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make up one true God,' is not a “necessary and important part of the Christian doctrine,' whatever may be thought of its reality. Is there a Trinitarian of the present day, who will assent to either of these propositions ?"
Mr. Sparks goes on to give extracts from Dr. Watts's own writings, which, I think, fully prove him to have been a Unitarian when he wrote them, and they were written long after his psalms and hymns. The extracts are too long to be inserted here; but if you are curious upon the subject, you can consult the work of Professor Sparks, called An Inquiry into the Comparatiue Moral Tendency of Trinitarian and Ūnitarian Doctrines ; and in the chapter entitled Sentiments and Morals of English Unitarians, you will find all that he says in regard to Dr. Watts and others. But I intend, though I cannot quote the whole, still to give some further extracts.
“We have yet a testimony,” says Sparks, “ from Dr. Watts's own mouth. In a letter to the Rev. Dr. Colman of Boston, written in 1747, he speaks as follows. 'I am glad my book of Useful Questions came safe to your hand. I think I have said eveything concerning the Son of God, which Scripture says ; but I could not go so far as to say, with some of our orthodox divines, that that the Son is equal with the Father ; because our Lord himself expressly says, The Father is greater than I.** Shall we still persist, that Dr. Watts was a Trinitarian, and that when he said the Father and Son are not equal, he meant directly the contrary?"
We now come to the subject of Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns. In regard to these, Mr. Sparks says: “They certainly contain sufficient evidence that he was a Trinitarian when he wrote them, but we know his mind was not stationary, for he afterwards thanked God that he had learned to retract his former sentiments, and change them, when upon stricter search and review, they appeared less agreeable to the divine standard of faith. Now we have already seen, that this was the case in regard to the Trinity; and you are doubtless not ignorant of the fact, that he was desirous long before his death of suppressing or altering parts of his psalms and Hymns, but was prevented by circumstances wholly beyond his control.”.
“Mr. Tompkins had very freely pointed out to him the impropriety of sanctioning with his name doxologies to the Trinity, and especially to the Holy Spirit, since he had declared his belief, that the Spirit was not a separate being, and that such ascriptions of praise were not authorised in Scripture. In reply, Dr. Watts writes : " I freely answer I wish some things were corrected. But the question with me is this. As I wrote them in sincerity at that time, is it not more for the edification of Christians, and the glory of God, to let them stand, than to ruin the usefulness of the whole book, by correcting them now, and perhaps bring further and false suspicions on my present opinions? Besides, I might
* “The original of this letter I believe is etained among the files of the Massachusetts Historical Society.”
tell you, that of all the books I have written, that particular copy is not mine. I sold it for a trifle to Mr. Lawrence near thirty years ago, and his posterity make money of it to this very day, and I can scarce claim a right to make any alteration in the book, which would injure the sale of it.'* And again, he replied to Mr. Grove, who suggested alterations, that he should be glad to do it, but it was out of his power, for he bad parted with the copy, and the bookseller would not suffer any such alterations. These testimonies are enough to show why Watts should desist from an attempt to make such altrations, as his change of sentiments would seem to require. At least they are such reasons as he thought satisfactory."
But, my dear father, they would not, the first of them at least, satisfy me, nor, unless I am much mistaken in my views of your character, would it satisfy you. It is about upon a par with the reason given by some of my friends why I should conceal my present opinions; namely, because the knowledge of such a change of sentiment would undo all the good which, by the blessing of God, I have ever been able to do by my writings. It sounds very much like advising me to do evil that good may
But, to return. “It is evident through the whole,” says Sparks, “that Watts was searching for the best reasons to quiet his mind in a case of necessity. To alter his hymns was out of his power; he regretted this misfortune; but, as it was not to be re. medied, he was willing to contemplate it in its most favourable aspect. The main thing to our present purpose is, that he acknowledged a desire to make alterations, and never in any shape defended the Trinitarian parts of his hymns. In fact, had he believed in these parts, the discussion could not have commenced.”
“THE CHRISTIANS” IN STAFFORDSHIRE.
EXTRACT FROM A LETTER.
