Moore presents Hawthorne in this passage as reluctant to ascribe to any particular faith, but certainly not out of ignorance. His wife, Sophia, was, apparently active in religious activities and thought, as were those around him. Hawthorne would have known what the various religious thinkers in Salem were saying. Apparently, he chose to subscribe to no single idea.
Nathaniel never altogether followed her [Sophia's religious] lead. He knew
the same people, but it is clear that his views differed. He believed in sin,
for example, or the ineradicable evil that seemed to persist in man. He did
not go to hear the Reverend Edward Taylor (1793-1871), the famous Methodist
preacher to the seamen, because he felt 'somewhat afraid to hear this divine
Father Taylor, lest my sympathy with thy [Sophia's] admiration of him be colder
and feebler than thou lookest for' (CE 15:431). He added that he was a "most
malleable man," and indeed he was. Had he known what Taylor said to Cyrus
Bartol on one occasion, he might have changed his mind. Taylor had defined
Transcendentalism by saying it was 'like a gull-long wings, lean body, poor
feathers, and miserable meat.' The Unitarians seemed to Hawthorne too rational,
too little inclined to see the vast mysteries of life, I think. The Transcendentalists
were too much inclined to soar into the ethereal (114-5).