Sivut kuvina

mockery of first placing us on the brink of hell and lifting up the veil, and then bidding us stand there, with cool and unembarrassed judgment to inquire. Over converts won by such means, you would surely have as little reason to rejoice as had the priests of Rome to exult on the recantation of Galileo. Our fellow worshippers have learned, we trust, a nobler faith ; and will listen to your arguments with more open and tranquil mind than your invitation, had it attained its end of fear, would have allowed. They will hold fast, till they see reason to abandon it, their filial faith in a Divine Father, of whom Jesus, the merciful and just, is indeed the image; and who, therefore, can have neither curse nor condemnation for “unwitting" error, no delight in self-confident pretensions, no wrath and scorn for any honest and good heart," which “ brings forth its fruit with patience.”

To this God of truth and love, commending our high controversy, and all whose welfare it concerns, we remain your fellow-labourers in the Gospel,


Minister of Paradise-street Chapel.

Minister of Renshaw-street Chapel.

Minister of the Ancient Chapel, Toxteth Park. Liverpool, Jan. 26, 1839.

To the Reverend James Martineau, J. H. Thom, and Henry Giles. Gentlemen,-As Christian courtesy seems to require a reply to your address, published in the Albion of this day, I hasten to furnish it, though unwilling, for many reasons, to enter into a newspaper discussion with you on the important subjects which just now engage our attention. Í shall, therefore, (without intending any disrespect,) pass by unnoticed your critical remarks on certain portions of my recently published invitation to the members of your body to attend and give a patient hearing to the lectures about to be delivered at Christ Church, and confine myself altogether to those points of inquiry to which it is but reasonable that you shonld receive an answer. And,

1. You ask, whether I will recommend my congregation to attend (I presume, in your respective chapels) to hear the replies which you intend making to our proposed lectures. To this I am compelled to reply in the negative. Were I to consent to this proposal, I should thereby admit that we stood on the terms of a religious equality, which is, in limine, denied. As men, citizens, and subjects, we are doubtless equal, and will also stand on a footing of equality before the bar of final judgment; I therefore use the term “religious equality,in order to convey to you the distinction between our relative position as members of the community and as religionists. Being unable (you will excuse my necessary plainness of speech) to recognize you as Christians, I cannot consent to meet you in a way which would imply that we occupy the same religious level. To you, there will be no sacrifice of principle or



compromise of feeling, in entering our churches ; to us, there would be such a surrender of both in entering yours, as would peremptorily prohibit any such engagement.

2. You next inquire how early an appearance of our printed lectures may be expected. In answer to this I have only to say, that arrangements have been made for publishing each lecture as soon after its delipery as may be practicable. Within what time this practicability may be found to coincide, it is of course impossible precisely to determine. will be obvious, that I cannot answer for my brethren upon this point ; but shall only observe for myself, that I should hope a week or ten days will be sufficient for the necessary revisal of proofs, arrangement of authorities, and other business connected with a careful and correct publi

3. Your third inquiry respects a proposal to have an epitome of each besture

, and its reply, published weekly in the columns of some previously selected newspaper. Not having as yet had the opportunity of collecting the sentiments of my reverend brethren, I can only, as before. think it would be unfair to the respectable bookseller, who has under taken to publish the course at his own risk, to expect him to concur in a proposal which could not but materially injure his sale. As it is our in tention to publish each lecture separately, as well as the whole collec form, with a view to the most extensive circulation, I cannot but hope tirely, at the close of their delivery, and that in the cheapest possible than by resorting to a process which should necessarily so condense and curtail the matter as to present a very meagre and insufficient exhibition much of the value of the lectures will depend.