Stoke upon Trent, Staffordshire, July 20th, 1846. DEAR SIR-As to the constitution of our Society, we are simply Christiansbelievers in Jesus as the Christ, who have banded our. selves together for the purpose of co-operation in the work of doing good. We have no particular form of Church Government, and hence the difficulty of speaking of our constitution. We have certain well-known principles on which we act in reference to admitting as members, treatment as such, and expulsion. We admit all who feel inclined to join us, provided they believe in Jesus as the Christ, and have their walk and conversation blameless. They may be believers or unbelievers on most other things, as their judgment directs them—they may believe in the tri-personal character of the Deity, or they may believe in His simple unity--they may believe in the existence of a personal devil, or they may reject such a doctrine. They may believe in the authority of certain books, or they may claim for themselves the right to try all books by the principles of right implanted in each man's heart. These, and a thousand other things pertaining to the creed of a man, they are fully at liberty to think as they like upon. A man's faith we regard as his personal property, and we have no right to interfere therewith. We have diversity of sentiment amongst us, but still we work lovingly and harmoniously, leaving every one to follow the path his or her judgment leads them to. We endeavour to do the same ourselves; but, though we thus acknowledge this principle of liberty, yet I believe our sentiments on most questions of theology are somewhat similar. I believe we are to an individual what the world would call Unitarians, though we cannot acknowledge that name ourselves, but simply the name “ Christian." We believe it to be right for Christians to join themselves together, not for the maintenance of a creed, but for the purpose of aiding, instructing, and comforting each other. We think it right to have public preaching or lecturing, but do not attach so much importance to this as do most other Christians. We believe that it is not a profession, but a life that makes a man a Christian, and hence we attach more importance to a man's daily actions, than we do to his attendance at a chapel. We hold various meetings during the week, for the purpose of mutual edification ; these meetings are generally well attended by those connected with us. We do not think it right in any form to support an hired ministry ; but still, if an individual comes to us and requests liberty to speak in our meetingroom, we do not refuse, but throw our doors open to him ; we feel that we are bound to do this, to men of all persuasions-Trinitarian and anti-Trinitarian are equally at liberty to use our room when we can without great inconvenience spare it. We are all, comparatively speaking, poor individuals, but we feel in conscience bound to support our own measures that we may adopt, without appealing to the world for their assistance in the form of donation, subscription, or public collection ; but if our fellow Christians, who are able to assist us, offer their assistance, we receive it with gratitude. We likewise find ourselves bound to support our own poor , needy brethren, and sisters.
* “ Memoirs of Dr. Watts as quoted from Palmer.”
It may not be amiss if I give you some account of the rise of the Society ; indeed, I find it requisite, in order to give you an adequate idea of our present position. Most of the individuals who compose our Society, were formerly members of the New Methodist Connexion, but who separated from that Connexion in 1841, owing to the intolerance and want of consistency manifested by the leaders of that body. The number of individuals who at first separated themselves was twenty-five ; the number of names which have appeared on the books, from the commencement to the present time is fifty-six, of these, five have died, leaving a good testimony behind them ; six have removed from the neighbourhood ; two have been expelled for immorality; and ten have resigned, leaving our present number thirty-three. When the parties first separated from the body above named, they were wishful to be useful, and hence they immediately hired a house, in which they held their meetings, and commenced a Sabbath-school ; the number of scholars at their first opening was fifteen, male and female; the number of teachers, at the commencement, was fourteen ; but they found very soon that the place was too small for them; they looked out for a suitable room but could find none ; in this situation they were driven to an alternative, either to forbid fresh scholars from coming to the school, or to erect a suitable room for them. selves—they could not endure the thought of doing the former, and the latter was a great undertaking for poor men, but ultimately they resolved upon the latter course, and were determined to bear the burthen ; they purchased a piece of land, 340 squaro yards, and erected a room, 48 ft. by 24 ft. insido. They have lately found it requisite to erect a small room in the yard adjoining the larger room; the whole of the expenses that have been incurred in this building is about 348l. ; interest has had to be paid upon this. money, or at least upon the greater portion of it. Year by year the friends have been labouring to reduce the debt, and free themselves from this burden, which cripples them, and keeps them from doing the good they otherwise would do. The room was erected in the latter part of 1843; up to the present time there has been paid for interest, and towards reducing the debt, 125l., leaving a debt still of 248l. ; we hope to live to see the place free from this incubus. The number of scholars that are now taught in the school is about 180, and we have thirty-two teachers. We have felt for some time past the necessity of placing good books in the hands of our scholars, and likewise the members of our congregation; we have succeeded in raising a library of about 170 volumes ; in doing this we have brought a little additional debt upon us, but this we hope will be repaid in the good that will be effected. You ask what means we have to depend upon for the support of our Society? Simply the liberality of men who are poor, but whose hearts are in the cause.
