« ZurückWeiter »
in Scotland. The Episcopalian and the Duch Reformed are the only clergy that wear robes; the former, the surplice for prayers, and the black stuff gown for the pulpit, as in England; the latter, a black silk gown, with cassock and girdle of the same material.
In the service of the Episcopalian Church, the ritual and liturgy are nearly the same as in the Church of England, which they profess to follow as a model. The few alterations in the prayers are such as to adapt them to the country in which they are read, substituting in the prayers for the king and royal family, and for both Houses of Parliament, the names of the President of the United States and the Houses of Congress. Some corrections are also introduced in the style and composition, and some judicious cur tailments of the frequent repetitions in the original service. One addition, however, is made, which appeared to me a great improvement, and well worthy of adoption at home, which is this: after the reading of the Ten Commandments in the Communion Service, at the close of the whole, the minister reads aloud this sentence: "Hear also what our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ saith on this subject. The first and greatest commandment is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets."
It is remarkable that neither in the Episcopalian churches, nor any of the others in this city, is there to be seen a pulpit of the old English form; nor is there any person who officiates as clerk, either to read the responses, to say Amen, or to give out the psalms or hymns. In lieu of the small circular pulpit used in England, there are here two spacious platforms, on one of which the minister reads the prayers, and to the other he ascends to preach the sermon. These are each well furnished with the requisite cushions, drapery, and lights, and are usually much more agreeable to the eye than the elevated and isolated pulpit. The ear of the worshipper is never offended by the mangling and bad reading of an uneducated and vulgar clerk, as it is in half the churches of England; and it would be a great improvement to have all the responses, now drawled out by our illiterate clerks at home, read by young aspirants for the clergy, either while students of divinity or after taking orders, acting as curates or assistants to the regular minister; for if it be desirable to have one part of the liturgy, psalms, and prayers read impressively, and in a dignified and devotional tone as well as
SUPERIORITY OF THE AMERICAN CLERGY.
spirit, it must be equally desirable to have the alternate verses and responses read in the same manner; and this could best be secured by having two well-educated readers instead of one good and one bad one, as at present. In America, the congregation perform this duty without a leader, and the absence of the clerk is not felt to be any incon
The choral service, both vocal and instrumental, is uniformly superior to the average standard of England. The organ is everywhere seen, and is everywhere well played. The choirs are judiciously proportioned for the proper blending of the different voices; they are well trained, and frequently practised in rehearsals; and as the congregation generally joins, though in subdued tones, in the singing, this part of the service is more uniformly well performed, in churches and chapels of every denomination here, than it is with us.
The arrangement and furniture of the pews are more elegant and more comfortable than in England; ample provision is made for securing the most agreeable temperature in all kinds of weather; and the attendance is more numerous, as compared with the whole population, than in any country of Europe. The greatest respect and decorum is manifested throughout the service by all classes; and there is less of wandering eyes, whispering gossip, and general inattention than is seen elsewhere.
As a body, the clergy and ministers are more generally well educated, and more uniformly of pure morals and devout character, than in England. With us there are no doubt individuals of much more extensive and profound learning than are to be found in this country; and among the clergy of the Church of England for some years past, and among the dissenters a all times, there has been a high standard of morals and pity. But, taking the 300 ministers of religion now in Nev-York, it may be doubted whether there is any city in Great Britain that could furnish, from an equal number of ne same class, so large an amount of learning and piety as exist in the aggregate of the religious teachers of this city. An illiterate or an immoral man could not hold his place among them; and both the eyes of their own body, as well as those of the whole community, are constantly upon them, in a state of unremitting watchfulness. The support of the churches and their ministers is wholly on the voluntary system; and, as far as I could learn, after many anxious inquiries, no one among the clergy or laity
wished it to be otherwise. The Episcopalians have a bishop in each state of the Union,* their salaries varying from 5000 to 10,000 dollars, or from 1000l. to 20007. sterling. The Rev. Dr. Onderdonk, the bishop of the State of New-York, whose diocese is as large as that of six English bishoprics, receives this last-named sum, and his is the highest ecclesiastical salary in the country. But his duties are onerous, laborious, and expensive. He resides in the city during the six winter months, and preaches once or twice every Sunday. The other six months of summer he passes in travelling, visiting the clergy of his diocese, and setting in order whatever may need amendment. He is a gentleman of Dutch family, as his name indicates, of great merit, and universally respected, but of the simplest and most unostentatious manners. On one Sunday afternoon I was going over, with my family, to hear the Rev. Dr. Cutler at Brooklyn, and pass the evening with some friends there. The ferry is crossed here by a steamboat, at which we arrived just in time to meet the bishop, who had walked from his house to the ferry in his black gown, round hat, bands, and a Bible under his arm. As we entered the boat, he offered a bank-note of a dollar for the fare, which the boatman returned, saying, “They never took toll from clergymen who were going on duty on the Sabbath;" at which the bishop returned the money into his purse, and said, smilingly, "It is not always that they are so careful to grant us the benefit of clergy." He was going to preach that aternoon at a church in Brooklyn, and then to return and preach at New-York in the evening. On his reaching the Brooklyn shore, a horse and gig was waiting for him at the ferry; and with the most unaffected humility he got into it, though the equipage was one of the shabbiest I had yet seen, and drove on, seated by the black servant who came for him, with far less thought of state and appearance than any English bishop.
