Images de page
PDF
ePub

Phillips had twenty such sermons printed, and on the title-page of one dealing with some terrifying topic appears an ominous skull and crossbones. Funeral discourses and election sermons are among the commonest which have survived, but, taken as a whole, they are unfortunately among the least trustworthy of historical records.

The Anglican churches in the eighteenth cen-V tury were generally built of brick but varied considerably in size, shape, and adornment. Except for a few — such as Trinity Church, Newport, which followed the Wren model, King's Chapel, Boston, which was of hewn stone, and McSparran's Narragansett church, which is described as a very dignified and elegant structure — the buildings of this denomination in New England were small and unpretentious and constructed of wood. In the South they were more stately and impressive in both external appearance and internal adornment. St. Mary's at Burlington, Christ Church and St. Peter's at Philadelphia, St. Anne's at Annapolis, Bruton Church at Williamsburg, St. Paul's at Edenton, and St. Philip's at Charleston were all noble structures, and there were many others of less repute which were examples of good architecture. Often these churches were surrounded by

high brick walls and the interior was fitted with mahogany seats and stone-flagged aisles. Conspicuous were the altar and pulpit, both richly adorned, the canopied pew for the Governor, and on the walls the tablets to the memory of distinguished parishioners. Not a few of these old churches displayed in full view the royal arms in color, as may still be seen in the church of St.

James, Goose Creek, near Charleston. Bells were - on all the churches, for the colonists had come from

England, "the most bellful country in the world,” and they and their descendants preserved to the full their love for the sound of the bell, which summoned them to service, tolled for the dead, or marked at many hours the familiar routine of their daily life. Christ Church, Philadelphia, built in 1744, was distinguished by possessing a set of chimes.

Many a church had its separate vestry and sheds; and in large numbers of Southern parishes there were chapels of ease, small and built of wood, for those whose habitations were so remote that they could not come to the main church. Even so modest a structure as that at Pittsylvania Court House in Virginia — built of wood, with a clapboard roof, a plank floor, a pulpit and desk, two doors, five windows, a small table and benches —

had its chapel of ease built of round logs, with a clapboard roof and benches.

Though the New England minister was given a permanent call only after he had been tried as a candidate for half a year or some such period, the Anglican clergyman was generally appointed without regard to the wishes of the parishioners, often by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel as one of its missionaries, in Maryland by the Proprietor, in the royal colonies by the Governor. Many of these clergymen were possessed of superior culture and godly piety and lived in harmony with their vestries and people; but in the South and in the West Indies to an extent greater than in New England, men of inferior ability and character crept into the rectorships and proved themselves incompetent as spiritual guides and unworthy as spiritual examples. But the proved instances of backsliding south of Maryland are not many and one ought not from isolated examples to infer the spiritual incompetency of the mass of the clergy in a colony. On the other hand it is not always safe to take the letters which the missionaries wrote home to the Venerable Society as entirely reliable evidence of their character and work, else the account would show no defects and the

ACCOU

burden of defense would rest wholly with the colonists. John Urmston of Albemarle, for example, is known to North Carolinians as a “quarrelsome, haughty, and notoriously wicked clergyman,” yet Governor Eden gave him a good character and the Society was satisfied that the fault lay with the country and the vestry. Clement Hall of St. Paul's Church, Edenton, was found to have officiated less than twenty-five Sundays in the year 1755; his salary was reduced accordingly and a new arrangement was made whereby he was to be paid only for what he did; yet Hall was looked upon as one of the most devoted and hard-working missionaries that the Society ever sent to America. Fithian speaks of Parson Gibbern of Virginia as "up three nights successively, drinking and playing at cards,” and he characterizes Sunday there as “a day of pleasure and amusement,” when “the gentlemen go to church as a matter of convenience and account the church a useful weekly resort to do business,” yet this testimony, as the observation of a graduate of the College of New Jersey and a not unprejudiced witness, must be construed for what it is worth.

With the clergy in Maryland the case was somewhat different, and the illustrations of unspiritual

conduct are too numerous to be ignored. Mayna- ! E dier of Talbot County was called “a good liver” but a “horrid preacher,” and his curate a “brute of a parson.” William Tibbs of St. Paul's parish, Baltimore County, was charged by his vestry with being a common drunkard, and Henry Hall was on one occasion “much disguised with liquor to the great scandal” of his "function and evil examples to others.” The people of St. Stephen's parish, Cecil County, complained that their rector was drunk on Sundays, and Bennet Allen, the notorious rector of All Saints, Frederick County, who afterwards fought a duel with a brother of Daniel Dulaney in Hyde Park, London, was not only a coldblooded seeker of benefices but, according to many of his parishioners, was guilty of immorality also. The letters of Governor Sharpe disclose numerous other cases of "scandalous behavior," "notorious badness," "immoral conduct,” and “abandoned and prostituted life and character” on the part of these unfaithful pastors; and by witness of even the clergy themselves the establishment of Maryland deserved to be despised because “it permitted clerical profligacy to murder the souls of men.” The situation reached its climax in the years following 1734, when, by the withdrawal of the

« PrécédentContinuer »