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instead of saying God is just, wise and good, it would be better to say, God is justly and wisely good, which more nearly coincides with the declaration of the Apostle, God is love.


T. C. H.


Oct. 16, 1821. N the discharge of a very painful I part of the duties of the ministry, I have often been led to lament the want of a work particularly adapted to be put into the hands of Unitarian Christians under the various seasons of affliction. The four following Letters are a humble attempt to supply this want, and should they be thought likely to be acceptable to your readers, may probably be followed by two or three more on similar subjects. trust no apology will be needed to those to whom some of them were addressed, for my endeavouring to render them more extensively useful.


That your work may continue to be consolatary as well as instructive to a large class of readers, is the earnest wish of


The Unitarian Mourner comforted.

A Letter to a Friend, on the Death of
his Son at the Age of Twenty.

To express my sympathy with you in your late very severe loss, and to contribute towards the restoration of your health and spirits, so anxiously wished for by your friends, are my inducements in taking up my pen to address you.

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But permit me to remind you, that, considering the amiable disposition and upright conduct of your son, and with your views of the free and unpurchased grace of God which bringeth salvation," you can scarcely entertain a doubt, that the change will for him be greatly for the better. A parent who considered a high state of religifew, and the application of the blood ous feeling which can be attained by Christ, through the influence of the Spirit, to the conscience of each individual, as essential requisites for aced with perpetual anxiety for the salceptance with God, must be distressvation of his child while living, and must have the utmost difficulty in persuading himself that it is well with him when he is removed. But looking to the goodness of the fruit as a proof of the excellence of the tree, and regarding religious conduct as evincing the existence of religious principle, nothing can deprive you of the hour of sorrow, that he who is the hope to which the heart clings in be re-united to you under happier cirtaken from you for a short time will cumstances, where no second separation need be dreaded. Although one has been employed only for a short time in the vineyard, and the other has borne the burthen and heat of the day, yet both may hope to obtain the same glorious reward.

It is the peculiar excellence of our religion, that it is calculated to afford comfort to the mourner; and it has always appeared to me to evince the truth and value of our peculiar views of it, that they embrace all the common sources of alleviation to our griefs, and represent some of them in a light peculiarly interesting and influential. To have lost a son at so short a warning and at a period of life when a parent begins to see, in nearer prosspect, the future usefulness and respectability of his offspring, is indeed a heavy stroke.

Many serious persons lay great stress upon death-bed repentance and faith, and the dying testimony of the Christian to the excellence of religion. But opportunity for these is seldom afforded. And in what better way can the Christian express his sense of the value of religion, than by the liv ing testimony which he affords in the conformity of his conduct to its dictates? The best of us must be sensible of numerous imperfections in his conduct, and can claim nothing on the ground of merit at the hands of an impartial Judge; but it is not necessary to ascribe perfection to our de parted friends, in order to entertain the assured hope of their being mercifully received at the throne of grace.

The heart in affliction naturally turns to its Maker. And how delightful to behold a Being dressed in no terrible frowns, animated by no implacable resentment towards his crea

tures, but smiling with approbation upon their humble efforts to please him who, so far from needing to have his favour towards them purchased or his fury appeased, is ever ready to betow upon them the richest of his gifts; and whose chastisements are those of a father, intended for the highest good of his children! To be the subject of hatred to a Being seated on the throne of universal nature, must indeed be a source of dreadful forebodings. Present sufferings might then be regarded only as the prelude to more overwhelming afflictions to come. But when we remember that the Author of our sufferings is not at all more powerful than he is good, and that he that "maketh sore" also "bindeth up," and the same hand that "woundeth, maketh whole," cheerful serenity and composure take the place of gloomy despondency. Thus the character of the Deity is calculated to afford us inexhaustible sources of consolation, however varied and painful the afflictions of life may be. And in proportion as our minds are imbued with a system of religious faith, in which the mercifulness of his nature shines without a cloud or shadow, may we hope to be cheered by it in the midst of the deepest sorrow.

That you may experience much of the comfort arising from these and other reflections with which your own mind will not fail to furnish you, is the earnest wish of,

Dear Sir,

Yours, with sentiments of respect and friendship,


To a Friend, on the First Anniversary of the Day of his Wife's Death, and on the Loss of an Infant Daughter, aged Eleven Months.


