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UNITARIAN FUND REGISTER.
LETTER FROM MADRAS.
To the Rev. W. J. Hox.
Pursewaukum, July 5, 1824. My last letter to you was under date 5th April this year, in which I have acknowledged the receipt of your letter of the 30th July, 1823, with £30, being 342 Madras rupees, 13 annas, and 9 pues. In that letter I have inclosed a tract, containing questions to the Roman Catholics, which I got printed this year. After your above letter, I have not received any thing.
A Bengal gentleman, acquainted with some of our Unitarian friends at Calcutta, came here on the 20th of May, and made an inquiry of our welfare and success, but did not stay to see our congregation. He sailed to Calcutta the following day.
Though our success in getting converts to Unitarianism is but very slow, yet, by the continued ajd vouchsafed by your respectable Church, our means of extending the knowledge of this sublime wisdom are increasing. Our public worship and preaching are regular. My brethren are furnished with books that confirm their faith, and confute the errors of the Trinitarians and the superstitions of the Heathens. Their faith, duty and expectations are clearly understood. They learn to value the saered Scriptures : most of them had the good sense to furnish themselves with that heavenly treasure out of their scanty earning. Some that were not able to spare any money at all, to them, as also to our schools, we supply from the Bibles that we receive from the Bible Society, to which Institution we make it our duty to collect our mites once a year ;-a practice that we have continued for the last ten years, and hope my brethren will never discontinue as long as there is such an inestimable blessing as the Bible Society. My health being pretty good since the commencement of printing our Tamul Tracts, I continue to write with fresh courage; though I do not see immediate prospect of much fruits, yet hoping that my humble endeavours, with the prayers and kind intentions of my friends, will not be all lost. At present we are but very poor; a few in numbers, despised, live dispersedly, and make little or no impressions on our neighbours as a Society. May heaven increase our numbers, that we may effectually confess that God is One, and with him there is free pardon to every sinner that returns to his duty.
We have not yet been blessed with rain ; the country is dry every where. Rice is very dear ;-poor people are much distressed through shortness of common necessaries of life. Our schools are thinly attended to what they used
to be, owing to the scarcity of provisions. No dispute or much argning on religious subjects.
Though teachers of Trinitarianism freely teach their disciples that Unitarians are not Christians, their books should not be read, and their conversations ought to be avoided ; yet none of them have taken the trouble to point out in what Unitarian errors consist, or confute any of the objections that I have advanced against the doctrine of the Trinity in my late publications. Some honest Heathens seem to guess on which side the truth lays; yet they are not prepared to join the unfashionable side, and are also prevented embracing Trinitarianism on account of its self-contradicting principles.
Though our statement of Christian doctrines is plain and comprehensive to the meanest capacity, and no attentive observer of the subject attempts reasonable objection; yet our humble appearance, very slow progress, and, above all, our not having a European - Toacher to back us, are great objections in the eyes of all people, Christians as well as Heathens. May heaven bless our English Unitarian Church abundantly, and enable them to send out a Unitarian Missionary to be at our head, to encourage us and dispel the objections of my countrymen. God, my Creator, hitherto has been very kind, done great deal in employing a poor, weak and unworthy creature in a glorious cause; and should he prolong my life and health to see a Unitarian Minister in Madras to take charge and superintend our little Society, I shall close my eyes without any anxiety. This is the desire of my heart,
the desire of my brethren, and the prevailing desire of my country. Yet may the Supreme will be done, for He only knows what is good and proper for his creatures in the situations and climates that he has placed them.
The Rev. W. Adam, of Calcutta, very kindly sends me his monthly Unitarian Repository. The balance of cash in my hand when I wrote you last, was rupees 113, annas 15, pues 10. This were hardly enough for my expenses in April and May. Since that I am short of cash; but hope some will arrive soon. I shall leave the particulars of my cash account for my next letter.
