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to advance their own peculiar tenets? Yes. Do you consider that there is any considerable esprit du corps among those entertaining Arian principles? Yes. That they wish to disseminate their own principles? Yes; of which we had specimens in the publication and dissemination of the sermons of Dr. Price and Dr. Bruce, as well as in taking the most public occasions, such as ordinations, to advocate their own peculiarities, and impugn others." On the other hand, you say, that the Arians "seem either to think that their own system of religion is worthless, or they consider religion in general, useless, and the forms of it a matter of indifference!” Between such conflicting authorities, it does not become me to decide. But one thing is evident, whether the Arian zealously endeavours to promote his peculiar views of the Gospel, or submits in calmness and silence to the obloquy that is heaped upon him by his enemies, trusting to the gradual but efficacious influence of truth, he cannot hope to escape censure. In the former instance, he is denounced as a pestilent and dangerous heretic-in the latter, as the advocate of "a system that is cold and lifeless!"
Although I am far, very far, I hope, from the unchristian spirit which would condemn to future misery, those who differ from me in religious opinion, yet I by no means consider it a matter of indifference whether we are in error or not, in the formation of our creeds. There are some truths, doubtless, of more importance than others; and all errors are not equally dangerous. But there is no truth which has not a greater or less affinity to the perfection and happiness of human beings; and there is no error which does not detract something from the value of him who is subject to its influence. And among the good effects arising from an humble and conscientious inquiry after truth, is diffidence in our own judgments-forbearance to those who think differently-and a more general diffusion of kind and liberal feeling.
Some of our Ministers, from having witnessed so often the evils of religious controversy, have cautiously abstained from it; and have trusted, that, in proportion to the general diffusion of knowledge, the darkness of religious prejudices would also pass away. It was a benevolent, but not a well-founded hope. For experience has shown, that men of extensive acquirements on other subjects, have long remained in profound ignorance on this one, of such vast importance. Conceiving it either to be too sublime, or too mysterious for the human faculties to comprehend, they tamely surrender their understandings to the guidance of others, and receive their faith as an inheritance from their fathers. It appears to me, therefore, to be the bounden duty of our teachers, to come boldly forward, on every suitable occasion, and to revive that "long lost truth," the unity of God. Your reproaches will not, I trust, be thrown away, but excite them to renewed and more vigorous exertions.
Already has the sound gone forth throughout almost every portion of this land. Doctor Bruce, that venerable man of God, who, for almost half a century, has maintained his post in the van, unnerved by age, has come forward, with unabated ardour, in the
glorious struggle. Mr. Montgomery, who, with a chosen few that bowed not the knee to Baal, stood forth, at the late meeting of the Synod of Ulster, as the uncompromising advocate of religious freedom, has redeemed from contempt the Presbyterian character, and acquired for himself a deathless name. Even the amiable and gentle Dr. Drummond, roused from his peaceful studies, has entered the arena of polemical controversy, with powers of no ordinary kind, and covered with the panoply of reason and of truth.
But although I am very anxious that our Ministers should labour with renewed diligence and zeal, in the glorious cause of truth, I would not, by any means, recommend to them as a model, some of those "WANDERING WORTHIES" who have gone forth from the Synod of Ulster, to enlighten and reform the world. I would not wish them, in the superabundance of their zeal, to devote themselves to distant cares, whilst more immediate and more important duties were neglected-to be strangers at home, "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it." I would not wish them to abandon the table of the Lord, and leave its services to be performed by men, whom they have, at other times, and in other places, affirmed to be separated from Atheism by a partition slight as the web of the gossamer, that they might be enabled, at the earliest moment, to bow in the presence of an earthly Ruler! I would not wish them, with smooth and honeyed words, to worm themselves into the unsuspecting confidence of men whose opinions they detest, in order to procure the means and opportunities of undermining them-to partake of their kindness and hospitality, and afterwards, if occasion serve, to denounce them as enemies of the truth; like the adder in the fable, which, when awakened from its torpor, stung the hand of the benefactor that had chafed and warmed it into vitality. This is one of the pious frauds, which Presbyterian Jesuitism has devised and practised, but from which the ingenuous mind turns with contempt and loathing.
