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surely some thing
were to be received in submission and silence; or that he could suppose that convictions like ours, convictions that have resisted all the persua sions of worldly ease and interest, that have removed from us the charities and sympathies of men like him, and held in simple fidelity to truth and God, could be so lightly shaken that nothing more was required to blow them away than a course of er parte lectures without answer or discussion. If the object had been to confirm Trinitarians in their views, this kind of proceeding we should have understood ; but
more was required when Unitarians were publicly invited to the controversy. Much less could we anticipate that the reverend gentleman, holding himself to be upon
religious level” far above us, to belong to a different order of spirits
, could yet be so far removed from the Christian and Apostolical spirit as to refuse to bring his “ light” in to direct conflict with our darkness." With these expectations of controversy, and having no bonds with anything but truth, wie unfeignedly rejoiced, that, for the first time in this community, both sides of the great question were about to appear together before the solemn tribunal of public attention. In all these things we have been quickly undeceived. In our simplicity
, we believed that discussion was really invited and desired. We now find that we were invited to hear, but not to argue; that to lecture ur is of the nature of “ dearest affection;" but that to hear what we to admit that we stood on the terms of a religious equality, which is may have to urge in reply would be to recognize us Christians, in limine, denied. We now find that all reciprocity is refused to us that it never was intended to treat us as equals; that the method of only the Trinitarian advocates—to call us around the Christ Church puldiscussing the Unitarian controversy, about to be adopted, is to hear pit to be taught to listen and believe. Clergymen may be so blinded by ecclesiastical feelings as not to perceive the extreme offensiveness of all that is assumed in this mode of treating their fellow men ; but we to you, the freer laity of the Church, in generous confidence, that such conduct will not be found to accord with your spirit of justice—with the nobler ideas which you have gathered, from the intercourse of life, of equitable dealing between man and man. since they had appealed to public opinion, through a popular advocacy, We proposed to the clergymen about to lecture at Christ Church, that the pleadings should be on both sides, and, as far as possible, before the this in the spirit of the Saviour ? It is also refused to us, because it is
This is refused to us, because we are not Christians. asserted, that Trinitarians cannot enter our places of worship without a
Principle, whilst we may enter their's without pain or comhave been nearer to it. In our worship there would be the inoffensive
ow the very opposite of this, though not the truth, would absence of some views dear to you: in your worship there would be you would bear addressed that Great Spirit whom you, too, adore to
sacrifice of promise. N
the actual p
esence of some views most painful to us. seek : in your worship, we should hear addressed, as God, him whom we revere and follow, 'as the image of God, the man Christ Jesus. In
our worship, you would find deficiencies only; in yours, we should find what, to us, is positively objectionable, religion materialized and the Deity distributed into persons. The Rev. Fielding Ould, in one of his letters, represents us as looking upon you to be Polytheists, which we do not; and, in another of his letters, tells us, that we may enter your temples without pain or compromise of feeling. It will be evident to you, Trinitarian laymen, that the Lecturers at Christ Church cannot retire, upon such reasoning as this, from the full, public,and impartial discussion which we propose to them, without making it manifest to the public, that they are determined upon doing so.
We proposed to them discussion through the press, as well as from the pulpit : and this also is denied to us, on the ground, that newspapers are read by the sceptical, the scoffing, and the profane. Now not in newspapers alone, but in any journal whatever, was the controversy offered by us; yet we could not but have anticipated the objection, when we recollect the use made of the newspapers by the religious party to which the reverend gentlemen belong. Again have we tendered discussion, through the press, in any form whatever, with the single condition, that the views of both parties shall be presented to the same readers—in the hope, not as yet gratified, of an answer in a juster spirit.
Nothing now remains for us but to appeal from ecclesiastics to minds more generally influenced, to minds that, taught in the great schools of humanity, have learned mutual respect, and that have dropt, in the free and noble intercourses of man with man, the monkish and cloistered sentiment of spiritual as of civil superiority. To you, then, the Trinitarian laity, we make our appeal ; from the exclusiveness and assumed infallibility of clergymen, to men who, from familiarity with wider influences, have formed different conceptions of Christian brotherhood and of Christian justice. We should not have held ourselves authorized in thus addressing you had we supposed, that your cause or yourselves, your ideas of justice had been worthily supported by your ecclesiastical representatives, who, we firmly believe you will agree with us in feeling, have openly betrayed both you and it.
We appeal to you, not without confidence, to give us that equal audience which your clergymen have refused; that those of you who, through interest in the great question, are led to hear the Trinitarian statements, will, in the love of the truth, and in the spirit of equitable inquiry, hear also the Unitarian replies. We seek not to make you Unitarians : that, at least, is not our chief desire and aim. But would to God that we could do something to spread that true Christianity which holds the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, and deems charity dearer and more heavenly than doctrinal faith! Would to God that this controversy might have some effect, not in building up any one creed, or swelling any one sect, but in destroying the delusive and separating ideas that lie at the roots of creeds, and are the nourishers of bigotry, uncharitableness, and heresies ! We should deserve well of this great community, if we could remove from it this cause of strife and bitterness,-if we could exhibit the God of Jesus requiring from us, not speculative opinions, but the heart, the temper, and the life of Christ !—if we could expose the unchristian idea of men preparing themselves for a moral heaven by a metaphysical creed, and unite those who now consume their energies, their temper, and their time, in contending for
abstruse and uncertain dogmas in the deeds of mercy and of brotherhood which flow out of our common Christianity, and which, in the wide wastes of sin, of ignorance, and of misery that surround us, are the moral debts of man to man, and consitute the religion which, before God, even our Father, is pure and undefiled. Respectfully directing your attention to our advertisement of a syllabus of Lectures on the Únitarian Controversy, presenting both sides of the question — Our portion of which will be delivered in Paradise Street Chapel, on successive Tuesdays,
We are, Christian brethren,
John Hamilton Thom. Liverpool, Feb. 2, 1839.
