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Full text of "The South-Boston Unitarian ordination"

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7 



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SOUTH 


BOSTON UNITARIAN 


ORDINATION. 




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SOUTH-BOSTON UNITARIAN 



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BOSTON: 
PUBLISHED BY SAXTON db PEIRCE, 

No. 133i Washington Street 



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1841. 










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THE SOUTH BOSTON UNITARIAN ORDINATION. 



The following pages contain the report of Mr. Parker's ser- 
mon, by Messrs. Fairchild, Driver, and Dunham, together 
vrhh the remarks upon that report and sermon in the Boston 
Courier and other papers. They also contain the correspon- 
dence between Messrs. Fairchild and Lathrop, and most of 
the other communications which have been published in relation 
to the same subject. As the public mind is deeply interested 
in this matter, we have thought that the community generally 
would be gratified to have it in their power to obtain, in a con- 
densed and permanent form, all the most important communica- 
tions which have appeared in different papers. Some pieces 
^e must necessarily omit, lest our pamphlet should become too 
large and expensive for the object which we have in view. 

THE PUBLISHERS. 




UNITARIAN ORDINATION. 



We the undersigned, being present by special invitation, at 
the recent ordination of Rev. Charles C. Shackford as pastor of 
the Hawes Place Congregational Society in the Twelfth Ward of 
the city of Boston, heard a sermon preached by Rev. Theodore 
Parker of Spring street, Roxbury, in which sentiments were 
advanced so contrary to our ideias of Christianity, that we feel 
onrselves constrained by a solemn sense of duty which we owe 
to the Church of Christ, to inquire whether the Unitarian cler- 
gymen of Boston and vicinity sympathize with the preacher in 
bis opinions as expressed on that occasion? We noticed as 
members of the ordaining Council, Rev. Dr. Pierce of Brook- 
line, Rev. Messrs. Lothrop, Barrett, Robbins, Bartol and Sar- 
gent, of Boston, and Rev. Mr. Putnam of Roxbury, and several 
others. We hope it will not be deemed impertinent in us to 
ask, whether the clergymen who composed that Council sanc- 
tion the sentiments of the preacher, or acknowledge him as a 
Christian minister ? As there was no protest after the sermon 
by the moderator, or by any member of the Council against the 
sentiments advanced, we wish to know whether silence in this 
case, is to be construed into assent. We were hoping that when 
the venerable Dr. Pierce arose to offer the ordaining prayer, he 
would have remembered the Apostolic injunction, '< Lay hands 
suddenly on no man ;" and that be would have said to the can- 
didate, '* If youc sentiments accord with those of the preacher, 
I cannot consecrate you to the work of the Christian ministry.'' 
But in this we were disappointed. We then hoped that when 
Rev. Mr. Lathrop proceeded to give the charge, he would have 
remonstrated against the sentiments proclaimed in the sermon, 
and solemnly charged the young man to avoid them as contrary 



to the Gospel and destructive to the souls of men. But in this 
too we were disappointed. The ordaining prayer was made, 
the charge given, and the other services performed, without a 
single note of remonstrance. We reflected that we have friends 
whom we respect and love, who attend on the Unitarian minis- 
try ; and we were exceedingly grieved at the thought that they 
should sit under '^ that instruction which causeth to err from the 
words of knowledge,'' if tlie sermon theii ppeached was^to be 
regarded as a true exhibition of the sentiments of the Unitarian 
clergy. For the sake of these friends, therefore, we wish that 
those who participated in the services of that occasion, would 
declare explicitly whether they acknowledge Mr. Parker as a 
teacher of true Christianity. 

In the following communication we have quoted, as nearly as 
possible under the circumstances of the case, the phraseology of 
the preacher. Much of it we know to be verbatim, and all the 
sentiments here expressed were avowed by him. And we are 
confident that if the sermon should ever be published precisely 
as it was preached^ no candid man will say that our account of 
it is either exaggerated or unfair. One of our number took 
copious notes at the time, and another committed to paper what 
be could remember, soon after the services closed. If, however, 
we have done injustice to the preacher or the Council in any 
thing we have stated, let it be made apparent, and we will most 
veadily correct it. 

J. H. Fairchild, Pastor of Phillips Church. 
Thos. t)RiVER, Pastor of South Baptist Church, 
Z. B. C. Dunham, Pastor of 5th Methodist Church, 
Boston, May 28, 1841. 



Text. — Heaven and earth shall pass away ; but my word 
shall not pass away. 

It has been assumed that every word of the Scriptures was 
inspired, with all their vulgarities, absurdities, and impieties. 
Men have appealed to the Old Testament as authority, and 
condemned some of the most pious and-devoted as infidels, be- 
cause they could not believe all which is written in it to be in- 
spired, where there is much never perhaps designed to be taken 
$0 truth. Thus questions have been settled by the authority of 



the Old Testament. It has been assumed that the: Old Testa» 
ment in all its' parts was inspired ^ and men have been stignia*> 
tized as heretics and infidels who would not give up their reason 
and humanity to the belief of the story of Abraham and his son 
as of divine origin; a story which is revolting to justice and hu- 
manity. 

The same hasbeen assumed of the New Testament, theobvi* 
ous contradictions and absurdities of which are every where ap- 
parent; and which contains stories the most incredible, and 
sometimes shocking to decency. And yet this book is declared 
to be the word of God, and given by divine inspiration! What 
Apostle ever pretended that this book was divinely inspired ? 
Did Jesus Christ ever assume that he spake by divine inspiration ? 

The great body of Christian professors make their doctrines 
rest on the authority of Jesus Christ and not on pure Christianity. 

Real Christian life was out of the Church, and in the world 
for the first four centuries. 

Doctrines have nothing to do with a man's Christianity. 

Christianity would have lost nothing by the perishing of the 
Old Testament. It must therefore now be taken for what it is 
worth. 

Every man is to search after truth for himself, without taking 
for his authority the writings either of the Old Testament or the 
New. And if different individuals should arrive at different re- 
sults, and even opposite results, still this will not affect their 
Christianity, or authorize the withholding of Christian fellowship. 

Christianity is true; but all systems of Christianity are false. 

Because some pious Christians have cut off the end of John's 
Gospel and the beginning of Matthew's, they have been branded 
as infidels. 

Christianity does not rest on the opinions of a few pious fish- 
ermen, or on the New Testament. Christianity was the same 
nineteen centuries before Christ, as nineteen centuries after 
Christ. 

The Bible is not our master, or despot. We may take the 
Prophets as our teachers ; but we must not bow down to their 
idol notions. 

The Bible does not tell us that God exhausted his capabilities 
in creating Jesus Christ. We may yet expect men as gifted and 
elevated, or even more so, as Christianity is hereafter unfolded. 

We are not saved by Christ who lived nineteen centuries ago> 
t)ut by the Christ that we find in our own hearts. 

If it could be proved that Christ never lived, or that he was an 
impostor, still Christianity would not be affected by it. So if 



6 

tbe Apostles had never lived, or were impostors, Christianity 
would still be the same. It was taught by Nature. 

Christianity has no creed ; or if it have a creed, it is a creed 
of only one article, viz. that there is a God. 

Christianity must be tried by the oracle in the human heart. 

We want no one to stand between us and God. If we would 
have the full benefits of a spiritual Christianity, we must woi^ship 
the Father as Jesus did, with no intervening mediator ; and then 
we shall be hke Christ. 

In the 'Puritan' of June 10th, appeared the subjoined note 
from the Rev. Mr. Folsom, who was a member of the Ordain- 
ing Council, and took part in the services on that occasion : — 

Haverhill, Mass., June 4, 1841. 
Messrs. Editors : — I noticed in your last paper, a commu- 
nication from three of the ministers in South Boston, relative to 
Mr« Parker's sermon at Mr. Shackford's ordination. As one 
of the Council, I think it my duty to state, that most of the 
ministers, and many of the society, expressed in my hearing on 
that day, the most decided dissent from the opinions advanced in 
that discourse ; and some, the very strongest reprobation of them, 
as deistical. And those three gentlemen will doubtless recol- 
lect, that in the other performances, the recognition of Christ as 
Master and Lord, and of his gospel as words which he spake 
with authority, was full and explicit, — especially in the ordain- 
ing prayer, by the venerable Dr. Pierce, was it again and again 
made, with all his characteristic emphasis, and clearness, and 
solemnity. No one with whom I conversed, failed to speak of 
the contrast between the sentiments of the discourse, and of the 
prayer that immediately followed. If there were those who 
might imbibe the erroneous sentiments of Mr. Parker, the anti- 
dote was administered, as it seems to me, in a manner more 
effectual than the course your correspondents expected us to 
pursue. And, as the result proved, the people were of age, 
and could §peak, and did speak, for themselves. It may suffice 
to say, in reference to our duty to Mr. Shackford on the occa- 
sion, that we could not consider him as answerable for Mr. 
Parker; that it was by choice of the Committee of the Society, 
with his approbation indeed, that Mr. Parker was invited to 
preach; that the same society, who afterwards expressed their 
disapprobation of the sermon, and were anticipating something 
far different, had heard Mr. Shackford for seven months, and in 
that time he had commended himself to them as one who 
preached, and would preach, faithfully and fearlessly, the gospel 



of the New Testament, to tbeir advancement in true Christian 
knowledge and holiness. 

While I have said what I have, and confess that what I heard 
on that day^ was to myself another gospel from what Paul 
preached, and what the New Testament teaches, and wha( is 
according to truth and reason, permit me to apply to Mr. 
Parker the words of Sir William Hamilton in respect to Cousin : 

" Though no converts to his philosophy, and viewing with 
regret what we must regard as the misapplication of his distin- 
guished talents, we cannot disown a strong feeling of interest and 
admiration for those qualities, even in their excess, which have 
betrayed him, with so many other aspiring philosophers, into a 
pursuit which could end only in disappointment ; we mean his 
love of truth, and his reliance on the powers of man. "^ 

Nathaniel Folsom. 

On the above note, the Editor of the ^ Puritan ' makes the 
following remarks : — 

It appears then from the tacit confession of one of the council, 
that the abominable sentiments reported by Mr. Fairchild and 
others, were really uttered in that sermon. It appears further- 
more that some of the ministers regarded those sentiments as 
" deistical." But it is held that Mr. Shackford was not respon- 
sible for the sentiments of the preacher. If this had been the 
preacher's first utterance of such sentiments, it might be so. 
But since Mr. Parker has in the most public manner repeatedly 
uttered sentiments as truly deistical before, and since Mr. Shack- 
ford must be presumed to have known this fact, when he gave 
his approbation of the choice of him to preach his ordination 
sermon ; he must, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be 
presumed to sympathize with him. 

But it seems that other ministers expressed different views in 
other parts of the ordaining exercises. Yet was this all that 
was required of them, in the position in which they found them- 
selves ? They stood before the people uniting with one whom 
one of the council now says preached "another gospel," in 
ordaining a minister. And their union with him in that act^ 
unless the whole proceedings were a miserable farce, was a con- 
structive acknowledgment of bis character as a minister of the 
gospel of Christ. And while they .refrained from disowning 
him, as the preacher of another gospel, their hearers were left 

* Edinburgh Review. Vol. 60, u quoted in Rev. Mr. Toung'f Disconne at 
the ordinOion of Mr. £1U«. 



8 

to infer that what sentttDents they uttered somehow consisted, in 
the main at least, with his. 

It seems furthermore that the people are of age and could 
speak for themselves, and needed not a disclaimer from the coun- 
cil. That must be a rare congregation, all of whom are of age, 
having no children. But if this fact rendered a disclaimer of 
the rank deism needless, it also made the whole proceedings of 
ordination a mockery. The people were of age for that pur- 
pose too. What had that council to do in the case, if their acts 
implied no recognition of fellowship and harmony of views? 

Furthermore, it seems that though Mr. Parker has adopted 
another gospel, and rejected that of Christ, yet Mr. Folsom ad- 
mires Mr. Parker's love of truth. Yes, a professedly Christian 
minister (so recently an Orlbodox minister,) admires a confessed 
InfideVs love of truth. Nay, he " cannot disown a strong in- 
terest and admiration" for that excess of the love of truth which 
has landed him in Infidelity. And how far is such an admira- 
tion from a sympathy with bis views ? Facilis descensus Avemi. 

Here is a simple fact, to which we call attention — the Unita- 
rian ministers of Boston and vicinity have recently united with 
one, whom they confess to be a preacher of another gospel, in 
ordaining a man to the sacred office ; thus publicly striking hands 
with one whom they declare to be a Deist. And for aught that 
appears, they intend to continue their fellowship with this Deist, 
acknowledging him as a minister of Christ. If they do these - 
things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry ? We are 
no prophet nor prophet's son ; but we expect that a few years 
will make some strange disclosures respecting the tendency of 
Unitarianism. 

One word more. It is but about one short year since Mr. 
Folsom put forth a publication of hard things against us, because 
we disowned him after he had embraced another gospel. And 
now he is called to a practical test of his principles of Christian 
fellowship. He is found in the pulpit with the preacher of still 
another gospel. And by his own principles, he can neither own 
bim nor disown him. And so he escapes from the dilemma by 
admiring the excess of his love of truth, which has unhappily 
led him to another gospel. 

The editor of the VBoston Courier,' in tra^isferring the com- 
munication of Mr. Fairchild and others to bis paper of June 11 th, 
precedes it thus : — 

T^E Npw CaRiflTUNiTT.^^Xh6 articljB below appeared last 
week in the * Christian Watchman,' a journal eondnoted by 



gentlemen of the Baptist denomination, and is transferred to this 
paper at the request of several respectable subscribers, who hold 
to the Unitarian faith. We do not wish to have its introduction 
into our columns taken as an indication that the * Courier' can 
afford much space for the discussion of the questions involved in 
the article ; but we think that no secular paper, unless ultra ex- 
clusive, can be supposed to treat it with indifference. 

After copying the communication, he remarks upon it as fol- 
lows : — 

It seems to us, — if we may be permitted to give an opinion 
in the matter, — that there is a duty for the Unitarian Clergy to 
perform — and that is to say distinctly yes or no, to the question, 
Is a preacher of such sentiments a Christian minister 1 They 
claim to be Christian ministers : Is he one of them 7 Their 
affirmative answer to these questions would save a world of con- 
troversy, and render entirely superfluous the study and labor of 
many a sincere, honest, and pious young man, who devotes him- 
self to the profession of what he believes to be the Christian 
ministry. 

The same editor, in his paper of June 16lh, says: — 

With many of our fellow-citizens, who, like ourself, were 
shocked by the communication describing the Sermon of Mr. 
Parker, we had hoped to see, in the * Christian Register,' the 
organ of the Unitarian Clergy, some decided expression of opin- 
ion touching the sentiments said to be advanced by Mr. Parker. 
The following is all that we find in that paper on the subject : — 

" Three Trinitarian clergymen, viz : the Rev. Messrs J. H. 
Fairchild, Thomas Driver, and Z. B. C. Dunham, caused to be 
published, last week, in several religious papers of this city, a 
somewhat deceptive communication, occasioned by the Sermon 
preached by Rev. Theodore Parker at the late ordination at 
South Boston, in which they express a strong desire (ihe only 
motive they avow for sending such a document by so many chan- 
nels through the land) to be informed, * Whether the clergy- 
men who composed that Council sanction the sentiments of the 
preacher ;' and * Whether the Unitarian clergymen of Boston 
and vicinity sympathize with the preacher in his opinions as ex- 
pressed on that occasion ? ' We have used the word ' decep- 
tive,' because the article is suited to give the hasty reader false 
impressions, not only as to the gentlemen's main object in pre- 
paring it, but also coacerning the general character of the sermon 
to which they refer. Nevertheless, their questions, as quoted 
above, are, in themselves, fair ones ; and, now that they are be- 

2 



10 



fore the public, demand, for obvious reasons, a reply. We say, 
then, that the true answer to them is, decidedly and unquali- 
fiedly, in the negative. 

" We will bnly add, that there is a way of seeking to in- 
crease sectarian 'capital' which is not good; that it is unjust 
as well as ungenerous to attempt, even by insinuation or inter- 
rogatory, to convey the idea that among freemen in Christ 
Jesus, one is respon.sibl'3 for the errors of another ; and that 
whoever undertakes, directly or indirectly, to excite unfavorable 
prejudices in the community against a whole class of Christians 
by trumpeting the peculiarities of here and there an eccentric 
individual professing to belong to it, ought, at least, to be 
ashamed of himself." 

We speak for others as well as for ourself, when we say that 
this is altogether unsatisfactory. Whether the representation 
originally given of the Sermon be " deceptive," either in the 
impressions it gives, or in " the main object of the gentlemen 
in preparing it," is a question which those gentlemen will settle 
for therhselves with their accusers. With that we shall not in- 
termeddle. We are glad to see the unequivocal declaration 
that " the Unitarian clergymen of Boston do not sympathize 
with the preacher in his opinions as expressed on that occa- 
sion." Had the Register stopped with their decided and un- 
qualified answer in the negative, we might, perhaps, have been 
content to let the inquiry rest. But when such sentiments, 
though explicitly denied to be the sentiments of the Unitarian 
clergy, are gently dismissed as " the peculiarities of an eccen- 
tric individual," we confess we do not feel quite easy. For 
the gentlemen who conduct the Christian Register we have a 
sincere and respectful regard ; and we believe they will do us 
the justice to exempt us from the imputation of undertaking to 
excite unfavorable prejudices against the class of Christians to 
which they belong ; but still we have a desire to know, if they 
consider " eccentric individuals," who preach such " peculiari- 
ties," as Christian ministers ; and we are not '^ ashamed " to 
ask them, respectfully and earnestly, to inform a number of 
sincere and honest inquirers, who are, in no small degree, start- 
led by the " peculiarities" alluded to, if we and our children 
can <;ontinue to frequent Unitarian places of worship, without 
the hazard of having our faith shaken, our confidence removed, 
our hopes utterly destroyed, and our religious affections sneered 
at and ridiculed, by some " eccentric individual," who may be 
invited by our minister to perform a '^ labor of love," or to aid 
bim by an *' exchange." 



