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bye-word, it is in consequence of the singularities already alluded to; it is because they insist on wearing broad-brimmed hats, saying thou and thee where other people would say you, and keeping themselves in a great measure distinct from the rest of society. Now these things are in themselves parts of conduct, and as they will always appear strange and somewhat ludicrous in the eyes of the many, will naturally be a drawback on the whole effect of their general conduct. This is an instance of their own misjudgment, and the blame of it is on themselves, for a smile cannot surely be severely condemned which is occasioned by seeing a man refuse to pull off his hat in company, with as much pertinacity as he would to part with his integrity, or a woman place as much stress on wearing a slate coloured bonnet as on clothing herself with the garments of meekness and modesty. All opposition however, and all ill-feeling, which was originally occasioned by the novelty of their doctrine, and its apprehended consequences, has completely died away, the general impression in their favour is very strong, and any exceptions which may exist are caused by their resistance to some of the common and long established and innocent customs and demands of society. Their case may be considered, therefore, as a remarkably strong one, and as showing, in a most striking manner, how powerful is the argument of well-doing.
It may be here stated, that it is not meant to assert that good conduct is a complete proof of sound doctrine. All experience would at once contradict such an assertion. The moral conduct of three differing sects may be equally correct, and yet it is evident that the doctrine of but one of these sects can be the true one. Thought is as various as feature, as voice, as form, as disposition, and it is fully as absurd to talk of uniformity in that as in those. Not only do sects divide on generally known, and frequently defined points, but the individuals who compose any one of these sects, no matter which, differ from each other on many subjects of perhaps equal importance, though less commonly brought forward. It is vain therefore to say even that any one sect possesses the entire truth, when it is notorious that the component parts of every one are more or less at variance. No argument can prove the existence of what has never taken place, and probably never will. All that can be expected, and all that can be reasonably desired, from the argument of well-doing in connexion with religious opinions is, that it should contradict any misrepresentation of their tendency, do away bad impressions, conquer all feelings of mistrust, suspicion and fear, produce confidence and good neighbourhood, and place any sect on fair and equal ground with its adversaries.
When this ground is obtained, let it dispute, exhort, and argue, as it can, and the world will be sure to hear it, and hear it favourably. If it has reason and scripture on its side it will grow and prevail. Local causes may for a time impede its progress, but it must increase; and, if its views are eminently rational and scriptural, it must ultimately take the lead, or there is no force in truth.
Although, therefore, well-doing will not prove that nonsense is sense, and imagination is reality, it will do what is much better; it will prove that the heart is right, and that the intentions are laudable. No aphorism is more universally acknowledged, and acted upon, in the world, than that a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. Let disputants and preachers of a certain class write and talk as they please about good works, they lie at the foundation, at the very foundation, of all that is beloved and respected and regarded and confided in. Is proof demanded? I can bring it to the very point in question. I say that the opprobrium of bad morals is the worst and the most alarming which can possibly be cast on any denomination, and that all denominations unequivocally manifest that the praise of virtue is the best which can be bestowed or desired. What manner is that of describing any doctrine which is best calculated to inspire dislike and dread? Surely it would be to say that the doctrine produced, in those who professed it, a looseness of behaviour, and a disregard of the divine laws; to say, in short, that its tendency was immoral. And till such a character could be shown to be undeserved, the aversion produced would be extreme and unconquerable. On the other hand, let it be well known that the behaviour of a particular sect is blameless, and its morals remarkably pure, and what would be the answer of a plain, unfettered man to one who should dissuade him from hearing, or having any intercourse with, its members. Their conduct is quite as good as our own, and, it may be, better. Their opinions cannot be so terrible, while their actions are so commendable. I will certainly hear with patience and candour what they have to say.' And the answer would be just and manly. Every person of observation must see that this is the universal course; and this course shows so plainly the fundamental importance of conduct, that it is blindness to question it.
We Unitarians have had quite our share of obloquy, reproach, and persecution-in times past, of persecution to the death, but those times are gone, and we do not wish to recall, or to think of them. We have been, and we still are accused, of dishonouring God, of robbing the Saviour of his glory, and of leading men astray, by deceitful doctrines, into the paths of error
Well doing the best argument against Evil Speaking. and darkness. These are sweeping and indefinite charges, but, as far as they can be made out, we hesitate not to say that our lives, that our well-doing, have answered them all. We desire not to lay claim to any extraordinary holiness, we dare not deny our share of frailty, unworthiness and sin, but we can boldly affirm that accusations of this nature have as little application to us as to any community of christians whatever, and to repel them, we can appeal, with as much confidence as any, to our conduct, and to heaven. Do we dishonour thee, O God, can we dishonour thee, by listening with veneration to thy word, by keeping thy commandments, by obeying thy laws, by walking in thy ways, by receiving thy gifts with gratitude, by suffering thy chastisements with resignation, and by knowing no comparison between thy glorious name, and any other name, in heaven or in earth!-Do we rob the Saviour of his glory, by hailing him, with joy and thankfulness, as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world; by laying his precepts to our hearts, and by looking continually to that bright and eter nal world which he has revealed, and to which he has ascended? If, indeed, to manifest the influence of his doctrines and laws on our tempers and lives be to rob him of his glory, then we know not what glory to give, or what service to render. And how can they be said to lead men into dangerous error, who are constantly inculcating on them sentiments like these, who beseech them, as they love their own souls, to raise their thoughts and views from the objects and pursuits of sense and time, and fix them on higher and worthier things, and on another and an endless world, who exhort them, as they love and fear God, to accept his offers, and perform his requirements, to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before him? As to our doctrines, let them be examined. They are plain, and intelligible, and worthy of God. We fear not the scrutiny; we invite it. In the mean time, let us never forget, let us continually impress on ourselves, and on each other, the exceeding value of unexceptionable conduct, of purity of intention, and holiness of life. Virtue, in a religious community, as in an individual, is indispensable, and all-powerful. It is an argument which is universally felt and understood, and one which will be finally victorious. We trust that it is an argument which we shall always be able to offer. If any views of religion are calculated to furnish it, they are our own. They are every thing which is animating, ennobling, and purifying, and will, we doubt not, continue to produce their natural fruits of good feeling and virtue, while there is any feeling in the heart, or virtue in the world.
EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER ON CANDOUR. BY ROBERT ROBINSON.
A FRIEND of yours, a man of infinite complaisance to the ladies, sat down one day to study the opinions of the primitive fathers on Baptism; after others, he began Tertullian's book on that subject. That book, you know, is entitled Quinctus Septimius Florens Tertullian, Presbyter of Carthage, on Baptism, against Quintilla. Imagining that the African father was as great an admirer of the ladies as himself, he did not doubt but he should be much edified by Tertullian's addressing Quintilla on baptism. Wisdom, gravity and politeness, said he to himself, are united here, to be sure. But how would you have smiled had you seen his panic, when he discovered in the fifth line of the first chapter that Tertullian falls to abusing her, calling her a heretic, a viper, a serpent, an asp, a most monstrous creature, whose doctrine was of the most poisonous kind. Hah! cried he, is this an African tête-a-tête! Is this your spirit, Tertullian! If you are a gentleman, where's your breeding? If a christian, where's your meekness? If a philosopher, where's your good sense? Well, well, said he (closing the huge book) perhaps Quintilla and you may be well met. E'en scold it out. E'en scold it out. I'll go seek a gentler
The question here is not whether your friend's conclusion from the premises was quite logical; whether asperity and argument may not be sometimes united; but whether passionate writers do not generally produce similar effects on their readers. People are naturally prepossessed in favour of a sufferer; they naturally become prejudiced against such a violent pleader; they cannot help saying, What's the matter? If your accounts be right, why so prodigiously agitated? You surely design to impose on us, and would deter us from detecting you. You are certainly conscious of having maintained a defenceless cause, and you are making effrontery supply the place of argument; thus giving us brass instead of gold.
People are never safe with antagonists of this fierce temper; they are formidable beyond expression in some places. Hence that smart reply of Dr. De Launoi at Paris. The Dr. had made free to censure that angel of the schools, Thomas Aquinas. The Dominicans were exasperated at this, and apologized for their angelical doctor. One day a friend said to De Launoi, You
have disgusted all the Dominicans, they will all draw their pens against you.' Said he, with a malicious air, 'I dread their penknives more than I do their pens.'
You lament, (and indeed who can help lamenting?) the bad spirit of too many religious controversies. Religion is a sacred thing, and meekness is a part of it; whence then is it, that prejudice and passion in some, fire and flame in others, appear in these disputes? The gospel is nothing of all this; the gospel needs nothing of all this; all this disgraces the gospel; for which reason perhaps our Saviour forbad the devils to publish his mission.
The fierce disputes of christians have always scandalized the good cause, and will always continue to do so, till mildness and moderation succeed violence; and then christianity will reassume her primitive habit, and with that, her native prevalence.
There is in the life of archbishop Tillotson a fine example of the deportment here pleaded for. While Dr. Tillotson was dean of Canterbury, he preached at Whitehall, before his majesty Charles the second, a sermon in which were these words. 'I cannot think, till I be better informed (which I am always ready to he) that any pretence of conscience warrants any man that is not extraordinarily commissioned, as the apostles and first publishers of the gospel were, and cannot justify that commission by miracles, as they did, to affront the established religion of a nation, although it be false, and openly draw men off from the profession of it, in contempt of the magistrate and the laws. All that persons of a different religion can in such case reasonably pretend to, is to enjoy the private liberty and exercise of their own consciences and religion, for which they ought to be very thankful,' &c. &c. When the dean had ended his sermon, said a certain nobleman to the King, who had been asleep most part of the time, 'Tis pity your majesty slept, for we have had the rarest piece of Hobbism that ever you heard in your life. Ods fish, replied the king, he shall print it then. The dean was accordingly ordered to print it. He did so, and as soon as it came from the press, sent one, (as he usually did) to his friend, the Rev. Mr. John Howe. Mr. Howe (you know) had been ejected for nonconformity, and was at that time pastor of a congregation in London. On reading the dean's sermon, he was exceedingly troubled at the above cited passage, and drew up a long expostulatory letter on the subject. He signified how much he was grieved, that in a sermon against popery he should plead the popish cause against all the reformers. He insisted upon it, that we had incontestable evidences of the miracles wrought by the apostles, and that we are bound to believe them, and take reli