It is the 15th of June 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I'm Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1686. It was the twilight of the monarchs and the old order. Louis XIV fought the many nations of the League of Augsburg, Russia joined the Great Turkish war on the side of the Holy League, and the Turks were fighting the Venetians.
The new religious settlements after the Reformation were trying to figure out how the state and the church would interact. In Sweden, the Swedish Church Law of 1686 was passed. This law recognized Lutheranism as the official state church. Furthermore, it banned all non-Lutherans from immigrating unless they promised to convert to Lutheranism. I've read a fair bit about Lutheranism and the state. I'm pretty sure they weren't doing it right.
Religious tension was simmering in England. We are only two years before their revolution, which was a result of the people revulsion towards King James II. James, unlike his brother, was not shy about his preference for Catholicism. The king snubbed his nose at the Test Acts in this year and unlawfully appointed four Catholics to his privy council. James furthermore set up his Federation of New England, which was a program to remodel the British colonies. We will get back to those colonies in a few.
1686 saw the early Enlightenment beginning to blossom. Pierre Bayle was active. The philosopher and Calvinist published his "Philosophical Commentary on Religious Freedom." Charles Halley was a busy man this year. The man, after whom we have named the famous comet, figured out barometric pressure in 1686. Also, by studying weather patterns, he was able to draw the first meteorological map. Halley showed that solar heating caused atmospheric motions that could be tracked and predicted.
In 1686 Joseph Dudley began his tenure as president of the Dominion of New England. It didn't go well. The French and Indian Wars were raging, he led an unsuccessful raid on Quebec, and the royal sentiment was not high. In Boston at the time, the colonial governor Edmund Andros was as authoritarian and unpopular as ever.
And it was on this, the 15th of June, in 1686, that between the planning of the reluctant Anglican James the II and the fiercely Anglican Andros, provided the funds for the first Anglican church to be established in North America. The King's Chapel was erected in Boston. However, they had a difficult time purchasing land as local citizens did not want to sell a property for what would be a rival church. Eventually, the church was built on top of a public burying ground. As the church began to grow in prestige and popularity, they eventually added a crypt below the church where twenty-one prominent Boston families purchased tombs.
During the revolutionary war, the building sat idle, and the Church of England or the Anglicans were unsurprisingly unpopular. After the war, the church was transformed into a particularly American institution. The minister, James Freeman, blended Episcopalian liturgy with a Unitarian theology. This combination of old Anglicanism with an American enlightenment accent proved to be popular. It was so popular that box pews were installed for member families who paid a pew rent and could decorate them. Pew #30 was the best seat in the house and reserved for the governor. Although in 1789, George Washington sat there. Of course, it was only for the sermon as he refused to participate in the sacrament of communion when it was being celebrated.
Paul Revere and Sons cast the King's Chapel Bell. It was cracked in 1814 but repaired. The same bell is used for worship today.
It is now on the national register of historic places and was named a national landmark in 1960. The King’s Chapel was founded 334 years ago, on this the 15th of June, in 1686.
The reading for today comes from an American Puritan, Michael Wigglesworth. The following is the last stanza from his lengthy poem, "To The Christian Reader." In it, you hear the poet bidding us to partake in the benefits of Christ and to make of a judge a friend.
Oh get a part in Christ,
And make the Judge thy Friend:
So shalt thou be assured of
A happy, glorious end.
Thus prays thy real Friend,
And Servant for Christ's Sake,
Who had he strength would not refuse,
More pains for thee to take.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 15th of June 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who wants to bring back the pew tax. Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.