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were dispersing information, just where we wish it to be spread, among those who read their publications, but never see ours; some of whom may probably draw different conclusions from their own wise selves; may be surprised to learn, that we are as numerous as we are, and be convinced that if we are not a large denomination, with 'vast resources,' we are at least a
frowing one, and that our means must inevitably grow with us. therefore thank those editors; at the same time begging them to add to the communications, which they have already imparted, that in the state of Massachusetts, which I noticed in indefinite terms in my first letter, there are more than one hundred Unitarian societies. If in their fondness for advertising our concerns, they will publish also a small list of Unitarian books, I will engage to prepare it for the first editor who may apply, and acknowledge my increased obligations to the fraternity.
Another request I have to make, is, that those gentlemen, and the Orthodox in general, will preserve some little consistency between their ideas of what we are, and of what we ought to do; and so long as they conceive us to be an inconsiderable seel, that they will not require from us magnificent projects, nor blame us for not accomplishing great ends with our confessedly small means. That this has been very much their way, hitherto, is palpable. When they have wished to depreciate our efforts, and hide even from themselves our success, they have affected to look down upon us as Goliath did upon David, quite at a loss to discern us for our littleness. But when we are to receive our castigation for not having sent missionaries abroad, then their eyes have at once been opened on visions of vast resources, and vigorous youth, and rapid advancement, and shame has been cried out upon us that we have not done more for the cause of religion, nor marched forward in the glorious path which they themselves, who have always improved their advantages to the utmost, have trod before us. Now, if they really believe, and believe on our assertion, that neither our numbers nor our means are great, let them, I say, for pure consistency's sake, beware how they abuse us for not making great efforts, till they learn from us that we are able to make them.
I say not that we have done what we ought to have done for the cause of Christianity and the glory of God. Let not such presumption be found on my lips, or escape from my pen. But whatever our faults and omissions have been, and deeply as I would deplore them, just so strongly do I feel that we are not to be taken to task by those, who being as frail as we are, may have erred in one direction, if not in another, as widely as we have. If we have not, as a denomination, constantly pursued the right course, certain I am that neither have others done so; and if our errors have not been theirs, 1 suppose that they have been sometimes in fault when we have been innocent. I pretend not to the office or the ability of striking the balance and pronouncing judgment; neither do I acknowledge their right or their capacity of deciding between us.
When I commenced this subject, in your number for March and April, I expressed something like a presentiment that I might afford matter of triumph to the Orthodox, and of blame and regret to my Unitarian friends. That I have done the first is evident from the eagerness with which the Orthodox papers have caught at my statements; and I have already declared the degree of regard in which I hold their rejoicings. As I was prepared for them, I have neither been surprised nor disturbed by them. I have rather been gratified that the quotations from my letter have been, through their agency, spread so far.
To my friends, I am sorry that I should have occasioned any trouble; but I cannot perceive that I have given any good reason for complaint, and I am persuaded that it will not be long before their feelings on the subject will be changed.
They who have found fault with my expositions of American Unitarianism, because they think that I have not presented a sufficiently encouraging view of its strength and resources, will permit me to ask them whether they can add essentially to my enumeration of Unitarian churches? If they cannot—and I have not heard of the addition of but one small church*—then my catalogue is a correct one. If it be said that a church is forming here, and crowds attend the preaching of Unitarianism there, and in still another place people begin to feel interested in it, my plain answer is, that a church forming is not a church formed; that crowds may be dispersed as easily as they are gathered; that we cannot be certain that a local and temporary excitement of interest will result in the establishment of regular worship and an organized society; and that I did not pretend
* Trenton, N. Y.
to offer an account of what was doing, but only of what was done; I spoke of the churches in existence and not of the churches in prospect; of the actual and present state, and not of the promises of Unitarianism.
