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assert, that this sect comprises but a small minority of the whole number of inhabitants.
This minority has, indeed, by various means, which cannot be described here, but which may be fully developed in our future numbers, gotten possession of the most venerable and best endowed college in the United States; and enrols among its adherents not a few men of cultivated talent and respectable literary acquisitions. It is intrenched also in great wealth. Out of Massachusetts, however, Unitarianism has little strength. Taking New England together, with all its schools, colleges, theological seminaries, churches, and other means of influencing public opinion, the orthodox have no occasion to shrink from a comparison with their opponents, in regard to talents, learning, eloquence, public spirit, enterprise, and charitable exertions of every kind. As to labors for the conversion of men, and the salvation of souls, it is not known that Unitarians, as a body, or that any considerable number of them, feel any solicitude on the subject, or would wish to have it believed that the souls of men are in any great danger. Looking, then, at the present state of things among all the classes of professed Christians in our community, the orthodox feel themselves to be the proper and legitimate representatives of their pilgrim fathers. They consider this claim to be no assumption; nor does it savor of ostentation, whether reference is had to their numbers, their principles, their designs, or their motives as explained by their conduct.
We would not intimate, that the first settlers of New England were never mistaken in their views of truth and duty; much less that they were not exposed like other men, to passion, prejudice, and all the common frailties of the human condition. But we regard them as a very extraordinary race of men, whose minds were enlightened by an intelligent and prayerful perusal of God's word; whose hearts were habitually under the influence of divine truth; whose passions were, to a very remarkable extent, chastened and subdued; whose aims were great, noble, and comprehensive, embracing all the important subjects of human interest, reaching forward through all future ages, and taking hold of eternity. We do not contend, that they drove every pin exactly right in the tabernacle which they set up, on their first arrival in the wilderness. And when they gradually reared the great moral and political edifice, upon which their hands were so industriously employed, we do not suppose that every stone was laid in precisely the best place for it, or that the symmetry of every part was absolutely perfect. Still, it was a grand edifice, built on a broad and solid foundation, rising in goodly proportions, and in a magnificent style, an imperishable monument of the skill
, science, and public spirit of the builders; and we will venture to predict, that the more this edifice is examined and studied, the more it will be admired, even down to the latest ages of the world.
We would by no means encourage an indiscriminate reverence for antiquity; and a blind partiality for the institutions of our fathers, merely because they were the institutions of our fathers, is certainly not to be cherished. Unless we are greatly mistaken, however, it will be admitted in all future times, that the pilgrims were distinguished for possessing all the stamina of an illustrious character; and that they were thus enabled to act so wisely, as they did, for posterity and for the world. Among the admirable traits, which their history makes apparent, even to a cursory reader, the following should not be omitted on this occasion.
The fathers of New England were remarkable for entertaining a habitual reverence for the word of God. The Bible was their polestar, their guide, their universal directory. They studied it; they neglected no helps within their reach for understanding it; they were familiar with the original languages, in which it was written; they knew the English translation to be able and faithful; and they expected all the people to read and understand it, in the vernacular tongue.
They were men of prayer. They did not suppose that the Bible would ever be properly understood, unless by those who besought the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Upon every measure, whether of a private or a public nature, they invoked the divine blessing. This led them to examine well, as to the character of every enterprise, in which they engaged, and to inquire whether all their measures were such as God would
approve. They cultivated the religion of the heart. Forms and ceremonies, and even creeds, professions and covenants, were never suffered to usurp the place of internal principle; nor to be any thing more than signs of what the man actually was, or ought to be. There never was a country, in which so little reliance was placed upon externals; and in which the minds of all, even of the least intelligent, were so constantly directed to the heart.
They sought primarily the prosperity of the church. It was for the sake of the church that they came into voluntary exile. To Christ and the church they consecrated every thing dear to them; well knowing, that if religion prospered, and the people generally became friends of God and heirs of his heavenly kingdom, their temporal interests would never be in danger.
They were men of great public spirit. Next to genuine religion, this is the noblest trait in the human character; and it is never found, in its highest excellence, separate from religion. There have been, indeed, many instances of inflexible magistrates, and other laborious public servants, who generously disregarded their private interests, and were intently devoted to the public good, from motives of ambition, consistency of conduct, and a strong sense of what was fit and becoming, without any proper feeling of accountability to God. And this is so different from the ordinary selfishness VOL. 1.
of mankind, that it commands universal respect. The Pilgrims were public spirited from the highest motives, and to the greatest extent. Had it not been so, the American colonies would have sunk into semi-barbarism, instead of rising, as they regularly did, in the scale of improvement.
The Pilgrims had gained a true knowledge of human nature. They embraced no vain theories. They tried no Utopian experiments; even in circumstances, where, to philosophical minds, let loose from the Bible, the temptation to experimenting would have been irresistible.
It was because our ancestors possessed these great qualities, that they were able, simultaneously, and at the very moment of entering the wilderness, to accomplish three of the grandest objects, which ever attracted the attention of men as social beings, and as preparing for an endless state of existence hereafter. These three objects were the establishment of a civil government, which proved the strongest, the least burdensome, the most free, and the most faithfully administered, that the world had ever seen the provision for universal education, so that all the people might read the word of God, and understand their true interests,—and the provision for public worship, so as to bring the plain and faithful teaching of religion within a moderate distance of every man's dwelling. These things had never been done before, in so perfect a manner.