11 

In the * New-York Observer ' of June 19th, appeared the 

following letter : 

Boston, June 5, 1841* 
Messrs. Editors, — ^In what I have written you concerning 
Unitarian affairs,, the abolition of the Sabbath and of the miq«> 
istry, and the like, you must have observed the repeated occur** 
rence of the name of the Rev, T, Parker, of Roxbury. He it 
was, who said, in Chardon-street Chapel, that ^' Thus saith the 
Lord," in the Pentateuch, means only '' Be it enacted ;" and 
that Paul pronounced the Old Testament ^^ a law of sin and 
death;" and who said in the Union Convention at Groton, that 
^^ Peter, misunderstanding the Old Testament, with right Jew* 
ish narrowness, declares, << there is no other name (meaning 
Christ's) given under heaven, whereby men can be saved." 
And again : '< It yet remains for us to apply good sense to relig- 
ion ; when this is done, it will be of very little importance what 
a man thinks of the Old Testament or the New Testament, 90 
long as he loves man as himself and God above all. Then the 
difference between the ^creed of Hopkins and Edwards, the 
dogmas about the miracles, the ascension, the resurrection even, 
and the inspiration of the Apbstles, will be subjects of specula- 
tion for the curious, but which have as little to do with our reli- 
gion, as a farthing candle has with the noon-day sun." No 
one, I believe, has ever pretended that the published reports of 
these remarks are in any degree inaccurate or unfair ; or that 
they in any way do Mr. Parker injustice. Mr. Parker's opin- 
ions, therefore, were well known, before the events narrated in 
the following article, which has appeared simultaneously in 
several of our religious papers. 

The article is here inserted, and the following remarks sub- 
joined : 

Among the Congregationa lists, the preacher of an ordina- 
tion sermon is usually selected by the person to be ordained, 
and is supposed to be one whose theological views be approves. 
While nothing appears to the contrary, therefore, it will natu- 
rally and reasonably be supposed, that Mr. Shackford's theolo- 
gy is substantially the same as Mr. Parker's. The choice of a 
pi'eacher, however, must be ratified by the ordaining council. 
The members of that council, therefore, are in fact, and justly, 
held by public opinion to a certain degree of responsibility for 
the doctrines of the sermon ; as, by their formal and voluntary 
act, they publicly treat the preacher and his sermon with a 
degree of respect, which has some influence in commending 



12 



both to the good opinion of the public. And moreover, while 
nothing appears to the contrary, whatever has the sanction of 
an ecclesiastical council is presumed to meet the approbation of 
the denomination to which the members of that council belong. 
The ordaining council at South Boston, therefore, and the Uni- 
tarian clergy generally, are placed by this sermon in a very 
undesirable position. If they continue silent, they will be held 
to a very unpleasant responsibility for Mr. Parker's sermon. It 
is utterly vain for them to think of avoiding this consequence, 
by any verbiage about " individual responsibility." The public 
will tell them, that their treatment of the subject and of the 
parties concerned in the transaction, encourages the propagation 
of Mr. Parker's sentiments ; and the public has an evident right 
to tell them so. They must come out with some public, offi- 
cial act of disapprobation, or take the consequences ; and one 
of the consequences will be, the loss of the confidence of all 
who think it important that men should feel confidence in the 
Bible. 

But what shall they do ? Shall they begin to ^^ denounce 
men for their opinions ?" Shall they 'exclude Mr. Parker from 
their fellowship, " because he does not think as they do ?" Shall 
they be guilty of what they have so often called "ecclesiastical 
despotism?" This would be eating the most efficient words 
they ever uttered against the " Orthodox." It would be acting 
in direct opposition to their most eloquent harangues and most 
exciting appeals. It would be a practical acknowledgment, that 
in all those writings and speeches by which they have most ef- 
fectually prejudiced the minds of men against the " Orthodox," 
they have been wrong. Can they afibrd to throw away such a 
weapon, and to blame themselves for having used it ? 

There is another difficulty in their way. If they censure a 
man for his opinions, they must begin to classify opinions ; to 
draw a line between those which are censurable and those which 
arc not. They must commence the work of deciding what a 
man may preach without forfeiting their fellowship, and what he 
may not. They must begin to make a list of articles, which a 
man must believe, or he cannot be in " regular standing " among 
them. In short, notwithstanding all they have said against such 
things, they must begin to form a "creed." It may not be 
drawn out on a paper, and called a creed. It may exist only in 
the minds of men, and the recorded decisions of councils may be 
its only documents ; but still it will be a creed, to which candi- 
dates for ordination must assent, and to which ordained ministers 
must adhere, or be deposed. The formation of such a creed 



13 

will be no easy or pleasant task. By whatever process it may 
be accomplished, it must lead to debates and dissensions, such as 
they will be very anxious to avoid. 

Some of them appear to feel keenly the difficulties bf their 
position. They are unwilling to remain in their present con- 
nexion with those who propagate such rank deism ; and yet they 
cannot bear to take the necessary measures for extricating them- 
selves from it. They will probably continue to stand just where 
they are, giving consent, by their silence, to Mr. Parker's deism, 
and helping him, by the credit which he derives from their fel- 
lowship, to make deists ; while those who have any reverence 
for the word of God, will be repelled from them in increasing 
numbers. 

Meanwhile, let it be fully understood at the West and South, 
where Unitarians are endeavoring to make proselytes, that 
Unitarian ministers are not always Christians, even in theory. 
As they have no creed, and no discipline, either for laity or 
clergy, their regular standing is no efldence of any thing, except 
that the man is not *' orthodox." 

In calling Mr. Parker's doctrine deism, I use language accord- 
ing to its well established signification. Examine dictionaries, 
encyclopedias, systems of theology, standard writers of any class, 
for the definition of deism, and then read over the passsages here 
given from his ordination sermon, and you will find that they 
contain the very doctrine which, according to the usage of all 
good writers, that word is employed to designate. 

But enough for once. If these things lead to any further de- 
velopemenis you shall be informed. Yours, truly, 

J. T. 

The following letter appeared in the * Courier ' of Jqne 19th : 

To THE Rev. J.^ H. Fairchild : 

Circumstances which I need not detail, prevented my reading 
the letter signed by yourself and two other clergymen of South 
Boston, and recently published in the * Christian Watchman,' 
till I met with it in the * Boston Semi-weekly Courier ' of the 
I4(h inst., otherwise I should have earlier made this communi- 
cation. With the objections you make to Mr. Parker's sermon, 
and the synopsis you have given of it, I have nothing to do. I 
should probably object as strongly as yourself to some of the 
principles and assertions contained in the sermon, and as the dis- 
course itself is soon to be published, entire and just as it was 
preached, the public and yourself will be able to judge how far 



14 

you have been just, accurate, and candid, in the account you 
have given of it. 

As you have proposed a question to the members of the coun- 
cil assembled at the ordination at South Boston, I presume if that 
is answered, you will have no objection to answer in return, any 
question which a member of the council may propose to you. 
You ask, " whether the clergymen who composed that council 
sanction the sentiments of the preacher, or acKnowIedge him as 
a Christian minister?" I answer, that no Unitarian clergyman 
feels himself responsible for his brethren, or authorized to speak 
for them. We recognize no creed, covenant, or union of any 
kind, that interferes with individual liberty and independence. 
I cannot answer, therefore, for all the members of the council, 
and I can only speak for myselt And for myself, I am free to 
say, that I do not approve of some of the sentiments advanced 
by Mr. Parker. I most seriously and solemnly protest against 
them. They seem to me^ undermine the very foundation of 
jEill Christian faith, and to oe at variance with Christian truth; 
as much so, in my judgment, as some of the sentiments and doc- 
trines which you yourself entertain and preach. I am free to 
answer further, that if I entertained some of the opinions which 
I understood Mr. Parker to present, (I may have misunderstood 
him,) I should think that I ought to leave the Christian pulpit; 
that it was no longer the place in which I ought to stand, as a 
professed Christian teacher ; but, if Mr. Parker thinks otherwise, 
if he can find a people willing to hear him, and ministers willing 
to exchange with him, that is his affair and their affair, and not 
mine. 

Having thus answered, so far as I am able, your question, 
will you permit me to propose one or two to you? While, 
from your general knowledge of the opinions of Unitarians, and 
that acquaintance with their writings, which as a Christian theo* 
logian you ought to have, you might have been satisfied that the 
sentiments expressed by Mr. Parker were not in harmony with 
those commonly entertained by that denomination, were you not 
also, on that very afternoon after the ordination, or within a few 
days subsequent, and before the date of your letter, informed by 
one or two Unitarian clergymen, especially by one whose stand- 
ing, experience, and intimate acquaintance with most of the Uni- 
tarian clergy, authorize him, so far as any one can be authorized, 
to speak for the body, were you not, by this individual, express- 
ly assured that the sentiments of Mr. Parker were not approved 
by Unitarians] If you were thus informed, may I ask, what 
was your object and motive in associating yourself with two other 



15 



clergymen of South-Boston, and making, with some parade, a 
public inquiry relative to a matter, in respect to which you had 
already been informed, and in respect to which you might have 
given similar information to these clergymen, had you chosen 
to do so ? Did you not know, were you not as well assured 
before you wrote and published that letter, as you could expect 
to be afterwards, that the sentiments of that sermon were not in 
harmony with the principles and opinions commonly entertained 
by Unitarians ? What waa your object and motive, then, in 
making this public inquiry ? I will not so far reflect upon your 
understanding as to suppose that you would attempt to make 
the members of the Council or Unitarians generally responsible 
for Mr. Parker's individual opinions, and thus bring additional 
odium upon a denomination, all of whom you and your brethren 
are accustomed to regard as infidels and heretics, whose churches 
and ministers have no claim to the Christian name or Christian 
privileges. You know very well that neither the members of 
the Council nor Unitarians generally can be considered thus re- 
sponsible for Mr. Parkers individual peculiarities of opinion. 
As well might the professors at Andover, where Mr. Shackford 
pas3ed a portion of his theological noviciate, or the association of 
Orthodox ministers, who approbated him to preach, be held re- 
sponsible for his present Unitarian opinions ! What, then, was 
your object in this public inquiry ? 

Again you say, " We were hoping that when the venerable 
Dr. Pierce arose to oflTer the ordaining prayer, he would have 
said to the candidate, * if your sentiments accord with those of 
the preacher, I cannot consecrate you to the christian ministry.' 
But in this we were disappointed. We then hoped that when 
Rev. Mr. Lothrop proceeded to give the charge he would have 
remonstrated against the sentiments proclaimed in the sermon, 
and solemnly charged the young man to avoid them as contrary 
to the Gospel and destructive to the souls of men. But in this, 
too, we were disappointed." 

In reference to the passage I have just quoted, I have two 
questions I wish to ask, one a matter of opinion, the other a 
matter of fact. How far do you think it proper or necessary 
for a person to make the service he performs at an ordination 
a remonstrance to the service performed by some other 
person, with whose sentiments he happens not to concur, and 
thus convert this solemn occasion into one of personal contention 
and controversy ? I did not approve of some of the sentiments 
expressed by Mr. Parker ; I did not aqd do not concur in them ; 
neither did I approve or concur in some of the sentiments exr 



16 



pressed by Mr. Putnam in his address to the people, or by Mr. 
Sargent in his Right Hand of Fellowship. Must I therefore get 
up and express my disapprobation and non-concurrence ? I 
have seldom attended an ordination where every thing that was 
uttered perfectly harmonized with my own opinions and feelings. 
Was I bound or had I a right to interrupt the service by a re- 
monstrance ? Would it be an improvement in the services of an 
ordination to conduct them upon the plan implied in your re- 
marks ? You say that you expected a remonstrance from Dr. 
Pierce and Mr. Lothrop, and were disappointed. Your remarks 
imply, and seem intended to imply, that in the services offered 
by these gentlemen, nothing counter to the opinions presented 
in the sermon was expressed. You imply that their services 
were of a character which led you to infer that they were satis- 
fied with the sermon. Is this true ? Is it a just and candid 
account of the services of those gentlemen ? They did not dis- 
tinctly and directly remonstrate against the sermon, but can you, 
as an honest man, deny that almost every thought presented by 
them was in direct opposition to some of the sentiments of the 
sermon? and was it fair, in a public communication upon the 
subject, to conceal this important fact ? Did not Dr. Pierce, in 
his prayer, with great distinctness, and in strong contrast with 
the sermon which had just preceded, express great reverence - 
for the Holy Scriptures, for Jesus Christ, as the Mediator of the 
new covenant, sent to speak with authority to men ? Did not 
the charge earnestly exhort the young candidate to reverence 
the character, example and authority of Jesus Christ, to go to his 
words as the source and the authority of the instructions he 
communicated to his people, to be careful to preach his gospel 
and not his own notions and passions ? Could any one present 
believe, did you yourself really believe, that the persons who 
expressed the sentiments that were expressed in the prayer and 
in the charge, did approve, or could approve of some that were 
advanced in the sermon ? I am satisfied that the opposite im- 
pression must have been conveyed by their services ; I know 
that such impression was conveyed to many, and I feel ag- 
grieved, I think Dr. Pierce and myself, as we are singled out 
from those who performed the other services, have both occasion 
to feel aggrieved, that in giving to the public an account of the 
occasion, you should have so represented the matter as to lead 
the public to infer that our services implied a concurrence in the 
sentiments of the sermon, which I contend was far from being 
the case, r Though the language used in your letter, therefore, 
and quoted above, is literally true, inasmuch as we did not re- 



* •? 



17 

mofistrate, in direct express words, yet it is calculated to give, 
and does give the public a false impression respecting our 
services, and as such is not just or candid. It is a violation of 
the golden rule of doing to others as you would, have others do 
to you. If it was through inadvertence your letter was so 
written as to convey this false impression, as I am ready to 
believe it was, I have no doubt that you will be disposed pub- 
licly to acknowledge and correct it. As an act of justice, I 
call upon you to do so, or to disprove what I have said re- 
specting the character of the ordaining prayer and the charge. 

One word more. You ask if the members of i\\e Council 
" acknowledge Mr. Parker as a Christian minister ? " This in- 
quiry and form of expression is an implied acknowledgment on 
your part, that the members of the Council are themselves 
Christian ministers. An acknowledgment which the Orthodox 
clergy have not been very ready to make. 

May I ask if you intended to make this acknowledgment, or 
are disposed to make it? Are you ready to recognize myself or 
any other members of that Council, as Christian ministers, and 
extend towards us ministerial courtesy and fellowship ? 
1 am, very respectfully. 

Your obedient servant, 

S. K. LOTHROP. 

Boston J June 17, 1841. 

To the above letter, Mr. Fairchild replied through the same 
paper of June 26th : — 

To THfc Rev. S. K. Lothrop : 

Mt Dear Sir, — Your letter addressed to me in the Courier 
of the 18th ihst., seems to require an answer. Christian cour- 
tesy, as well as the importance of the subject, demands it. And 
in answering it, my sincere wish is that the spirit of kindness 
and truth may dwell in my heart, and guide my pen. 

You have chosen to single me out from the two other clergy- 
men whose names are appended with mine to the synopsis of 
Mr. Parker's sermon. Your reason for not addressing us in our 
associated capacity, I am unable to explain. To this, however, 
I do not object. And if any other member of the Council 
should address a similar letter to my companions individually, I 
doubt not they would very readily return an answer, and be 
able, each one, to defend and justify himself. 

Before I proceed to state my motives in making public the 
communication of which you complain, it seems necessary that 
the correctness of that communication should be established ; for 



V 



18 

if I have home false witness, my motives, whatever they may 
liave been, can hardly be pleaded in my justification. Though 
I profess to have a creed, yet it is no part of that creed " to do 
'^vil that good may come." 

I was hoping that you spoke by authority, when I read in 
your letter that ^^ the sermon itself is soon to be published, 
entire, and just as it was preached." In this, however, I am 
disappointed. The discourse is not the same, even by the ad- 
mission of the author himself. He says in his preface, '' I have 
made a few verbal alterations, changed the order of a few sen- 
tiences, omitted here and there a few words which were only 
repetitions of former sentences, and added a few paragraphs 
vt^hich, though written in the manuscript, were necessarily omit- 
ted in consequence of the length of the discourse." Now, let 
me ask, is this fair, honest, just ? Is this publishing the sermon 
" entire, and just as it was preached," as you assured me would 
be done ? I appeal to your candor, to your sense of justice, 
was it right, after what had transpired in reference to that ser- 
mon, for the author "to make verbal alterations, ch&ng;e the 
order of sentences, omit words, and add paragraphs?" Was it 
not incumbent on him, as an honest man, and did he not owe it 
lo the public, to publish the sermon, if he published it at all, 
just as it was preached, word for word, sentence for sentence, 
paragraph for paragraph ? What need was there for these 
plterations ? Ought not literary elegance and taste to be sacri- 
ficed on such an occasion, (especially by one whose literary 
character is already established,) rather than lose the advantage 
of the public assurance which you gave, that we should have 
the whole sermon " entire, and just as it was preached. " But 
this has not been done. I $hall, therefore, in my reply to your 
letter, proceed on the ground that our report of the sermon is 
correct. Indeed, this is admitted by Mr. Folsom, a member of 
the Council. He says explicitly, that the sermon was rei^arded 
by him and others as " deistical," and was '* another gospel from 
what Paul preached." He says further, that our report of the 
sermon is, " in substance," correct. Dr. Pierce also has said to 
some of his friends in Boston, that we did not misrepresent the 
sentiments of the preacher, and that there was one sentence in 
the sermon, omitted by us, which he considered more objection- 
able than any which we reported. You probably recollect the 
sentence. It was uttered in words like these : " The story of 
the miraculous conception of Christ" — the remainder of the 
sentence we did not recollect with sufficient verbal accuracy to 
justify us in reporting it. Dr. Pierce is my authority for stating 



s 



19 

th^ close of the sentence thus — -^^ is worthy only to be placed 
by the side of the amours of Neptune." 

