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to discover any argument at all. For thus the sober thinker reasons with himself: Does my abstinence from ardent spirits violate the sacred liberties of my neighbour? Am I not free to use or disuse any article of diet or drink, at my own discretion? To lay down rules for self-government, and when I please to recommend them to others? And in the exercise of this freedom, am I guilty of any infraction of another's rights? Whose rights are these which we are charged with violating? Surely not those of the abstinent; for he, exercising his free choice, acts out his own voluntary purposes. Not those of the man who declines our fellowship; he is no less free in rejecting the proposal, and so far as the question of right is concerned, we leave him, if such be his pleasure, to besot himself daily with drink, and to form a society for his encouragement.
But we are told that a combination is formed, upon a principle which is peculiar, and which gives an invidious notoriety to such as choose to make use of ardent spirits; that we thus reflect upon others and infringe on their rights. Without pausing to seek for the somewhat indiscernible connexion between the premises and the conclusion, let us examine a parallel case. It is well known that certain highly respectable Christians have thought it a duty to abstain from what they conscientiously believe to be a sinful extravagance in outward apparel, and to encourage plainness of dress by their own example. They have exercised an undoubted right. They may have been blamed, as needlessly scrupulous; they may have been ridiculed by the unthinking or malicious. But is my patriotic sensibility so great that I take fire at this as an infringement upon my liberties? Has their united abstinence from a certain supposed excess led to the clamour that the state was threatened, or our private rights endangered ? Has their economy and rejection of ornament been considered as an invidious crimination of such among us as do not adopt their principle? The cases are parallel, and the candid mind will scorn to harbour an objection which, even if it can be comprehended, has no bearing upon the question. We lay down a rule for our own conduct, and we heartily desire that others should voluntarily assume the same; but we enjoin no law upon our neighbours, we use no coercion, we erect no new terms of ecclesiastical communion, we threaten no penalty. Still we claim the same right to declare our honest convictions, which the politician has to speak his sentiments, the
moralist to denounce vice, or the teacher of religion to proclaim the gospel.
It only remains for us to recommend to all who read these suggestions, the solemn consideration of this subject, and to propose to every lover of public order, virtue and happiness, the adoption of the principle and practice now defended. We shall not offer such an insult to their hearts, as to suppose that they look unmoved upon the sad spectacle of disgrace, crime and woe which intemperance has produced, however they may hesitate as to the expediency of these measures.
To the ingenuous we may thus address ourselves: You have now set before you a method by which you may at least do something to save yourselves and your families from these fatal evils; by which, more than in any other way, you may contribute to public sobriety and consequent happiness. It has not been pretended that any real evil can ensue upon the adoption of the principle now recommended. The paltry enjoyment which you forego is contemptible, and below computation, when viewed in connexion with national prosperity and everlasting life. The rebuke or raillery of avarice and folly you may well endure, for the sake of an approving conscience, and for the good of your race; to use the happy remark of an honoured Senator, “it is surely no great trial, in such a cause, to be the song of the drunkards.” Reflect, that even if there be but a possibility of preventing a fellow creature's ruin, that possibility is not to be neglected. Consider the subject but an hour, and you must be convinced that the hopes excited by these endeavours are reasonable, that already an amount of good has been effected which can be estimated only in an eternity to come. You may indeed be temperate without joining any association, or taking any pledge; as you may be a Christian without being a public professor; but you cannot be blind to the fallacy of any argument which would lead you to withhold your voice from this open testimony for virtue and public safety, which would restrain from lending the weight of your example and influence to a work which you know in your hearts to be pure and charitable.
There are occasions where neutrality is culpable, and where every citizen is called to be at his post, and to do his duty. Your influence is operating from day to day, on one side or on the other. Your example is cited, either for or against this enterprise. While you waver or delay, thousands are rushing onwards to disgrace and ruin. Are you willing to stand in the
VOL. III. No. I.-H
way of this reform? Can you, dare you, in the sight of a holy God, set up your business, your earthly gains, your reputation among irreligious men, as motives to outweigh the high persuasive reasons urged by duty and benevolence? And will you be able, with any complacency, to look back from your dying bed, upon the advances of temperance so gloriously carried forward, and remember, that you had no part in this blessed undertaking, that you were unwilling to relinquish the manufacture, the sale or the use of a destructive drink, for the strong probability of saving souls and glorifying God?
