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system is more important than peace and harmony, they will doubtless adopt this course. And what if they do? Particular Orthodox societies may indeed suffer materially; but the general result will be, the more complete separation of the advocates of the two systems, in all their religious concerns; so that it will be seen, what are the genuine fruits of the systems, when standing entirely alone. The world have yet to learn how much of the appearance of piety, existing in Unitarian parishes, is owing to the lingering influence of Orthodox principles, or to those evangelical and demi-evangelical members still connected with them.
Fourthly; the discussion of this subject shows us, that for the Orthodox minister to invite, or permit Unitarians to supply his pulpit, amounts to the same thing as an exchange with them.
No reason can be given, why, in either of these ways, fellowship is not as distinctly expressed as by an exchange. He cannot give such invitation or permission, without bearing public testimony to the Christian and ministerial qualifications of the man whom he introduces into his pulpit. It is not, therefore, a matter of mere courtesy, as many suppose, who press their minister to give such invitation or permission; but the imperative command of his Saviour binds him to refuse compliance. He sincerely believes, that, by a compliance, he should sin against God. How illiberal, how ungenerous, then, to endeavor to excite popular odium against him, as is often done, on this account !
Fifthly; the discussion of this subject shows us that ministers have an undoubted right to regulate their pulpit exchanges as they see fit.
If people have a right to control their minister in this matter, they have the same right to dictate to him what shall be the sentiments and the manner of his sermons. For it is an old and just maxim, qui facit per alium, facit per se—what a man does by another, he does himself. What is the difference, then, whether a man be required to find a substitute to preach Unitarianism, or be required to preach it himself. It would in fact be no more a violation of a minister's rights, to require him occasionally to defend Unitarianism, Universalism, or any other false doctrine, than to require him to exchange with ministers of these denominations; and it would be just as absurd to reproach him with intolerance and illiberality for refusing a compliance in the one case, as in the other. For when he exchanges with the Unitarian, or the Universalist, he does in fact, to all intents and purposes, preach their sentiments to his people. If, therefore, Orthodox ministers can be compelled to exchange with Unitarians, it is idle for them any longer to talk about their rights : for these are gone. They are mere machines, not for building up the Gospel, but for battering it down. And when any people settle a minister over them, (or
rather under them,) on condition of his making such exchanges, this is the use that will be made of him.
Sixthly; the discussion of this subject shows us the principal reason, why Unitarians have pressed the Orthodox with so much earnestness to exchange pulpits with their ministers.
If they gain this point, they conclude (and they judge correctly,) that the Orthodox have virtually given up all that is essential in the controversy between them. They have obtained a public testimony, in the house of God, and on the holy Sabbath, that there is no essential difference between Unitarianism and Orthodoxy. And after this, the question with men, which system they shall embrace, becomes one of mere expediency; since both are thus represented to be safe : and we all know which system is most agreeable to the perverse natural inclinations of unrenewed men. Hence, if Unitarians succeed in effecting such exchanges, they will not merely in a silent manner root out Orthodoxy and introduce Unitarianism, but they will make use of the Orthodox minister as the chief instrument in accomplishing the work; and that too, while he supposes himself to be laboring to establish the true Gospel. So long as a large and respectable body of professing Christians declare their solemn convictions that Unitarianism is essentially defective and dangerous to the souls of men, very many will hesitate to embrace it, who are in heart inclined to it; and even among Unitarians, many will feel uneasy, lest this testimony against them should prove true, and their ruin be the consequence. But if Unitarians are admitted to the fellowship of the Orthodox, the fears of both these classes will be removed, since the testimony of this same body of Christians to their safety is thus obtained; and they will stand forth the bold advocates of error.–Or if Unitarians do not succeed in persuading the Orthodox to exchange, a fine opportunity is thus afforded to them of raising a popular clamor about Orthodox intolerance, exclusion and persecution ; and of stirring up the bad passions of men against the Evangelical system. No wonder, therefore, that the subject of exchanges should be the entering wedge, by which Unitarianism is introduced into Orthodox societies.
Seventhly; the discussion of this subject shows us that the manner, in which Orthodox ministers who refuse to exchange have · been treated, manifests an uncharitable, intolerant, and persecuting
spirit among Unitarians. ** Orthodox ministers, who have refused fellowship and ministerial exchanges, have declared that they act thus from convictions of duty; and that it appears to them God has commanded them to adopt this course. But Unitarians, on account of their refusal, are in the habit of charging them with arrogating infallibility, and superior sanctity; with endeavoring to impose their opinions on others; with assuming the place of Jehovah in judging and con
demning others; with attempting to check free inquiry, and controul the right of private judgment; with being narrow-minded, ignorant bigots, who exhibit the spirit of the inquisition, and want nothing but the power, to give them the character of the Pope. By ringing over and over again charges of this kind, in their inflammatory addresses, in their sermons, and in their conversation, they endeavor to excite the irreligious and unprincipled to form combinations for forcing the Orthodox minister, either to comply with their wishes, or abandon his post : and all this is said and done, too, under the cloak of charity and liberality. Says a Doctor of Unitarian divinity, “ Let those in the Christian ministry, who bear the title of Orthodox, be told, that if they, in an unchristian manner, separate from their more liberal brethren, their liberal parishioners will separate from them. Then they may perceive the danger of their own plan, and may be induced to desist from its prosecution.”*
Now all this is uncharitable, because it does not display that tenderness for the conscientious opinions of others, which the Gospel requires ; and because it severely judges the motives by which the Orthodox are actuated. It is intolerant, because it is an attempt to force the lax system of Unitarians upon the Orthodox, by threatening them with personal inconvenience and suffering, if they will not acknowledge them as brethren. It is persecution, because it is an endeavor to make the Orthodox act contrary to the dictates of conscience, through fear of these personal trials; and this constitutes the essence of persecution. It is high time, therefore, that the tables should be turned, and the charges of uncharitableness, intolerance, and persecution, which have been so long borne in silence by the Orthodox, be transferred to the other side. Already, if we mistake not, are the public beginning to see, that to the other side they in most cases more justly belong; and there, we doubt not, they will be found to lie, at that solemn day, when judgement shall be laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet.
