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UNIT A R I ANISM
OVER THE AFFECTIONS.
BY JOHN BRAZER.
PRINTED FOR THE
American Unitarian Association.
BOSTON, LEONARD C. BOWLES, 50 WASHINGTON STREET.
Price 4 Cents.
This discourse was delivered at the ordination of Rev. JONATHAN COLE, as Pastor of the First Congregational Society in KINGSTON, Mass. A few copies were printed in an 8vo form for the Society, and it is now, by permission of the author, adopted into the series of tracts published by the AMER. UNIT. Assoc. with such slight alterations, as were neces
cessary to prevent its retaining the appearance of an occasional sermon.
CARISTIANITY is, certainly, a rational system, but it is not therefore merely speculative and cold. It has its foundation, indeed, in the convictions of the mind, but it is not therefore excluded from the heart. It is not merely a truth, but a sentiment; a deep, penetrating, thorough, soul-felt sentiment. It is not merely belief, nor yet merely practice; but while it includes both, it implies something more than either; something to render faith operative and practice efficient; namely, a consistent, an energetic, an enlightened, a devoted zeal.
There is reason to believe that the distinguishing views of Unitarian Christians are, in this respect, often misunderstood, or misrepresented. It is stated as a serious objection to them, that they exist chiefly but as a barren notion of the head; that they are wanting in power over the affections; that they can breathe no new and fervid life into our spiritual natures; and that they tend, in consequence, to produce in those who profess them, lukewarmness and indifference to the whole subject of religion. I believe this objection to be unfounded and injurious. Believing, moreover, a fair discussion of great principles to be an essential, if not the only means, which God, in his providence, has appointed, of ascertaining the
truth, I shrink not from a defence of those which are believed to be unutterably important, even though they should be controversial in their nature. And if, in the following remarks, I shall contrast our views of Christianity with those of the more popular theology, to the disadvantage of the latter, it is because I shall feel compelled to do so in the conscientious vindication of our own, and by the line of argument I have deemed it proper to pursue. . I have no desire to widen the differences in opinion between our fellow Christians and ourselves, still less to exasperate feelings already but too much ex. cited; and my earnest prayer for them and us is, that the Spirit of Truth may lead us both into all important truth.
I propose, first, to examine the true nature and value of the objection above mentioned ; secondly, to remark
some circumstances which may have conspired to give it an appearance of reality; and, thirdly, to show, in some particulars, that, in point of fact, our views of christian truth are not justly liable to any such objection.
My first remark, in examining the validity of the objection, is, that the truth or value of any system of faith is not to be decided by the conduct of its professors. It is obvious that there are many influences continually operating upon men's minds, which interfere with and counteract the legitimate effects of their religious belief. I cannot stop to illustrate so plain a point as this. Examples enough present themselves on every side. Each individual who hears me has reason to mourn,
that his conduct is so little answerable to his acknowledged rules of duty. Indeed, if a system is to be tried by the conduct of its followers, Ciristianity itself will be found liable to objection, even as exhibited by the earliest and best of its followers. St Paul most feelingly declares, “the