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has received no essential alteration from that time to
I have been thus particular upon this point, that the reader may see the origin of that doctrine which has made so much noise in the world-a doctrine which by some is considered fundamental, and a denial of which is equal to Atheism. This incomprehensible doctrine, this HOLY MYSTERY, as its advocates are pleased to call it, owes its origin or completion to a council of Orthodox bishops, in the fourth century. Even Mosheim, the celebrated ecclesiastical historian, tho a professed Trinitarian, says that it was at the council of Constantinople in 381, that the doctrine of the Trinity received its finishing touch.
In this reign also by order of the emperor, the Arian bishops were banished, and most of their churches shu up. So bitter were the Catholics against their opposers, that they even ordered some of them to be put to death. Many new sects sprung up in this period, tho they dif fered but little from others then in existence.
About this time the Christians introduced some superstitious practices, which tho innocent at first, afterwards became a disgrace to Christianity. We have seen before that great virtue was attached to martyrdom ; and this gave rise to many superstitions. In the period of which I am treating, the greatest honor was paid to martyrs. Multitudes would flock to their tombs to pay their respects. They had also such a veneration for their remains that many of the martyrs were taken from their graves, and their relics being so eagerly sought, they soon became articles of traffic. In this age also they began to pray for the dead. The ornamenting of churches was likewise introduced in this period. These things are mentioned at their origin in consequence of the great excess to which they were afterwards carried.
From the year 395 to 424, that is, to the death of the emperor Honorius, several things of moment occurred. In addition to the controversies and excommunications common to the preceding periods, there was one remar-kable one, called the Palagian controversy, from Pelagius, an English Monk, who distinguished himself in this dispute. Soon after the commencement of the Christian church, great stress was laid upon water baptism; but in the third century this idea was carried much farther than in any preceding period. They began then boldly to contend that baptism literally washed away sin; and from this belief many deferred baptism till they were apprehensive that the lamp of life was about expiring. These abuses Pelagius exposed by saying that baptism could not wash away sin, because all were in the habit of baptising infants which were guilty of no sin. This argument greatly perplexed his opponents. At length Austin, one of the African bishops, and the greatest writer of the age, found out an expedient. To avoid the force of Pelagius' reasoning, he contended that infants had sin, being guilty of the sin of Adam. And as Pelagius contended that good works, and not baptism saved men, Austin maintained that men were not able to perform any good works; all the good acts men did perform, were produced by the special and miraculous operations of the divine spirit. Those who are saved, he said, are saved by the special election of God, and those who are lost, are doomed to destruction by God's fixed decree. This is the first account we have of the doctrine of ELECTION and REPROBATION-a doctrine held so sacred at the present day. These opinions were novel , at that day, and nothing but the popularity of Austin saved them from immediate condemnation.
At the commencement of the fourth century, the northern nations, many of whom were subject to the Roman empire, began to be restless, and in several in
stances marched into Italy with prodigious armies, but the Romans succeeded in expelling them.
In the year 481, a council was called to settle a controversy, which shows the superstition of the age. We have seen before that the doctrine of the Trinity was established by a council. Jesus Christ being pronounced equal to the Father, and consequently God; a dispute arose whether the virgin Mary should be styled the mother of God. To decide this mighty question, a council of grave bishops was convened, which decided that the virgin Mary might with propriety be called the mother of God!!!
A division had for a long time been growing between the eastern and western provinces of the Roman empire. About the middle of the fourth century, a state of war and contention commenced, which terminated in the subversion of the western empire. The Vandals, the Huns, and other barbarians made encroachment upon the empire upon all sides; and within they were distracted with insurrections and civil war. These troubles continued till about the year 473, when the empire was entirely dissolved.
Before the fall of the western empire, the church of Rome, or rather the bishop of the Roman see, began to arrogate to himself a degree of power far superior to that of other bishops; but as yet we bear nothing of these blasphemous claims for which that church contended in ages.
