Page images

of Christian Unitarianism, and interesting as are the circumstances by which many of those conversions are accompanied—we know of no recent instance, more inter-, esting and instructive, than that which is detailed in the little work whose title is prefixed to these remarks. Mrs. Toogood is the widow of a clergyman of the English Established Church, and resident, we believe, in Dorsetshire. In this lady, as in many other cases, we have an example of the study of the Bible alone, resulting in the belief of the Unitarian doctrine. In her, also, we have the additional gratification of witnessing its sincere and open profession. It is not often that we behold age breaking the mental fetters which education and habit had forged for spiritual bondage. We have known such instances, and they have cheered us greatly in our opposition to prevailing error. In Mrs. Toogood, we have a delightful proof of the vigour of intellect combined with strength of principle, issuing in the serenity and holy confidence, the peace and joy in believing, which renders it a pleasing duty to “bow before the hoary bead, and to honour the face” of the virtuous. Cordially do we recommend the work to the perusal of all our readers. They cannot more effectually serve the cause which they have at heart, than by promoting its circulation. It should be read by all. It would teach-teach by example-how “religious prejudice” is to be overcome. It would send the people to their Bibles. It would tend to convince gainsayers, that Unitarianism is a scriptural faith, and that all which it needs for its vindication and prevalence, is, that the Bible, without note or comment, should be faithfully and seriously studied. The following extracts, we are persuaded, will induce our readers to follow our advice.

“Of the efficacy of reading the Bible without note or comment, I speak experimentally; for till in or about the sixtieth

of my age, few were more steadily or zealously attached to the doctrine of the Trinity than myself; but alas, it was a zeal without knowledge; and bad I been initiated as early into any other religious creed, most undoubtedly I should have been equally zealous in defending it. About the period alluded to, however, the great variety of sects became the frequent subject of conversation among those with whom I was on terms of friendly intercourse. I was thus led into habits of thinking, in order to account for such a diversity of opinion; and as all religionists who acknowledge the authority of the Bible, assert that their several doctrines emanate therefrom, where else could such a standard of truth be found? I immediately determined on reading the Bible as the word of God, and resolved not to make it subservient to human opinions. Living in a retired situation, and having much leisure time, I had a fair opportunity of devoting my best powers to the reading and study of it. The gift is of od; but the application or improvement of that gift, be it what it may, is a talent committed to us in trust. With supplication for spiritual light and assistance, I commenced my important undertaking. The Jewish prophets, and indeed the writers of the Old Testament, concurring in testimony, to the sole unity and supremacy of Jehovah, God of Hosts, my faith in former opinions was much staggered; but as truth was the object of my research, I determined to follow its guidance whithersoever it might lead me. The New Testament yet remained; and I considered that this is peculiarly the Christian's scripture. To it I turned with increased ardour; and after reading it over many times, I could no where find my former creed; it was not there to be found! After due and serious reflection, I found myself unable to resist the testimony of both the Old and the New Revelations, which conspire to show that the FATHER IS THE ONLY TRUE GOD. To no living person did I im. part the employment of my mind; for I was resolved that no human opinions should in any way bias or influence me during this awful investigation. Nor till I had acquired a considerable degree of firmness and confidence in my new religious views, did I mention it even to my husband. Then, however, from the fullest conviction, I avowed myself a Unitarian. This was the process by which I attained to the complete satisfaction in which I have ever since rejoiced; a satisfaction which amply compensates for the feeling that my sentiments are not those of the persons with whom I am surrounded, nor of those with whom I have been on terms of friendship and intimacy."


“ Such are the leading and truly scriptural doctrines which Unitarians hold; they are such as are calculated to make mankind both wiser and better; they are founded on that Scripture which every where declares, that strict and rational justice (not unrelenting rigour), and mercy which endureth for ever, and unequivocal truth, are the great moral attributes of the Divine character. In them

but no

I have long rejoiced, and I trust they will continue to il. luminate my soul, even when the lamp of life is burning dim, and mortal things are fading from my sight. I bless God that I have lived long enough to see the holy spirit Unitarianism breathes, diffused widely abroad, and insinuating itself even where its name is not always acknowledged. The spirit of inquiry is gone forth, and the efforts of the narrow mind to stop it, will be as fruitless as to say to the flowing tide, hitherto shalt thou


farther.' The

consequence will be, that mankind will read the Scriptures with their own eyes, and not through the glass darkly,' wbich Athanasius or Calvin, or any other human leader has invented. Astonishing will be the effect on all Christian communities; soon will the jarring elements of opposing creeds subside in peace; and great will be the wonder, great the astonishment at that about which mankind have so long contended! They will awake as from a dream, to a sense of the true dignity of human natureof what they are capable of knowing and believing—of pure and undefiled religion before God and the Fatherof the unspeakable felicities that await them in a future state, and of its never-ending duration.”