4. And, finally, as to your proposal of making some public journal the rebicle of a discussion independent of the lectures, I regret that feel again obliged to decline pledging myself to concur in it. While I reserve to myself the right of noticing and replying to any communication journals, I must at the same time express my conviction, that a newswhich may appear, in a duly authenticated form, in any of the public paper is not the most desirable medium for disquisition on the deep and awful subjects which must pass under review in a controversy like that in which we are about to engage. The ordinary class of newspaper readers, including too frequently the ignorant scoffer, the sceptical, and the proinquiry in to the laws of Scriptural Exegesis, and our application of these laws to the elucidation of the profound mysteries of the Book of Revelation. I feel no doubt that all who feel interested on the subject, will contrive to hear or read what we shall preach and publish ; and will thus be furnished with more solid and suitable materials for forming a correct judgment, than could be afforded by the casual study of the ephemeral pages of the public press.

Having thus distinctly replied to the several points of your letter, on which you may have reasonably expected to hear from me; and trusting


[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

that you will not attribute to any want of respect to you the omission of
all notice of the remainder; and congratulating you with all sincerity on
your avowed intention of coming, with your respective congregations, to
hear the exposition which we are about to give of what we believe to be
fatally false in your system, as contrasted with what we think savingly
true in our own; and praying with all fervency, to the great Head of
the Church, to bless and prosper the effort about to be made for the pro-
motion of his glory, through the instruction of those who are “igno-
rant and out of the way,”

I remain, Gentlemen,
Yours for the Lord's sake,

January 28, 1839.


To the Rev. James Martineau, J. H. Thom, and Henry Giles. Gentlemen,- I owe it to you and to myself to state, that no offence was intended, either by me, or, as I conscientiously believe, by my clerical brethren, in the title of the subject to which my name stands affixed in the Syllabus of the Lectures on the Unitarian Controversy. I am also bound to acknowledge, that your letter, on the subject of the lecture, is written in a style of calmness and courtesy, of which, I trust, you will have no reason to complain of the absence in the statements which I shall have to submit to your attention. Of course, this is not the time for the vindication of the view which I adopt on the great question ; I content myself, therefore, with this public disclaimer of any desire to substitute irritating language for sound argument.

I remain, Gentlemen,
Yours, with all due respect,

Thos. BYRTH.

To the Reverend Fielding Ould. Rev. Sir,—We beg to offer you our thanks for your prompt and distinct reply, in the Liverpool Courier of yesterday, to the proposals submitted to you in our letter of Monday. We are as little anxious as yourself for the prolongation of this preliminary newspaper correspondence ; and however much we may regret the negative character of your answers to our questions, we should have reserved all comment upon them for notice elsewhere, if you did not appear to us to have left still open to consideration the proposed discussion (independent of the lectures) through the press. That the pulpit controversy should be on unequal terms, is, we perceive, a matter of conscience with you ; but your objections to a newspaper controversy seem to arise, not from any desire to withhold your readers from our writings, as you would your hearers from our preaching, but from the unfitness of a political journal to be the vehicle of religious argument. Permit us, then, to say, that we have no preference for this particular medium of discussion ; that we are wholly indifferent as to its form, provided the substantial end be gained of bringing your arguments and ours before the attention of the same par


come acceptance.

nity; you are

ties, and that any plan which you may suggest, affording promise of the attainment of this end, whether it be the joint publication of the lectures in your church and those in our chapels, or the appearance in the pages of a religious journal (either already established, or called into existence for the occasion, and limited to this single object), will receive our wel

Had we any desire to see a theological opponent in the wrong, we should leave the case between us in its present position, and should not persevere thus in opening the way towards a fair adjudication of it; but our reverence for the religion of which you are a representative and symbol before the world, transcends all paltry controversial feelings and we should see, with grave sorrow, the honour

of Christianity com promised by the rejection, on the part of its authorized ministers, of the acknowledged principles of argumentative justice. You will not, we est, incur, the reproach of inviting a discussion with us, and then changing it into an indictment against us.

