Слике страница
PDF
ePub

off the prejudices entertained against this unhappy people, and to admit them to all the Rights enjoyed by their fellow-citizens. Thus Mr. M. Noah of New York, a gentleman of great abilities, was a year or two ago elected high sheriff of that city, in spite of the opposition of some fanatics, who opposed him from his being a Jew. I am surprised that all who profess the Hebrew faith do not emigrate to the United States, as they would there not only be free from civil incapacities, (particularly as regards landed property,) but would even find themselves eligible to the highest offices in the Republic.

Every sect, of which there are probably as many in the United States as there are in Great Britain, supports its own ministers, and regulates its own ecclesiastical concerns. The Episcopalians and the Catholics have Bishops, and are, I believe, the only sects that support such dignitaries. When any set of men professing a particular creed are in want of a church, they build one by subscription, and give the profits, arising from the pews or seats, to the clergyman they may appoint. These profits, in addition to a certain fixed salary, form the income of the clergyman, who in general finds this sufficient to live upon, and often enough to support him even in affluence.

The two sects that are the most enlightened and liberal are the Episcopalians and the Unitarians, and both are in consequence gaining ground. The

[graphic]

Episcopalians have left out some of the more mysterious of our thirty-nine articles ; and have expunged from their prayer books, that most incomprehensible of all orthodox compositions, the Athanasian Creed.

Mr. Duncan, who has lately published his travels in the United States (a book which from the number of skeletons of sermons given in it, might be called a preaching tour), has thought fit to speak ill of the Episcopalians. It appears that he heard a worthy clergyman of that church say when preaching: “I believe that all who sincerely desire to do the will of God, will be received by him ; and I should shrink with horror, from consigning Jews, Arians, and Socinians, to indiscriminate perdition.” *

Mr. Duncan piously sneers at this friend of toleration; and tells us, that by holding such opinions, the Episcopalians show, that it is not Christianity which they are anxious to extend, but merely their own church. In the name of the Episcopalians, I beg leave to thank the liberal Mr. Duncan for his very charitable insinuation.

The Roman Catholics are not very numerous in the United States; and the following anecdote (which I report as it was related to me by a gentleman) may tend to prove, that some persons among them are disposed to be wiser, than in the good old times.

* Duncan's Travels, vol. č. page 364.

Mr. Hogan, the officiating priest in the Catholic cathedral at Philadelphia, gave great offence to the zealous, by leaving out some of the more absurd' parts of their Ritual. The Bishops, finding that he was obstinate in his error, fulminated against him the sentence of excommunication. This sentence, which cursed every individual member in Mr. Hogan's body, from the hair of his head down to his toe-nails, was printed in most of the journals of the day, in one of which I read it. Mr. Hogan, however, laid the whole case before his congregation, who desired him to set at nought the aforesaid sentence. Being supported by the majority of the subscribers who had built the cathedral, Mr. Hogan continued to officiate. The Catholic Bishops then applied to the Pope, who also excommunicated Mr. Hogan; and some fanatics, several of whom were Irishmen, animated by this sacred diploma, seized upon the Cathedral, and prevented Mr. Hogan from officiating. Upon this, the whole affair was laid before the judicial court of the State of Pennsylvania, which, in conformity with the law of the United States, decided that the people who built the Cathedral, had a right, not only to appoint their own officiating priest, but even if they pleased to change their place of worship, one day into a mosque, and the next day into a barn, or, in other words, to do what they liked with it.” All this made a great noise at the time:

and just before I left the United States, I was informed that the Grand Jury of Philadelphia had presented the Pope as a nuisance, for having stirred up contention among the peaceable inhabitants of their city, and for having interfered in the spiritual concerns of the United States. The reader may imagine the ridicule which this occasioned. The sect which has increased faster than

any

other is that of the Unitarians, who now constitute a large majority of the inhabitants of Boston. Indeed all the New England States, which were once the strong holds of the presbyterians and puritans, are now rapidly lapsing into that heresy.

In the Western States, however, there are still not only many puritans, who would have been worthy members of the Parliament, delicately ycleped the Rump; but there are also many Presbyterians, who might have even been fit associates for the mild and amiable Balfour of Burley.

I recollect once, in Kentucky, passing an evening at the house of a good blue-stocking presbyterian, who talked the whole time about predestination, grace, the five points, &c., and who also proved to me in the clearest manner possible, from several printed works on the subject, that the Mil. lennium, will commence in the

Beyond the Alleghanies, Methodism exists in all its glory. There, at periodical seasons, the elect march into the woods, and hold what are called Camp Meetings, every body taking a quantity of

year 1834.

provision, and many families transporting themselves in small waggons, under which they can sleep. One of these meetings, at which many thousands are often assembled, and which commonly last for several days, fills the spectator with the utmost alarm and wonder.

An Indian war-dance is a bagatelle to it, and I verily believe that it exceeds the wildest orgies of the Bacchanalians or the Corybantes.

Some might think, that in the extraordinary fervour of religious enthusiasm, and in the constant triumph, as it were, of the Spirit, the frequenters of Camp Meetings would entirely lay aside the lusts of the flesh: but this is not the case. The Devil it would seem has power even over these devout men ; for at the expiration of nine months, the population of the State is surprisingly, though illegitimately, increased.

But for fear I should be suspected of exaggeration, though I were to relate only what I myself have seen at a Camp Meeting, I shall extract the following account from the American Methodist Magazine for 1819, and merely premise, that the picture which the writer has drawn of the orgies of his own sect, gives a very faint idea of the original.

* At first appearance, these meetings exhibited nothing to the spectator unacquainted with them,

* American Methodist Magazine, for 1819, page 224.

« ПретходнаНастави »