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parent of a God-denying apostacy;" represents his doctrine as “ blasphemous ;” and informs us that, for maintaining and propagating it, he was excommunicated from the church.
Contemporary with Theodotus, was Artemon, who seems to have adopted very much the same opinions. He also was opposed by several distinguished writers, whose works have come down to our times; was formally condemned as a heretic; and excluded from the communion of the Christian church.
In the third century arose Noetus, and soon afterwards Sabellius, who rejected all distinction of persons in the Godhead; alleging that the Trinity was nominal only, and not personal. This doctrine, the pious of that day considered as striking at the foundation of the system of redemption, and therefore condemned it as a fatal heresy. Noetus was formally excommunicated from the church, and his doctrine pronounced heretical by two successive councils; and a few years afterward, Sabellius and his error received a similar treatment. The same opinion, in substance, having been adopted, about the same time, by Beryllus, of Bozrah, he was excluded from the body of the Orthodor. After remaining for some time under this discipline, he was restored to the communion of the church, and his party became extinct.
In the same century, Paul of Samosata, broached his error, which was substantially the same with that of modern Socinians. He taught that Christ was a mere man. After repeated councils, and much equivocation and concealment on his part, the opinion just mentioned was fixed upon him; on which he was unanimously condemned as a heretic, and deposed from the ministry.
The case of Arius, in the fourth century, is so well known, that any detailed account of it is unnecessary. As soon as it was understood that he adopted the error concerning the person of Christ, which has for fifteen centuries been designated by his name, the church became alarmed and agitated; the Council of Nice was assembled in 325; and Arius and bis adherents, were not only condemned as heretics, by an almost unanimous vote, but were also deposed from the ministry, and excommunicated from the church.
Here we have, let it not be forgotten, the solemn judgment and decree, not of a few insulated individuals, not even of a small provincial council; but of a GENERAL COUNCIL, that is, of the WHOLE CHURCH, assembled by its representatives. Of this body we have the formal decision that those who denied the supreme divinity of the Son of God, were unworthy of a place in the church of Christ, and of the name of Christian.
The same judgment was uniformly passed in the early church, not only against all who rejected the divinity and atonement of Christ; but also against those who departed from the Orthodox
faith with regard to the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit. When Macedonius fell into error on this point, he was condemned as a heretic, and deposed from the ministry, by a council at Constantinople, which met A. D. 360; and again received the same sentence in a general council, convened in 381. Here again, we see, not merely a single congregation, but the whole Christian church, by its representatives, deciding that a departure from the Orthodox faith in reference to this point, is a fundamental error, properly inferring exclusion from the Christian name and communion.
This list might be greatly extended, were it not for the fear of being tedious. The followers of Carpocrates. Basilides, Hermogenes, and Montanus, in the second century; and of Photinus, Appolinaris, and many more, in the third and fourth centuries, were all unsound with respect to the person of Christ; and were all condemned by the church as corrupters of the faith, and excluded from the community of Christians. Indeed, a single instance is not recollected in all antiquity, in which any individual, or body of individuals, who were known to deny the trinity of persons in the Godhead, the true and proper divinity of Christ, or the personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit, were regarded as Christians, or were suffered to remain in the communion of the Orthodox church. This was not only the habit of the church of Christ, but so invariably her habit, that, it is confidently believed, an exception to it cannot be found ; or, if found at all, it is in circumstances which render it altogether an extraordinary case. Yet, truly, even such a case is not remembered. Nor should we be likely to find such an exception, when Athanasius, one of the Nicene Fathers, and probably as extensively informed respecting the history and state of the church as any man in his day, speaking of the divinity of Christ, and the trinity of persons in the Godhead, could express himself in the following decisive terms: “ This was the doctrine and the faith of the church UNIVERSAL, FROM THE BEGINNING ; which our Lord himself delivered; which the Apostles preached ; and which the Fathers preserved. For IN THIS IS THE CHURCH FOUNDED, and he who falls from it CAN NEITHER BE A CHRISTIAN, NOR DESERVE THE NAME OF A CHRISTIAN.”
