« AnteriorContinuar »
ready given the reader sufficient knowledge of the pamphlet to convince him of its value. The Physician is answering the cry of heresy, so commonly set up by angry polemics, domịncering priests, fanatical preachers and ignorant believers, against Unitarians :
* When a doctrine is denounced as heretical, this alone is enough to frighten many winds not only from embracing it, but even from examining the subject. In such a case it is well to remember that the cry of heresy is one which has always been in the mouths of the enemies of religious freedom and improvement. Have not the best men, the greatest benefactors of man. kind, suffered the reproach of heresy in their day, from the apostles of Christ down to the inartyrs of the Reformation ? If Unitarianism be indeed heresy, its opponents must admit that it was the earliest on the list, and sprung up in the very footsteps of the apostles. But Unitarians think that the Trinitarian doctrine is indeed the heresy, if such hard names must be used, as being an innovation on that of the apostles, and contrary to the rule of Christian faith. They trace the growth of this doctrine from the first modest insinuation of it by Justin Martyr, through the mystical speculations on the Logos of the early Fathers, to the audacious decisions of the antichristian councils of the fourth and fifth centuries. It was then, when the Church was already deep sunk in corruption of every kind, that by violence and intrigue such as would disgrace in our own days a borough election, this doctrine was at length carried by vote, and imposed on the Christian world on pain of excommunication and other injurious penalties.”—P. 59.
A Royal Theologian; or, the King of Prussia's Letter
to the Duchess of Anhalt, Coethen, on her Change of Religion.
We have not been able hitherto to insert this curious piece of theology, though we always meant to preserve it in the Christian Reformer. His Majesty of Prussia is very angry with his sister for becoming a Roman Catholic; he terins her new professiou a “ sinful” as well as
« dreadful act.” We have no liking for the Roman Catholic religion ; but we should have thought that the avowal of her conversion by the Princess, if sincere, and there seems no reason to doubt it, entitled her to commendation instead of rer proach.-The King is fearful of inconvenience to himself from his sister's change of faith—the inconvenience of being suspected, as he has been already, of a popish leaning. In this, there is something selfish.-But the Sovereign of Prussia has studied the controversy; let him then decide for himself, but not for another. The train of his reading accounts for his being the sort of Protestant that he is : he has evidently studied the Bible with the Confession of Augsburg by its side.-Luther's Prayer Book has been reformed under the royal sanction : this is good : but had it been reformed earlier or further, the Princess might have been retained in the Protestant cominunion; for they are the Protestant unscriptural doctrines derived from the Church of Rome which give this church all her power of proselyting. The worshiper of One God, even the Father, would not be likely to be brought over by any sophistry to kneel before a wooden or breaden God.-The King expresses in the conclusion a right royal notion and feeling with regard to “ faithful vassals.”
Berlin,-1826. I cannot describe to you the very astounding and painful impression that your letter, confirming the previously circulated report (which I regarded as a fable) of you and the Duke having become converts to the Catholic religion, has made and inde Jibly fixed upon me. For who in this world could ever have anticipated such a thing? Speaking according to the sincere feeling and conviction of my lieart, and in compliance with the duty which conscience dictates, I must plainly tell you, that in .my judgment a more unfortunate and sinful resolution could not have been adopted than that you have just carried into effect. Had you contided to me when I was in Paris the slightest hint of your intention, I should, in the most earnest and solemn manner, have conjured you, by every thing you hold most sacred, to abandon a design, the execution of which tends to place me personally in a very disagreeable situation. For eveu 1 (wherefore I know not) have been suspected of an inclination to Catholicism, though, on the contrary, I have always had, and inust ever retain, an unfavourable opinion of that church, on account of the multitude of her anti-scriptural doctrines. It is now, however, highly probable that this notion respecting me will be revived, and that it will be believed that I was aware of the whole affair, and had an understanding with you in it.
But how could you preserve so complete a silence on this transaction, especially when, in your letter, you thus express yourself respecting me:- -“ That person for whom I have ever been accustomed to experience in my heart the united feeling of filial and fraternal love"? Now can any one believe that a father or a brother would, as a matter of course, approve of his daughter or sister becoming a Catholic--that is to say, taking the most momentous step a buman being can take, without any previous consultation with him?. Certainly not! Yet you would appear to have acted on this supposition-and why? Because you had reason to expect on my part a prohibition against the awful and dangerous proceeding on which you were resolved. You have, however, accomplished your purpose, you have rashly bounded over the immense chasm which separates the two religions--you have renounced the faith of your relations, the faith in which you were born, nursed and educa. ted.-May God be merciful to you!
