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vitality of their souls, cannot be put down. The storm of persecution may burst around their heads—the fanaticism of self-styled friends of liberty may repeat, under another guise, the terrors inflicted on the confessors and martyrs of Unitarian Poland—or those which fell from the senseless shouts of Church and King' on Priestley and his friends in England—they may be divested of property which they have received from their ancestors—and what is dearer, the honoured name of Christian--their opinions may be pronounced, even from the judicial bench, as an offence at common law—their characters be traduced with imputations of administrative malversation, and their opinions held up to reproach from the pulpit and the press :—they may be cut off from Christian intercourse in public—they may be amerced in their private and social interests—still they cannot perish ; they cannot be otherwise than happy in themselves, and acceptable in God's sight, so long as they have the strong energies of spiritual life in their own bosoms, and communicate their vitality to the spheres in which they move. If they perish, it must be by their own fault--by their own unfaithfulness. God has given them the elements of life and prosperity—it will be their own neglect if the vestal fire become extinct.
The test of utility is the public's test ;—but the test must be applied with caution and consideration. If the public is rigid and indiscriminate in its application, it will go far to rob the majority of the Christian name. The existence of faults is not a forfeiture; the existence of virtues is not necessarily a claim. What is the general character? The whole evidence must go before the jury. To come to a right estimate, there is much to be considered besides first appearances. An issue, which in its commencement is good, may prove eventually disastrous. Where the public sees zeal, it must ask if there is knowledge too. Fire may destroy as well as warm. The ardour which is not accompanied by proportionate wisdom, degenerates into fanaticism; and fanaticism is the prolific parent of vice and infidelity. The breeze, if not restrained by God's power, swells into a devastating hurricane.
It is equally true that the well-working of the social system requires a diversity of operations. If perfection is not to be found in individuals, it can be looked for only in the resulting effect of a nicely-balanced system of contrarieties. And so has God ordered society, as to make it a complication of moral compensations. Defects on one side are supplied by superfluities on the other.
• Mille hominum species, et rerum discolor usus;
Velle suum cuique est, nec voto vivitur uno.' One man has zeal, another prudence; one man supplies the impulse, another the check; here is knowledge-there is wisdom ; here a love of the established degenerating into a retention of what is corrupt—there a love of the new tending to level what is sound. This is God's ordination. We may wish perfection in the individual members—our actual portion is excellence in the joint operation of the whole. It is our business to take what is offered and make the best of it. To proscribe a brother because his wisdom is not accompanied by ardour, would be to authorize our own condemnation for possessing much zeal and little discretion. Far better is it to welcome each one's contribution to the common good, and occupy ourselves, not in impeaching others, but improving ourselves.
Society, therefore, has no right to expect perfection in any sect ;-in no sect can it find perfection. However great the good in each particular case, it will have to make a large deduction for corresponding ill; and, for the most part, it will find no more than the preponderance in favour of utility.
The test of utility thus qualified, Unitarians, in the opinion of many, need not fear the application of. And could their advocate be heard in full, he would not fail to establish a claim on the esteem of all who love knowledge, liberty, and goodness. Where, he might ask, are firmer—more consistent—more energetic—more enlightened friends of civil and religious libertythe basis of every earthly, every spiritual good? Are they not usually found the active friends of knowledge—of mechanics institutions of Sunday schoolsof day schools
-of a large and liberal mode of education? Do they not sustain among themselves, and aim to diffuse through society, a healthful spirit of free enquiry? Are they not the enemies of superstition and prejudice-of implicit faith, and priestly domination, and mental lethargy, and mental timidity-these, the tyrants of the human breast, and the destroyers of all its higher capacities ? And are they not friends of whatever conduces to soundness, to freedom, to vigour of mind—to the thorough and harmonious development of all its capabilities—to simplicity and sincerityand to that mental integrity which palters not with convictions which disdains to close the eye on evidence or overstrain profession? Can it be denied that their ranks have been adorned with learning, their principles expounded with clearness and force—their faithfulness proved by the sacrifice of some of the chief blessings of existence, nay of existence itself;—that their social intercourses are marked by propriety, and not seldom dignified by refinement—and that they have supplied some of the best defences of a common Christianity against a common enemy? They have their faults—may they be corrected ;they have their virtues_let them not be overlooked. And society
would do well to consider, whether, if it allows them to be smitten, it would not suffer an injury in its vital parts.
A POET'S PRAYER.
Oh! may Devotion's kindling flame
ight up the altar of my heart,
Its heav'n-inspiring flashes dart;
Touch'd by the morn's entrancing ray,
And haild with song the Lord of day!
A SKETCH FROM LIFE.
A sister hung above a sister's bier
An old man kiss'd a daughter's pallid cheek : The sister wept—the father shed no tear,
But trembled, and his heart swell’d as 'twould break Above that open coffin's senseless clay.
