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gestion of a respectable female of the Remonstrant congregation of that place, was introduced to Synod and passed ; and as it gives weight to the matter of this article, I shall quote it from the records.
“ Overtured, and unanimously agreed 10,- That, in order to facilitate the mode of raising funds for providing suitable books for our Sunday Schools, and giving encouragement otherwise to these useful institutions ; also, for giving aid to the dissemination of the Gospel in our native land, free from human articles, which have too often originated prejudices against it-we warmly recommend to all our congregations to increase the Lord's-day collections: the surplus, after defraying sacramental and other usual expenses, to be distributed for these and similar purposes, at the discretion of the Session and Committee of each congregation."
This, in my opinion, is an admirable resolution; and, coming from the Synod, it much more claims the attention of your readers than anything that has been advanced in this article by
Your and their Friend,
F. BLAKELY. MONEYREA, NEAR BELFAST,
January 1st, 1847.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE IRISH UNITARIAN MAGAZINE,
Sir, - In the last number of the Unitarian Magazine, after strongly recommending the People's Dictionary of the Bible to your readers, you say,
“we believe we are correct in stating, that not a single copy has been subscribed for in this country, with, perhaps, the exception of a few in Belfast.” I am happy to inform you that there are, at least, five subscribers in the Remonstrant Congregation of Ballymena. This is not a large number ; but were other Unitarian societies in the north to come forward, as we have done, in proportiou to their means, the present number of subscribers would soon be considerably increased. Fears are entertained that this popular and valuable work must be abandoned from want of support. This is a disgrace to the Unitarian public. Our denomination is acknowledged on all hands to be wealthy, well-educated, and desirous of spreading rational views of Christianity: why, then, do they not come forward at once and support a man whose efforts to elucidate the Scriptures are most praiseworthy? Nomine mutato, is Mr. Wellbeloved's neglect at the hands of Unitarians to be repeated ?
One word upon another subject. In the December number, p. 384, you directed the attention of your readers to the Little Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge; and you inserted a most touching letter from the publisher. It appears that in the year 1840, with the philanthropic intention of improving the rising generation, Mr. Bradshaw commenced, entirely on his own responsibility," his unassuming little work. The circulation gradually increased till the sale covered expenses.
But from unknown causes there was & reaction; and since the end of the year 1845, the work has been discontinued. The enterprising publisher is in debt for paper and printing; he has a family of seren children entirely dependant on his
efforts; he has on hands a considerable stock of the Magazine, which he sells at the low price of One Shilling per volume, “neatly bound in cloth ;" and he “feels that he ought not to continue burdened with the results of an endeavour to serve the public, when he has reason to believe that on making known the case all requisite assistance will be afforded." His expectations have not been realized. His modest and feeling appeal, which should awaken sympathy in a heart of stone, and your strong recommendation of the work to our Congregational Libraries and Sunday Schools, have been unheeded; for about the middle of December, when I wrote for three sets (eighteen volumes), I had a reply stating that mine was the first order. As the parcel was to be forwarded to Belfast as soon as other orders should be received, and as it has not yet arrived, his appeal has evi. dently been in vain. Have we not here, Mr. Editor, a sufficient answer to your question, “When a person devotes his time and energies to the service of the rising generation, is his only reward to be neglect and pecuniary embarrassment?”
OUTLINES OF THE HISTORY OF PRESBYTERIANISM,
BY THE REV. H. MONTGOMERY, LL.D.
( Continued from No. II. Vol. II. page 70.)
