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shapes.”* He thus gives his decision on the subject of inspiration and avows himself a deist.' Priestley in a letter to Lindsey, at that time one of the most distinguished Unitarians, or Socinians, of England, speaks thus of Mr. Jefferson. “ He,” Mr. Jefferson, “ is generally considered an unbeliever. If so, however, he cannot be far from us, and I hope in the way to be not only almost, but altogether what we are.”+ This is a strange confession for one, who had written so much' against deism. Priestley considered deists as very nearly related to Socinians. Instead of a Socinian, Dr. Priestley had now the pleasure of seeing a reputed, and no doubt a really unbelieving president, who was still not far from him, at the head of the government of the United States.
Though this apostle of Socinianism had been one of the principal instruments of Mr. Adams's degradation from office, the effects of his intercourse with that gentleman did not cease to operate. The way had been paved in the north, for the introduction of Priestley's heresies into that section of the union. Very few indeed of the northern Arminians had proceeded so far before Priestley's arrival in America as to embrace the Arian or Socinian creed: There was one church in Boston, King's Chapel, under the care of Mr. Freeman, who as early as 1786, had, not without much opposition, introduced into his charge a liturgý modelled' upon the unitarian plan; but it was not until 1801, that this liturgy was printed. This congregation was of the episcopal church, which, to their honour, refused to ordain Mr. Freeman to the ministry, on account of his heresy. In 1792, there was a small society of unitarians formed in the district of Maine, but it did not succeed. Soon after, there was one established at Saco, twenty miles from Portland, under the care of Mr. Thatcher, a member of congress. In the southern parts of Massachusetts, about Plymouth, Barnstable, and Bristol,
Account of American Unitarianism, selected from Belsham's life of Lindsey.
they made some proselytes. There was also a society formed at Aldenbarneveldt, whose preacher was Frederick Adrian Vanderkemp. He was succeeded by a Mr. John Sherman, who, for his heresies, had been degraded from his charge by an association in Connecticut.
Such was the state of things, when Mr. Adams became a hearer of Dr. Priestley, and probably an entire convert to his creed. It is well known that a president, or a king, posşesses vast power over the opinions of a nation, especially of those persons with whom he associates. If a president is a Socinian, Socinianism will be popular; if a deist, deism; or if an idolater, idolatry; as was the case among the Israelites. In the United States, the total disseveration of politics from religion as far as human effort can go, renders this effect less visible, and something less in reality. Still the influence of a chief executive magistrate is very great. It must have been so with Mr. Adams, especially in Boston, the capital of his native state, in which his chief political supporters and most intimate friends resided. The books which he received from Dr. Priestley, and those with which Dr. Priestley made him acquainted, must, through his means, have been extensively circulated among his friends in Massachusetts. Mr. Adams was one of the trustees of Harvard university, and no doubt prodigiously accelerated the growth of heresy in that seminary. It is since his presidency, that nearly all the books of the Arians and Socinians have been introduced into the college library. The wealth and influence of the seminary have latterly increased to an alarıning extent. Its funds are said to produce with the tuition money forty thousand dollars per annum. They have upwards of twenty professors or teachers constantly employed in the instruction of youth; and more than three hundred pupils. All the officers in the government of the institution except one are said to be unitarian; and there is not one who embraces the creed of the ancient fathers of New England. They are all gone aside. The principal is of the school of heresy, and there cannot be a doubt that every effort consistent with prudence has been made, and will be
made, to instil heresy into the minds of their pupils. The Hollis professorship is filled by Dr. Ware, an Arian, not. withstanding all the care the pious founder took to fortify it against such a malignant occupancy; and all the strenuous efforts of Dr. Jedidiah Morse to prevent heresy from seiz. ing, contrary to all justice, the funds, which orthodoxy had appropriated for the spreading of evangelical truth. They say, indeed, that no pains are taken to teach the doctrines held by the faculty. But how is it possible for an Arian to lecture on theology without introducing Arianism into his lectures? And all the students must attend on Dr. Ware. From Harvard, missionaries are sent out into every
section of the union, who are active and zealous in the dissemina. tion of those deleterious tenets, which they have imbibed in the college.
With all this spreading of Arianism in Massachusetts, it is only at a very late period that the votaries of heresy in Boston have dared to exhibit publicly their opinions. A few years ago the General Repository, a theological magazine, was set on foot in Boston; and it must have gone into operation, with the approbation of most of the congregational clergy in that town. It attacked with virulence all the fundamental doctrines of the Christian system, such as the divinity of Christ, the trinity, the divine decrees, and the atonement. It is a favourable symptom, that for want of support it was relinquished. The common people of New England yet read the works of Davenport, of the Mathers, and other orthodox divines; and are not prepared to abandon wholly the faith of their fathers. After the death of Mr. Lindsey of England, Belsham, a celebrated Socinian, published his life. From this work, Dr. Morse published a selection of such parts as related to American unitarianism; by which some disagreeable truths were brought to light. To spread still farther a knowledge of the facts which this pamphlet contains, it was reviewed in the Panoplist, a very popular theological magazine. The Rev. Mr. Channing, a Boston clergyman, published a reply to the pamphlet and the review. He owns himself an Arian, and inveighs with
much earnestness against the review as calculated to disturb the church, and sow the seeds of division among Christians. To this, the Rev. Dr. Worcester of Salem published an answer, in which he contends, that either Mr. Channing and his Arian brethren, or those who are reputed orthodox in Massachusetts, do not preach the gospel of Christ Jesus;that one or the other must be quite off the foundation; and he establishes his position in the most incontestable man. ner. Mr. Channing again replied, and the controversy raged with violence, exciting the attention of all New England. It must do good, as it tends to develope before the eyes of the people the real state of the church; and tears the mask from those who have been underhanded in propagating the most destructive heresies. The Socinians say that they have one hundred Unitarian ministers in New England, and that their number is increasing. And who that considers the power of the university can doubt of the correctness of their statement? It is even probable, they have more. The whole congregational church in Massachusetts is in some degree chargeable with these heresies, on account of the countenance which they shew to those who maintain them. A general convention from all the churches in Massachusetts, was held in the summer of 1815, and Dr. Kirk. land the principal of the university preached the opening sermon. Thus, though there is a distinct association for Boston, and though chiefly through the influence of the excellent Dr. Morse a general association, including a great portion of the churches of Massachusetts has been formed, yet the general convention in Boston forms a visible bond of union, and we see that in the convention, not only were the Arians acknowledged as ministers of Christ Jesus, but one of the most distinguished of them employed as the preacher to open the session of that body. No general asso. ciation of the New England congregational churches, has publickly disowned the Arians as ministers of Christ Jesus; por do we know, whatever individuals may have done, that the whole church has publicly testified against them. Thus
the enemy is let in to the destruction of God's heritage, while the watchmen hold their peace.
As in Europe, so in New England we see, that from the denial of the doctrine of the definite atonement a great body of the church has gone on to Socinianism. Will not the church take warning? We see too, that though Priestley, by his personal efforts, made very few proselytes, yet he has been the instrument of corrupting to the very core a large section of the American church; and that the work of evil is still in progression. God only, who says to the raging of the sea, hitherto shalt thou come and no farther, knows where it will end. At present, the flood of error threatens to deluge and bury in ruins not only the northern churches, but to spread devastation over other parts of the land.
That it has produced a very unhappy effect upon the public mind in the north, is manifest from recent political events. When the Federal constitution was formed, it is well known that many northern members of the convention contended for an acknowledgment of the governinent of Almighty God, and for a recognition of the Holy Scriptures as the rule of human conduct, as a qualification for office; and that, the effort failed of success. Among the articles proposed for amendment at the late famous Hartford convention, there was no mention made of this subject, to the great disappointment of many, who know the principles of most of the state constitutions of New England. When this fact was mentioned to the late excellent president Dwight, he said " he presumed that the members of the convention, would have been forward to propose such an important amendment, but that they thought the state of public feeling, on this point, among leading southero gentlemen, such as to render the proposition hopeless.” We have no doubt, however, that the neglect proceeded from another source—that of many Dorthern gentlemen being “not far from Mr. Jefferson in his unbelief.” Many readers will probably think it extravagant to connect with the doctrine of the atonement and the character of Messiah, national movements. But let them