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an observation like this: “It is difficult, if not impossible, to employ language which will convey the same ideas to the east and to the west; and hence the difference in the reception of statements which have been made.” When the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, under the direction of Ezra, the people shouted with a great shout. But many of the priests and Levites, and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted for joy : so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping.' Here was the consequence of viewing the same fact from different points of view, and comparing it with things diverse from each other.
Whether we shall be more fortunate than others, in the attempt to exhibit things as they are, we cannot say; but since we have only in view, that which has reference to the particular subject before us, we hope we shall not be deemed partial or prejudiced, because we may omit some things which ought to be included in a more general description. Indeed we now have nothing to do with the question, whether the people in the west are more or less immoral than their fellow-citizens at the east. This question would not be of so easy decision, nor is it necessary. The only hope of leading out any community into a course of benevolent action, is founded on their being deeply imbued with the spirit
, and acquainted with the principles, of the gospel; and this depends more, perhaps, after the operations of divine grace, on the faithfulness and clearness with which the true character of christianity, and the duties and privileges of christians, are exhibited, than on the previous habits of the people, or even their natural temperament; though these have an important bearing, and should not be forgotten.
Take, then, the following facts, to which we apprehend there can be no reasonable objection made by any one, and in view of them, let the question be weighed, What shall be done for the west?
There exists in the western section of these States a great mixture of population; to the formation of which, each of the Atlantic states from Maine to Georgia, and almost every civil division of Europe, has contributed. This mass of materials,—or rather these materials,--so heterogeneous, are yet uncombined. It is not to be expected, that such a variety of tastes, habits, prejudices and information, should immediately mingle and coalesce, so as to exbibit the settled and harmonious feelings and action of a longformed and well-regulated community. A generation or two must pass away before this can be done, even under the most favorable circumstances.
The elements of society are there, and the ma
terials for benevolent action; but these elements must first be prepared for combination, and then actually united in the formation of communities, having mutual dependence and mutual conf-. dence, before the materials can be wrought into beneficial systems for doing good on an extended scale. It should not be forgotten, how recently our western brethren have begun to occupy their present relative position, and that the possibility thus far has : been precluded, of such a settled state of society as the accomplishment of our object demands.
It should be considered, therefore, that the effort with them as yet, is chiefly to commence a successful career in life; and this where all is new around them, as well as themselves. It takes time for : new beginners to look beyond their own immediate necessities. Of course, whatever are their feelings, their views are more confined at home.
The amount and kind of religious instruction which has been enjoyed by them, also has been entirely inadequate to the production of an elevated religious character, or to an enlarged bepevolence. That there have been many bold and pious men, who have penetrated the wilds, even to the borders of civilization; and in some sepse kept pace with the waves of emigration, as they rolled one beyond another, we delight to own. And many souls are now rejoicing in the hope,-or the fruition,-of eternal glory, who acknowledge their instrumentality, and are brilliant stars in the glorious crowns of such laborious pioneers. Yet, supposing these men to have been of the most intelligent class, and to have partaken largely of the enterprising spirit of benevolence; even if no direct opposition had existed, from the mere unsettled state of society, they could not establish a system of efficient operations, co-extensive with their own labors. Something they could and did accomplish,—enough to make angels glad, - but not enough to be a commencement even, of that effort which it is now our object to urge. The number of such teachers was roo small to answer half the demand. They stretched themselves out with exemplary zeal and self-denial, to meet the wants which they beheld, and wore out themselves in the service; but they could not accomplish every thing. Many of them of different sects) were likewise intelligent ; but a large proportion were too meager attainments to do more than publish the first principles of the gospel.
Nor was this all. They had to meet a counteracting induence. The advocates of an active, self-denying, benevolent religion, learned and unlearned, had not the whole ground to themselve as some might suppose. There was (and yet is) a class preachers abroad, who, needing and possessing no literary acquir ments,-nor even reflection on a given subject in order to prea
pon it,—had time enough to devote to secular pursuits. Accoringly their labor was applied to the accumulation of worldly pods; their recreation was preaching the gospel. Perverting the anguage and reversing the argument of Paul, the constant boast of these men has been, that they are not paid for preaching, and vould not beg money to sustain religion. The impression made upon the public mind, so far as their influence reaches,—and this s to no trifling extent,- has been altogether unfavorable to the spirit of benevolence. The course pursued by these untaught teachers bas produced a state of things, which seems an insurmountable barrier in the way of pious and intelligent men, even of their own denominations, who have recently endeavored to preach the gospel of peace in its purity, energy and brightness. It will require years of patient, strenuous and prayerful effort on their part, and on the part of all christians, to undo the mischief effected by this exhibition of religion.
We hesitate not to assert, that the present inhabitants of the western valley are, generally, as susceptible of religious impresa sions as the same number of their eastern neighbors. True, they have received far less, and more imperfect instruction,-many of them at least;—but, nevertheless, it is not true, that the subject of religion, in its grand leading features, is unknown among them, any more than it is to the citizens of New-England. They know, almost universally, the claims which God makes upon them; their guilt and condemnation ; the mercy which he offers them through the blood of Christ, and by faith alone. Nor is the opposition of the heart to Christ more inveterate there than at the east. The history of religious effort among the inhabitants of the broad valley, will exhibit as much success in proportion to the instrumentality employed, as that of the Atlantic coast. Here, then, is a foundation laid for successful operation in future.
