Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

an error in Mr. Frend's reply. I by judicious exertions, succeeded in colno means intend to insinuate that I lecting a church consisting of memwas embarrassed to understand my bers whom they have instructed in own meaning, but that I was at a loss the important doctrine of the unity to find out his. And as his present and unrivalled supremacy of God: letter is to me still more incompre- that the Divine Being exists in one hensible than his former, that circum- person only, that he is absolute in all stance alone would be a sufficient in his perfections, that he will not divide ducement for declining to answer it, his honours either with a supposed had I been otherwise inclined to do created or uncreated logos, or with a so.

holy or an evil spirit : that he is infiThe word Unitarian, whatever be nite in goodness, and extends his free its etymology, is used by good writ- unpurchased forgiveness to penitent ers in very different senses. Dr. offenders, not from a reference to any Lardner uses it in one sense, Dr. foreign consideration whatever, bnt Price in another, Socinus in a third, for his own sake, and because he deand the Bishop of St. David's, who lighteth in mercy. Also, that Jesus contends that the Church of England Christ is a human being, the son of is Unitarian, in a fourth. I adopt human parents, in all respects like Dr. Lardper's definition, because I unto his brethren, and distinguished think it best answers the end of lan. from them in no other way than as guage, which is to convey clear and being the greatest of all the propliets distinct ideas. I could wish that of God, the revealer of life and imothers were of the same mind, and mortality, the first begotten from the would use the word in the same defi- dead. nite and restricted sense, which I After this new society has been think would greatly contribute to di- thus ably tanght and disciplined in minish useless logomachy. But if Christian truth, their judicious inothers think fit to use the word in a structors may possibly be sent to lamore extensive sense, I pretend to no bour in another part of the vineyard, authority to require them to use the and other missionaries may be disword in the same sense that I do. patched by the Society to build up Far from it. In the name of common the newly-established chureh. These sense let us each define our terms and may perhaps be Arians. They come use our liberty. I may, perhaps, to their destination, and they find the after all, be left in a snug and “in- lately-gathered flock bewilderen in considerable minority,” but deny me what must necessarily appear to them not the right of private judgment, and to be gross if not dangerous errors. I am content.

Our predecessors, they will say, were At the same time I cannot help very good, zealous, well-meaning men, thinking that some inconvenience may but they have sadly misled you from arise from using the word Unitarian the truth of the gospel. God the Fain what appears to me to be too lax ther is, indeed, one person only, and and extensive a sense. I preşume, for alone possessed of all possible perfecexample, that the Unitarian Fund So- tions; but he has made or generated ciety is composed of Arians and of a son, to whom he has delegated believers in the proper humanity of power and authority to form, support Jesus Christ. This Society is formed and govern the whole created' unifor the express purpose of sending verse, or at least that system of which out missionaries and popular preach- we are a part. But though this great ers to propagate the Unitarian doc- Being is the Lord, our Maker, we trine. I will suppose that the Society are upon no account to worship and may have commissioned some of its bow down before him, though he is enlightened and eloquent members, our preserver and benefactor, though such, for instance, as my worthy he is always present with us and dofriends, Mr. Vidler or Mr. Wright, ing us good, though he knows all we to break up the fallow ground, and to say and all we think, all we do and sow the seeds of truth and uncor- all we want, and is able to do more rupted Christianity, where they were for us than we can ask or think; yet not known before. And I will fur- we are never to speak to him as we ther suppose that these able and un- should do to an earthly friend, we are wearied labourers have, by their never to ask any thing of him, nor to VOL. X

8 н

thank him for any thing we receive. to defend, with zeal, tempered with Every act of prayer and praise is to charity, the systein which is believed be addressed to the Father only, other- to be true. wise we cease to be Unitarians.

It may perhaps be alleged that the You have also been told that Jesus points of difference between the Christ was a mere human being, the Arian and what I call the proper son of human parents, distinguished Unitarian system are of little moment. from other men only as he is the But can this be true? Is it a matter greatest of the prophets, and was of no consequence that the Maker raised from the dead: but nothing and Governor of the world resigned can be more erroneous than this doc- his charge, shrouded his attribute, tripe. Jesus Christ was a man only became an infant in the womb, exin appearance: he was, in truth, the posed himself to all the frailties and divine Logos, the Son of God, the infirmities of humanity, expired upon Maker of heaven and earth, and of all the cross as an expiation for human their inhabitants, who vouchsafed to guilt, descended into the grave, rose make a temporary residence in a hu- again from the dead and returned to man body, during which period his heaven in a human form? May all attributes were quiescent, and he sub- this be true, and plainly revealed by mitted to all the innocent infirmities God to man, and may it nevertheless of human nature.

