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12,875,119 persons: about one sitting to every two
and a half of the population. Church membership
had outrun the increase of population. In 1800
there were 350,000 communicants out of 5,305,935,
or 1 to 15 ; in 1832 there were 1,348,948 out of
13,614,420, or 1 to 10; and in i860 there were
5,035,250 church members out of a population of
31,429,801, or 1 to 6. " As a simple matter of fact
the largest development and increase of Christianity
in the nineteenth century has been found in the
United States. The Methodists have increased in



Churches of America. 201

communicants from 15,000 to 2,000,000; Baptists
from 35,000 to 1,700,000; Presbyterians from
40,000 to 700,000; Congregationalists from 75,000
to 275,000; and each of these churches reaches a
population about four times as large as the number of
its church members." These figures are taken from
a " Report on the State of Religion in the United
States, made to the general conference of the Evan-
gelical Alliance at Amsterdam, in 1867, by Henry
Smith, D.D., chairman of the Executive Committee
of the American branch," and published by Rogers
and Co., Fulton Street, New York.

Besides what is thus done by voluntary zeal for
churches and the expenses of worship, vast sums are
raised for missionary and benevolent purposes, both
for home and foreign lands.

It may be thought that this abundant supply of the
means of worship is confined to cities and towns, and
that small villages and new and scattered settlements
must be unprovided for. I was assured that this is
by no means the case, but that the different denomi-
nations vie with each other to occupy any new settle-
ment. The Home Mission of the Church first on the
spot will guarantee the expenses of a station for a year



202 Churches of America.

or two, after which the congregation are able to pro-
vide for themselves. A school is first opened, which
is used as a church on Sunday, people of different
ecclesiastical preferences uniting together. When
the congregation becomes large, the members of some
one denomination differing from the one in posses-
sion then branch off and set up a church of their
own ; and thus diversities of sect aid in the multipli-
cation of pastors and places of worship.

It might be thought that a state church leads
to consolidation, and that in its absence sects will
multiply endlessly, and the true spirit of religion
evaporate in mutual controversy and strife. Dr.
H. Smith says, " Of this fear we were not ourselves
conscious; and the progress of events has shown
that the ecclesiastical tendencies have looked in
the direction of reunion rather than of increased
subdivisions."

Mr. Hepworth Dixon, in his " New America," so
specially devotes his pen to describing some abnormal
features of diseased religious (or irreligious) activity,
that some careless readers have imagined that Ameri-
can society is characterized by Mormonism, Free-
love-ism, Spiritualism, and Shakerism. But Mr.



Churches of America. 203

H. Dixon distinctly explains that these are but as the
bubbles thrown up on the surface of the earnest re-
ligious life seething below. For myself, I can testify
that during three months' residence in the States I
never once heard these subjects even alluded to, ex-
cept that on one occasion Spiritualism was talked of
in a railway car, and that I met with two Shakers on
a steamboat on Lake Ontario. During a large part
of my journey I was unknown to my fellow-passengers,
who could not, therefore, have purposely abstained
from such topics ; and I made it a rule to enter into
conversation with every one I met, on any topic
which might turn up. And the silence of the clergy
showed, by the small place these subjects occupied
in the minds of religious leaders, how insignificant
was the influence of them among the people at
large.

Whatever may be the minor varieties of religious
development, and not reckoning the Roman Ca-
tholics, who number about four millions, at least
three-fourths of the population are under the direct
influence of the principal Protestant communions,
comprising Methodists, Congregationalists, Episco-
palians, Baptists, and Presbyterians. These, though



204 Churches of America.

differing in organization, are substantially one in the
doctrines they teach, the precepts they inculcate, and
the ends they seek.

The Baptists are first in numbers, having 17,220
churches, and 1,680,000 members.

