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institutions to be modified; but that all was cles which the “American plan" of supfavourable for attempting something new porting religion, had to overcome arose under the sun. Now it is hardly possible from the erroneous views of the colonists to entertain an idea more remote from the on the subject of religious liberty. The truth than this.
voluntary system rests on the grand basis What follows will demonstrate that, so of perfect religious freedom. I mean a far from committing religion to the spon- freedom of conscience for all; for those taneous support of persons cordially inter- who believe Christianity to be true, and ested in its progress, the opposite course for those who do not; for those who prefer was pursued from the first almost, in all one form of worship, and for those who the colonies. In the greater number of the prefer another. This is all implied, or, colonies, in fact, men looked to the civil rather, it is fully avowed, at the first step government for the support of the Chris- in supporting religion upon this plan. tian ministry and worship. Now what we Now it so happened—nor ought we to have here to consider is not the question wonder at it, for it would have been a whether they were right or wrong in doing miracle had it been otherwise-that very so, but the simple fact that they actually many of the best colonists who settled in did so; and, accordingly, that, so far from America had not yet attained to correct what has been called the Voluntary Prin- ideas on the subject of religious toleration ciple having had an open field in America, and the rights of conscience. It required in those very parts of the country which persecution, and that thorough discussion now, perhaps, best illustrate its efficiency, of the subject which persecution brought it had long to struggle with establishments in its train, both in the colonies and in founded on the opposite system, and with England and other European countries, to strong prepossessions in their favour. make them understand the subject. And,
In all such parts of the country many in point of fact, those who first understood obstacles were opposed to the abandon- it had learned it in the school of persecution. ment of the old system. Good and great Such was Roger Williams; such were Lord men made no secret of their fears that the Baltimore and the Roman Catholics who cause of religion would thus be ruined; settled in Maryland; such was William that the churches would be forsaken by the Penn. Accordingly, the three colonies people, whose unaided efforts would prove that they founded, Rhode Island, Maryland, unequal to the expense of maintaining and Pennsylvania, including Delaware, them, and that they could never be induced were the first communities, either in the to attempt it. In fact, as they had never New or the Oid World, that enjoyed relibeen accustomed to rely upon their own gious liberty in the fullest extent. exertions in that matter, and were not I am sure, indeed, that, as I have already aware how much they could do, they were said, the founders of the first American col- . at first timid and discouraged. Another onies, and those of New-England in parobstacle lay in the unwillingness of those ticular, did as much for freedom of conwho had enjoyed the influence and ascend science as could have been expected, and ency conferred by the old system, to sur- were in that respect in advance of the age render those advantages. Such persons in which they lived. If they were intolwere prone to believe, and naturally sought erant, so were others. If they would not to impress others with the conviction, no allow Roman Catholics to live among them, doubt very sincerely, that their resistance the most dreadful examples, be it rememto the proposed change was the legitimate bered, of Roman Catholic intolerance were fruit of their zeal for the cause of God, forced upon their attention, and that their and of their dread lest that cause should policy was merciful in the extreme comsuffer.
pared with that of Roman Catholic counOther obstacles, and those not inconsid- tries in those days. They merely refused erable, had to be encountered, all resulting to receive them or to allow them to remain directly or indirectly from the old system. among them, whereas the poor Huguenots It will be shown, in due time, that some of of France were not permitted so much as the worst heresies in the United States to retire from amid their enemies. If, in were originated and propagated by meas some of the colonies, Quakers were treatures arising out of the old system. Whated with great harshness and shocking inĮ mean to say is, that Truth has there en- justice, what treatment did the members of countered powerful obstacles, which we that sect receive at the same period in have every reason to believe would not England ? If the colonists burned witches, have existed but for that union. Other was not that done also in Scotland, Engevils there might have been in the absence land, and other countries? of any such union; but, be that as it may, I may therefore repeat, that the colonists with the obstacles to which I refer, it could were in advance of their contemporaries not be said that the field was entirely new, in their views of almost all questions relafar less that it was open.
ting to human rights, and that they mainStill more : some of the greatest obsta- tained this advance is attested by the insti
SETTLED STATE OF SOCIETY.
