Imatges de pàgina

fear no injury from it in the end, to the sentiments denominated evangelical. Exegesis has come, by discussion among them, to a solid and permanent science. That the Scriptural writers taught substantially, what we believe to be orthniloxy, is now conceded by some of their most able expositors.

There is another point of view, in which the subject may be regarded. The person who reads their works, will see what the spirit of doubt and unbelief can do, in respect to the Book of God, and where it will carry the men who entertain it. It is indeed a most affecting & awful lesson. But is there no reason to fear, that we are to learn it by sad experience? Does not the progress of the sentiments which you defend, illustrate the nature of this subject? A short time since, almost all the Unitarians of New England were simply Arians. Now, if I am correctly informed, there are scarcely any of the younger preachers of Unitarian Sentiments, who are not simple Humanitarians. Such was the case in Germany. The divinity of Christ was early assailed; inspiration was next doubted and impugned. Is not this already begun here? Natural religion comes next in order; and the question between the parties here may soon be in substance whether natural or revealed religion is our guide and our hope.

For myself I must say, it is my conviction, that the sooner matters come to this issue, the better. Not that natural religion is better in itself, than Unitarianism : No: I believe Christianity, under any form, is better than Deism. But the contest which is now carried on here, will be more speedily terminated by such an issue. The parties will then understand each other; and the public will understand the subject of dispute. I cannot think that they do at present. It is but very recently, that explicit declarations have been made in print, by you and


friends. And though with such views as I possess, I cannot help feeling the most sincere regret, that such sentiments should be propagated; yet I can never do otherwise than applaud that ingenuousness, which openly avows sentiments, that are more privately inculcated. I shall be very ready to confess my apprehensions are quite erroneous, if the lapse of a few years piore does not produce, in many cases the

undisguised avowal of the German divinity, in all its latitude. I anticipate this, because I believe that the laws of exegesis, when thoroughly understood, and applied without party bias, will necessarily lead men to believe, that the apostles inculcated, for substance those doctrines which are now called orthodo.x. And as there probably will be not a few, who will reject these doctrines, my apprehension is, that to take the German ground will, ere long, be deemed both ingenuous and expedient.

Believing however as. I now do, while my convictions remain, I must act agreeably to them. I hope I shall never be guilty, of exercising an exclusive or persecuting spirit. But while my present views last, I cannot look with indifference on the great contest, which is pending in this part of our country. I must regard the opinions, which you have avowed in your sermon, to be fundamentally subversive of what appear to me, to be the peculiarities of the Christian system. If the doctrine of Christ's divinity and humanity be not true, nor that of the vicarious sacrifice of Christ, and pardon by it; if human nature be not, of itself, entirely destitute of principles of holiness, that may fit men for heaven and does not need special regenerating and sanctifying grace; then I know not what there is in the Christian system, that very much concerns our duty or our interest, which is not taught by the principles of natural religion ; nor what there is, for which it is our duty to contend. The great question, at present, between you and me, is, What does the Bible teach, on the subjects proposed? For our answer to this question, you and I stand accountable to the Judge of quick and dead; and as ministers of his gospel and interpreters of his word, we are placed under an awful responsibility. If either of us violate the reason which God has giveu us, in our inquiries; are led by partial views, by passion, by prejudice, by thirst for popularity with our friends, or a fear of reproach from those, whom we are obliged to consider as opponents; Christ will require from us an account of our conduct. When I think on this ; and look back and ask myself whether I have conducted this whole dispute, with a view to my account, and in the fear of God; I cannot but feel solicitude, lest through the deceitfulness of the human heart,

somethiug may have escaped me, which may prove prejudicial, in some way or other, to the promotion of real truth. If you see this, my dear Sir, tell me where and what it is. We have no real interest, but to know, believe and obey the truth. And supposing truth to be, what it now appears to me to be, I cannot believe otherwise, than that you are endeavouring to inculcate principles, radically subversive of the gospel of Christ. Will you do me the justice to believe, that I may have honestly formed such an opinion, without taking my faith from Creeds, or grounding it on tradition; and without the spirit that would establish an Inquisition, or lord it over the consciences of men, or treat you with disrespect ?

In a word; with those who have the convictions that I possess, of the nature and importance of the gospel system, it can never admit of a question, whether they are to make all the opposition in their power, (provided it be done in the spirit of Christian candour and benevolence,) to the prevalence of sentiments like yours. I cannot but view the question between us as amounting to this ; whether we shall retain Christianity, or reject all but the name? If I am wrong; May the Lord forgive me, and grant me better views. If

you are wrong, my heart's desire and prayer to God is, that the same blessing may be bestowed on you.

Allowing that I and those with whom I act are sincere in our belief, you yourself would say, that we should be justly chargeable with the greatest inconsistency, did we not feel strong desires, to resist the innovations that are attempted in many important points of our theology. Permit me to add, that real charity may sometimes attribute strong feelings and a deep interest on this subject, to ardent benevolence towards those, who differ from us, and whom we think to be in a dangerous condition, rather than to party zeal, blind credulity and ignorance, or an exterminating and injurious spirit.

And now to bring these already protracted letters to a close ; you will permit me respectfully and seriously to solicit, that you would look back and review the Sermon, which has occasioned these remarks.

Have you represented the sentiments of the great body of Christians in

this country correctly? Have you produced the real arguments, on wbich they rely? Have you treated them with respect, with gentleness, with tenderness ? Has your simple aim been to reason with them, to convince them, and not to hold them up in such an attitude, as to excite disgust? I do not ask these questions for the sake of reproach, or to wound your feelings; but, I cannot help thinking it a duty incumbent on you to ask them. Look now, with a Christian eye, on the unhappy and distracted state of the churches in this land, the glory of all lands ! When will our contentions cease! When shall we bring a united offering to our common Lord, if men, who stand in eminent and responsible stations, treat those whom they profess to own as Christian brethren, with severity, or in such a manner as to wound their feelings !

My dear Sir, I do think these are things, which when we enter our closets to lift up our souls to God, we are all bound by sacred obligations to consider. I do not bring these as charges against you; but I speak of the impressions, which your discourse, has excited in the bosoms of those, who espouse the sentiments which you condemn. If their impressions are without reason, the wrong may indeed fall upon them. But in reviewing the manner in which you have treated some subjeots, in your Sermon, is there not more reason for those impressions, than Christian meekness and benevolence can approve? When the hours of excitement, and the stimulus of party feeling are gone by, you and I shall stand at the bar of that Saviour, who searches the hearts and tries the reins of men. shall be obliged to account for the manner in which we have conducted this whole dispute.

0 dear Sir, this is po trifling matter. We are im mortal beings : and our eternal destiny is in the hands of that Redeemer, about whose dignity and glory we are contending.

When I think on this, I cannot but apprehend, that the question between us is of deep and radical interest, as it respects our eternal salvation. If the God whom I am bound to adore, has not only revealed himself in the book of nature, but has clearly disclosed his glory in the gospel of Christ, and I mistake after all a revelation so clear ; or

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induced by party feeling, or erroneous philosophy, reject the testimony which he has given; the mistake must be tremendous in its consequences; the rejection will justly incur the divine displeasure. With all this subject, however, fully before me, I do not hesitate : I cannot doubt respecting it. When I behold the glory of the Saviour, as revealed in the gospel, I am constrained to cry out with the believing apostle ; “My Lord and my God!" And when my departing spirit shall quit these mortal scenes, and wing its way to the world unknown; with my latest breath I desire to pray, as the expiring martyr did, “ LORD JESUS, RECEIVE MY SPIRIT."

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