The Methodist Episcopal Church stands next.
Some would give it the very first place, both in num-
bers, and perhaps in zeal. The Southern Church
separated in 1844, with 1,300 ministers, and has now
about 700,000 communicants. The Northern Church
has 13,172 preachers, and upwards of a million mem-
bers, with 10,462 church buildings. The writer was
invited to preach in one of their churches, in New
York — " St Paul's," constructed of white marble, with
a lofty spire, at a cost of 250,000 dollars (gold), or
about ^50,000. It was the season of the annual
conference, when bishops and delegates were convened
in large numbers. Seven of their nine bishops sat
in the capacious pulpit.

The four various bodies of Presbyterians have about
6, 000 churches and ministers, with about 600,000
members. The chief organizations are known as the
" Old School," and the " New School." Wnen I
reached Philadelphia, a grand convention of both



Churches of America. 205

parties had just been held with a view to amalgama-
tion. The points of distinction between them are
too subtle to interest the general reader, and even to
be appreciated by some of themselves. I was told of
a young man who had confessed to his aunt that he
really could see no difference between them, for their
worship was similar, and their preaching seemed to
be so also. She replied — " Oh ! my dear nephew,
there is a great difference, and I'm very sorry you
don't see it. One says we sinned in Adam and the

other says we sinned by Adam ; but " (then after a

pause she added) " but which sticks to which I don't
know." How much smaller are the real than the
apparent differences of Christians ! The hearts of
many good people seemed lifted up to the third
heaven at the indication of an approaching fusion
of the two churches. It was as if the Millennium was
approaching. Interchanges of sympathy and mutual
charity are always pleasing and profitable, but I was
unable myself to understand what advantage would
result from the amalgamation of church organizations
sufficient to justify such extreme delight if, while
working separately, their members cherish mutual
respect and charity, and co-operate in good works.



206 Churches of America.

The most flourishing Presbyterian congregation in
America is that of my honoured and beloved friend
Dr. Theodore Cuyler, of Lafayette Avenue, New
York. He has about 1,300 communicants, and a
congregation which overflows the capacity of the
large church in which he ministers. All varieties of
Christian agency are carried on under his superinten-
dence, among which the promotion of temperance
societies holds a prominent place.

The Congregationalists have 2,700 churches, and
2,919 ministers, with 272,000 members. The Rev.
Henry Ward Beecher is the most distinguished of
their clergy. His sermons in "Plymouth Church,"
Brooklyn, to the vast crowds which throng to listen
to him, are carried by the press all over the Union.
He is a power in the State, and his pulpit utterances
have often done much to influence public events. It
is said that his income, all derived from the voluntary
principle, cannot be far short of ^5,000 a year. If
he has an income equal to that of an English bishop,
he earns it all ; it is all freely given, and his generous
heart makes for his purse a door of exit as wide as
that which his genius makes of entrance. Dr. Thomp-
son, the accomplished minister of the Tabernacle



Churches of America. 207

Church, New York ; Dr. Storrs and Dr. Budington, of
Brooklyn, with others, enjoy a wide and well-deserved
reputation, and exercise great influence.

American Congregationalism is much modified by
Presbyterianism. The essential feature is that each
congregation directs its own affairs, but while external
authority is thus repudiated, advice is sought system-
atically from surrounding churches. A "Congrega-
tional Council " is composed of one delegate with the
pastor of each of the churches in an allotted district.
When the settlement of a young minister takes place,
he appears before the council, who examine him, and
if the decision is favourable, he is then ordained by
the pastors. If the decision is unfavourable, he re-
tires; or if the church which has called him resolves
to retain him, it either convenes another council, in-
viting delegates from a larger area, or withdraws from
the association. Questions in dispute between a pastor
and his people, and other difficulties which may some-
times occur, and which a congregation find a difficulty
in settling, are referred to such a council, the decisions
of which, though not absolutely binding, are treated
with great deference. Though the decision of a
council in a minister's favour may not secure the



208 Churches of America.

retention of his office, it is always a recommendation
and facilitates his settlement elsewhere.