tutions that arose among them. But the more or less flourishes. Such of them as intolerance with which these were charge- are not decidedly religious in heart and able at first, may be traced to their opin- life, greatly risk losing any good impresions with regard to the relations which the sions they may have brought with them, Church ought to sustain towards the State. amid the engrossing cares and manifold And their erroneous views on that subject temptations of their new circumstances ; created obstacles which were with difficul- circumstances in which even the estabty overcome by the principle of leaving re- / lished Christian will find much need of religion, not to the support as well as protec- doubled vigilance and prayer. tion of the State, but to the hearts and hands The comparative thinness, also, of the of persons who have truly received, and population in the United States now is, are willing to sustain it. These remarks and must long continue to be, a great obwill suffice to show that the field was not stacle to the progress of religion in that :50 open to that principle in America as country. I have already stated, that the some have thought.
area of all the territory claimed by its government is somewhat more than 2,000,000 of square miles. Now, leaving out of view
the vast region on the Upper Missouri and CHAPTER XIV.
Mississippi rivers, west and north of Iowa
and Wisconsin, and reaching to the OreOBSTACLES WHICH THE VOLUNTARY SYSTEM HAS HAD TO ENCOUNTER IN AMERICA : 2. gon Mountains ; leaving out of view also
the Pacific slope, and looking only to the FROM THE NEWNESS OF THE COUNTRY, THE
twenty-six states, three territories, and THINNESS OF THE POPULATION, AND THE UN
one district, we have a country of some
what more than 1,000,000 of square miles, A SECOND class of obstacles which the over which the Anglo-American race has · voluntary system, or, I should rather say, more or less diffused itself. But the whole which religion in general has had to en- population, including the African race counter in America, comprehends such as among us, in 1840, was just 17,068,666. are inseparable from its condition as a new That is, upon an average, about seventeen country.
souls to the square mile. If this population From its very nature, the life of a colo- were equally diffused over the entire surnist presents manifold temptations to neg- face of the organized states and territories, lect the interests of the soul. There is the even then it would be difficult enough to separation of himself and his family, if he establish and maintain churches and other has one, from old associations and influ- religious institutions among so sparse a ences; and the removal, if not from abun population. Still, perhaps, it could be done. dant means of grace, at least from the force A parish of thirty-six square miles, which of that public opinion which often power- would be large enough in point of extent, fully restrains from the commission of would contain 612 souls. One twice as open sin. Now though many of the Amer- large would contain 1224 souls. But alican colonists fled from persecution and though a country would be considered well from abounding iniquity, such was not the supplied if it had a pastor for every 1224 case with all. Then, there is the entering souls, still the dispersion of these over into new and untried situations; the forming seventy-two square miles would necessaof new acquaintances, not always of the rily very much curtail the pastor's opporbest kind; and even that engrossment with tunity for doing good, and prevent the souls the cares and labours attending a man's re- under his charge from enjoying the full moval into a new country, especially in influence of the Gospel. But the populathe case of the many who have to earn their tion of the United States is far from being bread by their own strenuous exertions. thus equally distributed. Some of the oldAll these things hinder the growth of pie- er states are pretty densely settled ; not ty in the soul, and form real obstacles to more, however, than is necessary for the its promotion in a community.
easy maintenance of churches, and of a And if such hinderances had a baneful regular and settled ministry. Massachueffect at the outset, they have never ceased setts, the most densely settled of them all, to operate injuriously down to this day. has 102 souls to the square mile; some To say nothing of the foreigners who others, such as Connecticut and Rhode Islcome, year after year, to the American and, have from seventy to eighty; othshores on their way to the Far West, thou- ers, such as New
Jersey, Delaware, Marysands of the natives of the Atlantic slope land, and New-York, will average from annually leave their houses to settle amid forty to fifty. Taking the whole Atlantic the forests of that vast Western region. slope, with the exception of Florida, which In their case there is peculiar exposure to is but little inhabited, the average is twenevil; their removal almost always with-ty-eight, while in the eleven states and two draws them from the powerful influence territories in the Valley of the Mississippi, of neighbourhoods where true religion it is less than ten souls to the square mile.