be of no consequence whether we beNor was he born in a natural way lieve it or not? Impossible! Arianism like other men, but was conceived by is a doctrine of unspeakable impor. the Holy Spirit in the womb of the tance to be believed and taught, or Virgin Mary. And though God is Arianism cannot be true. There is infinitely merciful, yet his wisdom po medium. Arianism and Unitarianand rectoral justice would not suffer ism can no more unite than fire and him to forgive sin without manifest- water, than light and darkness, than ing his displeasure against it, and for Christ and Belial. I am, &c. that reason he required and accepted

T. BELSHAM. the death of his only begotten son, as an expiatory sacrifice upon the cross.

Islington, June 12, 1815. Moreover, there is a third glorious

Sir, person, the Holy Spirit, the Lord IN Mr. Aspland's Plea for Unita and giver of life, the inspirer of prophets, the performer of miracles and few, though I believe only a few, Uni. the sanctifier of the heart. There is tarians have been kept out of the Bi. also an Evil Spirit, possessed of very ble Society by observing that its progreat sagacity and power, who ranges ceedings did not agree with its prin. the world at pleasure, for the express ciple, that of circulating the scrip. purpose of doing mischief to the bo- tures, the whole scriptures and nodies and souls of men.

thing but the scriptures.' He then This new doctrine would, I fear, adds by way of illustration_“ The go a great way towards unsettling the Society professes to circulate the Bifaith of the new converts, and might ble without note or comment,' lead them to conclude that there is whereas the authorized version, which nothing certain in the Christian reli- only they use (I speak of course of gion. And surely the same Society England) has a perpetual commenought not to send forth missionaries tary in the form of Tables of Contents of such opposite complesions. The at the head of each chapter. These same fountain cannot send forth sweet notes are it is feared mistaken by the water and bitter.

common reader for a part of the scripI do not mention this, Mr. Editor, ture itself, and though not often dias an actual statement of the conduct rectly systematic are yet sufficiently of the Unitarian Fund Society, but so to give a bias to the minds of such as a case not unlikely to happen, where readers as are not guarded by prepersons whose views are so widely vious knowledge.” Now, Sir, it is dissonant, associate together under a curious fact that the orthodox as the same name, for the sake of propa. well as the heterodox (I use these gating Christian truth. And in my terms in the popular sense) have felt estimation, it would be more expe. the force of this objection. For the dient for them to separate, and each pious and celebrated Puritan Divine,

John Canne, who lived upwards of It is now become absolutely necesa century ago, and whose edition of sary to remind your readers of the the Bible, with marginal references, original grounds of the present conis still held in high and deserved re- troversy. In your Repository for pute, was reproached by a high Jan. last, (p. 25) two infidel writers churchman with indulging a similar thought proper to revile all those who aversion to these uninspired parts of attempted to defend Christianity in the sacred writings. Dr. Grey, en- this country, as “ cowards," and to deavouring to depreciate the memory which courteous term has since been of this excellent man, sarcastically added (p. 280) that of “ braggado. remarks-" This Canne, because no cios ;" and to affirm that their “ cruhuman inventions were to be allowed elty, baseness, and detestable cow. about the worship of God, cut out of ardice," were so shocking, as to exHIS BIBLE the contents of the chapters cite “deep detestation and horror.” and the titles of the leaves, and so left Infidels were likewise represented as THE BARE TEXT without binding or having “ great gags put in their covers !!" Mr. Brook who mentions mouths; their hands bound behind this singular circumstance in his Lives their backs, and threatened with fine, of the Puritans, subjoins an apologetic tortures, imprisonment, perhaps death, paragraph which deserves to be here if they uttered a syllable.” “That it transcribed.-“ Admitting this to be was known," the more strong and the fact, surely it was not in the unanswerable their arguments, the power of bigotry itself to account more certain would be their personal what he did a very great crime. It ruin.” One of the writers alluded to was no violation of any existing Ca. added—He was “ sure that any man nons, Constitutions, or Act of Parlia- of a free and generous spirit must ment, nor could it be followed by any scorn the conduct of all such defendvery evil consequences so long as he ers of Christianity." preserved the whole of the sacred text Now, Sir, I confess that on reading UNADULTERATED."

