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ies in this country; and after a few years returned to Boston, and there spent the remainder of his days. It is believed he was the first permanent preacher of Universalism in this country, at least in New England. This sect, with some mutations and variety in their creed, has continued and become numerous. And it is believed, there is no religious denomination at the present day, from which more injury is to be apprehended to the peace and order of Congregational societies than from this. The less intelligent and discriminating classes of the people, with great facility, run from the gloomy extreme of Calvinism to the other of denying all future consequences of sin, which weakens, if it does not destroy, the force of gospel sanctions. However sincere and pious some of this sect may be, there is reason to fear that others feel a release from moral obligations and christian duties, in consequence of having lost sight of the necessary connexion between sin and misery, and overlooked the reiterated declarations of the scripture, that hereafter every man sball receive according to the deeds done in the body.'
During the revolutionary war, the fetters of custom and bigotry were considerably broken, the tenets of Calvin were less regarded, and Unitarianism began to appear, and to be openly advocated. Dr Freeman of the stone chapel in Boston, was the first professed Unitarian clergyman, and ordained as such ;the first in Boston, if not in this country. He met serious opposition, and was rejected by the Episcopal clergy and laity. About this time, in the counties of Suffolk, Middlesex, and elsewhere, several young gentlemen were ordained, who refused to adopt the
popular creed, and to be restrained by men in their religious opinions. In the county and town of Worcester, Dr Bancroft was the first who openly rejected Calvinism, as inconsistent with the gospel of Christ. The opposition he met, and the censures he endured, are well remembered by many among us. cess, and his triumph over his opposers, have also been witnessed. In other places, successful efforts were made in favor of liberal views of Christianity, and freedom from human restraints too troublesome and unreasonable to be longer borne.
The Unitarian controversy, in this country, is of recent date. The late Dr Morse of Charlestown opened the religious campaign. The excitement occasioned by his and other publications, was great and general. Unitarianism was then publicly vindicated, and the modern doctrine of the Trinity was examined, and proved, as Unitarians believe and say, to be unscriptural. Not only clergymen, but other persons of information, began seriously to look into the subject for themselves. The effect was, to use the prophetic language of that man of God, Rev. John Robinson, more light broke out from the word of God, and Unitarianism spread far and wide, exceeding the sanguine expectations of its zealous advocates.
About twenty-five years ago, a solitary Unitarian, Dr Willard, was ordained at Deerfield, in the county of Franklin, but with violent opposition. The first council called to ordain him, refused. There were only three clergymen on the council, in favor of his ordination, viz. Dr Newton of Greenfield, Dr Appleton, late President of Brunswick college, and Rev.
Mr Foster of Petersham. A second council called, which ordained him without a dissenting voice. At this time, in that section of the state, there is an Association of nearly one dozen Unitarian ministers. Unitarian sentiments soon spread into Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island: --witness Drs Wells of Brattleborough, Saunders, then of Burlington, May of Brooklyn, Nichols and others in Maine, Parker and others in New Hampshire, and Edes in Providence. Since that time, a large number have been established in various parts of New England, and some in more distant states. The increase of Unitarian ministers, within a few years, has been great, and the demands of the people for them are more numerous than can be met, at the present time.
It is believed, that the untempered zeal and bitterness with which the Trinitarians have opposed, have very much facilitated the growth of Unitarianism. Comparing the state of religious opinions at the present day, with what it was fifty years ago, the change appears very great and interesting. From that period, there has been a gradual increase of liberal views of Christianity, and especially of Unitarianism. That these sentiments will make still greater progress, there is very little doubt; the prospect is fair and encouraging.
The Orthodox, so called, (not because the word has any special propriety in application to them, because, as some suppose, it is a popular epithet, and well adapted to influence the minds of the less informed classes of society,) seem to be united in one
bold and proud measure of opposition to liberal and Unitarian Christianity, viz. that of exclusion. They bave presumed to shut the doors of their pulpits and churches, not to say, of heaven, against Unitarians, and are making vigorous efforts to maintain the unhallowed ground they have taken. They endeavor to discredit Unitarian views of the Christian religion, and to prejudice the minds of the people against them. But the great body of the well informed people in the middle and eastern sections of New England, are opposed, in principle and conscience, to the system of exclusion. They consider it an unwarrantable assumption, an infringement on the right of private judgment in matters of religion, as the expression of an unchristian spirit, as a large stride to clerical domination, and as tending to deprive religious societies of that liberty 'wherewith Christ hath made them free.' If this great and respectable class of the community shall persevere in resisting the claims of the Orthodox, in a calm, intelligent, and rational manner; if they shall insist on their rights, and refuse to surrender them to the clergy, a crisis will soon arrive, and the condition of our religious societies will be changed, it is believed, very much for the better. But before that time, we may expect unpleasant convulsions in religious societies. Let every one be prepared to meet anticipated difficulties. Let wisdom, and prudence, and united efforts mark every measure. thing be done in the mild and peaceful spirit of our Lord and Master, and in humble reliance on divine aid.
SEE! HEAVEN WAKES EARTH.— I hear an answering sigh From the soft winds, as they unfurl their wings Impalpable, and touch the dimpling streams Which the lithe willows kiss. Methinks the Sea Murmureth in tone subdued, and Nature smiles As if within her raptured breast she felt The breath of Deity.
Hail, hallowed Morn!
But best doth Faith
Doth leap to put its glorious garments on.