When I lately saw you, you intimated what indeed no language was necessary to inform me, that the loss of your little infant, together with the return of the day on which you sustained the heavier loss of its mother, had produced a considerable effect in depressing your spirits. I now address you in the hope that the suggestions of a friend may come in aid

of the efforts of your own mind to restore the tone of your spirits; an event so desirable for the sake of your own health and the comfort of your family. I must freely confess too, that I am actuated by the hope, that while I am endeavouring to administer comfort to another, I may be consoling myself.

With respect to the removal of the little girl from this world of trouble, which, to allude to a phrase employed by the Jews, she seems rather to have "passed by" than to have entered; it is a happy circumstance for us, that although by their innocent looks and helpless condition, our infant children endear themselves greatly to us while living, yet their loss is not felt in a degree to be at all compared to that in which we suffer on occasion of the removal of those in whose company we have tasted the rational pleasures of social life.

Yet as the parental heart cannot but have formed some fond anticipations of the coming period, when the tongue suspended in silence should acquire the faculty of expressing the varied emotions of the soul, and the dormant powers of the being made a little lower than the angels, should awake to all the energy of life-sacred be the tear which is shed over the infant's bier. Let no proud philosophy censure it as vain and useless, no affected piety condemn it as impious. Let nature speak her own language. And let your grief, my friend, be only restrained within proper bounds by the reflection, that he who created the infant object of your tenderness, must at the time have willed its good; and, consequently, will assuredly provide for it some future scenes of rational existence and happiness, in which the end of its being may be answered. Whether it be now the pupil of Abraham and Moses and other ancient worthies, as the belief of some persons may lead them to imagine, or the unconscious associate of its ancestors, as others suppose, I trust there is no presumption in the hope, that the parental relation which has been painfully suspended here,

* In the modern Jewish Prayer-Books, mention is made of those who have passed by the world," by which they denote children still-born.

shall be renewed in brighter worlds; and that the happiness awaits you of beholding your charge advancing rapidly in an interminable course of knowledge, piety and virtue.

But it were vain to make the supposition, that you have yet ceased acutely to feel a heavier loss, in which I seem to have a peculiar claim to condole with you. It were useless for us to attempt to conceal from ourselves, that there are wounds which time heals but tardily. Although the anguish of grief be passed, the heart long experiences a vacancy, which inclines us to exclaim with the poet, when he had lost an intimate friend,

"In vain to me the smiling mornings shine,

And reddening Phoebus lifts his golden fire,

The birds in vain their amorous descant join,

Or cheerful fields resume their green attire ;

These ears, alas! for other notes repine, A different object do these eyes require,

My lonely anguish melts no heart but mine,

And in my breast th' imperfect joys expire."


My own persuasion is, that when we allow our spirits to sink greatly below their level, it is for want of having our minds stayed on that which is the main support of the afflicted the hope founded on the merciful character of the Deity, and the declarations of the gospel, that the distressing separation is only temporary, and will be succeeded by a happy meeting and

never be forgotten, let us look steadily at our real condition as deprived, by the wise dispensation of Providence, for a season, of the society in which our souls delighted, to be prepared for an everlasting abode in the mansions of our Father's house, where not a shade shall intercept the rays of his countenance, not a tear be shed for ourselves or others, no cares for the body interrupt the pursuits and enjoyments of the mind. To be deeply persuaded of this truth, is to enjoy a perpetual feast. When the mind, retiring into itself, can enjoy this transporting prospect, none of the cares and accidents of life can ruffle its se

renity. Whatever wound is inflicted, the balm is always at hand: such is the powerful efficacy of the Christian's hope. And it becomes us to place ourselves in those circumstances in which this hope may be most effectually cherished. Adopt whatever methods your own judgment shall direct, for keeping alive in the heart the impression of this rejoicing truth of which the daily business of life is too apt to render us forgetful. If such methods are persevered in, I am persuaded no other traces of sorrow will remain upon our minds, but a certain tenderness of spirit which, while it gives no interruption to our happiness, is highly favourable to the cultivation of devout and benevolent affections. That such may be your happy experience, is the earnest wish and prayer of,

My dear Sir,

Yours, with every sentiment of sympathy and friendship,

an eternal re-union, which will be joy- [Letters III. and IV. in the next No.]

