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and defence of republican principles is to the servile adherents of despotism. In the best former days of the protestants of France, while the celebrated Edict of Nantes had its fullest and kindest operation, the Catholics were not accustomed to hear such hightoned expressions in vindication of religious rights, especially to see them published and circulated in the land.
The editor proceeds to speak of the indications which favor the extension of protestantism; to claim some of his countrymen, most distinguished in philosophy and science, as professors of the reformed faith; to utter a word of rebuke to the rationalism of Germany, and the Methodism of England; to rejoice in the extended diffusion of the scriptures, and to appeal to them, and to urge the study of them, as the safe and sure basis of the protestant cause.
Among the fellow labourers of the editor is Richard, professor at Strasbourg, whose argumentation and eloquence are occasionally seasoned with a spice of wit. The bishop of Hermopolis, who is also a minister of state, speaking of the protestants, in the Moniteur for March 1825, designated their sacrilegious discourses and heresy as criminal offences.
'This,' says Richard, ' might furnish matter for much reflection upon the unsuitableness of uniting in the same person two qualities which Jesus Christ has separated, civil and religious power. But it is a personal question which wc are not disposed to enter upon. As a bishop and priest, Mgr. d'Hermopolis is perfectly right; we protest against his church, and against the Roman purple, which we maintain to be hardly apostolic; religiously speaking, this is indeed an offence. But, as a minister responsible for public instruction, as a minister of Charles X, who is to swear to the charter, as a minister who has himself taken an oath to maintain the laws and liberty of worship, Mgr. d'Hermopolis is entirely wrong. It is absurd to maintain that all the protestants of France, as such, are criminals; and this expression, which is true in the mouth of a bishop, coming from a minister of government, is as false as it is unconstitutional. This expression, a very grave one for a minister, must have escaped him no doubt unawares; but it has been carefully taken up again in the last mandate of the archbishop of Rouen. This prelate has given a more distinguished place to protestantism. Leaving to the tribunals duties which are still sufficiently extensive, he reserves to himself two offences among others, heresy and magic. Without being a wizard, it is difficult to conceive what relation there can be between two things so unlike; but the numerous and respectable protestants of the flourishing church of Rouen at least, will know how to view the subject.' Vol. I. pp. 155, 156.
Again, he answers gravely to a charge, which we Americans, at first sight, can hardly think was gravely brought; though there is no doubt it was generated, and has been kept alive by the strange prejudices of the papists, in this communication of Richard, it is traced back to Stapfer, in his account of the life and literary labors of Goethe. The charge is that of romance in religion; and the favorite use of it is to draw a parallel between protestantism or romance in religion and romance in letters.
'Let us declare,' says Richard, ' in few words, what we protestants understand by protestantism. We admit that man cannot of himself here acquire certainty in all matters of faith, which are necessary to his happiness and virtue. We admit, that, to bring him out of darkness, there has been a revelation, and that this revelation has been transmitted by a book called the Gospel; and that it is by means of our reason, (hat we draw from it those convictions concerning both doctrines and duties, without which we should remain in that darkness, which all the philosophers, from Plato to Kant, have not been able to pierce through. We see here how all is clear, evident, and positive. Now what can our determinate and well defined principles have in common with those of a vague and indefinite kind, which are called romantic? The very signification of the last term is on all sides a subject of dispute; but no honest man can doubt what protestantism is. We must here enter more deeply into the question, and view it more at large.
'First, we are by no means disposed to condemn any class of literary productions in the mass, which would be neither charitable nor philosophical; much less are we disposed to declaim against any particular compositions, and thus bring on a quarrel. But we are compelled to say that those of the romantic school are hitherto very faulty, and it is difficult to tell what is their end and aim. The secret is not yet discovered, and the defenders of this school fight for it like chevaliers, who break a lance for a beauty of their own imagination. * * To pretend that, in our time, there has sprung up a species of poetry at once real and novel, seems to be a luxury of absurdity which no one can think of displaying. But we are told that the romantic is independence in matters of taste, and that protestantism, being independence in matters of faith, is all one and the same thing. Strange confusion of ideas! Does not reason in all departments of knowledge, aim to be dependant? Is not this its most general, most noble, most divine characteristic 1 Reason aims to be independent every where; in history, in mathematics, in medicine, in astronomy; and shall every thing in which reason asserts her liberty be called protestantism? Moreover our faith is not reason alone; it would then be pure philosophy; it is reason applied to revelation, and the manner in which it is to be received ; and we are thus led to convictions determinate and well defined, which we call our religious faith. In all this there is not the smallest resemblance to what is styled the romantic. This is obscure and indefinable; our faith is just the contrary. * * Our faith is the completion of philosophy, delivering us from its obscurities, and giving us assurance of futurity. We ask for toleration, light, and liberty no less for others than for ourselves; and though scarcely restored, after long misfortunes, we do not withdraw under our tents for repose, but we bear in mind, and labor for all our brethren. My conclusion then is that our opinions, determinate, clear, and active, have no connexion with any peculiar literature, and least of all with the romantic school, a school of uncertainty and vagueness, and with nothing but empty titles to maintain its pretensions.' Vol. I. pp. 159,160, 161.
