Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Redeemer's kingdom, the kingdom of piety and goodness, in the hearts and lives of men.

In my next I shall inquire into the theological opinions of Newton, Locke, and Watts.

Yours,

A UNITARIAN OF BALTIMORE.

Spirit of Orthodoxy.

THE Rev. Dr. Mason, who has long been known as an eminent divine in New York, has lately resigned his pastoral charge in that city, and accepted the appointment of president of a College in the interiour of Pennsylvania. On leaving his people, he preached a farewell discourse, which has since been published. In its general aspect, this discourse bears characteristic marks of the author's mind and mode of preaching. It is made up of contrasts. Good thoughts, and just sentiments, expressed in strong and eloquent language, are often succeeded by a tameness, and in some instances a vulgarity, which could hardly be expected from the humblest and most uncultivated intellect. Warm and apparently sincere expressions of piety, love, humility, affection, are mingled with denunciations the most intemperate and bitter, and with the wildest bursts of passion.

·

But it is not our intention to criticise this perfor mance, nor to attempt the miracle of reconciling discrepancies so obviously irreconcileable. We aim only to touch upon one topic. In the exuberance of his zeal, and the fulness of his bounty, the preacher has conde. scended to visit unitarians with an uncommon share of his notice, and to pour upon them a refinement of malediction, which we are persuaded no mind but his own could have conceived. This part of the discourse has

already gained much public attention, and been receiv ed with universal reprehension and disgust. We could not hope to express our views of the subject in language so forcible and appropriate, as that of the celebrated Mr. Walsh. The testimony of this gentleman is doubly valuable, as his religious sentiments are well known to be widely different from those of the class of christians, whom he has so ably and generously vindicated from aspersions as coarse and intemperate, as they are wicked and false.

"We have just seen," says Mr. Walsh in the National Gazette, "another production of this eminent scholar and orator, which, though in some parts eloquent and edifying, is, in general, far from doing him equal credit by its spirit and purpose. We allude to his sermon, preached at New York, the 2d ult. on the occasion of resigning his charge of his congregation. Were not the sermon printed and published, we should not, perhaps, feel ourselves entitled to notice it thus; it might pass unmolested as one of the effusions of a paroxysm of zeal, escaped in the heat of pulpit exercise, and willingly left only in the memory of a devoted congregation. The references to the Unitarians, which are made in this vehement discourse, furnish some of the most revolting samples which we have seen of theological rancour in the present day. They are expressed in the strongest language of execration, and betray the utmost intensity of a hate like that described in the following phrase of Cicero,―odium immane et crudele barbarorum in hostem. If we could suppose the language of the preacher, the true criterion of his disposition towards the religious denomination whom he assails-that his anathemas are those of the heart as well as of the tongue, we should deem this an opportunity to express comfort and joy,

that the age of auto da fes is passed away, and that the clergy have it no longer in their power to wreak their resentment of what they deem heresy, by torturing the body and destroying the life, as well as blasting the reputation of the obnoxious. We belong, ourselves, to a Church whose tenets are very different from those of this class of Christians, whom Dr. Mason reviles and curses; and in signifying our horror of his furious denunciations, we must not, therefore, be supposed to be acting in our own defence. It is our good fortune, however, to be acquainted with several of that class, persons of the most estimable character, for whom we ought to feel as much, nearly, as we would for ourselves, when we see hurled against them, a sentence of proscription and perdition, such as the following:

'Above all things, it is devoutly to be hoped, that you will never invite to the "care of your souls," a man who cares nothing about them. I mean, more particularly, for I would not be misunderstood, a man who belongs to that rank of traitors, who miscal themselves "rational Christians." Against these men I have ever warned you, as the enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ, and all that is valuable in his religion, and peculiar in his salvation. I know well that this congregation is considered by them as the very focus of what they term bigotry; and I do rejoice that thus far I and you have been counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. Long may it continue so! Long may it be thought a hopeless case to attempt to bring you over to the fellowship of devils. Though I would not slander the devil; he promotes his work, as the destroyer, not by tempting men to his belief, but by persuading them to embrace what he does not believe— what is too coarse and abominable for hell itself; and what the philosophical Christians shall find to be so, when they get to their own place. The pretences of these men to kindness, and candour, and love, are all hollow. They mean to make proselytes of you, and twofold more the children of hell than themselves. O keep at a distance from them! Furthest from them, and their charity, is best. Come not near their ice, never to be melted, but in that fire which shall not be quenched. This pulpit, this church, were destined to the glory of the Lord Jesus. Let them never be polluted by a foot, nor profaned by a tongue, which are not moved by his honour.'

"This is the strain of fierce and odious passion. We can no more admire the Reverend President uttering it from the pulpit, than we could have admired Sir Edward Coke, when he called Sir Walter Raleigh, 'Viper, monster, spider of hell, vile and execrable traitor, odious fellow, and damnable atheist. It appears to us as repugnant to the true ends of christianity, as it is to the genius of our political and social systems.

"We do not meddle with polemical divinity; we have no idea of interfering in religious controversies on points of faith-but we feel that when one denomination of christians or any association of persons styling themselves such, lead, in general, lives as useful and moral as the best of the community, they ought to be deemed sincere in their interpretation of the Bible, and that no member of any other denomination has a right, to hold them up to the world as the worst of reprobates. Such intolerance and uncharitableness cannot fail to be condemned by public opinion, and richly deserve to be signalized for rebuke and repudiation. The example of a spirit like that which is breathed in this sermon, is bad. It may be more common than we suppose; it may have been further provoked than we imagine; but when it is vented in this manner, it can only exasperate blind animosities, and serve to bring the religious character into disrepute."

These are the sentiments of a truly liberal mind, unshackled by the fetters of bigotry and narrow prejudices, and unperverted by a blind zeal, which rages for the dogmas of faith at the expense of the civilities of social life, and the charities of a christian temper. Let the same spirit of independence, of liberal and just thinking, and of magnanimous forbearance, prevail among all christians, and we shall soon cease to be shocked with Aerce anathemas and profane denunciations in the

house of God; we shall be no longer compelled to witness the deplorable effects, which spring from a hardened religious sensibility, and from the violence of pampered passion, carrying desolation and death within the borders of christian truth, piety, and love.

A pamphlet has been published in New York, called "An Appeal from the Denunciations of the Rev. Dr. Mason against Rational Christians, addressed to all who acknowledge the Religion of Jesus Christ, and fear God rather than Man.” We regret, that our limits will not suffer us to notice this performance so much at length as we could desire, and as its merits would seem to demand. Its tone and manner are happily contrasted with the ferocious violence of the Sermon, and, we believe, must convince every candid person of the superiour influence of the principles it defends on the heart and feelings, to those, which could sanction such an effusion as that quoted above from the Discourse.

Ordination in New York.

OUR readers will recollect, that we have often had occasion to speak of a unitarian society, which has been lately established in New York. The violence of orthodoxy in that city was such, as to shock the piety, and wound the religious feelings of several persons, who desired to worship God in peace, and in the spirit of christian love, without being compelled to mingle the bitterness of wrath with their devotions, or listen to the unhallowed voice of denunciation and vengeance, instead of the holy accents of reverence to God, of humble submission to his will, and of a kind and benevolent disposition towards men. They were at length forced to separate from places of worship, where they found so little

« PoprzedniaDalej »