restricted access Unitarian Christians Convention, First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, October 22, 1846
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28 Unitarian Christians Convention, 1846 Unitarian Christians Convention, First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, October 22, 1846 LUCRETIA MOTT said, it was most unexpected to her, to be permitted to speak on this occasion. I am gratified in having an invitation1 to speak out the truth without clothing it in set theological language. I liked the observation of the last speaker, (Mr. Hedge), especially in reference to this point.2 We make the cross of Christ of no effect, by the ambiguous and deceiving phraseology we throw around his precepts and doctrines. It goes to perpetuate the erroneous views which prevail in Christendom, of the divinity of Christ and the vicarious atonement . If we could disabuse Christianity of the errors of theology, we should do much towards advancing so great and glorious a system if it can be called such. But when preachers, for fear of losing their reputation in the religious world, speak of faith in the divinity of Christianity, and the vicarious atonement, they are retarding Christian progress by their want of simplicity and frankness. Nothing is more fitted to impede this progress, than the popular theology, the generally received systems of faith. A speaker has said (Mr. Clarke), that we ought not unwillingly to allow ourselves to be cut off from the Body of the Church.3 But however vital that Body may be and she would not deny it much earnestness and worth, yet we must be willing to be separated from it in respect to the important doctrines. But who is there of you glorying so much in that spirit of heresy in which St. Paul boasted—heresy after the manner of men—who of you stands so fast in liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, as to acknowledge the extent of their secret suspicions of views ordinarily professed? Who is ready to hold up the purity of human nature in place of its depravity? Who will speak of the importance of becoming Christ-like, by following his example, of that which is meant when he is called, “the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness,” and not of that greatness of his which is inexplicable, or involves mystery and miracle. We are too prone to take our views of Christianity from some of the credulous followers of Christ, lest any departure from the early disciples should fasten upon us the suspicion of unbelief in the Bible. But should we not feel free to speak of the narratives of those who hand down the account of Christ’s mission, in their true character? The importance of free thinking, and honest speech, cannot be over-estimated. Be not afraid of the reputation of Infidels, or the opprobrium of the religious world. We must be willing to be severed from it if necessary. And our fruits, and not our opinions, will finally judge us. There is but one criterion of judgment, and every body knows what love, truth, mercy are! If we seek to bring forth righteousness, exceeding the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees , then we need fear little, though brother deliver up brother to death! It may become a small thing to be judged of man’s judgment. We ought to rejoice that we are permitted to offer a pattern of Christianity exceeding the common one. We need Saviors that shall be Saviors on our own Mount Zion. How great is the mischief those false doctrines are doing, which make man depraved and then Unitarian Christians Convention, 1846 29 point him to the vicarious suffering of Christ! We are too prone to begin with the spirit, and then seek to be made perfect in the flesh. We clothe our thoughts in expressions that deceive. There is too much image-worship still practiced by Christians! We are apt to proselyte to sect rather than to Christianity! It has been well said, our fathers made graven images, but we make verbal ones. God has made man after his own image, and man has made God after his image. If you have had Channing and Worcester4 to lead you on, why are you not prepared to carry the work forward, even beyond them? My heart was made humble and tender when I came into the Convention. I saw in the chair the son of an old friend of my father, Samuel Parkman, of Boston.5 Looking at Calvinistic Boston as it then was, and considering how Channing rose and bore his testimony, and what results...