such language I felt, not unbecom. I shall only add, that amidst the ingly I hope, for the honour of Chrisincessant jarrings of Christendom tianity and of its defenders; all of every consistent Protestant (Trinita- whom, from Bacon, Milton and Locke, rian and Unitarian) must cordially down to the present day, were thus unite in the diffusion of the sacred re- grossly calumniated. I therefore cords to the remotest regions of the thought proper to enter a protest aearth. They constitute our surest gainst such calumny. I likewise, alguide to holiness and happiness in this though in language the most decided, preliminary state of being, and the expressed my abhorrence of all penal knowledge which their pure and un- laws in matters of religion, ridiculed adulterated contents impart will be the manner in which infidels were absorbed in the full and uninterrupted represented to be restrained ; and I effulgence of eternal day.

concluded with expressing my cerI am, Sir,

tainty as to the grand facts of ChrisYours repectfully, tianity, in the language of the primiJ. EVANS. tive Christians, naturally supposing

that I had, when professing my faith Hackney, July 4, 1815. as a Christian, the same right to the

word sure, as the infidel, when ex(T is remarked by one of our most pressing his scorn and detestation of

popular authors, (The Freeholder) the defenders of Christianity. I have that controversy with an irregular now, Sir, stated the sum and front of writer is something like duck-hunting. my offence. For this I am beld up When you have the animal in full to your readers, as a character equally view, he suddenly dives under water, contemptible and odious, as one and presently appears where least ex- claiming infallibility; as a persecutor peeted, by which means you some and a hypocrite, whose professions times are wearied out in the pursuit, are only to be regarded as those of without attaining the object. This certain state hypocrites, “ were words remark forcibly struck me on reading of course,'' used for the purpose of in your last Number (p. 851] the let- deception : and what renders this porter of Candidus.

trait truly curious is, it is drawn, not

Sir,

IT

by an infidel, but by a Christian—a palliating, and justifying persecution." Unitarian Christian, and, to complete Your correspondent justly feared the climax,-á candid Christian. "the charge of disingenuousness," when

Candidus, in repeating his charge my paragraph which he had mutilaagainst me of being a persecutor, says, ted, leaving out the part which conin reply to my solemn and repeated tained a complete refutation of his declarations to the contrary, that charges,' was by me fairly brought “ actions speak louder than words,” before your readers :-He, however, and he takes due care to inform us, in spite of meridian evidence of their “ that he has suffered a good deal for falsehood, dares to repeat those chargjoining that sect to which I belong.” es and seems determined, if possible, Now, Sir, I cannot but think this to brand me with a mark of perpetual boasting might have been as well infamy, by holding me up to the spared in an anonymous writer, as no world as an instance, that those who one but himself, unless by some other profess the greatest regard to religious means than your Repository, can liberty only want the power to perseknow any thing about the sacrifices cute. Whether this be “disingenualluded to; but I hope, as I am not ousness" or something worse, I leave unknown to some of your readers, to the judgment of your readers. and to the friends of civil and religious My explanation of the term infidel, liberty in more than one part of the is to Candidus “ very unsatisfactory." kingdom, I may challenge any one to As he has not however ventured to impoint out a single action of my life peach its correctness, I can only lainconsistent with my professions on ment the state of mind of that man the present occasion. I deem it an who is obliged to seek for satisfaction honour that some of my services in from some other source than that of the cause of religious liberty, however truth. feeble, have not been deemed unwor- I beg leave to repeat, notwithstandthy of record in your miscellany: but ing the additional dissatisfaction of my words and actions are alike disre- Candidus, that the quotation prefixed garded by Candidus. I am pro- to his first letter “had nothing to do nounced unworthy of credit-1 claim with the subject.” It was referred, infallibility-I am a persecutor andi a by the author, to Christians, and to hypocrite. Had I taken up my pen Christians only. Candidus adds,," it at the moment of first reading these seems that they are not to make use gross misrepresentations, I should of hard names to each other while probably have pronounced them wil- those who do not believe in Chrisful; but momentary indignation gave tianity may be reprobated and called place to pity :-pity for the writer names at pleasure.” Who, Sir, let who can perceive no difference be- me ask, has used “ hard names and tween reprobation of opinions, and called names at pleasure?” The de. persecuting the holder of them. fender of Christianity who has merely

