תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

us.

ministers, allumni of these colleges, are now alive. It will be perceived that this calculation stops at the year 1810; as from the nature of these documents it can never be brought up to the present time. The University of North Carolina has furnished a few ministers; though one of its officers speaks of the number as very small. The colleges at Brunswick, N. J., and Hampden. Sydney college, Virginia, have very meritoriously struggled against great difficulties, and have each furnished the church with a number of respectable ministers; but we have no official documents from either. Washington and Jefferson colleges in Pennsylvania, and Washington college in Virginia, were more recently established. No catalogues and no other means of exact information have been obtained from any of these. It will not be deemed essential that we should pursue these statements into an exact account of colleges lately established. Indeed the object of these statements does not require that they should be perfectly exact. Hundreds more of ministers migbt be reckoned, without any considerable change in the principles of reasoning, or in the result.

Of these 1465 ministers educated in the above named American colleges, probably there may be as many superannuated and infirm, as ought be reckoned for the number educated in foreign countries and now, resident

among But to make a liberal allowance for this latter class, some of whom are highly respectable, let 135 more be added, making a total of 1600 educated ministers.

With respect to the number of ministers, who have not received the advantages of collegial instruction, but who may yet be considered as competently educated, we have no means of exact information. Probably, however, the pious and intelligent of every denomination will be satisfied, that it would be a large estimate to consider them one half as numerous as those who have been publicly educated ; that is, to reckon them at 800. But place the estimate at 900, and then the whole number of competent religious teachers in the United States, of all denominations, will be 2500, and the deficiency 6500.

/ The general view which has now been given of this subject is strongly confirmed by the following statements respecting particular districts of our own country.

In North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, containing according to the last census, a population of 1,223,043, there are but about 110 competent ministers, leaving 1,113,048, destitute of proper religious instruction. A respectable gentleman, wbo is a native citizen of South Carolina, informs us, that in an ancient district of the State, embracing an extent of 900 square miles, contiguous to the sea coast, there is but one place of worship, and that not used; and not one Christian church or minister of any denomination.

The states of Indiana, Mississippi, and Louisiana, with the territories of Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri, contain a population of about 350,000, and nearly the same number of square miles as the whole of Europe, with the exception of the Russian

empire. Yet in this vast region, which is becoming populous and wealthy, with unexampled rapidity, we cannot ascertain, after much inquiry, that there are more than 17 competent and stated preachers of the Gospel ; that is, less than one to 20,000 souls. And it is affecting to learn, that sucb important places as Mobile, Blakely, Fort Claiborne, Huntsville, Madisonville, Baton Rouge, and Nachitoches, which are becoming seats of enterprise and influence to this new world, have no Christian teachers of any denomination.

In East Tennessee, which contained, in 1810, 17 counties and 101,367 inhabitants, an intelligent gentleman on the spot says, " There are 14 counties in which there is not a single regular or educated minister of the Gospel.

Concerning the western parts of Virginia, a respectable gentleman resident in the State says, in a letter to one of the directors : “The deplorable situation of this region is enough to awaken sensibility in the heart of a stone.” He then proceeds to say, that in eight counties west of the Great Ridge, containing 48,587 inhabitants, there are about 1000 people connected with the Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists ; leaving more than 47,000, not connected with any religious societies; and four entire counties without any religious institutions whatever. In another district he says, there are 53,000 people in the same dreadful state; in another, 20,000 in the same state, except that there are a very few Methodists and Baptists. In another district of fine country, compact, rich, and populous, there are near 60,000 people who are connected with no religious denomination whatever !

