy towards her." Through it all, good times and bad, the pioneer members of the Laos Mission affirmed two simple principles regarding God's treatment of them: First, whatever happened was intended for good, whether or not they could discern that good. At a difficult stage in her first journey to Chiang Mai, Mary Campbell thus wrote, "What does it all mean? But we know it must mean love—the great wonderful love of God for us all." Second, as McGilvary repeatedly affirmed, God "makes no mistakes."
Their faith in an active, involved God encouraged the missionaries to discern God's will for them and God's intentions for their mission as a practical matter of knowing what to do and when to do it. Before finally deciding to become a missionary, McGilvary, for example, spent a full day in prayer and fasting, asking "for guidance." Many years later, when French authorities blocked his attempt to engage in evangelism among the Kamu tribal people of French Laos, he again turned to prayer for direction. Wilson, we have seen, suffered the thought that God took his loved ones in death as a way of communicating divine will. In these and numerous other instances, the missionaries searched out events, the Bible, and their own hearts to try to discover what God intended them to do. Their concern with knowing God's will led the members of the Laos Mission to emphasize the importance of knowledge and study as the means for discerning that will. McGilvary, sounding very much like the Princetonian he was, claimed that the world can be converted to Christianity only through preaching and study of the Bible, arguing that just as faith is necessary to salvation so knowledge is necessary to faith.
The Laos Mission obviously shared major elements of its understanding of God with all American evangelicals; that God is sovereign, just, and merciful was hardly news. The Laos Mission's emphasis on epistemology, on the other hand, contained clear echoes of Princeton's Reformed confessionalism, which held that knowledge of God precedes faith. Factual knowledge of God's intentions is fundamental to carrying out one's Christian duty. Princeton also held that the understanding of God and God's divine, creative purposes is the axis upon which all of theology spins. Hodge states, "This is a question which lies at the foundation of all religion. If God be to us an unknown God; if we know simply that he is, but not what he is, he cannot be to us the object of love or the ground of confidence. We cannot worship him or call upon him for help." His son, A. A. Hodge, argued that the fundamental questions of theology are ontological and epistemological, having to do with knowledge of divine reality and the revelation of God's will. Taking into consideration the practical, opportunistic nature of missionary theology, there seems to have been little discernable difference, if any, between Chiang Mai and Princeton concerning the person and activity of God the Father. It is particularly striking how important the traditional Reformed concern for epistemology was to the members of the Laos Mission.
The Son. As a rule, the Laos Mission's first generation of missionaries drew little distinction between the Father and the Son. Although they accepted the doctrine of the Incarnation in a formal sense, they leaned so heavily toward Christ's divine nature as to leave little room for the sweaty, swarthy carpenter's son from Nazareth. McGilvary, early in his missionary career, thus referred to Jesus as "our gloriously exalted Saviour" who is "head over all things"; some fifty years later, he still thought of Christ as "the great sovereign of the universe" who has infinite merit with which to pardon the sins of humanity. It even appears that the Laos Mission literature sometimes subsumes all of the Triune God in the Son, including both God's providential oversight of and the Holy Spirit's indwelling in humanity. This was particularly true of Princeton's own sons, Wilson and McGilvary, who understood the formal distinctions between the Persons of the Trinity and still tended to affirm Christ's power and sovereignty as if he were the Sum Total of the Three. To that end, they occasionally used the term "Jehovah Jesus" for Christ, a term that explicitly links Jesus to the powerful Creator God of the Old Testament, who was the sovereign Lord, sinless, self-existent being, infinite and invisible Spirit, and the cause of all other beings. Even when the missionaries did mention Jesus' humanity, they still placed it within the larger context of Christ's divine perfection and power. Edna Cole consoled a young, struggling student with the story of Jesus' life on earth, emphasizing that this same Jesus was now in heaven and could powerfully intercede for her. Many years later, McGilvary encouraged young Presbyterian missionaries to serve the poor by recalling that "Christ Himself was never so great as in His lowliest humiliation…It is the Lamb that was slain that is worthy of all glory and honor, dominion and power." In the literature of the Laos Mission, Jesus' divine nature overwhelmed his humanity to the extent that the formal doctrine of the Incarnation all but disappeared.