Am I to be told, because no mention is made of it in ^^,e 
printed sermon, that the preacher did pot say — ^* We want np 
one to stand between us and God — no intervening Mecjiator?*' 
Before I can be convicted of misrepreseiita.tion here, it must first 
be proved that I was not present on that occasjion. 

In our report, we represent the preacher as paying, '^ Chris- 
tianity was the same nineteen centuries before Christ, as nineteeq 
centuries after Christ." Now just turn to the 3dth page of tbj^ 
printed sermon, and read the following sentence: ''The trutlfi 
he brought to light must have been always the same before tb^ 
eyes of all-seeing God, nineteen centuries before Christ, oir 
nineteen centuries after him." This is true ; and had it been sf) 
delivered from the pulpit, the sentence above stated wou^d ijiol 
have appeared in our report. Now, whether this be ^ mere 
verbal alteration or changing the order of a sentence, without 
affecting the sense, you and the public may judge. 

But I will not dwell longer on this painful subject. I wil) 
only add that there is no want of testimony the most iii^im- 
peachable,that the public have not the sermon in print as it was 
preached in the pulpit. There is, however, enough in the serr 
mon as it now is, if I may be permitted to give your own descrip- 
tion of it, " to undermine the very foundation of all Christian 
faith;" enough which is "at variance with Christian truth." 

Now for my motives. And you shall have them without 
concealment, and without equivocation. And first of all, 1 say 
that my motive was not what you seem to apprehend it to have 
been. Neither was it what a writer in the Qhristian Register 
insinuates — "to increase sectarian capital." How was it pos^ 
sible for such a motive to influence me and my companions, wlie^ 
we were not only present ourselves, but publicly invited our 
people to be present? The inference would rather seem to be 
that we were disposed to give them an opportunity "to increasip 
sectarian capital" from among our own people. 

When we expressed the hope that in your charge, you wogld 
have remonstrated against the sentiments of the sermon, and 
were disappointed, I can truly say, for myself, that I had no 
design to make the impression on the public mind, that nothing 
was uttered in that charge in opposition to the sentiments of the 
preacher. There were things said by Dr. Pierce, in the conse*- 
cratincr prayer, and by yourself, in the charge, and especially by 
Mr. Putnam, in his address to the people, which could not fail 
to convince every hearer that you did not apprpvQ of spipe pf 



so 

the sentiments proclaimed in the sermon. If I have been the 
occasion of making a difTerent impression on the public mind, 
and thereby injuring you or any of your brethren, I am sincerely 
sorry for it. And 1 hope that this declaration will satisfy you 
and all concerned. 

That you may get at my real motives, I will briefly state to 
you the circumstances of the case. A special invitation was 
given me to attend that ordination. Being acquainted with sev- 
eral members of that Society, for whom I have a high regard, 
as my neighbors and friends, I readily accepted the invitation. 
I had heard, on some former occasions, three or four sermons 
preached by Unitarian clergymen, in which nothing exception- 
able was advanced ; and I expected it would be so on that 
occasion. Judge then of my utter astonishment, when such 
sentiments were proclaimed in my hearing, by a professedly 
Christian minister ! Believing that the members of a Council 
are responsible for what they do, and especially the one who 
offers the consecrating prayer, I felt as though Dr. Pierce would 
certainly arise, as soon as the sermon was. ended, and publicly 
protest against such sentiments, and not proceed till he had first 
ascertained, from the candidate for ordination, that such were 
not his sentiments. As he failed to do this, I then expected it 
of you. But you ask, in your letter — " was 1 bound, or had I 
a right to interrupt the service by a remonstrance ? " You cer- 
tainly had a right to interrupt the services, so far as to say that 
you would not take the responsibility of aiding in ordaining a 
man, without previously ascertaining whether he were a deist or 
not. But you say that you have no creed. Of course, you do 
not examine a candidate for the ministry, as to his religious be- 
lief. How then, my dear sir, did you know that you were not 
about to assist in setting over that people, as their religious 
teacher, a deist ? It is, I believe, the usual custom for the can- 
didate to select his own preacher, and to make the selection, 
because he has confidence in him, and accords with him in sen- 
timent. Was it, then, an unreasonable presumption that the 
views of the candidate were in harmony with those of the 
preacher? It seems to me that this was an extraordinary oc- 
casion, demanding a departure from the usual course of pro- 
cedure. The question then presented was not one concerning 
creeds, or slight differences of opinion among believers in Christ ; 
but this was the question — Christianity or Infidelity ; Bible or 
no Bible. 

It has ever been my impression, that all, who make any pre- 
tension to the Christian name, allow the divine authority and 



21 

inspiration of the scriptures ; and when that authority and inspi« 
ration were denied by the preacher, you cannot blame me for 
expressing disappointment in not bearing you remonstrate, even 
though you might thereby interrupt the services. And good 
people, of every Christian name, would, in my opinion, have 
approved the act, and sustained you in it. It seemed to me, 
that a remonstrance was as much demanded, as if the preacher 
had been laboring, through the whole of the sermon, to prove 
that there is no God. Therefore, in publishing the paper, of 
which you complain, I wished to know, and to have the public 
know, whether " the Unitarian clergymen, of Boston and vicin- 
ity, so far sympathize with the preacher, in his opinions, as ex- 
pressed on that occasion," as knowingly to unite with deists, in 
ordaining men to the work of the Christian ministry. And, as 
you have no creed, and as no one of your number is authorized 
to speak for another, how could this knowledge be obtained, 
except by giving each one an opportunity to speak for himself? 
You, sir, have spoken ; and while I am happy to read in your 
letter this sentence — "I most seriously and solemnly protest 
against the sentiments advanced by Mr. Parker" — yet I am 
somewhat disappointed at not finding a protest equally serious 
and solemn against uniting with a council in ordaining a man of 
such sentiments, and against giving him the right hand of fellow- 
ship as a Christian minister. Not that you actually ordained a 
man of such sentiments on that occasion. For aught I know, 
he may differ as widely from the preacher as yourself But if 
this were the fact, how you became assured of it you can best 
explain. You indeed say, "if Mr. Parker can find a people 
willing to hear him, and ministers willing to exchange with him, 
that is his affair and their affair, and not mine." But you do 
not say that you would not, if requested, consecrate him by 
prayer, or give the charge, or express the fellowship of the 
churches. While I would have such a man and such a people 
enjoy all the rights of civil and religious liberty, without the in- 
fliction of pains and penalties for so doing, yet it would have 
been gratifying to have found in your letter a declaration that 
you will do nothing which has even the appearance of " bidding 
them God speed," or of countenancing their errors. Am I to 
understand that, in your opinion, a member of an ecclesiastical 
council assumes no responsibility when he assists in ordaining a 
man over a Christian people.^ And if he be a Deist, or even 
an Atheist, would you simply say, " that is his affair, and their 
affair, and not mine ? " While you plainly intimate that it is 
your determination to exclude such a man from your own pul- 



pit, yet you do not say that you would not aid in introducing 
him into other pulpits. 

1 feel it due to Dr. Pierce, in this connexion, to say that be 
assured me he was taicen by surprise, and gave me distinctly to 
understand that, had he had more time for reflection, he would 
have protested against th^ sentiments advanced, and publicly 
demanded \yhetber the deism of the preacher was the deism of 
the candidate. 

There is one sentence in your letter which both surprised and 
grieved me. After protesting most seriously and solemnly 
against the sentiments of Mr. Parker, <* as undermining the 
very foundation of all Christian faith, and at variance wiih 
Christian truth," you add, " as much so, in my judi^ment, as 
some of the sentiments and doctrines which you yourself enter- 
tain and preach." By what authority, my dear sir, do you make 
this public insinuation that I entertain sentiments and preach 
doctrines tending ^' as much to undermine the very foundation 
^f all Christian faith," as do the sentiments of Mr. Parker? 
This, to say the least, has the appearance of severity, and a 
want of Christian candor. The sentiments and doctrines which 
I profess to entertain and preach, are, in substance, the senti- 
ments and doctrines entertained and preached by such men as 
Baxter, and Flavel, and Doddridge, and the early fathers of 
New England. And if you will place the sentiments and doc- 
trines of these men on a level with those of Mr. Parker, on you 
be the responsibility. It would indeed be interesting to know 
whether you do really believe, as one might fairly infer, that Mr. 
Parker's deism is no worse than my orthodoxy. You further 
say, " if I entertained some of the opinions which I understood 
Mr. Parker to present, I should think that I ought to leave the 
Christian pulpit ; that it was no longer a place in which I ought 
to stand a? a professed Christian teacher." Then it seems that, 
as I entertain sentiments and preach doctrines which, in your 
opinion, tend as much as those of Mr. Parker, '' to undermine 
the very foundation of all Christian faith," I ought, on that ac- 
count, to leave the Christian pulpit. If this be your opinion of 
my duty, of course it is your opinion of the duty of ail who en- 
tertain sentiments and preach doctrines in harmony with my 
own. And shall I do you any injustic,e when I infer that, as 
you would exclude Mr. Parker from your pulpit, on account of 
his sentiments, so, if I, or my orthodox brethren were to solicit 
an exchange with you, we should be excluded for a similar 
reason? . 

But why exclude Mr. Parker ? Is he not one of your num- 



ber, and in regular standing? Has he not received from you 
and your brethren the right hand of fellowship ? With us, this 
ceremony has a meaning ; and among other things, we mean 
by it to pledge ourselves to stand by a brother in time <yf 
trouble, and give him our sympathy and assistance, till he is 
proved guilty of something whibh will justify us in ceasing to 
acknowledge him as a Christian minister. It may be that Mr. 
Parker now feels that he is in trouble, and would be grateful 
for your sympathy and assistance. And yet, while he claims 
the fellowship promised him, and which you do not say he has 
forfeited, you in effect tell him that he is not fit to stand up in 
your pulpit. This, however, is his affair and your affair, and 
not mine. 

In the paper which you say has aggrieved you, the question 
was asked, whether the clergymen who composed that council, 
acknowledge Mr. Parker as a Christian minister ? Instead of 
answering this question, you inquire whether I will acknowledge 
you as a Christian minister ? Now it seems to me that my 
question is, to say the least, quite as pertinent as yours, and 
vastly more important ; and as it was proposed first, pray teH 
me why it should not be answered first ? Besides, this is not a 
personal matier. We are now occupying ground infinitely 
higher ; and we will not descend from it,* with my consent, to 
engage in sectarian strife and personal conflict. What though 
I should say that I dfa or do not deem you a Christian minister? 
and what though you should say that you do or do not deem 
me a Christian minister ? I and my brethren call ourselves 
Christian ministers ; you and your brethren call yourselves 
Christian ministers. Do you consider Mr. Parker as one of 
your number? This is a question, and the only question, which 
seems now to claim attention. And in thus limiting the ques- 
tion, we cause it to stand out prominently, as a matter interest- 
ing, not to you and riie especially, but to the whole Christian 
dommunity. The public wish to know, not what you and I 
think of each other — that is an affair of trifling moment with 
them — but they wish to know whether deists are recognized by 
you and your brethren, as Christian ministers. This is the 
question which the Editor of the Courier asks with so much 
pertinency and force. He says — " It seems to me that there 
is a duty for the Unitarian clergy to perform ; and that is^ to 
say distinctly yes or no to the question. Is a preacher of such 
sentiments a Christian minister 1 They claim to be Christian 
ministers. Is he one of them V^ 

You Complain of being iaggrieved. I "trust that enough ba& 



S4 

been said already to satisfy you that it was not done designedly. 
You do not know me, if you suppose that I would wantonly 
wound your feelings or those of your brethren. So far as I am 
acquainted with the Unitarian clergymen of Boston and vicinity, 
I respect and love them. And even towards Mr. Parker him- 
self, I am not conscious of having in my bosom one particle of 
enmity or ill-will. I am informed that he is a kind, amiable, 
obliging gentleman, and of unblemished moral character ; and I 
have no reason to doubt it. I admire his scholarship, his liter- 
ary acquirements, and his talents, perverted though I deem 
them to be. 

As something was said in the paper which gave rise to your 
letter, designed, it may be thought, to grieve the laymen who 
attend on the Unitarian ministry, allow me here to say one 
word in order to remove any unfavorable impression which may 
have been made upon their minds. When we spoke in that 
paper of " sittin^j under that instruction which causeth to err 
from the words of knowledge," we did not mean even to in- 
sinuate that our friends would countenance deism in the pulpit 
or out of it. And if a contrary impression has been made, I 
trust that what has now been said will remove it. For myself, 
I can truly say, that nothing could induce me needlessly to 
wound their feelings.. Gratitude alone, if no higher principle, 
would forbid it. In a time of sickness and family embarrass- 
ment, as well as on other occasions, I have received from these 
friends many testimonies of kindness and affection, (especially 
from one of your own parishioners,) for which I feel truly 
grateful, and shall feel so till I die. But these friends, T am 
sure, now that they know my motives, will not be wounded, 
unless it be the wound which they feel in common with me, 
that such sentiments should have been proclaimed from the 
pulpit. They feel, I am sure, such an attachment for the 
Bible, as the inspired book of God, such need of its hopes and 
consolations, and such a dread of destroying its restraints on the 
public mind, that they will thank me for exposing deism when- 
ever and wherever advocated, and for defending Christianity 
whenever and wherever assailed. They will not subsciibe to 
the doctrine that the Bible is not the standard of truth. 

I wish to say, in conclusion, that I have no taste for contro- 
versy of any kind. My habits and feelings are altogether averse 
to it. Nor are my views and feelings sectarian. Christians of 
every name, who hold Christ the head, and receive the Bible 
as the inspired word of God, and the only rule of faith and 
practice, have my fellowship and good wishes. Though I may 



25 

differ from ihem on certain points of doctrine, yet that circum- 
stance produces in my mind no distrust — no alienation. And 
in the matter before us, 1 am not contending for the peculiari- 
ties of one Christian sect more than another. I stand on com- 
mon ground, and plead in defence of our common Christianity. 
And 1 cannot believe that Christians of any sect or name will 
censure me for what 1 have done. I may further add, that 
nothing but a conscientious conviction of duty to the cause o£ 
truth and righteousness could have prevailed on me to unite 
with my two brothers of the Baptist and Methodist denomina- 
tions, in making public the deistical sentiments advanced oa 
that occasion. If I have erred in this matter, it is some con- 
solation to know that it is an error of the head, and not of the 
heart. Affectionately yours, J. H. Faijlcuild. 

Boston, June 25, 1841. 

The following communication appeared in the ' Courier ' oC 
June 29th : 

ORDINATION AT SOUTH BOSTON. 

To THE Editor OF THE Courier: 

I was absent from town when this ordination took place, and 
also when the letter and statement, signed by the Rev. Mr. 
Fairchild and others, were published. The letter of the Rev. 
Mr. Lothrop first called my attention to the subject. Having 
seen abundant evidence of the injustice and illiberality of self- 
styled Orthodox clergymen and laymen, towards Unitarians, I 
saw little to regret in tlie remarks of Mr. Lothrop. I next read 
Mr. Parker's sermon, and then the statement referred to. Not- 
withstanding all I had heard and known of transcendentalism, 
(for I must use this word in its well-known sense) I was shocked 
and grieved at the sentiments of the preacher. The statement 
struck me as prepared with great care and in a good spirit, and, 
making allowances for the verbal alterations admitted to have 
been made in the printed copy, as singularly accurate and fair. 

I regretted that Mr. Lothrop had from any cause been led to 
suspect the motivesof the writers, when those of the hi^^hest and 
purest character seemed sufficient to account for the measure 
they adopted. 

My own impression was, that had I been a member of the 
Council, I should have risen in my place when the preacher 
closed, and proposed an adjournment, for the purpose of ascer- 
taining whether or no the candidate assented to the opinions and 
sentiments he avowed. As no member did this,, it may be that 
in such an emergency no one would be prepared to act promptly, 

4 



26 

and therefore 1 would blame no one for the omission. Such a 
course cannot be called unjust toward a candidate. It is 
known that in former times, it was usual for him to be the 
preacher on these occasions, and now that he selects a substi- 
tute, it is surely reasonable to presume that he and his repre- 
sentative agree in what they deem the fundamentals of re- 
ligion. 

I, for one, feel indebted to Mr. Fairchild and his associates 
for the call they made. What may possibly be its effects, for a 
time, on Unitarianism, is of no consequence. If our principles 
cannot stand this test, or the denunciations of the very consis- 
tent editor of the Boston Quarterly, or any and all other tests, 
let them go down. I go for Christianity as I find it in the 
Bible. 1 cannot be satisfied that man is inherently a Christian, 
or that without the aid of that blessed book, or some other Rev- 
elation that God may hereafter see fit to make, he would ever 
become one. 

