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that onr readers will begin to sympathize with us in the sense of weariness and disgust, which such an employment produces. We have established the fact, which we wished to prove, that whatever feelings may have been excited by the production, the title of which we have placed at the head of this article, it is really of the same character with otbers, which have been appearing for a series of years. We have shewn, that there were before writers among us, whose thoughts the author of this sermon has only borrowed, and whose temper and decency he has only imitated.
Since the publication of this sermon, its author has been or dained, or installed, as the pastor of a new society collected in
propriety, right, and duty, that the apostles sbould speak of these men with strong reprobation, and that they should warn their new converts against being seduced by them, or having any cominunion or intercourse with them. All tbis, it is needless to say, is very simple and easily understood. We may, however, further observe, that the directions of the apostles were rendered particularly necessary, by the upsettled state of the first believers, and the imperfect and erroneous notions, which it appears that many of them entertained, of the religion which they professed. But in any period, and in any state of things, if unprincipled men should appear, forming new sects, and teaching doctrines which lead to the destruction of religion and morality, it would be an obvious duty not to recognize them as Christians, and to have no intercourse with them which might countenance and favour their purposes. To such men, and to such only, the commands of the apostles are indirectly applicable. But their language, as every one knows, has been applied in a very different and most unjustifiable manner. The violent of almost every sect have continually represented themselves and their sect, as the only true believers, the only real followers of Christ and bis apostles, and have denounced the great body of Christians who differed from them as, heretics ; and have proceeded to apply to them all the characteristics of the early disturbers of the church, as of course included in the name.
Dr. Stebbing, a divine of the eburch of England, wrote several pamphlets on the subject of heresy, in controversy with the celebrated Baptist Foster, the same who excelled ten metropolitans in preaching well. Stebbing was a zealous and laborious defender of the right of THE CHURCA to diseipline heretics. But we suspect that most of those who adopt his principles on this subject, will think his candour sufficiently indiscreet. He says, “ If you will bat allow the same liberty of judgment to the ministers of Christ in the execution of their office, which you allow to every single man besides in the direction of his coodnct in all cases which one would think to be a very reasonable demand) this you will see ; that they who to them shall appear by the best use of their judgments, under the direction of God's word, to have departed from the faith, whether with knowledge or against kvowledge; whether sincerely or insincerely, are to them hereties, and must be treated as such.
* * According to this account, I confess it will follow, that a man may be a heretie to me Church, who is not a heretic to another; and a heretic to both, who is not a heretic to God. This may be lamented as the effect of human weakness and frailty. But now infallibility is ceased, otherwise it cannot be." See A Letter to Mr. Foster on the subject of Heresy. By Henry Stebbing D. D. 2d Ed. 1735, pp. 25, 26.
our metropolis to enjoy the benefit of his ministry. Of the clergymen who assisted at this religious ceremony, no differences of theological opinion, wide as they may be, would lead us to speak with disrespect; but we regret not a little that they have taken part in this transaction. It appears to us one proof among many, of the pernicious effects, wbich such writings as we have noticed are gradually producing upon the moral feelings and judgment of men. The person at whose ordination they have assisted, has said of the Unitarian clergy of this part of the country, that they are hypocrites, enemies of religion, assuming their offices for the sake of gain, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their consciences seared with a hot iron. There are various considerations, which may prevent even a momentary feeling of resentment against the author of these charges in the persons thus attacked. But the charges are either true or false ; and if they are false, their author is thoroughly disqualified for the office of a Christian minister. The gentlemen however of whom we have spoken, by assisting at his ordination, have said that this man is fit for the office of a Christian minister. They have thus virtually declared, that his assertions are true. We have charity enougb still to believe, that they regard these assertions as utterly false, and that they would be very unwilling to use such language themselves. But if this be so, what are we to think of their agency in the transaction we have mentioned ?
It appears from the statements which we have made, that there has been for a long time, a systematic attack, not upon the opinions, but upon the characters, of a large proportion of Christians among us.
It has been carried on in such a manner as to excite in those who have any sympathy with the writers engaged in it, feelings the most hostile to that temper and spirit which a disciple of Christ ought to cultivate, and thus to destroy what is essential to the Christian character. A stream of calumny has been pouring out for years, and spreading poison through the community, wherever a channel could be found or made for
There has hitherto been but little attempt to stop its course. They who have been more particularly the objects of reproach, have trusted to their lives to vindicate their reputations. They have been reviled, and have been patient. There is more than one unanswered falsehood, on which three thousand suns have gone down. They have listened to the most insulting charges, and have heard propositions to exclude them from the name and privileges of Christians; and have in return begged their opponents to remember what is due to Christian charity, and to refrain from rending in pieces the church of Christ. For the advancement of those opinions wbich they believe the truth, they have trusted, perhaps they bave trusted a great deal too much, to the gradual progress of knowledge and intellectual improvement. They have perceived, or thought that they perceived, that the doctrines which they hold were incorporated with, and received confirmation, from every science connected with religion; and that at every advance in the critical knowledge of the scriptures, they opened more fully to view. We have, it may be, been too ready to leave our opinions to make their own way, and have too much forgotten the obstacles which they had to encounter. But our very moderation has been turned into a crime; and because we have been unwilling to obtrude our principles and arguments upon those who could not, or would not understand them; because we have perceived that religious error is often so blended with the most important truth, that a delicate and patient hand is required to remove the one without injury to the other; because we have thought sincere piety, and a good life, the only evidences of real religion, and that these might exist together with many speculative mistakes, which it was little worth while to disturb; because, to say all in one word, we have discovered no intemperate or injudicious zeal in making proselytes; we have in consequence been accused of a hypocritical concealment of our opinions.