The case is much the same in the work of the Princeton circle, although its members did acknowledge and maintain a formal balance between the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. In actual fact, however, even Hodge's Systematic Theology devotes far more attention to Christ's divinity than his humanity, while Archibald Alexander could both affirm the doctrine of the two natures of Christ and still claim that "all who deny the deity of Christ, reject all the fundamental truths of the Christian religion" and those "who deny the divinity of the Saviour are to be considered as really unbelievers, as if they reject him altogether." Hodge so strongly insisted on the divinity of Jesus that one of his former students and theological opponents, John W. Nevin, accused him of falling into the ancient heresy of Nestorianism, the belief that Jesus Christ had two distinct and separate natures. Nevin felt that Hodge's radical distinction between Christ's divine and human natures was "the reigning defect" of his theology. As first year students, McGilvary and Wilson presumably heard Hodge share his views on Christ with the whole seminary community at the seminary's regular weekly Sunday afternoon conference of 4 September 1853—one of the very first conferences they would have attended. Dr. Hodge addressed that week's gathering on the topic, "Christ our Life" and described Christ as the creator, the object, and the end of each person's life. Christ saves us, delivers us from Satan's power, and is the author of our inward, spiritual lives. He concluded, "It is Christ for us to live. While others live for themselves; some for their country, some for mankind, the believer lives for Christ. It is the great end and design of his life to promote his glory and to advance his kingdom." Sounding like McGilvary, above, James W. Alexander went so far as to suggest that we can most clearly see Christ's divinity in his human nature. He wrote, "In authority over tempests and evil spirits; in power to heal; in creative miracles; in searching of the heart; in amazing endurance, forgiveness and love; we behold more of God than all the universe reveals; and the point is, that it is revealed to man by man." Alexander also stated, "We may therefore affirm with confidence, that all the human character of Christ, as shown in his ministry on earth, is really a bright disclosure of the character of God, such as could be made only by the Incarnation." William Henry Green, another of Wilson and McGilvary's instructors at Princeton, treated Christ as a grand "type" found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and particularly emphasized the way in which the characteristics ascribed to the Messiah all come together in the "wonderful person" of Jesus Christ.
Princeton and Chiang Mai, in sum, agreed substantially in their Christology. Each gave formal assent to the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, while largely ignoring Christ's humanity or even seeing in it yet further affirmation of his divinity. They both gave their fullest, warmest attention to that divinity.
The Holy Spirit. Where the members of the Laos Mission in its pioneer era tended to meld their understanding of God the Father and God the Son into a single figure of divine power and glory, they generally distinguished more sharply the person and role of the Holy Spirit. They started, however with precisely the same affirmation, namely that God acts. As a general rule, the members of the Laos Mission found evidence of God's active presence in two places: when they examined external events and trends, they discerned God and Christ at work; but when they looked into the human heart, as we have already seen in McGilvary's case, they discovered the work of the Holy Spirit. McGilvary believed that God led him both providentially and spiritually, in external events and by the inner prompting of his heart.
Although the missionaries could perceive the Holy Spirit in a moving worship service, in a deeply meaningful prayer, or in a revival, they most frequently associated the Holy Spirit with conversions. The Spirit, indeed, was the one and only cause of conversions. When the Laos Mission baptized its first convert, Wilson attributed the event to the Holy Spirit. Mary Campbell affirmed the presence of the Spirit in the lives of several of her students, who had declared their desire to receive baptism. She perceived "the quiet, deep working of the Spirit" in other students who had not yet come to that decision. As McGilvary observed in 1875, fallen humanity needs mercy and pardon, "But till the Spirit of God enlightens the heart no one in the heathen or Christian lands feels this need. And the very light that is in the heathen has become darkness." Even when McGilvary at times felt the burden of his missionary calling, he believed, "That sense of responsibility is itself the work of the Spirit, and it is his office to lead to Christ, to glorify Christ." The work of the Spirit, then, is to bring people to the Saviour to the end that he might be glorified.
Missionary theology and psychology, thus, associated the work of the Holy Spirit with the inner workings of human nature, specifically the human heart. By this point, it will come as no surprise that the Spirit carried out precisely the same function in the Princeton Theology. Hewitt describes the Holy Spirit in Hodge's thought as being "the author of all truth and right knowledge" who provides "the necessary spiritual illumination for an appropriate response to God." Sin renders human nature blind, and humanity can be saved only through the "revelation of truth by the Holy Spirit." While the Princeton theologians made a distinction between conversion and regeneration that does not appear in the missionary correspondence and believed that conversion is a matter of personal choice, they retained a central role for the work of the Spirit in the larger work of regeneration. As Hewitt observes, "The sinner may and does respond to the truth when presented, but the presentation, to be effectual, must come from God in the person of the Holy Spirit." The pioneer members of the Laos Mission may not have dwelt on the finer points of the process of regeneration and conversion, but they did express the same understanding of the underlying dynamic at work.
