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secures attention, how much more necessary is it for the embassador of heaven, who presents truths both trite and unwelcome. If it is desirable that the preacher deliver his message in the most simple manner possible, let him stand up in his place, and read from the Scriptures without any attempt at illustration, with no beaming of the eye, no movement of the muscles. But will he answer the great end of his office 2 In the days of miracles we know that the blowing of ram's horns prostrated the walls of Jericho; but we venture to say, that preaching must be appropriate in order to break down the strong holds of Satan. As a matter of fact, the understandings of most men are well informed on the leading truths of religion; the chief business of the preacher is to impress these truths more deeply upon the heart. But even here the imagination may be excited at the expense of the judgment. It is said that Chesterfield was once present, out of curiosity, to hear Whitefield preach. The great orator seized upon the opportunity to rouse the skeptic, if possible, from his fatal security. Accordingly he represented the votary of sin as a blind beggar led by a little dog. The dog had broken his string. Athwart the path on which the blind cripple was hobbling, yawned a frightful chasm. As he groped along, planting his staff before him to feel the way, he came, unconsciously to the edge of the precipice. His cane dropped down the gulf too deep to send back an echo. He, supposing it to be on the ground before him, stepped forward to pick it up ; but he trod on vacancy, balanced for a moment on the brink, and as he fell headlong, Chesterfield sprung from his seat, exclaiming, “By heavens, he 's gone!”
It is evident that Whitefield in this instance overdid the matter. In conclusion, then, we say that the imagination should not be cultivated to the neglect of the judgment or the affections; and that the aid which this faculty gives to the preacher will answer no high end, unless it is crowned by the blessing of the Holy Comforter. His “eloquence will be cold and lifeless, and his hearers will freeze and die under the very brilliancy of its icy splendor.” He who would reach the hearts of men must show that he has all the sympathies of a man. The prophet Elisha sent his servant with his staff, to be laid on the face of the Shunamite's child; but there was no voice or appearance of life. It was not until the prophet stretched himself on the child, and put his face to the child's face, and his hands to the child's hands, that life returned. The preacher must bring his own warm heart near to the hearts of his hearers if he would persuade and move them. While, then, he is fervent in spirit, let him also cultivate that faculty which will give to his services life and power. Why should we hear it any longer said—“as dull as a sermon P” The carpenters in the land are lowering the pulpit; let the preacher endeavor to exalt it. He holds the most important of human relations, and is commissioned to speak upon themes the most momentous that engage human attention; why then should his words be proverbial for dullness 2 This need not be. Let him bestow due cultivation upon all the powers which God has given him, and men will love him and hang upon his lips; his fame may not ring through the world, but through his instrumentality something will be done towards hastening the meridian of that happy day, in whose morning twilight we are now permitted to live. WE may almost take it as a postulate, that when a man leaves one extremity of opinions, on any subject, he will soon be found a zealot at the opposite extreme. Nothing is more in point, as proof and illustration, than the easy transition of the sons of the Pilgrims, from Unitarianism to the dogmas and ceremonies of the Episcopal church. We have seen Episcopal churches erected almost solely by seceders from Unitarian societies—not genuine converts to Episcopacy, not believers in a triune mode of divine existence, nor in the corruption of human nature by the fall—not in original sin—nor in regeneration by special divine influence—not in a divinely appointed and exclusive ministry—guileless Unitarians, episcopally organized, and episcopally worshiping. We have also observed individuals, now on a change of doctrinal belief, and now without any such change, quietly leave their Unitarian churches, for the Prayerbook, and communion in the “veritable body” of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even genuine converts from Unitarianism to the truth, have been drawn away from the orthodox Congregationalists, among whom they were enlightened, to connect themselves with an Episcopal church under the rectorship of some zealous Evangelical. So great has been the movement in this direction, that we have heard, in Episcopal circles, the confident boast that it is the prerogative of their church, and her special mission in Massachusetts, to recover the Unitarians to the true faith. All this can not be ascribed to the prejudice against orthodox Congregationalists, which Unitarian misapprehension or misrepresentation has raised in that community, nor to the technics, the philosophical theories or logomachies of
UNITA RIAN AND EPISCO PA LIAN AF FINITIES.
