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devil's recruiting-ground. The theatre, the fashionable party, the ballroom, are blackened by these ecclesiastical leaders in a way certainly demonstrative of their ignorance of society; while every day of the week offers some invitation to work or social intercourse within the inclosure which is regarded safe. The people who can thus be influenced are of homogeneous social status and taste, and make a formidable army, admirably maneuvred, against which it is not easy to make head.
Other churches offer inducements adapted to more cultivated tastes. The Catholic and Protestant-Episcopal denomin. ations not only claim all who affect Continental and English styles of thought and manners, and receive many who desire a respectable society where they shall not be vexed with severe doctrines, but are also the strongholds of reckless and selfish wealth. They have well-tried and vigorous constitutions, and seem able to grow and improve as churches, spite of the desperate incumbrance of social corruption. The Presbyterian churches rally the most vigorous and zealous classes of the better educated Orthodox religionists; old families from the Middle and Southern States, the best of the Scotch and North-Irish emigrants, and a great deal of the more serious and formal sort of Western society. The Congregational Church is usually the centre of the New-England element, and shows more reformatory zeal and broader cultivation of all kinds.
It is easy to see, that, in a few years after the founding of a prosperous Western town, all these churches, planted and nourished by Eastern Missions, " district” the community into social classes, almost as exclusive as old-world aristocracies. We once asked one of the Beechers, which he thought the most characteristic form of the religious genius of New York. He replied, “I never heard that the people of New York had any genius for religion.” This extravagance points to a great truth. Executive administration, in all regions of life, is the great moving spring in the genius of the Empire State; and through the North-west, where the preponderating element of popular power is New York, this is the key to the riddle of public movements. In the South-west, including Southern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, social enjoyment and ambition are the only strong ideas that rival in force the love of accumulation of property. The most cultivated New-England or NewYork family insensibly yields to this all-absorbing desire for a pleasant, gossiping, interminable social existence; and few there are of sufficient “ nerve and faith” to resist it. At least the young people grow into it, and are as eager as the oldest inhabitant for a charming social life that shall fill up all the crevices left by debilitating toil in an enervating climate. Every church offers its own social attraction to such as come within its range, and religion itself in many of these cities insensibly becomes a vast social institution.
When, as in St. Louis, San Francisco, Buffalo, and some other Western cities, our Church gets on the ground early, and is organized for a quarter of a century by one or a series of able leaders, it catches the spirit of the community, and its theology is hardly an impediment to its great success. But most of our Western churches have had in their pulpits, studious, thoughtful New-England men, who have brought there the recluse, literary habits of Harvard, and the English social reticence of Boston; who have not even felt the pulse of the community at all, and, outside a few agreeable families, have scarcely appeared as a social centre. Our societies have been too much composed on the "atomic” theory; each being an aggregate of families imperfectly acquainted with one another, and not over eager to get nearer than speaking across the barriers of the pews. They have rarely initiated any vigorous social campaign in the outside world: indeed, the pastor, worn near to death by incessant visiting and consultation, generally finds it difficult to arouse the better class of his people to give proper social welcome to strangers joining the church. This explains the ease with which our societies run down when a favorite minister is removed, or the fact that they can be so easily disrupted by feuds among different sets of people. Every new minister gathers about himself a crowd of families who do not care to look beyond himself to see who is on the other side of him, and who
demand from him such social attention as can be rendered only by a whole church. We are socially weak in the West. Our young people of mark oftener marry outside than inside our fold. Our worldly rich people always keep one eye looking over into the more tempting gardens of their neighbors. New families, coming to our cities, generally prefer to go into old " sets” than help establish new ones. Our elements are hard to mix; and the faithful pastor often is worried almost out of his senses in his attempts to unite his crowd, all of whom manifest a prodigious love for him, and will do any thing for him, except the only thing that will save them as a church, — co-operate in social effort with one another.