I am again charged with “ making reprobated infidel opinions in lauguage light of fine, imprisonment, and the not so severe as he, who, if Candidus pillory, and in part justifying it.” 1 be a Christian, he must acknowledge am obliged on this occasion to repeat had the uodoubted right to use such language which has already proved language, our Lord and Saviour, who so offensive to your correspondent. is appointed to be our Judge, or he “ Darkness is not more opposite to who is offended at any expressed relight" than this statement is opposite probation of such opinions? I do to truth. I “ made light” of the earuestly exhort your correspondent language, and the language only seriously to reflect on the diametriwhich infidels had used on this sub- cally opposite decision to that of our ject. I declared that the prosecution Saviour which he has presumed to even of two or three “ miserable and pronounce respecting infidel opinions. abusive writers," by our gothumite I have carefully avoided saying any Christian statesmen during the past thing respecting the persons of infihalf century, was “ most unjust, and dels, or of entering on the discussion most contrary to the letter and sprit whether there may not, owing to exof Christianity." I termed all such traordinary circumstances, be instanprosecutions folly and wickedness ces, exceptions to the general rule ; united.” This is “ making light of, and but, it is impossible even for the most superficial believer in Christianity not men the most miserable,” I shall as a to recollect the awful doom denounc- Christian, who considers consistency ed by him who “cannot lie," against as one of the best proofs of integrity, unbelievers in general. Who is to continue to “ reprobate,” to “pass a decide on this great point?–Our Lord, condemnatory sentence” on the opinour Saviour, our final Judge, or Cau- ions of those men who despise the didus *

author of Christianity as a fanatic, or Although I hope your correspond- reprobate him as an impostor. ent has in one instance at least pro- I have no where reviled” infidels: fited by the hint I gave him of the this charge therefore of Candidus, like expediency of now and then consult- all his other charges brought against ing a dictionary, he has given himself me, has not even the shadow of eviunnecessary trouble on the present deuce to support it. It is the use of occasion. I do reprobate infidel opin- the term which has so offended him, ions in the full meaning of the terms and which although explained accordhe has quoted from Dr. Johnson ; ing to its most obvious meaning, inand as long as I consider the gospel stead of satisfying, still puzzles and as the greatest and best gift of God displeases him. Unbelievers in geto the world, and as without it I Deral, I should suppose, are not must, in such a state as the present, be ashamed of a name which this canclassed with those who “are of all did Christian is so sorely offended

that any one else should apply to

them. The following remarks, the author of which will not be suspected of bigotry or I arrogate to myself infallibility ; in

Candidus repcats his charge, that fanaticism, deserve the serious attention of Candidus, and of any others who may support of which he refers to my like him have “ no doubt,” of the safe speaking about “light and darkness state of those who reject Christianity.

and truth and falsehood: he cannot well * The serious and impartial inquirer, conceive any thing more contrary to after due attention to the proper evidence justice and reason, than an attempt will see ample reason to admit the divine to bring forward a text of scripture inission and character of Jesus Christ, who as a knock-down argument to those by his doctrine and his miracles, and es- who do not believe in scripture, and pecially by his resurrection from the dead, where the very point under discussion has brought life and immortality to light; is its divine authority." I hope your who hath instructed us in the practice of readers have referred to what I said virtue, and left us an example that we should follow his steps; and whose second about “ light and darkness, truth and appearance we are taught to expect at falsehood," and I have little doubt of the destined, but unknown period in the their cordial approbation of the aprevolution of ages, to raise the dead, to plication I have made of those signijudge the world, and to reward every one ficant terms: but where, in the course according to his works.

of my correspondence (or indeed on The virtuous inquirer will readily admit any other occasion) have I “ brought the sufficiency of the scriptures, and will a text of scripture as a knock-down regard the writings of the apostles and evangelists as containing a faithful and argument to those who deny it?" and credible account of the Christian doctrine;

as to my discussion with your corresas competent, if studied with diligence and pondents Chiron and Thomas respectattention, to supply bim with all needful ing the truth of revelation, there was information upon the most important sub- not even the most distant allusion to jects, and able to make him wise unto it; but as Candidus could not answer salvation."

my arguments, still resolving in one Belsham's Serious Caution against Po- instance to be the victor, he has conpular Errors : in a Discourse addressed to jured up shadows for the pleasure of the young persons who attend the Unita- combating them. I adopted the lanrian worship at the Gravel-Pit Meeting, guage of scripture as merely expresHackney. P. 38. If these remarks be just, and I know the passages in which the word “sure,"

sive of my faith as a Christian, and not how anyone who credits what our Saviour and the sacred writers have de- which has proved an unpardonable clared on the subject can refute them, it offence in the judgment of this candid follows of course, that infidels, in general, Christian, (while the same word has cannot be serious, impartiul, or virtuous been used by infidels when reviling inquirers.

the defenders of Christianity, without

« VorigeDoorgaan »