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The sketch which follows, will, I hope, be found free from es sential inaccuracies. My authorities have been such only as I happened to have among my own books, and to these I here generally refer, having made any use of them that was convenient;
- Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History - Gibbon's Roman History — Hume - Priestley's Early Opinions - General Repository and Review - Toulmin's Life of Socinus - Toulmin's Life of BiddleLindsey's History of Unitarianism since the Reformation Rees' Racovian Catechism. W. W,
PRINTED BY J. R. BUTTS, BOSTON.
ANTIQUITY AND REVIVAL
WE hear it often urged, among other objections to the doctrines of Unitarian Christianity, that they are new, that they are now for the first time presented to the world; whereas if they are true and constitute a genuine part of the gospel, it is incredible that they should not early have been discovered to be there, and traces should not be found of them all along through the history of the church. We believe this to be the demonstrable fact; we believe them to have been the earliest of all the forms of Christianity which obtained a general currency and belief, and that from the time they were in a manner extinguished by the violent measures employed against them, they at intervals reappeared and were avowed by free and courageous minds, till at the present day they have spread themselves everywhere, where religious liberty is enjoyed.
Let us then look at the origin and trace the progress of Unitarian Christianity.
It cannot be supposed that we believe its origin to be less ancient than that of Christianity itself. It cannot
be supposed that we should hold up any views of gospel truth to the world, which we did not conscientiously believe to have been preached by the founder of re theer eligion and his immediate disciples. Unitarian Christianity we are confident is the Christianity of the Gospels, of the Acts, of the Epistles. It is the religion of the New Testament - the only religion of the New Testament. It is because we think thus, that we yield it our faith, and fervently pray that the time. may soon come, as we believe it eventually will, when it shall be the faith of the world.
We believe the foundations of Unitarian Christianity were laid by Jesus Christ himself, when in those emphatic words, 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,' he re-announced the distinguishing tenet of the old religion as the corner stone of the new; when he said, 'there is none other good but one, that is God;' when he said, 'my Father is greater than I;' when he said, this is eternal life, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent ;' when he said, 'of that day and hour knoweth no man, neither the Son, but the Father only;' when he said, 'I can of mine own self do nothing,' 'my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.' In these and a multitude of similar expressions and declarations do we trace the origin of Unitarian Christianity, to the highest antiquity, to the words of our Lord himself. We think the gospels, when judged by the same rules, and read in the same impartial spirit as other books, are plain books on this subject, and would never suggest to a mind which approached them wholly unprejudiced such a doctrine. as that of the Trinity or the deity of Jesus Christ.
Their general tenor and prevailing language, as well as express declarations, seem to give assurance that the tenets which we now draw from them, and no others, were the tenets of their writers.
Unless Unitarianism is the religion of the New Testament, unless it was the faith of its historians, it does not seem possible to explain the otherwise most extraordinary fact, that one of them, viz. Luke, should have written a whole gospel, in which it was his object to give a history of Jesus Christ and an account of his religion, and yet make no mention of such a doctrine as that of the Trinity- a doctrine, which, if true, was the most important doctrine of Christianity. And let it be observed, that the advocates of the doctrine themselves do not profess to draw one single text from this gospel, which so much as implies that Luke had ever heard of or intended to teach it. All this appears to us wholly inexplicable, if the doctrine be true. Had it been - had Luke known of it, he must have regarded it as the most extraordinary doctrine of revelation; and it would have filled a conspicuous place in his history. It would at least have been named, have been explained, and we may even suppose defended; for it was such an infringement of the Jewish tenet of God's essential unity, as would need to be most fully and incontrovertibly established to be a new revelation from God, before it would be possible it should be believed. Yet we discover nothing of all this. But Luke has written his gospel evidently in utter ignorance of it; and here we find the origin of Unitarian Christianity. The same remarks, with slight modifications, are true also of the other Evangelists.
We pass then to the history of the Acts. In this book also, as well as in all the language of Jesus Christ himself, do we find the faith of Unitarian Christianity, and that alone. This book is the only account we have of the propagation of Christ's religion, from the time of the ascension of its founder down to the imprisonment of Paul at Rome-a period of about thirty years. Now if the doctrine of the Trinity had lain at the foundation of Christianity, as it must if it had been promulged by Christ, can we suppose that in such a history this doctrine would never be so much as named, or its existence implied? Not only that, but a faith its very opposite repeatedly recorded as the faith which the Apostles preached? Yet this is all so. Read over from beginning to end the book of Acts, keeping in mind the supposed fact, that the doctrine of the Trinity is a fundamental truth of the gospel, and find if you can any evidence to support it. Believe that Luke, the author of this book, knew of this doctrine, regarded it, as in that case he must have done, as the grand essential of the religion, and then explain if you can the amazing fact that he passes it over in silence; that the Apostles, when in their preaching they were giving a representation of the great truths of the religion, pass it over in silence; that the Jews, in raising objections to the religion, pass over this most obnoxious doctrine, as it would have been to them, in silence. As you read and ponder this book, containing the only history we have of the state of Christianity for those thirty years, you will say to yourself, the only explanation, the only possible one of all this is, that this doctrine is not a doctrine of Christianity; and you will feel that we are justified in