It is manifest, therefore, that while the, tionably much exceed an average of population of a large proportion of the At- 500,000 per annum, unless checked by lantic States, and of parts of the older ones some great calamity, of which there is no in the West, is hardly dense enough to prospect. render the support of Gospel ordinances Now to provide churches and pastors easy, the difficulty of effecting this is im- for such an increase as this is no very easy mensely increased in many quarters, but matter, yet it must either be done, or, especially in the West, by the inhabitants sooner or later, the great bulk of the nabeing much more widely scattered. I shall tion, as some have predicted, will sink into show in another place how this difficulty is, heathenism. How far this is likely, judgin a good measure, at least, overcome; here ing from what has been done and is now it is enough that I point to its existence. doing, we shall see in another place. Here
Personal experience alone can give any I simply state the magnitude of the diffione a correct idea of the difficulties attend culty. ing the planting and supporting of church- Finally, the constant emigration from the es and pastors in that vast frontier coun- old states to the new, and even from the try in the West, where the population, older to the newer settlements in the lattreading on the heels of the Indians, is, ter, is a great obstacle to the progress of year after year, advancing into the forests. religion in all places from which a part of A few scattered families, at wide intervals, the population is thus withdrawn. It occaare engaged in cutting down the huge sionally happens in one or other of the Attrees, and clearing what at first are but .lantic States, that a church is almost broken little patches of ground. In a year or two up by the departure, for the Western the number is doubled. In five or six States, of families on whom it mainly deyears, the country begins to have the ap- pended for support. Most commonly, pearance of being inhabited by civilized however, this emigration is so gradual, that
But years more must roll away be the church has time to recruit itself from fore the population will be dense enough other families, who arrive and take the to support churches at convenient distan- place of those who have gone away. Thus, ces from each other, and to have ministers unless where a church loses persons of of the Gospel to preach in them every Sab- great influence, the loss is soon repaired. bath. Yet this work must be done, and it in the cities of the East, and their suburban is doing to an extent which will surprise quarters especially, from the population many into whose hands this book may fall. being of so floating a character, this evil
But if the thinness of the population be is felt quite as much as in the country. an obstacle, how great must be that of its But it must not be forgotten, that what. rapid increase in the aggregate ? I say in is an evil in the East, by withdrawing valthe aggregate, for it is manifest that its in- uable support from the churches there, crease in the thinly-settled districts must proves a great blessing to the West, by so far be an advantage. But with this in- transferring thither Christian families, to crease diffusing itself into new settlements, originate and support new churches in we have a double difficulty to contend that quarter. with the increase itself demanding a great augmentation of churches and ministers, and its continued dispersion rendering it difficult to build the one and support the
CHAPTER XV. other, even were a sufficiency of pastors to be found. This difficulty would be quite
HAS HAD TO ENCOUNTER IN AMERICA: 3. FROM appalling, if long contemplated apart from the vast efforts made to meet and overcome it. The population of the United States That the coexistence in one country was, in 1790, 3,929,827; in 1800, 5,305,925; of two such different races as the Caucasin 1810, 7,239,814 ; in 1820, 9,638,131 ; in ian and the African, standing to each other 1830, 12,866,920; and in 1840, 17,068,666.* in the relation of masters and slaves, The reader may calculate for himself the should retard the progress of true religion average annual increase during each of the there, it requires but little knowledge of five decades which have elapsed since 1790. human nature to believe. But it is not so easy to ascertain the pre- Slavery has been a curse in all past cise yearly increase. From 1830 to 1840 time, and by no possibility can it be other-it was 4,201,746, being at the average rate wise. It fosters a proud, arrogant, and unof 420,174 souls per annum. During the feeling spirit in the master, and naturally decade from 1840 to 1850, it will unques- leads to servility and meanness, to deceit
fulness and dishonesty, in the slave. Either * Including seamen in the government service, not way it is disastrous to true religion. included in the enumerations commonly published. Hence the difference between the statements in the
But I have no intention to speak here text and those the reader may meet with elsewhere. of the nature of slavery, its past history, But the difference is only 6100.