I would sooner see every Unitarian congregation in our land 
dissolved, and every one of their churches occupied by other 
denominations, or razed to the ground, than assist in placing a 
man, entertaining the sentiments of Mr. Parker, in one of their 
pulpits. 

Mr. Lothrop's allusion to sentiments expressed by two other 
gentlemen who took part in the services, I regard as illustrative 
of a general principle, and not requiring explanation. One of 
the gentlemen has thought otherwise, and, according to my 
apprehension, his remarks published in your paper lead to the 
inference that he differed little from the preacher. 

The letter of Mr. Fairchild to Mr. Lothrop, in your paper 
of Saturday, increases my respect for his character. With him, 
I regret that Mr. Parker made a single alteration in printing his 
sermon. The occurrence reminds me of one that I hope may 
not be found too apposite to this occasion. 

A clergyman, rather noted for the laxity of his opinions, had 
preached to an audience in the Old Colony, composed of differ- 
ent denominations, much to the delight of all, which a gentle- 
man present took occasion to say to him. He replied, '^ well, 
that is very singular, for I preached the same discourse at two 
churches in Boston, and a parcel of half-thinking people went 
home and said I was a deist." On which he was asked if he 
meant to say that the sermon was, in truth, precisely the same, 
unaltered. " Yes," said he, "except that here and there I have 
interposed a guard or two." To this the querist rejoined — "I, 
sir, was one of the half-thinking people you referred to. I then 



27 

thought the sentiraeots highly reprehensible, but with a guard 
here and there, they meet my entire approbation." 

A Christian Layman. 

In reply to the above, we copy the following article from the 

same paper : — 

Boston, June 29, 1841. 
To THE Editor of the Courier : 

In the letter of your correspondent, '^ A Christian Layman," 
in the Courier of this morning, — so just in its views of the sub- 
ject of which it treats, and candid in its treatment of the Rev. 
Mr. Fairchild, and the clerical brethren united with him, — 
there was only a single sentence which I read with pain. 

He says — ^' Having seen abundant evidence of the injustice 
and illiberality of self-styled Orthodox clergymen and laymen, 
towards Unitarians, I saw little to regret in the remarks of Mr. 
Lothrop." 

As I have often been pained, since I have had the privilege 
of preaching the gospel in this community, with expressions of 
this kind, and have probably shared this pain with many others, 
it has seemed to me that it might be well, now that the attention 
of my fellow-citizens is awakened to our religious relations to 
each other, to ask of you and them, a few moments' attention to 
the charges implied, I have no doubt conscientiously, in the 
words just cited. 

Your correspondent writes of those who are " self-styled Or- 
thodox clergymen and laymen." 

Without professing to be possessed of much accurate informa- 
tion on this subject, permit me to state what has appeared to me 
to be the truth, in regard to such terms \ and what will probably 
be found to be the truth, after the closest scrutiny. 

They, who are called " Orthodox," have not obtained the 
title by any self-complacent assumption of it, but by silent con- 
ventional agreement. They compose that class of our fellow- 
citizens, who hold, substantially, to those principles of religious 
truth, which were believed in, and loved, and defended, by the 
Fathers of New England. They have never shrunk from avow- 
ing those pnnciples, in written words, (creeds, if any one de- 
sires so to call them,) with as much honesty and willingness as 
the votaries of any great truths in human governments have ever 
avowed their political principles. 

It was quite natural, in such circumstances, that they who 
thus walked in the '' old ways" of their fathers should be called 
" Orthodox." That term has accordingly been applied to them ; 



and as they have believed, and do believe, that in their re1i(i:ious 
doctrines they are substantially correct, they have been willing 
to acquiesce in the propriety of the title, — although perfecily 
aware for many years past, that, instead of being an appellation 
lybich has helped them, it has been often adroitly apphed as a 
term of reproach. Although thus used to their disadvantage, 
they have not, and they do not disclaim it. But they have not 
sought, and they do not seek it. I think that your corres- 
pondent, — fair as his letter certainly is, in other respects, — 
must, on reflection, see that he is wrong in affirming that they 
"are self-st vied orthodox.'* 

The second charge implied in the sentence T cited is. that 
" the Orthodox'* have treated Unitarians with " injustice and 
illiberality." 

Without meaning to affirm, that in the heat of controversy, 
respecting truths which they believed to be inspired by God, 
for the eternal good of his accountable creatures, orthodox men 
have never been apparently bigoted, or have never been be- 
trayed, for a time, into an unkind spirit, — I beg leave to record 
it, as a conviction which, I think, can be substantiated by unde- 
niable facts, that their general course of feeling and action 
towards Unitarians, has not been, and is not, one either of 
" injustice or illiberality." 

At the commencement of what may be called the Unitarian 
controversy in Massachusetts, they saw, or thought they saw, 
the beginning of a course of things which would, eventually, 
produce a crisis like to that at which we have now arrived. 
And, without any desire to infringe upon the free exercise of 
religious liberty, they felt bound to declare their convictions, 
that they would no longer go with those, the end of whose 
religious doctrines they firmly believed would be the overthrow 
of the faith of the Pilgrim Fathers ; — the faith for which those 
fathers so courageously endured all that their history shows them 
to have suffered, and the faith which they believed to be clearly 
revealed in the word of God. 

They not only believed, but declared, that the result of the 
religious doctrines they opposed would bo an ultimate aban- 
donment of the Bible as the inspired word of God, and at least 
an approach to avowed infidelity. 

Believing thus, they honestly declared that they could hold 
no public fellowship with those from whom they differed, and 
by their actions would never profess to think and feel in a way, 
which their conscience and their heart belied. This they 
declare to-day ; and they aie now ready, kindly^ and not taunt- 



89 

« • 

ingljs to point iheir fellow-citizens to the developement, io 
acknowledged facts, of the truth of their past predictions. 

In this, surely, no candid raan will say, that there is either 
" injustice or illiberality." 

Permit me only to add, that in assuming the ground which 
has thus separated them from Unitarians, " the Orthodox" of 
Massachusetts cannot justly bo said to have sought for them- 
selves either temporal power or reputation. By the course they 
have pursued, they have been hitherto subjected to the honest 
displeasure and opposition of many of the most influential and 
talented laymen of our city and State, \^ho could not be reason- 
ably supposed, from their position, to see the dangers which 
seemed evident to them. While in other forms, which I will 
not now attempt to mention, they have encountered difficulties, 
which by a less firm adherence to their fundamental principles, 
they might have easily avoided. 

I trust, sir, to your known candor and liberality, to give these 
few suggestions a place in your columns. A Pastor. 

We cut the following piece from the * Puritan ' of July 1st. 
It will be remembered that Mr. Sargent presented the Right 
Hand of Fellowship to Mr. Shackford. 

The editor of the Courier deserves the thanks of the commu- 
nity, that he has had the firmness to pursue au impartial course 
respecting the subject of Mr. Parker's sermon. It was natural 
for him, as a Unitarian, to feel a sense of mortification, in view 
of recent developements. But he has not shrunk from exposing 
the false positions of his friends. His reply to a suggestion in 
Mr. Sargent's right hand of fellowship, is to the point. Mr, 
Sargent said : 

" We are never frightened by the progress of those who truly 
* wait upon the Lord.' We allow them to * renew their strength/ 
by whatsoever courses or different modes of intellectual exercise, 
and while they ' mount up with wings as eagles,' we bid them 
prosper and go forward for ever, so long as they fly towards the 
sun, — the < Sun of Righteousness,' and keep within the range 
of his beams :" 

The editor of the Courier, in a note referring to this extract, 
says : 

" We ought, perhaps, to ask the pardon of the writer for 
interposing a remark ; but it appears to us, that this saving 
clause — *to long as they fly toward the sun — the Sun of 
Righteousness — and keep within the range of his beams/ 



80 

involves the whole matter in controversy. The question which 
the Unitarian laymen ask to have answered is, substantially, — 
* Do the Unitarian clergy hold that the preacher of the ordi- 
nation sermon flies toward the Sun of Righteousness ? Is he 
within the range of that Sun's beams ?' If the sermon has been 
truly represented, we — the laity — think that his course is 
towards a luminary of a very different character, and that so 
far from being within the range of those glorious beams, he is 
wandering by the light of a baleful blaze, that emanates from an 
antagonist source." 

In the same paper of June 24th, we find the following edito- 
rial article : 

UNITARIAN FELLOWSHIP. 

Providence has suffered a practical test to be applied to the 
Unitarian theory of Christian fellowship. That theory has been, 
that the Christian name must be accorded to all who profess to 
be Christians, and that it is an infringement on the right of pri- 
vate judgment, to disown fellowship with any one, whatever may 
be his principles. The intrinsic absurdity of this is now coming 
out, so that every eye caii see it. A Unitarian minister of high 
literary standing, and having many admirers, has come out with 
the most positive declaration, of what his brethren confess to be 
deism. Yet his claim to the continuance of fellowship with other 
Unitarian ministers, on their principles, is indisputable. It would 
be (according to them) an act of violence to his right of private 
judgment, his liberty oi conscience, to say that they could have 
no fellowship with his sentiments, nor with him, while holding 
them. 

He has in the most public manner declared his infidelity, and 
poured ridicule upon the Christian Scriptures. And it is pre- 
posterous that he should be longer regarded as a fit teacher of 
Christianity, and an expounder of the Scriptures. No matter ; 
if it be wrong to excommunicate any one, be has a right, an in- 
disputable claim to the fellowship of Unitarians. Besides, 
though this minister is confessed by his brethren to be a deist, 
he still claims to be regarded as a Christian. He avers his be- 
lief in the Christian Scriptures, while he unblushingly contra- 
dicts them, and holds them as fit objects of his contempt. And 
as for belief in Christ, he excels his brethren even in that. 
They believe in only one Christ; and he believes in forty 
Christs already come, and in an indefinite number of Christs yet 
to come. Yea^ according to bis own principlesi be is a Christ 



31 

himself. And if he claims on such grounds to be a Christian^ 
must they not receive him, and give him the right hand of fel- 
lowship, and thus declare to the world that an Infidel is a Chris- 
tian? — that Infidelity is Christianity, and cheerfully celebrate 
the union between Christ and Belial, between him that believetb 
and an Infidel ? Yes, there is no evasion of this result on Uni- 
tarian principles, and we have reason to know, that the Unita- 
rian ministers of this vicinity, now feel the embarrassment of this 
position. An absurd principle was very convenient for some 
purposes, so long as they had no occasion to act upon it, and 
bring it to a practical test. But now that one of their number 
has unblushingly avowed Infidel principles, and still claims their 
fellowship, which by their own principles they can for no cause 
withhold, they are brought into a dilemma. And how do they 
expect to escape ? By a silent and informal withdrawal from 
their Infidel brother ? If they were inclined to this, and he were 
consenting to it, it might be the best method of extrication which 
their principles and circumstances allow'. But here they are 
shut up. He has no fancy for being set aside thus. Though 
he preaches in their pulpits as rank Infidelity as was ever utter- 
ed, and though they cannot deny it, yet he calls it persecution 
to insinuate he is an Infidel. What ! is he who believes in forty 
Christs, and who finds Christs even among heathen philosophers 
— is he to be put down as no Christian ? No, he will hold them 
to their terms, and grasp the right hand of their fellowship with 
a heartier grip, in proportion to their greater need to shake him 
off. 

Nor do we know that they have any inclination to set him 
aside, if they could in consistency with their principles of fellow- 
ship. We know that their exigencies require it. But we have 
some reason to think, that their inward feehng of fellowship to- 
wards him is undiminished. For since the recent publication of 
his Infidelity, (confessed by them to be deism,) they have gone 
in a body and sat under his preaching, while he was sustaining 
in his turn, a service in which the Unitarian ministers in this 
vicinity are wont to unite, as if they were determined to gather 
around him, and sustain him. The question was publicly pro- 
pounded to them, through no less than three papers at once, 
whether they sympathized with such sentiments, and were pre- 
pared to uphold such a man ? And now they have given their 
unqualified yea and amen, by a united public act. Whether this 
has been done ex animo^ or as a matter of policy, it is not for us 
to say. Though it would seem that men whose sense of the 
importance of Christian truth is not strong enough to hold them 



32 

aloof from the embrace of Infidels, fl;ave good grounds for the 
suspicion that they themselves are Infidels at heart. The pro- 
verb " birds of a feather," Sec, is not wholly obsolete. 

But we will not reason on the basis of any such suspicion. 
We will suppose that our neighbors, while they are shocked by 
the sentiments of their brother, still feel, by their principles, 
bound not to disown him. Then we conclude, that they expect 
to escape responsibility, on the ground that they have been al- 
ways principled against disowning any one. When the question 
arises, <Mf the Unitarian ministers regard this man as an Infidel, 
why do n't they declare their conviction, and wash their bands of 
him ?" they expect to have it answ^ered for them that " they do 
not disown any one. Every one stands or falls by his own prin- 
ciples. Every one has the rights of conscience, and is answer- 
able only to God for their use." Whatever may be their sym- 
pathy or want of sympathy with this man's Infidel principles, 
this is the ground on which we suppose they intend to stand be- 
fore the public. 

But it will give them trouble to hold this ground. The ground 
itself is so at war with common sense, that in spite of themselves, 
they will be held responsible for the Infidelity of those to whom 
they give the right hand of fellowship. Their connexion with 
this man is such as by necessity gives their countenance to his 
errors. They treat him before the public as a Christian minis- 
ter, and virtually say that his preaching is, for substance, •Chris- 
tian truth. They therefore give him the most efficient aid in 
propagating Infidelity. In the eye of common sense, their con- 
tinuance of fellowship is their endorsement of his doctrines. It 
is their aid of him in convincing the old and young, and all that 
come under his influence, that Infidelity is truth. And have 
they no responsibility in such a case? 

But no, you will say, "our declared principles of Christian 
union are tantamount to a protest against such an inference, 
from the fact of our fellowship." As well might you say, if you 
were preaching Infidelity by your own pens and mouths, *' you 
have no light to infer that I countenance and encourage this In- 
fidelity which I preach." For it is as much a law of common 
sense, that a man holds in heart the views which he holds in 
fellowship, as that he holds in heart those which he preaches. 
And no protest can annul that law. 

Besides, this supposed practical protest is balanced by another 
practical protest. If you were to take the ground which such a 
pretence would naturally lead to, and say, that as soon as a man 
publicly declares, or manifests his Infidelity, our fellowship with 



33 

him from that moment ceases de facto ^ though we neve^Jn form 
excommunicate any one, there would be more plausibility in the 
plea. But the difficulty is, your fellowship does not cease dz 
facto. Tour acts of fellowship continue ^ in spite of the most 
offensive declaratioQs of Infidelity. You say that you stand on 
such grounds, that as soon as a man becomes an open Infidel, 
he is no longer of you ; that you have no need to excommuni* 
cate him; the public having the evidence of his Infidelity, are> 
bound to see that he is not a Christian, and not of your fellow* 
ship. Nay, but you will not let them. You hold him still m 
actual fellowship — you come again and sit under his preaching 
— you admit him to your clerical circles as a brother beloved, 
and treat him still as a Christian minister. And thus you give 
a practical protest agabst any practical disownment, which your 
known views of fellowship might operate. There is indeed no 
evasion of responsibility. You have in your fellowship a man 
who is an Infidel, aa zealous, as bold, as avowed, and as deeply 
hostile to Christianity, as David Hume or Edward Gibbon. 
And you know it, and, confess it; and you will not ^ive hini up. 
And yet you think you. are giving no Countenance to Infidelity. 
Be astonished, O heavens, at this!! Believe it, the crisis 
HAS COME. The confession has gone out from your own bro* 
therhood, that an Infidel is in your fellowship ; and disown him 
you must, or be yourself disowned asJnfidels, by men of sense 
and conscience among your own people. We have no exalted 
opinion of what is called Unitarian Christianity, especially since 
it has been going to seed, and showing what seed it produces. 
But there is moral worth and integrity in LTnitarian congrega- 
tions, which if much longer insulted in this manner, will choose 
its own way of dissolving the ties that would fasten the reproach 
of Infidelity upon it. 