In New England the term Congregational is applied
to churches thus associated in councils; the term
Independent belonging to those which are absolutely
unconnected with any other congregation. The term
" parish" is applied to the worshippers generally, the
term " church " to the communicants. The election
of pastor is with the " church," but requires confirma-
tion by the "parish." A person becomes a parishioner
by giving his name to the clerk and taking a pew.
The "parish " is a corporate body, and is the legal
possessor of the church property, there being no per-
sonal trustees. In many parishes there are no title-
deeds defining the doctrine to be held or the forms of
worship. It might be thought that there was no se-
curity for the truth by such an arrangement, and no
certainty that a building erected for one purpose
might not be used for another, totally different or
hostile. Might not people holding views at variance
with those of the original " parish " get themselves
enrolled in order to oust the present occupants ?
Might not an orthodox church be thus captured for
heresy or infidelity ? I was told this was never done



Churches of America. 209



—that public opinion would so denounce it that it
could not be attempted. But might not the present
parishioners change their views, and then employ the
building accordingly? The reply of an intelligent
clergyman to whom I put this question was emphatic.
" You can never avoid risk altogether with property in
connection with a system of teaching ; but if you
have freedom, you can trust in the power of truth and
in the fidelity of its friends. Truth will bear trusting.
Some people fear that truth will suffer unless well
guarded by legal restrictions; but the law may be
altered, or differently interpreted, or evaded. You
had better trust the living men of each age to main-
tain and transmit the truth, with liberty to act on new
light, if it comes to them, as their forefathers did.
Some Congregational and some Episcopal churches in
former times became Unitarian ; but it was under an
old law, which allowed persons to retain their mem-
bership in a parish, and to vote when they had ceased
to be actually worshippers. The question, moreover,
has two aspects. If some orthodox churches
have become Unitarian, some Unitarian churches
have become orthodox • and the latter process is now
going on. Our experience is that it is better to trust



p



210 Churches of America.

church property and its appropriation to the living
congregation.

In New England, Congregationalism was originally
the established church. The whole country was di-
vided into parishes, with "con-associations," i.e.,
councils of the churches in a district, for subjects of
reference ; and a church-tax was levied on the whole
population. But when Episcopalians and others
appeared, they were the Radicals of the day, and pro-
tested against paying church-rates for the worship of
others. They were then allowed to " sign off," and
be taxed only for the support of their own church.
At length the system of establishment was entirely
given up, the Radical Episcopalians vanquishing the
Conservative Church and State Congregationalists.

The Lutheran church has 2,915 congregations and
323,825 communicants.

Sixth in order of numbers is the Protestant Episco-
pal church, which numbers 34 dioceses, 44 bishops,
2,416 priests and deacons, 2,305 churches or parishes,
and 161,234 communicants. But though low in the
scale as regards numbers, the Episcopal church pos-
sesses an influence beyond what can be thus measured,
owing to the wealth, intelligence, and social position



Churches of America. 211



of a large proportion of its members. I was told
that in some of the great cities, especially New York,
the Episcopal church was making great progress, and
that this arose not only from preference for its doc-
trines and government, but partly from a desire to
escape the political preaching from which Episco-
palians were more free than others; partly from
aesthetic considerations ; partly to secure greater per-
sonal liberty in regard to amusements, &c. ; and partly
from Episcopacy being considered the most fashion-
able of the different systems.

Its government partakes of the Congregational
element almost as much as of the Episcopal. The
constitution of the United States is a general model
for all the institutions of the country, and for the
Episcopal church in particular. The heads of families,
or seat-holders in a congregation, constitute the
" parish." A certain number can at any time convene
a " parish meeting." On Easter Monday they elect
from eight to fourteen persons as elders, or church-
wardens, who constitute the parish vestry, and do the
work of the " deacons " of an Independent church.
Of these there are two " wardens " specially to act as
between the minister and the people. The vestry



212 Churches of America.

determine on repairs, levy rates, vote supplies, and
make all other church arrangements. They, as repre-
senting the people, nominate the clergyman. At a
general meeting of the " parish " three or four lay
representatives are elected, who with the minister are
delegates to the annual diocesan convention. All
clergymen attend the convention and vote, whether
they have a parish or not. This assembly, in which
the lay element greatly predominates, is presided over
by the bishop, and determines all matters relating to
that particular diocese ; just as the state legislatures
regulate all questions concerning the separate states
of the Union, as distinguished from those which
relate to the united government. This diocesan coun-
cil elects the bishop when a vacancy occurs. It also
sends four clerical and four lay deputies to represent
the diocese in the lower house of the triennial Gene-
ral Assembly of the church. The bishops sit apart
with closed doors and constitute the upper house.
They can veto any measure passed by the lower
house. Questions affecting the whole church are here
discussed, and no change can be made unless the
measure receives the sanction of both houses.