It is not thought necessary, Mr. Editor, to encumber your pages with references to chapter and page of the original writers for each of the facts which have been stated. The truth is, for well informed persons conversant with the works from which these statements are derived, such references are unnecessary; the facts are well known, by all such persons, to be precisely as I have stated. And with regard to those who are not accustomed to consult such books, formal quotations from them would be useless. But I am VOL. I.
not afraid that any person, who is qualified to speak on such a subject, will contradict any one of the foregoing statements.
With respect to the period comprehended between the council of Nice and the Reformation, no one denies, not even Unitarians themselves, that the whole current of belief, and of ecclesiastical decision, was strongly against what is now styled Unitarian doctrine, and that none who publicly avowed it, were allowed to remain in communion with the Catholic or Orthodox church. An instance of such allowance, it is believed, cannot be produced.
That the great body of the Reformers—in fact, every one of them, without exception, who is regarded as sound and pious by the Orthodox of the present day—took precisely the same ground with regard to Socinians and Arians, i. e. the Unitarians of their day, which was taken by the anti-Nicene Fathers, that is, condemned and excommunicated them, and denied them the name of Christian, modern Unitarians themselves acknowledge, and make matter of heavy complaint. We shall, probably, never hear the last notes of their outcries against Calvin for the affair of Servetus, or of their murmurs against others, the contemporaries and successors of Calvin, for their “unchristian intolerance and bigotry.”
It forms no part of my present purpose, to attempt a defence of Calvin in that affair. No one, I think, can fully justify what he did ; though much, very much, may be said in mitigation of his fault, committed at a time when the great subject of religious liberty was understood by no one; and when it is quite evident, from the conduct of Socinus himself, and his friend Blandrata, to poor Davidies, that Unitarians, in their treatment of one another, understood the subject quite as little as their neighbors.* But the treatment experienced by Servetus, and by some other conspicuous Unitarians, in the sixteenth century, as well as in the seventeenth, plainly establishes the point for which I contend, viz. that, at that interesting period of reviving light and zeal among the followers of Christ, Arians and Socinians were in fact regarded, as in all preceding ages they had been regarded, as umworthy of the Christian name, or of a place in the Christian church.
With regard to more modern times, testimony to the same amount may be produced, in the greatest abundance, I shall content myself with that of a single witness. I refer to the Rev. Dr. Witherspoon, who is well known, both in this country and in
* Or the many readers of the Spirit of the Pilgrims, perhaps a few may need to be informed what is referred to here. Faustus Socinus, alihough he believed that Christ was a mere man, yet zealously maintained that he ought to be worshipped. Francis Davidies, a nauve of Hungary, and a distinguished clergyman among the Unitarians, considered this as an inconsisiency, and concurring with Socinus in holding the mere humanity of the Saviour, he contended that religious worship ought not to be paid him. In taking this course, all modern Unitarians regard him as having acted correctly. Davidies, however, was cruelly persecuted by Socinus, and his friend Blandrata, for entertaining and publishing this opinion; and, at their instance, was thrown into prison, where he died, in the year 1579.
Europe, as one of the most learned, judicious, soberminded divines of the eighteenth century. And as he was never, so far as I know, brought into any particular conflict with Unitarians, as such, we have no reason to believe that he was ever the subject of any morbid excitement in reference to them. This distinguished writer, in a sermon on the atonement of Christ, says, “ It is lamentable to think that there should be any that call themselves Christians, and yet refuse to acknowledge this truth, which is woven, if I may so speak, through the whole contexture both of the Law and the Gospel. It brings to my mind the story of an ancient artist, who, being employed to build a magnificent and elegant temple, had the ingenuity to inscribe upon it his own name, and so to incorporate it both with the ornaments and body of the structure, that it was impossible to efface the name, without, at the same time, destroying the fabric. In the same manner, Christ dying for sin is engraved in such characters through the whole revealed will of God, that it is IMPOSSIBLE TO TAKE IT AWAY, WITHOUT DESTROYING THE WHOLE SYSTEM.” Again, in his discourse on the scriptural meaning of the word “charity,” speaking of the irreconcilable opposition between the creed of the Orthodox and that of Socinians, he says, “I do freely acknowledge that I NEVER DID ESTEEM THE SOCINIANS TO BE CHRISTIANS.” And in his treatise on justification, dedicated to the Rev. Mr. Hervey, he expresses the same judgment very decisively, in another connexion. “ As to Socinians and Pelagians,” says he, “who are the greatest opposers of the truths above defended, I NEVER DID ESTEEM THEM TO BE CHRISTIANS AT ALL.”