To this we add the following editorial from the ^ Boston Re- 
corder' of June 525th : 

MR. PARKER'S SERMOK. 
The sermon of Mr. Parker, at the ordination of Mr. Shack- 
ford, at South Boston, has at length come before the public. 
We have given it an attentive perusal ; and we do not think that 
the sketch given under the signature of several clergymen who 
were present at its delivery, does the sentiments of the author 
any injustice, Uiough his ideas are clothed in such a tinged livery 
of transcendentalism that it is no easy matter always to know 
what he would be at. We give the following paragraph how- 

6 



34 

ever, as a specimen of the manner in which he treats the Sacred 
Scriptures. * : . . : j 

• V Ob the authority of the written Word, man was taught to 
believe impossible legends, conflicting assertions ; to take fiction 
for fact; a dream for si miraculous revelation of God ; an orien- 
tal poem for a grave history of miraculous events ; a collection 
pf amatory idyls for a serious discourse '^ touching the mutual 
love of Christ and the Church ;' they have been taught to ac- 
Qfipt a picture sketched by spme glowing eastern imagmation, 
nev& intended to be taken for a reality, as a proof that the In- 
finite God spoke in human words, appeared in the ^hape of a 
cloudy a flaming bush, or a man who eat and drank, and vanished 
into smoke; that he gave counsels to-day, and the opposite to- 
morrow ; that be violated his own laws, was angry, and was only 
dissuaded by a mortal man from destroying at once a whole Na- 
tion — millions of men who rebelled against their leader in a 
moment of anguish. Questions in philosophy, questions in the 
Christian religion, have b^n settled by an appeal to that book. 
The inspiration of its authors has been assumed' as infallible. 
Every fact in the early Jewish history, has been taken as a type 
of some analogous fact in Christian history. The most distant 
events, even subh as are still in the arms of time, were sup- 
posed to be clearly foreseen and foretold by pious Hebrews 
several centuries before Christ. It has been assumed at the out- 
set, with no shadow of evidence, that tho^e writers held a mirac- 
ulous communication with God, such as he has granted to no 
other man. ' What was originally a presumption of bigoted 
Jews became an article of faith, which Christians were burned 
for not believing. This has been for centuries the general opin- 
ion of the Christian church, both Catholic and Protestant, 
though the former never accepted the Bible as the only source 
of religious trbth. It has been so. Still worse, it is now the 
general opinion of religious sects at this day. Hence the at- 
tempt, which always fails, to reconcile the philosophy of our 
times with the poems in Genesis writ a thousand years before 
Christ ; hence the attempt to conceal the contradictions in the 
record itself. Matters have oothe to such a pass that even now, 
he is deemed an infidel, if not by implication an atheist, tvhose 
reverence for the Most High -forbids him to believe that God 
commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, a thought at which the 
flesh creeps with horror; to believe it solely on the authority of 
an oriental story, written down nobody knows when, or by whom, 
or for what purpose: which may be a poem, but cannot be the 
record of a fact, unless God is the author of confusion and a lie." 



35 

I, • \v. • • •"-■.■ •• • ' 

'* The hisjtory of opinioQS on the New Testament is quite sim • 
ilar. It has been assumed at the outset, it would seem with np 
sufficient reason, without the smallest pretence on its writer's 
part, that all of its authors were infallibly and miraculously in- 
spired, so that they c^uld commit no error of doctrine or fact. 
Men have been bid to close their eyes at the obvious difference 
between Luke, and John,;) the serious disagreement between Paul 
apd Peter ; to believe^ on the smallest evidence, accounts wfaicb 
shock the moral sense; and revolt the reason, and tend to 
place Jesus in the same series^ with Hercules, and Apollonius of 
Tyana; accounts which Paul in the Epistles never mentions, 
though he also had a vein of the miraculous running quite 
through him." 

Although we have no doubt this will startle many, as a new 
and specious developement of infidelity, yet it is no more than 
Unitarian writers have all along been in the habit of asserting, 
in respect to the infallible inspiration of the Bible. But, we 
suppose whatever we or any other lovers of the word of God 
may say on this subject, will be answered in the pompous and 
inflated style of the author's preface, in the closing paragraph of 
which he says: < 

'^ It is not necessary I should remark upon the article relating 
to this discourse, signed by several clergymen, and so industri- 
ously circulated by the religious journals. ' The thing speaks for 
itself. Others likewise, I find, have lifted up their heel against 
this discourse, or the rumor of it. I was not so vain as to ex<* 
pe^t my humble attempts to make a distinction between Relig^ 
ion and Theology, or to deliver Christianity from Heathen and 
Jewish notions — would be either acceptable or understood, by 
all ; nor yet am I so young as to be surprised at the cry of * In* 
fidel and Blasphemer/ which has been successively raised 
against nearly all defenders of the Religion of Jesus, from Ori*' 
gen to Ralph Cudworthj." ; 

la reply to the communication of Mr. Fairchild and his asso^' 
ciates, it will be seen, Mr. Parker says his sermon will speaks 
for itself . This would be well enough said, if the sermon werer^ 
published as it was delinered; but, he admits above, that he has 
made alterations in several .particulars, and he does not tell us 
precisely where or how much. If, thenj on the comparison of 
the sermon with the statement made by these gentlemen, it* 
should appear to be not so strong in its statements of the points 
objected to, it will be unfair to charge them' with misrepresenta*- 
tion, till it be shown precisely what, alterations have been inade.^ 
We must express our surpriise that a sermon published under 



36 

such circumstances should he altered at all. However, it is bad 
enough as it is ; and we do not wonder that the author should 
be frightened at the shadows of his own creating, and shrink 
from exposing their horrid forms before the public gaze. 

Mr. Lothrop's second letter to Mr. Fairchild : 

To THE Rev. J. H. Fairchild: 

My Dear Sir, — I thank you for your letter of the 25lhinst., 
in reply to mine of the 17th. I thank you for its courteous tone 
and spirit. The care and ability with which it is prepared need 
no commendation from me. I regret that you omitted to an- 
swer some of the questions I proposed. A newspaper con*es- 
pondence is as disagreeable to me as it can be to you. The 
responsibility of this will rest with those whose original commu- 
nication through the newspapers commenced it. It is not nec- 
essary perhaps, that our correspondence should be further con- 
tinued ; but you have dwelt so long upon some incidental cir- 
cumstances connected with my letter, and the occasion which 
called it forth, that a few words of explanation and comment 
seem to be required of me. 

I did not give, nor can I perceive that I said any thing in my 
letter which implied a pledge that Mr. Parker's sermon would 
or should be published without alteration. 1 merely said, ^^ as 
the sermon is to be printed entire, and just as it was preached." 
This was a statement of a fact or expectation, founded on what 
1 had heard from those on whose information I presumed I 
might rely — a, misstatement, as the event proved, but not a 
pledge. No one could suppose, from the subsequent part of my 
letter, that I was especially in Mr. Parker's confidence, or spoke 
with authority from him. The publication of the sermon proved 
that the information upon which I made my statement was not 
correct, but not that I had violated a pledge, or given an assur- 
ance which Mr. Parker had failed to fulfil. All that portion of 
your letter, therefore, which relates to this point, and is occu- 
pied with holding me up before the public, as one who had 
failed to redeem a pledge, was, to give it no other epithet, whol- 
ly unnecessary. 

The reason which induced me to address you individually, 
instead of all three of the clergymen whose names were appended 
to the original communication, would be sufficiently obvious, I 
presumed, from my letter itself. I had heard that you had been 
expressly assured, by one or two Unitarian clergymen, that the 
sentiments of Mr. Parker's sermon were not approvied of by 
them, or by Unitarians generally. I had not heard that the 



37 

other two clergymen bad been so assured. My letter, there^ 
fore, witb obvious propriety, was addressed to yourself individu- 
ally, to ask you whether you had been so assured, and if you 
had, why you made a public inquiry upon a subject in respect to 
which you had already been as well informed as you could ex- 
pect to be. To the first of these questions you return no an- 
swer. You take no notice of it. To the second, you say that 
you ** wished to know whether the Unitarian clergymen of 
Boston and vicinity so far sympathize with the preacher in his 
opinions, as expressed on that occasion, as knowingly to unite 
with deists, in ordaining men to the work of the Christian min- 
istry." This was a perfectly pure motive, and honorable to 
yourself. I thank you for the explicitness with which you have 
stated it, and can only regret that such a simple <^ wish to 
know" was not accompanied with a wiser discernment of the 
best and most direct sources of information. One would have 
supposed that a simple "wish to know" whether Unitarians 
would knowingly unite with deists in ordaining men to the work 
of the Christian ministry, would have led you to make the in- 
quiry through some of the established channels of communica- 
tion with the denomination, such as the Christian Register, the 
Monthly Miscellany, edited by Rev. E. S. Gannett, or the 
Christian Examiner, edited by Rev. William Ware. This 
would seem to have been the most direct mode of obtaining 
satisfactorily the information you desired — certainly a more 
probable mode than to omit, as you did, sending your commu- 
nication to either of these journals, while you published it simulr 
taneously ih two or three orthodox newspapers, which are seen 
but by a few Unitarians, while the great mass of their readers, 
ignorant as yourself, probably, in respect to the question at issue, 
would have been incapable of giving you the knowledge you 
sought. 

Your motive, my dear sir, as stated in your letter, was pure 
and worthy ; but it may be a question, whether a simple " wish 
to know," though a perfectly pure motive and a natural curi- 
osity, authorizes an individual, or two or three individuals, to 
become the public catechizers of a whole denomination, espe- 
cially of a denomination to which they do not belong, and Xo 
whose members they refuse to extend Christian privileges and 
fellowship ? — whether it does not savor of arrogance and pre- 
sumption in them to assume that position and office ? I have 
no disposition, however, to detract from the gratitude which may 
be felt toward you by any portion of the^ community, for exer- 
cising watch and guardianship over Unitarian churches and min- 



3d 

isters. So far as it has been serviceable, I thank you for it 
myself. If you reverse the case, however, apd suppose three 
Unitarian clergymen to have been invited to be present at an 
Orthodox ordination, and the preacher to have been very heret- 
ical or very orthodox in his sermon, to have startled by the 
latitude of his speculations, or offended by the strictures of his 
opinions, and the Unitarian clergy to have undertaken to deter- 
min.e the matter^ and make a public demand of the n;iembers of 
the ordaining council "whether they sympathized with the views 
of the preacher," you will be beUer able to determine whether 
you would not deem it an appropriate answer to such a demand, 
to say, " We do not recognize your right or duty to institute an 
inquisition over us. The differences and difficulties in our own 
denomination we can settle arpong ourselves." Some few 
weeks since, when all Unitarians were described by one of your 
brethren, in a printed sermon, as doing greater injury and wrong 
to the Saviour than Judas who betrayed him, or the Jews who 
crucified him, or Saul who persecuted his disciples, I felt a 
strong *^ wish to TcnoWy^ whether all the, Orthodox clergymen 
" of Boston and vicinity," sympathized with the sentiments and 
approved of the uncharitable comparisons of that sermon ; but 
had I made a public demand to that effect, I doubt whether 
" each one " or any one of the Orthodox clergy would have 
improved the " opportunity to speak for himself," in reply to the 
demand. 

You ask how we knew that we were not ordaining a deist ? We 
had all the evidence an ordaining council commonly has in such, a 
case. We knew that the candidate had studied divinity at an Ortho- 
dox theological school ; that he had been approbated to preach by 
an association of Orthodox ministers ; that \\e had been for two or 
three years a popular preacher ; that he had been employed by 
all the religious societies of his native town, Portsmouth, associ- 
ated and jointly contributing for that purpose, as a minister to 
the poor in that place; and that he had been for some months 
preaching to the religious society at South Boston, which had 
invited him to become their Christian teacher and pastor. . With 
this evidence before them, the council certainly had good reason 
to suppose that the candidate was a Christian, and not a deist; 
and upon the strength of this eyidence, they voted to pro- 
ceed to ordain him. Whether after the sermon was delivered, 
this vote ought to have been reconsidered, or whether, without 
reconsidering it, any individual of the council ought to have in- 
sisted upon instituting a new inquiry into the qualifications of the 
candidate, or to have entered a remonstrance or protest against 



?9 

further proceedings, is a nicQ and somewhat difficult question, 
the decision of which, either way, is accompanied with some 
embarrassment. 

Had any member of the Council remonstrated and refused to ' 
proceed in the ordination services, it is highly probable that the 
indecorum would have appeared so great, that he would have 
been severely censured by some of the very persons, who now 
think he ought to have remonstrated. Such a remonstrance on 
the part of the whole Council, or of any member who had a 
service to perform, would have raised another question, which, 
if settled upon Congregational principles, would probably have 
ended in the Council taking the course they did, and proceed- 
ing with the ordination. To such a remonstrance, the candi- 
date and' the congregation over whom he was to be ordained, 
might very properly have replied, " You have already deter- 
mined all the questions that appertain to the service you are to 
perform. You have inquired into the proceedings of the parish 
in relation to the call of the candidate, and found them to be 
regular and satisfactory to both parties. You have inquired into 
the qualifications of the c£^ndidate, and found that be has been 
regularly educated for the ministry, and approbated to preach 
the Gospel, and that he has been preaching with us for some 
months, to oqr satisfaction and edification, and have voted that 
you are satisfied upon these points, and are ready to proceed to, 
his ordination, and we contend that nothing has occurred on our 
part that should afiect, or require you to reconsider, that vote. 
We invited Mr. Parker and yourselves to aid us on this occa- 
sion, but we knew not what sentiments he would utter, any more 
than we know what sentiments will be uttered in the prayer, or 
the charge, or the fellowship,, or the address, nor are we ac^ 
countable for what has been or may be uttered. We contend 
that you have no reason to suppose that we approve of the sen- 
timents of Mr. Parker, any more than you do yourselves, and 
therefore have no need or right to interrogate us. Mr. Parker 
is one of your body, and, in his service, has spoken as your or- 
gan as much as ours. As individuals, or as a body, proceed in 
relation to him as you deem fit: but in relation to ourselves, we 
contend that Christian courtesy requires you to proceed in and 
conclude the services you h^ve on satisfactory ground voted to per- 
form." To have replied to this reasoning would have been difficult. 
It is very easy, after an occasion has passed, for those who are 
dissatisfied to say how they would have acted. The Council 
may have done wrong in not remonstrating ; but if so, it was 
under circumstances which might put at fault the wisest discre- 
tion, the most sound and comprehensive judgment. 



40 

Wbetber now, since the sermon has been published, and' the 
position of Mr. Parker distinctly defined, I or any member of 
that Council would again unite with him in an ordination service, 
till the sentiments of that sermon were retracted or disavowed, 
or aid in introducing a man of similar sentiments into the pulpit, 
are different questions from the one you proposed. I contend 
that I answered fully and frankly the questions you proposed in 
your original communication, while you have refused to answer 
the questions I, in reply, proposed to you. You asked, " if the 
members of the Council sympathized in the sentiments of the 
preacher as expressed on that occasion, and recognized him as a 
Christian minister." I answered those questions. I said, I, for 
one, protested against the sentiments of the sermon, aQdthat if 
I held them myself, I should not regard myself as a Christian 
minister. It follows, of course, as a necessary inference, that I 
do not regard any other man who holds them as a Christian min- 
ister, i. e; he is not one with whom I could have intimate sym- 
pathy and fellowship. Here was a frank and sufficiefhtly explicit 
answer to your questions. I asked in reply, if you were willing 
to recognize me or the members of that Council as Christian 
ministers, and extend toward us ministerial courtesy and fellow- 
ship. This question you do not answer — because, as I under- 
stand you, I have not said " whether, if requested, I would con- 
secrate by prayer, or give the charge or express the fellowship 
of the churches," to a man holding the sentiinents expressed by 
Mr. Parker. You did no.t ask these questions in your original 
communication. When you have answered the question I pro- 
posed to you, I will answer these. 

I am inclined to think, my dear sir, that we do not either of 
us occupy, in public estimation, the high grounds on which you 
think you stand, and from which you say you will not descend 
" to engage in sectarian strife and personal conflict." You de- 
scended from it, in my judgment, in the outset, in your original 
communication of the 28th May last. There is, indeed, a great 
public question of general interest at issue, a question not simply 
and exclusively between Mr. Parker and the Unitarian commu- 
nity, clergy arid laity, but between Mr. Parker and all who rev- 
erence the Scriptures, as the records of a divine, supernaturally 
communicated revelation of truth and duty to man. But you 
were not willing to wait for the discussion of the question to come 
up in the natural and proper manner it would have done after 
the sermon had been published. You were not disposed to 
wait till Unitarians had the authority of words printed in black 
and white, rather than their own memories to depend upon, be- 
fore they expressed their opinions or entered upon the discus- 



41 

sion of the semiments'ffd vanclscl in Mr. Parker's'sermbti. Though' 
it was generally understood that the sermon was in press, you* 
chose to hasten and forestall the discussion of it, and give it a' 
peculiar character and direction, by a public communication in the 
newspapers, proposing ceitain questions to the members of the 
ordaining counciL In that communication you were pertonaU 
You enumerated sontie of the members of the Council. You> 
made a personal atttiok upon myself. You called me by name, 
and publicly rebuked me for not remonstrating at the time 
against the sentiipents of the sermon, expressing yourself disap- 
pointed that I did not do so. If this was not jpersonal, I do not 
understand the signification of the Word. I so considered it, and 
therefore replied to it. If nl^ name had not been mentioned, 
or my conduct assailed in«your communication, I should not 
have felt called upon to netice it. Being so mentioned and 
so assailed in the document to which your name was append* 
ed, I felt obliged to notice it, and did so, personally ^ under my 
own name, answering your questions so far as I was individ* 
ually concerned, and then, assuming the liberty of which you 
had set me the example^ I proposed certain questions to you per* 
sonally, A reply to one of these questions^ especially, you evade 
or decline, because, as I understapd you^ you will not descend 
from the high ground you occupy, *' to engage in sectarian strife 
and personal conflict." Having been the first to make the de- 
scent, and engage in that coMict, and htiving forced me into it, 
I am at a loss to perceive the justness or propriety of yodf plao* 
ing your refusal on this ground. There is a great public que8<>> 
tion, a subject of great public ^nterest, brought forward by Mr. 
Parker's sermon, which must be discussed and determined^ But 
we have not either of us, I pffesume, in what we have written, 
proposed to become the publio^champions and sole defende'rs of 
one or the otber side of this question. I certainly have not ; T 
leave that to abler hands. I have simply expressed my own- 
opinions in answer to your questions. The matter between us is, 
in a measure, a personal matter. I mean nt£>t that it is, or need 
be, accompanied with any personal ill-twill or unkind feCfling. It 
certainly is not on my part. I feel perfectly kindly disposed to- 
wards yourself, and am ready to reciprocate whatever personal 
regard »nd respect, whatever Christian or ministerial sympathy 
and fellowship, you may be disposed to extend towa^idsme. But' 
when men write to each other in the newspapers, signing their 
names, there must be something personal between them. They 
are, at least, personally respqpsible to each other, and the public 
fdr th| consistency and propnety of their course. Ytour poaitioir 
before the public, as I conceive it» is this: — The Orthodox por- 



43 

tion of the Congregationa.ists, have been for some years separat- 
ed from the Unitarian portion of the Congregationalists, and 
have refused to recognize or have fellowship with them as Chris- 
tians. You belong to the Orthodox Congregationalists. You 
either do or do not concur in the course they have pursued in 
relation to Unitarians. You either do or you do not regard Uni- 
tarians as Christians. If you do regard Unitarians as Christians, 
then you would be willing to receive them to your church ; to 
permit them to approach your coimnunion table ; to baptize their 
children ; to receive them to your church by letters of dismissal 
and recommendation from Unitarian churches, without exacting 
from them a new profession of faith ; and occasionally, if circum- 
stances made it convenient and desirable, to exchange with Uni- 
tarian ministers. If you so regard Unitarians, and have so treat- 
ed them, or are ready so to treat them, then your questions, put 
forth in your communication of the 28th May, and subsequently 
repeated and enlarged in your letter to me of the 25th June, 
were pertinent. There was force and meaning in them. You 
had a right, you were justified in putting them. But if you do 
not regard Unitarians as Christians, if you are unwilling to re- 
ceive them to your church, to extend toward them Christian 
privileges and fellowship, then you regard them as in6dels, or 
deists, or whatever name you choose to give them. They are 
not Christians in your estimation^ If you so regard Unitarians, 
if you have so treated them, and. intend so to continue to treat 
them, then your inquiries, as put forth in your communication of 
the 28th of May, and subsequently repeated and enlarged in 
your letter to me of the 25th Jun^, were not pertinent. They 
are without force or meaning. They amount to simply asking, 
whether infidels and deists sympathize with infid,els and deists ; 
whether those who are not Christians, are ready to unite with 
those who are not Christians, in introducing men into the Chris- 
tian ministry — questions which at least seem to carry an absur- 
dity upon their face. This is the position in which you have 
placed yourself by your inquiries. If you choose to refuse to 
explain the consistency of this position, on the ground that you 
will not " consent to engage in sectarian strife and personal con- 
flict," I am disposed to be satisfied. 