these brethren. Nor is it owing to any greater respect and kindness shown them by the Episcopal body —for it is well known, that that church expresses less charity for them, and more contempt for their opinions, than do the orthodox of their own church. Those very characteristics of mind—that independence of thought and investigation—that self-reliance—that freedom from a superstitious veneration of priests—that respect for common sense—which are the admiration of their orthodox brethren—are matters of the deepest execration in that church into whose bosom they so eagerly press. Remembering our common ancestry, remembering our and their Cottons and Mathers and Hookers and the other glorious men whose sacrifices for the independence of the churches, and a corresponding civil state, can never be too much extolled—we are tempted to say: Brothers, why, if you abandon Unitarianism, should you throw yourselves and your posterity at the feet of a hierarchy—to undo the work for which the honored dead, for our sake, spared no prayer, no toil, no privation' But this is not the place for expostulation, however sincere and heartfelt. We rather inquire for the cause of this evil, and whether there is any safeguard against it, or any hope that it may be arrested, We do not discover this tendency of Unitarianism to melt into the opposite extreme where private judgment is sacrificed to church authority, in any single principle—but in many points of affinity. A most obvious point is the gratification afforded in the Episcopal communion to American aristocracy. Notwithstanding the leveling character of our civil institutions, the absence of all hereditary titles and entailed estates, the unimpeded way of all God's nobility to their birthrights, whether born within walls of marble or of logs, we Yankees, like other men, are aristocrats by nature. The principle is seen operating in our villages, and most in our cities, forming exclusive classes, organizing sects, building churches, to fence in the “gentility” from the intrusion of the vulgar herd. Multitudes of men who spring at once from penury to opulence feel it to be the hight of their ambition to escape from the relations of their own kith and kin into this enchanted circle of respectability; and they are received. Another class is found among us, who, despairing of elevation by wealth, are willing, for the sake of admittance, to enter by grace, and form the canaille of this exclusive grade in society. It was in this upper circle that American Unitarianism took its rise ; not, as in the case of most religions, among the poor and vulgar, but among the most intelligent, refined and opulent people of the land. And it was not many years before it held the first places in church and state, and embraced a large proportion of the men of “property and standing” in the most cultivated part of the Union. But now, when it is found, or when many are finding, that Unitarianism fails to meet the wants of humanity, and some more satisfactory faith is eagerly desired, Episcopalianism beckons them into her ancient fold. She too is a court-religion. In England, there must be a peculiar personal merit, or a “ dissenter” can not be “respectable”—not even a Unitarian. Our intercourse with the father land is now so great, and so strong is the propensity of our people to copy her fashions, that scarcely a trace of Congregationalism remains in our navy, or in our diplomatic corps, or among our merchants who frequent her marts. The profession of this foreign religion must also contribute to the cor
diality of social intercouse between the élite of both countries. To be an Episcopalian is respectable, no doubt; very respectable; it can not be stigmatized as heretical nor novel, and it introduces one into good society. Nor does the Unitarian in his transition to another church, forget his contempt for the orthodox people about him. Vulgar ! I can not, he exclaims, throw myself out of good society into . He turns into the Episcopal fold, because it is respectable, blindly, like the stupid ox into his slaughter-house. That a desire of good society, and of an honorable position among men, may be a very virtuous motive, we do not question; so it is hoped no offense will be taken at our finding it to be a main reason why our Unitarian friends slide so facilely under the sway of diocesan bishops. Even the pastoral visits of the gifted Channing can hardly confer so much honor, as the presence of a man in lawn to “say grace” over the beef and wine of a family dinner. Were we, however, to attribute to the gratification of aristocratic feeling the whole movement of Unitarians towards Episcopacy, we should overlook some other causes of even superior influence. There is at first view no point of correspondence between the doctrinal opinions or creeds of the two communions. The Episcopal church has Calvinistic articles of faith— such, that the orthodox churches of New England have formally declared the belief of them to be sufficient; and throughout her liturgy the doctrine of the trinity is repeated in forms unsanctioned by Scripture, and, as one would think, the most offensive possible to Unitarian ears. But questions relating to the mode of divine existence would cause Unitarians no embarrassment, were it not for other doctrines commonly held by trinitarians. The doctrines of depravity and of regeneration occasion them the most uneasiness, and excite their fiercest hostility. In these respects they yield nothing by becoming Episcopalians. They are relieved from the pressure of both these cardinal truths—by whose devices we will not say—by the Prayer-book. The Episcopalian stoutly affirms that man is born in sin—is guilty of original sin—and stands in need of regeneration. But he supposes the infant is brought by baptism into that very state of holiness and hope, in which the Unitarian thinks he finds him at birth and by nature. He (the Unitarian) looks on the infant as having no innate corruption, but rather a spark of virtuous principle which under a favoring breeze will kindle into a vigorous and permanent flame. Culture he supposes is all that the child needs, and not any radical change of character. The Episcopalian on the other hand says, “no, that is heresy. The baptized child needs culture only; but all others are dead in trespasses and sins.” “Very well,” responds the Unitarian, “it amounts to the same thing. It is easy to have my child baptized. And as you say, he will then be a child of God and an heir of heaven, your doctrine is more cheering than mine ; for I never dreamed that nature puts men into a state of grace.” Thus in effect he finds his new religion to be identical with Unitarianism. There are other doctrines on the ground of which the two sects can enjoy a comfortable measure of inter-communion and harmony. They both concur in rejecting the atonement as the sole meritorious ground of human salvation, and set up a claim of debt for the good works of man.
