Slike strani
PDF
ePub

legislation of the individual states has of the Sabbath, the securing of Church upon religion, and which sometimes comes property, and the undisturbed tranquillity not a little to its help, there are cases in of public worship by every variety of Chriswhich the civil authority intervenes more tian sects. The law makes no distinction directly, not in settling points of doctrine, among these sects, and gives to no one but in determining questions of property; the predominance over the others. It proand these are by no means of rare occur- tects all equally, and gives no political rence where there are conflicting claims privileges to the adherent of one over those in individual churches. This, indeed, has of another sect. happened twice at least, in reference to “The laws of the several states authorproperty held by large religious denomina- ize the acquisition and holding of church tions. The first of these cases occurred property, under certain limitations as to in New-Jersey, and on that occasion the value, either by making a special corporacourts decided upon the claims to certain tion for that purpose, or through the agenproperty, urged by the Orthodox and the cy of trustees empowered under general Hicksites, two bodies into which the So- regulations for that purpose. Without gociety of Friends, or Quakers, has been di- ing into detail on this subject, it is enough vided throughout the United States. And to say that they proceed upon the princialthough the trial took place on a local ple of allowing the church to hold a sufficause, or, rather, for a local claim, yet the cient amount of real and personal property principle upon which it was decided affect to enable it to perform its appropriate funced all the property held by Quaker socie- tions, and, at the same time, to guard against ties in the state.

abuse, by allowing too great an amount of The second case occurred recently in wealth to be perpetually locked up in mortPennsylvania, where the Supreme Court main by grants and testamentary disposihad to decide upon the claims of the Old tions ad pios usus. In some of the states and New School, to certain property be- of the Union, the English statute of mortlonging to the General Assembly of the main has been introduced, by which reliPresbyterian Church, on its being divided gious corporations are disabled from acinto two separate bodies, each of which quiring real property unless by special assumed the name of the Presbyterian license of the government. In others, the Church. Here the court had of necessity capacity to acquire it is regulated and limto decide which of the two ought by law ited by the special acts of legislation into be considered the true representative corporating religious societies. The ecand successor of the Presbyterian Church clesiastical corporations existing before before its division. The decision, how the Revolution, which separated the United ever, did not rest on doctrinal grounds, but States from the parent country, continue wholly on the acts of the bodies them- to enjoy the rights and property which selves, the court refusing to take up the they had previously held under acts of Parquestion of doctrines at all, as not being liament, or of the provincial Legislatures. within their province. Not so in the case “Blasphemy is punished as a criminal of the Quakers just referred to. There offence by the laws of the several states. the court considered the question of doc- “Perjury is, in like manner, punished as trine, in order to determine which body a crime; the form of administering the was the true Society of Friends.

oath being accommodated to the conscienI apprehend that I have now said enough tious views of different religious sects. to place the nature of the mutual relations The Quakers are allowed to affirm solemnbetween Church and State in America ly; the Jews swear upon the scriptures of fairly before the reader, and will dismiss the Old Testament only; and certain Christhe subject by giving some extracts from tian sects with the uplifted hand. a communication which the Hon. Henry « There has been much discussion among Wheaton, ambassador from the United our jurists as to how the oaths of infidels States to the Court of Berlin, has had the ought to be considered in courts of justice. goodness to address to me, and which pre- But, so far as I recollect, the general resents, in some respects, a résumé, or sum-sult is to reject the oath of such persons mary of what may be said on this subject : only as deny the being of God, or a future

“ In answer to your first query, I should state of rewards and punishments, without say that the State does not view the Chris- absolutely requiring a belief in revealed tian Church as a rival or an enemy, but religion. rather as an assistant or co-worker in the “The laws regulating marriage with us religious and moral instruction of the peo- are founded on the precepts of Christianple, which is one of the most important ity; hence polygamy is absolutely forbidduties of civil government.

den, and punished as a crime under the de“It is not true that the Church is treated nomination of bigamy. Marriages between as a stranger by the state.

