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worship. The minister is in the first instance chosen by the people from the sympathy which his services excite in their minds and his power to meet their wants. Should either his sentiments or theirs as a body undergo so decided a change that such sympathy and power can no longer exist, the purposes of their connection can no longer be maintained, and a separation is then advisable. The separation may be painful and inconvenient, but without the slightest interference with the freedom of conscientious inquiry on either side; in fact it is only by a separation in such circumstances that freedom on both sides can be preserved. The case is different, however, with the mere attendant on the worship. If the services are satisfactory to himself, the other members are not concerned with his peculiar sentiments. His views do not interfere with theirs; it is of no consequence to them if he cannot respond to all the sentiments expressed. But if the minister, from his own conscientious conviction, either habitually appeals to doctrines which his hearers as a body cannot entertain, or constantly refrains from the use of doctrines which they regard as essential to the practical efficacy of religion, and which, therefore, are essential to its practical efficacy in their minds, it is plain that, in fairness to them, the connection should be dissolved. For him to insist on the sufficiency of that modicum of doctrine in his services, “ without which the supposition of religious emotions is a contradiction," seems to us as unreasonable as to expect the members of a musical society, many of whom could appreciate the compositions of Handel or Mozart, to be satisfied with a mere repetition of the simple melodies of Moore or Burns. Here we must stop short; the general question which we are discussing cannot be more definitely determined. The degree of uniformity required, and the points deemed essential in each particular case, must be left to the judgment a:20 'eelings of the individuals concerned. We have already stated why it is desirable for shortsighted mortals to avoid all unnecessary minuteness and technicality in the principles on which they form their religious societies. Now that the legislature has broadly and eloquently sanctioned the great principle of the right of private judgment, those who have long and earnestly struggled in vindication of that right should at least continue to show their sense of its importance by scrupulously refraining from all such conditions of religious union as tend to abridge the sacred freedom of conscience, and to produce the grievous heresies of hatred and hypocrisy, and by “ endeavouring to keep the unity of spirit in the bond of peace.”
ART. I.-UNITARIANISM: ITS PRESENT DUTIES AND
The health of all Institutions, that address themselves to the higher wants of Man, can be preserved only by their constant Reformation proceeding from an habitual recurrence to the first Principles which they profess to embody, and, without violence or a necessity for sudden changes, maintaining them in fresh and living harmony with the growth of Society, and of the individual spirit. But, especially in any crisis of their life, should both Associations and Christian Men recur to the great leading Truths out of which they develope their Being, to the great Ideas which they aim to represent, and by drawing from the fountain-head of their Inspiration advance to a fuller maturity, and yet renew their youth. To acquire the strength and consistency of manhood in conjunction with young desires, and unexhausted purposes, is to do our work in the spirit of one of God's children,-the peculiar grace of those who keep near to the living Sources of Goodness and Truth, rescued from self-idolatry by a true communion with Christ, a true worship of God.
At one such crisis we, the enemies of all intellectual divisions in Christ's Church and Kingdom, seem now to have arrived, -a certain outward stability having been attained by the emphatic and respectful acknowledgment of some important Principles in the highest places of the World, whilst, at the same time, all the circumstances attending that acknowledgment serve to show how little the Idea of God's Kingdom, which is our characteristic Distinction, has obtained a place in men's hearts, and with what new reverence we have yet to study it, with what new fervency to proclaim, and new fidelity to exhibit its Image
VOL. VI. No. 26.-New Series.
before, won by its Beauty and penetrated by its Truth, the Sects find their bond of union not in disputable Notions but in the spirit of Christ, and, having one aim and love, become one Church of God.
For what are our distinctive Principles, the prevalence and general acceptance of which must measure our progress in our Christian work ? . Our ambition is not to establish a powerful Sect, not to overthrow rival Creeds, nor to wrest converts from feebler folds, but to establish the true principles of Christian Union, to uphold Christ's view of a Universal Church, to make spiritual sympathies the test of fellowship, and to rescue all who give their hearts to God, and love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, from dogmatic terrors, and dogmatic intolerance. It is not merely either as the maintainers, or as the opposers, of certain doctrinal views, that we wish to stand out before the world ; any ground of Antagonism is too narrow for our position; any similarity in doctrine too contracted for our sympathy; we aim at the unity of all God's people, at the formation of a Church which will embrace the Christian world, with no doctrinal bond but allegiance to individual Truth, with no terms of communion but the common love and worship of the heart. Our true principles are not to be determined by a mere examination of the results of opinion at which we have arrived, but from the great facts of our Faith which are the sources of our religious life, from the consistent belief that we are the spiritual children of God, and that Christ is the Exemplar of what his human sons may be,-and, as holding filial relations to infinite Wisdom and infinite Holiness, bound to expect and seek a continual increase of Light and Goodness from the Parent source of our Being. Our Religion then proceeds from the relations of a human being to the infinite God regarded truly as his Father, and therefore necessarily involves the principle of development in all spiritual knowledge; of personal responsibility for the use or abuse of powers and means; and of the supreme favour and approbation of God always being given to the right desires and affections of the heart. Christ's view of a Universal Church, which is, distinctively, the grand Christian Idea, in which amidst all diversities of operations and powers there is one purpose and one love, to bring the heart into union with God as he is revealed in Christ, this is what we take to be the measure of our Christian work.