G. T. To Mr. J. MARDON.
EXTRACT FROM THE ADDRESS OF THE COMMITTEE SOUTHERN UNITARIAN FUND SOCIETY. FELLOW-CHRISTIANS,
The opening of a place for public worship, at Southampton, in compliance with the earnest recommendations of two of our successive annual meetings, leads your Committee to think it right to lay the objects, operations, and claims of the society before its members, and the Unitarian public, in order that the precise amount of support to be calculated upon, may be clearly ascertained, and in the hope of stimulating the friends of Unitarianism in the South of England to increased zeal and liberality.
A few persons at Southampton, who, for two years, have regularly met together for worship, solicit and require encouragement, and the desired opportunity has arrived, so often sought for (as the past records of the society testify), for introducing Unitarianism into that town, which, from its extent and prosperity, holds out the prospect of being, with generous and timely assistance, able ultimately to support its own worship, and become a centre of union to the congregations in this district.
Friends and brethren, will you not listen to the appeal ? From the death of many of the early supporters of the society, and the want of a gufficient number of new subscribers to supply their place, the annual subscriptions have gradually declined to less than half the original amount. Will you not, now that there is a new sphere for exertion, rally round the society, and by subscriptions or donations give it that fresh impetus it demands, in order to enable it to become more useful than ever. Already, we rejoice to say, has the appeal been partially responded to, and donations and increased annual subscriptions have been announced, sufficient to lead us to trust, that where Unitarians see that there is a rational ground for hope that good will be effected, and that an earnest effort is being pat forth, their liberality shall not be wanting.
The spirit of the gospel is essentially a missionary spirit. Where there is a real love of the gospel—where the truths which Jesus taught have their influence over the heart—where His spirit is felt, it will show itself, by endeavours to make others partake of the blessings it enjoys. The Christian cannot withhold from his brethren what he himself values. From the earliest era of Christianity, it has pleased the Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, to bring about His high designs, by the instrumentality of human effort and devotion, leading even unto sufferings and death. We are too apt to suppose that the time for such effort, the call for such
devotion, is over and gone. But is it over, while error—the error which clouds Heaven's glorious truth—is prevalent in our own loved country-while the cry come over and help us,” reaches us from any fellow beings who desire to hear the truth as it is in Jesus ?” Small indeed, in comparison with stripes, and imprisonment, and death,” is the sacrifice which the present times demand from us. But because it is small, shall it not be made ? Shall we not give of our abundance, and without grudging ?-not the puny pittance of constraint-not the measured offering which custom and station demand, but that which is worthy the righteous cause which should be—would that we could say which is-dearest to our hearts. The feeling which would lead to such an impulse would prove, that we, as thinking, rational, immortal beings, are in earnest, and pressing forward to reach the prize of our high calling, “ counting all things but dross," not for ourselves only, but as Christian philanthropists for all the families of the earth, “ till we shall win Christ," and stand fast in all the glorious liberty of the sons of God.”. Let us then, each and all, act as accountable to God alone. And you who have the power so to give as to enable Sister Churches to spring up under your fostering care, use your privilege nobly. The animating influence would surely spread, for “your zeal would provoke very many," and in your own happy experience would you Teap the reward a hundred fold; for, blest in the consciousness of being “ fellow workers with God”_blest in the consciousness of his approving smile-your own spirits would rise to more exalted communion with him : and what is all the good which wealth can purchase, to compare with this ? And, to you with whom justice pleads her claims, and marks the little it is right to give, we would say remember the widow's mite, and that the example was left us by our Saviour, to stimulate the lowliest Christian—to share the blessed privilege of promoting the cause of God, and the welfare of our fellow creatures.
THOMAS COOKE, Treasurer.