« AnteriorContinuar »
nor will we concede to any man or body of men the exclusive privilege of “ eliciting the truc meaning of the Holy Ghost.” No; nor when we consider what unwarrantable liberties have been taken with the scriptures themselves, will we wave our right of inquiry, whether what comes to us under the venerable name of sacred writ be really such or not. It was precisely on these grounds that the first reformers took their stand in judging of the erroneous doctrines of the chùrch of Rome, and set an example, which we trust will, in no future age of the world, be lost sight of; for in departing from her communion they did not carry along with them her reputed infallibility.
Our author expresses great fears for the consequences of the errors occasioned by the idolatry of reason,
“ because,” says he, “ they have for their abetters the learned and the powerful of this world, and the influence of their example is very extensive.” Dismissing, however, these appre. hensions, he adds, in the very next sentence, “they are not likely to spread very widely among the common people, as they divest religion of all its awful and interesting attributes.” Is there then nothing awful in the idea of One eternal, infinite, omnipresent, omniscient Being; the author of our existence and of all our powers; the constant spectator of our conduct; acquainted with our inmost thoughts; who will finally bring us into judgment, and be the arbiter of our condition for eternity? Is there nothing interesting in the consideration that it is by his unintermitted energy our souls are
held in life; that it is by his hand we are fed and clothed; that by him we are every moment sustained in the exercise of our bodily and mental faculties? Is there nothing to engage our willing obedience in his condescending declarations of mercy; in the concern he hath manifested for our recovery from sin and consequent misery, by the mission of Christ? Is there nothing in that arduous undertaking for the benefit of the human race which can excite warm emotions of love and gratitude to Him, who, in submission to his Father's will, endured the cross, despising the shame? Do not our hearts beat high with the anticipation of a glorious triumph over death and the grave, when we behold Jesus raised from the dead by the power of the Most High, and exalted to glory and immortality by his Father and our Father, his God and our God? Yes! my brethren, these are solemn, awful, and interesting considerations; they are fundamental points of unitarian faith ; nor is there aught in them of which the common people, even the poorest of them, may not experience the benefit. It was to this class of men that Christ chiefly addressed his doctrine, and they heard him gladly, because he addressed them in a way they could understand, and not as the scribes. It is the aim of the unitarian system to bring back the gospel to its primitive purity and simplicity, and to build the faith of its professors, of every rank and denomination, on a surer basis than the decrees of councils, synods, and assemblies. Many of these have found the gospel as it stands in the New Testament too
pure and simple to suit their purposes, and, in
“ the more sincerely and fully any person becomes a convert to this system, the more indifferent he will become to all religion.” Here, my brethren, is a sweeping/clause of reprobation indeed! If it means any thing, it goes to assert that we, who were no longer able to endure the mixed worship of trini. tarian churches, and instituted this society, that, in obedience to the command of God, we might pay our devout homage to him alone, are by this very act manifesting our indifference to all religion ! It follows of course that those of us who not only contribute our pecuniary quota to the maintenance of public worship here, but conduct its offices to the best of our little ability, without emolument or compensation of any kind, must be infidels of a most uncommon stamp !
I would wish to avoid every thing that looks like the retaliation of uncharitable expressions ; but it is impossible not to draw the conclusion that the author has proceeded upon gross misinformation, or, what is still worse, upon no information at all. Herein he has been much to blame. Before he ventured, on so solemn an occasion, to utter such an imputation upon the understandings and moral characters of any description of men, and still more before he gave it a wider spread, and in a manner made it permanent, through the
medium of the press, the truth of his premises ought to have been ascertained by every previous grade of proof. He should have thoroughly inves. tigated the whole controversy; at least he should have attended our worship, or have made particular inquiries concerning us from those who were in the habit of doing so. In such a case he would have known, that, so far from being indifferent to revealed religion, no subject has been more frequently and warmly insisted on here than the proofs of its truth. If he had only taken the trouble to read the avowal of our principles, contained in the printed copy of our constitution, he would have found that we possess the very qualifi. cations which he most properly recognizes as sufficient to constitute members of the visible church, viz. “a confession of Jesus as the anointed prophet of God and Saviour of mankind, and a desire to be instructed in his religion” (page 28). But being few in number, and of little note, and exploring our own way in religion, as well as we can, without the assistance of spiritual guides, we are set at naught; hard things are thought, and spok. en, and written concerning us; and of these it is not the least, that even our sincerity is subpænaed to give testimony against us at the bar of an orthodox assembly. Be it so: this is not the tribunal at which we are finally to be tried. There is only one authority to which we submissively bow, and be. fore which we and those who take upon them to be our judges here must stand upon an equal footing : there may they as well as ourselves find mercy!
A COMMON UNITARIAN CHRISTIAN,
Occasioned by the former's behaviour during some
part of the public service. Jesus answered, the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O
Israel! the Lord our God is one Lord : and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thysell. There is none other commandment greater than these.
MARK xii. 29, 30, 31.
When ye pray, say, Our Father, &c.
LUKE xi. 2.
Athanasian. Neighbour, as I always thought you a person of a serious turn of mind, and have frequently observed your exemplary conduct in the public worship, your behaviour this day, at church, gave me great surprise, and indeed uneasiness, because you seemed to treat some parts of our excellent liturgy with disregard. You used to repeat, after the minister, the four first petitions of the litany, in a devout and solemn manner; and to join in every part of our liturgy, so justly celebrated by great numbers of pious and learned men. But I took notice this day, at church, you put on a silent indifference, when God the son, God