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Art. VII.—I. The First Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the American Unitarian Association. 2. Tracts printed for the American Unitarian Association. Boston, I. R. Butts and Co. 1826. 1. The Faith once delivered to the Saints. 2. One Hundred Scriptural Arguments for the Unitarian Faith. 3. On Human Depravity. By Edmund Q. Sewall. 4. Omniscience the Attribute of the Father only. By Rev. Joseph Hutton. 5. On the Religious Phraseology of the New Testament, and of the present day. 6. A Letter on the Principles of the Missionary Enterprise.
At the beginning of the present century, Unitarianism was hardly known in New England as a distinctive name. There were, and had been individuals in our Congregational churches, both clergymen and laymen, who did not believe in a trinity of persons in the Godhead; but they were satisfied with the discreet enjoyment of their opinions, while they were not called upon to preach or to profess any thing contrary to them. It was not till they were assailed as insidious enemies of the doctrines of the cross, and compelled to act on the defensive, that their strength became known, and that they were drawn reluctantly into the field of controversy. They did not wish for any peculiar name. Attached as they were to the Congregational church and modes of worship, as well as to their own theological opinions, for which they were accountable to no tribunal, civil or ecclesiastical, they did not attract the censure of the majority, and their very peacefulness became the occasion of reproach. What might have been foreseen, is now become actual history. The clamor that was raised against all who did not hold to the doctrines of the Reformation, as they were artfully entitled, and the attempt to confound all distinctions between those who denied these doctrines, and those who embraced simple theism, were too revolting to be silently endured. But this was not all. The Orthodox called on every minister to speak out boldly in their cause, so that whoever was silent, or did not speak the right words, should for ever after hold his peace. This challenge was accompanied, too, with strong implications of hypocrisy or imposition on the part of those ministers, who, avoiding controversy, had preached only what they conceived to be christian truth, willing that their hearers, if they could discover any higher or more useful truths, should find them where only they can be looked for, in the word of God. But the Orthodox, as if they possessed a monopoly of all sound doctrine, and had a right to presume that every parish was with them, and needed only to know that its minister was heretical, in order to discharge him from his labors, would allow of no doubtful relation between the pastor and his flock. The consequence therefore was, that a spirit of inquiry went abroad. Thousands in the congregations both of orthodox and liberal ministers, who had formed no very definite opinions concerning the trinity, were led to examine the subject, and it soon became no fearful thing to profess what they believed. The time was, indeed, when the fear of man might prove a snare in these matters, where God only should be feared; but it has gone by, and the only question now is, what are the means most honorable and expedient under divine favor, for promoting the cause of truth and holiness. •
Association has been found in other sects a powerful means of acting with effect, so that no labor may be wasted by unconcerted, or by inconsistent exertions. But it is not surprising, when we consider the history of Unitarianism, that some reluctance should have been discovered to this kind of union. Being from principle opposed to sectarianism, in the bad sense of the word, Unitarians have avoided an interference uncalled for and unprovoked, with other classes of Christians. The fear of doing too much, or of doing something wrong, has led to a degree of timidity in action, which has brought upon them the charge of indifference. But they must not expect to escape obloquy; and their only solicitude should be not to deserve it. Whatever they do, or omit to do, will give occasion for the charge, (whether the innocent or the deserved occasion, it is for their own consciences to decide) either of a proselyting spirit on the one hand, or of coldness on the other. We have already heard all the changes of this kind rung by the Orthodox; but the sounds should not occasion any alarm. Unitarians have as ample means of coming to a knowledge of the truth, as other sects; and any claims to infallibility, come they whence they will, are not the teachings of the Holy Spirit, but the movements of human arrogance or spiritual pride. Considerations like these will, ere long remove, we trust, all scruples that have been entertained by unitarian Christians against associations for mutual aid and encouragement, and for promoting, as far as may be, what they deem the cause of pure and undefiled religion. We feel confident that the wavering will come to this result, when they shall have read the Report now before us, and see what the first general association of the kind has done, and what it proposes to do.
Among the prominent designs of the American Unitarian Association is the publication of such tracts as contain an exposition and defence of unitarian Christianity. This, as everyone who has read the pamphlets whose titles are mentioned at the head of this article will perceive, is in a successful course of execution. First in order, and very valuable for its contents, is The Faith once delivered to the Saints. It contains a summary of Christian truth, which seems to us to embrace all that is most valuable in religion; and the presumptions in its favor are recommended by powerful and convincing arguments. The second of these tracts is entitled One hundred Scriptural Arguments for the Unitarian Faith. Its object is to prove the Unity of God, in its strict sense, by reference to, and citation of passages in the New Testament, a great portion of which are the words of our Saviour. The proof is as satisfactory as this sort of proof from single texts can be, and, compared with the collection of proof texts adduced by Trinitarians, the weight of evidence is overwhelming. Without selecting any particular texts, we quote the following concluding arguments, which any one may controvert, who is able:
'XC1V. Because there are, in the New Testament seventeen passages, wherein the Father is styled one or only God, while there is not a single passage in which the Son is so styled.
'XCV. Because there are 320 passages, in which the Father is absolutely, and by way of eminence, called God; while there is not one in which the Son is thus called.
'XCVI. Because there are 105 passages, in which the Father is denominated God, with peculiarly high titles and epithets, whereas the Son is not once so denominated.
tive Committee of the Association, that these tracts have been in so much demand. They cannot fail to give comfort and assurance to many skeptical minds, and to remove the darkjiess which hangs over the faith of many believers, concerning the true doctrines of Christianity. It is a tribute justly due to the Executive Committee, to declare our opinion, that great judgment has been exercised thus far in the selection of tracts. They are such as all reading people can understand; they are free from every thing like cant or imposing tricks, from every thing which ministers to a mean or corrupt taste, to a proud or censorious spirit. If the good work proceeds as it has begun, we cannot but predict a great, and salutary, and wide spreading influence on public opinion in regard to subjects, which, above all others, it concerns mankind most fully to understand.
Another principal object of the Association is the support of domestic missionaries. Though but little has been done by its committee, in this way, it is not because the field for their services is circumscribed, but because the laborers are not at hand for such an unexpected call. The situation of a considerable portion of our country is such, that the only way in which its inhabitants can have the gospel preached to them, is by means of temporary missionaries, or of a partial support for ministers, to be drawn from missionary sot ieties. There is no reason why Unitarians should not have their full share of success in this evangelical work. But it is not to be wondered at, on the contrary, that more has not been attempted in this benevolent enterprise. The growth of Unitarianism in our country, though it has been rapid, has been comparatively recent, and so far from being forced, it has been left too much to its own inherent strength. Still Unitarian preachers have not increased in proportion to the increasing calls lor their services; and they have been so much in demand near the place of their education, in churches already formed, as to be unable to explore new and untried regions. But we trust the time is arrived, or is soon coming, when, from the diversities of gifts among the young men of liberal views who are educated for the ministry, there will be found such as are fitted and disposed to engage, at least temporarily, in missionary labors. These labors afford a good school for the young licentiate, whose mind has been well educated. The avenues to the heart are much the same in all men; and perhaps they will be most