This letter presents one tract of country larger than the wbole of New-England, (excepting Maine,) in which the writer says, “there are but three educated ministers. There are but a handful of Methodists and Baptists, who deserve a great deal of credit for their zeal and exertions. But here are 180,000 people, who are absolutely without religious teachers of any sort!” A lady in Monongalia county, Virginia, in writing to her brother, who is a minister in Connecticut, draws the same dark and dismal picture of the country where she resides, and then exclaims, “O my brother, how my heart bleeds for souls around us, buried in ignorance, sin, and stupidity; and also for myself and family. Can you not be spared a little while from your charge, to visit us ? Can you not intercede for us with the Trustees of the Missionary Society? If you cannot come, cannot some one be sent? The people wish that ibey could have preaching and schools, and seem to regret that they cannot read. They do not labour on the sabbath, but visit, and do errands, and make bargains. It appears to me at times that I cannot endure one sabbath, and montb, and year after another, shut up in this wilderness, with my children growing up about me, and not be able to lead them to the house of God. I walk alone in a little grove of oaks, on the sabbatb, about the time I think you are going to the house of God."

[ocr errors]

Concerning the western parts of Pennsylvania, a gentleman of unquestionable credibility says, "there are extensive districts in which there is not, and never was a school. More than half the adults probably can neither read nor write; and there are thousands, who never saw the Bible, nor any other book, nor ever beard a sermon; and this among a people who have extensive farms, in fine order, with large orchards, brick houses, and stone barns. One district has 40,000 people, with but one fixed pastor.”

Another gentleman, a respectable missionary, describes a tract of country, in Pennsylvania, of one hundred miles extent, in which there is but one settled minister.

The committee of an Education Society, just formed in the Western District of New-York, say, in their address to the public, that in 200 organized congregations of that state, ministers might soon be settled, if they could be obtained. In one county of that state, adjoining Connecticut,—there are 10,000 people, and but one regularly qualified minister. In New-York City, it is estimated that there are 78,000 people without the means of religious instruction, and 14,000 families attached to no denomination of Christians.

If we come to New-England, where Christian privileges are enjoyed in a higher degree than in any other region of the country, there is much to excite the solicitude of good men. The population of New-England is about 1,500,000. The number of ministeis qualified to preach the gospel, among all denominations, cannot be estimated at more than 1000; leaving a deficiency of 500.

In the two oldest counties of New-Hainpshire, wbich contain 77 towns, there were in 1813, (and the case cannot be essentially altered still,) 45 towns destitute.-In 24 of these towns, containing 20,000 inhabitants, there were but 161 church members; and in 9 of the 24 towns there was not one ; 7 had always been destitute of preaching. One church had had no communion for 5 years; an. other none for 20 years. Two churches had become extinct, and in another, which formerly contained 40 members, there remained but two, and these females.

This is a gloomy picture ; but there is one view in which it is still more gloomy. If the people of the United States are now in this condition, what is to become of their posterity? When we call to mind that 70 years ago New-England was supplied with one collegially educated minister for every 628 souls, and that now, in the United States, there is not one such minister to 6000 souls ; when we remember that this rapid degeneracy has been regular in its progress, that the great causes which produced it are every year becoming more powerful and extensive in their operations; and when we ar' i to all this, that the great mass of the community are not awake to the danger;—with what apprehensions must we look towards the generations that are to come.

Statements, founded upon our College catalogues, prove that, in respect to the number of our educated ministers, we are far behind our fathers; But when we carry the result of these statements for

ward, and calculate the effect of continued degeneracy upon future times, an awful prospect opens before us. From these catalogues it appears, that for a hundred years after the settlement of this country, viz. from 1620 to 1720, more than half of all the graduates of our Colleges were ministers. During the next period of 50 years, that is, from 1720 to 1770, only one out of 3 engaged in the ministry; and during the period of 40 years next following, that is, from 1770 to 1810, only one out of 5 engaged in the ministry. From 1800 to 1810, only one out of 6. Let it here be observed, that the number of graduates has not increased so fast in proportion as the population of the country, so that the decrease of collegially educated ministers, compared with the population of the United States, has been even greater than in the proportion of the numbers 1-2, 1-3, 1-5.

The following are some of the particular facts included in this general statement.