I regret that one sentence in my letter lias been entirely mis- 
understood by you ; I regret it the more, as you found a long 
argument and a charge of severity upon your misunderstanding 
of it. I do not think the sentence to which I refer is ambiguous. 
I contend that the construction does not authorize, certainly does 
not require the interpretation you put upon it, while the subject 



43 

matter suggests a different one. I did not say, at kast did not 
intend to say, that the sentiments and doctrmes whicb you enter* 
tain and p^reach, tended '< to undermine the very foundations of 
Christian faith as much as those presented by Mr. Parker." 
Unless bereft of common sense, 1 could not mean to say that the 
views of a man, who believes in the authenticity and genuine- 
ness of the Christian Scriptures, and the authority of Christ as a 
divine teacher, tend to undermine Christianity, a» much as the 
views of a man who denies that authority, and the authenticity 
and genuineness of those Scriptures, and it seems to me strange 
that any reader of my letter, in the e^^ercise of candor, could 
have put such a construction upon my words. The comparison 
relates, evidently, only to the clause immediately preceding. 
Whai I meant to say, and all I meant to say was, that the Or- 
thodox system of theology which you uphold, and the natural- 
ism advocated by Mr. Parker, were alike at variance with the 
true and simple gospel of Christ,^ as I understand that gospel. 
This I said without intending to be severe or appear severe, but 
simply to remind you of the wide differences of opinion there 
are among Christians, and of the reasonableness of candor and 
charity. 

It is gratifying to find at the close of your letter that, though 
you are unwilling to say distinctly whether you regard Unitarian 
churches and Unitariah ministers as Christians, you are yet wiU 
ling to do justice to the good deeds and charitable acts of Uni- 
tarians. May you never again need them, but if you do, may 
you always receive at their hands, similar deeds of sympathy 
and kindness, and learn to think better of a faith which produces 
such fruits. I remain your friend and servant, 

Boston, June 30, 1841. S. K!. Lothrop. 

Mr. Fairchild's reply : 

To THE Rev. S. K. Lothrop : 

My Dear Sir^-^Iu your letter of the 3d inst., you express 
your thanks for mine of the 25th of June; especially "for its 
courteous tone and spirit." Permit me to express my thanks 
for yours, and for the same reason. <' The courteous tone and 
spirit" of your last letter, are in such striking contrast, as it 
seems to me, with the " tone and spirit " of your first, that, if 
my letter was, in any measure, the cause of the change, its pub- 
lication has already done some good, for which I feel grateful. 

After a perusal of your letter, the first impression on my mind 
was, that there was nothing in it, relating to the matter in con- 
troversy, which required an answer. But on a re-perusal, I be- 



M 

came convinced that there were two or three points which 
daimed some notiee. To those points I wish now, with all 

Eossible brevity, to turn your attention. I say, with all possible 
revity, because! would not weary the patience of the kiod Ed- 
itor who gives us the use of his paper, or offend the public taste 
by the frequency and length of our communications. I was 
hoping that your letter and my answer would have ended the 
controversy, so far as we, personally, are concerned. But it 
seems that you were not satisBed. 

You make one statement in your letter^ as a matter of fact, 
which requires correct^n. The statement! will here quote: 
^* Though it was generally understood that the sermon was in 
press, you chose to hasten and forestall the discussion of it, and 
give it a peculiar character and direction, by a public communis 
cation in the newspapers, proposing certain questions to tba 
members of the ordaining council." To this I reply, that though 
it may have been '^ generally understood that the sermon was in 
press," it was not so understood by me* Not the slightest inti- 
mation was given me that the sermon was in press, or ever ^ouhl 
be there, till after our report of it was published. And if the 
sermon was actually in press on the 28th of May, the date of 
our report, and did not leave the press till after the middle of 
June, (which was really the case,) |ben there must have been, a$ 
it seems to me, a very uncommon delay 0^ the part of the prin- 
ters. Besides, if you will look at Mr. Parker's preface to his ser- 
mon, you will find it dated June 17ih ; in the very first sentence; 
of which he says, ''This discourse is now printed in conse- 
quence of some incorrect rumors and printed statements respect- 
ing its contents." I know of no '' printed statements respecting 
its contents," having appeared till after our report was published. 
Of course the sermon was printed in consequence of our state- 
ments. Is it not evident, therefore, that you labor under a mis- 
take as to the fact that the sermon was in press at the time of 
which you speak? It is v«ry certain that aU your brethren did 
not know that the sermon was in press or about to be in press, 
at the time of the publication of our report. For some of them 
censured me, as I thought, rather severely for making the mat^ 
ter public at all, on the ground that it would create an unpleas- 
ant excitement among the people. And the question was dis- 
tinctly proposed to me, whether I should not have acted a much 
wiser part in keeping the sentiments of the sermon firom the pub- 
lic eye, and seeking to remove my grievances by a personal in- 
terview with Mr. Parker, and remonstrating against his senti- 
ments in private ? It was my impression then, and has been 



46 

ever sioce, that if our report had never arppeared, nhe sermon 
would not have been put to press at all. This, however^ is a 
mere opinion, and must be taken for what it is worth. 

Permit me to add in this connexion, that I have no recollec- 
tion of exchanging one word with any Unitarian clergymen on 
the subject of Mr. Parker's sermon, till after our report was 
prepared for publication. One week subsequent to the ordina- 
tion, I had the interview with Dr. Pierce, to which allusion was 
made in my former letter. In that conversation, when I men- 
tioned to him that we were about to publish some account of the 
sermon, he said, "I hope you do not," or "I presume you do 
not consider that sermon as a correct exhibition of the senti- 
ments of Unitarians generally." He certainly gave me to un» 
derstand that they were not hi$ sentiments, and that he srhould 
Dol exchange pulpits agsun with Mr. Parker. 

You intimate in your letter that I had assumed the position 
and office of a public oatechiser of you, and those associated 
with you. I did not intend, and do not intend to assume any 
such position and c^ce. But I here feel a strong desire to ask, 
wiihout designing to be your catecfaiser, (certainly not in any 
offensive sense,) whether the Bible does not hold you to some 
responsibility when you assist in ordaining a man to the office of 
a Christian pastor? John, in one of his epistles, enjoins it upon 
those to whom he wrote, not to bid any man God speed, who 
should not bring to them the doctrine of Christ. The reason he 
assigns is this :-^'< For he that biddeth him God speed is a 
partaker of his evil deeds." Now deism is certainly not " the 
doctrine of Christ." And if it be not " bidding a man God 
speed " to take part in inducting him into the ministerial office, 
pray tell me what is ? Did you then know, or do you now 
know, that the preacher was not proclaiming the sentiments of 
the candidate ? Surely, the presumption was, that they sympa- 
thized with each other in the doctrines advanced. And you 
give no intimation that you had any knowledge to the contrary. 
The evidence on which you proceeded to ordain the candidate, 
as mentioned in your 'letter, does not meet the case at all. 
What you say of him, might have been quite sufficient to prove 
that be was not a deist at those periods of time which you spec- 
ify. But how did you know that the young man had not totally 
changed his sentiments, and gone over to deism, or even flown 
off into the unknown regions of transcendentalism ? 

While you admit that my motive was "perfectly pure and 
honorable" in wishing to know whether Unitarian clergymen are 
willing *< knowingly to unite with dei^ in ordaining men to the 



46 

work of the Christian ministry ;" yet you express regret that ray 
"desire to know was not accompanied with a wiser discernment 
of the best and most direct sources of information." You then 
refer me, as <* sources of information," to the editoi*s of the 
* Christian Register,* the * Monthly Miscellany,' and the * Chris- 
tian Examiner.' Now suppose I had made application to either 
of these editors for the desired information. Would he not 
most probably have replied as you did in your first letter? — 
" No Unitarian clergyman feels himself responsible for his 
brethren, or authorized to speak for them. We recognize no 
creed, covenant, or union of any kind, that interferes with indi- 
vidual liberty and independence. Icannot, therefore, answer for 
all my brethren. I can only speak for myself." And this you 
call " a wiser discernment of the best sources of information !" 
It strikes me that this kind of wisdom would have been folly. 
At any rate, 1 had not the folly to seek information in any such 
way. Do you perceive no inconsistency in thus directing me 
to " the best sources of information ?" Just think of it. When 
an inquiry is made as to the sentiments of a man whom you or- 
dain as a preacher of the gospel, then all responsibility is dis- 
claimed, on the ground that you have no creed, and never in- 
terfere with individual liberty and independence. But when 
you wish to make the impression on the public mind that I am 
quite culpable for not having a better knowledge of the senti- 
ments of the Unitarians, then you can express your " regret 
that my desire to know was not accompanied with a wiser dis- 
cernment of the best and most direct sources of information ;" 
that is, you regret that I did not apply to certain editors. Then 
it seems that there are men who are authorized to speak for the 
denomination. If so, with what propriety could you say to me 
that " no Unitarian clergyman feels authorized to speak for his 
brethren ?" But waiving this, had I gone to them, they, ac- 
cording to your letter, would have answered, if they answered 
at all, that " the Unitarians have no creed ; and therefore no 
one is responsible for another." In what a sad predicament this 
would have placed me, not to say them ! 

You think that I ought to infer, from what you said in your 
first letter, that you do not regard Mr. Parker as a Christian 
minister. I did not think myself authorized to draw any such 
inference. And even in your last letter, in which you say that 
such an inference necessarily follows, you immediately add the 
following saving clause, which seems to forbid such an inference 
— " He is not one with whom I could have intimate sympathy 
and fellowship." Is this saying that you do not regard him as 



47 

a Christian minister ? Now there may be Orthodox clergymen 
of whom I might say the same, and yet most readily recognize 
them as Christian ministers, and unite with them as such in 
ordaining councils. Nay, more ; reasons might exist sufficient 
to justify me in not adinitting an Orthodox clergyman into my 
pulpit, without the least design of signifying thereby that, in my 
opinion, he ought to leave the ministry, or that be ought not to 
be regarded as a Christian minister. * 

You say in your letter that I made a personal attack upon you. 
Nothing in the paper of which you complain, can justify you in 
making such a declaration. No, sir, I did not attack you. I 
asked a civil question, and in a civil manner, not addressing my- 
self to you more than to any other member of the council. True, 
in speaking of the officiating members, I mentioned that you 
gave the charge, and expressed my disappointment that you did 
not remonstrate against the sentiments of Mr. Parker. Do you 
call this a personal attack ? I presume that no one will sympa- 
thize with you in this feeling. Having thus adverted to your 
charge, permit me here to say a word which, perhaps, ought to 
have been said in my first letter. And I would say it in all 
kindness, and without designing any personal attack. Though ' 
in that, charge you said many things which were in direct oppo- 
sition to some of the sentiments of the preacher, yet you made 
one expression which I deeply regretted to hear. In alluding to 
some point which had been dwelt upon in the sermon, (I do not 
now recollect what,) you expressed yourself (extemporaneously, 
of course) in language like this — "which has been so elo- 
quently and forcibly illustrated by the preacher." Now, if this 
were true, and I do not say that it was not true, as you meant 
to apply it, yet, as " the truth is not to be spoken at all times," 
it seemed to me that this was precisely one of those occasions 
when nothing should have been said in commendation of any 
portion of the sermon, however truly said, lest the antidote 
which you seem to think you administered, should thereby fail 
to counteract the pernicious effects of the poison. A pill, whose 
principal ingredient is arsenic, cannot be so mixed with whole- 
some ingredients as to take away its destructive properties. It 
is arsenic still ; and he who takes it, will find it fatal still. 

I do not call in question Mr. Parker's right to be a deist, or 
even an atheist. However deeply I might regret that his inves- 
tigations should lead him to such results, yet his right to do so 
is admitted. And if any people, calling themselves religious, 
wish to have him for their teacher, be it so. But let the respon- 
sibility rest on him and them alone. For a council of profes- 




4» 

sedly Christian ministers to unite in ordaining a man holding such 
sentiments, over such a people, is truly such an anomaly in the 
moral world, as no words of mine can adequately describe. 

In one part of your letter you are, as it seems to me, rather 
disingenuous. You assume that I regard aZ/ Unitarians as^ infi- 
dels ; that I have so treated them, and intend so to treat them. 
And you say that the questions proposed by me are not perti* 
nent. " They are without force or meaning; They amount to 
simply asking whether infidels and deists sympathize with infidels 
and deists; whether those who are not Christians^ are ready to 
unite with those who are not Christians, in introducing men into 
the Christian ministry, — questions which, at least, seem la 
carry absurdity upon their face. This is the position in which 
you have placed yourself by your inquiries." No, sir, you mis* 
take. I have placed myself in no such position. Nor will l 
allow you to place me there. The above questions, you say ^ 
"carry absurdity upon their face." So they do. But they are 
not questions of my asking. And I beg you not to lay this ab^ 
surdity to my charge, till I have done something to deserve it. 
My position is this : — Unitarian clergymen call themsehtj^ 
Christian ministers. Do they call Mr, Parker a Christiat^ 
minister 1 It is presumed that you now understand my posi* 
tion. 

I would speak kindly ; yet you will excuse me if I srpeak 
plainly and fearlessly. I am sorry to see in your letter what 
appears to be a labored effort on your part, to exonerate the 
council from all responsibility or blame in the matter of that 
ordination, and to raise a smoke and dust in order to coneeal 
from the public eye the very point which ought to be distinctly 
seen. And what is that point? It is simply this: Doe» a 
Council assume no responsibility in mating with a known 
deist, in the services of an ordination 7 and is an ordained 
deist regarded by the members of that Council as a Christian 
minister! Here is a matter of fact standing out prominently, 
as easily discernible as the noon-day sun in the cloudless heav- 
ens, that you and your brethren united in council with a 
deist; with one whom you acknowledge to be a deist; and this 
same deist preached the sermon on that occasion ; and as the 
sermon is so principal a part of an ordaining service, this deist 
was, in an important sense, the organ of that council. And 
your attempt to evade responsibility in this matter, by supposing 
the case of three Unitarian clergymen being present by invita- 
tion, at an Orthodox ordination, &c., does not, in the least, 
obviate the difficulty, or remove your embarrassment. The 



49 

question does not relate to the different interpretations which 
different clergymen may give of certain texts, or portions of 
Scripture. But this is the question : Is a man who denies the 
divine authority of the Bible as a standard of truth, recognized 
by the Unitarian clergy as a Christian minister 1 Does, or 
does not the known fact that a man is a deist, so disqualify 
him for your fellowship, that you cease to recognize him as a 
Christian fninister 7 This is the question to be met, and from 
which you will find it difficult to escape. 

Your attempt at evasion by supposing what the candidate 
and the congregation over whom he was to be ordained might 
have replied to a remonstrance of yours, utterly fails. For if it 
be true that a council assume no responsibility on such an occa- 
sion, then why meet, and deliberate, and vote at all ? This, as 
I understand the matter, is not necessary in order to render the 
connexion between the candidate and congregation a legal one. 
They can make their own bargains without the intervention of 
a council. Or if their intervention be necessary to make the 
connexion legal, then surely responsibility is involved. Nei- 
ther can the difficulty be met by saying, (I do not know that 
you are inclined to say it,) that you were unacquainted with 
the sentiments of Mr. Parker, before you voted to make him 
your preacher on that occasion. I will not do you the injustice 
even to insinuate that you were ignorant of the fact that Mr. 
Parker, some months since, stood up. in the Chardon-street 
chapel, as the fearless advocate of those who were laboring to 
undermine the very foundation of the Christian Sabbath, the 
Christian Church, and the Christian Ministry, as institutions 
ordained of God. Reports of his speeches on that occasion, 
were published in the newspapers ; and it would be " passing 
strange," if they did not fall into your own hands. Neither 
can it be supposed that you were unacquainted with a publica- 
tion called the Dial, in the October number of which, senti- 
ments are advanced by Mr. Parker, as truly deistical as those 
in his ordination sermon. 

