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hurt of God's people slightly, and crying peace, peace, where there is no peace,” is too urgently called for by the monstrous and disgusting cant and quackery of the day, to which even the judges of the land do not scruple to lend an indirect sanction in their unmeaning and traditional addresses to condemned criminals, to allow us to pass it by without notice.
" I know that our Orthodox Fellow-Christians, as they usually denominate themselves, conceive that they have a great advantage over us in the infinite sacrifice for sin, which they think was offered up upon the cross ; whereby full satisfaction was made to the justice of the Father, for the sins of all believers. And our system, which pretends to exhibit no such substitute, and points to no vicarious punishment, is thought to be utterly deficient in those topics which are essentially requisite for comforting and consoling the mind distressed by a conviction of guilt. The justice of this objection I do not admit. Our view offers to the truly penitent, free forgiveness, from the pure and unpurchased grace of God; and, after all the complex provisions of their complicated creeds, the Orthodox systems can give no more. Besides, I look upon it as the great evil of the views inculcated by our brethren, that the remedy which they propose is, in its nature, equally applicable to the penitent and to the obstinate,-to him who has sinned often and perseveringly,—and to him who has, when once awakened to a sense of his crime, turned away and sinned no more. And I do really believe, that the cause of practical religion has sustained deep injury by the manner in which notorious transgressors of the laws of God and man have been encouraged to express an unhesitating reliance on the efficacy of the blood of Christ to wipe out all their sins. When a man who has lived in open violation of all laws, human and divine, is, by age or sickness, rendered incapable of farther transgression, when his vices have left him, not he his vices,—when there can be no reasonable doubt, from his long-confirmed babits, that if able to return to his sins, he would return to them without delay,—when such a man, at the approach of death, is encouraged by those who are regarded as experienced and wellinstructed Christians,—sometimes by the ministers of religion, -to depart out of the world which he has polluted by a life of guilt, with the language of a triumphant saint-just ripe for paradise-and certain to take his departure, through the boundless efficacy of the Redeemer's sacrifice, to the realms of bliss,—what can the common race of men suppose, but that vice and virtue, piety and profaneness, integrity and fraud, are matters of much indifference in the eye of God, as well as in the estimation of religious men; and that the only thing that will be required, or can be expected of themselves, is the same bold confidence in the merits of the Redeemer, which is held forth as a sufficient ground of hope and firm assurance to the vilest of sinners among their fellowcreatures ? Is not this, in itself, a dreadful evil ? And is it not increased in magnitude a thousand fold when displayed before the eyes of the whole community, as in the case of convicted murderers, about to be put to death by the sentence of public justice? We have often beheld, with grief and shame, the vilest criminals-monsters whose atrocities have disgraced the name of man-taught and encouraged by clergymen and others, who have visited them previously to their execution,—to entertain the most unbounded, but, as it appears to me, the most presumptuous confidence. Such monsters of iniquity have often expressed themselves, even on the scaffold, when about to be launched into eternity, in a style of triumph scarcely suitable even for the lips of holy martyrs, about to die for a religion which, throughout their lives, they had loved and adorned. And when pious men and ministers of the Gospel stand by and witness such scenes, and raise no protest against the language which they hear,—when they sanction and countenance the criminal in all this bold hope and firm assurance,-Day, when it is known that their own urgent and assiduous exertions have contributed to inspire it, and that the wretched being, who gives it utterance, is only clinging to ideas which they have suggested, and giving oral expression to words which they have put into his mouth ;-thousands and thousands of uninstructed Christians are taught a most dangerous lesson. They are practically, and therefore most effectually and impressively taught, that the firm assurance of the enjoyments of heaven is perfectly compatible with the unrestrained gratification of the foulest appetites, and the most malignant passions upon earth. The lesson has unfortunately been learned by many only too well; and too faithfully has it been carried into practice, as the dark records of crime and guilt bear witness.* Unitarianism esteems too dearly the honour of religion and of God, and prizes too highly the interests of morality and the general good of mankind, to hold out any hope or consolation such as this. We presume not to limit the mercy of our Maker; but we feel obliged to refrain from encouraging hopes to which we think reason and the word of God lend no sanction, -hopes which appear to us to be at variance, both with the holiness and justice of the Almighty.”-p. 156.