In the eighth place, the principles of this essay show us why it is not consistent for Orthodox ministers to sit in ecclesiastical councils with avowed Unitarians.
It is simply because such an act is as much an expression of fellowship as an exchange. If any man doubts this, let him endeavor to point out the reason why this is not an act of fellowship; and it seems to us, he must be convinced that it is so. At any rate, so it is considered by the public; and, therefore, the same unhappy effects will result from it, as from any other act of fellowship, in regard to those whom we believe in essential error. In particular instances, indeed, as is the case with exchanges, where, for example, a compliance in this particular would save a church
* Bancroft's Sermons, p. 196.
or society from becoming Unitarians, expediency would plead for a compliance. But so clear is the general rule on this subject, (which we have endeavored to develope,) that it seems to us, no Orthodox minister, who takes enlarged views of duty, would think of yielding, any more than he would violate any other command of his Saviour.
Finally, we infer from this discussion, what should be the conduct and feelings of the Orthodox towards Unitarians generally.
A radical difference of opinion upon religious truth, constitutes the wall of separation between the two systems. But this is no reason why unkind, uncharitable, or intolerant feelings should be harbored on either side, or why hard speeches should be made; or efforts to injure the persons, the property, or the honest reputations, of any. Nay more, it is no reason why, as upright, intelligent, and amiable members of this world's society, mutual attachments and friendships should not be cultivated between them. The Orthodox and the Unitarians have the same right to examine the Bible for themselves, and to derive thence their religious opinions; and to God only are they accountable for those opinions, unless their character be such as to interfere with the rights of others. Let the Orthodox recollect these things in all their intercourse with Unitarians. Who are these Unitarians ? In some instances they are our brothers, or sisters—our parents, or children
-our husbands, or wives—our friends, or neighbors; and in nearly every case, they are our countrymen. And we believe them to have embraced a system of religion fatally erroneous. We cannot, therefore, hesitate, in a frank and explicit manner, to declare to them our honest conviction of their danger, and our fixed resolution to testify to the world, by withholding our fellowship, what are our views of the system they have embraced. But does this imply that we harbor towards them one unfriendly feeling ? They may think so; they may hence be excited to hostility towards us, and load us with a torrent of ridicule and uncharitable epithets, and raise against us a tempest of popular odium. But towards them—our fellow citizens—fellow students—early companionsneighbors—friends—nay more, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh—towards them, how can any other feelings, than a desire for their salvation, be harbored in our bosoms? When they attempt to support their system by argument, we are to meet them clad in the panoply of the Gospel. When they make against us unfounded charges, we are to repel them with the firmness and the meekness of Christians. But when they abuse us, and revile us, and persecute us, we are to show them that our system of religion has taught us to return such treatment with patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and kind offices. Many of us should remember that we were once ourselves advocates for the same erroneous system; and recollect how thick were the scales upon our own eyes, and
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the folds around our own hearts, and how tenaciously we clung to our favorite delusions, yielding them up, only one by one, as the Spirit of God tore away their deep-seated roots. We cannot expect that others will abandon them more easily, or that any other power can accomplish the work. Whatever unkind feelings or conduct Unitarians may exhibit towards us, they ought not, therefore, to diminish either the number, or the fervency of our prayers in their behalf. In short, under every circumstance, ours should be the deep-toned feeling of the apostle : I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
NOTE. The argument of our respected correspondent in the foregoing communica. *tion is based on the position, that the differences of sentiment existing between the Orthodox and Unitarians relate not merely to circumstantial points, but to the vital, essential principles of the Gospel. What we propose to add is, that the truth of this position has been often admitted by Unitarians themselves, both in England and in America.
Said Dr. Priestly,“ I do not wonder that you Calvinists entertain and expres a strongly unfavorable opinion of us Unitarians. The truth is, there neither can be, nor ought to be, any compromise between us. If you are right, w ARE NOT CHRISTIANS AT ALL; and if we are right, you are gross idolaters."Says Mr. Belsham, speaking on the same subject, “ 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."
In 1815, a Pamphlet was published by a noted “ Layman” of Boston, entitled. · Are you a Christian or a Calvinist ?' implying that a Calvinist is not a Chris tian. Another pamphlet was published in Boston, in 1820, entitled, a Letter from a Congregationalist to a friend, on joining the new Episcopal Church, in which it was contended, that the Unitarians and the Orthodox have s • different object of worship’—that they in fact worship different Gods. pi This was said to have been written by a distinguished Unitarian. A serne was published in this city the last year, and highly extolled by Unitarias, the design of which was to shew, that the Orthodox are justly chargeable with 'denying the Lord Jesus.'
Christian Disciple. The Orthodox “represent God as worse than the the devil ; more false, more cruel, more unjust.” Nov. and Dec. 1820.
Christian EXAMINER. “We may safely say that transubstiation was a less monstrous doctrine than the five points of Calvin.” Jan. and Feb. 1826.
Dr. Channing. “Did I believe what Trinitarianism teaches, that not the least transgression could be remitted without an infinite expiation, I should tee! myself living under a legislation unspeakably dreadful, under laws written, are Draco's, in blood." Unitarians “ look with horror and grief on the views of God's government which are materially united with Trinitarianism.” Sermon al New York.