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Calvin has had multitudes of admirers ; poor Servetus has been held in general disrepute.-Even in the present enlightened age, there are those to be found who will not believe that the former was a persecutor, though no historic fact is more unquestionable, or that the latter was a virtuous and good character.
That Calvin persecuted Servetus to prison and to death, merely for his opinions, cannot be denied by any person who is acquainted with the ecclesiastical history of those times. Calvin's own writings prove the fact; for he attempted to defend his conduct in bringing his opponent to the flames. Many of his disciples, those who adhere to his opinions and call themselves after him, admit that he procured the destruction of Servetus, though they attempt to palliate his conduct; as if deliberate persecution and murder could admit of palliation.
There are those who contend that the infamous conduct of Calvin and his coadjutors, in pleading for and practising persecution, ought to be buried in oblivion; because they cannot
be insensible that it is highly disreputable for the world to know that the founder of their party, the champion of their peculiar dogmas, was an unrelenting persecutor; yet they themselves cease not to make known, from age to age, the persecuting conduct of catholics, in former times; nor does their uncharitableness at the present time entitle them to expect that the unchristian temper and cruel deeds of their great leader should be forgotten.
Apprehending that the case of Servetus is not sufficiently known to the generality of christians, and that mary have not so much as heard of it, I have been led to compose the following work, which I hope will excite a greater and more general abhorrence of bigotry and persecution. Though many accounts of Servetus have been published, I know not that any thing has appeared as an avowed apology for him, at least in our own language : hence it is presumed this volume will not be unacceptable to the candid and impartial reader.
The design of the following pages is not to stigmatize Calvin and his colleagues; but to vindicate an injured character. That Calvin was a man of learning, piety and zeal is heartily admitted. His learning, piety, and laudable exertions to promote the reformation, are de
serving of praise ; but his bigotry and persecuting spirit call for marked censure. The evil tendency of bigotry cannot be better exemplified than by exhibiting its malignant influence on the temper and conduct of a man otherwise great and good. If the unchristian temper and conduct of the reformers be described and reprobated, it is not with a view to depreciate them; for on many accounts we revere their memory; but in order to render bigotry and uncharitableness odious, among whatever party of christians they may be found, and to show that the most celebrated names shall not escape uncensured if stained with the blood of the
persecuted. To promote free enquiry, candor, and christian liberality; to eradicate bigotry, party spirit, and all uncharitableness; to rescue from undeserved censure virtuous and good men, who have been branded with the name of heretics; are the avowed objects proposed in this work, and which have been kept in view in the composition of its several parts. It is hoped that, whatever may be found its imperfections, its tendency will be allowed to be the promotion of peace
and goodwill among christians. The Lord of his infinite mercy grant that happy time may soon arrive when all the disciples of
Jesus shall love one another as brethren, and live together in peace.
Far be it from me to impute either the sentiments, or the persecuting temper, of Calvin to Calvinists of the present day, any further than they avow the former and manifest the latter. I hope the general body of christians of that denomination, however much they approve of the leading doctrines maintained by that reformer, utterly disapprove of persecution, and sincerely disavow his cruel maxim, that heretics ought to be put to death. It is however greatly to be lamented that too many persons, of that denomination, suffer their system to inspire them with a spirit of bigotry and uncharitableness. Though they would think it wrong to persecute, as Calvin did, they do not think it wrong to unchristian and withhold the right hand of fellowship from those who cannot receive certain of their dogmas. I intreat our Calvinistic brethren to consider whether the tendency of their opinions be not unfavorable to christian liberality, and whether the advocates for them have not all along manifested too much bigotry and party zeal? I wish them also to consider whether it be any honor for them to call themselves after an avowed persecutor?
This is carry
Mr. Fuller lias undertaken to prove triat Calvinism has a superior moral tendency to Unitatianism; and hence concludes that the former is true and the latter false.
In reply to his arguments Mr. Kentish has shown that the prigciples of Unitarianism are, in their own nature, calculated to produce better moral effects than those of Calvinism. Dr. Toulmin has replied to Mr. Fuller in a different way, he has proved, from the Acts of the Apostles, that the discourses of the first preachers of the gospel were strictly Unitarian, and contained none of the peculiar doctrines of Calvinism: yet that they Produced the best moral effects. This is ing the argument further back than Mr. Fuller seems to have intended carrying it; but it is certainly placing it on its true ground. It may Ixe
proper to define the phrase ‘moral tendency.' It is certainly taken in too restricted a sense by nrodern Calvinists, as if it did not include the exercise of that candor, and christian charity, which embrace, with brotherly affection, all who fear God and work righteousness. Moral effects ought not to be regarded as merely comprehending a regular attendance on the pub.ic ordinances and instrumental duties of christiauity, a refraining from gross sins, and an abstimence from the levities and fashionable amuse