And when we look at the improvements of more than two centuries, in those respects where improvement has been greatest, what do they all amount to, but a very moderate use of those advantages, which were derived from the wisdom and public spirit of our fathers ? On the subject of education, for instance, what more enlarged and thorough plan could be devised at the present day, than that every neighborhood should have its school, at which every child should be expected to attend? The college, too, founded in the very infancy of the state,—what a testimony it bore to the foresight, and zeal, and well-directed enterprise of the founders ? and though now in disastrous eclipse, it will yet shine forth, and repeat the honorable testimony to admiring ages, which shall rise up in long succession, and call its early patrons blessed.
We have made this hasty reference to the claims of the Pilgrims upon our reverence and gratitude, principally for the sake of explaining our reasons for the name we have chosen; and not because we supposed it possible, in so short a compass, to do justice to the talents and virtues of these illustrious men of whom the world was not worthy. A more deliberate survey of the character and actions, by which a foundation for a vast empire was so skilfully laid, will probably occupy some pages of a future number.
In the course of the preceding remarks, the terms orthodox and orthodoxy have been used; and doubtless it will be expedient to use them, in many instances, hereafter. It seems proper, therefore, to explain the meaning, which we attach to them.
To avoid tedious circumlocution it is necessary to describe classes of men, or of opinions, by a single epithet: and this, when fairly done, far from being an evil
, as some have thought it to be, is in fact a great convenience. Thus, in the present case, we shall have-occasion to speak of men in our community, who agree in receiving a certain system of religious doctrines. How shall this body of men be described, unless by applying to them some epithet, which, from long established usage, has a definite meaning, and which, when thus applied, leaves a correct impression upon the mind of the reader? Shall we be obliged to repeat the doctrines, which we believe, as often as we refer to them? So clumsy an expedient will not surely be recommended.
In selecting a term, by which to designate that class of doctrines, usually called the doctrines of grace, or the doctrines of the reformation, we do not find any which is preferable to the word orthodox; nor any which is more fair and proper, either as it respects our adversaries or ourselves. They will not accuse us of begging the question, merely because this word is derived from two Greek words, which signify correct opinions. Nor will they imagine that we are so silly as to contend, that our opinions are of course correct, merely because we call them so. We do indeed believe them to be correct, but for weightier reasons than their having a good name attached to them. We speak of Unitarians; but we do not mean to admit, that those who have assumed this name are the only believers in the divine unity. The orthodox have uniformly, and without a single exception, believed in this cardinal doctrine of revelation; and any implication, or insinuation, to the contrary has always been unjust. Still, as the term Unitarian is now understood, there seems to be no danger in using it.
If it be asked, What do the orthodox believe, and how is the term now to be understood ? we answer; that from the reformation, (and there is no need that we should go back further,) a certain system of doctrines has been called orthodox. These doctrines contain, as we believe, the great principles of revealed truth. Among them are the following: viz.
That, since the fall of Adam, men are, in their natural state, altogether destitute of true holiness, and entirely depraved :
That men, though thus depraved, are justly required to love God with all the heart, and justly punishable for disobedience; or, in other words, they are complete moral agents, proper subjects of moral government, and truly accountable to God for their actions :
That, in the unspeakable wisdom and love of God, was disclosed a plan of redemption for sinful men :
That, in the developement of this plan, God saw fit to reveal so much concerning the nature and the mode of the divine existence, as that he is manifested to his creatures as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and that these Three, each partaking of all the attributes of the Deity, and being entitled to receive divine worship and adoration, are the one living and true God:
That the Son of God, laying aside the glory which he had with the Father from everlasting, came down from heaven, took upon himself man's nature, and by his humiliation, sufferings and death, made an atonement for the sins of the world :
That in consequence of this atonement, the offer of pardon and eternal life was freely made to all; so that those, who truly repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, will be saved :
That men are naturally so averse to God and holiness, that, if left to themselves, they reject the offers of salvation, and neither repent of sin nor ly believe in a Saviour :
That God, being moved with infinite love and compassion, sends forth the Holy Spirit, according to his sovereign pleasure, by whose beneficent energy an innumerable multitude of the human family are renewed, sanctified, and prepared for heaven; while others are suffered to pursue the course which they have freely chosen, and in which they obstinately persevere till the day of salvation is past :
That God, in his providential dispensations, in the bestowment of his saving mercy, and in his universal government, exhibits his adorable perfections, in such a manner, as will call forth the admiration and love of all holy beings forever:
That believers are justified by faith, through the efficacy of the atonement, so that all claims of human merit, and all grounds of boasting, are forever excluded:
That the law of God is perpetually binding upon all moral beings, and
upon believers not less than other men, as a rule of life; and that no repentance is genuine unless it bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and no faith is saving unless it produce good works :
That those, who have been renewed by the Spirit, will be preserved by the power of God, and advanced in holiness unto final salvation : and
That Christ, as the Great King of the Universe, the Lord and Proprietor of created beings, will judge the world at the last day, when the righteous will be received to life eternal, and the wicked will be consigned to endless punishment.
The foregoing propositions have been drawn up in haste, neither in the words of Scripture, nor of any human creed, nor with any design of exhibiting exact theological precision. We much prefer, on ordinary occasions, to express our views of religious truth in an unrestrained, popular manner. the Scriptures announce religious doctrines; and, in this way, the same great truths may be communicated by different writers and speakers, who will naturally fall into an almost infinite variety of
In this way,