When charges are brought which, if true, or if originating from any respectable source, would seriously affect the moral characters of individuals, it becomes important to examine from what source they do originate. Those on which we have been remarking, are, as we have seen, principally to be traced to the Panoplist. By whom then, it is a fair, nay, it is an unavoidable question, has that work been conducted ? It was commenced and continued for some time under the superintendance of a man, of whom, fortunately, it is wholly unnecessary to speak, because his character is perfectly well known. It has since been continued by a person, of whom, on the other hand, we believe very little is known, except that he is the editor of a work, which discovers a spirit of which we have given sufficient specimens; and probably the principal author of the articles which we have quoted, and of others of a similar character. If this supposition be incorrect, we at least do bim no injustice, for as the editor of the work in wbich they have appeared, he is equally responsible for their moral character, with the authors themselves. To these individuals we may now add the author of the sermon we bave noticed, as having rendered himself equally conspicuous. It is a few men, such as
these, who have been so faithfully labouring, and not altogether without success, to excite a spirit of disunion and hostility in the Christian community. There is something unpleasant in this particular notice of individuals, however justifiable it may be. But we feel ourselves in some sort compelled to it. We should regret not a little to implicate in our remarks respecting certain writings, any persons to whom these remarks do not justly apply; and in order to prevent tbis in the most effectual manner, we must point out the writers, or the description of writers, to whom we consider that they do apply.
The system of attack of which we have spoken, is expressly or virtually directed against a very large proportion of those in our community, who are the most conspicuous objects of public respect and confidence. Look to those who guide public opinion, to those who administer your laws in the highest seats of justice, to your most distinguished magistrates, to your ministers of religion, to those who have given the most faithful attention to the study of the scriptures, to your most enlightened instructers of youth, to the most eminent among your scholars and literary men, and see how many of them, men too of unblemished lives, and apparently sincere believers, will fall into the class of those, whom the Panoplist reviewer would teach you to regard as destitute of all real moral goodness, without religion, enemies to Christ and to God, destined to everlasting misery, hypocrites and reprobates. Some writer in the Panoplist will perhaps accuse us again of praising our friends. It is a happy tbought, and bas been repeated already, we do not know how many times. But we have learnt our morality in a different school from that of the writers in the Panoplist; and do not think it an offence, when the reputation of our friends is attacked, to state their just claims to respect.
It is cbaracteristic of the class of writers on whom we are remarking, both as they have existed in past times, and as they exist at the present day among ourselves, to appear to enjoy a sort of gratification and triumph in denouncing ihe wrath of God upon those Christians who refuse to adopt their opinions ; in representing them as certainly exposed to everlasting destruction, in asserting or implying that the time is soon coming, when, they themselves being ministering angels, giving glory to God, their opponents shall lie howling and blaspheming with the devils, condemned forever to the hottest flames, and fiercest torinents of hell. We do not mean to shock or offend our readers. We bave a purpose, and an important one, in view. It is not in idleness or in sport, that we have conducted them 10 a lazar-house, where they may see some of the worst dis
eases of the buman mind; and no weakness or loathing ought to prevent us from finishing the examination. We have rather refrained from giving specimens of the kind of writing of which we have last spoken; but we will produce one most offensive example of it from a sermon of the Rev. Lyman Beecher; after quoting one or two preceding passages to show its application.
This gentleman says; “To secure evangelical affections, the following truths are as essential, according to the nature of the human mind, as fire is essential to heat, or any natural cause to its appropriate effect; the doctrines of the Trinity, and the atonement, the entire unboliness of the human heart, the necessity of a moral change by the special agency of the Holy Spirit, and justification by the merits of Christ, through faith."**
" The fact is, that those, who discard the doctrine of the Trinity, discard usually every other fundamental doctrine. Their system is not merely different from, but opposite to that denominated orthodox ; so that if one be true, the other is false ; if one be sincere milk, the other is poison."
After these, and other similar passages, the discourse concludes in the following manner :
“ In the view of what has been said, how momentous is the responsibility of ministers of the gospel ; and how aggravated the destruction of those, who keep back the truth, or inculcate falsehood. It is, as if a man, not content with his own destruction by fainine, should extend the desolation, by withholding nutrition from all around him; or not content with poisoning himself, should cast poison into all the fountains, puttiog in motion around him the waters of death. If there be a place in the world of despair, of tenfold darkness, where the wrath of the Almighty glows with augmented fury, and whence, through eternity, are heard the loudest wailings, ascending with the smoke of their torment:-in that place I shall espect to dwell, and there, my brethren, to lift up my cry with yours, should we believe lies, and propagate deceits, and avert from our people the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit.-And if there be a class of men, upon whom the fiercest malignity of the damned will be turned, and upon whose heads universal imprecations will mingle with the wrath of the Lamb, it will doubtless, my brethren, be ourselves ; if, blind guides, we lead to perdition our deluded hearers."
Taken in connexion with what precedes, the meaning of this paragraph, we suppose, is as clear as if it were stated in ex. press terms, that the fate here described will be that of all preachers, who disbelieve the doctrines which its author regards as fundamental; and that all their hearers are treading
* Sermon delivered in Park Street Church, Boston, at the Ordination of Mr. S. E. Dwight and others. By Lyman Beecher, A. M. Pastor of a Church of Christ in Litchfield, Connecticut. p. 26. † Ibid. p. 38.
Ibid. pp. 40, 42.