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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
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 THE VOLUNTARY PRINCIPLE the Church and State were united from TO BE SOUGHT FOR IN THE CHARACTER AND the first, the law did little more than prePEOPLE OF THE 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
HABITS OF THE
HOW CHURCH EDIFICES ARE BUILT IN THE
CITIES AND LARGE TOWNS.
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 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 thatone 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 lamin 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
ing which, after allowing a reasonable time, regular Sabbath services at the usual hours. they are resold to other persons. But if After announcing their intention by public all the required conditions be fulfilled, they advertisement, they proceed to organize a become absolutely the purchaser's, and church, that is, a body of believers, accordmay be bequeathed or sold like any other ing to the rules of the communion to which property
they belong. If Presbyterians, the PresInstead of being sold in fee-simple, the bytery appoints a committee to organize pews are sometimes merely rented from the church according to the Book of Disyear to year. This prevails more in large cipline, by the appointment and consecratowns and villages than in cities, and in tion to office of ruling elders, after which such cases the churches must be built sole- it falls under the care of the Presbytery. ly by “subscription,” as it is called, that A pastor is next called and regularly inis, by sums contributed for that special ob- ducted. Meanwhile, the congregation may ject. Should these prove, in the first in- be supposed to be increasing, until strong stance, insufficient, a second, and perhaps enough to exchange their temporary for a a third subscription follows, after a longer permanent place of worship. In this way or shorter interval,
new swarms are every year leaving the The seats in some churches, even of our old hives, if I may so speak, in our large largest cities, are free to all. Such is the cities, and new church edifices are rising case with all the Quaker, and most of the in various localities where the population Methodist meeting-houses; these are oc- is extending: cupied on what is called the “free-seat” The church edifices in the chief towns plan, and have the advantage of being at- and cities are, generally speaking, large tended with less restraint, especially by and substantial buildings, especially in the strangers or persons who may not have the more densely-settled districts. Those in means to pay for seats. But there are the suburbs are often smaller, and not exdisadvantages also in this plan. Families pected to be more than temporary, as they who regularly attend, and who may bear give place to larger and better structures the expense of the church, have no certain in a few years. In the cities and larger place where all may sit together, and in towns, whether on the Atlantic slope or case of being delayed a little longer than in the Valley of the Mississippi, they are, usual, may find it difficult to get seats at in nine cases out of ten, built of brick; a all. The Methodist churches, according- few are of stone ; and in the New-England ly, are coming more and more into the cities and towns of second and third rate other plan in our large cities. Where they size, they are often built of wood. have not done so, and also in the Quaker As for the cost of church edifices, it is meeting-houses, the males occupy one half difficult to speak precisely where the counof the house, the females the other; a rule, try is so extensive. In the suburbs of our however, observed more constantly in the large cities on the seaboard, from Portlatter than in the former body. Church land, in Maine, to New-Orleans, some may edifices, or meeting-houses, on the free- not have cost more than from 5000 to 10,000 seat plan, must, of course, be built by sub-dollars ; but in the older and more denselyscription alone.
peopled parts of those cities, they generally A more common practice in forming cost 20,000 dollars and upward. Some have new congregations, and erecting church cost 60,000 or 80,000, and yet are comparaedifices, is this : The families who engage tively plain, though very chaste and subin the undertaking first obtain some place stantial buildings. A few have cost above for temporary service—the lecture-room 100,000,* without including such as Trinity attached to some other church, a court- Church at New-York, belonging to the Epishouse, a schoolroom, or some other such copalians, or the Roman Catholic Cathedral building*-and there they commence their at Baltimore, for these very elegant and ex
* In Philadelphia there is a building called the pensive buildings have cost at least 300,000, Academy, built for Mr. Whitfield's meetings, the if not more.f There may have been, in upper part of which is now divided into two rooms, each capable of containing 400 or 500 people, and States assemble--are allowed to be used as places both constantly used as places of Worship, one per- of worship on the Sabbath in a case of exigency. manently by the Methodists. The other has been * The church in which the late eloquent Dr. Ma. occupied temporarily by colonies, which have grown son was last settled as a minister in New York, cost, into churches, and then gone off to houses which I believe, rather more than 100,000 dollars. It was they have built for themselves. In this way that one an excellent, large, tasteful, substantial, brick build. room, as I have often been told, has been the birth ing. Yet it, and some others in the lower parts of place, as it were, of more than twenty different the city, whence business is driving the people to churches. It is rented to those who wish to occupy the upper part, have been torn down, and their sites it by the corporation, to which it belongs. In the are covered with shops and counting-rooms. The lower story there are schools held throughout the congregations have mainly emigrated to about a mile week.