Far be it from us to use the language of reproachful accusation. There may be many who still stand aloof because they have not yet discerned the path of duty; but we would call upon such, upon men of tender consciences to espouse the safe side, to avoid the very appearance of evil, to neglect no means which are innocent, and which even by possibility may stay the plague. By tampering with the poison, they may ruin their own peace, destroy their families, and vitiate the purity of their associates. By providing it for others, with whatever intention, they are ministering to the madness, the blasphemy, the crime of the drunkard; spreading before the ignorant and the unthinking the snare into which even the wise and the honourable have been inveigled. They are filling up the cup of bitterness for the more than widowed wife, and rivetting the chains of poverty on the children, who, though not yet orphans, know not the tender mercies of a father. And though the temperate only receive it at their hands, they are assisting them in the first step of that way which has led its millions to everlasting fire. Let such be exhorted to come to a decision, to spread before God in solemn prayer the doubts and anxieties of their minds on this subject. It is unwise to become offended or reject what is now proposed; it is the duty of all to seek the direction of the Holy Spirit. The father will surely be moved by the love he bears to the little ones who gather around his knees, and who are yet to endure these perilous temptations, to leave nothing undone which affords a hope of changing the habits of society, and banishing this cup of enchantment and sorcery.
In this great cause our hope is in God. Let us, therefore, with united supplications, implore the aid of that wisdom which is from above, and the blessings of that Father of lights from whom cometh every good gift and every perfect gift.
ART. V.-REVIEW OF PROFESSOR STUART'S LETTER
TO WILLIAM E. CHANNING, D. D.
A Letter to William E. Channing, D. D. on the subject of
Religious Liberty. By Moses Stuart, Professor of Sacred Literature in the Theological Seminary, Andover. Boston, Perkins & Marvin, printers, pp. 52.
The Unitarian controversy began in this country in the year 1815. It was occasioned by the publication of a pamphlet, entitled, “ American Unitarianism, or a brief survey of the progress and present state of the Unitarian Churches in America.” The late Mr. Belsham, of London, in his Life of Theophilus Lindsey, drew up this view of “ American Unitarianism," from documents furnished by some gentlemen of Boston. The Rev. Dr. Morse, then of Charlestown, republished this part of Mr. Belsham's works, in the United States; and thereby subjected himself to great odium, on the part of some of his neighbours.
But we have no room here for even a sketch of the history of Unitarianism in our country. Our only object is to show that Dr. Channing, from an early period down to the present time, has been engaged in this controversy. The publication adverted to above, produced a correspondence between him and the late excellent Dr. Worcester, of Salem. This resulted in the exposure of a system, which had long been kept in concealment.
In 1819, Dr. Channing, at the ordination of Mr. Sparks, of Baltimore, preached a sermon, in which he gave a view of Unitarianism as a distinct and peculiar religious creed. The publication of this sermon drew forth a series of letters, addressed to the author, by Professor Stuart, of Andover. These letters were reviewed, but not answered; the controversy was continued by Dr. Woods, also of Andover, and by Dr. Ware, of Cambridge, until the year 1823. In these cases, it was generally thought that the Unitarians gained nothing in the argument.
In 1826. Dr. Channing preached a sermon at the dedication of the Second Congregational Church, (as it is called) in New York. This sermon was also published. Its design was to
show the superiority of Unitarianism to Orthodoxy, in its moral tendency. It was ably reviewed by an anonymous writer in 1827.
It is sufficient for our present purpose, to state further, that Dr. Channing, in the course of the present year, has published a uniform edition of his writings, and also a sermon preached by him at the “General Election” in Boston, May, 1830. of this last discourse, our readers may form a just opinion, from extracts given in the pamphlet under review.
This brief statement will show, that Dr. Channing has entered largely into that controversy, which has for some years disturbed the tranquillity of Boston and its vicinity, and has excited an interest among Christians in all parts of the country. We wish it also to be understood, that Dr. Channing is regarded as the leader of Unitarians in the United States. He is greatly celebrated by his party; and he himself assumes before the world, the character of a man of enlarged thought and liberal feeling; of various learning and refined taste. It is no part of our present business to determine the validity of these claims. We only say, that a man who stands on narrow ground, in a high place, ought to “order well his steps,” and "take heed lest he fall.”
But like other men, raised far above their original aspirations, this great man seems to have lost both his prudence and his equanimity; and often betrays unexpected irascibility and bitterness of spirit. He ought to remember his own claim as the most liberal of all liberal Christians. Who would expect Dr. Channing so far to forget himself, as to adopt that art of controversy, which consists in making his adversary odious, instead of proving him to be in error? But this he has done. After having unsuccessfully tried his strength in argument, he has fixed his name to the charge, made in the most public manner, that Orthodox Christians in Massachusetts, are designing and plotting the overthrow of religious liberty, the suppression of free inquiry, and the establishment of ecclesiastical tyranny.
The charge, indeed, has not even the poor merit of originality. It is taken up by the champion of Unitarianism, after it had become stale by repetition: it is taken from the mouths of open and avowed enemies of Christianity; and used, as we think, as a very culpable expedient to cover the disgrace of discomfiture. Or, if it is too much to say that Dr. Channing felt himself defeated, we shall be compelled to charge him with the use of poisoned weapons against