All that you say in your letter about the Orthodox Congre- 
gationaUsts refusing to acknowledge Unitarian Congregational- 
ists as Christians, is, in my judgment, wholly irrelevant'. What, 
though they do, or do not, make this acknowledgment. Is that 
answering the question whether the Unitarian clergy do, or do 
not, recognize deists as Christians? What, though my brother 
Adams, in his sermon on "injuries done to Christ," did, or did 
not, say what you attribute to him. You will excuse me for 
interposing a word here in reference to him. True, he needs 

- 7 



50 

not my advocacy. But in justice to bim, I must say that your 
insinuations with regard to that sermon are, as I thitik, unfair, 
and not authorized by the facts in the case. But let him have 
said what he may, does that answer the question whether you 
do, or do not, Lave fellowship with deists, as ministers of the 
Gospel ? What, though the Orthodox clergy do, or do not, 
differ among themselves on certain points of doctrine ? Does 
that settle the question that you assume no responsibility in 
uniting with deists in the services of an ordaining Council ? As 
well might you say that differences of opinion respecting certain 
diseases among medical practitioners, exonerated our Medical 
Society from all responsibility or blame for giving a diploma to 
a mere quack. And when an injured and insulted community 
call upon them for their reasons in committing, this outrage, 
would you excuse them on the ground that a certain portion of 
the people did not believe him to be a quack, and that he was 
licensed to practice to gratify their wishes ? How would the 
public feel? — how would you yourself feel, if some one of the 
physicians who signed the diploma, should coolly say to the 
community who make this call, " that is his afi^ir and their 
affair, and not mine V* On the contrary, would not the gentle- 
men whose business it is to give diplomas, reply to such an * 
application, — " We have examined the candidate, and find him 
altogether deficient in medical science and skill. We regard 
the life and health of our fellow-citizens, and feel ourselves 
responsible for what we do in this matter. If any portion of 
the people will have such a man as their physician, and if he 
will practice amo g them, then on him and thiem be the respon- 
sibility. We will not assume one particle of it." And ought 
not the teachers of religion to feel as much concern for the 
moral health of the community, as do physicians for its natural 
health? And permit me to ask, is it a light matter to give 
your sanction and authority to s^ transaction whereby a man is 
introduced into the pulpit, who denies the divine authority and 
inspiration of the Bible, and holds up that blessed book to ridi- 
cule and scorn ? who says that its writers were no more in- 
spired than we may be, if we will only pay the price ? Is it 
doing no injury thus to remove the salutary restraints of the 
Bible from the public mind ? Do you owe nothing to the mor- 
als of the community ? Ate you willing that they should be 
corrupted and spoiled by the philosophical speculations and 
deistical reasonings of men whom you have authorized to stand 
up in the pulpit as preachers of the Gospel ? All this strikes 
me as an outrage upon common decency and common sense, as 



51 

well as upon our common Christianity. I have too much re- 
spect for your character to believe that, on sober reflection, you 
will justify any such procedure Indeed, charity forces me to 
the conclusion that you now condemn it as heartily as I do. 

Had the preacher differed from you and your brethren merely 
as to his understanding of what the Bible really teaches, that 
would not have been at all uncommon or surprising. But when 
he denied the divine authority of the Bible itself, and utterly 
discarded it as a standard of truth, the matter assumed quite a 
different aspect. Our wise Senators in Congress may differ, 
and honestly differ, in their views of what the constitution 
really teaches. But suppose one of their number should stand 
up in their presence and utter language like this : " The Con- 
stitution of the United States is no standard of authority for me ; 
and I will not appeal to it as such. It has no binding force on 
my conscience or judgment. The fraraers of it, though wise 
and good men, were mistaken in their views of civil government. 
This is an age of improvement ; and their obsolete notions shall 
not bind me. I discard them altogether.'^ In such a case, 
would -not his fellow-senators, yea, and the spectators too, be 
fully justified in raising the cry of treason I treason I And if the 
cry should be raised in the senate-chamber itself, would any 
true patriots, whether Whigs or Democrats, regret that " the 
service was interrupted ? Or would grave Senators say that they 
assumed no responsibility in permitting him to retain a seat 
among them ? Would they say that that was an affair which 
concerned only him and his constituents? 

You will not, my dear sir, understand me, in any thing that I 
have said, as demanding of you and your brethren, the deposing 
of Mr. Parker from the ministry. I make no such demand. I 
have no right to make it. This is certainly, beyond all doubt 
or controversy, his affair and your affair, and not mine. I only 
wish to say, (if I do not misunderstand you,) that according to 
your ideas of "congregational principles,'' when Unitarian 
clergymen are sitting in Council with known deists, they must 
make no remonstrance, or even refuse to vote for a deist to be 
their preacher, lest by so doing they should " interrupt the 
service," and cast an implied censure on the candidate and the 
people who have chosen him as their religious teacher. Or it 
may be, because they cannot depart from the no-creed principle 
that they have adopted, which forbids them to inquire into any 
man's faith, not allowing them even to ask whether a candidate 
for ordination be an atheist, or a deist, or any thing else except 
a moral man ; for the proposing of these questions would seem 



52 

to imply a creed. And a creed, you know, is very frightful to 
some, and must by all means be avoided. But why so much 
' afraid of a standard, a covenant, a creed ? It is not so in politics. 
Why should it be so in religion ? But the time may come when 
you and your brethren who agree with you in " seriously and 
solemnly protesting against the sentiments advanced by Mr. 
Parker," will be compelled either to have a creed, or to hold 
Christian and Ministerial Fellowship with deists. But this, you 
will say, is a matter which does not concern me, and that I 
ought not thus to obtrude upon you my opinion. I would not 
knowingly be guilty of any thing discourteous ; but as the 
opinion is expressed in all kindness, I hope it will be kindly 
received. 

You may possibly complain because I have not answered all 
your multitudinous questions. I am not aware of having parsed 
. a single question unnoticed which has the least necessary con- 
nexion with the matter at issue. And to discuss other questions 
than the one which has been repeatedly proposed to you, and 
which all the friends of the Bible of every name, are expecting 
you to answer, would be wholly out of time, and out of place. 
Yours, with sincere affection, J. H. Fairchild. 

Boston^ July 8, 1841. 

From the < Puritan ' of July 8th : — 

SOUTH BOSTON ORDINATION AGAIN. 

The question has often been asked — Does Mr. Shackford, 
who was ordained in connexion with Mr. Parker's notorious 
sermon, concur with the principles of that sermon ? And to this 
we say unhesitatingly — yes. If we know it from other sources, 
we will not make use of those other sources of evidence. We 
are fully authorized from circumstances already before the 
public, to make the inference without hesitation or qualification. 
Usage assigns to the pastor elect the selection of the preacher, 
and it has by that usage come to be understood that the 
preacher is one particularly in the confidence of the pastor elect. 
This circumstance creates so strong a presumption that Mr. S. 
agrees with Mr. P., that few in the absence of evidence to the 
contrary could doubt it. And what lack there is of proof is now 
made up by his silence. If he did not believe the doctrine of 
that sermon, he has had strong reasons for publicly disclaiming 
it. He must have known that it would be imputed to him, and 
that the community in his silence would rest in that impu- 
tation. In such circumstances, silence amounts to consent. In 
conclusion, then, it is inevitable from this source alone, and we 



53 

are now sure that until he changes his mind, Mr. Shackford will 
not say before the public that the sentiments of the sermon are 
not his sentiments. 

But here is another fact worth notice, which is, that the Uni- 
tarian ministers of this vicinity have ordained a man of such 
sentiments as that sermon expresses, in a professedly Christian 
pulpit. By ignorance or design, they united in ordaining a 
man of such sentiments. If they say that they did know his 
sentiments, then we say that their rule of action, by which they 
refuse to inquire even whether the candidate be a Christian or 
an Infidel, is strangely at fault. It is not in obedience to the 
divine injunction, "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be 
partaker of other men's sins." But can they say as much as 
that none of them knew the fact? They certainly knew Mr. 
Parker's sentiments, and his selection of Mr. P. should have led 
them to inquire. If they did know it, what are we to think of 
their own standing, touching Christianity and Infidelity? If they 
did not, how can their ignorance be excused ? We will not 
disguise our conviction that the preacher and pastor elect were 
not alone among the enactors of that farce, in sustaining those 
sentiments. 

From the ' Semi- Weekly Courier' of July 19th: — 

To THE Editor of the Courier: 

It will be remembered that in the year 181^9, a sermon was 
preached by the Rev. Dr. Channing of this city, at the ordina- 
tion of Mr. Sparks in Baltimore, and that it was followed by let- 
ters, written by several of our most distinguished divines, such 
as Professor Stuart and Dr. Woods of Andover, and Dr. Ware, 
senior, of Cambridge. The controversy was conducted *^ with 
moderation, temperance, and urbanity." A favorable result vyas 
anticipated, and according to my present recollection, all parties 
were satisfied that the cause of truth had not suffered. In one 
of the letters which make a part of the controversy, addressed 
by Professor Stuart to the Rev. Dr. Channing, I find the fol- 
lowing remarks, and believing that they will * be interesting, at 
the present time, to many of your readers, I take the liberty of 
sending them to you, that, if you think proper, you may give 
thenii a place in the Courier. 

The friends of Mr. Parker appear to have been taken by sur- 
prise by his sentiments as set forth in his South Boston sermon. 
I think you and your readers will say, after reading thejse re- 
marks of Professor Stuart, published twenty-one years ago, that 
this recent developement could have been the occasion of no sur- 
prise to him. Y. 



54 

" I am well satisfied that the course of reasoning in which you 
have embarked, and the principles by which you explain away 
the Divinity of the Saviour, must lead most men who approve 
them, eventually, to the conclusion, that the Bible is not of 
Divine origin, and does not oblige us to belief or obedience. I 
do not aver that they will certainly lead you there. The re- 
mains of your former education and belief may still serve to 
guard you against the bolder conclusions of some of your breth- 
ren, who have not been placed under instruction such as you 
enjoyed in early life. You have more serious views of the im- 
portance of religion than many, perhaps most, of those who 
speculate with you. Consistency, loo, will afford strong induce- 
ment not to give up the Divine authority of the Scriptures. Yet 
many of your younger brethren have no inconsistency to fear, 
by adopting such views. Deeming what you have publicly 
taught them to be true, viz.: — that it is *no crime to believe 
with Mr. Belsham,' who boldly and plainly declares that the 
Scriptures are not the word of God; feeling the inconsistency 
(as I am certain some of them will and do feel it) of violating 
the fundamental rules of interpretation, in order to make the 
apostles speak, as in their apprehension they ought to speak, and 
unable to reconcile what the apostles say with their own views, 
they will throw off the restraint which the old ideas of the inspi- 
ration and infallibility of the Scriptures impose on them, and 
receive them sipnply on the ground on which they place any 
other writings of a moral and religious nature. I make no pre- 
tensions to uncommon foresight, in regard to this subject. I cer- 
tainly do not say these things with invidious designs, and for the 
sake of kindling the fire of contention. Very far from it. On the 
contrary, I believe the parties now contending here will have no 
quiet until this ground be openly taken on your part. For myself, 
I view it as incomparably more desirable, in almost every point of 
vi^w, that the authority of the Scriptures should at once be cast 
off, and its claims to Divine inspiration rejected, than that such 
rules of exegesis should be introduced, as make the Scriptures 
speak, nolens volens, whatever any party may desire. Avowed 
unbelief in the Divine authority of the Scriptures can never con- 
tinue long in the present day of light and examination. Such a 
state of things may pass away with the generation who act in it. 
But it is a more difficult matter, to purge away the stain which 
Christianity may contract by violated laws of interpretation, be- 
cause those who indulge in such a violation profess to respect 
the Christian religion, and to acknowledge its Divine oric^inal. 
They may therefore obtain and hold for a long time great influ- 
ence over the mass of the people, who are not accustomed to 



55 

examine in a critical manner the nicer points of theology. If 
opponents to the sentiments in question lift up the voice of 
warning, they may not be heard. They are liable to the impu- 
tation of bigotry, iiiiberality, or ignorance. But when men pro- 
fessedly cast off their respect for the authority of the Scriptures, 
the case becomes different, and the great body of plain and so- 
ber people will revolt." 

From the * Puritan ' of July 22 : — 

PROGRESS. 
We have learned from a source to which we give full credit, 
that Rev. Mr. Pierpont of this city has publicly indorsed, in his 
own pulpit, the sentiments of the sermon of Mr. Parker, at the 
South Boston ordination ; that he declared his concurrence in the 
sermon as a whole, taking exceptions to two or three sentences 
in it. If all Unitarian ministers were as ingenuous as Mr. Pier- 
pont, there would, we doubt not, be other like notes of appro- 
bation, coming from Boston pulpits. We understand, aUo, that 
Rev. Mr. Putnam, of Roxbury, has exchanged pulpits with Mr. 
Parker, since the excitement in relation to that sermon. It 
seems now clearly indicated that Mr. P. will be sustained and 
countenanced in his infidelity by the great body of his brethren. 

The following letter of the Rev. Mr. Adams, Pastor of Essex- 
street Church, was published in the 'Courier* of August 3d: 

To THE Editor of the Courier : 

In your paper of July 3d, the Rev. S. K. Lothrop, in a let- 
ter to the Rev. J. H. Fairchild, said — 

"Some few weeks ago, when all Unitarians were described 
by one of your brethren, in a printed sermon, as doing more in- 
jury to the Saviour than Judas who betrayed him, or the Jews 
who crucified him, or Saul who persecuted his disciples, I felt 
a * strong wish to know ' whether all the Orthodox clergymen of 
Boston and vicinity sympathized with the sentiments and approv- 
ed of the uncharitable comparisons of that sermon." 

As the author of that sermon, permit me to say that I was not 
a little surprised at the terms in which Mr. Lothrop has thus 
thought proper to allude to it. A statement of facts will show 
that my surprise was just. 

Soon after the publication of my sermon, an anonymous wri- 
ter having addressed a letter to me in the ^ Christian Register,' 
I wrote a reply, and put it into the hands of Mr. Lothrop, as one 
of the editors of the * Register,' and by him it jvas inserted in 
bis paper. The following extract from what Mr. Lothrop thus 



56 

published for me will show with how much propriety he could 
subsequently allude to my sermon as he has done in the sentence 
above quoted from him. 

In my letter to the anonymous writer in the * Register,' I 
said — 

" Your letter represents my expostulation with those who, in 
my view, write and preach against Christ, as a condemnation of 
every one bearing the name of Unitarian. I am happy to in- 
form you that neither my belief nor my feelings justify this rep- 
resentation. 

" I believe that some who call themselves Unitarians, and 
whose religious associations are all with Unitarians, will be saved. 
I believe that they are regenerated, that they exercise faith in 
Christ as having made propitiation for sin ; which faith, though 
not definite and clear to their own minds, is justifying faith. 
Though they would, perhaps, say, that they do not believe in 
the Trinity, in the Godhead, nor in the supreme deity of Christ, 
they do still, however inconsistently, exercise implicit trust in 
something which Christ has done as the meritorious ground of 
salvation. 

" The manner in which Unitarianism commenced in this coun- 
try, will account, in part, for the peculiar position of these indi- 
viduals. Some of them were brought up under evangelical in- 
fluences which were wrought into their minds beyond the reach 
of those changes of name and worship which have almost insensi- 
bly happened to them. They had learned the Assembly's Cate- 
chism, they had heard the form of sound words in their maturer 
years, from our predecessors in the ministry, and their religious 
experience was directed by at least nominally Orthodox ministra- 
tions. Unitarianism came in like a quiet, atmospheric change, 
under which the established order of religious associations proceed- 
ed as from the beginning. Few, if any, were startled, or repel- 
led from their churches and ministers. * I can /emember the 
time,' says a writer in the * Christian Examiner,' (Vol. III., p. 
114,) ^ and I am not old, when, though Boston was full of Uni- 
tarianism, there was no open profession of it. A dead silence 
maintained in the pulpit on doctrinal subjects, a silence which 
was not disturbed by the press.' 

" One of the present Unitarian ministers of Boston, in an in- 
teresting letter, written in 1812, in England, (quoted in the 
Spirit of the Pilgrims, vol. II., p. 224,) says, * I never heard 
him, (Dr. Freeman,) express a Unitarian sentinnent, and I be- 
lieve he carefully avoids it in the pulpit, because it might unnec- 
essarily disturb some of his hearers. There is now one more 



S7 

gentleman in Boston, who, with his intimate friends, may per- 
haps be considered a Unitarian ; but he maintains the same cau- 
tious reserve, and from neither his sermons, his prayers, nor his 
private conversation, couid I infer that he was a Unitarian* Now 
even admitting, what 1 hardly think I have a right to do, that 
these (three) gentlemen are Unitarians, to what can all this 
prudent reserve be ascribed, but to their conviction that the 
preaching of Unitarian doctrines would be offensive to their hear- 
ers, and injurious to their usefulness ?" 

