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this writer is accustomed to publick discussions ; still I cannot help thinking, that he is now out of his proper element. He treats orthodox clergymen as he would the demagogues of democracy. This is not a judicial question ; it is not a political one, nor ought it to be treated as such.* It is a question on theology.
* “Another Layman," endeavoured in the “Chronicle," to raise political prejudices against the author of. Are you a Christian or a Calvinist and before “ Amana” bad determined on publishing again, he had prepared a few lines for the “ Chronicle,” which he will now insert in this note. The writer of the following lines only wishes to encourage a dispassionate investigation of the subjects introduced by a “ Layman. I believe that “ a newspaper may become a channel, through which many pious citizens may read without any expence.” But if this is the wish of “ Another Layman,” he ought not to endeavour to make it a political question, nor to make use of it to raise political prejudices. Whether Christ is God or not ? is certainly not a political question, and to connect it at all with political matters, will injure the cause which “ Another Layman” wishes to defend. I have always thought that the apostle meant to describe Jesus Christ as the eternal God, when he says, “ He thought it not robbery to be equal with God;' and I cannot conceive how any person can read the scriptures without supposing that Jesus is so set forth in those writings ; yet we · are ready to hear the arguments of our opponents, and to answer them from the scriptures. The term “ liberal clergy," not being found in scripture, is certainly no reason why it should not be used, any more than the term orthodox, and Messrs. Thacher and Channing have both so fairly explained what they mean by the use of that term, that I think no one can object to their using of it, in order to designate their party. It is wished that the question should be brought to some “ specific point of investigation." There are already several questions before the publick. The first is, whether Jesus Christ is God as well as man, or whether he is merely man ?-Secondly. Whether Jesus was a being superior to angel or man, but inferior to God, or whether he was God and man in one person? Dr. Worcester starts another question, Whether Orthodox congregationalists ought to have any christian communion with the Unitarian congregationalists? This Dr. W. decides in the negative, that they ought not ; and the Panoplist Reviewers say, that it is the sin and reproach of Massachusetts
, that this division has ņot long been made. He thinks that persons who differ so essentially cannot join sincerely in the same worship; and Mr. Belsham is of the same opinion. “A Layman” has introduced a question respecting the congregational church government, and complains of the formation cof certain associations unknown to the ancient government of their churches, and contrary to the original idea of independency. The Rev.
And without any desire to lessen the ability of our author, we may safely say, that religion has not been his principal study.
The publick ought to know that both of those heterodox laymen have been professional men, or perhaps strangers would think that the laity were wiser than their teachers.
That confidence of success, which in some cases naturally leads to conquest, betrays, on the present occasion, a want of a deep sense of the importance of the subjects, and of a becoming humility, which ought to possess the mind on entering the Holy of Holies. It reminds me of the unruly horse rushing into the battle, without the least idea of the possibility of defeat or danger. Though we despise grimace, yet we think seriousness very becoming, in treating of serious and important truths.
To say the least, a “ Layman” has forgotten the exhortation which saith, “ Let not him, that putteth on the armour, boast like him that putteth it off.” His manner of writing is calculated to make a wrong impression on his readers, which kind of writing is condemned by Mr. Channing, when made use of by his opponents, and I have no doubt he will condemn it in his friend and brother a “Layman.” It has been frequently
Walter Balfour, of Charlestown, complains of his brethren the Baptists, in like manner ; he thinks that they have departed from their first principles, both as it regards building their meeting-houses, and supporting their religious teachers; he thinks that the church affairs, whether spirituals or temporals, ought entirely to be enjoyed and supported, as well as managed, by only such as are truly godly persons ; he is for thoroughly cleansing the sanctuary, and turning out every thing that is unclean.
declared, that it is with Unitarianism, in Belsham's sense of the word, that we have to do; and it is unaccountable, why the Arians should interfere, unless it be true, as some have accused them, that they feel an alliance with Unitarians, and perhaps have made a treaty both offensive and defensive with them. Indeed there appears to be a wish to make a combined force, using the name Unitarian for the whole, yet with a different signification when applied to a part of them. Why do not the Arians act according to their profession, when they find the Saviour degraded, and stand firmly opposed to every thing which is calculated to degrade our Lord and Master, as Mr. Channing calls the Saviour. It is evident that Mr. Thacher does not agree with Mr. Belsham, for, speaking on the doctrine of the Atonement, he says, “ There is, perhaps, no proposition on this subject, in which so many christians would agree, as that of Paley, 'that our Lord's death and sufferings are spoken of in the scriptures in reference to human salvation, as the death and sufferings of no other being are spoken of; and that the full meaning of those passages cannot be satisfied without supposing that these sufferings and death had a real and essential effect in procuring that salvation.'” This is what Belsham calls "unscriptural” and “irrational," and yet the greatest number of christians agreeing in this proposition, it follows, that the greatest number disagree with Mr. Belsham. Neither does Mr, Thacher agree with Belsham, where he states, that we owe no gratitude to Christ for what we now receive; on the contrary, he
« Christ seems not less endued with all-sufficient power to en
lighten, redeem, and exalt his sincere disciples ; nor are his labours and his sufferings for us less entitled to our most grateful and affectionate remembrance.”. A * Layman,” among some other misrepresentations, speaks of the orthodox as holding that nien are “damned for not believing ;" whereas they hold that the primary ground of man's condemnationis,his transgressions of God's laws, and that he cannot be pardoned without believing in Christ, which is very different from their being damned for not believing so and so, as stated by a " Layman. I shall quote at large another of his mis. representations, that candid men may judge of the whole lump. He asks, “ Is it more honourable to his character, to assert that his power is divided, that there are three coequal beings in the godhead, who may be opposed in will, in capacity, in power ? In what does this differ from the polytheism of the ancients, except in number? We have dethroned the three hundred gods of Greece and Rome, and we substitute in their place three gods of our own creation.” Does the cause of " Unitarianism” require, that the most shameful and gross misrepresentations and perversions should be used to excite and prejudice the publick mind against Trinitarians? In common life, we are very disposed to abhor cunning and prevarication. We think that a good cause does not require it, and that a bad one is not aided by it. If a “ Layman” thought so, would he insinu. ate that Trinitarians held as follows? “ The idea, that the Supreme Governour of the universe, in his proper person, took upon himself the human nature, that he suffered upon the cross, that the godhead was for a
time divided, and part of it was on earth suffering persecution and insult from men, and part in the heavens, regulating and governing the world, in addition to its incomprehensibilities, is infinitely derogatory to the greatness and majesty, which we are taught to ascribe to the Maker and Governour of the Universe.” What
. Trinitarian ever believed that the godhead was divided ?
My motto is, that “Truth admits no error, and that religion cannot abide impiety ;" this is in direct contradiction to a Layman's position, that there is no guilt attached to any kind of error, however presumptuous or blasphemous. To call this a Christian principle for a party purpose, will not save it from the condemnation of all lovers of truth. It is possible to say, that we are of Christ for party purposes and carnal intentions, as well as that we are of Paul or of Cephas. The Rev. Elias Smith denominates himself a Christian, in an emphatical manner; and he calls his Societies, Christian Societies, just in the same spirit in which a Layman calls himself a Christian in opposition to Calvinism. We are willing to meet him in his appeal to the scriptures; if we cannot prove our point from them, we will give it up; “ There is one point in which all parties are agreed, that the christian religion reposes for its foundation on the sacred scriptures contained in the old and new Testament." This will account for our frequent reference to those writings, and may serve as an apology. The general fidelity and correctness of the present translation, in common use in the Churches, are admitted. When an equal number of men, of equal