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when they arrive at more mature age, they are furnished with a multitude of books, pamphlets, and tracts, all of the Orthodox stamp; they are prevented, if possible, from reading any of a different character. In this way they are trained
young, in the way their instructors wish them to go, expecting that when they are old they will not depart therefrom ; for
“ 'Tis education forms the common mind,
Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined.” And when they have advanced to manhood, their pious Orthodox teachers still treat them as children; they will not allow them to hear any other doctrine preached ; they will not suffer any clergymen who hold a different faith to preach in their pulpits; for, by their practice, they consider them heretics, or infidels, and disbelievers of the Bible; they seem not to possess much of that virtue, without which, Paul said, he “should become as sounding brass, or a tinkling symbol ;” without which, said he,“ though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, I am nothing.” Furthermore, these well meaning preachers labor hard to persuade their hearers, that if they do not fully believe the Trinitarian doctrine,
that was not true, and for my good. She had full confidence in her minister ; and I had full confidence in my mother; and she always told me, when I was going to church, to “mind what the minister says," and so I did; but a great part of it I understood no more than if it had been Dutch. But I had a tolerable memory, and was thought to be quite Orthodox; for I could repeat much of the creeds and doctrines, just as well, and about as understandingly, as our parrot does, when it cries out,“ pretty Poll, pretty Poll!”
they are heretics, they are infidels, they are unbelievers of the word of God, and that they cannot be saved; they “must perish everlastingly.” They may sincerely worship the Father almighty, the only true God; have full faith in his Son, sent by the Father to be their only Mediator and Saviour; be filled with love to God, and gratitude towards the Saviour; and be ever so thankful for the blessed influence of the Holy Spirit; yet, if they believe not the whole of a doctrine, which cannot be found in the Bible, they“ must undoubtedly perish everlastingly!” And even in this world, if they are members of their church, they must be cast out, and treated as an anathema maranatha. * And if there
* A notable case recently occurred in the State of New Jersey. Dr. Stevens J. Lewis, a member of the Presbyterian Church of Morristown, conscientiously changed his faith concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, and honestly confessed it to the church; and requested a regular dismission, so that he might join a Unitarian church in New York. · But he was told, that he could not be dismissed from the church, on account of his change of religious sentiments, without submitting to a course of discipline, with which the Dr. was unwilling to comply, as he held himself accountable to God only, for the correctness of his faith. He was therefore summoned to appear before the church, to answer to the charges of“ 1st. Denying the personality of the Holy Ghost, &c. 2d. Denying and deriding the doctrine of the Trinity, as set forth in our confession of faith, &c. 3d. Attempting to draw away
the youth and others from the doctrine of our church, by publishing extensively your views and feelings in opposition to the same.”
Upon these charges the church proceeded to try and condemn him as follows.
“ It was decided by a unanimous vote, taken upon each charge separately, that the charges had all been sustained ; wherefore,
should be present any professing Christian, from other churches, who cannot swallow all their creed, they are sometimes not allowed to sit down with them at the table of the Lord, to commemorate the dying love of their Saviour; they are virtually told, “Stand by,” we are “more holy than” you!* Is this their construction of the Scriptural doctrine of esteeming others better than ourselves? And would it not be well for them to consider that, to those persons to whom they say, “ stand by,” Christ may say, “come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you!” Are not all these facts and circumstances sufficient to account for the prevalence and continuance of this doctrine, without the ne
“Resolved, unanimously, that Dr. Stevens J. Lewis be, and he hereby is excommunicated from this church.
“Resolved, that this sentence of excommunication be published from the desk on the day of the next preparatory lecture. The above is a copy of the minute of the doings of the session, on the 27th of Nov. last.
O. L. KIRTLAND." 66 Dec. 1st. 1837."
A particular narrative of this case may be seen in a pamphlet, entitled, “ The Narrative showing the manner in which they do things in the Presbyterian Church, in the nineteenth century; printed at Morristown, N.J. Such proceedings have a powerful effect to prevent pious, peaceable Christians from making any objections to whatever doctrines the church may establish.
* It is a well known fact, that some bishops of the Church of England, some Presbyterian elders, and other clergymen, have, and I believe now do, debar from their communion table, all antitrinitarian, or unitarian professors of religion, though regular members of other Christian churches. But I expect, and rejoice that this unchristian, uncharitable practice is approaching towards an end. In the New England States it is almost extinct.
cessity of receiving it for truth? Will any one be so weak as to say it must be true, because it has been erroneously believed so long ? Could it be expected, that the generality of Christians, if they were convinced, would at once, renounce and give up their early imbibed notions, all the creeds and doctrines they had been taught from their infancy, when they are told and assured, if they do, they will be persecuted through life, and damned eternally ? “All that a man hath, will he give for his life.” Surely, then, would a man profess to believe anything, to save himself from great temporal evils, and from everlasting misery. It cannot be necessary to add more upon this point. I will mention but one more circumstance, which has great weight. It is well known that all bishops, priests, and other teachers in the Episeopal churches subscribe to the thirty-nine articles, in which is contained the Trinitarian doctrine; and all other Trinitarian teachers make public profession of their faith in that doctrine ; and generally the members of their churches are required to make the same profession. Now every one knows how natural it is (it is almost second nature) for a man to stick to a faith to which he has pledged himself. If he does not, he is apt to be considered a weak man, or a wicked one. So he is insensibly carried along, as it were by a current, an overwhelming current of popular opinion. I cannot, therefore, conceive, that the prevalence or continuance of this doctrine is any evidence of its truth. Let us therefore lay it aside, and stick to the Bible, the only sure guide for faith and practice.
I have now taken a brief view (not so full as I would have done, if I had not feared that I should be too prolix, tedious, and uninteresting) of all the most important passages of Scripture, relating to the doctrine of the Trinity, together with the dictates of nature and reason (peculiar gists of God to men) according therewith. I have also considered most of the Trinitarian creeds, catechisms, confessions, liturgies, and ecclesiastical decrees of the Orthodox fathers, and other pious, great, and learned divines. And I have noticed the arguments and reasoning of both ancient and modern Trinitarians; and from the whole I feel obliged to conclude, that the doctrine of the Trinity is not proved, is not supported, is not made out, by the Bible, the whole Bible, nor by any passage thereof, if taken in connexion with its context; but that on the contrary, is fully, either expressly, or by necessary inference, disproved, or overthrown; and that all the creeds, decrees, arguments, and reasoning of Trinitarians, if thoroughly examined, are fatal to the truth of the doctrine, or destroy some of its essential foundations. And I will ask all candid, intelligent Christians, who will be at the trouble of examining the subject fully, who hold the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bi