網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

clares the conclusion of the whole prominent and authoritative and matter,—“Let us have a belief, calls for faith in them, as just and therefore. How can we otherwise essential to the true life. So far as have any portion in the believers they are concerned, he whose course rest and hope? Let us have a creed has given so much pain to his breth. also. For how else can we tell or ren, is a Christian believer; and so know what we believe? Only let far as the inculcation of these truths it be held with humility, and serious. is concerned, he is most certainly a ness, and charity. We need not Christian teacher." ...."So far as ask too curiously how much there is faith in the supernatural mission of of it, nor of what precise kind it is." Christ, or in the historical record of “Let it be as simple as it will, and as his life is concerned, Mr. Parker is unincumbered and as large in spirit. not a Christian believer.” This arOnly give it some existence. " Al- ticle was followed by Remarks on low it place. Do not cast out its an article, &c. Besides the publi. name as evil on account of the mis- cations which we have noticed, one chiefs that have sprung up by the or two others have appeared which side of it, and the hypocrisies to we have not seen. which it has been made to minister. But the most remarkable publicaLet it have a hand that can write. tion, elicited by this discussion, is Let it have a tongue that can speak. the “ Letter to the Boston AssociaLet it have something, however short, tion of Congregational Ministers, that it is willing to abide by.” touching certain matters of their the

On the opposite side, Rev. Wm. ology,” by Theodore Parker. This Ware of West Cambridge, the au- is dated, March 20th, 1845, and is thor of “ Zenobia” and “ Proteus, one of the last of the many pam. gives to the public two sermons, en. phlets issued, but not one of the least titled “ Righteousness before Doc- in its significance. It is not very trine,” with the text, “ Forbid him long, but quite long enough to satisfy not, for he that is not against us, is the Boston Association.

It is not for us."

very difficult to be understood, but Into the field thus occupied by rather more so to be digested, eslighter troops, the Christian Exam- pecially by those for whom the mor. iner leads on its heavier force ceau was prepared. It is not very with becoming dignity. The elab- logical in its form and method, but orate article in the March number its aim can not be shunned nor its of that Journal, is able, fair and force broken. It is withal somewhat conciliatory, and takes the best po tartly written, but it comes from one, sition in respect to “ Mr. Parker and in whom reverence for the authority his views,” which could be taken by of men and names is not the most a liberal Christian, who understands largely developed, and perhaps on himself and the interests of the de. whom it has not been the most faith. nomination. And no liberal Chris. fully inculcated. There is too an tian, we presume none, does under air of mischief about it, if not of stand himself and the interests of boyish roguery-but perhaps it is his denomination more perfectly only that of one who knows his adthan does the writer of that article. vantage and means to use it, courOf Mr. Parker he says, adopting a teously, indeed, as becomes one just distinction between the spiritu. who has been trained in a school in al truths and the historical facts of which courtesy is a prime virtue, revelation, “ We do not understand and yet strongly, as we Calvinists that he denies the Christian truths. should expect from him with our On the contrary, he both recognizes views of human nature. We give and insists on them, makes them a few extracts.

matter

" Gentlemen—The peculiar circum- undefined. It changes color, and it chan. stances of the last few years have placed ges shape; now it seems a mountain, both you and me in new relations io the then it appears like a cloud ;-you will do public and to one another. * * You have, a great service, if you will publish your I am told, at great length, and in several symbolical books and let the world know consecutive meetings, discussed the sub what is the true doctrine according to the ject of my connection with your reverend Boston Association of Congregational body; you have debated the

Ministers." whether you should expel me for heresy, and by a circuitous movement, recently

He then addressed to them a series made, have actually excluded me from of “scholastic and dogmatic ques. preaching the Thursday lecture.