Often has the charge been reiterated, by those unacquainted with the doctrines they malign, that Unitarianism is powerless, incapable of imparting consolation to the mourner, chilling the finer feelings of the soul, and causing death and judgment to be regarded with horror and dread. Let the calumniator read this passage, from the Introduction to Mrs. Toogood's work; and amidst the pains of mortality, and in life's last hour, may he

possess as peaceful and as resigned a spirit:

“ The following observations were written at several intervals of comparative ease, afforded me during a time of otherwise intense pain and suffering, the effects of a long and dangerous illness, in the course of which I was brought, to all appearance, very near the close of tal career. The sentiments which I now entertain, and which I wish to publish for the benefit of others, were then the grand prop of my fainting spirits; and I can recur to them with joyful hope that they will again be my support, when

flesh and heart are failing, and the will of my heavenly Father shall be done in removing me hence. I feel it to be an imperious duty which I owe to that Almighty Friend, who so wonderfully sustained me under



the excruciating pains I endured, and who has given me the power of extolling and blessing his name, thus to show my gratitude for this as well as innumerable other instances of his paternal care of me, during a long pilgrimage of eighty-one years on earth.

How can I praise thee. Father? how express
My debt of reverence and of thankfulness ?
A sum which no intelligence can count,

While every moment swells the vast amount. “I feel I cannot express my thankfulness to him better, than by exercising the talent he has vouchsafed to confer upon me, in humbly attempting to show my fellow-christians the errors wbich prevail in the most important concern of their lives. The more I read of revealed religion, the greater is my regret, that all who possess the ability and the means, will not throw off the fetters of long indulged prejudice, and the relics of superstition and error, derived from the Church of Rome, or else from Paganism, and which have been interwoven with the Christian religion; and that they will not prefer and adopt the pure truths so beautifully stated in the holy Scriptures, which are alone able to make them wise unto salvation. If my fellow-christians could be persuaded to make the Sacred Volume the basis of their religion, then creeds and opinions broached by uninspired men, which are in direct opposition to what was revealed from heaven, would not continue to disgrace an age in other respects so enlightened as the present; and then the unrevealed dogma of a Trinity of persons in the Godhead, would not militate against the grand fundamental of divine revelation, the Unity of theSupreme Being."


GLASGOW, January 1, 1831.

Nottingham Unitarian Sunday Schools.-On Wednesday, Oct. 27, the Teachers and Friends of the High Pavement Sunday Schools, Nottingham, held their Annual Social Meeting in the Girls' School-room connected with the Chapel. The Rev. B. Carpenter in the chair. The Annual Report was read; it gave a very favourable account of the present state and future prospects of the Schools,

which was at once highly gratifying to the Teachers and satisfactory to the Friends of the Institution. The attention of the meeting was then directed to the question, “ What is the best mode of conveying instruction to the children attending our Sunday Schools?”—This led to a very animated and interesting discussion, and was the means of eliciting many valuable suggestions in reference to the future management of the Schools, and especially with a view of rendering them in a greater measure than they have hitherto proved, nurseries for our churches. Among other remarks, it was observed, that to confine the religious instruction of the children to the general principles of Christianity only, was not enough; that it was essential that they should be made acquainted with the nature and principles of Unitarianism; that they should be carefully taught the scriptural grounds on which the system rests its claims for credence and support; its superior efficacy in a practical point of view, also, should be enforced, as well as its beauty and simplicity, by contrasting it with the inexplicable dogmas of Trinitarianism; and by these means, their minds should be furnished with the

arguments for the soundness of their belief afforded by the Scriptures, that they may encounter with success, those impugners of their holy faith with whom they may be brought into collision. Were this done, it was thought, we should not have to regret, that so few continue with us after the completion of their education; but that they would remain consistent and exemplary worshippers in our temples, and useful members of our societies. At present, it too frequently happens, that they have no sooner left our schools, than they join other societies, and often become most active and zealous members: this indeed will not excite much surprise, when we consider the numerous inducements to leave our chapels, which are presented to young persons unbiassed in favour of any particular doctrines. To some, this circumstance may seem to call for little regret, provided these children do become good Christians and virtuous members of society; but how low an estimate must they have formed of the superior excellence of our faith, and how lukewarm will be the exertions of those with minds so constituted, in diffusing the sublime and ennobling truths we believe to have been taught by our blessed Lord. But one opinion was expressed, as to the expediency of instructing the children in the elder classes, in

« PreviousContinue »