Of course we cannot compete with any church in the race of fashion; and far hence be the day, when Western Liberal Christianity tries to rise by servile emulation of the vulgar luxurious and rich! No race of civilized or savage people on earth is so utterly heartless, and unsuitable for any good thing, as the votaries of fashion in the great Western cities and towns. Generally of uncertain character and basely gathered wealth, they caricature the wildest follies, and catch little even of the outward elegances of the fashionable class in older States. To convert them from their sins is always“ in order ;' to conciliate them as religious associates is for us a useless, even perilous, task.
But every Liberal Christian church in the West owes a great effort to Western society to gather about itself a social life, which shall be an example to the people of a true Christian order of social affairs. Avoiding extremes of fashion; keeping clear of the ever-glade of weak dawdling and gossip that swallows up every thing lofty and beautiful; cultivating true elegance, love for literature and art, real conversation, and simple elegance of manner, let it be a sphere in which men and women of every class and station in life can be lifted into higher social aspirations than amid their private sets and family conclaves.
This may be accomplished, as it has been successfully attempted in some of our churches, by the organization of a “Young People's Social Mission,” whose function it shall be VOL. LXXX. — NEW SERIES, VOL. 11. No. II.
to hold frequent meetings for social intercourse, in which the gifts of all the members shall be called in to minister to the general entertainment; to seek out young people of liberal tendencies in the community, and receive such as come from abroad, aid them socially, and bring them into the church; and especially to centre in some large work which shall increase the executive power of all, and attract the aspiring and religious youth within their sphere. We are convinced that in any large Western church in our cities could thus be established a social centre which could take in charge our missionary work for the city and suburbs, support a missionary colleague for the pastor, sustain a mission school, establish a publication fund, and do a great work for the Church and the general cause. Some of these societies might need help from the general funds of the body; but others could raise a thousand a year as easily as the young men and women of which they are composed can spend many, as they now do, on their own pleasures and social enjoyments, far less satisfactory. The most living feature of the Church of the Redeemer, at Cincinnati, during the past year, has been such a society of fifty members, who have brought many people to the church, spent several hundred dollars in charity, inaugurated mission work in the populous suburbs, and had a capital social time beside. Certain it is, we shall never get on as churches till some centralization of this kind enables us to become attractive, rather than repellent, social forces; and, with this cavalry corps attached, our congregations will move on to a success which will astonish even ourselves.
If we have presented more of the difficulties of our Western field, in this essay, than is the custom amid the genial hopes of our Western churches, we have not done it in any spirit of contempt for the services of any class of Christian men, past or present; or in any mood of despondency with our
That cause is now more hopeful than ever before, because we are coming to see that this mighty Western em. pire is not to be dissolved in a guslı of enthusiasm, but slowly changed by such work as only earnest, tireless, wise, and pro
foundly religious men and women can do. The West, ecclesiastical and lay, needs Liberal Christianity more than it needs any thing else. But it will not place any organized Liberalism in the high place of influence, till it earns that place by greater labors, more constant sacrifices, more palpable services to the people, and a more vitalizing and reconcil. ing faith in God and man and the gospel of Christ, than has yet compelled its generous regards.
ART. II. - THE CONFLICT OF REASON WITH BIGOTRY
History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in
Europe. By W.E. H. LECKY, M.A. 2 vols. New York. 1866.
Only three centuries ago, the belief in witchcraft, considered as a manifestation of Satanic power and malice, was everywhere cherished. Decrepit old women, endowed with supernatural energy, were supposed to traverse, astride of broomsticks, the mid-region between earth and sky, on their way to the witches' sabbath, where Satan conducted in person foul incantations imported from the bottomless pit, and fraught with calamity to humankind. Loup-garous, or persons who had exchanged their human for an animal form, were heard howling beneath the windows of their destined victims. Vampires feasted upon the flesh of newly buried corpses, or, sucking the blood of still living mortals, caused them at death to assume the vampire shape, and join in their loathsome revels. The belated peasant, hurrying home to his lonely cottage, often quickened his pace to a frantic run to elude the imagined pursuit of a headless horseman. And it was currently believed, that necromancers, skilfully moulding in dim, moonlit chambers the waxen model of some hated enemy, practised upon it their diabolic art, to the sure destruction of its living prototype.