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with concern on the spiritual condition of those, who were so unfortunate as to embrace them. I can suppose you might think it necessary, on suitable occasions, to point out such errors, to confute them by fair and temperate argument, and to make known their dangerous tendency. It is no difficult thing to imagine, that your love of truth, your sincerity, and your zeal in the cause of pure religion, might prompt you to so benevolent and pious a work. All this, done with moderation and a proper spirit, would not only be pardonable, but praiseworthy. It is every preacher's duty to support what he thinks to be truth, and by all just and honourable means to dig away what he conceives to be the sandy foundations of error.
But, Sir, when you take upon yourself the gratuitous and thankless service of coming thus publicly forward, not to detect and confute the dangerous opinions of a particular denomination of christians, not to win them from their errors by affectionate persuasion and salutary warnings, but harshly to brand them with the mark of heresy, to deny them the name of christians, and, what is worst of all, to charge them with immorality and irreligion in practice, when you can so far desert the principles, which ought to actuate every christian teacher, and be the guide of every ingenuous mind, it would be a task more arduous and hopeless, than I should be willing to undertake, to find an apology for conduct so singular and obviously indefensible. From a certain class of preachers we look for pulpit denunciations, the fumes and phrensy of fanaticism, the storms of boisterous passion, and the misrepresentations of incorrigible ignorance. I say we look for them, because they have already been poured out upon us in no stinted measure, and we ought to expect, that the same troubled foun
ask, as I pass along-How it is to be accounted for, that the preaching of those who deny the Divinity and Atonement of the Saviour, and who reject the doctrines of Human Depravity, of Regeneration, and of Justificati n by the righteousness of Christ-How, I ask, is it to be accounted for, that such preachers, all over the world, are most acceptable to the gay, the fashionable, the worldly-minded, and even the licentious! That so many embrace and eulogize their system, without being, in the smallest perceptible degree, sanctified by it? That thousands are in love with it, and praise it; but that we look in vain for the monuments of its reforming and purifying power? I will not pretend to answer these questions; but leave them to the consciences of those who believe, that the genuine doctrines of the Gospel always have had, and always will have, a tendency to promote holiness of heart and of life; and that we must all speedily appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”
To these singular remarks you add the following, in the form of a note.
"The above language, concerning the destructive nature of the Arian and Socinian heresies, has not been adopted lightly; but is the result of serious deliberation, and deep conviction. And in conformity with this view of the subject, the Author cannot forbear to notice and record a declaration made to himself, by the late Dr. Priestley, two or three years before the decease of that distinguished Unitarian. The conversation was a free and amicable one, on some of the fundamental doctrines of religion. in reply to a direct avowal on the part of the Author, that he was a Trinitarian and a Calvinist, Dr. Priestley said—I do not wonder that you Calvinists entertain and express a strongly unfa
Or did you
which you have ventured to declare, that among unitarians, you “look in vain for the monuments of the reforming and purifying power" of their religious tenets.
It is indeed most sincerely to be regretted, both as it concerns your own credit and the cause of truth, that you could not find "time to trace the history of American unitarianism,” before you hazarded such a declaration. By such a process, you might possibly have made the public acquainted with facts, from which the integrity of your insinuations, and the veracity of your very bold assertions, would be more manifest. rely on the ignorance, as well as the good nature of your readers? In passing sentence of condemnation on a very large portion of the christians of this country, and in publishing - ainst then the charge of immorality, did you feel yourself under no obligation to exhibit testimonyi Although you confided in the implicit credence of a certain class of your readers, and pleased yourself with the idea, that you were writing for those, who were already prepared to listen to the hardest things you could say against unitarians, you certainly could not be su ignorant of mankind, as to suppose the persons, on whom you made su rude an attack, would suffer themselves to be thus calumniated, and to have their characters impeached, without exposing your unguarded asseverations, and demanding evidence of their truth. Although you denied then the privilege and the name of christians, you couid not have forgotten that they are men, and as such can feel an injury, and perceive a violation of justice and the common laws of humanity, as quickly as other men of whom you might be disposed to speak in better terms.
Let me first ask you, for what purpose this anecdote about Dr. Priestley was introduced? What does it prover