present condition, or future prospects in
OBSTACLES WHICH THE VOLUNTARY SYSTEM
the United States. My object is simply to society extremely unfavourable to the proshow how it operates as one of the great viding of a sufficient number of churches est obstacles to the promotion of religion; and pastors for the spiritual wants of all and, as such, militates against the success classes-rich and poor, slaves and free. of the voluntary system there. Slavery, This holds especially in the case of large indeed, may easily be shown to be pecu- landed estates, with many hundred slaves liarly an obstacle to that system.
in the possession of a small number of rich I might mention, that the reluctance of proprietors. In such circumstances, a slaves to worship in the same congregation church capable of containing one or two with their masters is unfavourable to the hundred persons might, perhaps, accominterests of true piety. That there is such modate asl the masters and their families à reluctance, every one knows who has within the compass of a very large parish, had much to do with the institution of sla- whereas an immense edifice would be revery. It often shows itself in the hesita- quired for the accommodation of all their tion of slaves to come to the family altar, slaves. Now, where this is the state of éven in families which are known to treat things, there is danger that the landowners, them with kindness.
being few in number, may grudge the exThis fact is easily accounted for. Hu- pense of maintaining a church and pastor man nature, however degraded, and whether at all, however well able to do so; or that, wearing a black or a white skin, has still with horses and carriages at their comsome remains of pride, or, rather, some mand, all the rich within one vast district consciousness of what is due to itself, and it will join in having public worship at some is not wonderful that it avoids as much as central point, where few, comparatively, possible coming into contact with persons, of the slaves and labouring white populahowever worthy and kind they may be, tion will find it possible to attend. Where to whom it feels itself placed in ignoble even a few of the rich proprietors are resubjection. Therefore it is that the negro ligious men, there is no difficulty in having of our Southern States prefers going to a the Gospel brought, not only to their own church composed of people of his own doors, but also to those of their slaves and colour, and where no whites appear. other dependants. But where they are inSlaves, also, sometimes prefer places of different, or opposed to religion, then not worship where greater latitude is allowed only does the fospel not reach them, but for noisy excitement, to whatever denom- if it reaches their slaves, it must be with ination of Christians they may belong, than great difficulty, and often very irregularly. would be tolerated in the religious assem For, be it remembered, that a slave popublies of white people.
lation is generally too poor to contribute I am not aware that I have exaggerated, anything worth mentioning for the support as some may think, the repugnance of the of the Gospel. Blessed be God, there is a slaves to join in religious worship with way, as I shall show hereafter, by which their masters. One thing is certain : that, some of the evils here spoken of may be whether from such repugnance, or some mitigated ; and that is by the system of other cause, the slaves like better to meet itinerant preaching employed in the United by themselves, wherever allowed to do so. States, so extensively, and so usefully, by
That the separation of the two classes the Methodists. thus occasioned is injurious to the spiritual Contemplating these difficulties, we shall interests of both, must be evident from a come to the conclusion that if, in any part moment's consideration. So long as sla- of the United States, the support of the very exists in the world, the Gospel enjoins Gospel by taxation enforced by law is bettheir appropriate duties upon both masters ter adapted to the circumstances of the and slaves, and they should be made to hear people than the voluntary plan, it is in the of those duties in each other's presence. seaboard counties of Maryland, Virginia, This should be done kindly, but also faith- the Carolinas, and Georgia. Still, it will fully. And no Christian master can excuse be found that even there the voluntary himself from doing the duty which he owes system has not been wholly inefficient, to his slave, in relation to his spiritual and but that, through the ministry either of fixed .immortal interests, by saying that he per- or itinerant preachers of righteousness, it mits him to go he hardly knows whither, has carried the Gospel to the inhabitants and to be taught those things which con- of all classes, to an extent which, under cern his highest happiness by he knows not such adverse circumstances, might seem whom. Where, indeed, the master him- impracticable. self is wholly indifferent to the subject of It must be noted, that while such are the religion, as, alas! is too often the case, it is difficulties that oppose the maintenance of well that the slave is allowed and disposed a Christian ministry in the slaveholding to seek religious instruction anywhere. states, there is a special necessity for the
But one of the greatest evils of slavery, preaching of the Gospel there. It is emas respects the maintenance of Christian phatically by the “ hearing” of the Word institutions, is, that it creates a state of that the slaves can be expected to come to
OBSTACLES WHICH THE VOLUNTARY SYSTEM
the knowledge of salvation. A most un- since the close of the second war with wise and iniquitous legislation has, in most Great Britain, in 1815. Our custom-house of those states, forbidden the teaching of books do not sufficiently distinguish bethe slaves to read! And although, doubt-tween emigrants properly so called, and less, this law is not universally obeyed, and American citizens returning from abroad. here and there a good many slaves do Again, many of the emigrants enter the both read and teach others to do so pri- United States by way of Canada, those esvately, yet it is from the voice of the living pecially who come from the British islteacher that the great bulk of that class in ands, and no exact enumeration of these, the United States must receive instruction it is believed, is kept on the frontier. Sixty in divine things. Thanks be to God! no thousand foreigners, it has been supposed, Legislature in any state has forbidden the have annually entered the United States preaching of the Gospel to those who are for several years past with the view of in the bonds of slavery; and many thou- settling there. According to the report sands of them, it is believed, have not of the Secretary of State, 70,509 foreigners heard it in vain.