We have cited enough from the Protestant Review to show what sort of spirit pervades its numbers. We have perused them so cursorily, that we are not confident that we have given the best specimens for this purpose; but the prominent object in the original communications, is what our readers have now seen. There are not facts enough disclosed to enable us to judge of the progress which protestant principles are making in France. But it is not credible that she can stand still, while the rest of the world is advancing. Ignorance, and especially ignorance of what the sacred scriptures teach, is the greatest safeguard of a church, whose worship calls in the aid of visible and imposing ceremonies, and whose priests are both oracles and interpreters, as well as dispensers of pardon for sin. If therefore knowledge is to prevail more and more over ignorance, and, above all, knowledge of the written word of God, and if toleration continues to exist in fact as well as in name, we see no reason why dissent from the national church should not become at least as common in France, as it has been in England. As long, however, as we see protestant principles actively at work in that country, and fearlessly vindicated by those who embrace and hold them, we are willing to forego all prophecies concerning the future, and would rather trust to Providence for the accomplishment of a work which promises to go on prosperously.
In regard to the particular doctrines of Christianity maintained in this Review, we have not much to say. In most points, as far as they are disclosed, and this is sparingly, they approximate to what among us is called orthodoxy. But the polemic ground of its contributors is thus far rather ecclesiastical than dogmatical, and whatever is said concerning articles of faith is incidental, and excludes all pretensions to the trammels of creeds and confessions. This negation of authority in matters of faith, is after all the strong hold of liberal Christianity. The indolent, the indifferent, and the hypocritical, may be willing to put their consciences out of their own keeping from a love of ease, or for the enjoyment of a good name, in a safe church. They will always find those who are ready enough to take upon themselves the trust; for of all power over his fellows there is none so gratifying to the pride of man, as power over the conscience and faith of others. It is sometimes called spiritual pride; but it is the same passion which delights to exercise its sway in the social and political relations, and is very far from being spiritualized or sanctified, merely by being transferred to matters of a religious nature. This independence, therefore, we repeat, is the strong hold of liberal Christianity; for, whatever variety of religious opinions there may be amongst those who maintain it, they will be united in one thing; namely, in resisting all ecclesiastical usurpation. This of itself is a bond of union, which must in some degree ensure mutual charity, and kindness, and courtesy, amidst all the minor dissensions which may arise. And it becomes protestants of every communion, glorying as they do in that descriptive name which denotes their severance from the Romish church, to guard and protest against the infringement of that liberty wherewith Christ hath made his disciples free.
But protestants are not altogether exempt from the danger of a spirit of usurpation. Witness the evil days of the episcopal church of England, and the days of our revered, but not immaculate puritan ancestors. And it may not be a word out of season to any dominant party in our extensive republic, to warn them against the tendency which is produced by confidence in their numbers, or in the infallible truth of their doctrines, to contemn or oppress the opposers of their particular sect or peculiar dogmas.
Ttfottcefl of ttecent JJutJlfcaUons.
tJ5. A Sermon delivered at the Dedication of the Church erected by the Second Congregational Society in North Bridgewater, August 9th, 1826. By Benjamin Huntoon. 8vo. pp. 32. Plymouth, Allen Danforth, 162b'.
This Sermon well sustains the reputation of Mr Huntoon as a popular preacher. Its style is too ambitious, and the thoughts are not sufficiently condensed to please as much when read as it did when delivered; but not withstanding this, we have perused it with great satisfaction. Diffuseness is not a common fault in Unitarian preaching, nor do we regard it as so great an offence as the opposite one of extreme compression. To this last the preachers of the present day are exposed, by the severe exactions of their hearers, more perhaps than to any other; and it may be that the frequency with which it is committed, has been the occasion of the little notice it has received, and made us too sensitive with regard to the fault to which it is opposed. The church, at the dedication of which this sermon was preached, was for the use of a little band of Unitarians, who had raised it amidst opposition and rebuke. A deep sense of duty, an unshaken fidelity to their religious convictions, and a humble reliance on the blessing of God, were conspicuous among the causes that sustained and animated them in all their trials, and the example of St Paul's frankness in avowing his faith, his sufferings on account of his heresy, and of his adopting and adheringto the standard of the scriptures alone, was a topic well suited to the occasion of the discourse. The text is in the following words; 'This I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets.' But obloquy and opposition are then shown not to have been the peculiar lot of the first preachers of Christianity, but common to them and the reformers of every age. The frankness of the apostle above referred to, and his respect for the scriptures, are successively presented to the disciples of Christ as worthy of imitation. The preacher incidentally gives an exhibition of the leading principles of Unitarians, and notwithstanding what we have said above, we might quote passages from his sermon of great force as regards both thought and expression. But we are obliged to content ourselves with the following.
vol.. ut.—No. vi. 64