tions, &c.” These all relate to the Until recently the Unitarians have been authority and inspiration of the Old say, of the church militant; at least they and New Testaments and the conhave actually been the movement party in nection between right views of these Theology. As such. the Unitarians have points, and the claim to salvation and done a great work. As I understand the

the Christian name. Some of these matter, this work was in part intellectual, but in a greater part moral, for they de questions contemplate views of these clared, either directly or by' implication, points that are extravagant and false, the right of cach man to investigate for which they first caricature and then himself in matters pertaining to religion, and his right also to the Christian name

ridicule. Of these views we have if he claimed it, and his character seemed only to say, that the falsehood is a to deserve it. They called themselves fair mark for the shaft, and we speed liberal Christians, and seemned to consider it home to that, only desiring that that he was the best Christian who was most like Christ in character and life, thus

the falsehood may not be mistaken making religion the essential of Christian- for the truth. Others there are, ity, and leaving each man to determine

which bring out opinions that are his own theology. *** The Unitarians held by leading Unitarian divines have no recognized and public creed. It used to be their glory. Al the Theologi- and perhaps by some of the Boston cal School in Cambridge I subscribed no Association, and have an important symbolical books; at my ordination, I assented to no form of doctrines,-neither between Mr. Parker and that body.

bearing upon the question at issue church nor council requesting it. When I became a member of your learned body,

We give a few of these questions. no one asked me of my opinions whether "1. What do you mean by the orthodox or heterodox.

I have no word salvation? 2. What do you wish to disguise my theology, nor shelter it beneath the authority of your Associa

mean by a miracle ? 3. What do tion. Let it stand or fall by itself. But you mean by inspiration? 4. What still I do not know that I have transgressed do you mean by revelation? 7. the limits of Unitarianism, for I do not know what these limits are. It is a great doctrines of Christianity; what mo

What do you consider the essential glory to a liberal association, to have no symbolical books, but a great inconven. ral and religious truth is taught by ience that a sect becoming exclusive Christianity, that was wholly unshould not declare its creed. I can not

known to the human race before the utter the shibboleth of a party till I first hear it pronounced in the orthodox way.

time of Christ ?-and is there any “ As you have had the field of contro doctrine of Christianity that is not a versy entirely to yourselves these several part also of natural religion? 9. made a public and authorized'statement of Do you believe that all or any of your theological belief, I must beg you to

the authors of the Old Testament inform me what is orthodoxy according were miraculously inspired, so that to the Boston Association. The ortho

all or any of their language can doxy of the Catholic church I know very well; I am not wholly ignorant of what properly be called the Word of is called orthodoxy by the Lutheran and God, and their writings constitute a Calvinistic churches; but the ORTHODOXY miraculous revelation ?" &c. &c. of the Boston Association of Congregational Ministers is not a thing so easy to

(14 is a question to the same purcome at. As I try to comprehend it, I port respecting the New Testament.) feel I am looking at something dim and “ 10. Do you believe the law con

a

case.

tained in the Pentateuch, in all parts be found in Unitarian books and pe. and particulars, is miraculously in. riodicals we do not care to quote. spired or revealed to man? or is it, What they would be, is too notorious like the law of Massachusetts, a hu- to need a reference or verification. man work in whole or in part? 12. The attempt to deny that the opinDo you believe that any prophet of ions indicated by these questions the Old Testament, solely through a are inconsistent with Unitarian or. miraculous revelation made to him thodoxy, would wake in scorn by God, did distinctly and unequivo- thousand deafening echoes. cally foretell any distant and future But it will be asked, • What if all event, which has since come to pass, this be so? What if leading Unitaand in special that any prophet of rian writers and divines have held the Old Testament, did thereby and some and even all of these opinions in manner aforesaid, distinctly and and are still retained in fellowship, unequivocally foretell the birth, life, has Mr. Parker therefore a claim to sufferings, death and resurrection of the same fellowship? Their opin. Jesus of Nazareth, so that Jesus was ions are not the same with his. in the proper and exclusive sense of And whence does he derive his authe word, the Messiah predicted by thority, from practice or liberal the prophets and expected by the principles, to complain of inconJews? 17. Do you believe that sistency and injustice, in that he is Jesus of Nazareth was miraculously refused while they receive courborn, as it is related in two of the tesy and fellowship? Gospels, with but one human parent,

