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with a book and pen in his hand to take down the names and answers of those who, by invitation, remained to be conversed with. Having taken her name, the preacher asked, ‘ Are you for God or the devil ?’ Being overcome, her head depressed, and in tears, she made no reply. ‘ Put her down, then, in the devil’s book !’ said the preacher to his secretary. From that time the poor girl became insane; and, in her sim. plicity and innocence, has been accustomed to tell the story of her misfortunes.”
And yet these revivals are looked up to and supported as the strong arm of religion. It is not only the ignorant or the foolish, but the enlight~ ened and the educated also, who support and encourage them, either from a consideration of their utility, or from that fear, so universal in the United States, of expressing an opinion contrary to the majority. How otherwise could they be introduced once or twice a year into all the colleges—the professors of which are surely
most of them men of education and strong mind?
Yet such is the fact. It is announced that some minister, peculiarly gifted to work in revivals, is to come on a certain day. Books are thrown on one side, study is abandoned, and ten days perhaps are spent in religious exercises of the most violent and exciting character. It is a scene of strangeconfusion,somepraying, some pretending to pray, some scofling. Day after day is it carried on, until the excitement is at its height, as the exhortations and the denunciations of the preacher are poured into their ears. A yo'ung American who was at one of the colleges, and gave me a full detail of what had occurred, told me that on one occasion a poor lad, frightened out of his senses, and anxious to pray, as the vengeance and wrath of the Almighty was poured out by the minister, sunk down upon his knees and commenced his prayer with “ Almighty and diabolical God 1” No misnomer, if what the preacher had thundered out was the truth.
As an example of the interference of the laity,
and of the description of people who may be so
authorized, the same gentleman told me that at
one revival a deacon said to him previous to the
meeting, “ Now, Mr. , if you don’t take advantage of this here revival and lay up a little salvation for your soul, all I can say is, that you ought to have your (something) confoundedly well kicked.”
What I have already said on this subject will, I think, establish two points, first, that the voluntary system does not work well for society; and secondly, that the ministers of the churches are treated with such tyranny and contumely, as to warrant the assertion, that in a country, like the United States, where a man may, in any other profession, become independent in a few years, the number of those who enter into the ministry must decrease at the very time that the population and demand for them will increase. ‘ i
We have now another question to be examined, and a very important one, which is—
Are those who worship under the voluntary
system supplied at a cheaper rate than those of the established churches in this kingdom P
I say this is an important question, as there is no doubt that one of the principal causes of dissenting has been the taxes upon religion in this country, and the wish, if it were attainable Of worshipping at free cost. In entering into thisquestion, there is no occasion to refer to any particular sect, as the system is much the same with them all, and is nearly as follows:
Some pious and well disposed people of a certain persuasion, we will say, imagine that another church might, if it were built, be well filled with those of their own sect; and that, if is not built, the consequences will be that many of their own persuasion will, from the habit of attending other churches, depart from those tenets which they are anxious should not only be retained by those who have embraced them, but as much as possible promulgated, so as to gather strength and make converts—for it
should be borne in mind that the sectarian
spirit is one great cause of the rapid church-build
ing- in America.* One is of Paul, another of
Apollos. They meet, and become the future
deacons and elders, in all probability, to whom
the minister has to bow; they agree to build a
church at their own risque: they are not specu
lators, but religious people, who have not the
least wish to make money, but who are prepared, ‘ if necessary, to lose it.
Say then that a handsome church (I am referring to the cities) of brick or stone, is raised in a certain quarter of the city, and that it costs 75,000 dollars. When the interior is complete, and the pews are all built, they divide the whole cost of the church upon the pews, more or less value being put upon them according to their situations. Allowing that there are two hundred pews, the one hundred most eligible being valued at five hundred dollars each, and the other one hundred inferior at two hundred and
‘ Churches are also built upon speculation, as they sometimes are in England.