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lator. It is the division of the Protestant church which has occasioned its weakness in this country, and will probably eventually occasion, if not its total subversion, at all events its subversion in the western hemisphere of America. The subjugation of the ministry to the tyranny of their congregations is another most serious evil; for either they must surrender up their consciences or their bread. In too many instances it is the, same here in religion as in politics: before the people will permit any one to serve them in any office, he must first prove his unfitness by submitting to what no man of honesty or conscientious rectitude would subscribe to. This must of course in both cases be taken with exceptions, but it is but too often the fact. And hence has arisen another evil, which is, that there are hundreds of self-constituted ministers, who wander over the western country, using the word of God as a cloak, working upon the feelings of the women to obtain money, and rendering religion a by-word among the men, who will in all probability some day rise up and linch some dozen of them, as a hint for the rest to clear out.
It would appear as if Locofoco-ism and infidelity had formed an union, and were fighting under the same banner. They have recently cele~ brated the birth-day of Tom Paine,in Cincinnati, New York, and Boston. In Cincinnati, Frances Wright Darusmont, better known as Fanny Wright, was present, and made a violent politico-atheistical speech on the occasion, in which she denounced banking, and almost every other established institution of the country. The nature of the celebration in Boston will be understood from the following toast given on the occasion.
By George Chapman :—“ Christianity and the banks tottering on their last legs. May
~ their downfall be speedy,” 8:0. &c.
Miss Martineau informs us that “ The
churches of Boston, and even the other public
buildings, being guarded by the dragon of bigotry, so that even Faith, Hope, and Charity are turned back from the doors, a large building is about to be erected for the use of all, Deists not excepted, who may desiretomeet for free discussion. She adds, “ This at least is an advance !” And in a few pages further :—“ The eagerness in pursuit of speculative truth is shewn by the rapid sale of every heretical work. The clergy complain of the enormous spread of bold books, from the infidel tract to the latest handling of the miracle question, as sorrowfully as the most liberal members of society lament the unlimited circulation of the false morals issued by certain Religious Tract Societies. Both testify to the interest taken by the public in religion. The love of truth is also shewn by the outbreak of heresy in all directions !”
Having stated the most obvious objections to the voluntary system, I shall nowproceed to show how far my opinions are corroborated by American authorities. The author of “ A Voice from America” observes very truly, that the volun
tary system of supporting religion in America is inadequate to the purpose, and he closes his argument with the following observation :—
“ How far that part of the system of supporting religion in America, which appeals to the pride and public spirit of the citizens, in erecting and maintaining religious institutions on a respectable footing, in towns, cities, and villages, and among rival sects—and in this manner operating as a species of constraint—is worthy to lie-called voluntary, we pretend not to say. But this comprehends by far the greatest sum that is raised and appropriated to these objects. All the rest is a mere fraction in comparison. And yet it is allowed, and made a topic of grievous lamentation, that the religious wants of the country are most inadequately supplied; and such, indeed, we believe to be the fact.”
The next point referred to by this author is, “ that the American system of supporting religion has brought about great instability in the religious world, and induced a ruinous habit of
This arises from the caprice of the congregation, for Americans are naturally capricious and fond of change: whether it be concerning a singer, or an actor, or a clergyman, it is the same thing. This American author observes, “There are few clergymen that can support their early popularity for a considerable time; and as soon as it declines, they must begin to think of providing elsewhere for themselves. They go— migrate—and for the same reason, in an equal term of time, they are liable to be forced to migrate again. And thus there is no stability, but everlasting change, in the condition of the American clergy. They change, the people change—all is a round of change—because all depends on the voluntary principle. The clerical profession in America is, indeed, like that of a soldier; always under arms, frequently fighting, and always ready for a new campaign --a truly militant state. A Clergyman’s Guide would be of little use, so far as the object might be to direct where to find him: he is not this
year where he was last.” And, as must be the