Amongst the books that I have petitioned for, I wrote particularly for a Roman Catholic English translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible. The books promised me in two of the Rev. Dr. T. Rees's letters not yet arrived. I de rive much information and edification from my kind, venerable benefactor, the Rev. T. Belsham's Expositions of St. Paul's Epistles. May good Providence prolong his life and health.
obedient Servant, WILLIAM ROBERTS,
TRANSLATION OF A LETTER FROM PROFESSOR SYLVESTER
The original of the following letter was received a considerable time since. Some of the information which it contains has been already published in that from LAZARUS Nagy, inserted in the Christian Reformer. It is, however, thought desirable to put this more complete statement upon record in the Unitarian Fund Register.
GEORGE SYLVESTER, Unitarian Professor of Theology at Clausenburg, in Transylvania, prays that the blessings of salvation from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, may attend the pious assertors of the unity of God in England.
The Brief Exposition of the faith, the history, and the present state of the Unitarians in England, communicated to us, afforded us great pleasure ; as it assured us that you possess that fervent zeal for religion, which is so ne. cessary to a more extensive propagation of the true faith. For, by some unhappy fate, the Unitarians, in whose faith and friendship, in Poland, Prussia, and the Belgic Provinces, our ancestors gloried, have been either suppressed or silenced: and though such has been the effect produced by the labours of the learned, that not only Germany, the Athenæum of modern times, but equitable judges throughout all Europe, have yielded them the palm of victory, we still thought that Christians of this denomination had enjoyed the free exercise of their religion in Transylvania alone. We were unwilling, therefore, to refuse an opportunity, given us by the Divine Goodness, for literary correspondence, and most readily subjoin to your Exposition a summary account of Unitarian affairs in Transylvania. · Divine Providence, which had destined Transylvania to be the refuge of various nations, here opened a way, under elective princes, for the exercise of various religions. But as the affairs of Transylvania, from the paucity of coeval writers on the side of the Reformation, are involved in great obscurity with respect to religion, the origin of the Unitarian faith in Transylvania must be derived from tradition.
A tradition, descending from our ancestors to our predecessors, and from them to us, in succession, informs us, that, about the years 1540 and 1541, the inhabitants of the city of Clausenburg, which is the metropolis of Transylvania, went over from the Catholic religion to the Latheran, and after having held the Lutheran religion for the space of five years, embraced the Unitarian faith, being greatly assisted by the labours of several individuals, especially of Francis David; for he, having ascended a smooth stone placed in a street in Thorda, (Torda or Thorenburg) preached a discourse, in which he asserted the Father to be the only God, with so, much effect, before a large concourse of hearers, that with the public applause of his audience, and of the elder (or archdeacon) Caspar Heltai, he was declared pastor of the city; and being conducted to the cathedral church, situate in the marketplace, and there having the pulpit offered bim, brought over the whole city to his religion and that of his sect.
Whatever may be related by others, our writers assert, that the prince and the city of Clausenburg, in the year 1546, universally adhered to the profession of Unitarianism. This, however, is certain, that Francis David, who was the first preacher of the Unitarian faith in Transylvania, having read the writings of Luther and Melancthon, adhered, at first, to the churches of Saxony, then to that of Helvetia, and at length began to profess the Unitarian religion. But the history of the transactions as far as the year 1964, is very imperfect la this year, Francis David, being elected by the mandate of John II., King of Hungary and Prince of Transylvania, Superintendent of the Hungarians, became the first Unitarian Superintendent.
Justice here requires us to mention George Blandrata, an Italian, a Piedmontese, of the town of Saluzzo, who, after various fortunes, obtaining access as physician to the court of Prince John Sigismund, in 1563, gave assistance to Francis David in propagating the true faith, and deserves to be called the second leader of the Unitarians in Transylvania.
These two men, the one the physician of the body, the other of the mind, associating others with themselves, procured the establishment of the Unitarian religion by law, in an Assembly held in the town of Vasarhelly in 1568.