arrived in 1839, of whom 34,213 were from I conclude by stating that slavery exists Great Britain, and 30,014 from the Contiin thirteen states—those which form the nent of Europe; the remainder were from southern half of the Union—and in one South America, Texas, the West Indies, territory, that of Florida. It does not &c. This is probably too low an estimate. exist in the other thirteen, nor in the two From tables published in England, it apimportant Territories of Wisconsin and pears that from 1825 to 1837 inclusive, no Iowa. The states in which it exists are fewer than 300,259 left Great Britain and Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Car- Ireland for the United States, and also olina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, that the number had increased every year Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, until 1836, when it reached 37,774.
In Mississippi, and Alabama.
1837 the number was 36,770.
It is quite certain, I think, that the emigrants from the Continent of Europe, con
sisting almost entirely of Germans, from CHAPTER XVI.
Germany proper and Alsace, Swiss, and
French, are nearly if not quite as numerHAS HAD TO ENCOUNTER IN AMERICA: 4. if so, the total number of emigrants to the
ous as those from the British islands; and FROM THE VAST IMMIGRATION FROM FOR- United States, from all quarters, must be
nearer 70,000 than 60,000. It is superfluous to say that the immigra- It must not be supposed, however, that tion from Europe of such excellent persons all the foreigners who come to the United as many of those were who founded the States are emigrants. Many come only American colonies, or who joined them in to make a longer or shorter stay, as merthe days of their infancy, could not fail to be chants and traders, and some, after having a blessing to the country. But the emigra- arrived with the intention of remaining, tion to the United States at the present day become dissatisfied, and return to their nais of a very different character. Whatever tive country. In short, it is impossible to violent persecution there may have been discover, with any degree of accuracy, the in Europe during the last seventy years has real yearly augmentation of the population been limited in extent, and of short duration, of the United States arising from immigraso that the emigration from the Old World tion. I am inclined to believe that it is to America, during that period, must be re- sometimes greatly overrated, and that it ferred to worldly considerations, not to the does not much exceed 60,000, or, at most, force of religious convictions leading men 70,000. to seek for the enjoyment of religious lib- Now, although among these emigrants erty. In fact, to improve their worldly there are many respectable people, and .condition, to provide a home for their chil- some who bring with them no inconsiderdren in a thriving country, to rejoin friends able amount of property, duty compels me who had gone before them, or to escape to say, that very many of them are not from what they deemed civil oppression in only very poor, but ignorant, also, and deEurope-such, generally, have been the praved. Of those from Ireland, very many motives that have prompted the recent are intemperate, and ill qualified to succeed emigrations to America. 'To these we must in a new country. Should the Temperance add a different class—that of men who cause, indeed, continue to prosper in Irehave left their country, as has been said, land as it has done for some years past “ for their country's good ;" nor is the under Father Matthew's efforts, we may number of such inconsiderable.
hope for an improvement in the “Irish imIt is difficult to discover to what extent portation.” Of the Germans, likewise, a emigrants have poured into the United great many are poor, and some are of imStates since the Revolution, and especially provident and depraved habits; although,