If it be further said that I have not brought forward as conspicuously as I ought to have done, the large and growing sect, calling themselves Christians, who are principally, if not altogether Anti-Trinitarian in their sentiments; and that, furthermore, I have not attributed sufficient importance to the great and increasing number of intelligent individuals, scattered through the country, who by their silent influence are preparing the way for the general reception of our doctrines; I answer, that I did no more than briefly, though respectfully notice both of these denominations, because I could not perceive, nor can I now, how they materially contribute to our present resources, or means of action. I look on those two descriptions of men with the strongest possible interest; I see in them the future support and final success of our cause. But with the one we have never been connected, except by the bond of some doctrines held in common; and the other, from the very circumstance of their scattered state, have not yet united for any concentrated effort. Though they are in one sense, therefore, of the utmost importance to the cause of Unitarianism, I could not speak of them as forming any part of its existing resources for immediate application. A doctrine may be pervading a district by constant but small accessions of strength, and yet be possessed of no available power. When a church is built, and a congregation gathered, then there is something palpable to sight, and something ready for action. I know, as well as another, that' a spirit of inquiry is abroad;' that our writings and defences are gradually finding their way through the country; that the prejudices against us and our opinions are wearing away; that we are gaining converts among all sects, and in every direction ;—and yet I confess that I am unable to comprehend how 'a spirit of inquiry' affords us any present aid toward the support of a foreign mission, or how those who are just divesting themselves of their prejudices against us, should heartily and in all instances, cooperate with us; and though I perceive much money going out from among us in the shape of tracts, sermons, &£, 1 am not aware that much of it has as yet come back to us in any shape, except in that of promise; and with that we ought to be content—though it cannot be entered among our resources.
Others of my friends have objected against my statements, not because they are incorrect, but because, being correct, they are gloomy and disheartening, and ought not to have been exposed. Now to. these objections I have two answers to make; first, that the statements are not disheartening, and secondly, that whether they are or not, they ought to have been published openly, as they were.
About twelve years ago, the Unitarian controversy first fairly commenced in this country; for all that was done before that time, was nothing more than local instruction, rather than what might deserve the name of controversy. Having stated this fact, I am willing to refer to my list of Unitarian churches, and ready to ask, whether it is not a highly encouraging instead of a disheartening one? Is it not encouraging to know that in Massachusetts there are more than a hundred of our congregations? that in every New England state there is at least one? that in the middle and southern states, there are several flourishing and quite youthful societies? that in the west, and elsewhere, there is a considerable denomination, who have very generally discarded the doctrine of the trinity from their creed? and that throughout our country some of the best and most respectable men in it have adopted our opinions? After such a survey I must freely express my surprise that any one can be disheartened by it. Sanguine as I am on the subject of our final success, I have never looked for a more rapid progress than this. It was not, in the nature of things, to be expected.
But some of my brethren have said, that twenty years ago there were more Unitarian societies in Massachusetts than there are now. This assertion wears, at least, the appearance of novelty, and I must take the liberty to dissent from it. I believe it to be founded in a misapplication of the term Unitarian. Some of the churches, which are considered to have fallen off, may indeed have had Unitarian ministers, or ministers who suffered Unitarians to come into their pulpits; or these churches may have been opposed to the violent Calvinistic preaching, and have preferred that which was more mod
knew nothing about it—and when their old minister died, they
were just as likely to fall under the care of a Trinitarian as of a Unitarian minister, and often more so. But that any societies who have been at all grounded in our doctrines have fallen off from them, I do entirely deny; and I believe, nay, further, I know, that into half of these supposed Unitarian societies, a Unitarian preacher might have gone and shocked his audience thoroughly by a single doubt of the doctrine of the trinity, or a single argument against it. I cannot see, therefore, how we can be said to have lost what was never properly our own; and moreover, I cannot think that the Unitarianism which is afraid of its own name is worth the counting.
And this brings me to my second answer, which is, that whether my statements are disheartening or otherwise, if they were only true, they ought to have been published, or, at any rate, there was no good reason why they should not have been published. The cause of Unitarianism has suffered more by timidity than by boldness. Truth wants no mask. If openness is not alloyed by excessive rashness, it is, like honesty, the best policy—for it is honesty. If the Orthodox have increased in zeal and fury, let us increase in firmness, and we shall see which will prevail at last, firmness or fury.
As to the fear of Orthodox editors, I can truly say, that it was never before my eyes. I do not believe that they can do any harm by publishing an account of our churches. I am astonished that any one else should believe that they could, or that any serious injury can be done to Unitarianism by telling the truth about it. On such a subject as this, I hold fear to be folly. If we think we have the truth, our plain and our only part is to support it, and rejoice in it, and be grateful for it, and maintain it not only without fear but with a manly pride. If we are timorous and doubtful about it, we are not worthy of it. If we deny it, it will also deny us. He who believes that he possesses it, and believes with his heart, is no more disturbed at the fluctuations and occasional delays of its progress, than he who believes that the seasons of the year are under the control of a merciful Providence, is disturbed at a long drought at one time, or a continued rain-flood at another.
But I must turn to my old acquaintance, the Reviewer in the just been put into my hands, and contains a reply from him to