By this glimpse of history we learn the origins of those doctrines which are now considered the vital principles of the gospel. And if we see a great degree of superstition and bigotry, we must consider that that was a dark age of the world, and that if we had lived at that period, we should, in all probability, have partook in a degree of the same spirit. C. H.
The Southern Association convened in Springfield, Mass. June 6, 1827, where, among others, the following votes were passed :
Voted, to receive the first Universalist Society in Pomfret, Woodstock, and Ashford, Con. into fellowship with this Association,
Voted, to accept the report of the Committee on applications, in favor with complying with the request of the First Universalist Society in Springfield, that Br L. R. Paige be installed as their Pastor.
Voted, to receive the First Universalist Society in Duxbury, Mass. into fellowship with this Association.
Voted, that a committee of three be appointed, whose duty it shall be to make diligent inquiry concerning the truth of any reports, which may be at any time in circulation, prejudicial to the character of any member of this body; and if, after making such inquiry, they find just cause of complaint to the committee of investigation this day appointed, and shall prosecute the same before said committee, at such time and place as they may appoint.
Brs. R. Canfield, D. Pickering, and H. Belding, were appointed said committee.
Six Sermons were preached, by Brs. C. Gardner, D. Pickering, M. B. Ballou, T. Whittemore, H. Ballou and Z. Fuller: Texts, Isa. xli. 21, Rev. xxii. 17, Ps. xix. 7, Numb. xxii. 18, 1 John iv. 15, and Rom. xii. 19.
Dedication and Installation. The new Universalist Meeting House in Watertown, Mass. will, by divine permission, be dedicated to religious purposes, on Wednesday, the 15th inst.
In the afternoon of the same day, Br. RUSSELL STREETER will be installed Pastor of the Universalist Society, worshipping in said House.-Univ. Mag.
Died at Windsor, May 27, Mr. JOSEPH WAKEFIELD, aged 75. He was long a respectable citizen in that town, and lived an honest and christian life, exercising the faith that embraces the salvation of all men. When called to leave this world of variety and sorrow, his mortal frame had been exercised by a long and painful sickness, yet his mind was clear at the hour of dissolution, and calmly reposed full confidence in the God of bis salvation.
At Windsor, May 27, Mrs. MARY NUTTING, wife of Mr. Abel Nutting, Jun. aged 35. Mrs. N. has left a husband and six small children to mourn her departure. She was universally esteemed; her husband, children, and all her relatives, in her death, sustain an irreparable loss.
At Charlestown, N. H. April 20th, Mr. HENRY F. LOCKE, aged 27. This worthy young man died of consumption; and has left a young widow and one child to mourn the loss of their best earthly friend.
At Chester, June 23, Maj. ELIAS WATKINS, in the 46th year of his age. Some time during the last autumn, his left arm, without any known cause, began to perish. During the winter, altho his hand and arm were entirely useless, he was able for the most part of the time, to attend to his ordinary con. cerns. On the opening of the spring, he began to be exercised with severe pain, not only in his arm, but in his shoulder and breast, accompanied with a distressing cough, which he bore with christian fortitude and resignation to the day of his death; and died in the triumphs of that faith, which pointed him to a glorious immortality for himself and all mankind. His disconsolate widow, six children, and a large circle of friends and neighbors mourn the loss of an affectionate husband, a kind father, and a valuable citizen.
At Westminster, July 5, of consumption, Mr. SAMUEL GOODRICH, aged 27. During his long and painful sickness, he was never known to murmur or complain, and with a perfect resignation to the Divine will, he surrendered his spirit to Him who gave it, in the firm belief of the ultimate salvation of the whole world. A young and amiable widow, affectionate parents, brothers and sisters, mourn his untimely exit,
At Shrewsbury, July 11, Mrs. SALLY BARTHOLOMEW, wife of Capt. Charles Bartholomew, aged 45. She was called from the labors of life in a moment. In the apparent enjoyment of a usual degree of health, tho not the best, she fell by her wash tub, and with a single exclamation expired immediately. How soon are earthly hopes cut off! how soon do we find a husband deprived of a kind and amiable companion, and left without