Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

some account of the Unitarians in Transylvania; though I confess I

perhaps a translation of it, or at least of the substance of the infor

am not surprised at the silence of mation relating to Unitarians, your correspondents; for where would be acceptable on your nothing is known there is nothing pages.

to tell. I suspect that the author

SIR,

JUVENIS.

rian Academy.

Bath, April 3, 1812.

of "The Religious World display. Mr. Matthews on the new Unitaed," was himself acquainted with Professor Markos's book only at second hand, and even that is higher authority for a quotation, than I fear most of our sectographers are able to produce.

Having read and considered the circular letter, containing "The Resolutions of the Friends of the In Maty's New Review for the Unitarian cause, and the plan of year 1783 (Vol. IV. p. 477), I the new Unitarian Academy," I find a brief account of the follow. would beg leave to offer a few re ing work: "Transilvania, sive marks thereon, through the me magnus Transilvaniæ principatus dium of the Monthly Repository. olim Dacia Mediterranea dictus,' The reasons assigned for attemptorbi nondum satis cognitus. Nunc ing such an establishment, I premultifariam ac strictim illustratus, sume will be generally approved, Auctore Josepho Benko, Transil- and the object deemed highly vano-Siculo, &c. Tom. 2. 8vo. worthy of encouragement. The Vindobinæ, 1778." commencement of the subscription is auspicious, and we may hope the result of due endeavours to extend it will be-complete success.

"The account of Unitarians," says Maty, "takes up from p. We have 215 to p. 229 of vol. 2. here a short abridgment of their But the accomplishments, and history, their confession of faith, the public benefit, may not be and their church government. In so speedy in their arrival as we the year 1776, their numbers could wish. In the mean time, were 28,697, and their churches it concerns the friends of the Uni117." tarian cause, to be doing all they This assessment gives upwards can for its advancement, if they of 253 persons to a congregation; believe, as I trust they do, that it according to which rate, Professor is the reviving, growing cause of Markos represents them as up- primitive Christianity. The scripwards of 40,000 in number in tural admonition to believers for. 1787-an increase of more than 11,000 in eleven years.

merly was, that they should be "diligent in business, fervent in "There is a supplement to the spirit, serving the Lord:" and work," adds Maty, "which con- though some professed believers in tains some curious things about our days are prone to call in questhe Unitarians, particularly with tion any good effects of Unitarian respect to their coming into Tran- fervency, or religious exertion, sylvania, taken from a manuscript yet is this no good reason why its tract, entitled, Notanda quædam advocates should be discouraged, de fratribus e Polonia exulibus.” or why they should not be zealous in promoting the practice of Uni

If this work could be procured,

tensively than ever understood,
and their genuine import prized.
Reading and reflection have pre-
pared the minds of many, through-
out our country, to estimate the
value of religious truth and liberty.
Ecclesiastical and interested sys-
tems have been freely appreciated.
The pomp and splendour of na-
tional establishments, of spurious
Christianity,
charm.

tarian worship, as the Lord's ser- a brotherly and Christian work, vice. The particular promotion and I am seriously of opinion it which I now have in view, is, in would be crowned with abundant situations where Unitarian te- success. Such has been the consequence lievers have not the aid of a learned or regular minister. The cause of free inquiry on religious subof religious truth may be advanced jects for many years,-such the by sincere and sober endeavours, demonstrations of Christian doe where the learning of the schools trines by a succession of pious and is wanting-and indeed the simple learned men, that light has gone dignity of Christian truth is such, forth abundantly; the sacred that large, or fresh supplies of scriptures have become more exhuman learning are not absolutely essential to its best interests. From the printed address above alluded to, it appears that many of the societies, in different places, "both of those that have existed for a long period, and of those that have newly sprung up, have been kept together only by the occasional services of nrinisters in have lost their their neighbourhood, or by the The public mind has zeal and activity of individuals, not ministers, among themselves, largely revolted from the darkness who have officiated in reading the and imposition of former times, scriptures and carrying on Divine and has a strong bias towards ra. Worship." This part of the state- tional simplicity and scripture ment, I cannot but deem so im- truth. The large increase of po. portant as to require very particu- pulation seems to have been at. lar notice. From such examples tended with a proportionate inof usefulness, due encouragement crease of knowledge, and a love of should be drawn: such auspicious Christian, not of licentious free. beginnings may well be expected dom. This complexion of our to become influential and happy. times is manifest in various ways, Nor can I think that the present and especially in the secession of the national ministers and superintendants of multitudes from Unitarian affairs, in London, could church. Nor is the anxiety of be better employed than in pro- many of the beneficed teachers of moting an extension of such reli- that church, lest their supremacy gious offices, where regular minis. should be gradually lost, the least not settled. Serious, remarkable proof of the salutary sensible, and benevolent men, of effects of free inquiry. In such the same faith, are not uncommon times we have cause to hope that in towns and districts where no "the corruptions of Christianity," settled minister resides. To ad- in Trinitarian worship especially, monish and excite such brethren may be happily lessened, and the to the best use of their faculties, genuine truth and simplicity of and religious dispositions, must be primitive Christianity become re