There is nothing, perhaps, that rikes the stranger from England more forcibly than the easy access which is here obtained to personal intercourse with the highest classes of society. The President of the United States, the governors of the separate states, the generals of the army, the commodores of the navy, the judges of the county, the senators, bishops, and all other persons filling high stations in the country, are not hemmed around with so many barriers of etiquette and ceremony as to make it a matter of favour to obtain a personal interview with them. The sending in a
In the State of New-York, which has since been divided into two dioceses, there are now two bishops.
THE VOLUNTARY SYSTEM.
card, without previous appointment, is sufficient to ensure immediate admittance to their presence, if not at the moment engaged; and in casual meetings like the present, or in parties of mixed society, the greatest degree of affability and urbanity prevails.
The voluntary system of supporting churches and ministers, which is universally adopted here, is found to be a perfect security against the great inequalities in the emoluments of the clergy at home, where bishops have incomes of 10,000l. a year, and curates must live on 1007., while it equally guaranties to all a very adequate and comfortable provision. No clergyman or minister in New-York receives less, as I was assured by many who were competent and accurate authorities, than 1000 dollars or 2001. a year; many receive 3000 dollars or 6001. a year; but none more than 4000 dollars or 8001. a year. The usual mode of raising the funds is this: The church is first built on the undertaking and guarantee of some few wealthy individuals of the sect for whose use it is intended. When completed, the pews are all sold at high prices, in the order of choice, to the families desiring to worship there; and the amount paid for these pews, which become the absolute property of the purchasers, is generally sufficient to cover all the cost of the building and furniture. The minister's salary is then determined by the vestry, composed of the chosen men of the congregation, and the pews are all assessed, at a certain per centage on their value, to make up the annual salary fixed on for the minister, which he therefore receives as a permanent income, without trouble, anxiety, or delay, from the hands of the treasurer, and without any of those unhappy disputes and bickerings so fruitfully engendered by the tithes, annuity-taxes, church-rates, and other imposts for the clergy in England.
They who assert, therefore, that the voluntary system has been tried and failed in America, and that it does not work well for either ministers or people, must speak in ignorance of the real state of the case, or, what is worse, with wilful perversion of the truth. And they who add to this that under the voluntary system there is no guarantee for the steady support and advancing progress of religion, must be equally guilty of great ignorance or wilful untruth, because there is no city in the world that I have ever visited where so large a number of the population attend public worship, where that worship is more devoutly entered into by the people or more efficiently conducted by their teachers, or where the influence of morality and religion is more power. fully exerted over the great mass of the community.
In addition to the large amount of funds thus raised by the population of this city for the support of religion at home, their assistance to all kinds of benevolent societies is munificent; for by their voluntary aid do they almost all subsist. But, far beyond the immediate sphere of their own locality, they extend their benevolence to the remotest parts of the world. At the last anniversary of the American Tract Society, held in the City of New-York in April, 1837, the large sum of 35,000 dollars was appropriated to the printing and distributing of tracts in different foreign languages abroad, in addition to the great expense incurred for the support of missionary establishments in various remote quarters of the earth, and their Sunday-school Union, for the education of the children of the poor at home. And as it may give some idea of the extent of the field over which their labours are spread, I transcribe an abridgment of some of the principal items of that appropriation from their official report.
To China, for the use of American missionaries, Rev. Mr. Gutzlaff, Leang Afa, Keuh Agang, and others, and to aid in the preparation of Chinese metal type, a work in progress both by Rev. Mr. Dyer at the East, and by M. Pauthier and others in Paris, who find that 30,000 Chinese characters, not obsolete, may be printed from 9000 types separate and combined; the Chinese being the written language or probably 900 millions; Chinese printing conducted without interruption at Singapore, Malacca, &c.; many new tracts prepared; and openings in the maritime provinces, and among Chinese residing in other countries, for “as many books as can be printed"—4000 dollars.
To Singapore and Indian Archipelago, probably embracing 50 millions, Chinese, Malay, Javanese, Bugis, &c.; a large printing establishment, with type in various languages, and a stereotype foundry, being in active operation; Leang Afa, Keuh Agang, and several others, employed at Singapore in Chinese printing; great facilities of intercourse with all the neighbouring countries and the ports of China; a large mission having recently been sent out by the Reformed Dutch Church, to be located at present in Java-3000 dollars.
To Siam, where are two printing establishments, with access to millions of Chinese, Malays, Peguans, Cambojans, Laos, &c.; Bankok alone containing 400,000 Chinese; most of the adult Siamese being able to read; Rev. I. J. Roberts, from a new missionary society at the West, having recently sailed for Siam, to labour mainly as a distributer-2000 dollars.
For the Shans, a great people bordering on and commingling with the inhabitants of Burmah, Thibet, and China; the American Baptist Board having recently established a mission and a press at Assam, with Burman and Shan type-800 dollars.
To Burmah, for the Burmese, Talings, and Karens; among whom are seven stations, upward of 30 missionaries; 600 converts, a spirit of inquiry awakened large printing establishments, with a stereotype foundry the whole Bible printed, and 24 tracts to which the society's funds may be applied; two presses entirely occupied with tracts; many na