^ << These statements will account for what I believe to be a fact, 
tliat there have been, and are still, some individuals attached to 
Unitarian places of worship, who exercise saving faith in the Lord 
Jesus Christ, while they assent to the technical names and forms 
of the denomination which has grown around them, and which 
they may he said never to have joined. Besides these individ- 
uals of the Old School, I have been accustomed to think that 
there may be others amongst the Unitarians, who, notwithstand- 
ing the Unitarian instructions which they have always heard, and 
the faith they outwardly profess, almost unconsciously rely for 
salvation upon something vicarious and meritorious in the Saviour. 
I believe that a conscious need of an atonement for sin is native 
to the human mind, that it is extremely difficult to destroy it, 
that many practically trust in the atonement, while, from adven- 
titious habits and views, they shrink from the sectarian presen- 
tation of the doctrine. I believe that there are some such indi- 
viduals who call themselves Unitarians, but whose crowns will 
hereafter be amon^^st the first to fall at the feet of their Divine 
Redeemer, whose voices will cry the louder for their suppres- 
sion here, < Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sips 
in his own blood, be honor, and glory, and blessing.' Amongst 
the monumeqts of divine grace in Heaven, I believe there will 
be some who will be saved from the midst of decided Unitarian 
influences and errors ; — * yet so as by fire.' 

" I can go even further than this. I believe that some pro- 
fessedly Unitarian Ministers may be converted men, and true be- 
lievers in Christ. They were accidentally thrown upon what we 
consider the wrong side, at the separation of the Orthodox from 
Unitarians. Some secret bond held them nominally with those 
who went furtner than they themselves ever did or can go in de- 
rogatory views and feelings concerning Christ. 

**The ground of my hope with regard to all such individuals 
is, that they exercise scriptural faith in the vicarious atonement 
by Christ, which faith, though unfavorably affected by some 

8 




58 

erroneous views, is essentially justifying faith, and that it will be 
so adjudged by the Searcher of Hearts. 

" The general tenor of my sermon, as well as particular ex- 
pressions in it, if you will read it again, I think will convince 
you that I do not condemn every one who bears the name of 
Unitarian, but that they only are intended in what I said who 
intelligently and from their hearts deny and preach against the 
Godhead and atonement of Christ." [* Christian Register,' 
May 29.] 

In view of the foregoing statements and explanations, injus- 
tice, I think, is evidently done me by Mr. Lothrop in his re- 
mark about my sermon. I shall not undertake to account for 
it, for I should find it difficult to do so. I would not willingly 
believe that the known tendencies in the feelings of many Uni- 
tarian laymen at the present time induced Mr. Lothrop to with- 
hold the fact that I am discriminating and charitable in my judg- 
ment of Unitarians. I can conceive, however, that what 1 said 
in my sermon about those who intelligently, and from the heart, 
deny and preach against the Godhead and atoning Sacrifice of 
Christ, may have occasioned a state of mind in Mr. Lothrop un- 
favorable both to an impartial representation of my sermon and 
to a cheerful recognition of my explanations. It is also true 
that the leading proposition of my sermon was stated in general 
terms, viz : The greatest injury which man can do to Christ b 
to deny his Godhead and his atoning Sacrifice, — because I be- 
lieved that my subsequent remarks in the sermon would make 
it unnecessary to state beforehand, that preachers were princi- 
pally intended, and because, moreover, some laymen had made 
themselves obnoxious to the expostulations of the discourse. If 
I did not succeed, in my sermon, as I believe I did, in showing 
whom I had in mind, I certainly did in the letter which I gave 
Mr. Lothrop for his paper, and his omission to notice my expla- 
nations is not consistent with my ideas of uprightness or of 
honorable controversy. 

But my object now in writing is not that I wish to defend my- 
self against personal injustice, nor to complain of any apparent 
supercilious disregard of my explanations, but because the posi- 
tion of many Unitarians at the present time makes it desirable 
that they should be re-assured of what I have^ow repeatedly 
'said, that 'their friends of the Orthodox persuasion regard them 
with great interest and hope. For it cannot be concealed that 
many things have been preached and written of late by LTni- 
tarian ministers, wbich have found no sympathy from many who, 



59 

nevertheless, call themselves Unitarians. It will not {.equire 
many more such developements of opinion and feeling as were 
made at the South-Boston Ordination to justify to every serious 
Unitarian layman all that has been said respecting injuries done 
to Christ. 

A word or two about " the uncharitable comparisons of my 
sermon." At the South-Boston ordination, the story of the mi- 
raculous conception of Christ was declared to be of similar effect 
with those concerning the origin of Hercules and Jupiter. [See 
Mr. Parker's Sermon, ("Various Readings") note to page 15.] 
I am aware, indeed, that this opinion is not altogether new. The 
Unitarian " Improved Version of the New Testament" says, 
(page 2,) "The account of the miraculous conception of Christ 
was probably the fiction of some ^arly Gentile convert, who 
hoped, by elevating the dignity of the Founder, to abate the pop- 
ular prejudice Against the sect." In my sermon, I assumed 
the position, and endeavored to illustrate it, in order t^pi'^P^^'^ 
the way for my expostulations, and not for contumely or scorn, 
that some things which had been said against Christ (and I will 
now place the above remarks, respecting the Scripture history, 
with them) were, in my view, more injurious to him than his 
betrayal, or crucifixon, or the persecution of his followers. To 
suppose otherwise, it seems to me, is to suppose that Christ 
thinks more of a wrong done to his person, and to the persons 
of his followers, than to the foundatioi^^f human faith and sal- 
vation. 

Having now shown repeatedly ipwhom I did noib intend that 
the remarks in my sermon should apply, I must be indulged 
with a word in regard to those to whom I did address them. 
The imputation of uncharitableness or unkindness, even towards 
them, on my part, is not warranted by my present feelings, at 
being misrepresented, nor by the tone and manner of my sermon. 
The Unitarian reviewer of it recognized, in connexion with it, 
a " spirit of love and candor," of " apparent sincerity and sad- 
ness," of " gentle expostulation and pitying prayer." My re- 
ply to him led him to thank me for " personal courtesy and 
gracious speech," and honorably to retract an odious charge 
which he had laid against me. I commend his example to Mr. 
Lothrop. It would have been* unhappy, indeed, had I felt or 
expressed " uncharitableness" or unkindness, in connexion with 
the sorrow and the fears which I was constrained to utter, and 
which I still entertain, with regard to the present influence and 
the future prospects of those who were intended by my sermon. 
I wished, and still wish, especially in connexion with these sub- 



fiO 

jects, to feel and write in the spirit of that advice in ^^ The 
Church Porch :" — 

<' Be calm in arguing, for fierceness makes 
Error a fkutt, and truth discottrtes^. ' 
Why should I feel another man's mistakes 
iMore than his sicknesses or poverty ? 
In Unty I should, but anger is not love, 
Nor wisdom neither : — tlierefore gently moye." 

So that, if any have been induced to believe that I intended, 
in any thing I have said, to utter indiscriminate condemnation 
of all in their denomination who, for any reason, consent to bear 
its name, they may see by my quotation from the ' Christian 
Register' that this is not true. And if any one, believing thsit 
he comes within the application of my discourse, thinks that rhy 
personal feelings towards him must therefore be " uncharitable" 
or hostile, I would refer him to the expressioi^ of sincere in- 
terest and benevolent concern, which the Unitarian reviewer, 
alreadjr^entioned, acknowledged to be mingled with my ex- 
postulations. 

N. Adams. 

Boston^ July 30, 1841. 

Boston, July 28, 1841. 

Messrs. Saxton & Peirce : 

Understanding that ^u su-e about to publish facts respecting 
the Unitarian ordination at South Boston, I feel under some 
moral obligation to communicate to you a remark made by one 
of the Council, which will present him before the public in a 
more favorable light, as having but little sympathy with some 
of the sentiments expressed on that occasion. The Rev. 
George Putnam, of Roxbury, in his address to the Hawes' 
Place Congregational Society, said, " If you think you belong 
to a sect, you are mistaken. There was a time when you be- 
longed to the Unitarian sect, but that time has gone by, and I 
pray God, it may never again return. There is now no Unita- 
rian sect, for there are, at the present time, as great diversity 
of sentiments among that class of Christians, as among all other 
sects together." As my notes are somewhat effaced by hand- 
ling, I may have made some trifling inaccuracy in copying 
them, word for word ; but of this I am quite certain, that the 
above is correct in the sentiments they express, for I have them 
marked deep in my memory. 

Truly yours, Thos. Driver. 



Boston, August 2, 1841. 

Messrs. Saxton tz Peirce : 

When I wrote to you last, it was my design to have given 
you a few quotations from the last edition of Mr. Parker's ser- 
mon. I am now influenced to do it, as some have thought the 
communication of brethren Fairchild, Dunham and myself, did 
not give Mr. Parker's production, as preached, a fair represen- 
tation. I send you below a few extracts, from the last edition, 
putting in, or taking out of, the sentences some of the expres- 
sions which the writer says were or were not preached ; or in 
other words, as he says they were preached. 

Says the writer, page 13 and onward, " First, the doctrine 
respecting the origin and authority and nature of the Old and 
New Testament," is transitory. " Every word of the Jewish 
record was regarded as miraculously inspired, and therefore as 
infallibly true. It was believed that the Christian religion itself 
rested thereon, and must stand or fall with the immaculate 
Hebrew text." [What a sneer !] " On the authority of the 
written Word, [is there any Word not written ?] man was 
taught to believe impossible legends, conflicting assertions ; to 
take fiction for fact ; a dream for a miraculous revelation of 
God ; an oriental poem for a grave history of miraculous 
events; a collection of amatory idyls for a serious distfpurse 

* touching the mutual love of Christ and the church;' they 
have been taught to accept a picture sketched by some glowing 
eastern imagination, never intended to be taken for a reality, as 
a proof that the Infinite God spoke in human words, appeared 
10 the shape of a cloud, a flaming bush, or a man who ate and 
drank and vanished into smoke ; that he gave counsels to-day 
and the opposite to-morrow," &c. What a description of the 
Old Testament is this ! Has Thomas Paine done more to stig- 
matize it ? 

He then adds, *' Questions in philosophy, questions in the 
Christian religion, have been settled by an appeal to this book. 

* * * *. It has been assumed at the outset, with no shadow of 
evidence, that those writers held a miraculous communication 
with God, such as he granted to no other. * * * * « Matters 
have come to such a pass that, even now, he is deemed an infi- 
del, if not by implication an atheist, whose reverence for the 
Most High forbids him to believe that God commanded Abra- 
ham to sacrifice his Son, a thought at which the ilesh creeps 
with horror; to believe it solely on the authority of an oriental 
story, written down nobody knows when, or by whom, or for 
what purpose ; which may be a poem, but cannot be the record 




68 

of a fact, unless God is the author of confusion and a lie,'^ * * * 
*' Christian teachers themselves have differed so widely in their 
notion of the doctrines and meaning of those books, that it 
makes one weep t^ think of the follies deduced therefrom. But 
modem criticism is fast breaking to pieces the idol which men 
have made out of the Scriptures." 

" The history of opinions on the New Testament, is quite 
similar. It has been assumed at the outset, it would seem with 
no sufficient reason, without the smallest pretence on its writers' 
part, that all of its authors were infallibly and miraculously in- 
spired, so that they could commit no error of doctrine or fact. 
Men have been bid to close their eyes at the obvious difference 
between Luke and John ; the serious disagreement between 
Paul and Peter ; to believe on the smallest evidence, accounts 
which shock the moral sense and revolt the reason, and tend to 
place Jesus in the same series with Hercules and Apollonius of 
Tyana, and to degrade the Infinite God to the same level with 
Neptune and Jupiter;^ accounts which Paul in his Epistles 
never mentions, [viz. the story of the Evangelist respecting the 
conversation with the angel, with Mary's becoming the mother 
of Jesus, and what God was about to do by the overshadow- 
ing of the Holy Ghost,] though he had also a vein of the mir- 
aculous [marvellous] running quite through him." " Men have 
been told that all these things must be taken as parts of Chris- 
tianiiy, and if they accept the religion, they must take all 
these accessories along with it." 

* Hercules was one of the heathen gods. According to the ancients, he 
was the son, by repute, of the sod Jupiter, by the celebrated virgin Alemena, 
and the product of three nights stolen introduction to the bed of this beautifal 
female. He was, at his eighth month, exposed to two snakes, by jealous Jane, 
but he escaped by his crushing these serpents to death with his own hands. 
He performed many mighty prodigies during life. He became one of the 
suitors of Dijonira and lived with her in careless intimacy, afler he had over- 
come all his rivals. He had other maidens for his bed companions, and by 
them many children. Apollonius' mother is said to have had a communica- 
tion from tiie gods, before he was conceived, that she should bring forth a 
chi^d, who should be the wonder of the age. His whole history is filled with 
legends. Jupiter had no less than seven females of pleasure, and by them 
many children. Neptune was a son of Saturn and Ops, and brother to Jupiter. 
He was the god of the ocean, as his brother was of the lai|d. The amours of 
Neptune are numerous. He obtained, by the means of a dolphin, the fayora 
of Amphitrite, who had made a vow of perpetual celibacy, and he placed among 
the constellations the fish which had persuaded the goddess *to bt^come his 
wife. Neptune became a horse to enjoy the company of Ceres. 

I cannot help apologizing to the iniured public for introducing such vulgar 
alluMona, but as painful as it is ana as much as it grieves my heart, I have 
been compelled to do it by following ** the forcible, eloquent, beautiful and 
P^ned writer," Mr. Parker. 



63 

So the story of the angel appeariog to Mary, and of the 
miraculous conception of Jesus, if believed, places the " Son of 
the Highest" in the adjoining niche with Hercules and Apol- 
lonius, and the overshadowing of Mary by the Holy Ghost, 
degrades Jehovah to a level with the lascivious Neptune and 
Jupiter. Does not the miraculous manner by which God 
formed man out of the dust of the ground, also place him with 
some one of the degraded heathen gods ? Would Mr. P. have 
us believe that the history of the virgin Mary is all fiction ? 
That Mary vAs an adulteress, as Joseph at first thought she 
was, and that the Founder of Mr. Parker's religion is a bastard ? 
And is the writer of such revolting sentiments to be still received 
as a Unitarian clergyman, and are exchanges to be maintained 
with him as a minister of the New Testament ?* I reverence 
those two clergymen, who have said No : and the one, who 
would leave the ministry if he held such sentiments. 

Again he adds, after much more of similar character, " So 
the world goes. An idolatrous regard for the imperfect scrip- 
ture of God's word is the apple of Atalanta which defeats theo- 
logians running for the hand of Divine truth.f Thus a regard 
to the ' written word,' thrown down by the Prophets and 
Apostles, prevents the lovers of revelation from arriving at the 
hand of divine truth." 

Again and again, p. 18. " Christianity does not rest on the 
infallible authority of the New Testament." " I cannot see 
that Christianity depends on the personal authority of Jesus." 
" So if it could be proved in opposition to the greatest amount 
of evidence ever collected on any similar point, that the gospels 
were the fabrication of designing and artful men, that Jesus of 
Nazareth had never lived, still Christianity would stand firm 
and fear no evil. None of the doctrines of that religion would 
fall to the ground, for if true, they stand by themselves." "If 
Christianity rests on the personal authority of Jesus alone, then 
there is no certainty of its truth." 

* Several Unitarians have exchan^d with Mr. P. since this sermon was 
before the public, and he has once preached the Chauncy-PIace weekly lecture, 
to the Unitarian ministers of Boston and its vicinity. 

t Atalanta was the daughter of the King of Scyros. Many fabulous stories 
are told of her. She is represented to have determined to have lived in per- 
petual celibacy ; but her beauty gained her many admirers, and to free herself 
from their impoi tunities, she proposed to run a race with tiiem and to become 
the wife of the one who arrived at the goal before her, but to slay every one 
who failed, with the dart she carried in her hand. Having slain many, Hip- 

Eomenes proposed himself. Having received three golden apples from Venus, 
e, as he run with her, threw down the apples at some distance one from the 
other. She being influenced to pick them up, was beaten and married, 
according to the agreement, to the victor. 
I ^ye thew notes that oU may understand the allnaions. 




64 

Again. '< In an age of oorruption, as all ages are, Jesus stood 
and looked up to God. There was nothing between him and 
the Father of all. " * * * * "He would have us do the same ; 
worship with nothing between us and God ; act, think, feel, 
live, in perfect obedience to him ; and we never are Chfistiam 
as be was the Christy until we wohhip as Jesus did, mth no 
mediatory with nothing between us and the Father of all." I 
make no comment. Let his sentences speak. 

I cannot refrain from adding, as many are deceived by parts 
of the discourse in which there is much that is truths that the 
cause of it is Mr. Parker's play upon the words "Christianity" 
and the " Word of Christ." He means, as all I have quoted 
proves, and much more in the discourse, not the written Chris- 
tianity ; not the written words of Christ, but something out of 
sight, like water under ground, springing up in all hearts to 
some degree, aside from revelation. 

Query. I wonder where those paragraphs are, which Mr. 
Parker said, in his preface to his discourse, he did not preach, 
but were added in the printed sermon. Are those the para- 
agraphs, in the printed sermon, which qualify much which is «] 

ofiensive? We have eight pages of chips and scraps and 
filings of " the various readings," but not one of the paragraphs. 
I can only say, as a Unitarian clergyman said to me, '' I am 
ashamed of such a budge. It is an insult upon the public.** 

Yours truly, Thomas Dritkb. 



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