Conclusion. Princeton's theology was detailed, systematic, and precise. The Laos Mission's was sparse, practical, and opportunistic. Therein lies the most important difference between the two—for where Princeton worked out the implications of its theology in the details of its system, the Chiang Mai missionaries articulated those implications in programs, projects, and buildings more than in words, as we shall see in Chapters Four through Six. Both theologies shared common doctrines concerning the triune God: God is active, powerful, just, and good. Jesus is divine. The Holy Spirit is essential to conversion. Knowledge leads to faith. Knowing God and God's will is crucial to right thinking—and to right acting. It will, obviously, become tedious if we keep making this same point over and over, but in the context of the study of the Laos Mission's system of meanings and doctrines, the fact of the important theological parallels between Princeton and Chiang Mai does bear some repeating. It is in those parallels that we hope to find explanations for missionary behavior, particularly in regards to the perplexing strategies they pursued in their evangelism.
Beginning with Calvin himself, Reformed confessionalism gave detailed attention to the question of human sin and worked out a radical exposé of depraved, rebellious, and totally corrupt human nature. We have already seen that Hodge and company gave a formal nod to its Reformed forebears in these matters but quietly distanced themselves from that tradition by taking a more optimistic view regarding the human situation. Hodge himself has been severely criticized by scholars for his naïvely optimistic appraisal of the ability of Christians to know God perfectly within the bounds of their human limitations. It almost seems as if evangelical Princeton rendered the traditional Reformed doctrines of sin and election impotent.
The records of the Laos Mission, however, suggest that Princeton maintained the traditional, radical Reformed analysis of human depravity in its full force and for the bulk of humanity. Where the plight of the "heathen" received only occasional attention at Princeton, it dominated the theological thought of the missionaries. Edna Cole exclaimed in gloomy frustration, "Oh, these people are so bound by Satan's chains, so full of fear and superstition, that it is pitiable!" McGilvary articulated this same theme of heathenism's pitiful bondage in a letter printed in the Foreign Missionary in 1869; he wrote,
As we look around on a scene that is well represented by Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones, and see a nation given to idolatry, and only two or three individuals to teach them the way of life, we would gather new courage and boldness in our request, and say, 'Now, we beseech you brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the perishing heathen's sake, and for ours, who are engaged in these strong outposts of Satan's kingdom, that you strive together with us in your prayers for us and the success of our labors.'
The most potent symbol and consequence of the northern Thais' bondage was their idolatry, a matter McGilvary returned to frequently in his correspondence. Idolatry blinded the heathen. It lead them into the long-winded, vain repetitions long before condemned by Christ. Idolatry made them irreverent, just as it enslaved them to priest-craft.
The other members of the mission agreed that the heathen are entirely depraved and without hope. Wilson, for example, once compared the heathen to angry and wicked wolves, while Mary Campbell described them as cruel and degraded. In what appears to be something of a contradiction, the missionaries recognized that the northern Thai did display a number of admirable qualities. That recognition caused Kate Wilson to observe, in a bemused fashion, "To find the noble qualities of friendliness, kindness and gratitude amongst a people so morally degraded may seem contradictory, but it remains a fact." Still, no particular factual contradictions of their system of doctrines and meanings could convince the pioneer members of the Laos Mission that their analysis of the heathen condition was incorrect. They were especially sensitive to what they considered to be heathen ignorance and superstition. Wilson herself described how the Laos Mission struggled to relieve suffering and misery during a malaria epidemic and then went on to describe the ignorance, helplessness, and loneliness of the heathen. Cole argued that heathen ignorance rendered the northern Thai hardly fit for conversion because even after they became Christians they remained ignorant and dead. McGilvary summarized the matter of hea- here51 51 then superstition and ignorance most sharply when he stated that "the great want in heathen lands" was a sincere desire to know the truth.
