صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

will be needful to ward off its blows, Equally, if not more dangerous are the syren allurements of interest. It has so many inlets to the mind, is in such perpetual operation, and assumes so many deceitful forms, that it is extremely difficult to be always on our guard against it. Every interested motive which can affect the mind is in opposition to our views of Christianity. Watch then, and pray, lest ye yield to temptation; for this adversary, like a roaring lion, is ever active, seeking whom he may devour.

In the honest zeal, the candid simplicity, the Christian purity, the unchecked ardour of your minds, you have expected the instantaneous conviction of others, and the immediate avowal of such conviction. You have been disappointed, and wonder at the icy coldness and torpidity of many. Beware lest the same chilling damps of indifference congeal your souls. Remember that all events are under the direction of one all-wise, all-good, and that, however our views and expectations may, to all appearance, be deceived and disappointed, "NO EFFORT IS LOST.'

[ocr errors]



AT the commencement of a course of lectures, avowedly on some of the most controverted points of Christian doctrine, an explanation of their intended object may naturally be expected.

Amongst divines, who have embraced Unitarian sentiments, a diversity of opinion has prevailed, upon the propriety of bringing forward the subject to public notice. With unquestioned sincerity, with an ardent desire of usefulness, it has been the determination of many to abstain from the introduction of peculiar doctrines. Knowing the obloquy to which they must be exposed, by denying what was esteem


ed sacred by all belonging to the Established Church, and nearly all classes of dissenters, and deeming moral conduct of much greater importance than doctrinal sentiments, they have been fearful lest their usefulness should be injured by proclaiming their opinions. The consequence of this concealment has been a general misapprehension of their views of Christianity. Unitarians have been held up as monsters to terrify all serious and religious people, and they have generally been classed, sometimes wilfully, sometimes ignorantly, with infidels and atheists.

When, some forty years ago, our Lindseys, Priestleys and Disneys, came forward in a bold and manly manner, and published to the world the sentiments they entertained, a hue and cry was raised against them; they were hunted down as beasts of prey, and the most artful methods were taken by those who called themselves religious, to prevent the circulation of their books. These prohibitions, by being repeatedly urged, produced an effect quite the reverse of what was expected. They excited the attention of

those whose minds were not absolutely priest-ridden, and who wished to judge for themselves. The consequence has been an amazingly rapid increase of numbers. I should not perhaps be greatly beyond the mark if I hazarded a conjecture that within thirty years they have increased a hundred fold. Still, however, gross misrepresentations of our opinions exist, and they who have few opportunities of reading and making inquiries, are taught to consider us as most dangerous heretics.

In the first address I delivered from this place, after having received an invitation to become one of your ministers, I stated that I thought it was the duty of a minister, occasionally, to lay before his hearers his view of Christian doctrines as well as of Christian duties, and that upon that principle I intended to act. Hitherto, although some of the subjects have been occasionally touched upon, no regular chain of argument has been pursued, nor has any connected view of those doctrines, which we deem to be Christian, and upon which we differ from the rest of

our Christian brethren, been presented. This is what I now propose to attempt. For this purpose several reasons appeared to render an evening lecture preferable to the usual services of the day. It will not prevent, from their customary attendance, those who feel no inclination to the study of controverted points. It may enable those who have inclination to go through the subjects systematically: and it may afford an opportunity to some to give a regular attention to them, who otherwise would not have had it in their power. It is therefore earnestly hoped that none will attend these lectures, who do not come with minds candidly disposed, disposed to inquire and investigate.

The object of these lectures may be considered as three-fold: 1st, a vindication of ourselves; 2nd, the promotion and diffusion of truth; 3rd, the practice of virtue. 1st, A vindication of ourselves from the aspersions of those who represent us as atheists, or at least as unbelievers. We adopt the language of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, (ii. 10, 7.) "If any man trust to himself that he is

« السابقةمتابعة »