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* orthodox” community would have suffered me quietly to follow the dictates of my conscience, they should never have heard a word from me in regard to myself and my concerns. But strangers and friends have been pleased to interest themselves most extensively and diligently in my case, and it is their fault and not mine, that any publicity at all has been given to the matter. I have had no choice given me, I have been the victim of uncontrollable circumstances. The time came when I was obliged to make known, to my relatives at least, the process through which my mind was passing. And I have been blamed for not making it known, at least to you, before. I have been charged with showing disrespect to you, my father, because I did not from the first reveal to you the doubts which had entered my mind. Such a charge wrings my heart, and pains me more than I can express. Perhaps my silence was an error of judgment, it certainly was not one of intention. If I have done wrong in this thing, I ask your forgiveness, and I pray also for the forgiveness of my Heavenly Father.
If I could have confided my case to you alone, as perhaps I ought to have done, God knows how joyfully I would have done it, and how much it would have lessened the fearful weight of re. sponsibility which oppressed me when I was groping my way alone. But I was, and still am, under the impression that it was best for me to study the New Testament in the solitude of my chamber; and before I had got entirely through the Gospel of John, I found myself, in regard to the nature of Christ, firmly on Unitarian ground. Then, after a good deal of thought, I sat down, and wrote the letter announcing to my mother and yourself my change of views, intending to hand it to you at the first suitable opportunity. That opportunity was not long in presenting itself. The fact soon became known to most of my relatives, but there were some circumstances which had caused such a fact to be suspected for some time. One of these was my silence to: several Sabbaths during the singing of the doxology, which, as I was a prominent member of the choir, could not but be observed. As soon as my change of sentiments became known, a storm arose and burst upon my head, such as I have never before experienced, and hope never to experience again; and it immediately became necessary for me to act with decision and independence, or lose what I prize above all other things, my own self-respect, and the approbation of my conscience. This is but a glance at the state of things which has rendered it necessary for me to take a decided stand, and assert those natural rights which belong to every individual, and which it is the sacred duty of every one jealously and vigilantly to protect. There are other circumstances connected with this subject, which, as I have said before, I will
Not only, my dear father, have you urged me to practise cau. tion, but you have faithfully portrayed the responsibility of my position, and the consequences which may result from my change of views. On this point you thus write :-" The views you have formerly expressed, the course you have pursued, the reputation you have acquired by your publications, the position you have occupied, and do occupy in this community, and your relation to myself, whose position for upwards of twenty years was still more prominent, place you in circumstances of weighty and peculiar responsibility.” Again, after speaking of the spirit that lives and breathes—that burns and glows” in the volume of poems from my pen, called “The Parted Family,” you ask, “are you aware that an entire change in the current of your thoughts and feelings may be the result of the new tide that has begun to set in upon them? Have you renounced, or do you think of renouncing the sentiments and exercises that run through the interesting volume from your pen that has carried rich consolation to so many hearts?"
To these questions I answer, that I am by no means prepared to renounce “the sentiments and exercises ''* which that volume contains. I have not renounced my confidence in God, nor in his Son, Jesus Christ. The words of consolation which fell from my Master's lips are as precious to me as ever, and would, I am confident, prove now, as they did then, amply sufficient to bear me triumphantly through any scene of sorrow through which I might be called to pass.
I will now bring this letter to a close, hoping and believing that what I have recorded here will abundantly prove to all who may peruse these pages, that nothing on your part has been left undone to deter me from pursuing the path which you deem a wrong and a dangerous one.
REMARKS UPON HONESTY.