Let us look at the state of the that he was tempted by the Devil

What have the Boston Assoand transfigured, talking actually ciation done in the way of withholdwith Moses and Elias; that he ac- ing this fellowship? They have not tually transformed the substance of expelled Mr. Parker from their body. water into the substance of wine; They have not fastened upon him a fed five thousand men with five formal censure. But they have loaves and two fishes; that he walk- generally refused to exchange with ed on the waters ; miraculously still. him; which is a withholding of ed a tempest; sent demons out of courtesy that thirty years since, and men into a herd of swine ; and that in respect to the same Boston Assohe restored to life persons wholly ciation, was deemed a grave and and entirely dead? 23. Do you unpardonable offense, to proceed believe that the writers of the four against which, council after council Gospels and the book of Acts, never was called, in " the Dorchester conmingled mythical, poetical, or le troversy.” Five of the entire Assogendary matter in their compositions; ciation and three only of the city that they never made a mistake in a members have exchanged with Mr. matter of fact; and that they have Parker since May, 1841, while the in all cases reported the words and other associations in the neighbor. actions of Jesus with entire and per- hood have done as before. Some of fect accuracy? 24. Do you believe this body have been zealous to imthe miracles related in ihe book of pose on the ministry at large,' the the Acts-for example, the miracu. implied promise, as a condition of lous inspiration of the Apostles at their office, that they shall not exPentecost; the cures effected by change with him. They have indiPeter, his vision, his miraculous de- rectly shut him out from the Thursliverance from prison' by the angel day lecture; they have morally and of the Lord,' the miraculous con- publicly held up Mr. Parker as unversion of Paul,” &c. &c. The an. worthy the confidence of the comswer to these questions as they might munity as a Christian teacher,' and

his system as deism and not Chris. defends him whom it convicts from tianity. They have treated him in worse imputations and more eporsuch a way in personal conference, mous accusations. Hence, regular that it has been semi-officially sta- and organized bodies, with all their ted, that it was surprising that a man imperfections, are greatly to be preof spirit and delicacy should not take ferred to those that are irregular and the hint and withdraw from a place therefore irresponsible. These last where he was not wanted.

are proverbially unfair and indefinite Under these circumstances, what in their charges, prejudiced and imare Mr. Parker's grounds of com- patient in their inquisition for truth, plaint, and are they well founded ? capricious in their decisions, and reHe has no where stated them in the morseless in the execution of them. form and order in which we present Hence, all societies of men, who rethem: we think, however, that they spect themselves, the public and the are substantial, and deserve the con. truth, if they receive a man to their sideration of all concerned.

fellowship, do it on the principles 1. His first ground of complaint on which their union is based ; if is, that his brethren having done so they remove him, they respect these much, have done no more ; that have principles by giving the coup de ing in effect degraded him from grace in an orderly way. It is only their society, and sought to deny theater rowdies and half insane polhim caste in his profession, they iticians that hustle a man out when have not done it in form and with they are determined to endure him the reasons clearly assigned, and by no longer. We see not why all this a regular process, such as is common is not as true of things ecclesiastical to all organized societies.