Liverpool, Dec. 20, 1821.

YOUR correspondent, Mr. Rutt,

ful in an incalculably greater degree,
than the separation has been painful.
Other aids may be employed with ad- SIR,
vantage and success when this is se-
cured business, exercise, company,
change of scene. But if this main
pillar be wanting, every other prop
must successively sink under the
weight which is laid upon it.

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Let it be our business, therefore, my friend, to have this eternal and delightful truth deeply wrought into our minds, that all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and they that hear shall live." Instead of attempting to obliterate what is indelible, to forget what can

(XVI. 643,) makes some remarks on a pamphlet, by Dr. John Taylor, entitled, "The Scripture Account of Prayer," published after his death, in 1761, which he thinks was written under the influence of feelings not exactly in unison with those displayed in some of his other productions. That this publication originated under peculiar circumstances seems evident, from remarks made by the learned author, which certainly prove the existence at the time, of some misun

derstanding at least among his brother ministers. In order in some degree to account for certain apparently illiberal expressions in the work before us, as well as to trace the origin of the congregation in Liverpool, referred to by Mr. Rutt, in his P. S., it is necessary to go back to the year 1750, about which period a number of the Lancashire Dissenting Ministers formed themselves into a society for the purpose of occasionally meeting together, "in order," as they express it, "to a full, impartial and public inquiry into the state and conduct of public worship, and all affairs of religion amongst the Protestant Dissenters of that part of the kingdom where we reside, and to consult upon and put into execution all methods which shall be judged expedient and conducive to the general advantage and improvement of religion."

Their first meeting was held at Warrington, on the 3rd July, 1750, when several rules were agreed upon for the regulation of meetings, which, it was decided, should take place three times in each year, including the provincial meeting. Certain questions were then proposed for discussion, and among others was the following:- "As Christian societies have a discretionary power of conducting the public forms of their worship in the manner which they apprehend most agreeable to their own circumstances and the general design of the Christian religion, whether public forms might not be introduced amongst the Dissenters with general advantage."

The conversation on the foregoing question took place at Preston, on the 10th September, 1751, thirteen ministers being present, when the result was, that the majority gave it as their opinion,-"That a proper variety of public devotional offices, well drawn up, in no respect to be imposed, and to be altered at any time as circumstances shall require, might be introduced amongst the Dissenters with general advantage."

On this occasion the following minute was made by the Secretary:"In the course of the conversation, one of the ministers took occasion to represent to the assembly the light in which the Rev. Mr. Chandler of London, looked upon these meetings; that he was pleased to approve of

them, and of the introductory questions that had been debated. It was resolved to open a correspondence with him on these subjects.""

The same question was again brought forward for discussion at the provincial meeting, held at Manchester, 12th May, 1752, at which thirtyfive ministers were present. The issue was, that a conviction seemed to exist of the expediency of a public form of Prayer for general use; and a committee of eight ministers (among whom was Mr. John Brekell, of Liverpool) was appointed "to consider the subject particularly, and to represent the arguments on both sides the question, as fully as possible, as they shall occur in reading or otherwise."

This committee had instructions to meet at Warrington, the second Tuesday in the following September. It was then ordered, "That a letter of thanks be returned to Mr. Chandler's letter, and that he be acquainted with the business appointed for the committee; and that he be desired to give his fullest thoughts on the subject; and that he be pleased to direct us to such farther correspondents as he might judge proper should be applied to."

I have not been able to trace the exact proceedings of this committee, but there is no doubt that a full inquiry into the subject appointed for their consideration took place; and two MSS. which I have perused, written at this time, bear testimony to the earnestness with which the investigation was pursued. One of these was from the pen of Mr. Job Orton, whose assistance was desired. It is of some length, and warmly in opposition to the proposed measure of a Liturgy. About the same period, it is probable, that Mr. Brekell first brought forward the MS. referred to by Dr. Taylor, (p. 35,) also against a prescribed Form of Prayer, and which never appears to have been published.

