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operation of his spirit is more real in the crowd of a prayer-meeting, than in the closet of the incipient Unitarian, who bends over his Bible, and studies, and prays, and feels his mind opening into the marvellous light of truth, as calmly, as irresistibly, and as gladly, as the morning ushers in the day.
can put our finger on four prominent places in the map of Christendom, where orthodoxy, since the era of the reformation, was planted with a strength and deepness, which mere human foresight would predict could never suffer it to be eradicated, but where the result has utterly baffled such prediction. We allude to Geneva, the realm of the despotic Calvinto the whole region between Poland and the Rhine, in which, wherever the reformation was established, the strict dogmas of Luther once almost universally prevailed—to the Presbyterian Churches throughout England and Ireland—and lastly, to New England. Now : contemplate, for a moment, the silent, yet mighty progress, which our views have developed just in those four regions on the globe, where alone Christianity has been partially or wholly released from her alliance with power, or where the religious principle, and the spirit of inquiry, have together and unimpeded exerted their energies. What Unitarian, on glancing at this picture, should be discouraged at seeing all the wealth, the learning, the exertions, the bitterness, and the zeal of orthodoxy, confederated around him, to multiply missionaries, to found theological institutions, and to plant churches, for the sake of perpetuating doctrines, which do violence to scripture and reason? Look at the past, we say, and judge by that of the future,
A few years ago, Unitarians used to predict, thougla not very earnestly or emphatically, that the efforts of orthodox missionaries in India, so far as they were successful at all, would sooner or later terminate in the establishment there of Unitarianism. But did our most sanguine anticipations imagine that a Rammohun Roy would so soon feel his way alone through the system of Christianity presented to him, till he should arrive nearly at what we believe the simplicity of the gospel? Did we expect that the propagandists of orthodoxy itself would so soon write home, as they have already done, to their employers in England, and profess their conversion to the Unitarian faith? Did we look forward to the institution in India itself of two or three congregations, where pure Unitarian Christianity is adopted and inculcated? To come home again, and survey
progress cause in single neighbourhoods.-In any given spot where Unitarianism has arisen for the last few years, what changes and fluctuations of feeling with respect to it have come within the experience of every one at all interested! How have we learned to bear the brunt of the storm, which obloquy, bigotry, and false zeal, have blown with an infuriated blast against us! In many places, the name of Unitarian is already beginning to become honourable, where, but a short time since, he who dared to assume it did it only at the expense of a suspicious and withered reputation. A Unitarian chaplain has already proclaimed the simplicity of the gospel within the walls of our central capitol. In vain have pulpits denounced us and private circles hunted us down-and Bible societies refused our subscriptions—and hypocrites started back with an
affected and glowering shudder on learning at what church we worshipped—and little children been encouraged to scoff at our little children;—we are every where holding up our heads; the public clamour no longer makes us half believe we have done wrong, and almost inquire of ourselves whether we have not been picking pockets, instead of comparing scriptural texts; the films on the eyes of our adversaries are loosening, if not absolutely dropping off; hatred is softening into respect, and the spirit of exclusion is melting into that of toleration. This happy process, it is true, is as yet very far from being perfected every where, or perhaps any where; but he must be a superficial observer of the course of public opinion, who does not perceive the tide, on the whole, making against intolerance, as surely as the ocean tide advances up the shore.
And all this was to be expected, as we intimated in the beginning of these remarks, from our second source of encouragement, the spirit of the age. Unitarians calculate much on this. Mere authority bears nothing like the sway which it once did. The sentimental worshippers of antiquity are growing fewer in number, and are learning to value religion for its essence, rather than for its rust. Or, should this poetical class of believers continue to flourish, Unitarianism, even though it could not claim, as we hold that it can, the character of the only true antiquarian form of Christianity, is yet every day increasing its recommendations on this score, and two or three hundred years hence, it will exhibit as beautiful and imposing an antiquity, as any sect now does, with the exception of the Roman Catholic alone. That active curiosity, which is pushing its researches into every other department of inquiry, cannot stop short at the Bible. Trinitarianism and its advocates too well know the secret,) is this moment the religion of the majority, only from acquiescence. They very well know, that he who but questions it, is lost to them. An aged Trinitarian minister of Massachusetts, nearly twenty years since, predicted to a brother clergyman, the certain ultimate defection from orthodoxy of a revered ornament of the Boston pulpit, only alleging as his reason, that the latter had expressed his doubts. But how many doubts will be expressed the next hundred years?
We are aware, however, that we must not too sanguinely calculate on the spirit of the age. Circumstances often arise to give it an unexpected character and direction. It is not impossible, that a cold blast of infidelity, more freezing than a northern wind, may sweep over the world, and wither, for a long time, Unitarianism, along with the less perfect modifications of Christianity. Or a sirocco of wild enthusiasm, as universal as the mania of the crusades, may drive the reason and understanding of mankind out of the region of deliberate faith, into a spiritual frenzy, undiscriminating and passionate. But on the other hand, the same possibility exists, tinged too, we trust, with some little probability, that a very wide and sudden movement may ere long take place in favour of Unitarianism.
But we need not indulge either the gloomy or the romantic apprehensions involved in the foregoing extreme suppositions. For we already behold our opponents, every where, the involuntary pioneers of our majestic and ultimately triumphant principles. Let them establish their education societies; train their young men to the knowledge and practice of Biblical
criticism; plant them all over the country, all over the world, in flourishing churches; as sure as the soul is free, and truth attainable, and the march of opinion unfettered, these young men, or their successors, must work their way, as fifty other settled clergymen have done in Massachusetts the last ten years, amidst the calm seclusion of their studies, into the precincts of a brighter and more solid faith, than that which is now taught them as the relics of the unfinished Reformation. The Eclectic Reviewers long since pathetically mourned the alarming process by which non-conforming churches in England degenerated into schools of heresy. They ascribed it to the custom of settling the sons of clergymen in the places of their fathers! Time and learning, as they complained, quite blunted in the descendants the original vehemence with which their orthodox progenitors maintained the doctrines of Calvinism. It will be so here and every where. Time, learning, study, reflection, and the Bible, are our unpaid Unitarian missionaries. Though we should employ missionaries elsewhere, never may we be induced to encroach on this field, nor steal into parishes for the purpose of breaking them up, and introducing a tone of bitter feeling, which is as much to be deprecated as speculative errors. Divisions and bitterness will sufficiently multiply of themselves. It is not to be expected, that no resistance will be made to the increase of light and truth, which we so confidently anticipate. We compassionate the future victims of persecution, whom the irresistible growth of Unitarianism will raise up among those who embrace it. But we know they will be firm, and enjoy that peace of mind, which the world cannot, but which truth, conscience, and