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ardor in spreading their own views, appears to arise from opposition' to evangelical doctrines, rather than from a desire to convert, or reform the world. It seems to irritate them, to be told, that the case of sinners is at all dangerous. The mercy of the God whom they adore, is so great as wholly to exclude vindictive justice.
Mr. Belsharn says, “If God should mark and punish every instance of transgression, he must be a 'merciless tyrant ;' but if he had sajd, any“ instance of transgression,” it would not have been a very great departure from the Anti-Trinitarian system. It is not to be expected that they will take any great pains to effect the conversion of men, whose condemnation cannot take place, unless God should prove Himself to be cruel. It evidently appears to be the tendency of that system, to fortify the minds of sinners against God, instead of converting them to his service. It is not wonderful that the worst of sinners should feel perfectly easy, in hearing such deluding doctrines. It need not be proved that their scheme has such a baneful effect on the mind; for the thing admíts of no denial. In confirmation of this, my hearers, I have only to appeal to your own conscience and observation. Did you ever know of souls under conviction, repairing to such preachers for religious instruction ? Alas! they know that it would be of very little use., But those who are determined to follow the course of this world, and at the same time, live in quietness of mind, will find in such instructors, all that they can possibly desire. This manifests, that the doctrine leads to sin and endless misery; and therefore, it must be dreaded by all who suitably appreciate the worth of immortal souls. But,
10. The Anti-Trinitarian system leads those who embrace it, to neglect every branch of practical piety. By this, I mean the duties which we owe to God. Men may sustain what is called a decent moral character, and yet be wholly deficient in relation to practical religion.
Dr. Fuller very justly says, “A decent conduct has been found in hypocrites, in infidels, and even in Atheists.” It is said by Dr. Priestley himself, “ That an Atheist may be temperate, good natured, honest, and in the less extended sense of the word, a virtuous man.” Men, in general, , have powerful inducements to observe the rules of common decency, let their religious sentiments be what they may. Practical godliness is of a higher nature, than merely to lead a decent life. In regard to the various duties of practical piety, our doctrinal principles must have a powerful influence.
Practical religion consists in pious conversation-in prayer-in praise-in a holy observance of the Christian sabbath-and in a regular observance of the public worship of God. If these duties are habitually neglected, there is no practical religion. If the Anti-Trinitarian doctrines promote these things, then they are favorable to practical religion; but if they do not, then they are unfavorable. Practical piety is a visible thing. In relation to the duties that have been mentioned, the practice of every denomination lies open to the inspection of the world. If the Anti-Trinitarians abound in such godliness, every insinuation to the contrary must be the effect of prejudice, malignity and slander. But it is a very general impression, that the people in view, are habitually deficient in all the solemn duties which have been mentioned. What all the Trinitarian writers have said on this subject, appears to be actually true, as far as I have been able to extend my observations. The thing, in fact, is so obvious, that their own authors have found themselves under the necessity of admitting it.
The Rev. J. Yates, the antagonist of Mr. Wardlaw, seems to have anticipated with some degree of pain, that
many of those people in Scotland, who would probably embrace the Anti-Trinitarian principles, would " be men more inclined to inquire after truth, than to apply it steadily to practice when found.” His fears seem to have been great, lest this should operate agaiņst the triumphs of the cause in that nation.
It is expressly acknowledged by Dr. Priestley, that “a great number of the Unitarians," as he calls them, “ of the present age, are only men of good sense, and without much practical religion ; and that there is a greater apparent conformity to the world in them, than is observable in others."
Mr. Belsham also says, that " Rational Christians are often represented as indifferent to practical religion.” Neither does he appear to deny the justness of the charge ; but he endeavors to account for it, in a consistency with the truth and purity of their doctrines. Dr. Priestley does the same.
The writers of that school freely acknowledge, that practical Christians are not in a favorable situation to become Anti-Trinitarians. Dr. Priestley says, “Many of those who judge so truly concerning particular tenets in religion, have attained to that cool, unbiassed temper of mind, in consequence of becoming more indifferent to religion in general, and to all the modes and doctrines of it.” Mr. Belsham concurs in this opinion, by saying, "Men who are the most indifferent to the practice of religion, will ever be the first to see the absurdity of a popular superstition, and to embrace a rational system of faith.” These concessions very fully prove the point which I am endeavoring to prove and illustrate. These champions of Anti-Trinitarianism, you see, have unequivocally admitted, that an entire absence of religion is the best preparative for a conversion to their cause. Such irreligious characters
would not be willing to embrace the system, if they thought it at all favorable to practical piety. Seeing the point under consideration is allowed by the most able and zealous men of that party, and its truth is so obvious to all, we cannot be justly blamed for mentioning the thing-a thing ón their part explicitly acknowledged.
Anti-Trinitarianism was very early planted in this town. It has spread to a considerable extent; and, therefore, you have had a fair opportunity to witness its practical effects on the hearts and lives of its admirers. As men, as neighbors, as members of society, they are, in general, very respectable ; but I have not been able to discover in them much of that, which properly falls under the definition of practical religion. , But if they are, in general, in the habit of conversing on svlemn subjects in a serious manner; if they abound much in prayer and in praise; if they are strict observers of the holy Sabbath ; if their attention to public worship is general and unremitting ; these things must have fallen under your observation; and, of course, my remarks can have but little influence on your opinion. If their system were truly evangelical, it would, undoubtedly, produce these effects in some degree. But where these virtues are not found, there can be no religion in the heart. We must take these things into view, in forming a judgment concerning the expediency of embracing or rejecting that theory. From the statements of our writers, the concessions of theirs, and our own observations, we may be now prepared to decide on the question. If AntiTrinitarian doctrine is not productive of practical piety, we must conclude that it is not the Gospel of Christ. On the tendercy of that plan, as it relates to public worship, Dr. Fuller
« Where the Socinian and Arian doctrines have been taught, the congregations are gradually dwindling away, and there are scarcely a sufficient number left to keep up the form of public worship.” He says further, “ There is nothing in either of these systems that alarms the heart; and, therefore, the congregations where they are taught, unless kept up by the accidental popularity of a preacher, or some other citcumstance distinct from the doctrine delivered, generally fall into decay.” We are constantly witnessing, my hearers, similar effects of that scheme, in relation to public and family worship. Its effects, as to inward devotion, the judgment day must declare. As sufficient has been said to sustain the point in hand, we may proceed to
IMPROVEMENT. 1. From what has been said on this subject, we may see, that we have no inducement to change our present principles for Anti-Trinitarianism. That people, we know, choose to be distinguished from other denominations, by the name of Unitarians; but to that distinctive appellation, they have no exclusive right. The import of it is, believers in one God; but the name as justly belongs to us as to them. The difference between us has no reference to the number of Gods; but to the manner of the Divine Existence. As to the Unity of God, we have no disagreement with them. They, however, seem to labor greatly to make a different impression on the minds of the less informed
of When they have proved that there is but one God, and that Jesus Christ is a man, they appear to triumph--to take it for granted that we are confuted! But, to think of maintaining their cause, by proving points that we not only admit but vindicate, amounts to nothing but the blinding of the uninformed. Let them prove that there is no Personality in the Essence or nature of JEHOVAH, and that the Son and the Holy Ghost have no proper claim to Supreme Divinity, and then they will effect something to their purpose. But to think of