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father Admiral Penn, a large tract of land in North America. since called Pennsylvania after his name ; and it is remarkable, that all the settlements of the Europeans in America, except the Quaker settlement of Pennsylvania, were made by force of arms, with very little regard to any prior title in the natives.
We may well commend the mild creed, and universal charity, or fraternal love, of the Quakers, though some have thought that a nation of Quakers could not exist, except all nations were of the same persuasion. To this, however, it has been said by one of their writers, that any nation actually possessing and practising Christian principles, may be contented with the prolection of Heaven, which can always find means to protect what it brings to pass. However few of other denominations may be disposed to think well of their religious opinions, or of many of their peculiar customs, it cannot be denied that the Quakers, as members of society, are a respectable body ; and that, though they have a church not only without sacraments, but even without a priesthood, and a government with: out a head, they are perhaps the best organized and most unanimous religious society in the world. Their benevolence, moral rectitude, and coinmercial punctuality have excited, and long secured to them, very general esteem ; and it has been well observed, that in the multitudes that compose the vast legions of vagrants and street beggars, not a single Quaker can be found.
At the present day, the Quakers, both in England and Amer ica, are gradually departing from the peculiarities of principles and manners which have distinguished their predecessors.
OF THE UNITARIANS. Being strenuous advocates for the scriptural doctrine of the Divine Unity, they generally claim the appellation of Unitarians : and as many of them are zealous advocates for the sim: ple humanity of Christ, or maintain, that our Saviour is pro. perly a human being, some of them have taken the name of Humanitarians. They lay claim to a very high antiquity, and even say, “ that there is no such thing as a Trinitarian Christian mentioned, or supposed, in the New Testament ; all there in named being perfect Unitarians—the blessed Jesus himself, his apostles, and all his followers.'
They were, however, scarcely heard of in England till the · time of Charles the First, and their numbers were very limited as a coinmunity, till towards the end of the last century, when they begin to increase, and to acquire distinction, from the writings and influence of Dr. Priestly and his zealous associ• ates.
Dr. Priestly, having met with much opposition and persecution in England, retired to America in 1794, where, in consequence of his exertions, in conjunction with those of his fellowlabourer, Mr. William Christie, and others, several Unitarian congregations have been formed.
The Unitarians believe the Scriptures to be faithful records of past transactions, but some of them deny that their authors were divinely inspired ; and they reject the miraculous conception, and the worship of Christ, or any other being besides God the Father. “A consistent Unitarian, acknowledging Jesus as a man in all respects like to his brethren, regards his kingdom as entirely of a spiritual nature, and as consisting in the empire of his gospel over the hearts and lives of its professors." Unitarians" allow the inspiration of the writers of the New Testament in no cases where they do not themselves expressly claim it : and are not sparing of the labour necessary to distinguish, even in the canonical books, what is of divine authority from that which is of human origin.” Hence they do not believe in our Lord's Miraculous Conception, but are of opinion, that he was the legitimate son of Joseph and Mary. Mr. Lindsey tells us, that he thereby means no " want of re. spect to that kind Saviour of men,” whom, he trusts, he “is disposed to love and honour, now and for ever, with the affection and reverence so justly due to him, for his perfect virtue and benevolence. But,” adds he, “I cannot make him the supreme God, or invoke, or pray to him, as such ; because I am persuaded, that if he could hear, and make himself known to me, he would call out from heaven, as he did tormerly to Paul, — I am Jesus of Nazareth ; one who was once a mortal man like thyself: worship God.':
“The Unitarians believe, upon grounds common to all Christians, that Jesus of Nazareth was a divinely commissioned teacher of truth and righteousness; and that, having been publicly crucified by his enemies, he was raised from the dead on the third day. They regard it as an indispensable duty to believe whatever he was commissioned to teach. And particularly, upon the evidence of his doctrine and resurrection, they expect a general resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust;' and a subsequent state of retribution, in which all shall be treated in exact correspondence with their moral characters. The Unitarians believe Jesus to have been a man, for the same reasons for which they believe the proper humanity of Peter and Paul, of Moses and Abraham. He appeared as a man, he called himself a man, he was believed by all his companions and cotemporaries to be a man ; he had all the accidents of a man; he was born, he lived, he eat and drank, and slept, he conversed, he rejoiced, he wept, be suffered, and he died as other men. That he was nothing more than a man, possessed of extraordinary powers and invested with an extraordinary di. Tine commission, and that he had no existence previous to his birth, they believe, simply apon this ground, that there is no evidence to prove the contrary. It is not incumbent upon them. nor do they pretend, to produce proof, that a person why ap- , peared as a man was really such. If any maintain that Jesus of Nazareth was something more than a human being, whether an angelic, super-angelic, or divine person, it is their business to prove their assertion. In this scheme of theology, along with our Lord's divinity, and the distinct personal existence of the Holy Ghost, the doctrines of original sin, and the atonement, also fall to the ground. According to Dr. Priestly, the pardon of sin is represented in Scripture ' as dispensed solely on account of men's personal virtue, a penitent upright heart, and a reformed exemplary life, without the least regard to the sufferings or merit of any being whatever.'
The Unitarians also reject the doctrine of an extraordinary divine influence upon the mind for moral and religious pur. poses : but they do not deny the beneficial efficacy of divine truth in regulating the affections and governing the life of every true Christian. Dr. Priestly tells us, that at an early period of his theological career, and while he was yet an Arjan, he became “ persuaded of the falsity of the doctrine of atonement, of the inspiration of the authors of the books of Scripture as writers, and of all idea of supernatural influence, except for the purpose of miracles.'”