as of things secular; and yet there Mr. P. has been served with no are men who are seized with a cold definite charges; no trial in which shivering at the very name of a creed he might face in his defense con- and of discipline as maintaining a fronting witnesses and confronting creed, and at once begin to talk of arguments, and no sentence or de- the dreary history of councils and cision on which to stand or to which the inquisition: whereas, we underto yield. We know very well that stand the very essence of the inquis. a charge may be falsely and fool. itorial spirit to be a capricious disre. ishly urged against a man, and yet gard of facts and of the principles it defines what he is to meet. If of justice. That in which the inguilty, it measures the extent of his quisitor and the Jesuit agree is, that guilt, and secures him from all im- it is right to do any thing and in putation of greater guilt than he de- any way for the church; or in other serves to bear. If innocent, it gives words, to sacrifice the individual if him the most effectual instrument of the cause demand it. We are not self-defense. A trial, too, may by insensible to the evils that pertain to perjury and stratagem be a means a creed, and to the spirit that too of the basest cunning; but it is also often is present in discipline, and a priceless boon, as giving opportu. against these evils and this spirit we nity to unmask the false swearer would guard ourselves.; but we pray and expose the cunning machina- to be delivered from associations, tion. À sentence may but proclaim whether ministerial or otherwise, the iniquity of a corrupt judge ; but that have no principles of union, even in that case it gives the injured except to tolerate us as long as man the best and surest instrument they can, and then to get rid of by which to argue his cause over us, because they must, without again at the tribunal of public opin. telling us or telling the community ion: while if it be just and true, it why.

2. Mr. P. may complain that it is inquisition, of Father Dominic with a thing unheard of and new that his red-hot iron tongs, of the rack liberal Christians have a symbol or and the thumb screw. creed, and that it is inconsistent with It is said, indeed, that in these all their principles to frame or use objections to a creed there has al. such a symbol.

ways been intended a creed raised The question here is a question from the Bible, while it was implied of fact. It is not what ought to be, that the Bible was received as a revbut what actually is and has been.

elation;

that when every other creed It is not whether it is fit that a sym was rejected, it was asserted in the bol should be held, but whether lib. same breath that the Bible was their eral Christians have held one, either only creed ;—that in the phrase lib. written or implied. Much argument eral Christian, the predicate liberal has been used in the newspapers was limited by the subject Christian, and pamphlets, to prove that a bond and that Christian implies the receive of sympathy and union is needed in ing of the Christian Scriptures as a common belief; and much more true. We admit that this was often has been said, in the way of ridicule the fact. But this does not make in and warm assertion, to show how the least against the fact asserted, absurd and profane it is for a teacher that the arguments, the principles, who believes in a divine revelation by which they fought against creeds, to exchange with one who preaches thus limited, would not ride over that such a thing can not be and these limits as easily as over any never was given. Much that has other. This does not prove that been said on this point, has been they are not such as to force them truly said, and well said, and earn to receive a man, who defines for

We certainly can have himself what Christianity is—espeno objection to it, but heartily ap- cially if he holds that Christianity is prove it all.

a perpetual and not an occasional But the fact remains fixed, that revelation from God. These arguthe Unitarians have in the past fought ments are summed up by asserting most lustily against all kinds of the difference between a man's relicreeds, and called them by the hard. gion and his theology, and the as. est names. In distinction from the sertion that his religion was to be the sects, as they have been pleased to test of fellowship and not his theol. call them, they have held themselves ogy. If, then, a man passes this forth as liberal Christians, including test—if his religion is confessedly men of all

faiths but of one spirit — satisfactory—what more is to be or as Mr. Furness says, “of a free, said, especially if his unbelieving honest and charitable temper.” Es- theology treats the moral part of the pecially have they cried out against Bible with greater respect than oththe enforcement of a creed in the ers treat it, with their greater respect way of discipline. The thought of for its history? Nothing is to be such a thing has filled them with said. Mr. Parker is still to be rehorror, and called up the most dole- ceived, or their principles must be ful images of the dungeons of the abandoned, and with their principles,

all their fine arguments ad liberali

tatem, for themselves, and ad invid. The following, from the Christian

iam, against the sects.

But again, Register, is worth copying:

is it said that it may be very proper

to give our fellowship to Mr. Parker " What do you do when unbelief as a Christian believer, but not as a Is trumpeting its views ?

Christian teacher ? We see not Why put it in the pulpit, sir,

To keep it from the pews." why, as long as the religion which Vol. III.

58

THE NEW WAY TO KEEP THE FLOCK.

« 上一頁繼續 »