ON WEDNESDAY EVENINGS IN CHRIST
ON TUESDAY EVENINGS IN PARADISE
1890.– February 6.
with Unitarians. February 13.
1. Introductory. The practical imthe Controversy
Rev. F. Ouid.
Unitarian Controversy. Rev. J. H. Thom.
2. The Integrity of the Canon
of Holy Scripture maintained
against Unitarian Objections.
Rev. Dr. Tattershall.
delective Se holarship:
2. The Unitarian Interpretation of
the New Testament based upon honest or uncandid Criticism.
or on dis
Rev. T. Byrth. 4. The proper Humanity of our
Rev. J. Jones.
Critics and Scholars, but the gift
Lord Jesus Christ.
s. The proper Deity of our Lord
Jesus Christ proved from Prophecies, types, and Jewish Or
Rev. J.H. Stewart.
dinances. March 13.
6. The proper Deity of our Lord the only ground of Consistency in the work of Redemption.
Rev. H. M'Neile.
diator between God and men, the
Rev. H. Giles,
God,' proved to be false from the
Rev. J. Marlinear
tion inconsistent with itself, and
Rev. J. Martinean.
clesiastical History of the Doc-
Rev. J. H. Thom.
March 20 1. The Doef
prored as the Deity
ne of the Trinity a consequence from of our Lord Jesus
Rev. D. James.
8. The Atonement indispensable
to the necessities of Pallen Man, and shown to stand or fall with the Deity of our Lord Jesus
Rev. R. P. Buddicom.
8. Man, the Image of God.
Rev. H. Giles.
To the (80-called) Unitarians of Liverpool. Men and Brethren,-Before the commencement of the lectures, on which I have taken the liberty of inviting your attendance, I am anxious respectfully to address to you a few observations in reference to the letters which have appeared in the public journals under the signature of your ministers.
It would appear that these gentlemen have been desirous to produce upon the public mind an unfavourable impression, à priori, of my reverend brethren, and of myself in particular, because of our having declined, on their proposal
, to enter upon a course different from that which we had originally contemplated.
“ You will not, we trust,” say Messrs. Martineau, Thom, and Giles, - incur the reproach of inviting a discussion with us, and then changing it into an indictment against us.” Now, we never invited any discussion with these gentlemen; if we had, we should have addressed ourselves to them personally. But
, while we would not, and do not, shrink from any discussion with them into which we can consistently enter, we cannot allow ourselves to be diverted from the pursuit of our original purpose, viz., to deliver a course of lectures upon the various points of Unitarian' doctrine, which we believe, and think we can prove, to be not only unscriptural, but fatal to the souls of those who embrace them, and which cannot be maintained (as appears from the published works of the most learned Unitarians) without a virtual surrender of the inspiration of the Bible. Believing, as I do, that your best interests for time and for eternity are involved in the momentous questions at issue-questions affecting the very vitality of true religion—I inserted a letter in the daily prints
, expressed, as I had hoped, in terms of courtesy and affection, inviting your presence and soliciting your attention. i also caused a notice to be published of our intention to print the lectures, separately and in a collective form, might be afforded for replying to our
arguments on the part of any who for extensive and immediate circulation, so that the amplest opportunity
CONTROVERSY AT LIVERPOOL.
here aught of arrogance, or uncharitable-
their hearts pained, and their Christian sensibilities shocked, by the iteration of such, in our view, blasphemous Unitarian theology. And why, then, it is asked, do we invite or ex, pect your attendance upon what are called “the painfully revolting" services of our church? For this reason, that, as appears from the importance to religious doctrines and opinion that we do. It seems to holds, provided he be sincere in his profession; while with us sincerity is no criterion of truth, being persuaded that as a man's religious opinions be with them a matter of comparative indifference what dogmas a man Mare
, so will his conduct be in time, and his destiny through eternity. Being of opinion, then, that our people would suffer by being brought into contact with error, in the same way that the human body would be endangered by accepting an invitation to feed at a table where poison was mingled with bread, we feel obliged to decline recommending the proposed arrangement to their adoption. But, feeling that there would
a moral appetite for poison as well as bread, and as looking upon all theological opinions if not as equally harmless in their bearing on their eternal interests, We ventured to invite you to come, that we might “ persuade Foc concerning Jesus.” If there be any of you whose conscience re. role against a participation in Trinitarian worship, we invite not his attendance : we would be not intentionally accessory to the wounding of the weakest conscience among you. assertion that our “ religious level” was different. We meant not to arogate to Ourselves any undue superiority, but simply to state a
fact. e think it both unreasonable and unjust that we should be
become the auditors of what we deem blasphemous error, os pledge ourselves to the joint circulation of what we call truth and but be of opinion that there
is some ground for these charges in refet rence to the conduct of those who, on this ground, attempt to prejudice the public mind against us, as if we were declining a battle which we
And while expected to
had invited and provoked.