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unusual degree, an intellectual people. They are hereditarily and constitutionally a thinking race of men; and though opiates have long been administered to the conscience, and much reproach has been thrown on discriminating views of religion, still a state of torpor, or mental stagnation, is to them an unnatural state. No subjects are so proper to occupy the minds of the community, at the present time, as those which relate to the distinction between true and false doctrine; and thus, to the great realities, which are disclosed in the word of God. What can be plainer, than that additional means of meeting this disposition to investigate should be furnished ?
Again; it is undeniable, that a large portion of the community has been totally deceived, in regard to the doctrines and preaching of the orthodox. Many have recently discovered the deception practised upon them, and others are almost daily discovering it. Both classes wish to know how far they have been deceived. They are willing to hear from the lips of the orthodox themselves, and to learn from books what is really believed and taught.
In this state of things, nothing can be more reasonable, than that the orthodox should explain their own faith; and that they should have the means of doing it conveniently and easily, in writing as well as in public discourses. They must themselves tell what they believe, or be content that Unitarians should do it for them. They must give the reasons for their belief, or their adversaries will have it, that they believe without reason.
The cause of truth has already suffered greatly in this way. Misrepresentations, the most palpable and injurious, of the doctrines, preaching, and motives of the orthodox, have been common for many years; and the continual repetition of them has by no means ceased. The apparent object has been to keep the members of Unitarian congregations from entering the doors of an orthodox church; and this, to a very unhappy extent, has been the effect hitherto. There are not a few proofs, however, that these misrepresentations are soon to recoil upon their authors with unexpected violence. When those, who have been misled, determine to hear and examine for themselves, they find every thing different from what they had been taught to anticipate. They exclaiin at once, This cannot be orthodoxy. For aught that we can see, this is reasonable, scriptural, and in agreement with all that we observe within our breasts, or in the world around us. There is nothing here that violates common sense, or the experience of mankind. Either this is not orthodoxy, or we have been grossly imposed upon respecting it.'
The attempt to render the doctrines held by our fathers odious and absurd, by giving distorted views of them, has pushed its authors into an unpleasant dilemma. Those who have been deluded are naturally impelled to say, Your views of orthodoxy are either correct or incorrect,-fair or unfair. If correct and fair, then the preaching in new churches at Boston, and the teaching at Andover, though usually called orthodox, have really no resemblance to orthodoxy, and you can have no objection to our regarding such teaching and preaching with respect, and to our frequenting those places of worship where these doctrines are usually heard. But if all the descriptions of orthodoxy, which we have heard from Unitarian pulpits, are incorrect and unfair, we shall know what reliance to place on statements from the same quarter hereafter.
It is hardly necessary to inform our readers, that the latter horn of this dilemma is the one, from which peculiar danger is to be apprehended. How many of the misrepresentations here alluded to have been intentional, and how many the result of ignorance, it might be a difficult matter to settle; but ignorance is a very unsatisfactory excuse for erroneous statements, which are intended to make the cause of an adversary odious and contemptible, and which relate to the great and everlasting interest of immortal beings.
While Unitarians have generally been very slow and reluctant to tell definitely what they themselves believe, and have contended that it is a hardship, and an insult, that they should be required to do so, they have been very ready to tell what the orthodox believe; and to tell it in such a manner, that their people should be in no danger of forming predilections for orthodoxy: thus volunteering to do that for their neighbors, which they will hardly do for themselves, after years of intreaty, argument, and expostulation. Now we have serious objections to this course of proceeding: We wish to state our own views of divine truth, in our own manner, and to defend them by our own arguments. We suppose we can express our own creed more accurately, than our adversaries can express it for us. At any rate, we are desirous of making the experiment; and of repeating it as often as shall be neccessary. It is known, indeed, that Unitarians, while they insist on the right of judging for themselves on all subjects, claim the privilege of judging for the orthodox too, with respect to the terms of communion, ministerial exchanges, and the manner in which the orthodox are to regard them. This privilege they would gladly enforce, as unquestionable facts evince, even to punishing orthodox ministers, who do not yield to it, by ejecting them from their parishes. It is presumed that they will not claim the exclusive right of making -creeds for others; but there would be nothing more inconsistent in this, than attempting to control the religious practice of others, in reference to a matter of vital importance to the church; and such a religious practice, as results necessarily from the orthodox creed.
Secondly -- Unitarians have a magazine published here, upon which they spare no labor, and which is constantly employed in promoting their cause. We must have the means of meeting them on this ground; it being impossible to do as much through the medium of works published at a distance, as can be done on the spot. They have found it necessary to make strenuous efforts to keep up the publication and circulation of their magazine ; and surely, with our views of truth and duty, we cannot do less than they.
Thirdly :-There have been great accessions of numbers and strength to the body of orthodox Christians in Boston and the vicinity, within a few years past. We mention the fact with gratitude, but not with boasting. To God be unceasing praise, that he has so evidently begun to turn back the captivity of his people. Human agency could never have effected what has been done, and to God alone be the glory.
These accessions of numbers and strength require additional means of improvement, of instruction, of confirmation, of encouragement. As readers are multiplied, there is more need of writing; as invitations to labor are strongly presented, they prompt to seize the proper occasions, and the proper topics, for discussion; and as the cause of truth advances, it is plain that new measures and new efforts will be constantly demanded. The present day is not a time for inaction, nor for hesitating and dilatory movements.