The last Lecture on “ Unitarianism-a progressive Faith," has a deceptive title. The meaning conveyed by the title is, that there is in Unitarian Christianity an element of self-development, the seeds of inward life and growth, a principle of indefinite expansion, raising the prepared soul to truer and higher views of God, of duty, and of Providence. If this is not the case, if Christianity does not open new glories to nobler
" No one who attentively considers the subject can fail to see the powerful argument which the circumstances alluded to in the Lecture afford against the continuance of capital punishment; a penalty which, from its very nature, is of all others the most shocking to the spirit of the pious, the moral, and the humane ; that is, of the persons who stand in no need of any penalty against crime, to deter them from offending; and the least regarded by the profane, the hardened, the profligate, and the ferocious—the very persons on whom it would be desirable to make some impression. The savage penalties have rendered criminals more savage; and it is high time that an effectual effort were made for their total abolition."
minds, there is no objection to Creeds, except the mere difficulty of finding the true one. Christian truth itself is not infinite, and would suffer no injury and enthralment from being defined in fixed and unchanging words. This progressiveness is a vital characteristic of the true Christianity, and is pursued by Unitarianism alone. This spiritual want, which every true religion must supply, is overlooked in these Lectures, and Unitarianism is styled a progressive Faith in the sense of external diffusion, that it is " spreading through the world, to use a phrase first introduced by Priestley,—that it has made and is making converts. The Lecture contains such an able summary of the historical progress of Unitarianism, and presents so much information which every Unitarian should know, that we shall quote from it at great length,—and we do so with the more pleasure because it relates the rise and spread of Unitarianism in Ireland, the native country of Mr. Porter, and the scene of his earnest labours and ministry. We earnestly desire a growing union and assimilation between the Unitarians of Ireland and of Great Britain.
“ Although all history, both sacred and profane, demonstrates the absurdity of setting up the opinion of the multitude as a test of truth, still we cannot but believe that Divine Providence watches over the faith which the Son of God first preached upon the earth ; and that in his own good time the Almighty will give it a clear and decided triumph over every antagonist principle. Of this we feel assured, that his goodness will incline him to promote what is so beneficial to his creatures ; his wisdom will suggest the most suitable means of so doing, and his power will enable him to employ those means whenever the fit time for doing so shall have fully come. We must be careful, no doubt, to avoid making our own feeble apprehension the measure of the Omnipotent Architect's designs. His plans are constructed on the scale of eternity. A thousand years are with him but as a single day, and one day as a thousand years. It may please him, for wise and holy purposes as all his purposes are—to delay the ultimate and decided triumph of truth ; but sooner or later it will triumph. The fears of desponding friends, the furious opposition of mistaken enemies, shall be equally rebuked by the great event. Opposition, insult, force, and clamour, shall be equally unavailing. No power will be able to withstand the progress of the mighty current. Truth will finally prevail. If any counsel or any work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God, no power of man can overthrow it. It is founded on the rock of God's immutability; and his Almightiness is the warrant for its everlasting permanence.
“ If this progressive character of truth, in spite of opposition and obloquy, be assumed as one of its distinctive marks, we may advert to the progress made of late years by Unitarian Christianity, as a collateral proof of its claim to be regarded as identical with the pure and primitive faith of Christ. It has already, though yet in its infancy, attained such growth as shows, that in its maturity of vigour it is destined to become a giant-possessing, as we hope and believe, the giant's power without his sanguinary disposition.
“In speaking of the progress made by Unitarianism I have used the qualification, of late years ; because it is only of late years that the profession of Unitarian opinions has been allowed by law in any of the nations of Europe. Most of you are probably aware that the celebrated physician Michael Servetus, having escaped from the dungeons of the Inquisition in France, was detected in Geneva, delivered up to the magistrates by means of John Calvin, and condemned to death for the crime of denying the doctrine of the Trinity. He was accordingly burnt to death -and the great Reformer, who beheld his execution from the window of a house which overlooked the spot, was so overjoyed at the spectacle of his dving tortures that he burst into an irrepressible fit of laughterand even at the distance of eleven years, in writing to a friend, he avowed and gloried in the deed. Servetum, canem illum latrantem compescui!' - I quelled,' he says, 'Servetus, that barking dog!' A similar fate overtook the learned Gentili, at Berne. Poland alone afforded a refuge to the unhappy Unitarians; but after a few years the cry of persecution was raised against them--their churches were levelled to the groundtheir university and all their flourishing schools were dispersed and broken up by armed force; and finally they were, one and all, by a public decree, banished from the territory of Poland, and scattered to the four winds of heaven, without a home or refuge-being allowed only a few days, in the most inclement season of the year, to prepare for their departure and dispose of their property. Such was the fate of the unhappy Unitarian Church in Poland, which at one time numbered upwards of 100 congregations, in which were included several of the best and noblest families of the republic, and which was adorned by those eminent divines whose works, even yet, are most valuable repertories of scriptural and ecclesiastical learning-Faustus Socinus, Crellius, Schlichtingius, Przipcovius, Wolzogenius, and Wissowatius. The persecution was carried even to the death upon all such as remained, unless they could be prevailed upon to recant : but the illustrious exiles were, by the spectacle of their sufferings, and their virtues, and their heroism, the means of exciting in other countries a deep interest in the cause for which they endured so much and so patiently. This feeling was latent for a season ; but in the progress of time it sprung up and brought forth fruit.
