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priest is directed to ask the convert whether he believe the apostles' creed, which he repeats to him ; upon his profession that he doth, and that he desires to be baptized into that faith, without one word of any other article he baptizes him, and then declares him a CHRISTIAN in these words: “We receive “this person into the congregation of Christ's flock, “ and sign him with the sign of the cross, in token “ that he shall not be ashamed to continue Christ's “faithful soldier and servant.” This is the practice of that church, which hath incorporated into its articles the doctrines of the reformers, to which you allude. Her ministers must subscribe to the Trinitarian and Calvinistic systems; but she receives to her communion those who avow a faith no more than Unitarian. These facts, as to the allowed sufficiency and efficacy of principles, really Unitarian, should protect us, whom you call Socinians, from censure. We have, in this respect, the orthodox church with us. But I urge these facts not as authorities only, under which we may seek protection. I consider them as proofs of the power of truth, which is great and will prevail; which, in this instance, forces an . assent from those, whose general views and aims have been to make something more necessary to salvation and church-communion, than it appears the apostles preached to this end.
When I consider these things, I am ready to con- clude,
clude, that the glory of our holy religion stands firm, without admitting into it the profession or preaching of those topics, to which you affix so great an importance. My conscience will not permit me to make more necessary to the efficacy and success of the gospel, than what the apostles found to be so, My conscience forbids me to make an addition to these principles, on which they brought men into the kingdom of Christ, formed churches, and triumphed over the powers of darkness. Nothing has more contributed to make me an Unitarian, than the books of The Acts: than observing what is there related to have been preached as the doctrine that would convert and save men, and what actually had this effect. However, Sir, it may be with you and others, I have, also, found my devout affections excited and elevated, without the aid of those sentiments and that language, which the Calvinistic system supplies, I meet with strains of fervent devotion, in the writers of that persuasion, running through many pages, without being blended with their peculiar opinions. Frequently in the works of a Flavel, a Baxter, and a Howe I have met with large portions, where these sentiments have not occurred; and it has struck me, that the serious, practical spirit seems not to suffer by the omission. The conclusion, I have drawn from this, has been, that the whole discourse, or the whole treatise, might have been without them, and yet, that spirit would not have evaporated; for it flowed flowed from general principles, independently of those peculiar dogmas. This remark applies, in its fullest . extent, to the excellent piece of Mr. Howe's, entitled, The Vanity of this Mortal Life. “It applies, with the exception of a few sentences, to that rapturous piece of devotion in Baxter's Saints Rest, called Heavenly Contemplation. It applies to a justly admired tract of another distinguished writer, of the last century, the great Mr. John Smith, ofCambridge, in whose discourse on the Nobleness and Excellence of internal, vital Religion, there is not, I think, a sentiment or expression, but what is entirely agreeable to the Unitarian system ; and yet of this discourse one, whose opinion will have weight with you, saith; “for sublimity of thought, strength of expression, “ and ardor of piety, I never saw its equal; and I “am confident I never shall see any thing superior “ to it, while I live in this world *.” This remark applies to that pious puritan, Mr. John Rogers' Sixty Memorials for a Godly Life; dictated by the most lively sense of religion, but containing no sentiments but such as agree with the Unitarian system. So strictly compatible with, so favourable to the cultivation of a devotional spirit is this system ;.. I have now before me a small volume of pious exercises formed wholly upon it, and drawn from every chapter in
the New Testament, entitled A Help, in Devotion, * , . . . .4 to , * Ryland in his edition of Dr. Cotton Mather's Student and Pastor, page 220.
being the New Testament considered with a view to what every chapter in it doth furnish christians with, as proper to assist them in their private and family devotion; by Samuel Bolde, Rector of Steeple cum Tyneham, Dorsetshire; 12mo, 1736. The same person was author of Animadversions on Dr. Edwards's Socinianism Unmasked: and of a Sermon on the same subject with Mr. Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity. [Inthis connection should be mentioned “Daily De“votions for the Closet,” by the late Rev. Samuel Merivale. These prayers are characterized by the late Rev. Sir James Stonehouse, as “devout” as well as “elegant and sensible, far superior to Kenn's and “exceeding Patrick and Jenks; admirable and, per“haps, the very best ever written.”.” The compositions, on which these encomiums are bestowed, are formed on Unitarian principles, which the excellent author was known by his friends, to have held. They are, therefore, a direct proof, that such sentiments can fan the flame of piety, and kindle a fervor of devotion f.] These [* Letters to the Rev. Mr. Stedman, page 80,350, 387.]
[+The preface to these prayers gave the public reason to expect a volume of the Author's Essays, and Memoirs of him, which, it is td be much regretted, have not appeared; I am tempted, therefore, to embrace this opportunity of paying a sincere and respectful, though feeble and inadequate tribute of regard to his name, which is still dear to many. “This most worthy, learned and pious man,” as Mrs.
t ( 71 ) - * These are to me proofs, that the Calvinistic system is not essential to devotion. I see the devotional spirit diffuse itself through pages, through treatises, where there is not a trace of that system. It lives and glows without it, and rises to a degree of fervor and spirituality equal to any compositions, where that system and the phraseology of it have mingled and incorporated themselves. Though it is not to be doubted, that many pious and worthy persons, having been always accustomed to give vent to their devotional feelings in language and associations of this kind, are ready to conceive, that, separated from them, devotion would languish and die away. This is a mistake. This apprehension is the creature of habit, not of reason, or reflection, or fact. Whatever opinion you, Sir, may entertain or endeavour to give your reader, concerning the piety of Socinians, numbers of them have been persons of
Mr. Orton calls him (1), was a native of Northampton, where he received his academical education under Dr. Doddridge. He was first settled, as minister of a Dissenting Congregation, at Sleaford, in Lincolnshire, whence he removed to Tavistock, in Devonshire. He, afterwards, resided some years at Exeter; and was Theological Tutor at the Academy in that city: where he died in 1771, or 1772. Three articles, in the second and third volumes of the Theological Repository came from his able pen. The two first were in defence of Dr. Lardner's Letter on the Logos. The third discussed this question, “whether it can be supposable, that an honest and impartial inquirer should resist the evidences of christianity?]
[(1) Orton’s “Letters to a Young Clergyman,” page 63, 64.]