On the demand of any member the votes of the



CJiurches of A merica. 2 1 3

lower house can be taken by "orders and dioceses" ;
i.e. the four clergy of each diocese together give one
vote, and the four laymen one vote : three determine
the vote ; when there are two for and two against a
proposal, the diocese is reported as " vote divided."

The bishops hold consecrations, ordinations, and
confirmations. They superintend the diocese by ad-
vising rather than by any exercise of absolute author-
ity; and they have no power to interfere in the ad-
ministration of the parishes.

It cannot therefore be said that the " clergy" con-
stitute the " church " of the Episcopalians. The
equal membership of the laity is fully recognized.
Pastors are appointed by electors chosen by each con-
gregation ; and every question is discussed and deter-
mined in open assembly, where the clergy have only
a preponderating influence by superiority of wisdom
and moral influence.

As in the Episcopal church of England, so in
America, there are two prominent schools, the Ritual-
istic and the Evangelical. If the former is not less
advanced than with us, the latter shows a much more
determined front. When I was in New York, the
question was pending of Mr. Tyng's supposed breach



214 Churches of America.

of discipline in preaching for a Methodist congrega-
tion. The law of the church forbids a clergyman to
preach in another's parish without his consent. Mr.
Tyng, on a visit into the country, had preached, by
request of one of his own congregation, in a Metho-
dist church. Thereupon the rector of the neighbour-
ing Episcopal church lodged a complaint against him
before the bishops. He pleaded that there is no geo-
graphical parish in America; that the "parish" means
the congregation ; that he would have violated the
law had he intruded himself upon the congregation of
the neighbouring rector, or had attempted to set up
another Episcopal church in his vicinity without his
sanction ; but that it was no violation of the spirit of
the law to occupy the place of the pastor of another
congregation of a different order, for this was no in-
terference whatever with the rector of the Episcopal
church. Mr. Tyng was resolved to vindicate his right
as a minister of Christ to preach wherever he had the
opportunity, and to recognize the common fellowship
of other Christians, so long as he violated no right
of any of his brethren nor did them any harm.

The case was causing immense interest in America.
The decision of the bishops was against Mr. Tyng,



Churches of A merica. 215

who had to receive a public censure in a large church
of New York, in the presence of a congregation
heartily sympathising with the culprit. After the
delivery of the censure, Dr. Tyng, the father of the
offender, one of the most distinguished of all the
clergy of America, and the minister of one of the
largest and most influential congregations, rose and
delivered a protest against it.

But while this particular act of Mr. Tyng was con-
demned, it is admitted by the Episcopal church of
America that its clergy may freely invite the clergy of
other churches to their own pulpits ; and also that
they may preach wherever they please, so long as no
objection is raised by the Episcopal clergyman of the
same locality.

The writer had the pleasure of proving personally
the existence of this freedom. He had no sooner
arrived in New York, than he received a hearty invi-
tation to preach for Mr. Tyng in Emmanuel Church,
of which he is the incumbent. Three services for
each Sunday had already been arranged for in the
churches of different denominations. But the writer
was so desirous of enjoying the pleasure of minister-
ing for his Episcopalian brethren, as he had done



2i6 Churches of America.

during many years for various other communions,
that, on several Sunday evenings he took a fourth
service, and thus had the pleasure of preaching in
several Episcopal churches. Unable to understand
the feelings of isolation and exclusiveness which some
entertain; delighting to recognize the same grand
features of character which are found in all true Chris-
tians, whatever their ecclesiastical diversities; cherish-
ing the same sentiments of honour and affection for
Episcopalians as for Wesleyans or Presbyterians,
though the expression of them is so much discouraged
in England, I confess I did experience a special hap-
piness in preaching the gospel and officiating minis-
terially for the first time with a section of my fellow
Christians with whom I had so often delighted to
worship in a private capacity. English Dissenters
may preach for American Episcopalians ; American
Episcopalians may now preach in English parish-
churches ; may we not hope that before many years,
English Episcopalians and Dissenters may have the
same privilege, and not be obliged to cross the water
in order to have full ministerial fellowship with each
other ?