For my own part, I can only, from the bottom of my heart, lament and deplore the gross error, the delusion into which you have fallen. Assuredly, O most assuredly, you would bare been safe from all risk of committing this dreadful act, had you, instead of giving your mind to the polemical writings of either Protestants or Catholics, read with care and attention your Bible, and in particular the New Testament. This is what Í have done; for at a period of controversy some years ago I endeavoured to make myself intimately acquainted with the peculiar grounds on which both religions rest, and for this purpose I applied myself assiduously to the Bible, and sought therein the doctrines taught by Christ and his Apostles. This investigation led me to quite the contrary conclusion to that at which
you have arrived ; for since then I have been more satisfied in my mind, and more than ever penetrated with the truth of the old Evangelical system, as established by the Reformation and Luther, and by contemporaneous, or at least recently posterior symbolic writings, in particular the Augsburg Confession, which, next to the Holy Scriptures, form the foundation of the Evangelical Creed. This most strictly corresponds with the religion of Jesus Christ, as delivered to us by the apostles themselves, and by the fathers of the church in the first ages of Christianity, before a Popedom existed. It was far froin the intention of Luther to found a new religion. His only object was to purify the old faith from the base alloy and dross which had been introduced into it by Popery, and which had accumislated to such an extent, that more value was placed on this impure mass than on the genuine doctrine, which lay buried and almost annihilated under it. I did not hesitate to examine Ca. tholic Missals and Catholic Catechisms, which I not only perused, but studied. Against these I placed the old Evange. lical Liturgies and service books of the first half of the sixteenth century (that is, of the time of the Reformation), compared them with each other, and thus again recognized the perfect accordance of the Evangelic doctrines with the religion of Christ, and, on the contrary, the decided departure therefrom of the Catholic doctrines in many cardinal points. Nevertheless, there is much valuable matter in the Catholic Missals; but every thing good in them, Luther, or the authors of the Evangelic Liturgies, who laboured in his name, acknowledged and retained. Since then, however, the men of modern theories have ventured to undervalue all this, and to treat the question as insignificant. But the pure Evangelic doctrine still remains untouched, and may easily be found by those who do not begrudge the labour of seeking for it; as, in fine, has lately been done, the investigation having given birth to a renovation of the anci. ent Evangelic Prayer Book, of which, in its details, you probably know as little as you do of the old Liturgies of the time of the Reformation, the Augsburg Confession and other writings of the same kind.
This language will, perhaps, appear rude and unkind to you. It is probable, also, that it is not what you expected ; for, according to what you state in your letter, you were confident that I could not in my heart blame your conduct, as what you had done was the result of mature consideration. But, be this as it may, I can view the matter no otherwise than I have done. I speak as my heart dictates--good or ill, it must come out. If I be wrong, may God pardon me! May God also be with you and forgive you, if your conviction lead you into error. For what is conviction if it do not correspond with the word of God recorded in the Holy Scripture? Nothing but deception and delusion!
Every where this affair excites extraordinary interest, and is rigidly canvased, although as yet the absolute certainty of the fact is not generally known. Do not therefore allow yourself to be deceived respecting the friendly reception which, as you say, you in some measure experienced on your return at Coethen, and which, as we afterwards learned, was marked by a most unpropitious event.* The honest, worthy people of Anhalt cannot fail to disapprove, as indeed they ought, the step which their Princess has taken : and what is more, it will more tify them severely, though like faithful vassals they may not give to the vexation they feel an expression sufficiently audible to reach your ears.
I cannot close my letter without expressing my sincere regret that I should be placed in the painful situation of saying so many unpleasant things to you. At the same time I must add the request that you will communicate this letter to the Duke, Ingerheim, and Brandenburgh, that they may know my sentiments on this subject.
* This is an allusion to the breaking down of the iron bridge, by which a great number of the inhabitants lost their lives,
The Blessings of the Reformation Commemorated and
Improved. A Hymn. [From the “ Supplement” to A Selection of Hymns for Unitarian
Worship, by Robert Wallace,” the Second Edition, just published at Chesterfield.]
How long, tyrannic Rome,
Did Britain bear thy yoke !
Thy burning incense smoke!,
By nobler views was led,
Thy dark dominion fled.
From Britain disappeared,
Her lofty standard reared.
Reached every slavish mind,
One lasting stain behind !
What thus your sires began ;
The great, the godlike plan.
J. C. W.
Answer to some Popular Objections to Unitarianism. A little Tract has just been published, entitled “ An Humble Attempt at removing Popular Objections to Uncorrupted Christianity."*
The author, after urging the objections to the doctrine of the Trinity, the Atonement, Original Sin, Endless Punishments, and proving that Unitarians do not deny or
* Printed for R. Hall, Library, Taunton. Sold also by Teulon and Fox, London; William Browne, Bristol; and John Treadwin, Exeter. Pp. 18. Price 3d.