The natural characteristics of the western people, too, are as favorable to the flow of benevolent feelings, as those of any portion of the globe. Indeed, their circumstances have been such, as to call forth the most generous and disinterested acts of kindness, almost habitually. They have not been taught this by the bible and by precept so much as some others; but the lesson has been inculcated by Providence, and by mutual example. It is only necessary, therefore, that these feelings be taught to flow in the right channel, and steadily ;-be directed by principle, rather than occasionally and from caprice.
Here, then, is the key to the whole subject. The western people are as warm-hearted, and we may add, as enterprising, to the full, as those of the east; but they are unaccustomed to that moral discipline, that training in the school of Christ, which has given such energy to the churches in which the science of christian benevolence has been long and fully taught. Their exertions are fitful, irregular, without concert, and consequently not only more inefficient according to their amount, but actually less so than they would be under a good system. To religious benevolence, especially systematic benevolence, strong prejudices prevail, as we have shown, to a painful extent. It should also be borne in mind, that their pecuniary condition bas, generally, been such as would seem to exempt them from any portion of the burden of duty devolving on the church at large. They have been accustomed to receiving aid, and have yet to learn, in a great degree, to help themselves and others.
The object proposed is, to form a national character for christian benevolence and enterprise, on the model of the primitive churches. To unite the east and the west in one homogeneous christian community, (we care nothing about minor divisions and names,) with one grand object in view; one glorious enterprise animating all hearts. This would at once develop the resources of the country for doing good, and multiply them an hundred fold. We believe, that this most desirable object can be accomplished to an important extent, by a judicious course towards the newer, and, as yet, feebler portion of the country. And while the east is thus nursing and strengthening the west, the very effort will increase her own vigor, knowledge, ability and willingness.
From the few facts and traits of western character which we have thought it necessary to exhibit, our readers will perceive, that the precise thing which is requisite to the attainment of the object, is the dissemination of correct principles, and the wakening of a desire on the part of all to accomplish the greatest possible amount of good. And in order to this, a wholesome influence must be exerted, sufficiently strong to remove settled prejudices, and to show the excellency of system and steady zeal in religious effort. Now it is certain, that Paul excited the churches to effort by the urgency of a holy emulation; and to this end, gave one to understand how much another had done, and how nobly and judiciously the enterprise had been conducted. No doubt much may now be accomplished in the same way. The story of eastern benevolence, told to western christians, will doubtless produce an effect; and will rouse them to action. It has already done so.
We are not willing, however, to leave the object to the tardy operation of such remote causes. While these are lingering, there will be direct counteracting efforts, of which it is our duty to be aware, and against which we should guard. To that region are directed the main efforts of popery. Thither, too, the infidel looks with longing eye, and floods of infidel tracts and periodicals are poured out upon it. These, combined with the natural selfishness of man's heart,—which is cloaked in many instances under
the garb of Antinomianism, and in others under a revived system of heresy, ycleped The Ancient Gospel, --will gather strength, unless met by vigorous and appropriate means on the part of the disciples of an infinitely benevolent Savior. Were real expansive benevolence spontaneous in the heart of man, the case would be different. But it needs cultivation even in the christian. How important, then, that direct and strenuous exertions should be used, in order to rescue future millions from the deleterious influence of selfishness, bigotry, heresy and blasphemy!
The west must therefore be considered a field for the operation of eastern christian effort. We may be told, that much has been done; great sums have been expended; bibles have been bestowed; tracts distributed; sabbath-schools established; colleges founded or assisted ; missionaries sent out; and even pious laymen and females have gone forth in considerable numbers to the west. All this is true. To the inference that would seem to be intended, we say, all this, yea, and much more, must be repeated and continued; the ratio must be increased; the work must be hastened. A population is pouring in, of just such moral character as happens to prevail among those whose object is merely to better their temporal condition. Causes exist, too, which have a tendency to throw a large number of discontented and unfortunate persons into the west. The materials of which society is to be forned, though valuable as materials, are, as we have observed, heterogeneous, and will be slow to amalgamate. If the action of the eastern churches cease, yet the occasion for it will vot cease, but grow in an accelerated ratio. Nothing should be considered done, until all is done, and the western churches begin to roll back the waves of christian love that shall have flowed over and enriched them. How soon this may be, we know not; but certainly the time will be hastened in proportion to the efforts which may now
Of the modes of conferring benefits on the west, which have been mentioned, we have space for remarks only on the last two or three. Indeed, if there be vigorous measures adopted for supplying the necessities of our brethren in these particulars, we cannot doubt, that all or most of the others will follow in their train. A
competent supply of ministers, schools, and pious laymen, will either enable them to furnish themselves, or will naturally open the way for procuring a sufficiency of bibles, tracts, and sabbath schools ; while a neglect in the particulars named, will continue the necessity for aid from abroad.
then, that ministers are needed to an extent not believed, at least not realized, on the eastern side of the Allegany mountains. We know that the sentiment is becoming prevalent, that the most efficient ministers for the west, are those who are