Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/280

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synodical connection round about influential centres. Thus Presbyterianism has spread inland and far away westward from the central seaboard states, and is found very powerfully developed through the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and still farther south, and all through the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi. In some centres — as in St. Louis — Presbyterianism is more than a rival to Methodism.

New England, on the other hand, beginning to colonize and push westward at a later date, has largely leavened the states lying westerly along its own parallel, such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northern parts of Illinois, and in particular the great centre-city Chicago. Congregationalism, however, has not the same connectional instincts as Methodism or Presbyterianism.

The Baptists have everywhere spread over the land. Like Methodism, they have had the advantage of using to the uttermost lay gifts and services. No scruple about college learning or ministerial training has stood in the way of their advances. A separate Baptist church can spring up anywhere and find a pastor in some speaking lay brother. Such a rough and ready system is well adapted to a large proportion of the American people, especially to strong-opinioned and unlettered farmers, who love a cheap religion and detest anything that savors of form or dainty culture. Baptists accordingly — a pre-eminently democratic sect, and a very cheap sect — have found great acceptance in the States. Above all others, except, perhaps, the Methodists, they have made converts among the colored people. Their monadic simplicity, their pure democracy, the sovereign state-ship of each separate church, stamp the Baptist churches as eminently adapted to the conditions of American homely and country-fashion life. There is, nevertheless, much Biblical culture and much activity of mind among the better class of Baptist churches. The Baptists have a larger number of theological seminaries than any denomination in the States.

Of the Protestant Episcopal Church we have not space to say what we should have wished. After the Revolution (in 1784) this Church was reorganized. For many years it was very feeble, but during the last thirty years it has rapidly developed in organization and numbers, and still more in influence. It is very powerful in the great eastern seaboard cities, and has also taken a strong hold of the more recently developed north-western and far-western states, such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Kansas. The sagacity of its leaders, the great liberality of its wealthy churches in the east, the self-devotion and enterprise of its western clergy, the local dignity and the influence within their provinces of its diocesan bishops, and the unity and spirit of its organization, all co-operate to promote its development, in newly-opened fields. In the intermediate distances it entered too late into the race to cope with such rivals as the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and the Baptists; but unquestionably it has a great future before it. Unfortunately developed Ritualism is its curse, especially in the fashionable churches of the East, and its discipline enforces a law of exclusiveness as regards other Churches not less arrogant and intolerant than the utmost pretensions known in this country, coupled, at the same time, with a power and reach of synodal inquiry and control of which nothing as yet is known in our own Established Church; enforces it, too, equally on the ministers and in the Churches of America and the foreign mission-field — in New York or Wis-Chang, in Milwaukee or Jeddo.

Such is a slight and rapid general view of ecclesiastical antecedents and development among the Anglo-American Protestant Churches in the United States. Slight as it is, it seemed worth while to present it, because it includes some important points, and especially some illustrations of principles in their working under novel circumstances and in free fields, which are scarcely known at all to the English public.





The sermon Mr. Graham heard at the chapel that Sunday morning in Kentish Town was not of an elevating, therefore not of a strengthening, description. The pulpit was at that time in offer to the highest bidder — in orthodoxy, that is, combined with popular talent. The first object of the chapel's existence — I do not say in the minds of those who built it, for it was an old place, but certainly