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after truth, whom God approves and will finally accept notwithstanding the mistakes of their heads.'
The following passages have great propriety.
'One concluding remark addresses itself to that large portion of persons whose time is unavoidably engrossed by the cares and concerns of life, or whose hours of religious study are principally confined to the Sabbath day. It is no uncommon thing for such persons to perplex themselves with different sects and opinions, and to display all their zeal upon the hidden and mysterious parts of Scripture, as though religion were a system of discordant opinions, instead of being what it really is, a rule of daily practice.It would contribute much more to the cause of christian truth, and much better to their own comfort and improvement, if they bestowed their exclusive attention upon the obvious doctrines and practical precepts of the gospel, and less upon mysteries and speculations, which tend to strife and discord, rather than to edification and brotherly love. Whatever these may effect, one thing is certain, that they neither enlighten the mind, nor mend the heart, nor improve the morals; and they certainly do not sweeten the temper. They lead men only to contend so warmly for what they do not understand, that they are in danger of forgetting to practise what is most important for them to perform. And remember that is the best religion which leads us best to fulfil our duties. He who does justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly with God, is most acceptable to him; and he who thus aims to be good will not finally fail to be happy.'
We have quoted largely, because we think such sentiments as these cannot fail to be useful, and should be perpetually inculcated. The diversities of opinion, which prevail in the christian church, are countless. Disputes on the subject of religion began even while our Master was himself on earth; and after the progress of eighteen centuries, and the labours of the boldest and most indefatigable inquiry, and in the enjoyment of the richest advantages, which learning has afforded, mankind seem to have made little progress towards a complete agreement. We look back upon the persecutions and miseries to which religion has been made instrumental, with horror; and we regard with deep emotion the malignity, which rankles in the religious controversies of the present day,and calls up the different sects in fierce array against each other. Yet although this opposition of sentiment has brought with it many and tremendous evils, it has not been without its advantages; and we may not doubt that under the providence of God, it will in the end conduce to good.
We can have no distrust of the ultimate and complete triumphs of reason and truth. That period is remote, yet its approach is certain; for can we not discern the signs of the times? Whatever contributes to enlighten the community, in any of its depart
ments, is a contribution, which will not be in vain, towards this glorious result. The bare statement of error, unaccompanied by any comments, is often of great service to the cause of truth. Men, heated by controversy and fired with the ambition of victory, have their vision commonly not a little disordered; as we are accustomed to say in some other cases, they see but poorly. So it happens that religious controversy seldom effects any change in the opinions of those who are not predisposed to a change, or wavering and unsettled in their religious views. So much of passion in such cases mingles with all our judgments, that we hold on to our errors with a pertinacity corresponding to the force by which they are attempted to be wrested from us; and long after we are convinced that we have taken a wrong road, we shut our eyes, and then quiet our consciences by saying that we do not see that we are wrong. But if we can show men their errors without giving them reason to suspect that we have any improper design upon their faith, if we can, from writers whose authority is indisputable, by a fair and impartial statement of the false and absurd sentiments which they hold, induce them to examine and to reflect upon them in a dispassionate manner, we have grounds to hope for success. Inquiry, serious calm inquiry, is what we ought most to desire and to aim to induce in men. Let us persuade them, if we can, to subject their religious opinions, as they would bring any other opinions, to the test of reason and common sense. When men can thus be brought to look calmly at what they have professed to believe, they will often start back with af fright from the hideous deformity of a creed to which, before they perfectly saw its character, they clung with extreme obstinacy. Inquiry, we repeat it, is all we ask for. It is upon the gradual illumination of the human mind that we rely for the progress of true religion. Docility, intelligence, knowledge, are its most powerful auxiliaries. Superstition and fanaticism present no impassable barrier to the progress of truth, if men can only be persuaded to judge for themselves what is right, to maintain the independence of their own minds, and take common sense and reason as their guides. Printing, education, civilization, are doing in our community every thing for religion. In the spirit of inquiry, which pervades all classes, and in the facilities of knowledge, which are afforded to all, we place our most sanguine hopes; and in every advance, made in the improvement of the human mind, in every inducement and advantage, offered to lead men to think for themselves, we hail an omen, auspicious to the interests of true Christianity.
ON Tuesday, the 5th Nov. inst. the Second Congregational Society in Lynn, Mass. proceeded to lay the Corner Stone of the Meeting House, which they are now building, with appropriate solemnities. After prayers on the occasion, and singing, the Stone was fixed in its place, a plate with the following inscription, and other mementos, having been previously deposited under it.
There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Tim. II. 5.
God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
The Second Congregational Society in Lynn,
maintaining in their fullest extent
The Rights of Conscience and of Private Judgment in Religion, and
The Principles of Universal Charity,
was established, and this House, devoted to
May God give the Increase.
