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ascertain the state of his religious sentiments and affections. When we had become well acquainted, and were together by ourselves, I found him ready and pleased to converse frankly. I immediately found that he was indeed an Arian; and as I had always been taught, without knowing why, to look with horror on Arianism as little better than infidelity, and to take it for granted that there could be no religion at heart without the worship of the Trinity, I thought that I saw at once how it happened that he wore no show of religion; for he certainly could possess none; that is, none of its fervor, life, and spirituality—nothing of it but its decent, every-day morality.

But a more intimate acquaintance taught me that he was no stranger to the holiest and tenderest feelings of piety; that he had experienced deeply the inward power of the gospel, and acknowledged it as a religion of the affections; so that, in a word, it has seldom fallen to my lot to know a soul of more elevated, expanded, and heavenlyminded religion, than dwelt within the frame of that unobtrusive man; giving direction and beauty to his whole life, but itself unseen and unheard in any separate or ostentatious display.

The observation of these two characters furnished me with much matter for reflection. It made me ever after cautious, and distrustful of appearances, to a degree that was even painful. I learned to be jealous of lip religion, and cold towards those who were forward in profession. Nay, I was beset with an indefinable reserve, which sealed my lips, and checked the current of my feeling, whenever the subject of religion was touched by strangers; destroying much of the comfort and satisfaction I had hitherto enjoyed in religious conversation. How much have I suffered from this cause! while nothing that I have gained has been able

to compensate for the quietness and peace of the unsuspecting temper which I have lost. I think, however, that I have gained something, by teaching myself and others to lay the stress upon the solid excellence of a good life. The longer I have lived, the more have I been persuaded that this is the great end of human endeavor, and the great touchstone by which we are to judge one another. The heart we cannot see; it must be left to the judgment of God. But wherever the life is uniformly and consistently good, I have learned to consider it as the part of charity to suppose that the heart also is right. I have been unable to join in the outcry against moral lives, as if they were, of course, signs of a worldly heart. I have thought it mischievous; I may say I have found it mischievous. Religion is helped by maintaining the dignity and importance of good works; yea, even though they stand by themselves. But it is injured if they be sneered at and defamed, because, however you may explain and qualify, many will understand you to say, that, if there be faith and zeal, a good life is at best of only secondary importance. They will, therefore, make only secondary attempts to attain it. How many souls have been ruined in hypocrisy and spiritual pride through this mistake!


MR. ELLERTON, of whom I spoke in the last chapter, was another added to the number of the "excellent of the earth," whom it had been my privilege to know. Some of the peculiarities of his religious faith, and those in pretty important particulars, were widely different, I had reason.

to think, from those of any other good man I had met with. He did not believe in a tri-personal Deity; and this was a sort of unbelief, which I, like ten thousand others, looked upon with a vague sort of horror, I knew not whence nor why. For a long time, therefore, I could not believe that he was really so good a Christian as he seemed to be; and when it was impossible to doubt this, my next conclusion very naturally was, that Trinitarianism, though the truth, yet could not be essential to the Christian; for here was a Christian without it. This discovery did a great deal to set me a-thinking, and to enlarge my views. But its best and happiest consequence was to confirm me in my persuasion, that the great practical and vital principles of our religion are common to all believers. From this persuasion I have never varied. Experience has every year confirmed it; and it is still one of the most comforting convictions of my heart. I look forward, with the most delightful anticipations, to the day when I shall join in one communion the souls of those many good men whom I have honored and loved here, but from whose fellowship I have been shut out, by the miserable bars which prejudice and pride have put up amid the churches on earth.

But another important consequence was, that, not finding Arianism the monstrous thing I had imagined it, but, on the contrary, consistent with every Christian grace, I was led to look upon it with complacency. I felt ashamed of the prejudice I had suffered myself to entertain. I felt mortified and humbled, that I should have permitted myself to gather, from the wholesale censures of books, and the sweeping sneers of conversation, an inimical impression against the holders of an opinion of which I knew nothing. This was the precise fact. I did know nothing, absolutely nothing, about them. I had examined other opinions, but

not this. To this I had never turned my attention; had never asked a question about it, but had gone on in the way my father taught me, taking it for granted that I was right, and not so much as troubled with a suggestion that it was possible I might be wrong. I recollect perfectly well the first time the thought occurred to me. It was when I had become well acquainted with Mr. Ellerton's character, and had been striving in vain to reconcile it with his anti-Christian creed. The question seemed to be asked me, How do you know it is anti-Christian? I felt at once that I did not know, for I never had inquired. I cannot describe the sensation which passed over me, as this thought flashed through my mind. A cold thrill went through my frame, a tumult of thoughts crowded and agitated my mind. I soon felt that it was my duty to inquire, and know that whereof I would affirm; and in great anxiety of mind, and earnest supplication for heavenly guidance, I at once entered upon the investigation.

The first discovery I made was one which has been made by multitudes besides, but which filled me with inexpressible surprise. It was, that I was not, and never had been, a Trinitarian. When I came to see the definitions and explanations of the doctrine, and compared them with the state of my own mind, I found that I had used its language, but had never adopted its meaning. I had fallen into its use, just as I had fallen into the common language of men about the rising and setting of the sun not because I believed what the words literally imply, but because it was the phraseology in common use where I lived. Trinitarian doxologies I had employed, because I had always heard. them from childhood; but I found that I had never affixed to them Trinitarian notions. I found that I never had worshipped any being but the Father of Jesus Christ, and that

all my religious feelings were grounded on the supposition of his single divinity.

So, then, I thought to myself, I have been guilty of contemning and denouncing a sentiment which all the time I ignorantly held, and of thoughtlessly using language which implied a faith different from my actual opinion. This discovery humbled me to the dust. I could scarcely bear the burden of shame and reproach which my conscience heaped upon me. I have since found that this thoughtlessness is by no means uncommon. Inexcusable as it is, yet many have I known in precisely the same situation with myself. Indeed, I have reason to believe that the large majority of those educated in the orthodox faith are no more truly Trinitarian than I was, though they imagine themselves to be so; and I have accordingly found that, when they allow themselves to look fairly into the matter, they discover themselves to have been Unitarians all their lives without knowing it.

Had I been acquainted with this fact at the time of which I speak, it would have saved me much unhappiness. As it was, I had a long and painful labor to go through, in ascertaining whether my language or my opinions were the truth of revelation on this subject. The one or the other must necessarily be rejected as wrong. For two years I pursued the inquiry, with all the anxiety and impartiality of a conscientious mind. It would take too much room to detail the progress of my experience at this time. Suffice it to say, that I obtained complete satisfaction at last, and have been, ever since, happy in the simplicity and consistency of my Unitarian belief. I have known many pass through the same process, with an equally happy result; and many, I may add, with a result still more happy, because their minds were relieved by it from the distressing burden of other

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