Fourthly :The Unitarian controversy, as it is now conducted in Great Britain, Germany, and the United States, embraces nearly all the great points of fundamental truth and fundamental error. It is, as we firmly believe, one of the last great controversies, which is to afflict the church; and, although we would by no means advise to have it introduced where it is unknown, still there is little doubt that it must, for a time, attract the attention of many individuals, in almost every part of our country.
The history of this controversy, so far as it has already proceeded, does not furnish any ground of alarm for the future ; but, in order to make a proper use of advantages, as well as to correct misrepresentations, it is necessary that the orthodox should have some regular channel of communicating with the public.
For these reasons a new magazine has been commenced, to which The Spirit of the Pilgrims is considered an appropriate name.
Those principles, which were the glory of our fathers, and by which New England, and other parts of our country settled from New England, have obtained a name and a praise in the earth, are still entertained by a vast majority of their descendants. There has been, it is true, a serious and lamented'defection from orthodoxy, in the most populous parts of Massachusetts; but, even in this commonwealth, if the whole number of decided Unitarians were ascertained, we feel authorized by their own publications to assert, that this sect comprises but a small minority of the whole number of inhabitants. This minority has, indeed, by various means, which cannot be described here, but which may be fully developed in our future numbers, gotten possession of the most venerable and best endowed college in the United States; and enrols among its adherents not a few men of cultivated talent and respectable literary acquisitions. It is intrenched also in great wealth. Out of Massachusetts, however, Unitarianism has little strength. Taking New England together, with all its schools, colleges, theological seminaries, churches, and other means of influencing public opinion, the orthodox have no occasion to shrink from a comparison with their opponents, in regard to talents, learning, eloquence, public spirit, enterprise, and charitable exertions of every kind. As to labors for the conversion of men, and the salvation of souls, it is not known that Unitarians, as a body, or that any considerable number of them, feel any solicitude on the subject, or would wish to have it believed that the souls of men are in any great danger. Looking, then, at the present state of things among all the classes of professed Christians in our community, the orthodox feel themselves to be the proper and legitimate representatives of their pilgrim fathers. They consider this claim to be no assumption; nor does it savor of ostentation, whether reference is had to their numbers, their principles, their designs, or their motives as explained by their conduct.
We would not intimate, that the first settlers of New England were never mistaken in their views of truth and duty; much less that they were not exposed like other men, to passion, prejudice, and all the common frailties of the human condition. But we regard them as a very extraordinary race of men, whose minds were enlightened by an intelligent and prayerful perusal of God's word; whose hearts were habitually under the influence of divine truth; whose passions were, to a very remarkable extent, chastened and subdued; whose aims' were great, noble, and comprehensive, embracing all the important subjects of human interest, reaching forward through all future ages, and taking hold of eternity. We do not contend, that they drove every pin exactly right in the tabernacle which they set up, on their first arrival in the wilderness. And when they gradually reared the great moral and political edifice, upon which their hands were so industriously employed, we do not suppose that every stone was laid in precisely the best place for it, or that the symmetry of every part was absolutely perfect. Still, it was a grand edifice, built on a broad and solid foundation, rising in goodly proportions, and in a magnificent style, an imperishable monument of the skill, science, and public spirit of the builders; and we will venture to predict, that the more this edifice is examined and studied, the more it will be admired, even down to the latest ages of the world.
We would by no means encourage an indiscriminate reverence for antiquity; and a blind partiality for the institutions of our fathers, merely because they were the institutions of our fathers, is certainly not to be cherished. Unless we are greatly mistaken, however, it will be admitted in all future times, that the pilgrims were distinguished for possessing all the stamina of an illustrious character; and that they were thus enabled to act so wisely, as they did, for posterity and for the world. Among the admirable traits, which their history makes apparent, even to a cursory reader, the following should not be omitted on this occasion.
The fathers of New England were remarkable for entertaining a habitual reverence for the word of God. The Bible was their polestar, their guide, their universal directory. They studied it; they neglected no helps within their reach for understanding it; they were familiar with the original languages, in which it was written; they knew the English translation to be able and faithful; and they expected all the people to read and understand it, in the vernacular tongue.
They were men of prayer. They did not suppose that the Bible would ever be properly understood, unless by those who besought the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Upon every measure, whether of a private or a public nature, they invoked the divine blessing. This led them to examine well, as to the character of every enterprise, in which they engaged, and to inquire whether all their measures were such as God would approve.
They cultivated the religion of the heart. Forms and ceremonies, and even creeds, professions and covenants, were never suffered to usurp the place of internal principle; nor to be any thing more than signs of what the man actually was, or ought to be. There never was a country, in which so little reliance was placed upon externals; and in which the minds of all, even of the least intelligent, were so constantly directed to the heart.
They sought primarily the prosperity of the church. It was for the sake of the church that they came into voluntary exile. To Christ and the church they consecrated every thing dear to them; well knowing, that if religion prospered, and the people generally became friends of God and heirs of his heavenly kingdom, their temporal interests would never be in danger.
They were men of great public spirit. Next to genuine religion, this is the noblest trait in the human character; and it is never found, in its highest excellence, separate from religion. There have been, indeed, many instances of inflexible magistrates, and other laborious public servants, who generously disregarded their private interests, and were intently devoted to the public good, from motives of ambition, consistency of conduct, and a strong sense of what was fit and becoming, without any proper feeling of accountability to God. And this is so different from the ordinary selfishness VOL. I.