Sidor som bilder

to man, is to be employed about the noblest and most. sublime subject.

These teachers consider it to be their duty, to give to every man the “reason of the faith” that is in them.

They esteem it a sacred obligation to search the scriptures, to compare all human systems with them, and to adopt these only so far, as after fair and honest and pious research they shall find them supported by the Bible.

Hence these teachers have å much more laborious task, than those who blindly follow Calvin, or any maker of creeds. They would consider it a profanation of the desk to preach doctrines which they themselves could not understand. Their sermons, instead of resembling the treatises of metaphysical divines, are modelled upon that of our Saviour on the mount. They think his example of sufficient authority.

In the beautiful language of Mr. Channing, “we esteem “ it á solemn duty to disarm instead of exciting the bad “passions of our people. We wish to promote among them

a spirit of universal charity. We wish to make thèm con« demn their own bad practices rather than the erroneous

speculations of their neighbour. We love them too sin

cerely to imbue them with the spirit of controversy." This is as true as it is christian-like and sublime. We all know that this is their mode of preaching, and these their motives.

I mean now to shew,

1st. That the sentiments of Mr. Belsham are in fact in the Panoplist imputed so generally, and with such purposed vagueness to those whom the orthodox call the liberal party, as to lead all honest laymen, ignorant of the distinction between the various sects, to believe, that all Unitarians agree in all points with Mr. Belsham.

In the first place, I adopt their own course of reasoning, as against themselves. Both the Panoplist and Dr. Wor

cester contend, that all the Unitarians are to be considered as one party, and are responsible for the opinions and even crimes which any of the party commit.

In page 6, having quoted at large Mr. Belsham's opinions, the editors of the Panoplist add, “ the foregoing quotations are sufficient to give the reader some acquaintance with the religious opinions of leading Unitarians."

The evidence only went to shew the opinion of one Unitarian. The Panoplist cites it as proof of the opinion of more than one of the leading Unitarians. Just below in the same page their courage gains ground, and they proceed without qualification in the work of misrepresentation. “ Our readers (say they) will excuse us, if for the sake of making a brief summary of doctrines held by Unitarians as exhibited in the preceding extracts, we give the substance of the several articles by way of recapitulation.”

“ Unitarians hold and teach then, That God," &c. &c. here inserting Mr. Belsham's creed.

This in common acceptation, is an insinuation, that all Unitarians hold those opinions. Here they dropped the word “leading."

The sarcastick, triumphant manner in which the whole subject is introduced, the course of argument adopted, such as that they had secretly known, and had often advised the publick of what the Boston ministers had studiously concealed, that they were at bottom Unitarians, though they artfully concealed it from their parishes and the world, but that happily for the cause of truth, they had discovered the means of bringing this more than popish plot to light ; all this course of statement, as it is applied to the Boston and other clergy of the liberal party generally, without any discrimination, was intended to convey, and does convey to the mind of every reader, that they considered it applicable to all. It was purposely vague, that the suspicion


might fall upon the whole. Mr. Channing has disappointed them. He has proved that a part of what they would impute to him as guilt, he claims as merit, and that the insinuation, the innuendo, that all the liberal clergy hold the opinions of Mr. Belsham, is false.

Do these gentlemen believe, that in order to convict them of a libel, it is necessary they should use a precise form of words? Do they believe, they can make insinuations in language purposely obscure, and when put upon their trial, escape on the ground of literal variation ?

What will be said to this phrase ?

« Such is the Unitarianism which Mr. Belsham wishes to propagate, and of which he professes to write the history, so far at least as it relates to its progress in this country. of the existence of such Unitarianism in the metropolis of New-England, our readers have been generally well persuaded, but some have not believed that it was making considerable progress, because they could not persuade them

elves that men, occupying important places in church and state, and standing high in publick estimation, were capable of concealing their true sentiments.”

I do not know that Dr. Worcester might not attempt to prove that the foregoing sentence did not contain any charge, since he could not see even in the Panoplist a charge of hypocrisy against the Boston clergy, but I understand the above to be an averment, that such Unitarianism as Mr. Belsham wished to propagate, and contained in the summary above cited by the Panoplist, was the same with that held by all the men in church and state in Massachusetts, (who were Unitarians at all) and that they concealed, from a sense of guilt and shame, their opinions from the publick.

Such any fair jury would say was the meaning of the sentence. Such Mr. Channing thought it to be, and supposed it included bim and his brethren. Such it was intended to

[ocr errors]

be, as I shall prove, and such Dr. Worcester ought to have supposed to be its meaning.

In the 2d page of the Panoplist Review the term Boston " and its vicinity” is used in such a manner as fairly to bear out Mr. Channing's inference. Nay, it would lead foreigners, and citizens unacquainted with the facts, to consider the whole town and vicinity Unitarians of Mr. Belsham's sort.

So much so, that if any Boston minister, however orthodos, should travel without a passport from the faithful, he would be in danger of being confounded with the hereticks.

“ The pamphlet before us (say the editors) furnishes most decisive evidence on the subject of the state of religion in Boston and the vicinity. It is evidence which can neither be evaded or resisted by the liberal party."

We now introduce one of the passages quoted by Mr. Channing “ We shall feel ourselves (say the Reviewers) warranted hereafter in saying that Unitarianism is the predominant religion among the ministers and churches of Boston.'

On this sentence the Rev. Dr. Worcester with wonderful shrewdness remarks, 1st. that this does not include the vicinity. But the other one I quoted above, did. 2d. It did not include the “great body of liberal christians.But it included the ministers of Boston and their churches; nay, its fair signification is, that the greater part of all the churches were Unitarians, and the sentence I have quoted did include the liberal party. And, 3dly, he says, it does not say that they were Unitarians in “Belsham's sense of the word.” But I have shown above, that in many


passages to the American Unitarians generally are imputed Belsham's opinions ; so then, if in any one sentence all the propositions cannot be found, our metaphysical divine cannot find

the assertion supported. To such a mind we can readily forgive any errours founded on metaphysical or scholastick subtleties. There is one other evasion which the Rev. Dr. Worcester invents for the word predominant, which I notice for other purposes. He says that it might have meant predominant in “influence,” having the “most prominent characters” for supporters.

There are two sentences in which this word is used by the Reviewer. The other one is, “ We feel entirely warranted in saying, that the predominant religion of the liberal party is decidedly Unitarian in Mr. Belsham's sense of the word.” Is there a man of plain sense who believes that the Reviewers meant thence simply to assert that the men of influence, the men who have the care of the college, alone, were Unitarians in Mr. Belsham's sense of the word, or did they mean that it was the prevailing sentiment, the sentiment of the greatest number? Surely the latter is the fair construction; but this construction was introduced, I fear, for the purpose for which, in too many orthodox publications, the same sentiment is inserted, to play off the passions and jealousies of the uninformed classes of citizens against the higher. Gentlemen, you take this course frequently. You are provoked that so vast a proportion of the opulent, well-informed classes of society are scriptural christians, and reject the creeds of the dark ages, the shreds and patches left upon our religion by the first reformers, and you wish to render them objects of jealousy, You may succeed in this game. You have, we well know, the long end of the lever. The multitude will finally govern; but recollect, that in pulling down scriptural christianity, in revenging yourselves upon us for rejecting your authority and preferring that of Christ, you run some hazard of being pulled down yourselves. Some of the best friends, and the most staunch supporters of christianity are among those whom you attack. Infidelity is the prevailing profession of

« FöregåendeFortsätt »