תמונות בעמוד

this difference as well as others; and if not, such variations constitute no insurmountable hindrance. The essential truth of the Gospel is not involved in any or all of those modes of expression in which our respective versions of the Scriptures differ. The difficulties which are thus originated are of very inferior moment to those by which our separation is perpetuated, and which depend on our application of the spirit rather than our interpretation of the letter of the sacred records. When we can as perfectly agree in our opinions concerning the person of Christ, as we do in our veneration and gratitude for his holiness and love; when we shall mutually rejoice in the universality as well as in the blessedness of the salvation he brought, we shall not dispute respecting the letter of some of his instructions, or long lament the difficulty of reconciling some apparent discrepancies. If, as you declare, the Scriptures are in common use among you, they must be allowed to be the rule of

faith as well as of your practice; they inust be intended for your instruction as well as your confirmation; they must supply subjects of thought as well as of feeling. Do us the justice then, thus to use them as often as you hear us appeal


to them. Compare our interpretation of the Gospel with the records themselves. Compare our deductions from facts with the original statement of those facts, and with all which throws light on them from the history, the discourses, the epistles which follow. To whatever common ground there is between us, let us repair; and since that common ground is the very spot where the living waters first sprang up, there can be no doubt but that a patient search will bring vital refreshment to us all.

We know, brethren, that our mode of belief appears to you under the greatest possible disadvantage, as being, even more than Protestant religion generally, divested of the claims and graces of antiquity. You regard our sect as newly formed from the dispersed elements of other sects which have melted away. You find no mention of our heresy in the records of the middle ages, or only such hints of the doctrines now held by Unitarians as might serve as suggestions of our present opinions: and you therefore naturally conclude that the parts of our faith to which you object are but of yesterday, and consequently the impious inventions of men. If it were so, our present address would indeed be indefensible; our challenge to

investigation would be an insult; our appeal to the Scriptures would be blasphemy. But to shake

your conviction of this assumed fact, to convince

you if possible that the reverse is the fact, is the object of the exposition of our opinions which we now present to you, and of every effort to explain and defend our faith. It is because we believe our religion to be primitive Christianity that we are attached to it as other Christians are to theirs. It is because we feel that we can carry back our opinions to a remoter antiquity than other Churches, that we prefer them; and though they were completely hidden under the unauthorized institutions of the middle ages, we find no difficulty in establishing their identity with those which were diffused by the messengers and under the sanction of God. He who sees a stream gushing forth from the cave, and can trace it back no further than the darkness whence it issues, may reasonably conclude that he stands near its source;

but there may be a wayfarer who by observation and experience knows and can attest that this is no subsidiary spring, but the reappearance of a hidden stream, whose source is hallowed and whose current is inexhaustible. We only ask you to listen to our evidence of

this, and to admit it or not, as you shall be afterwards disposed. We agree with



your reverence for antiquity in respect of the faith; and desire nothing more than that by their comparative claims to antiquity our respective religions should be judged. We feel that grace as well as authority is conferred by every evidence of long duration. We can enter into your reverence for your doctrines, because they were held by Saints in cloisters which have crumbled to dust, by heroes and anchorites whose arms were the relics of centuries gone by, or whose rocky abodes have retained their sanctity for a thousand years. We can understand your emotions on receiving sacraments or witnessing ceremonies which fostered the devotion of the saintly and the heroic of the olden time, and which filled the Christian temples abroad with music and fragrance, while in our land the smoke of Druidical sacrifices was ascending offensively to Heaven. But we thus sympathise because we too refer our worship to ancient days. Our hearts also thrill under the impulses which are propagated from afar. We also delight in spiritual exercises, because they are sanctified by long-tried efficacy; and


enjoy our devotion more, because the same hopes exhilarated, the same trust supported our spiritual kindred of the remotest Christian antiquity. In our Churches we believe we feel the spirit of brotherhood which first gave to the believers one heart and one soul. In the silence of our chambers, or amidst the solitudes of nature, we are open to the same incentives to prayer and praise which visited Peter on the house-top, and Paul amidst the perils of the

When intent upon the words of life, we, like the Apostle, are impelled to exclaim, 'O! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!' And were the times of persecution to recur, we doubt not but that, at the very stake, the consciousness of fellowship with the holy Stephen would add vigor to our courage and splendor to our hopes. We refuse to perpetuate the imposing ritual of the early ages because it is not antique enough: but whenever we behold two or three gathered together to worship with the heart and voice alone; when we see men assembling on the first day of the week to break bread in remembrance of Christ, in the simplicity of the primitive ordinance; when we see teachers, in all external things like their brethren, gathering wisdom

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