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hour, employing myself, as long as I have any power, in favor of the emancipation of the human mind from the thraldom of superstition, which, under the name of Christianity, oppresses it, and prevents the full accomplishment of Christ's sufferings, by retarding the establishment of true gospel liberty. I humbly implore God's blessing upon all my friends, both in England and abroad.”
“Liverpool, April 11th, 1835. - I wish to record the continuance, or rather the increase, of my delight in the Unitarian service. For a long time did I avoid going to Church, except to the Lord's Supper, because the service had grown
intolerable to me. I now rejoice at the approach of Sunday. This very morning, while at Chapel, I had the strongest and deepest conviction that I had never witnessed any thing so really sublime as the whole worship in which I was joining. I can also attest the admirable behaviour of the congregation. There is a marked attention on all sides. In a word, the whole service is a reality. heartily thank God for having been made acquainted with the Unitarian worship. I have seen nothing superior, nor even equal to it.”
From a letter to Dr. Channing, June, 1838 :
" I believe in more revelation than most divines. I believe in the internal presence of God in the sanctuary of the soul. I take nay, I know — that presence to be active and real. That oracle is the source of every truth, of every virtue in man. Seneca has expressed this fact with more force and clearness than any Christian writer : -'Sacer intra nos spiritus sedet, malorum bonorumque nostrorum observator et custos ; hic, prout a nobis tractatus est, ita nos ipse tractat.' I could quote still finer passages from the Emperor Marcus Antoninus, but my strength fails me.
“You allude to a passage in my Letter on Anti-Religious Libel, which opposes the view of revelation which you conceive I gave in my letter to Mr. Ripley. Alas ! my dear Sir, considering the mental wilderness through which I have travelled, it is to me surprising that the bearings of my map are still tolerably consistent. The history of my doubts on the theory of revelation is in my MS. Memoirs. That subject was the occasion of my first anxiety and disappointment on my joining the Church of England. Incapable of yielding where conviction does not take me by the hand, yet it is impossible to conceive how my heart has always yearned after conformity with those whom I loved and valued. Hence the bursts which now and then appear in my writings, bearing the stamp and tone of certain religious views, which at that moment I thought I had reconciled with right reason.
The one you allude to was among the last. The substance, indeed, of that view remains within me ; but not the form. I live and move, and have my being in God. Supported by this ultimate conviction, this result of my life, I await approaching death with tranquillity, insensible to the clamor of divines, who prescribe a method of salvation. God is my Saviour ; in Him I fully trust.
“ There is almost a moral certainty that this will be my last to you, and that it will not be followed by many to others. I beg you, therefore, to bear me witness that I die a Christian, because I am convinced that God has granted me the spirit of Christianity : that I die a Unitarian, because I consider the spirit of our body nearer to the spirit of Christianity than that of any other denomination. I trust that the Unitarians, especially in America, are destined by Providence to give the final blow to the superstition which still clings to and degrades the gospel.
. May God preserve your strength many years to be a leader in this great work !”
From a letter to Professor Norton, July, 1838 :
“My physicians have long declared to me their opinion that I cannot recover, a declaration which filled me with joy, and the accomplishment of which, like hope delayed, now makes my heart wither. I feel no enthusiastic raptures, nor does my imagination, trained, as it is, not to take the lead, venture to suggest any of her material pictures. But I have the most calm assurance within me, that the God whom at all times I have loved, and whose will I have always most sincerely wished to obey, will provide for me that happiness for which I may be best fitted. Free from all theological fears, no terrors surround me while waiting for the long-desired dismissal from this life. I heartily thank God, who has so disposed the events of my mental course that I do not find in myself even a trace of the superstition in which I was most anxiously educated. This indeed more than repays all my sufferings.”
Sunday, Aug. 5th, 1838. — God cannot have formed his intellectual creatures to break like bubbles, and be no more. To die with implicit trust in Him, but without drawing absurd pictures of a future life, is the only rational conduct of which the subject admits."
From a letter to Dr. Channing, October 9, 1839 :
“ I am not surprised to find such coldness and worldliness in the mass of the American Unitarians, as you describe. As you most truly observe, Unitarianism was origi'nally a protest against a great absurdity. This protest had no vivifying spirit in itself, it is true. But the principle from which it proceeded was, in my view, the completion of Protestantism. All the other Protestant churches are in contradiction with themselves ; we alone are consistent ; and this is a great point. We have engaged to follow the light of reason within us, the divine light of the intellect in combination with the conscience, as far as it will lead us. Whoever compromises this principle destroys and renounces it. What then is it we want ? To follow it devoutly. For a long series of ages it has been practically believed, that there is no devotional feeling unless it be supported by the imagination; that there is nothing heavenly but what assumes the shape of a visible wonder ; in a word, people have generally imagined themselves irreligious whenever they found themselves without an idol, external or internal, a bodily shape either to be seen and felt, or to be imagined. Hence, the dangerous mistake of supposing the essence of Christianity to be inseparable from the firm belief in historical miracles, in revealed books, in unintelligible dogmas, called mysteries. Now, it is to me an indubitable fact, that the growth of the human mind prevents already, and will every day more and more oppose, the belief in this scholastic supernaturalism. The Oxford Puseyites originate in the fulness of this persuasion, combined with a most wilful determination of maintaining à supernatural mysticism. Intimately acquainted as I have been with their leaders, I can confidently assure you,
that this is the case. They were (with the exception of one, - a mystic by nature) inclined to German Rationalism. But being naturally pious, the tendency of their own minds alarmed them; they thought they were inevitably led into unbelief ; and being too clever to be satisfied with the historical proofs of miraculous Christianity, they flung themselves on the bosom of a phantom they call Church. Their plan is to stop all inquiry, and to believe because they like it. The leaders are still young, and as such possessed of an all-powerful will. I give them full credit for good intentions. But their plan must prove ineffectual every way, except in leading some rather weak persons to Romanism. Is there then any help in man? I believe the hand of God will extricate us from this morally alarming state, though not without suffering and evil. Christianity, in my opinion, must settle into Unitarianism,
not that negative and empty form which we lament in many, but into the eternal, unchangeable, living religion which alone is Christianity. The very pressure felt by all good, intelligent, and liberal men, on the one side from the absurd claims of church Christianities, on the other, from the irreligion to which many fly as in despair, this pressure will lead the truly religious in heart to the perception that the One only God, the living source of our soul, is an object of the most ardent love, in himself, and in his intimate union with man ; and that this union is by its nature and essence supernatural, without needing the assistance of miracles or verbal revelations (all of which become inevitably natural the moment they pass through a human medium) to raise us to a state of real fellowship with our Maker. It is said that Unitarianism is cold. What an absurdity! Is not the Divine Being an object NO. 237.