relations by blood in the ascending or de“There are ample laws in all the states scending lines, and between collaterals in of the American Union for the observance the first degree, are absolutely forbidden in

[ocr errors]

all the states; and in some, all marriages overthrow and its consequences; and, finalwithin the Levitical degrees are also for- ly, the relations which have subsisted bebidden.

tween the churches and the civil govern-. “ The common law of England, which ments since the Revolution. We are now requires consent merely, without any par- about to enter upon the consideration of ticular form of solemnization, to render a the resources which the churches have marriage legally valid, is adopted in those developed since they have been compelled states of the American Union which have to look, in dependance upon God's blessnot enacted special legislative statutes on ing, to their own exertions, instead of relythe subject. In some of the states mar- ing on the arm of the state. riage is required to be solemnized in the A review of the ground which we have presence of a clergyman or magistrate. gone over may be given almost in the very

“All our distinguished men, so far as I words of an able author, to whom we have know, are Christians of one denomination been repeatedly indebted. or other. A great reaction has taken place 1. “ The first settlers of the United States within the last thirty years against the tor- went to it as Christians, and with strong rent of infidelity let in by the superficial intent to occupy the country in that charphilosophy of the eighteenth century: acter.

“I believe the separation of Church and 2. “The lives they lived there, and the State is, with us, considered almost, if not institutions they set up, were signalized universally, as a blessing."

by the spirit and doctrine of the religion With these extracts, which give the they professed. views of one of the most distinguished 3. The same doctrine and spirit, destatesmen and diplonjatists of America, scending upon the patriots of the federal and which confirm the positions we have era, entered largely into the primary State advanced on all the points to which they Constitutions of the Republic, and, if analrefer, we close our remarks on the exist-ogy can be trusted, into the constructive ing relations between the Church and State meaning of the Federal Charter itself. in that country.

4. “ Christianity is still the popular religion of the country.

5. “And, finally, notwithstanding some

untoward acts of individual rulers, it is to CHAPTER XII.

this day, though without establishments,

and with equal liberty to men's conscienGROUND WHICH WE HAVE ces, the religion of the laws and of the

government. If records tell the truth-if

annals and documents can outweigh the We have now arrived at the close of the flippant rhetoric of licentious debate, our Third Book of this work.

public institutions carry still the stamp of We have traced the religious character their origin : the memory of better times of the early colonists who settled in Amer- is come down to us in solid remains; the ica; the religious establishments which monuments of the fathers are yet standing; they planted ; the happy and the unhappy and, blessed be God, the national edifice influences of those establishments; their continues visibly to rest upon them."*

REVIEW OF

THE

GONE OVER.

BOOK I V.

OF ITS MISSION.

THE VOLUNTARY PRINCIPLE IN AMERICA; ITS ACTION AND

INFLUENCE.
CHAPTER I.

in the beginning of the seventeenth cen"THE VOLUNTARY PRINCIPLE THE GREAT AL- 1 of the immortal mind were but little un

tury, freedom of conscience and the rights TERNATIVE. — THE NATURE AND VASTNE88 derstood in the Old World. Those even

who fled to the New, to enjoy this greatest The reader has remarked the progress of of all earthly blessings, had but an imperReligious Liberty in the United States from fect apprehension of the subject and its the first colonization of the country until bearings. That which they so highly prithe present time, and traced the effects of zed for themselves, and for the attainment its successive developments in modifying of which they had made such sacrifices, the relations between the churches and they were unwilling to accord to others. the state.

Not that men were not allowed, in evHe has seen that when that country be

* “An Inquiry into the Moral and Religious Chatgan to be settled by European emigrants, I acter of the American Government,” p. 139, 140.