Unitarians also discover at a glance that the views of practical Christianity, current among them, are in no essential respect different from the teachings of the Episcopal church. The two communions agree in discountenancing the efforts of laymen to secure by personal influ
ence the conversion of impenitent men. The zeal of the orthodox brotherhood in this department of Christian labor, is more offensive to Unitarians than the five points of Calvinism; and a desire to escape from such impertinence, as they deem it, is believed to have given being to many of their churches. In the Episcopal church they need have no apprehension of encountering their old dread. The efficacy of sacraments and the reading of the liturgy are held to be suficient means of salvation ; and it becomes a mere piece of impudence for laymen to look after the spiritual interests of their neighbors. We might show in passing, that the free scope which orthodox Congregationalism gives to the energies of private Christians to promote their mutual piety and the conversion of those around them by exhortations, prayers, and social meetings, is a feature of strong resemblance to primitive Christianity; and that such is human nature that a flourishing state of piety is not to be expected in any community where the brotherhood are silenced, and the whole work of training men for heaven is left to official hands. But this lay interference is not agreeable to Unitarian taste, which of course is liable to be shocked among the orthodox, but will be delicately respected by the Episcopal community. The Unitarian is thus urged and drawn in his transition state toward “mother church,” by his dread of heart-probing on the one side, and his assurance on the other that no attempt will be made to disturb his conscience and stir it up to an uncomfortable activity. At most he will only have to meet the rector, who has but little time for fire-side preaching; and if he should press the claims of truth, receive it from him, not as earnestly meant, but as a mere act of official duty. The consistency of fashionable amusements, as masquerades, balls,
theatres, horse-racing, and games of chance, with Christian morality, is denied very generally by orthodox Congregationalists; and the Unitarian who should join them would anticipate the necessity of conforming to this standard if he would have an unstained reputation among them. But no such necessity repels him from the Episcopal church. There he discerns no stricter rules of morality than in his own sect. He is not called upon to have, or to profess, or to practice, any different religion from his own. All he needs do, is to conform to the liturgy. No wonder his slope into the English church is so facile. These affinities of Episcopalianism to liberal Christianity have exerted a more attractive force, owing to the aversion which a long controversy has inspired in Unitarian minds against the orthodox. Unhappily controversies are apt to be conducted between parties of the same sect with greater acrimony and less decorum than is observed in discussions between distinct denominations. A bitterness of feeling is often engendered which leaves but a vestige of hope that the parties will come together in fellowship, however well convinced one of them may become of having taken untenable ground. It requires more than intellectual conviction— even a radical change of the affections—to transform an exasperated opponent into a bosom companion. There is no humiliation in bounding from the skepticism of Priestley to the superstitions of Laud—from free thinking to no thinking ; while to pass over to a profession of orthodox doctrines, which during a long and sharp discussion one has pronounced absurd and even blasphemous, must be a sore trial to his pride of intellect. When too the Unitarian is making his election of a new religion, and of new religious and social relations, it cannot escape his notice,
nor fail to influence him in favor of the Episcopal church, that he can join that communion without giving offense to his old friends. He can pass out of his own into an Episcopal pew without observation—while if he should enter an orthodox church he would be followed by a storm of obloquy. Beholding these powerful tendencies in the Unitarian body to Episcopacy, and the numerous apostasies which have resulted from it, (for we think them apostasies,) some alarm may well be felt, lest the greatest defection from the institutions of the Pilgrim fathers should come upon us through the Unitarian schism. Yet notwithstanding these grounds of fear, we still hope never to witness the frustration of the desires and expectations of our ancestors in laying the foundations of religious and civil liberty on these shores, by the apostasy of the Unitarian body to the Anglican church. Sad indeed would it be to see the seats of learning, the cabinets of science and art, the accumulated capital, the cultivated intellect of New England, laid at the feet of a church, unknown to our fathers except as a persecutor, and uncongenial to the institutions planted by them. But what security have we against such a result 2 Unitarianism has strengthened Episcopal interests in Massachusetts; and there are affinities which assure us it will continue to strengthen them. Whether this is to be realized to any dangerous extent is a problem to be solved by time; but we can see reasons for hope of a reunion of our dissevered community in a common evangelical faith, and under the simple democratic forms, which were dear to our fathers, and deemed by them scriptural and authoritative. What are these reasons 2 We are happy to discover a ground of hope in the characteristic traits of the Unitarian community. We concede to them—it is no con