Dartmouth College, from 1780 to 1800 furnished, on an average, 9 ministers annually; from 1600 to 1810 only 5, though the graduates had increased one fifth in number.

Yale College furnished for 30 years in succession (from:1740 to 1770,) 10 ministers annually on an average. From 1800 to 1810 the average number was only 10, although the number of graduates had doubled.

Harvard College, for more than 20 years in succession, (from 1719 to 1741) sent out on an average 13 ministers annually. From 1800 to 1810 the avarage was only 6, though the number of graduates had increased one third.

Princeton College, from 1756 to_1776, sent out more than 8 ministers on an average every year. From 1800 to 1810, although the number of graduates bad nearly doubled, the average was only 3. • From these catalogues it appears also, that the whole number of ministers furnished by all the colleges has but a little more than doubled in 70 years. During a period of 10 years, (from 1730 to 1740,) Harvard and Yale colleges, the only colleges then in existence, sent out 187 ministers. From 1800 to 1810 all the colleges together furnished only 453. While the population of the country, therefore, doubling once in 23 years, has multiplied more than 8 fold, the number of ministers has doubled only once.

Let the population of the United States continue to increase for seventy years, as it has done for the seventy that are past, and let no extraordinary exertion be made to multiply the number of educated ministers, but let them increase only in the slow proportion above mentioned, and what will be the result? In seventy years, a period which our children may live to see, there will be in the United States 72,000,000 people, and but about 3,000 educated ministers. Instead of one educated minister to 628 souls, as in the days of our fathers, there will be only one to 24,000; instead of more than half of all the educated men in the country directing their learning and talents exclusively to the ministry, and spending their lives in advancing the moral and religious prosperity of the country, there will be only one in twenty who will be thus employed.

According to the ablest treatises on the principles of population, supposing the average quality of land, and the general means of sustenance to be as good in the United States as in Massachusetts, the inhabitants of our country may be expected to increase in much the same ratio as beretofore for a century to come. In other words, the population will not be checked, by pressing on the means of support till our territory shall generally be as populous on an average as Massachusetts Proper.

Let us then consider our present number of competent ministers to be 2,500, and our population 9 millions, and taking the ratio uf increase for both, as furnisbed by past years, look forward tu the year 1925 a little more tban a century hence. Two hundred and twenty four millions of people will then be scattered over our vast territory, seventy to each mile, a population about as dense as that of Massachusetts Proper, and as the average of all Europe. Of these 221 millions, 209 inillions, (a population greater than that of Europe,) will be destitute of competent religious teachers.

There is one more consideration, which the Directors beg leave to suggest as increasing the darkness of this prospect, already sufficiently distressing. It is this: The ratio of 1,000 souls to one minister, which, for the sake of convenience, bas been made the basis of the preceding estimates, does by no means exhibit the full extent of the evil which we are labouring to remedy. This ratio is the bighest that can reasonably be applied to the most populous districts of the country, but when applied to a population so dispersed, as the great majority of ours is, and must be for a long period, it is much too large. A brief illustration will make this evident. Perhaps a compact city congregation may increase to three thousand souls, and yet be served by one minister. But let this congregation enigrate to the west, and spread themselves over six new townships, and then they will need the labours of six ministers. A thousand inhabitants, on an average, in Massachusetts Proper, occupy about 14 square miles; in Verinont 45, and in Kentucky 100. Allow then to a minister in the more thinly settled parts of the country, a parish of 50 square miles, which must be a sufficient extent for the labours of any one man, and you give himn the charge of less than 500 souls. While this principle is not applicable to a population so dense as that of Massachusetts, nor so scattered as that of Michigan, it shows that in intermediate regions of great extent, the ratio of one Minister to one thousand people, leads to a result much more favourable than the truth. At least one third of our population will, for many generations, need one minister to 500 souls. It is plain, therefore, that our present deficiency of ministers, instead of being only 6500, cannot be reckoned at less than 8666.

From these statements, taken together, the following conclusions seen to be established;

« הקודםהמשך »