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Seeing, then, men and brethren, 1. That the points of difference between us are of the very highest pos
natters of mere theoretical speculation, as some sible importance, and not matters of mere theoretical specnl
striven vainly to m ake appear ; that, in short, if winterpreters of Holy Scripture, we Trinitarians are
ons of all sins-idolatry; and if, on the other hand, of the apostles, saints, and martyrs, Unitarians are
mors and deadly error, and are wholly unworthy of being considered Christians, in any proper sense of the word. And seeing,
That considerable numbers, it is apprehended, especially among the middling and lower classes, who outwardly profess Unitarian princinle
warance of the unscriptural nature and dangerous character of those principles. And seeing,
Antroversial discussion of disputed points was unquestionably the practice of the apostolic and primitive, as well as of all other ages of religious revival, and is calculated as a means, under the good blessing of Almighty God, to “open men's eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light." We invite and beseech you, by the mercies of God in Christ. to come and give us at least a patient hearing, while we endeaponr to persuade you concerning Jesus,” and “by all means to win some of you." It is impossible that we can have any base or worldly motive in thus addressing you—any other motive, indeed, besides that which is here avouched, viz., our solemn impression of the value of souls, and of the peril to which the false philosophy of Unitarianism exposes them.
Sarely it is a sweet and a pleasant thing,-a thing not to divide and sever, but to unite and to gather into the bonds of dearest affection—thus to tell and to hear together of the great things which our God has done for our souls; of His love to us when He, “Who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, did take upon him the form of a servant, and, being found in fashion as a man, did humble himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of a cross.”—Phil, ii, 6–8.
It is the intention of my reverend brethren and myself to meet together on the morning of Tuesday, the 5th of February, (the day immediately preceding the commencement of the course,) for the purpose of solemn humiliation before God, and earnest prayer for the blessing of our Heavenly Father, upon the work in which we are about to engage, that we may be enabled to exhibit and preserve “the mind of Christ," while employed in "contending for the faith,” and that we nay have great success in our endeavours to be instrumental in enlightening the eyes which we believe to have been blinded “ by the god of this world,” and causing "the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who IS THE IMAGE OF God, to shine unto them.”—2 Cor. iv, 4.
d now, men and brethren, humbly and affectionately praying your ous attention to these things, I commend you to the protection and
of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I remain nd and servant in the gospel, for the Lord's sake,
FIELDING OULD, Christ Church, Jan. 21. 1839.
Minister of Christ Church.
To the Rev. Fielding Ould, and the other Clergymen about to lecture on
the Unitarian Controversy in Christ Church. Reverend Sirs,—A paper has been put into our hands, and an advertisement has appeared in the public journals, containing a “ Syllabus of a Course of Lectures on the Controversy between the Protestant Churches and the (so called) Unitarians,” &c. As individual inquirers after truth, and disciples of Jesus, we deliberately hold the characteristic doctrines of Unitarian Christianity; and, as ministers among a class of Protestants, who, binding themselves and their pastors by no human creed or interpretation, encourage us to seek for ourselves and expound for them the uncorrupted Gospel, we publicly preach the faith which we privately hold. We feel, therefore, a natural interest in the determination of yourself and brother clergymen to call attention to the Unitarian Controversy, and a desire that the occasion may be made conducive to the promotion of candid research, the diminution of sectarian prejudice, and the diffusion of the true faith, and the spirit of our great Master.
We are not of opinion that a miscellaneous audience, assembled in a place of worship, constitutes the best tribunal to which to submit abstruse theological questions, respecting the canon, the text, the translation of Scripture-questions which cannot be answered by any “defective scholarship.” You, however, who hold that mistakes upon these points may forfeit salvation, have consistently appealed to such tribunal ; and nothing is left to us but to hope that its decision may be formed after just attention to the evidence. This end can be attained only by popular advocacy on either side, or popular advocacy on both preferred the latter, we shall esteem it a duty to co-oper
ibute our portion of truth and argument towards the correction of
o sentiment on the great questions at issue between us. Deeply aware of our human liability to form and to convey .
a systems from which we dissent, we shall be anxious to pay a
respectful attention to your defence of the doctrines of your
congregations, and exhort them to hear you in the spirit
e and affection; presuming that, in a like spirit, you . it right to offer. We are not conscious...