Hodge agreed with the Laos Missionaries entirely and would not have found their situation in Chiang Mai the least bit surprising. The sketch of the condition of first century heathenism contained in his commentary on Romans 1:18-32, indeed, seems very different from the slightly optimistic scholasticism described in the scholarly literature. He asserts there that the heathen in ancient times were vain, wicked, and foolish to the extent that these characteristics virtually defined their moral character. He writes with disdain, "Men cannot be such fools without being wicked." He calls them imbeciles, the evidence of the ruin of the human race. He takes special note of the "degradation and folly" of the heathen's religious beliefs, and lest we think he was more optimistic about contemporary heathenism, he states, "What Paul says of the ancient heathen is found to be true, in all its essential features, of those of our own day…Wherever men have existed there have they manifested themselves to be sinners, ungodly, and unrighteous, and consequently justly exposed to the wrath of God." When it comes to the heathen, Hodge's "noetic optimism" also vanishes as in a puff of smoke. He states, "The human intellect is as erring as the human heart. We can no more find truth than holiness when estranged from God…" He sums up the matter by stating that, "The punitive justice of God is an essential attribute of his nature. This attribute renders the punishment of sin necessary, and is the foundation of the need of a vicarious atonement, in order to the pardon of sinners."
It is a measure of the congruity between Princeton and Chiang Mai that on in this instance the view from the field clarifies the perspective of the good professors at home. Sin, if it was heathen sin, was still an important issue for both, but the missionaries' experience in Chiang Mai made them more immediately sensitive to its effects. The missionaries, that is, were working out the implications of a theology distinctly similar to Princeton's in a context that highlighted certain elements of the Princeton Theology and, as we will see, muted others.
The challenge the Laos Mission faced, given the condition of the heathen, was how to carry out God's plan for the salvation of the people of northern Siam. How could it make God's sovereignty over the North effective while bringing to an end the life-destroying darkness of heathenism? In a letter to the Board written in 1860, Wilson reported that the three Protestant missions in Bangkok were holding joint special services aimed at pointing particular participants to God. They had felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, appearing with an "enlightening power," in those services with the result that several individuals had given their hearts to Christ. These comments highlight the three legs on which the missionary approach to the conversion of the heathen northern Thai stood: first, conversion required the divine intervention of God; second, God's intervention led to an enlightenment of the sinner through saving knowledge; and, third, the result was a change in the human heart.
Divine Intervention. This first theme, concerning the intervention of God, recalls the doctrines of God's sovereign lordship over the world and the essential role of the Holy Spirit in soul-winning, themes dealt with above. Other issues, however, are also involved, particularly having to do with such traditional Reformed doctrines as original sin, covenant, election, and redemption. Reformed theology, it will be recalled, worked out an elaborate federal schema that posited an original divine "covenant of works" with Adam and his posterity, which covenant was abrogated by Adam's rebellion and fall in the Garden. Sin, judgment, and damnation thus entered the world. Federal theologians argued that God has subsequently and graciously established a second covenant, the "covenant of grace," by which the elect are redeemed through the sacrifice of Christ. The Princeton professors were federal theologians, although as we have already seen their enthusiasm for the finer points of federal theology's emphasis on predestination had waned to a degree. The intricacies of Reformed federalism, in any event, had mostly dissipated by the time it reached the mission field, leaving behind an unambiguous certainty that God would bring salvation to northern Siam and a lack of clarity as to whether that salvation was intended for a chosen few or for the whole Laos nation. On the one hand, McGilvary affirmed that, according to the divine biblical promises, God "can and will gather in his own chosen ones." Wilson stated explicitly that God already had a chosen people in the North, and the missionaries' task was simply to locate them and tell them the story of salvation. Sophia McGilvary, in a published letter, called on her readers to pray for the northern Thai, particularly for "God's chosen people in North Laos." On the other hand, the missionaries balanced their belief in the salvation of a particular, elect few with a strain of universalism quite out of keeping with classical federal thinking, which universalism was also based on what the missionaries took to be the divine promises of the Old Testament. They believed that those promises, in practice, assured the salvation of the whole northern Thai "nation." The missionaries did not clarify what that national salvation meant in terms of the eternal fate of individual northern Thais. Missionary literature, otherwise, contains almost no evidence of a federal theology, although McGilvary did once affirmed that he gained strength from what he termed the great Calvinist doctrine that all of reality is structured by God's covenant.
It appears, as best as we can tell from an admittedly sketchy record, that the pioneer members of the Laos Mission accepted Reformed federalism but did not place much emphasis on it. They believed that God would call only a chosen people in northern Siam, but they acted as if the chosen would include nearly all northern Thais. We have already seen that the Princetonians held a similar view of things, namely that while God determines who is saved and lost the Princetonians expected the bulk of the human race to receive God's grace. It is striking how much of their writings one can read without coming across the doctrines of election and predestination. As we have already seen, the seminary's professors constructed their Princeton Theology out of a number of major "blocks" of thought, and it is at such points as the question of who is saved, the chosen few or the larger masses of people, that we see them blending their confessionalism with their evangelicalism. That same blending process took place in Chiang Mai.