My friend, Dr. Cuyler, of Brooklyn, told me of a



Churches of America. 217

very interesting demonstration of Evangelical alliance
which had lately taken place in his church. The
Episcopal bishop of the diocese was making a visita-
tion in the neighbourhood, and had preached on Sun-
day morning in the neighbouring Episcopal church.
At the conclusion of the service (having previously
arranged with Dr. C), the incumbent announced that
there would be no evening service, but that a united
meeting would be held in the Presbyterian church
close by. There was an immense concourse in the
evening. The rector of the Episcopal church and
Dr. Cuyler conducted the devotions ; and then the
bishop, from the Presbyterian's pulpit, delivered an
address on Christian Union. Why should we despair
of such things "in England ? Would such intercourse —
would such a manifestation of brotherhood weaken
the religious sentiment amongst the people, lessen the
evidence of the truth of Christianity, promote popery
on the one hand, or infidelity on the other ; or would
it weaken the influence of the Episcopal church itself,
and render it less respected and less loved by the peo-
ple at large ? If disestablishment should bring about
such a result, those who deprecate it as an evil may
feel that it would be an evil mitigated by some good.



218 Churches of America.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bishop MTlvaine, of
Ohio. A spare old man, very refined and benevolent
in his appearance and manner, and reminding me
very much of the pictures of Washington. He had
just returned from the Pan- Anglican Synod. He is
a man of the widest and most generous sympathies,
and is universally honoured in America by all churches
for his personal goodness, charity, and zeal.

I was invited to a clerical meeting of Episcopalians,
in New York. About thirty clergyman of the Evan-
gelical school were present. The controversy between
" High " and " Low " is very strong, and the question
is, which will secede ? for it is impossible and unde-
sirable that two parties, so opposed in doctrine and
sentiment, should permanently be combined in the
same organization, and both of them be thus fettered
and compromised. The Evangelical party were
determined to secure these three objects : liberty to
preach everywhere, the recognition of the clergy of
other churches, and some amendment of the liturgy.
They gave me a supposed case, to illustrate, by the
reductio ad absurdum, the impossibility of the inter-
pretation attempted to be given to the existing law
respecting parishes ; " If a man lived and worshipped



Churches of America. 219

in district and parish A., and then went to reside in
district B., but continued to worship as before at A.,
it would follow that his own clergyman of A. could
not visit him without B.'s consent : which would be
ridiculous." They seemed astonished, and almost
incredulous, when I said that this was the established
law and custom of Episcopalians in the old country.

The visitor having been introduced by the pre-
sident, and called on for an address, said that perhaps
the" avoidance of forms in America had gone far
enough ; that Episcopal and liturgical order might be
an element in American society specially needed, and
very valuable, if two great errors could be avoided —
the assumption of any official superiority over the
clergy of other churches, and the limitation of Chris-
tian liberty. American Episcopacy had a great career
before it, if it would recognize the orders of other
churches, reciprocate ministerial services, maintain
the right to preach the Gospel everywhere, and make
common cause with all Evangelical Protestants.
These sentiments were evidently shared by the clergy
assembled.

The Rev. Dr. Tyng showed me over his large and
handsome church. It was burnt down two years before



220 Churches of America.

and was rebuilt at a cost of 200,000 dollars, upwards
of ^30,000 ; of which three-fourths were subscribed
the first night. It was opened free of debt. They
raise 17,000 dollars annually for their own expenses,
and 40,000 dollars for missions, schools, and places
of free worship for the poor. The voluntary principle


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