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Origin of Socinianism-Its remedy--Not a popular form of
infidelity-Efforts among the poor-Unitarian Almanac-Statistics of Socinianism---Visits to Finsbury Chapel --A secular oration---An interesting case–The Cato Street conspiracy-Hopeful case of one of the few surviving conspirators, formerly a Socinian--Another noted character-His atheistic opposition --- Strange assertions -- His death Necessity for meekness---Hopeful conversion of a Socinian -Concluding observations.
CLOSELY connected with the subject of the preceding chapter is Socinianism, which is but another form of infidelity.* Its origin must be sought for in "the pride and folly of unsanctified intellect. The propensity so natural to man, of dissipating every shade of mystery, and casting the light of his own understanding around the subjects of his contemplation.”* There is but one remedy for this, namely, conviction of our condition as fallen, guilty sinners, and this remedy the Spirit of God only can impart, (John xvi. 7-13.) When this blessed influence overshadows the soul of man, his former high and lofty estimate of his natural character becomes a dissolving view. The strong pillars lose their
* Socinians are so called from Faustus Socinus, who died in Poland, in 1604. The rejection of Christ's divinity is the great heresy of those who are so called. “In what then," says a learned author,“ does Unitarianism differ from Deism ? Deists deny the essential doctrines of Christianity by rejecting the whole of the Christian revelation. Unitarians reject the Christian revelation by denying all its peculiar and essential doctrines."
. balance, the lofty edifice wanes, all becomes dim, and the finished and glowing picture he had once vainly thought himself, changes into a cold and gloomy ruin. He finds it but as a mirage in the desert. It is well if he creeps to the foot of the Cross amid this darkness and desolation, and holds on whilst the tempest howls around, until the voice that raised the storm shall bid the storm "be still.” Then, when the Sun of righteousness arises “ with healing in his wings," (Mal. iv. 2) the ruin will be built again, (Isa. liv. 11--13;) he will become a temple, not filled with his own light, an ignis fatuus to lure him to destruction; he will attempt no more to warm himself with the sparks of a fire of his own creation, (Isa. 1. 10, 11, but Christ will give him light, (Eph. v. 14.) His language will be
* Richard Watson.
“I heard the voice of Jesus say,
I am this dark world's light,
And all your day be bright.
In Him my star, my sun,
Till travelling days are done."*
His body will become “the temple of the Holy Ghost,” and “the Spirit of God dwell in him," (1 Cor. iii. 16; vi. 19.) “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new," (2 Cor. v. 17.)
Socinianism, however, as a friend possessed of great experience respecting the condition of the Metropolitan population judiciously remarks, “I have found to be not the popular form of infidelity with the poor. The system has not made much way with them. They do not scruple to avow themselves infidels plainly, in most instances in which other classes would be likely to shelter themselves from that disgrace by professing themselves Unitarians.”*
I perceive by the note prefixed to the Unitarian Almanac for the present year, (1852,) that it has been thought advisable not to give “the statistics of progress or otherwise" of the body. If we are to infer from this that the Socinian interests generally are in a retrograde condition, they are only circumstanced like the leading chapel in London, (Mr. Fox's, Finsbury,) which is half deserted.
In former years this chapel was crowded to excess, but at the present time the average attendance is probably little more than hundred. On each occasion I have attended to take notes I have been unable to count two hundred persons present. I have heard Mr. Fox lecture to barely one hundred. In some instances Unitarian chapels do not number the congregation of a Bible class, but are perpetuated by endowments.
* The Unitarian body have carried out to some extent the system of the City Mission among the poor by the formation of the “ London Domestic Mission.” The London City Mission Magazine, April, 1849, contains some particulars connected with this movement.
Previous to detailing several cases of usefulness among Unitarians, I purpose giving some little account of a visit to Moorfields Chapel, on ----th
The morning service commenced as usual by a ! hymn, sung by two rows of professionals ranged
in front of the organ. I did not observe three of the congregation sing the hymn; to do so would perhaps be deemed an interruption to the professional display. The hymn was succeeded by “ a reading” from “Milton's Defence;” then fol. lowed a prayer, but, indeed, I know not how it could well be called a prayer, for there was little petition in it. It was more essayistic than supplicatory.
I would not willingly have endured the distress of mind, occasioned by witnessing, on the morning of God's blessed Sabbath-day, so miserable a burlesque on worship, on any other account than missionary service.
Alas! O Jesus! for these deluded souls ! “How sweet it is, on Sabbath-days, to meet with friends in
prayer! And sweeter still, to find the sovereign Lord of all things
there; To feel the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, To breathe upon the weary mind the breath of peace and
love." Then followed a reading from “ Mazzini's Oration over the Brothers Bandiera,” then a hymn, and then the discourse. The discourse was simply a political speech, referring to the various events of the year, and the probable future policy of Louis