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I shall conclude this address with a word of advice and exhortation to all unitarians, whether they be members of the established church, or of any fociety of difsenters in this country.
Of such great importance is the doctrine of the divine unity, that nothing will more fully justify a separation from any christian church that does not openly profess it, and much more from those that avow the contrary doctrine, directing prayers, and paying supreme worship, to any other than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It was for the preservation of this great and fundamental doctrine, that Abraham, and his family by Ifaac and Jacob, were separated from the rest of the world, and made a distinct people, as it were, to be the depositaries of the true religion, which consists principally in the sole worship of the one true and living God, the maker and preserver of all things. The same important doctrine was uniformly taught by Christ and the apostles ; though christians in after-times, like the Ifraelites after the time of Joshua, relapsed into that idolatry which has generally prevailed to this day.
If it was a fufficient justification of the first reformers, that they considered the church from which they separated as worshiping faints and angels; will it not justify your feparation from their partial reformations, that you consider them as praying to and worshiping one whom you con
der as a man like yourselves, though honoured and distinguihed by God above all other men ? · To join habitually in public worship with trinitarians, is countenancing that worship, which you must consider as idolatrous; and which, however innocent in them, is highly criminal in you. If they think it a point of conscience not to go to mass in popish countries, because, in their opinion, it is idolizing a piece of bread, you ought to make a point of conscience of . not worthiping with them, because, in your opinion, it is idolizing a man, who is as much a creature of God as, a piece of bread, and just as improper an object of worship. . · Besides, the great offence to jews, mahometans, and the world at large, being the doctrine of the trinity, it is highly necessary that focieties of chriltians fiould be formed expressly on this principle of the divine unity, that it may be evident to all the world, that there are christians, and societies of cliristians, who hold the doctrine of the trinity in as much abhorrence as they themselves can do. For the conversion of jews or mahometans to christianity, while it is supposed to contain the doctrine the trinity, no person who knows, or has heard of jews or mahometas, can ever expect. :.
You will say we unitarians are but few, even ili large towns, and still fewer in villages, and there are no men of leisure or learning among us. But was not this the case with the primitive christians,
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and yet this circumstance was no obstruction to the forming of a christian church in any place? We read of churches in private houses.
Assemble together, therefore, in the name and in the fear of God, and according to the order of the gospel, every Lord's-day, if there be no mere than two or three, or even a fingle family of you in a place; read the scriptures, and pray together. Also read sermons, or other works of moral instruction, of which there is, happily, no want at this day. Baptize, and administer the lord's fupper among yourselves ; and as you grow more numerous, form yourselves upon some regular plan of church-discipline, that it may be the means of uniting and keeping you together; and rigorously exclude all persons whose conduct would be a reproach to you.
As to a learned ministry, it is acknowledged to be desirable, where it can be had, but it is by no means necessary. The gravest and most respectable perfons among you, and those who have the most leisure, will, in the character of elders, select and read proper prayers and discourses, and perform all the offices of christian societies, just as well as the elders in the primitive churches, who had no such helps as you now have; and miraculous powers were not of long continuance with them.
If you be at present members of the established church, you will find a reformed liturgy ready prepared for your use by Mr. Lindsey. But if you
Thould prefer the mode of worship among the difsenters (but men of sense will not make much account of such distinctions) you may in many authors, especially at the end of Mr. Holland's fermons, find forms of such prayers as you have been used to: or you may apply to diffenting ministers of your acquaintance, who will chearfully give you any assistance in their power..
All these are trifling obstacles to a great design. It requires indeed a proper degree of christian zeal; but the object is worthy of it. The example has been already set in Scotland, where it was least of all to be expected ; and the success has been such as should abundantly encourage fimilar attempts in this country.
The baptists and methodists, not laying much stress upon a learned ministry, Aourish greatly; the independents are now taking the same methods, and with the same success; while the rational dissenters, fancying they would be disgraced by the want of a learned ministry, are dwindling away almost every where. , Whatever inconvenience may arise from mere novelty, it is foon over ; and as the methodists are collecting into bodies in all places, a thing of this kind will excite much less surprize. But what impression ought the censure of the world to make upon those who, as christians, profefs to be above the world, and to rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer shame in the cause of Christ, and to think themselves happy if they be reproached on that ac
count. You should imagine that you hear that awful voice from heaven, recorded in the book of Revelation, ch. xviii. 24. Come out of her, (i.e. mystical Babylon, the great scource of all the corruptions of christianity) my people, that ye be not partakers of her fins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Be careful, however, to do this in the spirit of christian charity, which should be extended to all men, but especially to all that bear the christian name. Consider them as men who are in an error, which is always involuntary. Endeavour to remove the prejudices they unhappily lie under, but forbear all angry reproaches, a!l insult, and even ridicule ; for religion is a forious thing, and brotherly love is the very essence of it.. And if this love is to be extended even to enemies, much more should it be indulged towards our merely mistaken friends.
The author of this address intirely approves of Mír. Lindsey's Liturgy, or that which was used at the Octagon Chapel in Liverpool; and he would recommend responfis, especially to focieties formed in this manner, in which it is particularly. desirable, that the members, being nearly on a level, thould each bear his part in the service. But lest some, from the force of habit, should not be able to reconcile themselves to the use of a liturgy, and object to the scheme on that account, he has drawn up, and published a set of Forms for all the occasions of unitariın fociztias.