I

ery colony, to entertain whatever opinions On the other hand, as we have shown, they chose on the subject of religion, if neither the General Government nor that they did not endeavour to propagate them of the States does anything directly for the when contrary to those of the Established maintenance of public worship. Religion Church, where one existed. In the colo- is protected, and indirectly aided, as has nies where the greatest intolerance exist- been proved, by both ; but nowhere does ed, men were compelled to attend the Na- the civil power defray the expenses of the tional Church, but they were not required, churches, or pay the salaries of ministers in order to be allowed a residence, to make of the Gospel, excepting in the case of a a profession of the established faith. This few chaplains connected with the public was the lowest amount possible of reli- service. gious liberty. Low as it is, however, it is Upon what, then, must Religion rely? not yet enjoyed by the native inhabitants Only, under God, upon the efforts of its of Italy, and some other Roman Catholic friends, acting from their own free will, incountries.

fluenced by that variety of considerations But it was not long before a step in ad- which is ordinarily comprehended under vance was made by Virginia and Massa- the title of a desire to do good. This, in chusetts, of all the colonies the most rigid America, is the grand and only alternative. in their views of the requirements of a To this principle must the country look for Church Establishment. Private meetings all those efforts which must be made for its of dissenters for the enjoyment of their own religious instruction. To the consideration modes of worship began to be tolerated. of its action, and the development of its

A second step was to grant to such dis- resources, the book upon which we now senters express permission to hold public enter is devoted. meetings for worship, without releasing Let us look for a moment at the work them, however, from their share of the which, under God's blessing, must be actaxes to support the Established Church. complished by this instrumentality.

The third step which religious freedom The population of the United States in made consisted in relieving dissenters from 1840 was, by the census, ascertained to be the burden of contributing in any way to 17,068,666 souls. At present (January, the support of the Established Church, 1844) it surpasses 18,500,000. Upon the

And, finally, the fourth and great step voluntary principle alone depends the reliwas to abolish altogether the support of gious instruction of this entire population, any church by the state, and place all, of embracing the thousands of churches and every name, on the same footing before the ministers of the Gospel, colleges, theologilaw, leaving each church to support itself cal seminaries, Sunday-schools, missionary by its own proper exertions.

societies, and all the other instrumentalities Such is the state of things at present, that are employed to promote the knowland such it will remain. In every state, edge of the Gospel from one end of the liberty of conscience and liberty of worship country to the other. Upon the mere unare complete. The government extends constrained good-will of the people, and protection to all. Any set of men who wish especially of those among them who love to have a church or place of worship of the Saviour and profess His name, does their own, can have it, if they choose to this vast superstructure rest. Those may erect or hire a building at their own tremble for the result who do not know charges. Nothing is required but to com- what the human heart is capable of doing ply with the terns which the law prescribes when left to its own energies, moved and in relation to holding property for public sustained by the grace and the love of God.

The proper civil authorities have Still more : not only must all the good nothing to do with the creed of those who that is now doing in that vast country, and. open such a place of worship. They can- amid more than 18,500,000 of souls, be connot offer the smallest obstruction to the linued by the voluntary principle, but the opening of a place of worship anywhere, increasing demands of a population augif those who choose to undertake it comply menting in a ratio to which the history of with the simple terms of the law in relation the world furnishes no parallel, must be to such property.

met and supplied. And what this will reNor can the police authorities interfere quire may be conceived when we state the to break up a meeting, unless it can be fact that the annual increase of the popuproved to be a nuisance to the neighbour- lation during the decade from 1840 to 1850 hood by the disturbance which it occasions, cannot be short of 500,000 upon an averor on account of the immoral practices age! From 1790 to 1800, the average anwhich may be committed in it; not on ac- nual increase of the inhabitants of the count of the particular religious faith which country was 137,609 ; from 1800 to 1810 it may be there taught. All improper med- was 193,388 ; from 1810 to 1820 it was dling with a religious meeting, no matter 239,831 ; from 1820 to 1830 it was 322,878; whether it is held in a church or in a pri- from 1830 to 1840 it was 420,174. At this vate house, would not be tolerated.

rate the annual increase from 1840 to 18504

uses.