MY DEAR FATHER :
You speak like yourself, and like an honest man, who is "the noblest work of God,” when you say, “ I vastly prefer an honest Unitarian, who is so from conviction, however mistaken and even dangerous I may regard his sentiments, to men of pretended and even boasted orthodoxy, who hesitate not at prevarication, and even direct falschood." And yet, dear father, it almost seems to me, that in your anxiety lest I should go too far easily to retrace my steps, even if I wished to do so, you are advising me to a course, which, under other circumstances, you would not consider
* If any one thinks that in consequence of becoming a Unitarian, the * sentiments and exercises” of the Christian heart must be renounced, I ask him to read candidly and carefully the Sermons of Consolation, by Dr. Greenwood, and he will see in what way and to what extent Unita. rian Christians are comforted by their religious faith.
exactly open or honest. Let me quote your words. In reference to the metrical doxologies you ask, “Is there no sense, no consistent and proper sense, in which you can say or even sing, three in one.' "Must you necessarily carry in your mind the idea of three objects of worship ?” In answer to these questions I will reply that there is a sense, in which I believe in a Trinity. I believe that the Father manifests himself to the world through the Son, and operates upon the hearts of men by the agency of his Holy Spirit. In this sense I can say “ three in one." But this is not exactly to the point. I cannot sing the doxology because it distinctly represents these three as one in another sensemas three persons in one God-each as God, and the three as one God. The singing of the Trinitarian doxology is the distinguishing mark of a Trinitarian Church-a concise and regularly repeated confession of faith—the Shibboleth of Trinitarianism. Until i shall be generally known that I am a Unitarian, and that when sing the doxology, I give to it a Unitarian construction, I see no possible way in which I can honestly use it. You have taught me, my father, to be honest and independent. It is from you that I have learned with Christian boldness to assert and defend what I believe to be the truth, and I know you would not have me act otherwise. In endeavouring to persuade me that I can still sing the doxology, your only object is to deter me from exciting general remark, by ceasing now to do what I have always hitherto done; but I cannot conscientiously do it, and I know that you would not wish me to silence the clamours, or even the whispers of conscience. You would be gratified, I have no doubt, and so would I, if I could perfectly agree with you in sentiment; but as long as I cannot do so, I know you would prefer that I should be honest, and say so. “God's truths," as you so sweetly and so truly say, • whatever on examination they may be found to be, are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;' whatever may be the contradictions, inconsistencies, and even the immoralities of those who profess to embrace them. To the law and to the testimony we must continually resort, saying, speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Yes, my dear father, that is the true Christian spirit, a spirit of filial reverence for God and for his word; and if I ever hereafter discover that I have mistaken the teachings of that word, I again honestly declare that no worldly reproach, no bitter taunts, no charges of instability or love of notoriety, will deter me from confessing my mistakes and errors, and acknowledging what I believe to be truth. If I can find hereafter that in giving up the faith of my fathers, I have gone astray, in the face of an assembled, mocking, jeering world, I should not hesitate to retrace my steps.
But I will introduce another subject. You appear to feel exceedingly dissatisfied with the alterations which have been made by Unitarians in the psalms and hymns of Dr. Watts. There are several important topics," you remark, upon which the hymnbook you have examined, “is deplorably deficient.” And you add, that “in several instances they have so altered Watts, as to have weeded out portions and sentiments which he regarded as among the most vital and valuable. Unless,” you observe, "since he exchanged earth for Heaven, he has greatly altered opinions familiar and precious to him in this world, I am inclined to think that, could he now rise from his bed of dust, he would loudly complain of and protest against the use they have made of the pruning knife."
It is asserted, my dear father, that before he exchanged earth for Heaven” he had materially altered opinions once “ familiar and precious to him.” The proof upon this subject I have found in a condensed form in Sparks's Inquiry, and shall quote at large what he says upon the subject. I leave it to your candour to decide with how much truth the assertion is made; and if it can be proved to your satisfaction that Watts was himself desirous of making alterations in his hymns, you will not be so apt to find fault with those who have done it for him. The quotation from Professor Sparks is as follows :
“A letter is extant which was written by the Rev. Samuel Merivale to Dr. Priestley, in which the sentiments of Dr. Lardner on the subject of Watts's opinions are expressed in the most unequivocal terms. In conversation with Mr. Merivale, as stated in the letter, this great man observed : 'I think Dr. Watts never was an Arian, to his honour be it spoken. When he first wrote of the Trinity, I reckon he believed three equal divine persons. But in the latter part of his life, and before he was seized with an imbecility of his faculties, he was a Unitarian. How he came to be so, I cannot certainly say ; but I think it was the result of his own meditations on the Scriptures. He was very desirous to promote that opinion, and wrote a great deal upon the subject.'
