Samuel Hopkins (1766-1803) was a Congregational minister in the New England area. Born in Connecticut he was educated at Yale, and later studied under Johnathan Edwards (1703-1758). Hopkins preached in Sheffield (now Great Barrington) from 1743-1769, until a difference in theology between Hopkins and his congregation forced him to leave Sheffield. Hopkins then travelled to Newport Rhode Island, where he preached from 1770-1803, when he died. During the Revolutionary War, Hopkins fled Newport, and continued to preach at Newburyport in Massachusetts, as well as Canterbury and Stamford Connecticut (1776-1780). Hopkins is an important figure in Congregationalism, because of the school of theological thought that bears his name, Hopkinsianism, sometimes called New Divinity. Hopkins is also prominent as an early abolitionist, being one of the first Congregationalist ministers to denounce slavery, despite owning slaves at one time in his life.

Digital Materials

Letter to Fuller, 1803

This letter is presumed to have been dictated by Hopkins to some unnamed scribe, due to the radical difference in handwriting from the other two letters in this collection. It is likely that he used a scribe for health reasons that he mentions briefly in the opening of the letter. The rest of the letter is a theological argument on how to determine what a true Christian is, how to think about faith, and how an individual may go to heaven. From the tone it can be assumed that Fuller is a minister, or pastor, like Hopkins. Due to the notes, and edits made to the letter, as well as being unsigned, it is assumed that this is a draft.