ters are

ments in carrying on Unitarian worship, the avowed worship of One Eternal God, agreeably to the doctrines of his blessed Son, our appointed High-Priest, Common Lord and Saviour. The simplicity of Unitarian principles and worship, requires not the aid of robes, lofty pulpits, and splen did houses, as essential in social devotion. Where, consistently with numbers and means, plain

deemed. This great and most those of ability to become instru. desirable change-this renovation of holy scriptural religion, will, doubtless, sooner or later, take place, after a long and dark night of apostacy. But means, under Providence, must be used: and what means can be supposed more suitable than endeavours to bring into active usefulness, on an extensive scale, among the sober and well-informed commonalty, the powers and energies of the human mind? Among men prepared to and commodious buildings may lay aside the weight and burden of be erected, they are desirable, and ecclesiastical prejudice and do- will of course by degrees be preminion, which neither they, nor pared; but where those means are many of their fathers, have been wanting, and the number of breable to bear. thren small, a decent room, or That the national church is in part of a building, may be approdanger, has often been said, and priated and licensed for the sacred echoed by interested churchmen, use; or, in some instances, a fain this country, but never with mily sitting room may be well emmore alarm than now. This is ployed, for social worship. If notorious. The professed cham- conveniencies serve, it may be a pions of the church may continue Christian office to invite any of the to complain; but the influencing neighbours to attend and be witmotives are obvious; and com- nesses of the order, and partakers plaint from such men is natural. of the benefits, of such serious emBut while sincere Unitarians have ployments. To this end the preno particular views of overturning vious distribution of small and any church, merely as such, and pious Unitarian tracts may be are purely concerned for the in- an excellent preparative. A plain terests of truth, and the personal moveable desk, purposely conimprovement of their fellow-men, structed for the use of the officiat they must leave the event to Pro- ing brother should be provided, vidence, which works by his own and when used decently covered; instrumental means; and the end suitable seats or chairs may be of his working they are sure will easily had. Let all things be done be right. This is their ground of decently and in order. procedure and of trust.

The main article of religious With such views, and on such exercise will of course be the soprinciples, I would recommend to lemn reading of portions of sacred the Unitarian committee or board, scripture, both in the Old and New in London, the issuing of brother. Testaments; those portions will ly admonitions to their fellow. doubtless be preferred which treat professors, in districts throughout of social and religious duties, and the country, where stated minis- devotional godliness. Other denot settled, exhorting votional books (there being many

