Images de page

sion; and their notion of the Eucharist is such as a Zuinglian, or Calvinist, would allow.”

From Poland, the doctrine of Socinus found its way into Transilvania, where, towards the 16th century, it obtained a legal settlement. By the Dukes of Transilvania, of the House of Batori, they were persecuted; but they survived the persecution, and preserved their legal establishments. From the beginning of the 17th century, they flourished till 1638, in which year, in consequence of the disorderly proceedings of some of the students at Racow, a law was enacted at Warsaw, which ordered, that the Academy of Racow should be demolished, its professor banished, the printing-house of the Socinians should be destroyed, and their churches shut. The persecution of them continued for many years; and finally, in 1658, by a public and solemn act of the Diet, held at Warsaw, all the Socinians were for ever banished from the State. The exiles dispersed themselves in the adjacent provinces, and penetrated into Denmark, Holstein, Holland, and England. For a time, their cause seemed to revive, under the favor of Frederick III. King of Denmark, Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein, and Charles Lewis, Elector Palatine. They nearly obtained legal settlements at Altona, Frederickstadt, and Manheim ; but ultimately failed of success. Under every reverse of fortune, they have, however, preserved a legal establishment in Transilvania. At Coloswar, a fortified and populous town, their community is numerous ; they have in it a public school and a printing-house. They have, however, circulated their principles in many parts of Europe, with much activity, and sometimes with considerable success, particularly in Transilvania, Prussia, and Holland. The principal works composed by them with this design, were published in 1656, in one great collection, entitled, Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum, comprised in six large volumes folio. The second Racow Catechism is considered to be their Confession of Faith.

X. 2.

With the Socinians, the Unitarians are often confounded; but with great impropriety, as the Unitarians are the direct and legitimate descendants of the stock from which, we have already observed, the Socinians divaricated.

The principal difference between the Unitarians and Socinians, lies in their doctrines on the being and attributes of Jesus Christ. The Unitarians, while they consider Jesus Christ as a teacher sent from God, and afterwards raised by him from the dead, hold him to have been a mere man : but the Socinians hold Jesus Christ, though the son of Mary, to have been born of her, like Adam, without a father, by the extraordinary power of God. As such, they call him, though in a qualified sense, truly God, and enjoin his worship. In his Theses, De Christo a vera divinitate excludendo nisi sit creator cæli et terra, Socinus expresses himself in the following terms : “ If, by the term • True God,' be understood the eternal self-existent Being, the proposition, the Creator of heaven and earth, is the one only true God,—is true. But if by this proposition be understood one, who hath a true Divine power and dominion-it is not true. For, though the Hebrew church knew no such true God, but him, who was the creator of heaven and earth—the Christian church acknowledges another true God, namely, the man Jesus of Nazareth, called Christ, who, at length, after being long expected in the reign of the Emperors Augustus and Tiberius, was first born, exhibited and made known to the world, and had then this divine majesty bestowed upon him, by the Creator of heaven and earth.” In conformity with these sentiments, Faustus Socinus exhorts the Synod of Woegro, in his letter to them, (Op. vol. 1. p. 491.) “to labor and take care, in the very first place, that the adoration and invocation of Christ may be secured in their churches.”

In a more refined, and, if not in a more intelligible, at least in a more specious appearance, the doctrine of the Socinians, respecting Jesus Christ, was produced, in the beginning of the last century, by Doctor Samuel Clarke. Tritheism, Sabellianism, and Arianism, are the three rocks, on one of which the adventurer in the Trinitarian controversy too often splits. Doctor Clarke professed to steer clear of the first, by denying the selfexistence of the Son and the Holy Ghost—to steer clear of the second, by maintaining their derivation from, and subordination: to, the Father; and to steer clear of the third, by maintaining the personality and distinct agency of every person of the Trinity.

In his celebrated work, The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, he propounded his system with great clearness, and supported it with considerable strength and subtlety' of argument. He met a powerful opponent in Doctor Hawarden, a celebrated clergyman of the Roman Catholic church. By the desire of Queen Caroline, the consort of George the First, a conference was held by them, in the presence of her Majesty, of Mrs. Middleton, a Roman Catholic lady, much in her confidence, and the celebrated Doctor Courayer.

When they met, Doctor Clarke, at some length, in very guarded terms, and with great apparent perspicuity, exposed his system. After he had finished, a pause of some length ensued : Doctor Hawarden then said, that “ he had listened, with the greatest attention, to what had been said by Doctor Clarke ; that he believed he apprehended rightly the whole of his system ; and that the only reply which he should make to it, was, asking a single question :" that, “ if the question should be thought to contain any ambiguity, he wished it to be cleared of its ambiguity before any answer to it was given;" but desired that, “ when the answer to it should be given, it should be expressed either by the affirmative or negative monosyllable.” To this proposition Doctor Clarke assented. “ Then,” said Doctor Hawarden, “I ask,-Can God the Father annihilate the Son and the Holy Ghost ? —Answer me Yes or No." Doctor Clarke continued for some time in deep thought, and then said, “ it was a question which he had never considered." Here the conference ended. A searching question it certainly was ; and the reader will readily



perceive its bearings. If Doctor Clarke answered Yes, he admitted the Son and Holy Ghost to be mere creatures ; if be answered No, he admitted them to be absolutely Gods. The writer of these pages has frequently heard the conference thus related, -particularly by the late Mr. Alban Butler, the president of the English college at St. Omers, and Mr. Winstanley, the Professor of Philosophy at the English college at Doway. It gave rise to Doctor Hawarden's “ Answer to Doctor Clarke, and Mr. Whiston, concerning the Divinity of the Son of God, and of the Holy Spirit; with a Summary account of the writers of the three first ages.”

The Unitarians have no Symbolic Book; the book, which, from the universal respect in which it is held by them, approacheth nearest, in their estimation, to a document of that description, is Doctor Lardner's Letter on the Logos, published in 1730, and printed in the Eleventh Volume of the works of that very learned, very modest, and very instructive writer.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The seeds of the Reformation were first sown in England by Lutheran hands. In the reign of Edward the Sixth, the disciples of Calvin obtained great influence in all its ecclesiastical concerns. Queen Elizabeth adopted the whole of the discipline, and much of the creed, of the Lutheran church : but, in her final settlement of the creed and discipline, by the Thirty-nine Articles, she admitted a considerable proportion of Calvinism.

The Symbolic Books of the Church of England are the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer. Such, too, of the oaths prescribed by the laws of England, as express theological doctrines, partake, so far as they are confined to these, of the nature of Symbolic Books—I. We shall, therefore, begin this article with an account of the English Theological Oaths : II. Then consider, successively, the Articles of Henry the Eighth: III. The Articles of Edward the Sixth : IV. The Thirty-nine Articles : V. The Canons: VI. The controversy on the authentic edition of the Thirty-nine Articles : VII. The Book of Common Prayer : and VIII. The Books of Homilies.

« PrécédentContinuer »