It is a remarkable fact, that at the very time when the Presbyterians of Ulster, who had been Christian freemen for nearly one hundred years, were binding the galling chains of the Westminster Confession upon themselves and their children ; and whilst the Non-subscribing Dissenters of Dublin were persecuting the truly illustrious Thomas Emlyn for the crime of religious inquiry, the people of Geneva were engaged in breaking the yoke of Calvinism. In the year 1553, Michael Servetus, an eminent Spanish physician, who had devoted much of his time to the study of theology, was invited to Geneva by John Calvin, on pretence of healing a breach which had taken place between them, on the ground of religious doctrines. Servetus was a Unitarian, and had written strongly against the views of Calvin; in consequence of which that false Reformer had prevailed upon the authorities, at Lyons, to cast his opponent into prison. He made his escape, however, through the neglect or connivance of the keeper, and Calvin was determined to have him placed in safer custody. Accordingly, he feigned deep regret at what had occurred, and requested Servetus to pay him a visit, that he might have an opportunity of proving his respect for so worthy an opponent, and effecting a lasting reconciliation. Being, himself, full of truth and sincerity, the simple
Spaniard entered Geneva with a confiding spirit; but, instead of being welcomed by the right hand of friendship in the home of hospitality, he was seized by the myrmidoms of power, and cast into a dungeon! To convict him of heresy, Calvin disgracefully brought forward some of his private letters, and certain portions of an unpublished work, surreptitiously obtained. Anything, however, would have been sufficient; for his condemnation had been previously determined; and the Council doomed an unoffending stranger, who had committed himself to their protection, to suffer at the stake! The fagots were placed at such a distance from the victim, that his death was produced by lingering torture; and John Calvin was present, exulting in the awful spectacle, with the joy of a fiend!
I do not mention these circumstances to cast odium upon my Calvinistic brethren of the present age, but to prove that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God;" and as a melancholy prelude to the cheering fact, that, in the very city where Calvinism was established amidst flames and blood, it eventually experienced its first and most signal overthrow. For a century, indeed, creeds and persecutions were able to restrain the free expression of opinion ; but, by degrees, link after link was struck from the fetters of conscience, until, in the year 1706, Subscription to Human Tests of Faith was publicly abolished, in the city of Geneva, by a solemn decree of the Grand Council of the State. The circumstances attending its abolition are, briefly, the following. Monsieur Jaques Vial de Beaumont, a divine of Neufchatel, being called to Geneva to exercise his ministry, was required to subscribe the usual form of doctrine. This he refused to do, except so far as it agreed with the Holy Scriptures ; upon which his license to preach was withheld. He then appealed to the body of divines of that republic, who, after long debates, decided that M. Vial's subscription was satisfactory. From the pastors an appeal was lodged before the magistrates, who determined in favour of the Articles ; but the divines who had supported M. Vial brought the matter before the Two Hundred, who adjudged that the following oath should be sufficient:-“ I swear and declare, in the presence of God, that I hold the Holy Scripture to be the only rule of my faith, and that it contains, in a very clear manner, whatever is necessary to salvation ; and I promise, that I will be conformablo thereto both in my doctrine and practice.”
The result of this measure was the rapid diffusion of Unitarian Christianity over a considerable portion of Switzerland, Germany, and the eastern provinces of France. “ The Continental Society, " established in Britain some thirty years ago, “ for the revival of Orthodoxy in Europe,” mourned over the awful declension,” in these words—“ For a long time past, the Seminaries from which all the
Protestant Pastors of France emanate, Strausburg, Lausanne, Goneva, Grenoble, and Montauban, have been decidedly Arian and Socinian. The consequence is, that the French Pastors, with few exceptions, are either Socinians or Arians. Their number is 420 ; and they are, in general, Arians." They also lamented that “the leprosy had spread, in some degree, into Holland, Denmark, and other parts of the north of Europe." The present condition of Protestant Germany is well known, notwithstanding its nominal adherence to the Confession of Augsburg. Not content with the Gospel Unitarianism of Switzerland, France, America, and the British Isles, it has run from the extreme of ancient Orthodoxy into that of modern Rationalism, “having a name to live, whilst it is dead.” Thus it ever is with human schemes, which attempt to amend the perfect work of Christ. Vain men build up systems, like the tower of Babel, and imagine that they shall thereby reach to heaven ; but “the Lord comes down and confounds their projects,” and the very results arise which their plans were designed to prevent.
