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without precedent to guide them, the Thirtynine Articles would not originate with the one, nor the Assembly's Confession with the other, The standard of orthodoxy is lower than it was ; and it continues to sink : but if the party be right now, they have been wrong; if now they are strictly scriptural they have been unscriptural, and they have to thank their opponents for driving or shaming them back into the right road. While individuals (in no small number) have completely renounced the system, the whole mass has slowly receded; the tide yet ebbs and flows at intervals; but the old mark is not reached at its height, and at its influx the old bank is left unwashed by the billows; for generations yet the fluctuations may continue, but all will finally settle at the point of truth. .. Christian liberality is indebted to the same cause for being more clearly defined, and generally cultivated. While salvation is connected with a creed, inquiry is daunted by anathemas; conscience fettered by impositions ; charity restricted by unauthorized limitations ; and the gates of heaven barred by human inventions. To Unitarianism belongs the glory of opening that page of Scripture which teaches that “God is no respecter of persons; but in every country he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him ;” the honour of vindicating the innocency of involuntary mental error
and of embracing in fraternal love the good of all parties here, and breathing the hope of a heaven for all the virtuous hereafter. Nor has this honourable stand been altogether unsuccessful. There is a growing spirit of charity and generosity among Christians; an approach to the temper of that undying, apostolic declaration, which is the very essence, standard, soul of Christian liberality. Events have aided this, and there have been some which, one would think, few hearts could resist. Stoutly cased in bigotry must his heart be, and invulnerable to every generous emotion, who has, when a child, lisped his Maker's praises in the sweet simplicity of Watts's infant hymns; and in maturer life, borrowed his harmonious language to embody the pious feelings of his soul, and present them to his God; and then read his almost dying renunciation of the Trinity, in the belief of which he had been educated; who can see the high worth and piety and goodness of a Lindsey, and follow his mind through its course of inquiry and conversion, to the heroic renunciation of his earthly prospects; who can enjoy the noble effusions of à Robinson, and see the pleader for the Divinity of Christ ultimately convinced in spite of his own arguments; and yet from the heaven of his hopes exclude the converts of Unitarianism. There are still dark souls of this description ; but with Unitarianism the light of love arose on
the world, and it will shine “more and more unto the perfect day.”..
The tendency of Unitarianism is to destroy sectarianism. Its votaries are separated by so mighty a barrier from the rest of the Christian world, that they readily overlook the lesser differences among themselves ; like a few persons of different nations, shipwrecked on a desert island, who, whether their native countries be at peace or war, find it necessary to unite cordially, and render each other good-will and kind offices. All the minor varieties that have made parties, fostered bigotry, and excited alienation and persecution, exist among them commonly, without interfering with social peace or individual affection. And though to a much less extent, yet something of the same result has been produced among their opponents; and the necessity of defending the great peculiarities of their system, has softened the asperities that used to attend its more minute varieties. Good men have long looked forward to a time when dogmas and leaders shall cease to give names to religious societies; when they shall merge in the more honourable title of Christian ; and there shall be “ one fold and one shepherd.” Let us hope that to this state we are approaching; and that as inferior distinctions are becoming absorbed in the greater, they also will, by a continuance of the same operation, at length vanish, and sects
and creeds bow their usurping heads before the name of Christian and the apostolic confession, “ There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Meanwhile, the great cause of civil and religious liberty has been advanced. The latter was very imperfectly understood and practised at the Reformation. It was claimed or denied, as parties were in or out of power. Often was it claimed for societies, but denied by them to individuals. Unitarianism sprung up in the bosom of other denominations, and its votaries claimed in their own defence, real religious liberty, viz. individual liberty in a Christian Church. With its progress the subject has become better understood. It is remarkable, that when Trinitarianism originally sprung up in a similar way, it was followed by no similar result: till it acquired influence, it was timid; and then, tyrannous. This shews a difference of spirit and tendency. In the first four centuries, doctrinal corruption and ecclesiastical domination advanced hand in hand; together were they born; together did they revel on human sacrifices; and together shall they perish. The same malignant star ruled at their nativity, and the same triumphal shout shall peal the glad-tidings of their destruction around the enlightened and liberated globe. And will the man of high and just and liberal spirit in religion, be in politics the slave or the enslaver? Is not the connexion most intimate between religious and civil freedom? They identify themselves. Religious liberty is a civil right; to assert it is a Christian duty. By enlightened principles of theology are minds nurtured which are prompt firmly to claim their due, and faithfully to discharge their duty-men who will be just to their country and to the world. · This rapid view of the results of the Unitarian controversy, results so decidedly beneficial, not only proves the utility of controversy, as a means for the discovery and promotion of truth, but indicates our duty, and confirms our hopes. It exhibits the arms and triumphs of Unitarianism. “ The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds : casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
The present state of Unitarianism is most encouraging to its advocates. It has advanced in defiance of prejudices the most obstinate and extensive, and amid the assaults and anathemas of almost all the sects into which Christianity is distributed. Till within the last fifty years it scarcely existed in Britain but as the religion of individuals, but since that time numerous con