Chauncy, Charles

Chauncy, Charles chônˈsē, chänˈ– [key], 1705–87, American Congregational clergyman, b. Boston. He was ordained as a minister of the First Church, Boston, in 1727 and remained in that pulpit for 60 years. Next to Jonathan Edwards, his great opponent, Chauncy was probably the most influential clergyman of his time in New England. As an intellectual he distrusted emotionalism and opposed the revivalist preaching of the Great Awakening in his Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in New England (1743) and other pamphlets. He became the leader of the “Old Lights” or liberals in theology in the doctrinal disputes following the Great Awakening. He was also the leader in the opposition to the establishment of an Anglican bishopric in the American colonies, writing his Compleat View of Episcopacy (1771) and other works on the subject. A firm believer in the colonial cause, he clearly set forth the political philosophy of the American Revolution in sermons and pamphlets during the period. After the war he defended the doctrine of Universalism in two anonymous tracts: Salvation for All Men (1782) and The Mystery Hid from Ages and Generations (1784).

See W. Walker, Ten New England Leaders (1901, repr. 1969).

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