“In the British Empire, the law was most severe against all professors of Unitarianism. Not to go farther back than the time of the Reformation, it is well known, that after that event, the writ'de heretico comburendo,' or, for burning the heretic, remained in full force; and under this bloody law, many Unitarians were put to death, by their Protestant brethrenby those who had themselves so narrowly escaped the persecution of the Roman Catholics. In the reign of King Edward VI. Joanna Bocher was condemned for heresy, in denying the doctrine of the Trinityby a court in which Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, sat as judges. Cranmer extorted from the youthful sovereign the signature to the war. rant for executing this virtuous and noble-minded lady: and she was burnt to death! And so was George Van Paris, a foreigner, two years afterwards ; of whom his enemies have left this record--that he was a man of strict and virtuous life, and very devout; he suffered with great constancy of mind, kissing the stake and faggots that were to burn him.' In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Wielmacker, Van Toort, Hammond, Lewis, Cole, (a clergyman,) and Francis Ket, were put to death for the like heresies. The Rev. Mr. Burton--who was an eye-witness of the execution of Ket, and one of those who thought his sentence just, and who approved of its being carried into effect—declares, that he was a man of exemplary piety and integrity. The only words which he uttered amidst the flames were, ‘Blessed be God! Blessed be God! Blessed be God!' And in the reign of King James I., Mr. Legate and Mr. Wightman suffered, in the same manner, for the same offence. During the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, the learned and virtuous Mr. Biddle was apprehended, and would have been put to death by the Parliament; but the Protector rescued him from their fangs, and allowed him to spend the remainder of his life in exile, upon the rock of Scilly. In the reigns of Charles I. and II. and James II. many hundred persons, accused of Unitarianism, were allowed to languish out their miserable lives in perpetual imprisonment. But the last public execution in Great Britain, for this offence, was that of Mr. Thomas Aikenhead, a student of divinity, who was hanged at Edinburgh, on the 16th of January 1697. This was in the reign of King William III. This monarch was known to be inclined to tolerant principles, and fears were entertained lest he should interpose his royal clemency. To prevent this, all the clergy in Edinburgh and the neighbourhood, so inflamed their flocks by violent and inflammatory harangues against the unhappy culprit-during the interval between his sentence and the day of execution—that the Government thought it safest to allow the law to take its course. The ever-memorable Mr. Thomas Emlyn was punished in Ireland, in the reign of Queen Anne, by fine and imprisonment, for his opinions. He had been condemned to the pillory in addition ; but that part of the sentence was not carried into effect. Unitarians were expressly excepted from the benefit of the Act of Toleration, both in England and Ireland ; and it was not till the year 1817 that Parliament removed the penalties by which the profession of our opinions was visited. It cannot, and ought not, to be concealed that for some years previously they had been left as a dead letterthey disgraced the statute-book-but were not carried into effect.
"I recall these things to memory, not for the purpose of kindling afresh the expiring embers of religious discord-far, far otherwise. I am far from imputing the spirit which these barbarous enactments breathe, to my Fellow-Christians generally, of other Churches, at the present day. They were the consequence of imperfect light; and advancing knowledge has taught men the great lesson of mutual toleration. Among those who now hear me, there are probably many who differ from me very widely in doctrine ; but I hope, and firmly believe, there is not one among them who would wish to see me burnt for what he deems my heresy; nor even to be the means of injuring me in my person, property, or liberty. My object in referring to this point, is simply to show, that, until of late