Now in this we cannot boast ourselves that our success has been great,—that we have won for this Idea much recognition in the rld, or even that we have set it before ourselves with energy and distinctness. In fact, Christ's purpose of Brother
hood is effectually frustrated by the doctrinal Christianity of these latter days. Popular Protestantism, in this respect, is the Anti-Christ of the Age, directing the power of every Church against the union predicted by its Head, and under the sanction of his name defeating his purposes. The Church is everywhere like a Citadel garrisoned by those who mistake the will of its Ruler, and turn its arms upon his friends. Like the disciples of old, they take it ill even that we cast out devils in their Master's name, because we follow not with them. Even Romanism had a sublime conception of the unity of Christ's people, and if it required doctrinal agreement, it at least consistently warned against the dangers of private Judgment, and provided an infallible authority,—whilst popular Protestantism invites you to inquire freely, but stakes your salvation on the chances of an Error; admits your right to think, but constitutes itself absolute Judge of the safety of your thoughts.
It would be a great mistake if we were to suppose that the Legislature in its late settlement of questions affecting Presbyterian property had committed itself to any comprehensive Principles of Christian Union. In the spirit of the party who raised those questions, who forgot all their watchwords of Civil and Religious Liberty, and to gain a poor triumph and pittance of support for a Dogma invoked the technical reading of Statutes against the clear principles of Justice; in the spirit of the Law which sanctioned that proceeding and made Legislative protection imperative; and even in the distinctive grounds of prescription on which the Legislature justified that specific protection, notwithstanding some expressions, from individuals, of the true Spirit of Christian liberty,—we discern but one rigid adherence to a dead definition of Christianity,-and where there is no power to change, to move, with outward impunity, there is no Liberty. For it was not a question affecting Christian Fellowship that was then determined, but a question affecting Property,—and prescription and possession were admitted only in cases where our forefathers had not defined their Creeds, so that not only no parties but even no Dogma could possibly make a claim,--and wherever the earliest occupiers of a Chapel have but stated their religious opinions, under the terror perhaps of the Toleration Act, their descendants, though they have followed in a line far more sure and unbroken than the Apostolical succession, and have adorned with the treasures and affections of many generations the humble foundations of their Ancestors, must even now abide in their notions, or depart from their Temples. And even this last Act of the Legislature concedes to the very parties whom it leaves in possession no further liberty of Thought, and may silence any Doctrine that has not a prescription of twenty-five years. The civil impunity of any new opinion, in relation to any particular Chapel, depends now on its being therein preached so long, without a legal challenge.
We willingly acknowledge that as much has been done as in the present state of religious parties in England it was perhaps possible to effect, and we rejoice to recognize many signs that there is but little intolerance in the spirit of many who have not yet expressly disowned intolerant principles,—but we think there is some not unnatural disposition to exaggerate the importance of this legislative act, and to mistake the nature and extent of its recognition of the true principles of Christian union and liberty. Let it be remembered that it only does effectually, what it was the intention of the legislature to do, and what it supposed it had done, more than thirty years ago. We have obtained a measure of security for ourselves, a sanction at least for what we are, and what we have been; but there is no sign that our peculiar mission is about to be taken up by more powerful voices, or that our occupation is gone,—we must only feel our obligations more strenuously than ever to proclaim the liberty of the Gospel,—to diffuse true views of the leading spirit of Christianity-of the individual nature of Religion, and of the kind of aid that God gives to the free soul through his Revelations. Liberty, like Property, has its Duties as well as its Rights,-in fact it has rights only because it has duties. Each man must be free, because each has to rise into elevation, truth, and force of thought through the use of his own faculties, and each is bound to offer to his brother whatever he has found to be an aid to his own progress. Thankful then for our own privileges, and the concession of just rights, yet witnessing small approach to a true Christian union, there never was a time when our own responsibility was greater to recur with zeal and love to our first Principles, and to remove out of the way whatever obstructs their progress. A Catholic Christianity is our great aim, a Church of Christ in which the love and service of our Father as he is imaged in his Son make the terms of Communion ;—what stays its extension in the world ?
In the first place this never has been set before us with sufficient distinctness as our peculiar work, nor have we always seen that if this Catholicity could be obtained, doctrinal errors would cease to be of much importance, because they would be deprived of all artificial and corporate support, and would continue in existence only so long as they had the natural power and recommendation of Truth to individual minds. And yet surely it is a more hopeful undertaking to