“After this conversation, Mr. Merivale wishing to obtain further information respecting Watts's unpublished papers, wrote a letter of inquiry to Dr. Lardner, from whom he received the following reply :
6. I question whether you have any where in print Dr. Watts's last thoughts upon the Trinity. They were known to very few. My nephew, Neal, an understanding gentleman, was intimate with Dr. Watts, and often with the family where he lived. Sometimes in an evening, when they were alone, he would talk to his friends in the family of his new thoughts concerning the person of Christ, and their great importance : and that, if he should be be able to recommend them to the world, it would be the most considerable thing that ever he performed. My nephew, therefore, came to me and told me of it, and that the family was greatly concerned to hear him talk so much of the importance of these sentiments. I told my nephew, that Dr. Watts was right in saying they were important, but I was of opinion that he was unable to recommend them to the public, because he had never been used to a proper way of reasoning on such a subject. So it proved. My nephew being executor, had the papers, and showed me some of them. Dr. Watts had written a good deal, but they were not fit to be published. Dr. Watts's Last Thoughts were COMPLETELY UNITARIAN.'*
“ These facts," continues Professor Sparks, “are too plain and conclusive to need comment. They rest on the authority of Lardner, and they could not rest on a higher. He barely stated what he saw and knew. Prove Lardner-to have been guilty of a deliberate falsehood, or mistaken in a case where he had every opportunity of knowing the truth, and you will invalidate his testimony. Till this be done, no one can rightfully refuse his assent to the position it establishes; which is, that the unpublished papers of Watts clearly showed him to have been a Unitarian.
ão But we need not recur to unpublished writings. Enough may be found in print to convince us, that he was not a Trini. tarian, whatever else he may have been. In his Solemn Address to the Deity he speaks as follows: “Dear and blessed God, hadst thou been pleased, in any one plain Scripture, to have informed me which of the different opinions about the holy Trinity, among the contending parties of Christians, had been true, thou knowest with how much zeal, satisfaction and joy, my unbiassed heart would have opened itself to receive and embrace the divine discovery. Hadst thou told me plainly, in any single text, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three real distinct persons in the divine nature, I had never suffered myself to be bewildered in so many doubts, nor embarrassed with so many strong fears of assenting to the mere inventions of men, instead of divine doctrine ; but I should have humbly and immediately accepted thy words, so far as it was possible for me to understand them, as the only rule of my faith. Or hadst thou been pleased to express and include this proposition in the several scattered parts of thy book, from whence my reason and conscience might with ease find out, and with certainty infer this doctrine, I should have joyfully employed all my reasoning powers with their utmost skill and activity, to have found out this inference, and engrafted it into my soul.
6. But how can such weak creatures ever take in so strange, so difficult, and so abstruse a doctrine as this, in the explication and defence whereof, multitudes of men, even men of learning and piety, have lost themselves in infinite subtleties of disputes, and endless mazes of darkness. And can this strange and perplexing notion of three real persons going to make up one true God, be so necessary and so important a part of that Christian doctrine, which, in the Old Testament and the New, is represented as so plain and so easy, even to the meanest understandings'
“Three things,” observes Mr. Sparks, "are obvious from these extracts. First, that Watts did not believe the Trinity, as usually understood, to be plainly taught in any single text;' secondly, that in his mind it was not so expressed in the Scriptures at large, as to be intelligible to reason and conscience;' and thirdly, that the strange and perplexing notion of three real persons going to
See the whole of Mr. Merivale's letter in Belsham's Memoirs of Lindsey, p. 216.