Heart and Mind. We have already dealt with the similarities between Princeton and McGilvary concerning the relationship of the heart, and the seat of sin, and the mind, as the channel for reaching the heart with saving knowledge. It is important to briefly recall that discussion in the context of the Laos Mission's views on conversion. McGilvary and company conducted their total program for the winning of northern Siam on two assumptions. First, the heart is the seat of piety and the theater of operation of the Holy Spirit in bringing people to Christ. Second, the mind is the most important avenue for reaching the heart. These assumptions, as we have already seen above, were Princeton to the core. They also lay nested in a set of simple doctrines that affirmed God's particular sovereignty over the human heart, the vile nature of the heart, and God's power to terminate Satan's stranglehold on it. The members of the Laos Mission, thus, confidently affirmed that "all hearts are in God's hands," believing that God can change the hardest hearts. They were also confident that the mind, meaning education, is the best way to approach the heart. Campbell may have pointed to the role of the mind and education as well as any member of the mission in a July 1880 letter in which she exclaimed of her students, "Oh, for a tongue to teach them more of the Saviour they have confessed, for they are such babes in their knowledge."
Crucial knowledge, for the Laos Mission, came in two packages: the Bible and science—precisely what we would expect from a Baconian, Old School evangelical mission, as already described above. Biblical study lay at the core of Cole's instruction of her students in the girls' school and the mission's more general program for the training of its converts. Even before he moved to Chiang Mai, McGilvary asked the Board of Foreign Missions to support establishing a press there, arguing that the new mission's greatest need would be for the Bible, translated and printed in the language and script of the northern Thai people. More than a decade later, he argued that all of the progress the mission had made at that time in establishing Christianity in northern Siam was due to only two agencies, God and the study of God's word, the Bible. Earlier in this chapter, we noted McGilvary and Wilson's interest in science; recalling his families' first months in Chiang Mai, McGilvary wrote, "But we were not merely teachers of religion, though primarily such. We could often, if not usually, better teach religion—or, at least could better lead up to it—by teaching geography or astronomy. A little globe that I had brought along was often my text." He advocated the teaching of science in its role as a "handmaiden" of the Christian religion, because instruction in Western science initiated the process of tearing down the "gigantic systems of error" found in heathen countries; and he outlined the double process of evangelism we have described above, by which the mission had to first tear down the foundations of Buddhism-animism and then build up the edifice of Western Christianity in its place. Science, thus, joined the Bible as being one of the key sources of knowledge the Laos Mission intended to communicate to the northern Thai in preparation for the saving work of God's Holy Spirit in the peoples' hearts.
Conclusion. Princeton's understanding of conversion and that of the Laos Mission were as closely parallel to each other as any of the other elements of their theologies, the key difference being the lack of theological details in the mission's records. Neither the professors nor the missionaries, for example, emphasized federal thought, but the professors still explained it while the missionaries largely ignored it. Princeton maintained a careful distinction between regeneration and conversion, one that also went missing in Chiang Mai. In spite of the fact, however, that the Laos Mission's records do not contain a systematic accounting of its members' theology, the parallels with Princeton are nonetheless striking. Both credited conversion to the work of the Spirit. They both believed that God had a chosen people in northern Siam, one that probably included most of the population. Both, again, looked to the mind as the best avenue to reach the heart. In all of these instances, the writings of the pioneer members of the Laos Mission echoed Princeton, however unsystematically.
Ends of chapters are happily chaotic with their multiple conclusions. The one just above brings the section of "Conversion" to its conclusion while the one below closes down the whole of this chapter. Here, in the middle of it all, our task is to recall briefly the larger set of parallels between the theologies of Princeton and the Laos Mission. Those parallels are pervasive when viewed from the mission's perspective; there seems to be no corner of theological reflection in which the pioneer members of the Laos Mission were truly creative or unique. Every major and minor theme in their doctrines have significant parallels in Princeton's books and articles, whether it be their views on the activity of God, the divine person of Christ, the role of the Holy Spirit, heathenism, or the nature of conversion. Which is to say that the Laos Mission shared in the remarkable conformity and consistency in theology that is one of the markers of the whole of the Princeton Theology, as the succession of Princeton theologians labored to preserve the theology Archibald Alexander introduced at the seminary in 1812 in its original form. McGilvary, Wilson, and their colleagues in Chiang Mai did their small part to preserve the Princeton heritage. This does not mean that every one of them was a "product" of the Princeton Theology in a direct, overt manner. It does indicate, however, that the record of their theological thinking is consistent with Princeton in general and in detail, and it contains nothing that would have fallen beyond the pale of acceptable orthodoxy as Alexander, Hodge, and their colleagues defined it.
