« AnteriorContinua »
no small degree, by not having been divorced more thoroughly from its unhallowed connexions. Christianity owes it to itself publicly to enter its disclaimer, and to maintain its solemn protest, against all those connexions, which have ever proved the means of perverting its institutions, and of superstition to its doctrine and ordinances; which have been a scandal to its name, the blighting of its influence, and caused the hand of Jehovah's providence to write upon its falling temples-" Their glory is departed!"
The world is made up of so many elements, that no efficient measures of reforming and improving society can possibly be put in operation, but that, while the mass is made better, some minor portions will be made worse, by an indirect influence of the very means necessary for the greatest good. We cannot strike an effectual blow on the corruptions of Christianity, but, peradventure, we shall have some, who have no respect for religion, cheering us on, and saying, "Ay, that is good; that is well deserved;" and not unlikely they will be confirmed in their Deism, and die in it. They are beyond our redeeming influence. Do what we will, they are lost. It is for the benefit of society generally, for the good of the world, that we do this. Besides, the scandal of being supposed to have such a connexion is a far greater evil than the shock of breaking down and withdrawing the rotten material from the building.
I have shown, by a simple statement of facts, without note or comment, or with very little, that a union of church and state is treason to religion; and there I have stopped. And does the world need me to tell them that unadulterated Christianity is worthy of their respect? If so, I hereby discharge myself of that office; if they want me to prove it, though I think it quite a superfluity, I must have leave to write another book. "But you might have told us more about the actual state and prospects of religion in Great Britain." That is a delicate and obnoxious theme, because it sets up a comparison. I write for readers in general, and not for any particular class. I can, however, express myself on that point in this place, and in one sentence: I think both are necessarily very discouraging, till the disadvantages of a connexion of religion with the state shall be removed.
It is easier to tell what a book should be than to make it; what should be put in and what should be kept out,
than to be an author that shall steer a course to the satisfaction of all. For my own part, I never think it out of place to say-corruption is corruption-vice is vice-without apology. I never fear that Christianity will be injured by exposing those who assume its name, and avail themselves of its sanctions, for political and worldly advantage. It is the only way to rescue Christianity from the responsibility of their enormities.
There are good things in Great Britain, and there are also bad things. For nearly four years I have been a looker-on in that land. While I abjure all espionage, or any motives or modes of observation which the strictest delicacy would eschew, it has ever been a principle with me, as a spectator of men and things in that country, not to be obliged for a hospitality that should silence my tongue or embarrass my pen as an American. It is as true that "a gift destroyeth the heart," as that "oppression maketh a wise man mad ;" and it is remarkable that inspiration has put these sayings together. It will be in vain that our fathers made such sacrifices for a religion unshackled and for civil liberty, if, in visiting our mothercountry, and witnessing the same influences, to a great extent, operating still, we fail to cherish the principles which have procured our privileges, and to warn our countrymen against the danger of reverting to a like condition. Englishmen expect that we shall be Americans; they would think meanly of us if we did not show ourselves such. Our country expects it; and if we are so, conscience ought to prompt us to our duty. And yet there are Americans who, while visiting England, allow themselves to be dined and toasted out of their character. There are radical principles of society yet at stake in the world to be contended for, if not on the field of blood-which God forbid-yet in that field of influence which the pen and the press have opened before us, and into which so many are rushing with reckless spirit and ruthless adventure.
If an American who goes abroad finds reason to satisfy himself for becoming less an American than he was before, he may keep his opinion, or betray it, or publish it, as he shall see fit. If, on the contrary, he is confirmed in his character as an American, and conscientiously believes that American principles are best, he ought doubtless to be permitted, on his own native soil, to use his influence in their favour.
The abundant materials in my hands, not less important or less interesting than what is here offered to the public-so far as these pages may have any thing of that character-would have swelled the work to twice its present dimensions, if I could have presumed that so large a book would be acceptable, as well for its price as for its matter. But my publishers and others, together with my own convictions of the proper extent of works of this kind, have advised me to dispense with what would make a small volume of statistical information on various subjects, as also with a notice of many journeys made and places visited, and the discussion of numerous topics of practical impor
London, which was my home while in England, is ́ a world by itself. I have been obliged to content myself with general and brief notices of that great metropolis, and to reserve the particulars of this field of observation for another work now in hand, to appear as I can think of nothing better or more pertinent-under the title of its own notable name- -LONDON.
New-York, July, 1835.