1d your hearers to listen to such reply as we may think
We are not conscious of any fear, any interest,
system, which should interfere with the sincere ful-
part in such an understanding; and, for the performance boldly confides the interpretation of Scrip
ery on your avowed zeal for that Protestantism which and to that sense of justice which, in cultivation and sound knowledge. As tarians to judge of your doctrines, not your vindication, you cannot question their impressions of our faith from us,
We rejoice to hear that the Christ lished. Should they issue from the P,
are the promotes D e man bare pret
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best enchesive usura on team of relnaiste
: the only take :D the artister of truth;
d'edat ideal judgment only dem all whose individual ja hare. We take objectius
ein, " (so called) Cuiter
Interpretation of Scripture to individual judgment,
knowledge. As you think it the duty of Uni-
Ith from us, rather than from you.
from the press within a week after delivery.
se detes one who worskis * *
trien findet dieselbes one who
we should desire to postpone our rep
batez it to be such, the Chile
m. persuaded that thus we shall best preserve thet almness and precision of statement, without which, controversial diessions tend rather to the increase of prejudice than the ascer
out of truth. Should the publication be deferred for a longer
the necessity of treating each subject, while its interest is fresh, ll oblige 118 to forego this advantage ; and we shall, in such case.
an evening lecture in answer to that preached in Christ Church on the preceding Wednesday. Permit us to ask. how
of your printed lectures may be expected; and whether vou will recommend your congregations to attend with candour to our replies.
We fear however, that neither from the pulpit nor the press will vour statements and ours obtain access extensively to the same persons ; your diecourses will, perhaps, obtain readers, too exclusively, among Trinitarians: ours, certainly, among Unitarians. In order to place your views and ours fairly side by side, allow us to propose the following arrangements : that an epitome of each lecture, and another of the reply, furnished by the respective authors, shall appear weekly in the columns of one and the same newspaper ; the newspaper being selected, and the length of the communications prescribed, by previous agreement. Or should you be willing, we should prefer making some public journal the vehicle of a discussion altogether independent of the lectures, conducted in the form of a weekly correspondence, and having for its matter such topics as the first letter of the series may open for consideration. In this case you will perceive the propriety of conceding to us the commencement of the correspondence, as you have pre-occupied the pulpit controversy ; have selected the points of comparison between your idea of Christianity and ours; and introduced among them some subjects to which we do not attach the greatest interest and importance. On this priority, however, we do not insist. You will oblige us by stating whether you assent to this proposal.
While we are willing to hope for a prevailing spirit of equity in this controversy, we are grieved to have to complain of injustice, and of a disregard to the true meaning of words at its very opening. We must protest against the exclusive usurpation of the title “Protestant Churches,” by a class of religionists who practically disown the principle of protestantism: who only make the Church (or themselves), instead of the Pope, the arbiter of truth; who hold error (that is, an opinion different from their own,) to be fatal to salvation; and who allow the right of individual judgment only with the penalty of everlasting condemnation upon all whose individual judgment is not the judgment of their Church. We take objection also to the spirit that creeps out in the expression, “ (so called) Unitarians," maintaining that the
s not "impute to others a polytheistic creed ;' ” but that as
an" denotes one who worships the Godhead in three “pernitarian fitly describes one who worships the Godhead in one
ind, above all, we protest against the resolution of our case shonest or uncandid criticism ;” that is the wilful maintenance knowing it to be such, the Charybdis which one of your lec
" Trinitarian" denotes one who work
of error, knowing it to be
turers proposes for us, if we should be fortunate enough to escape the Scylla of “ defective scholarship.” We are deeply concerned that so much of the “ acetum theologicum" has mixed thus early in an invitation, characterized by the chief inviter as “a sweet and pleasant thing ;" and this, too, after a public announcement of having purged the mind of every feeling but the pure love of the pure truth.
And to you, reverend sir, in whose letter to the Unitarians of this town and neighbourhood the announcement in question occurs, it is incumbent on us to address a few remarks, with a special view to acquaint you with the feelings awakened by your earnest invitation.