The beginning of the eighteenth century was remarkable for “the troubling of the waters." The civil wars preceding and during the Commonwealth--the religious controversies amongst Episcopalians, Puritans, and Presbyterians--the tyrannies of Charles II. and James II.-the Revolution of 1688, and the comparatively tolerant reign of William and Mary-all these had led to the investigation of principles, and to a more correct appreciation of the value of Civil and Religious Liberty. The reign of Anne, therefore, commenced under circumstances unusually favourable to the extension of Christian truth ; and this seems especially to have alarmed the Leaders of Presbyterian orthodoxy in Ireland. Instead of advancing with the spirit of the age, like their brethren of Geneva, from regions of darkness into realms of light, they meanly slunk back into the duugeons from which their forefathers had escaped, and occupied themselves with the contemptible work of forging chains for their own consciences, and those of their children. Hence the persecution of Emlyn, in Dublin, and the imposition of the Westminster Confession, in Ulster. They plainly saw that Calvinism was not strong enough to defend itself on the open field, against the united forces of Reason and Scripture; and, therefore, they erected ramparts for its protection, and covered them with the artillery of human creeds and legal prosecutions. Still, however, they were not quite secure; for there were some, even in their own ranks, ardently attached to liberty; and many honest men who shrunk from imposing upon others a yoke which was galling to their own necks. The authoritative enforcement of the Westminster Confession, therefore, produced division instead of unity: and some young men, having been educated upon the Continent, added to the under current of discontent, by bringing home the liberal and tolerant views of the Continental Churches and Universities. George I. too, had given an impulse to religious liberty, by his noble conduct in relation to the Irish Presbyterians themselves. Previously to the year 1719, all Dissenting worship was unlawful, and no dissenter could legally hold property for religious uses. For thirty years, indeed, Dissent had been connived at; but it enjoyed no legal protection. On the contrary, it was liable to grievous pains and penalties, had any been disposed to enforce them. It was therefore an important matter to obtain a legal toleration; and this, the Irish Presbyterians sought-suggesting as a condition, “that every Presbyterian Minister should subscribe the doctrinal Articles of the Church of England.” A Bill was accordingly laid before the King, embodying this Provision: but, on reading it, he said, "These men don't know what they are about: let them have toleration without any subscription" -and he immediately drew his pen across the Clause ! This was a noble act; and fully proves how much King James was superior in Christian spirit to his miserable subjects who sought, even for themselves, merely an imperfect liberty, and were not disposed to grant any toleration at all, to those of their own brethren who failed to adopt their opinions. From the benefit of this act of grace and justice, however, Unitarians were excluded : and it was on the ground of this exclusion, that our Calvinistic Brethren lately wrested their Meeting-Houses from the respectable Congregations of Clough and Killinchy; and had formed a deliberate plan for the wholesale plunder of the entire Unitarians of England and Ireland!
In the early part of the last Century, some events occurred amongst the Dissenters of England, which gave a considerable impulse to the spirit of Christian liberty and free inquiry, in this country. The persecution of Emlyn had given great currency to his Writings ; and his heroic sacrifices had created a deep sympathy with the cause which he espoused. As “the blood of the Martyrs became the seed of the Church," so did the sufferings of Thomas Emlyn become the means of diffusing Unitarian principles, with a rapidity and to an extent exceedingly gratifying. No doubt, the ground was well prepared for the good seed, by the political and religious events to which I have already adverted : and the first place in which it appears to have sprung up was the important City of Exeter, in the Southwest of England. Although generally Independents, in profession, the Ministers of that District had discovered the importance of mutual co-operation ; and, in the year 1691, a Body was formed for the purpose of superintending the education of students, licensing preachers, and ordaining pastors. This assembly was denominated The Exeter Association;" and for a long period exercised considerable in