and a half, or two miles northward. So matters go The chapel of the University of New-York is used in our London. for the same purpose; and the Court-houses through- + Trinity Church is not yet finished. It is a reout all the land, and even some of the State houses-, markably fine specimen of Gothic architecture. I that is, those in which the Legislatures of the several I have not heard what the cost will be, but, including
some cases, a useless expenditure of mon- 1 of 16,000 souls, has fifteen churches ; Newey on interior decorations, but in general, Haven, for about 14,000 souls, has thirteen, the churches, even in our largest cities, many of which are of large size; Poughare neat and rather plain buildings exter- keepsie, on the Hudson, has 9000 inhabinally, but exceedingly comfortable within. tants and twelve churches; Troy had, in
The village churches of New-England 1840, a population of 25,000 souls, and fifare, for the most part, constructed of wood; teen churches, and several of those very that is, of beams framed together and cov- large. Newark, in New Jersey, has about ered with boards ; and being almost univer- 20,000 inhabitants and seventeen churches; sally painted white and surmounted with Rochester 22,000 inhabitants and twentysteeples, they have a beautiful appearance. two churchers. The church-going bell every Sabbath sends On this head the reader is referred to forth its notes far and wide amid the hills the works of Drs. Reed and Matheson, and and dales of that interesting country. In to that of Dr. Lang, as containing much acother parts of the Atlantic States, though curate information with respect to church often of wood, like those of New England, accommodation in the United States. they are still oftener of brick or stone, or of unpainted frames and boards, which is especially the case in the South. Any one may be satisfied, by careful in
CHAPTER IV. quiry, that even our cities and large towns, HOW CHURCHES ARE BUILT IN THE NEW SETas respects churches, may well bear a comparison with the best supplied in any part of Europe. Boston, for instance, in 1840, But it is in the building of places of worhad fifty-eight churches, many of which ship in the new settlements of the Western could accommodate from 1000 to 1500 per- States, and in the villages that are springsons, and that for a population of about ing up in the more recently-peopled parts 88,000 souls. New-York had that year of those bordering on the Atlantic, that 159 churches for about 310,000 inhabitants; we see the most remarkable development namely, forty-one Presbyterian, of all of the voluntary principle. Let me illusshades; fourteen Reformed Dutch; twen- trate by a particular case what is daily ty-seven Episcopal ; eighteen Methodist; occurring in both these divisions of the eighteen Baptist; eight Roman Catholic; country. nine African (Methodist, Episcopal, Bap- Let us suppose a settlement commentist, and Presbyterian); five Friends' meet- ced in the forest, in the northern part of ing-houses ; three Lutheran ; three Mora- Indiana, and that in the course of three or vian ; three synagogues (there are now four years a considerable number of emifive or six); two Unitarian; three Univer- grants have established themselves within salist; four Welsh and smaller denomina- a mile or two of each other, in the woods. tions; and two Mariners' churches. This Each clears away by degrees a part of the is from a published statement which may surrounding forest, and fences in his new be depended upon as rather within the fields, in the midst of which the deadened truth. The church accommodation of the trees still stand very thickly. By little Protestant population is in much higher and little the country shows signs of occuproportion to their numbers than that of pation by civilized man. the Roman Catholics to theirs, partly ow- In the centre of the settlement a little ing, no doubt, to the liturgical services of village begins to form around a tavern and the latter requiring less church accommo- a blacksmith's shop. A carpenter places dation than the “ sermon preaching” of himself there as at a convenient centre. the former.
So do the tailor, the shoemaker, the wagPhiladelphia is better supplied with on-maker, and the hatter. Nor is the son churches than New-York. Those of all the of Æsculapius wanting ; perhaps he is most leading denominations there have greatly of all needed; and it will be well if two or increased during the last few years. The three of his brethren do not soon join him. Methodists, I learn from one of their best. The merchant, of course,.opens his magainformed ministers, have, in the course of zine there. And if there be any prospect the last fifteen years, built in the city and of the rising village, though the deadened suburbs above twenty churches, most of trees stand quite in the vicinity of the which are capacious buildings, and the streets, becoming the seat of justice for a Episcopalians and Presbyterians have in- new county, there will soon be half a creased the number of theirs nearly in the dozen young expounders of the law to insame proportion. But our second and third crease the population, and offer their serrate cities and large towns are far better vices to those who have suffered or comsupplied than either of these two places. mitted some injustice. Salem, in Massachusetts, for a population Things will hardly have reached this the value of the ground, I should think it cannot be point before some one amid this heteroless than 300,000 dollars, and may amount to 500,000. Igeneous population, come from different