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THE EXISTENCE OF A DEVIL.
Before I proceed to the immediate subject of this Lecture, I wish to recall your attention to a remark made on the first evening of our meeting. What is the object for which you assemble here? What is the object which I profess to have in view in addressing you? I avowed
my object to be, a plain unvarnished statement of an Unitarian's view of the leading doctrines of Christianity, together with some of the arguments upon which his opinions are founded. They are doctrines which I deem of importance; they are doctrines which Trinitarians in general are not in the habit of hearing, per
haps not of reading; and I therefore stated that I should consider myself as addressing a Trinitarian audience. It becomes
then to consider with what motives you attend them. If you are conscious that you cannot come with feelings of perfect candour towards one, who thus attacks, what you deem, the main doctrines of Christianity, who in your estimation is undermining the Christian religion itself; if you cannot entirely divest yourselves of every feeling of rancour; if you cannot bear to witness your strong holds assaulted ; I do most earnestly request that you will discontinue your attendance. I cannot compromise with conscience, by screening any part of what I deem truth, how unpalatable soever it
Whilst, I trust, I shall ever avoid all ranting declamation, no one solid argument, upon the subjects discussed, which occurs to me, will I omit to state, in all its naked truth. If, what I deem the naked truth, shall by any be considered harsh, I trust, upon inquiry, that you will find it only sounds so, because you have been unaccustomed to it,
or have been under some little bias of
prejudice ; for I hope it is far from my nature, voluntarily, to give unnecessary offence, and I should detest myself if I thought that a single spark of benevolent feeling towards a brother was extinguished, by his difference from me in opinion.
Are there any who disapprove of the agitation of such subjects, as needless, unproductive of good ? It is earnestly hoped that you will not continue to expose yourselves to have your feelings unnecessarily wounded, by a repetition of your attendance. You cannot say that you are taken unawares. Notice of the subject is regularly given. Your attendance is perfectly voluntary. Only do not censure others, if they think differently from
you, upon the importance of bringing such subjects before the public.
I closed my last lecture with a word at which some perhaps would start. It was the word idolatry! Some of you perhaps as you returned home, would say, a hard word, who can bear it? Does not this savour of declamation and intolerance ?" My Christian brother! what is
say, “It is
And do you
idolatry? You will tell me, it is the solemn religious adoration of a being that is not God. Were the ancient heathen pations, who worshipped the spirits of their departed beroes, addicted to the practice of idolatry? What do you say of the Roman Catholic? Do you not say that he worships the Virgin Mary, and therefore that he practises idolatry ?* think yourself illiberal in making the assertion ? Or do you not think it right to speak thus plainly in order to make the greater impression ? Now if one of the persons in your supposed Trinity, was really and truly a man, and if I solemnly worship him, what do I practise ? Shall 1 hesitate at pronouncing the word? Or shall not the same motives operate upon me, as influence you in regard to the Roman Catholic, and at once say, that the practice of idolatry is the same?
“What then! Are the gates of heaven
* The Catholic indeed denies that he worships the Virgin Mary, and maintains, that although he addresses her, he is worshipping God, through the medium of the Virgin. No such plea is used by Protestant Trinitarians in their addresses to Jesus Christ; they acknowledge that they pay him full religious adoration.
to be barred against me as an idolater ?” God forbid ! Will you bar the gates of heaven against the pious Roman Catholic? Leave the judgment of the heart to the great Searcher of Hearts.
Remember only that according to the talent entrusted to us, must be our account. Upon him that wilfully shuts his eyes against the light, and determinately acts in darkness, it were better that the beams of Christianity had never descended.
There is, my Christian friends, a wide distinction to be made, between an act of idolatry, and the guilt of an idolater. If then I meet with a conscientious Trinitarian, who can, in his own mind, completely reconcile what appears to me a contradiction, and, at the same time that he worships three persons, solemnly believes that he is worshipping only one God, far, far be it from me to call that man a criminal idolater.
But were I, with my views of the subject, regularly to join in such worship, I should appear before the bar of my God, with the stamp “ vile idolater," branded upon my forehead! The practice would be the same