THE GREAT DIVIDE
New Forces, 1740 to 1750 -- Jonathan Edwards -- The Great Awakening -- Capture of Louisbourg -- Its Return to France Redemption of Paper Money -- Changes in Social and Intellectual Life
THE forces which we noted in the last chapter as in operation were destined to bring about most striking results during the decade from 1740 to 1750. The events of the first half of the period are among the most spectacular in the history of New England in the spheres of thought, emotion and action, and make visible for us the strength of that movement of liberation and expansion which we have been tracing. Its bursting forth in all three spheres was almost volcanic in intensity, and although the results at the time seemed to be disappointing they were in reality both profound and lasting. Old landmarks were swept away, the sense of individual freedom was greatly increased, and the belief of the colonists in their own undisciplined strength -- one of the most subtle elements in the weakening of the imperial connection -- was enormously emphasized.
For half a century, many factors had combined to undermine the old New England theology and theocracy. The political power if not the social prestige of the clergy had been steadily declining, find the tenets of Calvinism had been yielding to Deism and Arminianism. In regard to the beliefs of the latter, those modern readers who are weary of the eternal wrangling of priests and sectaries over matters of which they do and can know nothing positively may find relief in the simple analysis by Bishop Morely, a century earlier, who when asked what it was that the Arminians held replied "the best bishoprics in England." To penetrate a little deeper, however, their doc