which are rational, pious, and be pleasing and profitable to refresh well-known) the committee may their memories and feelings, and advantageously recommend a se- to partake with others of what they lection of. In the mean time the had before approved as excellent. good sense, discretion, and expe. If the understanding be well-inrience of the parties using such formed, and good affections excithelps, may be relied on as suffici ed and strengthened by public ent to determine their choice, ac. hearing, the main end of preaching cording to their peculiar circum. is answered: and by the use of stances. It can hardly be neces. correct and animated compositions sary to add that the most clear and respecting those truths which never solemn principles of Unitarian change, a great point may be sefaith should be conspicuous in cured, i. e. the prevention of weak every work that is used, whether and incongruous addresses, which in the department of doctrine, though delivered extemporaneously prayer, or psalmody. It may from the best motives, may some. sometimes happen that a serious times prove worse than unprofitabrother, officiating for the general ble. edification, may be so gifted (for Among the names which now there are gifts both by nature and occur to me, for selection of disgrace, independent of human courses, I will mention the followlearning) as to address a small ing, viz. The doctors Lardner, congregation profitably, without Samuel Clark, Foster, Price, Jebb, reading, and if so such a service Priestley, Toulmin, Rees, Carpenmay be most acceptable. But in ter; and of untitled brethren, general, it is probable that a solemn Abernethy, Bourne, Lindsey, public reading of a printed reli- Kentish, Fawcett, Jardine, &c. gious discourse, may be more commonly useful. Of such discourses there exist a great abundance, from the hearts and pens of many learned and pious Unitarian ministers-men whose works, though their authors are dead, yet speak and speak excellent truths. Others yet live, and live worthy of the works they have sent forth. Many of those invaluable volumes of discourses, though familiar to more general readers, may be new to the greater part of such coun. try congregations, whose members but for such opportunities of hearing, might never know of the existence of such religious instructions. To those whose reading may have extended to all the works which may be selected for the purpose in view, it must ever

Others might be pointed out, perhaps to equal advantage, and which must be well known to the London committee. From the whole mass of excellence a sufficient variety might be easily selected, and sent, either as presents, or at reduced prices, where the cost was an object with country correspondents. But it would

generally happen that money for such purchases would be readily paid, by those who were sincere in the cause.

The success of this plan of instruction and edification may depend, in a considerable degree, on the diligence and qualifications, natural and acquired, of those members who mostly officiated. I say mostly, because it seems desirable that public reading should

not be uniformly confined to one have recommended, take my leave person, in a place or district, if for the present.

W. MATTHEWS.

Mr. R. Flower on Dr. Buchanan's
Christian Researches in India.

a work

it can be conveniently avoided; but that the talents of more than one, where talents exist, should be encouraged, both for social good, and that accidental disap- Marden, near Hertford, pointments may be less likely to SIR, April 25, 1812. happen. Grave and moral cha- In perusing the writings and racters are necessary, and should the records of sensible, intelligent be preferred before age, or literary and benevolent men, who seem to skill, where, in the latter, moral have the benefit of mankind much rectitude and seriousness are less at heart-when we find, or suppose conspicuous. The life should we find, a beclouded imagination adorn the doctrine of God our often mistaking error for truth— Saviour." Under the head of dis- how great is the disappointment. cipline, in such congregations, I have been led to this reflection brotherly love, and that morality in the perusal of Dr. Buchanan's which is founded in reverence of Christian Researches, religion, will furnish the best pre- highly interesting to every wellvention of the need, either of au- wisher to the Christian cause. To thority or censure. Diligence in see a person foregoing the comforts religious duties, and fervency of of a settled habitation and the spirit in the performance, are ex- sweets of domestic life, to travel cellent patterns of practice, and at the peril of health, and oftenguards of union in all congrega- times at the risk of life itself, is tions and as experience proves truly admirable, and demands both the advantage of frequent religious our respect and admiration; but assemblies, I would propose its be- it is lamentable if the perpetuation ing strongly recommended, that of error and idolatry should be the evening meetings be holden, where- effect of such virtuous sacrifices. ever they conveniently may be, at The part of the Researches I least once in the week, as well as now allude to will be found in on the Christian sabbath. Their page 261 and onward, entitled, diffusive usefulness, especially in Vestiges of the Doctrine of Revepopulous districts, may be great, lation in the East-which vestiges and they must be found beneficial are, "Trinity in Unity, Incarto the most religiously experienc- nation of the Deity, Vicarious ed--while the setting open of a Atonement for Sin, and the Indoor, for evening instruction and fluence of the Divine Spirit." I edification, to the poor and la- need not attempt to prove to Dr. borious, after the toil of the day, B. or his intelligent reader, that is a work of Christian charity, the various idolatries of the Eastwhich will not fail of a blessing. ern nations and the sacrifices ofI must now apologize for having fered by them, did exist much stated my opinions so much at earlier than Christianity itself. length, and with the warmest History, sacred and profane, at. wishes for the success of what I tests the facts, nor does the Dr.

« AnteriorContinua »