[Great Barrington, c August 1, 1823]
There are three religious societies in Great Barrington --the Congregational--the Episcopal--& the Baptist Societies. --The two former are nearly equal to each other in point of Numbers and include about two thirds of our population. The Baptist Society comprises about three fourths of the remaining third, and the rest are with hardly an exception Methodists.
The Congregationalists are mostly Calvinists, the Episcopalians Arminians--The members of these two societies living every where intermixed with each other and having churches in the same neighbourhood and settled ministers of a very respectable character there prevails a good deal of jealousy among them-- The Congregationalists cannot see in the Episcopalians the proper mystical evidences of Richard Sullivan's regeneration 2 and the Episcopalians accuse the Congregationalists with neglecting those positive ordinances which are presented as the conditions of salvation or what is the same thing suffering them to be administered by unauthorized & unconsecrated hands. --The C are continually labouring to get up a. high state of religious excitement--the Ep discourage gc retard it. The Baptists living in a separate quarter of the town and including in their number many who have no other care about religion than to get rid of being taxed for its support seem pretty indifferent about other sects. The more conscientious among them however prefer the Congregationalists & sometimes attend their worship-- The Methodists are rather inclined to the Ep form of worship--though they are apt to consider its followers as too cold & doubt the vitality of their religion-
In almost every Town in this vicinity there is a society of Congregationalists of the Calvinistic persuasion with a settled minister. There are however several Baptist congregations one or two Methodist Societies and a sprinkling of Universalists and Episcopalians.--
2. Of the inhabitants of Great Barrington a very few only are professed Unitarians--The Unitarians of this Town are generally men of correct morals and upright dealings--but from having taken a disgust to religion in the status in which it is taught in the Calvinistic pulpits are not I fear the most devotional or pious. They would however I have no doubt be willing to promote any project which has for its design the diffusion of correct views of Christianity--