The discussion on the subject of a public Liturgy seems to have been a prolonged one, for in the year 1758, Mr. Brekell published his "Remarks on a Letter to a Dissenting Minister, concerning the Expediency of stated Forms of Prayer for Public Worship," ascribed by Dr. Taylor's Editor to the Rev. Mr. Seddon, of Warrington. Nor did the affair end in barren spc

culation; for in 1763 a chapel was erected in Temple-Court, Liverpool, for the use of a number of individuals, principally from the congregations of Kaye Street and Ben's Garden, who had taken up the matter and resolved on using a Liturgy. Application had been made to several of the neighbour ing ministers to assist in its compilation, and, among others, to Dr. Taylor, who declined the overture, giving his reasons in his "Scripture Account of Prayer," addressed to the Dissenters in Lancashire, for opposing what he considered an unauthorized and injurious innovation, whether in reference to an individual congregation, or to a plan which he insinuates was contemplated, of introducing a Liturgy, generally, into all the congregations. The entire merits of the case can now only be but imperfectly known, but it is evident that this lengthened discussion had no very amicable termination; and Dr. Taylor calls upon the body of Dissenters to resist every attempt to force upon them any measure not strictly compatible with their religious liberty. "I had it," says he, (p. 72,) "from a principal hand in the affair, that it was proposed to have a meeting of ministers every seventh year, to review and adjust the orthodoxy of the new Liturgy, and to reform any faults therein that might from time to time appear.' This would do, once for all, in the hands of persons inspired and infallible; but, as things now are, it will be directly to set up an ecclesiastical jurisdiction among yon, over understanding and conscience, lodged in the hands of fallible men. Therefore, how well so ever this may suit the ambition of innovators, you cannot but be sensible it will subject you, should you consent to it, to an intolerable yoke of bondage. A Septennial Synod of fallible ministers will receive from you, or assume to themselves, authority to sit as judges, to determine and settle for you matters of faith, doctrine and worship. How do you relish this? Can you digest it? It is the natural result of this wild scheme. You must either incur the danger of using a corrupt Liturgy, or consent to establish some authority to revise and correct it, as the case may require. This is directly contrary to your own principles, and to that freedom from human

impositions which, as Christians, you are bound in conscience to disdain and reject; and may, in time, bring you into servitude to as haughty and extravagant a tyranny as ever appeared in the Christian church."

Notwithstanding the difference of opinion which prevailed, "A Form of Prayer and a new Collection of Psalms" was compiled, and brought into use in June, 1763, when the Ŏctagon Chapel, Liverpool, was opened for public worship, by Mr., afterwards Dr., Nicholas Clayton, who had previously been settled at Boston, in Lincolnshire. He remained pastor of this church till its final dissolution in February, 1776, on which occasion he preached a sermon, afterwards published, and which is pronounced by his friend Mr. Gilbert Wakefield, to be "an excellent composition." During the greater part of the shortlived struggle for existence of the society at the Octagon, Dr. Clayton was assisted by Mr. Hezekiah Kirkpatrick, author of a volume of "Sermons on various Subjects, with an Account of the Principles of Protestant Dissenters, their Mode of Worship, and Forms of Public Prayer, Baptism and the Lord's Supper;" published in 1785. Mr. Kirkpatrick afterwards removed to Park-Lane, near Wigan, where he died, 19th September, 1799, in his 61st year.

It does not appear that the Liturgy which had been used at the Octagon Chapel was ever adopted in any other congregation, though I believe it has formed a part of one or two more recent compilations, particularly that still in use at Shrewsbury, in the very chapel once occupied by Job Orton, the determined opposer of prescribed forms of public Prayer.

On the dissolution of the society at the Octagon, proposals were made to the congregation of Ben's-Garden Chapel to join their body, which was agreed to, and Dr. Clayton was associated there, as one of the ministers, with the Rev. Robert Lewin. On the death of Dr. Aikin, in December, 1780, Dr. Clayton succeeded him as Divinity Tutor at the Warrington Academy, and in this capacity he remained till its dissolution in 1783, when he went to Nottingham. He returned to Liverpool shortly before his death, which took place on the

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