will, upon an average of the years, exceed necessary in order to give the reader a 500,000. And the whole increase of the ten proper idea of the manifestations of what years will exceed 5,000,000 of souls. To has been called the voluntary principle in augment the number of ministers of the the United States, and to trace it throughGospel, churches, &c., so as adequately to out all its many ramifications there. But, meet this annual demand, will require great before entering upon this, I would fain exertion.

give him a right conception of the characAt the first sight of this statistical view ter of the people, as being that to which of the case, some of my readers will be the principle referred to mainly owes its ready to exclaim that the prospect is hope- success. less. Others will say, Wo to the cause Enough has been said in former parts of religion if the government does not put of this work to show, that whether we look its shoulders to the wheel! But I answer, to the earlier or later emigrations to Amernot only in my own name, but dare to do ica, no small energy of character must it in that of every well-informed American have been required in the emigrants before Christian,“ No! we want no more aid from venturing on such a step; and with regard the government than we receive, and what to the first settlers in particular, that noit so cheerfully gives. The prospect is not thing but the force of religious principle desperate so long as Christians do their could have nerved them to encounter the duty in humble and heartfelt reliance upon difficulties of all kinds that beset them. God.” If we allow that 80,000 of this half But if great energy, self-reliance, and ena million of souls which constitutes the terprise be the natural attributes of the annual increase of the population are under original emigrant, as he quits all the enfive years of age, and therefore need not be dearments of home, and the comforts and taken into account in calculating the re- luxuries of states far advanced in civilizaquired increase of church accommodation tion, for a life in the woods, amid wild which must be annually made, as being too beasts, and sometimes wilder men, pestiyoung to be taken to the sanctuary, we have lential marshes, and privations innumera420,000 persons to provide for. This would ble, the same qualities are very much require annually the building or opening of called forth by colonial life, after the first 420 churches, holding 1000 persons each, obstacles have been overcome. It accusand an increase of 420 ministers of the toms men to disregard trifling difficulties, Gospel ; or, what would be much more to surmount by their own efforts obstacles probable, 840 churches, each holding on an which, in other states of society, would average 500 persons; and a sufficient num- repel all such attempts, and themselves to ber of preachers to occupy them. That do many things which, in different circumthat number should be 840 would certainly stances, they would expect others to do be desirable ; and yet a smaller number for them. could suffice; for in many cases one minis- Moreover, the colonies were thrown very ter must, in order to find his support, preach much on their own resources from the first. to two or more congregations. So, if 840 England expended very little upon them. churches be not built every year, something Beyond maintaining a few regiments from equal to this in point of accommodation time to time, in scattered companies, must be either built or found in some way at widely-separated points, and supplying or other. Sometimes schoolhouses answer some cannon and small arms, she did althe purpose in the new settlements ; some- most nothing even for the defence of the times private houses, or some public build-country. In almost every war with the ing, can make up for the want of a church. Indians, the colonial troops alone carried on

Now we shall see in the sequel to what the contest. Instead of England helping extent facts show that provision is actually them, they actually helped her incomparamade to meet this vast demand. For the bly more in her wars against the French, in present, all that I contemplate in giving the Canadas, and in the provinces of Newthis statistical view of the subject is, to en- Brunswick and Cape Breton, when they able the reader to form some idea of the not only furnished men, but bore almost work to be accomplished on the voluntary the whole charge of maintaining them. principle in America, if religion is to keep Then came the war of the Revolution, progress with the increase of the popula- which, in calling forth all the nation's ention.

ergies during eight long years, went far to cherish that vigour and independence of

character which had so remarkably distinCHAPTER II.

guished the first colonists.

And although in some of the colonies

PRINCIPLE the Church and State were united from TO BE SOUGHT FOR IN THE CHARACTER AND the first, the law did little more than pre

UNITED scribe how the churches were to be main

tained. It made some men give grudgingSome minuteness of detail will be found | ly, who would otherwise have given little

FOUNDATION OF THE VOLUNTARY

THE

PEOPLE OF THE

HABITS OF
STATES.

