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placency, than of unfeigned piety, true holiness, or the heavenly spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus. We are unwilling to allow, that we have been heedless observers, and we frankly confess, that we have seen no persons more barren in the genuine fruits of religion, than those who make the loudest professions, talk the most of secret and invisible communications, and weary the world with endless details and incidents with which no one has any concern but their own souls and their God. We have never discovered, that the dispositions of such persons have borne any uncommon marks of conformity to the will of God, that they were ready to make any extraordinary sacrifices in the divine service, or were more abstracted than others of humbler preten• sions from the absorbing interests of the world. Show us the holy man of God, whose life is the transcript of his mind, and you will point to one, who communes with himself, who is an humble, silent worshipper, content to let the warmth of his zeal be felt through the medium of his good affections, and his religious impressions be seen in the tenor and unvarying rectitude of his life.
You next charge unitarians with preaching, that the strictness and seclusion from fashionable amusements, such as the theatre, the ballroom, and the cardtable, which some inculcate, are uncommanded austerities, and being "righteous overmuch." This charge, though more definite, is as groundless as the one just considered. I acknowledge that our preachers do not often so far forget themselves, or the sacred places in which they stand, as to preach about theatres, cardtables, and ballrooms. It is hoped and presumed, that few of them are so insensible of the solemnity of the occasion, and of the nature of their religion, as to profane the holy Sabbath of God in his sanctuary by going into the haunts of dissipation, idleness, and vice to find topics, and se lect images, for the religious instruction and edification of a christian audience. These are not the things with which they wish to make their hearers familiar. No. They think it important to impress the words of Christ and his apostles, the doctrines and rules of the Gospel, the duties and expectations of christians. They preach against vice, and the dominion of sin, and not against theatres, ballrooms, or carutables. They proclaim the laws of God as they are revealed in his word, the necessity of obedience to these laws, and the judgments that await the impenitent. Vice is a taint of the mind, from which it is not to be freed by referring to particular acts. Enlighten the conscience, make plain the duties and impress the obligations of religion, and you will gain a hold on the mind, which will serve as an anchor of safety in all times of doubt and peril. By this process you will make men see and confess their sins, and hasten to escape from their debasing thraldom. They will avoid wickedness, because they perceive its evil nature and tendency. There is no reason why we should attempt to particularize at the present day, more than our Saviour and his apostles of old. I know not that our preachers can follow a better model; and the specimens, which you have selected and charged them with overlooking, are the last from which it could be hoped any aids would be gained to devotion, seriousness, or virtue.
Your charge goes farther, and accuses unitarians not merely of neglecting to preach on these things, but of holding them up as "uncommanded austerities, and being righteous overmuch.” Nothing can be more un fair, I will say, indeed, unfounded, than this insinuatiou. If it were an innocent mistake, it might be passed over,
like many others, which I have not had time to notice. But it is hardly of this character, for it gives the impression, that unitarians preach immorality; that they not only avoid what is good, but inculcate what is bad. The wicked practices, froin which other christians are warned by their leaders to abstain, are said to be represented by unitarian preachers as austerities to which their hearers need not subunit, and as requiring an unnecessary degree of righteousness. Of this statement I can only say, it is one for which you cannot bring a shadow of proof, and is as opposite to the reality, as darkness to light. Unitarian preaching is distinguished for nothing more than its rigid, practical tendency. It requires men to be christians in the entire spirit of the Gospel, and to seek the favour of God by an unremitted obedience to his laws.
Your next charge is, that, according to this preaching, all men, whatever may be their character, will finally be saved, or annihilated. This is a subject of importance, and claims to be examined with attention. We have first to ascertain whether your position is correct in point of fact, and here I apprehend you will be found to have spoken quite as loosely as in any thing we have yet had under review. It must be kept in mind, that you are professedly talking of doctrines "inculcated by unitarian preachers all over the world.” This you have repeated, seemingly to prevent any mistake in regard to the limits to which you would have your remarks applied.
It would be a laborious, and perhaps a fruitless task, to carry back our inquiries to the primitive unitarians. We must be contented to coin mence with the churches in Transylvania and Poland, where unitarianism was revived in modern times, and flourished under various fortunes for many years. The Racovian Catechism, although it was never adopted as a system of faith, is well known to express in very full terms the doctrines of those churches, and was drawn up by Socinus, aided by others among the most learned theologians of the fraternity. This Catechism teaches, by implication at least, the eternity of future punishment; and B. Wissowatius, in a note on the passage in which this sentiment is conveyed, asserts it "always to have been the opinion of this church, that the wicked will be doomed to punishment, and cast into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels." And again, after referring to the principal authors among the Fratres Poloni, and other eminent writers of the unitarian faith, he says, it is evident they "constantly maintained, that there will be a resurrection both of the just and of the unjust, and that the latter shall be consigned to everlasting punishment, but the former admitted to everlasting life.” Such was the opinion of the numerous unitarians, who spread over Europe in the sixteenth century.*
You will meet with the same sentiment in the Swiss and French churches, which have more recently come over to this faith. In the Catechism of these churches, which is called the Geneva Catechism, it is said of the wicked, that "they will be tormented with remorse and abandoned to despair, because they have lost eternal happiness by their own misconduct.»* The belief of the unitarian churches in Holland on this subject, I have no means of ascertaining, but there is reason to suppose
* Wissowatius refers to Simplicius and Volkelius—to Crellius's Commentary on Matth. iii. 10; 2 Thess. i. 8, 9; Heb. x. 27—to Slichtingius on John v. 29—to Walzogenius on Matth. iii. 12; X. 28; xxv. 41, 46; John v. 29—and A. Wissowatius on Acts xxiv, 15. See Racovian Catechism, translated by Dr. T. Rees, p. 367, Note.
it is similar to that of the churches last mentioned.
In England opinions respecting this point are various among unitarians, as they are with most other denominations. It is certain, however, that they universally believe in the future punishment of the wicked; but not many, probably, believe in the eternity of this punishment, at least in the sense of Calvinists. They do not pretend to define its precise duration, but hold that it will be in such degree and extent, as God in his justice and mercy shall see fit to inflict on the wicked.
The following extract is from the Christian Disciple, a work conducted by a number of clergymen in Boston and its vicinity, and may be supposed to convey the prevailing sentiment of the unitarians in this country. “We cannot but wonder and lament, that any should so far pervert the oracles of God, as to persuade men to believe, that there is no punishment hereafter, an error, we repeat, most dangerous to the interests of society; it breaks down the barriers of conscience, and removes those salutary restraints, without which neither virtue nor reputation, nor property, are secure.”+
The true state of the case is, then, that unitarians as a body universally believe in the future punishment of the wicked. By a very large number this punishment has been considered eternal. By others it is supposed to be limited in duration, but to be severe and dreadful, according to the representations of the scrip.
* Geneva Catechism, p. 105. The texts quoted are Mark ix. 43; Matth. xxiii. 13.
+ Christian Disciple, No. 70, for March and April, 1819.