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posed upon me, under my Lord and Saviour, by the Church of which I am unworthily a Minister, when, on the day of ordination, she required from me this solemn pledge,—" to be ready, with all diligence, to banish and drive away all false doctrine, contrary to God's Word, God being my helper." And the NECESSITY is to be found in the conviction that the Ministers of an Established Church are bound to labour, not only for the edification and confirmation in the faith of those who voluntarily attend her ministrations, but also for the instruction and conversion of those "who are without," and who withdraw themselves, from whatever motives, from her pale. For the fulfilment of our obligations to our own members, the ordinary performance of our stated services is considered to suffice :-for the payment of our debt of missionary solicitude to those who are not only estranged from our worship, but also from the principles and doctrines of our holy religion, some such extraordinary effort as the present seems to be imperatively called for.
Of all the various classes of Dissenters from the National communion, there is none with whom our ground of difference is so wide, or whom we regard with feelings of such unfeigned interest and concern, as the class which assumes to itself the distinctive title of UNITARIAN. From our hearts we pity these men, although we are told (1.) that to feel or to express pity for those who are not themselves impressed with a conviction that they require that pity, is to insult them. But when our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shed his tears of sublime compassion over the Holy City, surely he did not mean to insult it; and yet, as surely, there was but little community of feeling between the holy sympathizer himself and those who were then the objects of his melting pity. The title of Unitarian, it will be observed, is one which we cannot concede has been properly
applied, inasmuch as it seems to take for granted that the doctrine of the Unity of the Godhead is alone held by those who are designated by this term. Admitting, however, as we do, that the term Socinian is not, perhaps, fairly applicable to this class of religionists, and unwilling to give just cause of offence at the outset by the use of it, we are satisfied to employ the name which they have themselves selected, while we enter our protest against the unfairness of its assumption. Neither can we conscientiously recognize as Christians those who deliberately reject the doctrine of the atoning sacrifice; and this, together with the consideration that we occupy a totally different ground from our opponents in this controversy, from believing that the eternal destinies of men are affected by their belief or rejection of certain doctrines, a notion from which all Unitarians, so far as I can learn, dissent ;-this, I say, frequently places us in a position of considerable embarrassment, and exposes us to the charges of bigotry, illiberality, want of Christian courtesy, and of Christian charity.
Before entering, then, on that which is to form the immediate subject of this lecture, I would desire to address a few observations with a view to excuse ourselves from justly incurring these charges.
The principal reason why we have been accused of spiritual pride, bigotry, &c. is, the importance we attach to some of our opinions. The difference between us and Unitarians does not respect merely the circumstantials of religion: it respects nothing less than the rule of faith, the ground of hope, and the object of worship. The question is, whether we Trinitarians are not only superstitious devotees, and deluded dependents on an arm of flesh, but also habitual idolators; or whether Unitarians be not guilty of refusing to subject their faith to
*Jer. xvii. 5.
the decisions of heaven, of rejecting the only way of salvation, and of sacrilegiously depriving the Son of God of his essential glory. What if Unitarians do not deny our Christianity on account of our supposed idolatry; this only proves, in my opinion, not, as they allege, their charity, but their indifference to religious truth, and the deistical tendency of their opinions. If the proper deity of Christ be a divine truth, it is a great and fundamental truth in Christianity; so great, and so fundamental, that a denial of it involves a forfeiture of the name of Christian. Is the honest avowal of this conviction to subject us to the charge of bigotry? I ask what is there of bigotry in our not reckoning Unitarians to be Christians, more than in their reckoning us idolators? What says Dr. Priestley, the arch-apostle of English Unitarianism, a name to which I shall have frequent occasion to refer in the course of this lecture? Here are his own words. "All who believe Christ to be a man, and not God, must necessarily think it idolatrous to pay him divine honours; and to call it so is no other than the necessary consequence of avowing our belief." Nay, he represents it "as ridiculous that they should be allowed to think Trinitarians idolators, without being permitted to call them so." (2.) Doubtless if Unitarians have a right to think Trinitarians idolators, they have a right to call them so; and further, if they are able, they have a right to prove them such; nor ought we to consider ourselves as insulted by the attempt. We have no idea of being offended with any man, in matters of this kind, for speaking what he believes to be the truth. Instead of courting compliments from each other, in affairs of such moment, we ought to encourage an unreservedness of expression, provided it be accompanied with sobriety and benevolence. But neither ought Unitarians to complain of our refusing to acknowledge them as Christians,
or to impute it to a spirit of bigotry; for it amounts to nothing more than avowing a necessary consequence of our belief. If we believe the deity and atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ to be essential to Christianity, we must necessarily think those who reject these doctrines to be no Christians, nor is it inconsistent with true charity to speak accordingly. (3.) Yet how stands. the matter? To entertain degrading notions of the person of Christ, and to err from the truth in so doing, is considered innocent, and no one ought, on that account, to think the worse of those who do so. But to be of opinion that he who rejects the deity and atonement of Christ is not a Christian, gives great offence! Why is this? Suppose we are in error, why should not our error be as innocent as the contrary one? There is no other way of accounting for it than by supposing such reasoners more concerned for their own honour than for the honour of Christ.
The grand question, then, brethren, is, are the doctrines which Unitarians disown, supposing them to be true, of such importance, that a rejection of them would endanger their salvation? It must be admitted that these doctrines may be true, and not only may be true, but may be essential to true Christianity. Christianity, like every other system of truth, must have some principles which are essential to it; and if the principles in question be such, it cannot be justly imputed to pride, or bigotry, it cannot be uncharitable or uncandid to think so. Neither can it be wrong to draw the natural and necessary conclusion, that those who reject these doctrines, practically reject Christianity itself. To think justly of persons is, surely, in no respect inconsistent with universal good-will towards them. It is not contrary to charity to consider unbelievers in the light in which the Scriptures represent them, nor to consider those who reject what is essential
to the Gospel as rejecting the Gospel itself. If the Deity of Christ be a divine truth, he is the object of trust, and that not merely in the character of a witness, but as "Jehovah in whom is everlasting strength." This appears to be a characteristic of true Christians in the New Testament, "In his name shall the Gentiles trust."* "I know in whom I have trusted," as it is in the margin.† “In whom," says the same Apostle, "ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation." But if it be a characteristic of true Christianity so to trust in Christ, as to commit the salvation of our souls into his hands, how can we conceive of those as true Christians who consider him only as a fellow-creature, and, consequently, repose in him no such trust? If men by nature be in a lost and perishing condition, and if the Lord Jesus Christ came to seek and save them under those characters, as he himself constantly testified, then all those who are whole in their own eyes, who, like the Scribes and Pharisees of old, feeling no sickness, have no need of a physician, must necessarily be excluded from an interest in his salvation; and in what other light can those persons be considered, who deny the depravity of their nature, and who approach God as an abstract God-the God who is "a consuming fire" ||-without respect to an atoning Saviour? Further: if the death of Christ, as an atoning sacrifice, be the only way of a sinner's salvation, if there be "No other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved," § how can we conceive that those who deliberately disown it, and renounce all dependence upon it for acceptance with God, should yet be interested in it? If the doctrine of atonement by the cross of Christ be a divine truth, it constitutes the
Matt. xii. 21. † 2 Tim. i. 12.
Eph. i. 12, 12.
Heb. xii. 29.