The subjoined address was then delivered by the Rev. Joseph Tuckerman, of Chelsea, to a numerous, attentive, and satisfied audience. It is, we think, what it ought to have been. This society has grown up under favourable auspices. Commenced as we have reason to believe, under serious convictions of duty, established upon the best principles, inquisitive in the pursuit of truth, and cultivating good will towards their fellow christians of every denomination, we can have no doubt of prosperity; and confidently trust, that this establishment, under an enlightened and faithful ministry, may prove a rich blessing to its founders and their descendants, and an honour to the Christian community. Address, delivered at Lynn, November 5th, 1822, on the occasion of laying the corner stone of the second congregational church in that town.
WE have assembled to lay the corner stone of an edifice, to be erected for the worship of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only living and true God; whose we are, and whose
are all things in heaven and in earth; to whom be ascribed all glory and dominion forever.
By this act, then, we profess our faith in the religion of Christ; we profess to receive Jesus Christ our Lord in all the offices, in which he is revealed to us in the gospel; we acknowledge the divine authority of all the precepts and institutions of his religion; and our entire reliance for final acceptance, and for eternal happiness, on our fidelity to the conditions, on which they are offered in the gospel of our salvation.
Nor is this all. By this act, christian brethren, you assert and exercise the right of private judgment in religion. You have withdrawn from those with whom you have been accustomed to worship, that you may enjoy a worship, that is in accordance with your convictions of the truth as it is in Jesus. And this right is readily conceded to you alike by those, who most deeply pity what they think to be your delusion, and who most severely condemn the doctrine, which they consider as a fatal error. Thanks be to God, that we live in a day, when the rights of conscience are so well understood; and when, by the moral power of opinion, exerted through the whole community around us, these rights are so extensively and effectually secured. It is the most distinguishing characteristic, and the richest blessing, of that improvement which the progress of knowledge has given to society, and especially, to the civil institutions of our happy country, that while it has rescued our religion itself from the shackles, so long imposed on it by human legislation, it has awakened, and brought into exercise, a feeling as extensive, of the paramount worth and importance of our rights as christians. But let us not forget, that every blessing is a responsibility; and that rights of every kind imply duties of proportionate solemnity and obligation.
May we then worship God in the manner in which we believe that he requires to be worshipped? may we follow out the convictions of our own mind on the questions of the person of our Lord, of his offices, and of the eternal life that is before us? We claim these rights as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ. To God, then, and to Christ, we owe the corresponding duties, to inquire for christian truth with an earnestness proportioned to its worth; and to maintain a simplicity and singleness of mind, which will give to truth an uncontrolled influence over our judgments and conduct. He is guilty of unfaithfulness to God and to Christ, who asserts the rights of conscience, and who maintains not a mind open to conviction; or who values any interest, as he values that of truth. And do we demand of our fellow men, the acknowledgement of these as our inalienable rights? Let us extend then to their opinions, to their usages, and to their rights, the
respect which we claim for our own. To this charity,-or rather, may I not say, to this equal justice, our religion calls us; and, whatever may be our provocations, let us never violate it.
We are distinguished among christians, as Unitarians ; and we feel less reluctance in admitting this designation, because we had rather be distinguished by a term which marks one of the most important of the differences between us and other christians, than receive a name, by which we might be enrolled as followers, or disciples, of any other master than Jesus Christ. We build our conviction of the perfect unity of God, and our sentiments of the person and offices of him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, on the foundation of the apos tles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. Unitarianism, we are therefore persuaded, will prevail, till it shall be universal. As the scriptures have been more thoroughly investigated, it has prevailed. And it is not among the least interesting circumstances of this time, when the simple unity of God has been controverted with all the learning, skill and zeal, that could be brought to bear upon it, that its ablest opponents have given up many of the strong holds, on which their predecessors have relied with the greatest confidence for their defence. New concessions, we doubt not, will still be made, and new advances of truth obtained, till every church will be consecrated to the worship of the one God; and christians of every name will confess Jesus to be their Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
God dwelleth not indeed, exclusively, in temples made with hands; yet he regards with favour, and blesses with his presence, the house that is reared to his name, and consecrated to his service. To his name then, and to his service, from the beginning of it, we devote the work of this place. Here may a church arise, in which the Father of spirits will be worshipped in spirit and in truth. Here may faith in Christ be 'strengthened in the hearts of multitudes, who now believe in him; and here may your children, and your children's children, be reared in the knowledge of God, and of his son Jesus Christ, whom to know aright is life eternal. Here, christian brethren, associated in this pious work, may you find a place for your solemn assemblies, which will be made holy to God, by the holy affections and purposes with which you engage in his worship, and observe the ordinances which Christ has instituted. Here may your thanksgivings arise, an offering of pure incense; and here may you bring your penitential confessions, and obtain their acceptance. Here may you acquire fortitude and resolution in all the trials, and consolation in all the afflictions of life; and here may christian excitement be received, and christian hope and charity es