I presume we are to reckon amongst missionary labours, your journey to London, under the auspices of Mr. Cooke, who, by a wondrous misnomer, was then called the Moderator of the General Synod of Ulster. It is said, that, in the plenitude of his power, and in the magnificent display of ephemeral authority, he issued his high behest to several members of that reverend assembly, who, he hoped, would swell the triumph of his train. Whilst some doubted his authority, and others disobeyed, you hastened, like a duteous vassal, to follow the steps of your chieftain. Mr. Cooke, it would seem, found, to his surprise, that he had exceeded his powers, and that the Committee of Parliament declined to examine you, on the ground that your presence was unexpected, and uncalled for. Here was indeed a difficulty. The world was in danger of being deprived of the benefit of your experience; and though last, not least, you were likely to be deprived of a liberal allowance for expenses. It is said, that, on this trying occasion, all your ingenuity had to be put into requisition; and after a good deal of management, which a man not choice in his expressions, like Joseph Hume, might call jobbing, a summons was at last put
into your hands, as a plea to grant you travelling charges; but that the Committee, sated with the evidence of the leader, had dispensed with that of the attendant. Others, indeed, boldly affirm, that you were examined at great length, on the subject of illicit distillation, and that the gentlemen who questioned you, were equally astonished and delighted, with the extent of your knowledge and experience! But whether you passed through the form of an examination, or not, it is, I believe, very generally admitted, that your presence was not desirable; and that after some skilful manoeuvring, a sum of money was obtained, that amply compensated for all the fatigue, and all the mortification you had endured. This, I suppose, is what you would call, "being instant in season, and out of season!"
Another accusation which you have preferred against Unitarians, is, that we are deficient in piety.
In attempting to vindicate ourselves from so serious an imputation, there is danger of incurring the charge of vain-glorious boasting, and of discovering a spirit very different from that lowliness of mind which is befitting human weakness, and which the Gospel commands us to cherish. Comparisons of differing sects in religious attainments, appear to me peculiarly offensive, and likely to generate that spiritual pride, which presents one of the most serious obstacles to the admittance of truth into the mind, and is an unfailing source of bigotry, and all manner of unchari
A slight acquaintance with mankind, will teach us, that they are not always to be most depended on, who make the loudest and most frequent professions of their "growth in grace;" for religion, even in the present day, I much fear, is sometimes worn as a cloak, to hide base and selfish ends-there are still to be found, those "who devour widows' houses, and for a pretence, make long prayers.'
We have been commanded by our Saviour, to avoid all ostentation in prayer. "When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men; verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."
Permit me also to observe, that that piety is usually the most free from the alloy of human passion, which is not of an obtrusive nature-which prompts us not to seek the public gaze, nor the voice of applauding multitudes, but rather to delight in calm and `silent reflection-to retire from the noise, and the bustle, and the vanities of the world, to hold a sacred intercourse with God; a blessed communion of the spirit with the Father of spirits.
Whether Unitarians be deficient in pious feeling, as it is an affair that lies between them and their God, cannot, I think, well be ascertained by a weak and erring fellow mortal, who yet presumes to judge; but is best known to Him "who searcheth the
heart, and trieth the reins of the children of men, before whom we must one day appear." I shall not therefore, on such a subject, challenge comparison, nor imitate the conduct of the self-righteous Pharisee, who prayed, "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are;" but humbled in the dust, on account of many failings and imperfections, say, with the poor Publican," God be merciful to us sinners."
