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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 be called voluntary, we pretend not
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 change."
This arises from the caprice of the congregation, for Americans are naturally capricious and fondof 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 gomigrate—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
consequence, he justly observes, “Such a system makes the clergy servile, and the people tyrannical.” “When the enmity of a single individual is sufficient to destroy a resident pastor's peace, and to break him up, how can he be otherwise than servile, if he has a family about him, to whom perpetual change is inconvenient and disastrous ? There is not a man in his flock, however mean and unworthy of influence, whom he does not fear; and if he happens to displease a man of importance, or a busy woman, there is an end to his peace; and he may begin to pack up. This perpetual bondage breaks down his mind, subdues his courage, and makes a timid nervous woman of one who is entitled, and who ought to be, a man. He drags out a miserable existence, and dies a miserable slave. There are exceptions to this rule, it is true; because there are clergymen with talent enough to rise above these disadvantages, enforce respect, and maintain their standing, in spite of enemies."
But there is another very strong objection, and
most important one, to the voluntary system, which I have delayed to bring forward ; which is, that there is no provision for the poor in the American voluntary chureh system. Thus only those who are rich and able to afford religion can obtain it. At present, it is true that the majority of the people in America have means sufficient to pay for seats in churches, if they choose to expend the money; but as America increases her population, so will she increase the number of her poor; and what will be the consequence hereafter, if this evil is to continue? The author I am now quoting from observes, “At best the poor are unprovided for, and the talents of the clergy are always in the market to the highest bidder.* There have been many attempts to remedy this evil,
* This is true. When I was in the States one of the most popular preachers quitted his church at Boston to go to New York, where he was offered an increase of salary ; telling his parishioners “that he found he would be more useful elsewhere”-the very language used by the Laity to the clergyman when they dismiss him,
in the dense population of cities, by setting up a still more voluntary system, called “free churches,' in which the pews are not rented, but free to all. But they are uniformly failures."
Two other remarks made by this author are equally correct ; first, that the voluntary system tends to the multiplication of sects without end; and next, that the voluntary system is a mendicant system, and involves one of the worst features of the church of Rome, which is, that it tends to the production of pious frauds. But I have already, in support of my arguments, quoted so much from this book that I must refer the reader to the work itself.
At present, Massachusetts, and the smaller Eastern States, are the strong-hold of religion and morality; as you proceed from them farther south or west, so does the influence of the clergy decrease, until it is totally lost in the wild States of Missouri and Arkansas. With the exception of certain cases to be found in Western Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, the whole of the States to