The point just made in the above paragraph bears repeating in a still larger framework. In the light of the biographies of its nine pioneer members and the practical, opportunistic approach to doctrines contained in their correspondence and published writings, the conclusion is inescapable that the theology of the Laos Mission was typically Old School and closely akin to Princeton. In its own rough-cut and unsystematic way, the mission affirmed the grand themes of Reformed confessionalism, such as the sovereignty of God, the importance of knowledge of God, the depravity of the heathen, the role of the Spirit in salvation, the glory, dominion, and power of the Divine Christ, and the order of knowledge unto faith. Even in some of the details, such as the relationship of mind to heart and a skittishness about predestination, the Laos Nine bathed in the reflected, brighter, and more precise glory of the Princeton Theology. There were differences in emphasis, however, particularly having to do with the close attention that the mission gave to the condition of the heathen; but even here, as we have seen, Princeton agreed with the mission's analysis of that condition but did not feel the need to come back to it as frequently. It is safe to say that the "stripped-down" theology contained in records of the Laos Mission up to (and for long after) 1880 fell well within the parameters of Princeton.
The Laos Mission's kinship with Princeton Theology does not mean that the Princeton circle caused the mission's members to write, think, and behave as they did. The theological biographies of the pioneer members of the mission are too sketchy and diverse to make such a claim, as we have already seen, and the similarities between Princeton and American evangelicalism generally render the task of discerning explicit links between the Princeton Theology and the mission's behavior impossible. The distinct parallels between the two, on the other hand, are something more than a mere curiosity. They shared a system of meanings and doctrines that provides the student of the Laos Mission with access to a wealth of detailed data pertinent to missionary thinking. Where the records of the mission itself provide only disorganized glimpses of that system, the Princeton authors systematized it, defended it, and worked through its implications in debates running across several decades and in tomes upon articles upon sermons upon commentaries beyond counting. It is to a more detailed look at the Princeton literature and its system of doctrines and meanings that we now turn.
|American Historical Review
Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review
Journal of American History
Journal of the Early Republic
Journal of Presbyterian History
Journal of Social History
North Carolina Presbyterian
North Carolina Presbyterian New Series
Presbyterian Quarterly and Princeton Review
Sixteenth Century Journal
Westminster Journal of Theology
Women's Work for Women
 McGilvary, Half Century, 20-3. For comments on Old School Presbyterianism in North Carolina, see Guion Griffis Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1937), 36-41, 353. For a description of McGilvary's Highlander cultural and ecclesiastical heritage in North Carolina, see Cornelia Hudson, [Life of Daniel McGilvary], unpublished typescript, n.d., 1-7. For a history of his home church, see W. L. Lacy, "Buffalo Church: Centennial Address 1897," typescript copy, n.d.; For the history of one of the congregations he served as pastor, see John K. Roberts, History of Union Presbyterian Church (Carthage, North Carolina: Kelly Printing Co., 1910), esp. 16-7. And for a helpful description of the origins and importance of Scottish communion celebrations in the United States, see Schmidt, Holy Fairs, esp. 55ff, 65-6.
 McGilvary, Half Century, 33. The Alexander referred to here could be either Archibald Alexander, who had just recently died (1851) or J. Addison Alexander, his son and a member of the seminary faculty at the time McGilvary applied to study there.
 McGilvary, letter dated 13 July 1874, NCP New Series 7, 344 (12 August 1874): 2. "Dr. Childs" was the Rev. Dr. Thomas S. Childs, a New England Presbyterian who graduated from Princeton Seminary in 1850 and subsequently served as a pastor and seminary and college instructor in Connecticut and Ohio. He published at least two articles in the Princeton Review. See Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, ed. Alfred Nevin (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Encyclopaedia Publishing Co., 1884), s.v. "Childs, Thomas S., D.D."
 See Charles Hodge, "The Unity of Mankind," BRPR 31, 1 (January 1859): 103-49; Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, 18ff; E. R. Craven, "The Inductive Sciences of Nature and the Bible." Presbyterian Quarterly and Princeton Review (hereafter cited as PQPR) 6, 2 (October 1877): 673-88; Lyman Atwater, "Rationalism," BRPR 38, 3 (July 1866): 329-61; and Theodore Dwight Bozeman, "Inductive and Deductive Politics: Science and Society in Antebellum Presbyterian Thought," JAH 64, 3 (December 1977): 704-22.