But if we be deficient in piety, as you have taken upon you to affirm, then are we indeed without excuse. For, whilst other religious systems present such gloomy and appalling views of the Divine Being, and the condition of man, as tend to repress every grateful feeling, and chill the warm emotions of the human heart, the faith which we profess, teaches us to address our prayers unto a Being, whose goodness is as extensive as his power-to a Father, who is in heaven. The former, remind us of Mount Sinai, on which there were thunderings, and lightnings, and a thick cloud; and to which the people dared not approach. The latter, presents us with the most sublime and consolatory views of God, and of his dealings with the children of men; and the native dictates of our hearts, as well as the merciful commands of a benevolent God, impel us to " go boldly to a throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to bless us in every time of need.”
I have now finished my strictures on your Discourse, which nothing but a strong sense of duty could have induced me to undertake; and I gladly return to other pursuits more congenial to my feelings, which they have occasionally interrupted. The task has been to me a painful one, thus to dwell on errors which I sincerely deplore; and happy should I be, could I blot out from the page of memory, scenes and events in which you, and some whom I long esteemed and loved, have largely participated.
If, in the course of these Letters, I have at all expressed myself too warmly, I intreat those who may read them, to pardon an infirmity of temper, that has been too severely tried, in these wretched times, by weakness, indiscretion, and apostacy; and in judging of the cause for which I plead, carefully to distinguish between it, and the indiscretion of its advocate.-Farewell,
THE CHRISTIAN PIONEER.
GLASGOW, December 1, 1827.
THE following extracts from "The Christian Reformer," for October, will, we are confident, gratify our readers, and cheer the labours of all friends to scriptural investigation and Christian freedom:
"The event which many of our readers must have perceived that we looked forward to, has at length occurred: the majority
of American Quakers at the late Yearly Meeting, have openly declared the Unitarian doctrine, or at least the right of holding this doctrine, and its consistency with pure Quakerism. This important step has been occasioned by the intolerance of the few who have arrogated the name of orthodox' Friends. Some time ago, they attempted to smuggle into the Quaker body, a Trinitarian and Calvinistic creed. English preachers, men and women, have gone over to America to recruit the languishing cause of reputed orthodoxy.' These, as well as native ministers, have set themselves against the venerable Elias Hicks, the celebrated Unitarian Quaker preacher; sometimes bearing their public testimony against his "unsound" doctrine in his sermons, and sometimes insinuating and circulating in the dark, false charges against his ministry and character. Public meetings for worship have, in consequence, been on many occasions scenes of great disorder. The effect is, that the Quaker body in the United States have resolved to emancipate themselves from the fetters of bigotry and intolerance, of which some have been forged for them in England. They will probably be henceforth two bodies, Liberals and Illiberals, or, as we perceive they are denominated in American publications, Tolerants and Intolerants. It quires, however, no gift of prophecy to foresee, that, in a country like America, illiberality cannot long maintain its ground; it may be strengthened for a time by imported prejudices, but, exposed in a free land to the broad glare of day, these wares will soon lose their credit."
"It is here proper to state, that the whole number of quarterly meetings belonging to Pennsylvania, are twelve, of which four may be termed, according to their own pretensions, Orthodox; and the other eight are decidedly what are called, by way of distinction, Tolerants. The sentiments of these delegates, as it respects the unhappy existing dissensions, appear to have been about fifty for advocating intolerant measures; and upwards of one hundred, who were the supporters of that Christian liberty and toleration, which are the fundamental principles of the Society.'
"Thus, then, William Penn is vindicated and honoured by his disciples, in the State of his own founding. Could he look down and see what is passing, his righteous and exalted spirit would rejoice in the progress of the Truth and Liberty to which his mind, and tongue, and pen were devoted.
"We are a little curious to see how the conduct of the American Quaker Liberals, will be interpreted by their brethren in England. If there be any appeal to the English Friends on the part of the orthodox' minority in Pennsylvania, the whole question of Unitarianism must come into discussion. This, however, the tried prudence of English Quakers will surely prevent. At the same time, the facts of the case cannot be kept from public view. The Quakers may be the last to acknowledge them; but even they must at length admit the unwelcome truth, that, in America, Quakerism and Unitarianism have formed an alliance. May it be long-continued and honourable, and productive of all the fruits of Christian Righteousness, Truth, and Liberty."