Such are the grand and leading doctrines of the Unitarian system. Several other dogmas are inaintained by most Unitarians, as the rejection of the existence and agency of the devil; of the spirituality and separate existence of the soul ;-of an intermediate state between death and the general resurrection ;and of the eternity of future punishment : but these, not being essentially connected with their system, and being held by them in common with some others, ought not to be viewed, exclusiveJy, as Unitarian doctrines.
Mr. Belsham tells us, that “ the existence of an evil spirit is no where expressly taught as a doctrine of Revelation;" he also says, that he, for one, is not ashamed to avow, that he regards the notion of a devil, and his agency, “as an evanescent prejudice which it is now a discredit to a man of understanding to believe.” Dr. Priestley's opinions respecting the soul, of course, led him to disbelieve the doctrine of an intermediate state. Believing that as the whole man died, so the whole man would be called again to life at the appointed period of the resurrection of all men, he regarded the intermediate portion of time as a state of utter insensibility; as a deep sleep, from which the man would awaken, when called on by the Almighty, with the same associations as he had when alive, without being sensible of the portion of time elapsed. With regard to the doctrine and the duration of future punishments, Dr. Priestley, we are told, “ had no notion of punishment, as such, in the common acceptation of the term. The design of the Creator, in his opinion, was the ultimate happiness of all bis creatures, by the means best fitted to produce it.” Punishment he con
sidered to be merely " the medicina mentis exhibited for our good by the Physician of souls. Nor have we any reason to believe, that it is greater in degree, or longer in duration, than is necessary to produce the beneficial effect for which it is inflicted. It is the sort of punishment which a kind but wise par. ent inflicts on a beloved child."
With regard to the moral code of the Unitarians, it is the same as others; but they allow of somewbat greater latitude with regard to things innocent, than the Methodists and Quakers. The practice of virtue is represented by them, as the only means of attaining happiness, both here and hereafter; and they teach, that the Christian religion “ requires the absolute renunciation of every vice, and the practice of every virtue." Love is with them the fulhilment of the law, and the habitual practice of virtue, from a principle of love to God, and benev. olence to man, is, in their judgment, “the sum and substance of Christianity.”
They reject every thing in the commonly received creeds that has the appearance of mystery, that surpasses the limits of human comprehension, or borders upon contradiction.
OF THE TRINITARIANS.
TRINITARIANs include all that portion of Christians who believe in the Trinity of the Godhead. They believe that the Deity. exists three persons in one God. I know of no better definition of this doctrine than that with which we are so fainiliar. "There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”
Trinitarians claim that this doctrine has been believed, in eve} sy age, by much the greater part of the Christian world. That
it was never called in question, to any extent, till the fourth century after Christ. Soon after the sentiments of Arius began to prevail, which denied the divinity of the Son and the Spirit, a great Counc was held at Nice, by order of the Emperor Constantine, to determine the questions which agitated the Christian church. This Council decided that the doctrine of the Trinity was an essential article of the Christian faith. Trinitarians have always maintained that this was the inost venerable ecclesiastical council, and that their decrees ought to be viewed as of the highest authority, of any one that has been assembled since the apostolic age. It was held in the year 325, consist. ing of more than 300 bishops, the most of whom had passed through the perils of the Diocletian persecution, and had been, during that most terrible of all Pagan persecutions, faithful con iessors and sufferers for Christ.
Still, they do not rest their sentiments on any human deci. sions, but on what they deem the clearest testimony of the scriptures of truth. They admit that the doctrine is a mystery, but claim that it is no greater mystery than the self-existence of God, his eternity, or the nature of spiritual beings, or the union of the human body and soul, or many other truths with which all are familiar. They also claim that a mystery is not an absurdity or contradiction : that the scripture doctrine of a separate state, and the resurrection of the dead, and many others, though mysteries, are not deemed absurd and incredible : that we know little of God except what he has revealed of himself: and that it is absurd, if not impious, to reject his own testimony concerning himself, because it makes known truths above our comprehension. The fact that there are three persons in one God is as intelligible as the truth that God is self-existent, and is not to be rejected because we cannot understand this mode of the divine existence.
A few of the scripture testimonies, by which the doctrine of the Trinity is supported, are the following. God speaks of himself as existing in plurality. Gen. 1. 26. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Gen. iii. 22. “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." Gen. xi. 6. “Let us go down and there confound their language." Isa. vi. 8. “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” The word God, as used in the scriptures, is, in the original, very commonly, in the plural number. It is so in the first passage. “In the beginning God (Gods) created the heaven and the earth.” The precept “Remember thy Creator,” is, literally, “ Remember thy Creators.”
This plurality of persons in God being taught in the scriptures, Trinitarians consider that there is the fullest testimony that it is THREE. The most express declaration of this truth is by the Apostle John. 1. John, v. 7. “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost : and these three are one.” The vision of Isaiah, in the sixth chapter of his prophecy, is a remarkable passage, some parts of which are more often quoted by Christ and the apostles than any other portion of the Old Testament. The prophet says, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims :-And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts : the whole earth is full of his glory. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I ; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes ; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” Concerning this passage it is said, “ The Trinity iš