Nay, Mr. Editor, language quite as decisive in reference to this subject has been held by Unitarians themselves. It is on record that Dr. Priestley, a few years before his death, in free conversation with an Orthodox American clergyman, still living, expressed himself in the following frank and pointed terms : “I do not wonder that you Calvinists entertain and express a strongly unfavorable opinion of us Unitarians. The truth is, there neither can, nor ought to be, any compromise between us. If you are right, WE ARE NOT CHRISTIANS AT ALL; and if. we are right, YOU ARE GROSS IDOLATERS.” No less to my purpose is the decision of Mr. Belsham, next to Dr. Priestley perhaps the most conspicuous name in the list of English Unitarians. Having occasion, in a work published a few years ago, to speak of the unduly soft and indulgent terms in which an ecclesiastical council in Connecticu had referred to the opinions and ministrations of a Unitarian clergyman of that State whom they had dismissed, and having expressed an opinion that their extreme tenderness was little short of ridiculous, he proceeds thus: “Is the venerable council serious in stating differences so glaring and so substantial as these, as nothing more than “a peculiar phraseology,' and a circumstantial difference of sentiment'? No, no; opinions such as these can no more harmonize with each other THAN LIGHT AND DARKNESS, THAN CHRIST AND BELIAL. They who hold doctrines so diametrically opposite, CANNOT BE FELLOW-WORSHIPPERS IN THE SAME TEMPLE. IT WAS EXPEDIENT THAT THEY SHOULD SEPARATE.”* In the opinion of Mr. Belsham'then, Calvinism and Unitarianism can no more unite in the same ecclesiastical worship and communion, than “ light and darkness, Christ and Belial.” Did ever an Orthodox writer speak in stronger terms, or assume a more decisive principle, in relation to this matter?
“But such,' it is said, “have not been the opinions and practice of the Unitarians and the Orthodox in New England. Unitarians have uniformly acknowledged the Orthodox to be Christians, and been willing to maintain ministerial intercourse and Christian fellowship with them. And among all the Congregational ministers and churches, such intercourse and fellowship were maintained, till within a few years.' .
Unitarians have indeed generally,–because generally they have thought the interest of their party would be best promoted in this way,-professed to regard the Orthodox as Christians. At times, however, when they thought the interests of their party would be promoted by another course,—they have held a different language. I remember several years ago to have seen a pamphlet, said to have been written by a distinguished Unitarian, entitled, if I rightly recollect, ' A Letter to a friend, on joining the new Episcopal [St. Paul's] church,' in which it was contended that no Unitarian could consistently attend Episcopal worship, because the Orthodox Episcopalian and the Unitarian WORSHIP DIFFERENT Gods. And lately there has been published a sermon, which has received the unqualified approbation of all the journals of the Unitarian party, in which it is maintained, that those who believe in the divinity of Christ DENY THE LORD JEsus; which is but saying they are not Christians..
Unitarians have also been very willing to exchange with Orthodox ministers, when the latter would keep out of view, in the discourses delivered in Unitarian pulpits, their distinctive opinions. But where has been the instance in which an Orthodox minister has plainly and conscientiously preached Orthodox doctrines in a Unitarian pulpit, and found a continuance of the desire previously manifested of maintaining with him ministerial fellowship?
Among the Congregational ministers and churches generally, in New England, ministerial intercourse and Christian fellowship were maintained, till within about fifteen years. But none of the ministers and churches were then known to be Unitarian. As soon as it was made manifest that several ministers and churches were
* See Belsham's "Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Theophilus Lindsey.”