 McGilvary to Lowrie, 29 September 1858, v. 2, BFM; Daniel McGilvary to Orange Presbytery, 5 March 1859, NCP 2, 29 (16 July 1859): 1; Daniel McGilvary to the church & congregation of Carthage & Union, 1 September 1859, NCP 2, 51 (17 December 1859): 1; and Daniel McGilvary, "For the Family," NCP New Series 9, 427 (17 March 1876): 4.
 See, for example, McGilvary's comment that it was the doctrines of Calvinism that sustained his family in their trying first months in Chiang Mai. McGilvary, "Medical Missions and Missionary Physicians - No. IV," NCP New Series 2, 80 (14 July 1869): 1.
 "Jonathan Wilson," Necrological Report [Princeton Seminary Bulletin] (1912): 143-44; J. P. Wickersham, A History of Education in Pennsylvania (1886; reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1969), 110-11, 400-03; Howard Miller, The Revolutionary College: American Presbyterian Higher Education 1707-1837 (New York: New York University Press, 1976), 126-28, 187-88, 250; and Colin Brummitt Goodykoontz, Home Missions on the American Frontier (1939; reprint, New York: Octagon Books, 1971), 377-78.
 Wilson to Speer, 12 June 1894, v. 11, BFM;. Concerning the Briggs Case, see Lefferts A. Loetscher, The Broadening Church: A Study of Theological Issues in the Presbyterian Church Since 1869 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1954), 48ff; and Mark A. Noll, Between Faith and Criticism: Evangelicals, Scholarship, and the Bible in America (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986), 11ff.
 See Wilson to Lowrie, 21 January 1860, v. 2, BFM: Jonathan Wilson, letter dated 7 February 1861, entitled "'Tokens of Encouragement' in Siam," FM 20, 2 (July 1861): 44; and Wilson to Rankin, 8 April 1862, v. 2, BFM. See also, Wilson, undated letter, FM 27, 10 (March 1869): 241.
 Given Koster's description of the romantic spirit in nineteenth-century America, it is clear that no true son of Princeton, Wilson included, can be considered a romantic in the formal sense of the term. The Princetonians would not have assigned primacy to nature over Scripture, for example, or emotion over reason. Still, that description suggests that the Princetonians could have shared some traits or inclinations with romanticism, particularly in the love of nature and the valuation of emotion, without being romantics as such. Wilson is a case in point. See Donald N. Koster, Transcendentalism in America (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1975), 8.
 In the early 1880s, Cheek began to conduct private business affairs, and by 1886 he ceased all but nominal involvement in the mission to become a full-time businessman and teak trader. W. S. Bristowe, Louis and the King of Siam (London: Chaoot & Windus, 1976), 69-71.
 The classic study of the Second Great Awakening in western New York State is Cross, The Burned-Over District. See also Paul E. Johnson, A Shopkeeper's Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978); and Mary P. Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
 Lord, Mo Bradley, 116-27, 129. On Finney and later American Revivalism, see William G. McLoughlin, Jr., Modern Revivalism: Charles Grandison Finney to Billy Graham (New York: Ronald Press, 1959). The Princeton theologians, as would be expected, had a generally negative view of Finney and his theology. See Scovel, "Orthodoxy in Princeton," 184-86.
 K.M. Wilson to Lowrie, 24 August 1880, vol. 4, BFM; J.C.H., "Chieng Mai, Northern Siam," Woman's Work for Woman (Hereafter cited as WWW) 9 (April 1879): 136-8; and McGilvary, "Rev. Jonathan Wilson, D.D., An Appreciation," 78-81.
 "Annual Report of the Principal of the Western Female Seminary, 1871" (Oxford, Ohio: W.A. Powell, 1871); Olive Flower, The History of Oxford College for Women 1830-1928 (Oxford, Ohio: Miami University Alumni Association, 1949), 51; Memorial: Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Western Female Seminary (Indianapolis: Carlon & Hollenbeck, 1881), 3-11, 222-23; and Helen Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell: A Brief Record of a Youthful Life (Cincinnati: Silvius and Smith, 1881), 9-10. See also Leonard I. Sweet, "The Female Seminary Movement and Woman's Mission in Antebellum America," CH 54 (March 1985): 41-55.
 Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 12-3, 15. Cole went on to a distinguished, highly influential missionary career as the principal of Wattana Wittiya Academy in Bangkok. Mary Campbell's life came to a tragic end when she drowned in the Chao Phraya River on 8 February 1881.