You have originated the ap plaintiff in this controversy ; you will not, we feel assured erine, in things most sacred, with the rules of evidence, as to insist that your case shall be heard in one court, and before one jury, whil od without balancing the attestation and comparing the pleadings your defendant's case is banished to another, and the verdict pronoun Should you, moreover, succeed in convincing your readers, that this is a discussion not (as we submit) between church and church, but (as you contend) between Christianity and No-Christianity, the effect will be claim from its votaries the advantage of an exclusive hearing for itself, yet more to be deplored, for, in such case, Christianity will appear to gument, to leave, for those who are stigmatized as unbelievers, the hoand, while challenging, by the very act of controversy, the appeal to ar on a religion which, in all its forms, we deeply venerate. and falsehood to avoid. We trust that you will not thus inflict a wound You deny our religious equality with you. Is it as a matter of opinion, sanatter of certainty, that such equality is denied ? If it is only a opinion, then this will not absolve you from fair and equal discusion on the grounds of such opinion. If it is with you not an

understand Romish infallibility, yet still claiming to be Protestantism, is to us a sad

or as

opinion, , maintenance of your religious superiority. What is meant by our equality at the bar of final judgment, as citizens, but not as religionists, we do not know; or, if we can detect a meaning in it, it is one which we should have supposed belonged to our faith rather than to yours.

at least, what it is, —but Protestantism erecting itself into and humiliating spectacle, showing what deep roots Roman Catholicism tween civil equality and religious equality. We claim equally as fellow

Ss ourselves at a loss to comprehend your distinction be men, as partakers of a common nature; of that nature the religious ele. wents are to us incomparably dearer and more elevating than the elements that make us merely citizens ; and the equality that is conceded in regard to all our lower attributes, but denied in regard to those that the brutes, on the ground of their animal nature, without injury to the are spiritual and immortal, is such an equality as you might concede to

-We know

We confes

In reference to your repugnance to enter our chapels we say no more, reserving our right of future appeal in this matter to those members of your church who may be unable to see the force of your distinction between religious and social equality. But we are surprised that you should conceive it so easy a thing for us to enter your churches : and should suppose it " no sacrifice of principle and compromise of feeling in us to unite in a worship which you assure us, must constitute in our eyes

the most heinous of all sins--Idolatry.” Either you must have known that we did not consider your worship to be idolatry, or have regarded our resort to it as a most guilty“ compromise of feeling :” to which nevertheless, you gave us a solemn invitation ; adding now, on our compliance, a congratulation no less singular.

We thought you had been aware, that, while our services must be, in a religious view, painfully deficient to you, those of your church are positively revolting to us. Still as our presence, on such passing occasions as the present, does not, in our opinion, involve any • sacrifice of principle," we shall set the example to our friends of attending ; not making our desire that they should be just dependant on the willingness of others to be so too. And we shall have this satisfaction, that, whether you “win" them, or whether we retain them, the result will be a faith held, not on the precarious tenure of ignorance or submission, but in the se, curity of intelligent conviction, and the peace of a just and enlightened conscience.

We remain, reverend Sir,
Yours, with Christian regard,

Joan Hamilton Thom.

Liverpool, January 31st 1839.

To the Trinitarians of this Town and Neighbourhood who may feel interested

in the approaching Unitarian Controversy. Christian Brethren,

-A letter of public invitation has been addressed to the Unitarians of this town and neighbourhood, by the Rev. Fielding Ould, on behalf of himself and twelve other clergymen associated with him, urging us, with the earnestness of Christian anxiety, to bend our minds to their expositions of our errors and our dangers. We naturally interpreted this to be an invitation to discuss the most momentous questions as equal with equal. We thought, indeed, that we saw an assump: tion of superiority, if not of infallibility, perhaps inseparable from minds so trained : still we supposed, that this superiority was to be maintained by argument and fair discussion: and this was all that we desired. It never occurred to us, that the reverend gentleman might possibly expect us to accept him as a divinely appointed judge of truth, whose teachings

« EdellinenJatka »