The anxiety which that letter manifests to convince us that, in seeking our conversion, you are actuated by no“ base and worldly motive,” is, we can assure you, altogether superfluous. Of the purity and disinterestedness of your intention we entertain no doubt; and we regard it with such unaffected respect, as may be due to every suggestion of conscience, however unwise and fanatical. If, with the ecclesiastics and philosophers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, you esteemed the denial of witchcraft as perilous a heresy as Atheism itself, we should feel neither wonder nor anger at the zeal with which you might become apostles of the doctrine of sorcery. Any one who can convince himself that his faith, his hope, his idea of the meaning of Scripture, afford the only cure for the sins and sorrows and dangers of the world, is certainly right in spending his resources and himself in diffusing his own private views. But we are astonished that he can feel himself so lifted up in superiority above other men, as to imagine that Heaven depends on their assimilation to himself,—that, in self-multiplication, in the universal reproduction of his own state of mind, lies the solitary hope of human salvation. We think that, if we were possessed by such a belief, our affections towards men would lose all Christian meekness, our sympathies cease to be those of equal with equal, the respectful mercy of a kindred sufferer; and that, however much we might indulge a Pharisaic compassion for the heretic, we should feel no more the Christian “honour” unto “ all men.”
You ask us, reverend sir, whether it is not “a sweet and pleasant thing,” “to tell and hear together of the great things which God has done for our souls.” Doubtless, there are conditions under which such communion may be most “sweet and pleasant.” When they who hold it agree in mind on the high subjects of their conference, it is “sweet and pleasant" to speak mutually of “joys with which no stranger intermeddleth," and to knit together the human affections, with the bands of that heavenly “charity," which, springing from one faith and one hope, is yet greater than them both. Nay, when good men differ from each other, it is still “ sweet and pleasant" to reason together, and prove all things, and whatsoever things are pure, and true, and lovely, to think on these things, provided that both parties are conscious of their liability to error, and are anxious to learn as well as to teach : that each confides in the integrity, ingenuousness, and ability of the other; that each applies himself with reasons to the understanding, not with terrors to the will. But such conference is not “ sweet and pleasant” where, falli
sed on one side, infallibility is assumed on the other ; othing to learn and everything to teach ; where the ar
pe propounded as a message of inspiration ; where
red as uppardonable guilt, and on the fruits of theloving inquiry, terms of reprobation and menaces of
poured. everlasting perdition are unscrupulously
intention to set apart, on our behalf, a day of
To supplicate the Eternal Father, as you pro. humiliation and prayer. To supplicate the Eternal
and faith of others into the likeness of your own ting as an act of prayer; it seems to us extraor.
miliation. Permit us to say, that we could join son in that day's praver, if, instead of assuming before God what doctrines his Spirit should enforce, you would, with us, implore him to have nity on the ignorance of us all ; to take us all by the hand and lead us into his truth and love, though it should be by ways most heretical and strange to wrest us from the dearest reliances and most assured concistions of our hearts, if they hinder our approach to his great realities.
con dau wonld that be for the peace, brotherhood, and piety of this Christian community, if the “humiliation” would lead to a recognition of Christian equality, and the “ prayer,” to a recognition of that spiritual God whose love is moral in its character, spiritual, not doctrinal in its conditions, and who accepts from all his children the spirit and the truth of worship.
We fear that you will consider it as a mark of great obduracy, that We are not more affected by that “purest love” for “those in the extreme of peril,” which your letter expresses. Let us again assure you that we by no means doubt the sincerity of that affection. However pure in its source, it is ineffectual in its result, simply because no one can feel his heart softened by a commiseration which he is wholly unconscious of requiring. The pity that feels with me is, of all things, the most delicious to the heart ; tbe pity that only feels for me, is, perhaps, of all things, the most insulting.
And, if the tenderness of your message does not subdue us, we trust its terrors will prevail still less. We are not ignorant, indeed, that, in dealing with weak minds, whose solicitude for their personal security is greater than their generous faith in truth and God, you enjoy an advantage over us. We avow that we have no alarms whereby to urge men into our Church ; that we know of no “terrors of the Lord” by which to “persuade men,” except against sin; nor do we esteem ourselves exclusive administrators of any salvation, except that best salvation, which consists in a free mind and emancipated heart; reverencing Christ as the perfect image of the Father, listening to the accents of reason and conscience, as to the breathings of God's spirit, loving all men as his children, and having hope in death, of a transference from this outer
o the interior mansions of His house. For this reason, imbccile ouis, without Christian trust and courage, may think it safer, at all events, to seek a place within your Church; but we wonder that you
hed, retaining your Protestantism, to appeal thus to fear and poucy, rather than to conviction, and that you cannot discern the
devout policy, rather than to con