Words he had none to speak the inward grief That rent his tortured soul, save. Well-a-day!
* Ah! well-a-day!'-such lamentation brief He uttered loud, wringing his feeble hands :
And she who heard him tried to soothe his woe, But still beside the lifeless corpse he stands,
And will not from the coffin'd relics go. Despair is written on his brow of gloom,
And his few hairs are turn'd with sorrow white : Twere bliss to him if thou, all-darksome tomb,
Shouldst close his dim eyes in thy dreary night. The young green branch fades in the sunny spring,
Torn from the aged trunk its verdure crown'd
No sadder sight than this on earth is found;
For myself, I cannot understand how any one can speak for another in the matter of his faith. It is for each individual to say whether or not he is a Christian, and it is for his brother to acquiesce in the decision. I have no right to determine what another is, for the power of forming a correct judgment is not mine. Were there, indeed, any universally-recognized definition of a Christian, it would be easy for me to apply the test in any particular case--so far, at least, as profession was concerned. Bút, since there is no such definition since there can be none without the surrender of the fundamental principle of Protestantism--the right of private judgment, I have no measure by which to ascertain whether a fellow-being is a Christian or not, except his own averment. Each one has his own definition of Christianity, and each, therefore, can say for himself—but for no one else—whether or not he is a Christian.
Without a test, founded not on human but divine authority, individual judgment cannot extend beyond self. It is true that numbers may agree in their test, and then be able to declare each the other's accordance with it; but inasmuch as they have agreed_have, that is, expressed an individual conviction—their collective opinion is nothing more than the opinion of individuals. For themselves they may speak, because they have agreed on their test one with the other ; but the moment they proceed to speak of those who have not signified their concurrence, they trench on Christian liberty, and
assume the functions of infallibility. And after all, it is only with allowance that they can be said to be right, even in relation to themselves. I may be right in declaring that I am a Christian, because I know that my professions are coincident with my convictions; but what assurance have 1 in asserting that my friend is a Christian? Have I ascertained_ can I ascertain with certainty, that he believes exactly what he avows, or what is ascribed to him? It is not unfrequent for those to believe the least who profess the most, and under all circumstances it is safer for a person to declare his own than his brother's creed. Were the question at issue whe ther the lives of certain persons were in accordance with the Christian rule, there might be some hope of arriving at a decision; and yet, though it is less difficult to determine by the scriptural test by their fruits ye shall know them'—the worth of character depends on so many circumstances-circumstances the most varied, latent, evanescent-on original temperament
on early and late education on social position_on struggles which no
has seen, or can see-on moral proportions and degrees and compensations-on conflicts, defeats, perseverance-on principles of action-on purposes and aims and strivings, so diversified and complicated, that, except in a very
general and vague manner, no one but God can pronounce of an individual that he is or is not a Christian.
But I am afraid that it is useless to reason with those who go, to the extreme of giving a practical contradiction to what men no less estimable than themselves distinctly assert. They are beyond the reach of reason, for they act on a definition arbitrarily assumed, and yet do not see the inconsistency of calling themselves Protestants. Were they to say of Unitarians "they are not Christians after our sort'—they would utter what. was at once in harmony with truth and charity ; but then they would betray a doubt of their being infallible, which would be. most alien from their spirit. No; they are right, and all who think not with them are wrong. Christianity is what they believe, and of course those who differ from them are not Christians. The argument would be sufficiently sound, did it not involve the assumption of infallibility. So long, however, as they have nothing but their individual interpretation of the Scriptures to rely upon, so long are they bound to speak with authority of no one's Christianity but their own.
It is, indeed, no little strange that any men in these days— especially men who call themselves not only Protestants, but Dissenters—it is no little strange that of Dissenters, some who profess to have a thorough and practical understanding of the nature and claims of religious liberty, should so deceive themselves as to venture even so far as to deny the Christian name to men who profess and have defended Christianity. The fact would be almost incredible, did we not know somewhat of the blinding influence of religious pride. Orthodoxy is nothing more than infallibility under another name. The papacy of Protestantism is not less offensive because, instead of one, it has a myriad heads. Every one imbued with its spirit, judges indeed for himself—so far disowning the Pope—but judges also for all the world beside, and means but to seat himself in the chair of St. Peter.
While such feelings are current, there can be no such thing as true religious liberty. Religious liberty does not consist in the existence of separate sects, nor in the separate activity of conflicting rivals, nor in the absence of the stake, the pillory and the prison—but rather in that open field and fair play, which are found when no principles are branded or honoured_when the breath of society utters neither a bribe nor a penalty—when each one is esteemed in proportion to his usefulness, not his profession—when vice, not heresy, is shunned. And religious liberty is crippled-its very existence is endangered—its exercise with the many actually precluded, when any body of men presume to erect their own notions into unquestionable truthdenounce the penalties of mental pravity--nay, the pains of