In this year was renewed an ordinance on the matter of religion, which lead been first published in 1557, by a diet held at Thorda, and had been con firmed by the orders of the kingdom, 1563—"that every one might embrace, without restraint, that religion which he preferred ; that every one should be free in maintaining the preachers of his faith, and in the use of sacraments; and that neither of the parties should contend with the other by injuries or by force.” And also that salutary instrument for the cultivation of humanity equally profitable to the Church and the State—the union of the four received religions in Transylvania, the Roman Catholic, the Reformed Erangelical, the Lutheran, or Augustan, and the Unitarian, was sanctioned by the sacrament of an oath, in which it was deposed by every citizen of the state as follows: That every citizen shall endeuvour, to the utmost of his power, to preserve the four received religions; that he shall never intermeddle either openly or secretly in things tending to the oppression of another's religion; that he shall not cherish hatred or enmity against any person on account of religion; that he shall never enter into any conspiracy against a religion different from his own; that he shall attempt to oppress none by injurious counsel, by arms, or by any other ways, or means, direct or indirect; and that if he shall observe others doing such things, he shall publicly accuse them before the assembled council. SIGLER in Chronologia, p. 87, Confer, Approb. Const. Part üï. Tit. I.
These fundamental principles of the four received religions. having been established, the citizens had nothing to fear, whatever religion the prince might follow. But John II. dying, the 14th of March, 1577, the Unitarian religion suffered a great change under his successors, not indeed throngh the fault of the princes, but through an internal dissension of the Unitarians themselves. For Francis David, about the year 1578, had said, in a discourse, “that since Christ was not God by nature, prayer could not be addressed to him without error.” To this sentiment, George Blandrata having opposed himself, prevailed, and the Superintendent being condemned as an innovator, ivas sent to a prison at Deva, where he ended his days, November 15, 1579.
The pastor being torn from his flock, that the sheep might not be seattered, Divine Providence, in the General Synod held July 1st, 1759, gave the Unitarians a second Superintendent, Demetrius Hunjadinus. With the consent of the ministers, he put an end to the schisin concerning the divinity, adoration, invocation and kingdom of Christ. From this time, however, their opponents never ceased to accuse the Unitarians of Judaism, till the year 1638. In this year, an end was put to this injurious treatment, under Prince George Rakotzi the elder, by the Desiana Complanatio.
Human weakness,, even in that age, made some attempts to offer violence first to one and then to another of the received religions : but the fundamental laws of the country, which are called the approved and embodied constitutions, having been confirmed by all the princes in succession, and having assigned them the force and authority of perpetual laws, gave inviolate pro tection to the faithful in the free exercise of their religion and the enjoyment of their privileges. (See Approb. Const., Part i. Tit. 1, $ 2.)
Lest these laws should undergo any change by the act of the elective princes, it was always made one of the conditions imposed upon them, that they should be specially bound by oath to the observance of these laws. Besides this, when the principality of Transylvania passed from the elective princes under the benignant protection of the august house of Austria, in the treaty between that. august, house and the Transylvanian ambassadors, made at Vienna, 28th June, 1686, concerning the liberty of the aforesaid religions, it was provided in the 6th Article as follows: “That he (the Em. peror) shall take care that the four religions in Transylvania, and in the parts of Hungary annexed to Transylvania, shall not be disturbed there by any means, at any time, or under any pretext; and that, according to their approved laws, , he shall not attempt to occupy their churches, schools income or possessions."
In like manner, it was provided also in the treaty with his Serene Highness the Duke of Lotharingin, (Lorraine,) on the 27th October, 1687 (Cap. ii. $3); which laws received the sanction of his Majesty the Emperor Leopold, in his Diploma, (which is here called sacred,) in the year found in the stipulations of all the emperors to whom authority over the principality of Transylvania has ever been conceded.
Notwithstanding these things, the age immediately preceding has been considered fatal to the Unitarians of Transylvania : for in this age they saw themselves deprived, chiefly by popular commotions, of their churches, schools, parochial funds, and other resources of literature and religion, stripped by degrees of public offices, and their affairs, like a wasting taper, almost reduced to extremity.
But this calamity was not of long duration; for God excited Joseph, the second of this pame, Emperor of the Romans and Prince of Transylvania, of iinmortal memory, to afford relief, during his life, to our ruined affairs; and when he was called by a premature death to the kingdom of God, Leopold the Second and Francis the First, of glorious reign, our most gracious Prince illustrious by his achievements, both in the Church and the State, treading in his footsteps-in a Convention held in 1791, successfully encountered this