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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 church 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."t There have been many attempts to remedy this evil,
" This is true. When [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 the westward of the Alleghany Mountains, com— prising more tharl two-thirds of America, may be said to be either in a state of neglect and darkness, or professing the Catholic religion. Although Virginia is a slave State, I think there is more religion there than in some of the more northern free States ; but it must be recollected, that Virginia has been long settled, and the non-predial state of the slaves is not attended with demoralizing efl'ects; and I may here observe that the black population of America is decidedly the most religious, and sets an example
to the white, particularly in the free States.*
' Mr. Reid, in his Tour, describes a visit which he paid to a black church in Kentucky :—
“By the law of the State, no coloured persons are permitted to assemble for worship, unless a white person be present and preside.
“ One of the black preachers, addressing me as their ‘strange master,’ begged that I would take charge of the service. I declined doing so. He gave out Dr. WVatts’ beautiful psalm, ‘ Shew pity, Lord, oh ! Lord forgive.’ They all rose immediately. They had no books, for they could not read; but it was printed on their memory, and they sung it ofl‘with freedom and feeling.
It may be fairly inquired, can this be true? Not fifty years back, at the time of the Declaration of Independence, was not the American community one of the most virtuous in existence? Such was indeed the case, as it is now equally certain that they are one of the most demoralized. The question is, then, what can have created such a change in the short period of fifty years P
The only reply that can be given, is, that as the Americans, in their eagerness to possess new
“ The senior black, who was a preacher among them, then offered prayer and preached ; his prayer was humble and devotional. In one portion, he made an afl‘ecting allusion to their wrongs. ‘Thou knowest,’ said the good man, with a broken voice, ‘ our state—that it is the meanest—that we are as mean and low as man can be. But we have sinned—we have forfeited all our rights to THEE, and we would submit before Thee, to these marks of thy displeasure.”
Mr. Reid subsequently asserts, that the sermon delivered by the black was an “ earnest and efficient appeal;” and, afterwards, hearing a sermon on the same day from a white preacher, he observes that it was a “very sorry aflair,” in contrast with what he had before witnessed.