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Rev. Sir, I MAKE no apology for troubling you with this Letter, for I cannot conceal from myself that I am one of those against whom your recent Publication is directed. My first impulse indeed, when I heard of the probability of its appearance, was to resolve not to answer it, and to recommend the same course to others. I have changed my mind at the suggestion of friends, who, I feel, have taken a sounder view of the matter; but my original feeling was, that we have differences and quarrels enough all around us, without adding to them. Sure I am, that the more stir is made about those opinions which you censure, the wider they will spread. This has been proved abundantly in the course of the last few years. Whatever be the mistakes and faults of their advocates, they have that root of truth in them which, as I do firmly believe, has a blessing with it. I do not pretend to say they will ever become popular with the many, that is another matter ;-nor do I say they will ever
gain that powerful external influence over the many, which truth vested in the Few, cherished, throned, energizing in the Few, often has possessed ;-nor that they are not destined, as truth has often been destined, to be cast away and at length trodden under foot as an odious thing;—but of this I am sure, that at this juncture in proportion as they are known, they will make their way through the community, picking out their own, seeking and obtaining refuge in the hearts of Christians, high and low, here and there, with this man and that, as the case may be; doing their work in their day, as raising a witness to this fallen generation of what once has been, of what God would ever have, of what one day shall be in perfection; and that, not from what they are in themselves, because viewed in the concrete they are mingled, as every thing human must be, with error and infirmity, but by reason of the spirit, the truth, the old Catholic life and power which is in them.
And, moreover, while that inward principle of truth will carry on their tide of success to those bounds wider or straiter, which, in God's inscrutable providence, they are to reach and not to pass, it is also a substitute for those artificial and sectarian bounds of co-operation between man and man, which constitute what is commonly called a party. I notice this, because though you do not apply the word party to their upholders, you do speak of an existing " combination," "an indefinite and appa
rently numerous body of friends,” nay you hint at a “ formidable conspiracy;" words which mean more than that unity of action which unity of sentiments produces. Men who think deeply and strongly, will act upon their principles; and if they think alike, will act alike; and lookers on, seeing the acts, and not seeing the principles, impute that to concert which proceeds from unanimity. So much I would grant in the present case, and no more ; unless the contingence of two persons thinking alike and acting on their thoughts be party spirit, the appearance of party may easily exist in cases where there is not the reality. Like actions inevitably follow; but their doers are not party men, till their own personal success becomes prior in their thoughts to that of their object.
Such is the position in which the opinions and persons stand, which you so heavily censure. And whatever be the consequence to those persons, I see nothing but advantage resulting to those opinions from such publicity and discussion as you are drawing upon them. As far as they are concerned, I should have no anxiety about addressing you ; but a feeling of the miserable breach of peace and love which too commonly follows on such controversies, to say nothing of one's own private convenience, is enough to make any one pause before he engages in such a discussion. I cannot doubt such is your feeling also, and therefore I deeply regret that a sense of imperative duty should