HOW CHURCH EDIFICES ARE

BUILT IN THE

or nothing ; while, at the same time, it lim- , some government official for the means of ited others to a certain fixed amount, who, needful repair, a few of them put their if left to themselves, would perhaps have hands into their pockets, and supply these given more.

themselves, without delay or the risk of With the exception of a few thousand vexatious refusals from public functionapounds for building some of the earliest ries. colleges, and a few more, chiefly from Scotland, for the support of missionaries, most of whom laboured among the Indians, I am not aware of any aid received from

CHAPTER III. the mother-country, or from any other part of Europe, for religious purposes in our

CITIES AND LARGE TOWNS. colonial days. I do not state this by way of reproach, but as a simple fact. The The question has often been proposed to Christians, not only of Great Britain, but me during my residence in Europe, “ How of Holland and Germany also, were ever do you build your churches in America, willing to aid the cause of religion in the since the government gives no aid ?", colonies; they did what they could, or, Different measures are pursued in differrather, what the case seemed to require, ent places. I shall speak first of those and the monuments of their piety and lib- commonly adopted in the cities and large erality remain to this day. Still, the col-towns. There a new church is built by onists, as was their duty, depended mainly what is called “colonizing :” that is, the on their own efforts. In several of the pastor and other officers of a large church, colonies there was from the first no Church which cannot accommodate all its memEstablishment; in two of those which pro- bers, after much conference, on being satfessed to have one, the state never did isfied that a new church is called for, proanything worth mention for the support of pose that a commencement be made by the churches ; and in all cases the dissent certain families going out as a colony, to ers had to rely on their own exertions. carry the enterprise into effect, and engage In process of time, as we have seen, the to assist them with their prayers and coununion of Church and State came gradually sels, and, if need be, also with their purses. to an end throughout the whole country, Upon this, such as are willing to engage and all religious bodies were left to their in the undertaking go to work. Some.

times individuals or families from two or Thus have the Americans been trained more churches of the same denomination o exercise the same energy, self-reliance, coalesce in the design. and enterprise in the cause of religion Or a few gentlemen, interested in reliwhich they exhibit in other affairs. Thus, gion, whether all or any of them are memas we shall see, when a new church is bers of a church or not, after conferring on called for, the people first inquire whether the importance of having another church in they cannot build it at their own cost, and some part of the city where an increase of ask help from others only after having the population seems to require it, resolve done all they think practicable among that one shall be built. Each then subscribes themselves ; a course which often leads what he thinks he can afford, and subscripthem to find that they can accomplish by tions may afterward be solicited from oththeir own efforts what, at first, they hard- er gentlemen of property and liberality in ly dared to hope for.

the place, likely to aid such an undertaking. Besides, there has grown up among the Enough may thus be obtained to justify a truly American part of the population a commencement; a committee is appointed feeling that religion is necessary even to to purchase a site for a building, and to suthe temporal well-being of society, so that perintend its erection. When finished, it many contribute to its promotion, though is opened for public worship, a pastor is not themselves members of any of the called, and then the pews, which are genchurches. This sentiment may be found erally large enough to accommodate a famin all parts of the United States, and es- ily each, are disposed of at a sort of aucpecially among the descendants of the first tion to the highest bidder. In this way, Puritan colonists of New-England. I shall the sum which may be required, in addition have occasion hereafter to give an illus- to the original subscriptions, is at once tration of it.

made up. The total cost, indeed, is someThese remarks point the reader to the times met by the sums received for the true secret of the success of the voluntary pews, but much depends upon the situation plan in America. The people feel that and comfort of the building, and the poputhey can help themselves, and that it is at larity of the preacher. once a duty and a privilege to do so. Should The pews are always sold under the a church steeple come to the ground, or condition of punctual payment of the sums the roof be blown away, or any other such to be levied upon them annually, for the accident happen, instead of looking to pastor's support and other expenses ; fail

own resources.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »