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stituting thenceforth the badge and test of a man's profession".
By a formulary of this kind, the catechumen himself was instructed; the faith, once delivered, transmitted down to posterity; the members of the spiritual society were kept together; the doctrines by them believed and taught, made known to the world, and distinguished from a multitude of heterogeneous and erroneous opinions, by them disclaimed; a connexion with the maintainers of which would justly have brought discredit on themselves and `their cause.
For these reasons, the use of creeds appears to have been at first introduced, and since continued. They who have at any time thought proper to depart from such as were established in the body to which they originally belonged, soon found it necessary to establish some of their own. The Arians, rejecting that agreed upon at Nice, drew up successively many others; I think, not fewer than seventeen in the space of forty years. And remarkable are the words of Mosheim concerning the Socinians: "They "dreaded the effects of intestine discord, which por
Nothing can be stronger for the doctrine of the Trinity, as one of its ablest advocates justly observes, than that the most ancient creeds should have been comprised (for so many learned men, upon good grounds, have conceived that they were comprised) in these few words: "I believe in God, the Father, the Son, and "the Holy Ghost;" since it is declaring the Sacred Three to be the One God; and no man, who had been baptized according to this form, could be ignorant of the doctrine.-See Waterland's Importance of the Doctrine of the Trinity, with the authors there referred to, p. 203.
"tended the ruin of their community, before it could "arrive at any measure of stability or consistence. "This apprehension was too well founded; for, as yet, they had agreed upon no regular system of "principles, which might serve as a centre and bond “of union. A summary of their religious doctrine "was first published in the year 1574. Their system, "afterwards changed and new modelled, required a "new confession of faith, to make known its princi"ples, and give a clear and full account of its present state. A new form was drawn up by Socinus "himself, and styled the RACOVIAN CATECHISM, "which is still considered as the CONFESSION OF "FAITH of the whole sect"."
The true question, therefore, concerning creeds seems to be, not whether any shall be imposed, but who shall be the imposers? Now, let us only suppose that the direction of ecclesiastical matters in this kingdom should pass into the hands of those persons who regard the doctrine of the Trinity as involving in it an absurdity equal to that of transubstantiation, and as being the grand obstacle to the conversion of Jews, Mahometans, and Deists, who deem the worship of Christ to be gross idolatry, and high treason against the majesty of the one supreme God; must not the new unitarian church, with its confession and services, be so constituted as utterly and for ever to exclude us from becoming members of it? Most undoubtedly, and of necessity, it must.
Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. cent. xvi. sect. iii. part ii. chap, iv.
"An unitarian people," we are told, "will not long "be satisfied with a trinitarian establishment." Indeed, I suppose they will not; they will endeavour to overturn it and it is our business to prevent them from so doing.
The reasoning that has been so often employed against the propriety of decisions by fallible men, seems itself to be a fallacy, confuted by common sense, matter of fact, and universal experience. A society of fallible men will always decide for themselves: they must do so; they must do the best they can. Another society of fallible men will decide differently. Individuals must likewise decide for themselves to which society they will be united, or whether they will be united to either and all must bear with one another. The nature of the case seems to admit of no other method.
In the mean time, the unitarians should consider, that we may be as firmly persuaded of the truth of our doctrines as they can be of the truth of theirs. They should do us the justice to believe that we are so; that we do not see the absurdities imputed to us; nor, when we teach the doctrine of three PERSONS, intend to teach that of three GOD's.
Some, once our brethren in the faith, have forsaken it, and gone out from us. We lament-we
Crelius himself is candid enough to acknowledge, that the doctrine of three persons in one and the same individual essence does not constitute real and perfect tritheism; because of the close and inseparable union between them. See the passage cited in Stillingfleet on the Sufferings of Christ, part ii. near the end, vol. iii. page 407, of his works in folio.
must lament-their defection; but we cannot help it. They have sacrificed their preferment to that which we think to be their error. What they have done cannot prove error to be truth; it proves the sincerity of their persuasion; and, as in the course of the controversy, we apprehend, has been made to appear, the weakness of their judgement.
Should a minister of the unitarian church, at any future time, by reading the writings of English and French philosophers, be seduced first to doubt, and then to disbelieve, the existence of the God whose worship, as a minister, he is obliged to conduct; and, upon that ground, relinquish his establishment, - though the principal means of supporting himself and a family-the case is possible-what must they say, from whose society he thus excommunicates himself? Not that the tenet is right, but that the man is wrong.
Loud were the calls for an alteration of our forms, some years ago, from men, and very learned men, of the Arian opinion, who never once thought of denying the pre-existence of Christ, the miraculous conception, the plenary inspiration of the apostles and of Christ himself (for even that is now denied), the immortality of the soul, or the spiritual nature of the Deity. Had an alteration then taken place, it must now have been succeeded by another; as the principal of our present opponents has devised quite a different system, and seems to entertain a more favourable opinion of us than of the Arians". But
d The Arians are even less entitled to the appellation "of Unitarians than the Athanasians, who also lay claim to
be this as it may. We shall be greatly blameable, if we part with our creeds, till our adversaries are better agreed what shall be substituted in their room; and till we are assured, that the remedy proposed will not be much worse than the disease under which they imagine us to labour. Till that period shall
"it." History of Early Opinions, &c. i. 81. See the Preface, P. xv.
"It is easy matter for men of wit and fancy to find fault with any thing; but it requires thought and judgement to set"tle things upon their true bottom. Let those who are displeased "with the received doctrine show us a better, and form any "other consistent scheme (consistent with Scripture and with "itself) if they can. Wise and good men will be always willing "to reform, if there be cause for it; but they will not be forward "to pull down what appears to be founded on a rock, in order "only to build upon the sand. The Trinitarians have some "satisfaction in observing, how long certain great wits have been "employed in new modelling Christianity; and have not yet "been able to agree in any one certain scheme." Thus while Dr. Priestly with so much carnestness and vehemence is pressing upon us the Socinian scheme, the author of Ben Mordecai's Apology laughs at the idea of settling the Christian faith. by rectifying "a Greek particle in Justin's Trypho, or ransack
ing antiquity for the opinions of the Nazarenes, Mineans, and "Ebionites;" calling upon us to attend to his doctrine of "a vi"sible and inferior Jehovah." See the preface to his second edition, p. v.-The woman mentioned in Prov. xiv. 1. is not mentioned as the wisest of women, who " plucked down her "house with her own hands," to save others the trouble. Should we ever be persuaded to do like her, instead of the kingdom of God immediately appearing (which some seem to think would be the case), a very Babel would arise in consequence. If the experience of the last century cannot make us wise, most certain it