 House to Irving, 12 August 1873, v. 3, BFM. For a description of tensions between American Calvinists and Methodists in this period see Gary Scott Smith, The Seeds of Secularization: Calvinism, Culture, and Pluralism in America, 1870-1915 (St. Paul: Christian University Press, 1985), 26-8. In his autobiography, McGilvary remembered that Vrooman had attended "Dr. Cuyler's church in Brooklyn." McGilvary, Half Century, 149. Dr. Theodore Ledyard Cuyler graduated from Princeton College in 1841 and Princeton Seminary in 1846. He played a major role in the revival of 1858 in New York City as pastor of the Market Street Reformed Church. He then became pastor of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, in 1860. Under his leadership, the Lafayette Avenue Church became one of the largest churches in the PCUSA. See Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, s.v. "Culyer, Theodore Ledyard, D.D." Vrooman's association with Cuyler's church serves as a reminder that proximity to Princeton graduates does not necessarily imply influence.
 See, for example, McGilvary to Lowrie, 4 February 1865, v. 3, BFM; Wilson, undated letter, FM 27, 10 (March 1869): 241; and C. W. Vrooman, letter dated, 6 February 1872, FM 31, 2 (July 1872): 52.
 McGilvary, undated letter, FM 28, 4 (September 1869): 80-4; and Campbell, letter dated 26 March 1879, in Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 22. See also, Wilson to Lowrie, 7 June 1860, v. 2, BFM; and McGilvary, undated letter, FM 27, 10 (March 1869): 242.
 Campbell to Parents, 4 January 1879, in Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 17; Campbell, letter dated 19 April 1879, WWW 9, 11 (November 1879): 389; and Campbell, letter dated 25 February 1879, in Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 20-1.
 McGilvary, Half Century, 81, 181-82; Wilson, letter dated 28 July 1870, FM, 29, 7 (December 1870): 186; Wilson to Lowrie, 21 January 1860, v. 2, BFM; and Wilson to Irving, 24 April 1872, v. 3, BFM. Compare Hodge's statement that the Jehovah of the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus of the New Testament are the same divine person. Charles Hodge, "Christianity without Christ," PQPR 5, 18 (April 1876): 352.
 Cole, undated letter, WWW 11, 7 (July 1881): 224-26; and Daniel McGilvary, "The Consciousness of Divine Vocation," in Counsel to New Missionaries: From Older Missionaries of the Presbyterian Church (New York: Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., 1905), 9. Emphasis in the original.
 Cited in E. Brooks Holifield, "Mercersburg, Princeton, and the South: The Sacramental Controversy in the Nineteenth Century," JPH 54, 2 (Summer 1976): 244; and Nichols, Romanticism, 103-4. Hodge makes a formal distinction between the two natures, divine and human, and the one divine person of Christ. While he strives to maintain that Jesus was fully human, Hodge understands Christ to have been only temporarily human and only for the legal necessity of having to make restitution for Adam's original sin. For Hodge, the central problem of the Incarnation is explaining how God could become a man. Compare Schleiermacher's discussion of the Incarnation, in which he struggles with the question of how a man could also be God. Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, eds. H. R. Mackintoch and J. S. Stewart (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1928), 380ff. The contrast between Schleiermacher and Hodge underscores Hodge's fundamental commitment to the divinity of Christ and more largely, to the doctrine of the sovereignty of God: if Jesus is God then his greatness and sovereignty must stand before all else. How God could become an actual man was a serious problem for Hodge and his colleagues.
 McGilvary, letter dated 21 June 1858, NCP 1, 47 (20 November 1858): 1; McGilvary, letter dated 7 September 1858, NCP 2, 20 (14 May 1859): 1; and D. McGilvary, letter dated 10 October 1876, FM, 35, 9 (February 1877): 284.
 McGilvary to Lowrie, 29 September 1858, v. 2, BFM; McGilvary to Orange Presbytery, 5 March 1859, NCP, 1; McGilvary, letter dated 21 June 1858, NCP, 1; and Cole, undated letter, WWW 12, 12 (December 1882): 411.
 Campbell, letter dated 30 July 1880, in Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 32-3. See also, McGilvary to Lowrie, 9 October 1862, v. 2, BFM; McGilvary to Irving, 12 January 1869, v. 3, BFM; and McGilvary, letter dated 20 May 1863, entitled "Light Strokes and great Mercies at Petchaburi," FM 22, 6 (November 1863): 152-53.
|Table of Contents||Abstract||Illust. & Tables||Introduction||Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3||Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6||Conclusion||Appendices||Bibliography|