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circumstances of this kind, I continue to assert that their constancy has been noble. The sarcasms of P. W. may, for the present, pass for what they are worth, for I feel too much in earnest to reply to him in the same strain.
"It was at the expense of this constancy," he says, "that Protestants emerged from Popery, and Unitarians from Trinitarianism." It was not at the expense of their constancy. Their constancy emancipated them. Their convictions began the change, and their constancy perfected it, in spite of odium and tribulation. Protestants and Unitarians have been persecuted for changing their faith, and Jews for not changing it; it was the free will of the former to leave their ancient belief, and of the latter, to keep as they are; their constancy and perseverance have been the same. P. W. is unfortunate in his illustrations.
There is now one point in these remarks left for me to notice, and it is one in which you, Mr. Editor, are personally interested. Because I said it was presumption to tell people in the newspapers that "the divine veracity was pledged" to promote the purposes of the American Society, and that every body must come forward and help to fulfil them, this writer's patience almost forsakes him, and he insists that I am contradicted not only by the daily practice of all men, but by the Report of the Unitarian Book Society, which was published in the same number of the Miscellany with my last letter. From the quotation which he makes, it is sufficient to repeat the following passage; "truth will conquer at last, but it requires incitements from human aid. God is the author of all, but men are his agents; we must labour if we would hope." He then
declares that the Miscellany "may choose its own post; but it cannot advocate both the doctrine of the Book Society, and of W. P."
It would be singular indeed, if a periodical work, containing the communications of many different writers, should preserve a perfect consistency; but I will venture to affirm, that if the Miscellany never exhibits on its pages greater inconsistencies than in the present case, it will be the most consistent book of the kind which was ever published. I do not think, Sir, that you are yet called on to "choose your own post," by deciding, where there is no difference.
There seems to me to be a great distinction to be made, in the first place, between considering ourselves, generally, as instruments in the hand of God,-and regarding ourselves as instruments for some particular purpose, to be accomplished in a particular way. There exists a wide distinction also between fulfilling those designs of the Almighty, which are always and incontestibly our duty, such as the advancement, in ourselves and others, of truth and virtue,-and setting ourselves up as fulfillers of prophecy. Bonaparte, it is said, once had a design of restoring the Jews to their own country. And if he had announced that "the divine veracity was pledged" to perform this work, and had called on the powers of the earth to assist him in fulfilling the word of the Almighty, would he not have been presumptuous? I think so. And yet he had as good a right to consider himself as the instrument of God for this purpose, as the American Society, or P. W.
Prospects of Unitarianism.
We are not daunted by that seeming preponderance of Trinitarianism over our own views of the divine nature, which at present exists in the Christian world. There is much to encourage us in a review of the past, much in the spirit of the age, much in the concurring tendencies of existing sects, and much more still in the character of our doctrine itself.
The progress of Unitarianism for the last hundred years, we do not presume to say, is miraculous, but, under every point of view, it is certainly astonishing. Far more reasonable would be the assertion of an immediate interference from heaven to explain this phenomenon, than it is to account for those local excitements denominated revivals of religion. In the latter, an ignorance of the principles of human nature has ascribed to a direct divine agency what is merely the combined result of sympathy, of deeply excited personal fears, of the absence of political and other stimulants to enthusiasm, of a natural reaction from a long state of spiritual coldness and sloth, and of other
causes, which we may take some future opportunity to enumerate and illustrate. But in the progress of Unitarianism, we see it silently and humbly springing out in every unconnected quarter, like the other works of God. It has borrowed little aid from sympathy, for, alas, it has had to encounter the most violent antipathies. It has not been ushered up to its growth by the operation of personal fears, since a thousand times more efforts have been made to scare converts from its pale, than to draw them into it. It is not the child of passion, nor the nursling of sentimental enthusiasm, nor scarcely even now the object of any thing like combined and systematic efforts.
We make these statements simply by way of comparison, and not at all for the pharisaical purpose of really arrogating to ourselves any special protection from heaven. It is enough for us that the age of Christian miracles gave an impulse to the propagation of truth and holiness through all succeeding times. It is enough that Christ deposited the leaven in the mass of human nature, for we believe it will ferment there under the ordinary operations of Providence. It is enough that he dropt the mustard seed in the soil; we are assured that the plant will grow. The comforter, we believe, is still manifesting his gentle and beneficent influences, but it is by the instrumentality of a studied and preached gospel, and by the communication from man to man of such ideas and feelings as peculiarly belong to Christianity. That the Deity altogether refrains from influencing the hearts of his rational creatures immediately, we are not so philosophical, so epicurean, as to affirm. But we should be glad to know what token he has given us, that the direct
operation of his spirit is more real in the crowd of a prayer-meeting, than in the closet of the incipient Unitarian, who bends over his Bible, and studies, and prays, and feels his mind opening into the marvellous light of truth, as calmly, as irresistibly, and as gladly, as the morning ushers in the day.
We can put our finger on four prominent places in the map of Christendom, where orthodoxy, since the era of the reformation, was planted with a strength and deepness, which mere human foresight would predict could never suffer it to be eradicated, but where the result has utterly baffled such prediction. We allude to Geneva, the realm of the despotic Calvinto the whole region between Poland and the Rhine, in which, wherever the reformation was established, the strict dogmas of Luther once almost universally prevailed to the Presbyterian Churches throughout England and Ireland-and lastly, to New England. Now contemplate, for a moment, the silent, yet mighty progress, which our views have developed just in those four regions on the globe, where alone Christianity has been partially or wholly released from her alliance with power, or where the religious principle, and the spirit of inquiry, have together and unimpeded exerted their energies. What Unitarian, on glancing at this picture, should be discouraged at seeing all the wealth, the learning, the exertions, the bitterness, and the zeal of orthodoxy, confederated around him, to multiply missionaries, to found theological institutions, and to plant churches, for the sake of perpetuating doctrines, which do violence to scripture and reason? Look at the past, we say, and judge by that of the future.