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hath purchased the church with his own blood; the pre-existent
To the Supporters of the Unitarian Fund. MY CHRISTIAN BRETHREN, An advocate for those views of the doctrine of the Divine Unity which you espouse, has read the report of the commencement and progress of the measures which you have adopted to promote the reception of that doctrine, with sacred pleasure. Indulge hiin, if he wishes, to animate your efforts, and to express the satisfaction which their nature and the opening prospect of their eventual success afford hiin. Accept his congratulations on the propitious circumstances which enlivened your first annual meeting, and tended to encourage and stimulate the prosecution of the laudable design in which you have embarked. You felt that your design met with an approbation on which you had not calculated. You felt yourselves invited to proceed in it with vigour and resolution, tempered with candour and prudence. It was a great consolation, we are told, 10 that excellent confessor, Mr. Thomas Emlyn, who suffered obloquy, imprisonment, and fines, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, that he lived to see the progress of those very principles which had exposed him to rage and ignominy. He had, in the prime of his days, sustained severe persecution for strenuously, but modestly, asserting the unity and supremacy of the One God and Father of all: under the infirmities and languor of old age, and in the view of death, it was a ground of rejoicing to see the truth which he had defended, at the loss of his good name, substance, and liberty, spreading its power; and to witness, that though he himself had suffered “as an evil doer, even unto bonds, yet the word of God was not bound*."
You, Christians, have beheld the increasing progress of just sentiments concerning the Divine Unity. Some of you, perhaps a considerable proportion of your number, are examples of the power of truth, of the energy of good sense and plaia Scripture, correcting, in this instance, the errors of education, and triumphing over the many prejudices which fix the adherence of numbers to those errors. I have often reflected, with surprise and pleasure, on the great and increasing spread of zhose opinions, which, in my early years, were deemed highly heretical. It is an incontrovertible facı, that numbers, if not all, who have sat down, calmly and diligently, to investigate the grounds on which rest the commonly received opinions concerning the person of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity,
* Dr. Foster's Funeral Sermon for Mr. Emlyn, p. 38. 1748
with every motive from education, authority, popularity, and interest to attach them to those principles, have, at the end of their inquiries, been convinced that they had no solid support in Scripture. What is to be expected, but that this will be more and more the case ? What is to be expected from con, tinued, spreading, and growing inquiries, but new convictions and a wider diffusion of truth?
The commencement of your measures, for the dissemination of the true knowledge of God and of his Christ, is favourable to such anticipations. It omens well. You behold the success of your efforts : you look forward to their future efficacy, and, with devout exultation, you say, within yourselves, “Great is the truth, and it will prevail.' but, besides probabilities, besides conclusions drawn from the natural tendency of free and serious inquiry-besides appearances that augur the progress of truth-you
a more sure word of prophecy” on which to form your hopes, The sure word of prophecy realises anticipations, and converts conjectures into faith. On the authority of divine o acles, you may build your hope of the prevalence of sacred knowledge of the extirpation of error and of the final general reception of just views concerning the unity of God, in particular.
The divine oracic apoken by Isaiah declares, chap. xi. 4, “ The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Chap. ii. 2. “ It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it." Chap, xxix. 18. “ In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book; and the eyes of ihe blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness."
Verse 24. “ They also that erred in the spirit shall come to understanding; and they that murmured shall learn doctrine." The divine oracle dectares, by Jeremiah, xxxi. 31-34. “ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Juulah. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.” This declaration is repeated by the Apostle, Heb. viij. 8. to revive the expectation it raises, and to lead forward our views to its full accomplish
The divine oracle has declared this, in Daniel, both by words and symbols. The stone which smate Nebuchad
nezzar's image, and was intended to represent a kingdom the God of Heaven would set up, is to “ become a great mountain, and to fill the whole earth," chap. č. 34, 35. Then it is predicted, chap. xii. 4. “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." The divine oracle has directed our views to the same event, by the parables of Jesus: by one of “ a grain of mustard, which a man took and sowed in his fields; which is the least of all seeds, but, when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, and the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof;" and by another parable, of “ a little leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” Matt. xiii. 31-33. Both these parables are prophetical, and point to one event, the growing and universal spread of Christian truth, or of the religion taught by Christ; of which one fundamental article is, « That the Lord our God is one Lord; and the other is, that Jesus is the Christ; a man approved of God, whom God hath raised up and made both Lord and Christ;” Matt. xxii. 37, compared with Deut. vi, 5. and Acts . 22, 32, 36.
You will recal to memory, with pleasure and with hope, these prophetic declarations, as justifying the expectation that the faith you profess—the belief that the Father is the only true God, and that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, his anointed Messenger and Servant, John xvii. 3. is the truth with which all flesh, agreeably to the prayer of your Lord, shall, in due season, become acquainted; that prayer of sublime devotion to his father, and of diffusive benevolence to mankind, with which, by a predictive spirit, he closed his ministry.
The " sure word of prophecy," uttered by the seers of old, and confirmed by the words of Jesus, the 'true and faithful Witness, hath predicted (referring, in particular, to the rise and spread, and universal influence of the Gospel) the future prevalence of divine knowledge. The prophetic spirit foresaw and predicted, that the Gospel itself, after it had been embraced in its purity and simplicity, would be corrupted and perverted by human inventions. The foresight was in many, many instances, through a course of ages, realized. It has been ever consolatory to the friends of truth and pure Christianity, that as the corruption of the Gospel, so the recovery of it to its pristine simplicity, was predicted. The final extirpation of religious falsehood and error forms a gladdening subject of prophecy. “ Every plant," saith our divine Master, “ which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up,” Matt. xv. 13. " Other foundation can no man lay,” saith the Apostle, “ than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: every man's work shall be made manifest. For the day shall declare il; because it shall be revealed [or, discovered] by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is," i Cor. ii. 11-13. Good or bad doctrines are meant by this metaphorical language; the test to which time will bring them, or the scrutiny they will undergo in a day of judgment, is described ; and the total subversion and overthrow of them is foretold. The same Apostle, having delineated the future apostacy from Christian verity, under the symbolical character of the man of sin," denounces his destruction; “ whom the Lord,” he says, “ shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming,” 2 Thess. ii. 8. All the prophetic scenes exbibited to John, and the great design of the book of Revelations, lead to the same joyful conclusion ; that whatever influence of power, or corrupt inventions of error, have tarnished the glory and obstructed the design of the Gospel, shall be eventually done away. You, Christian brethren, who have a full persuasion that the doctrine of the Trinity, and the sentiments concerning the person of Christ generally entertained, are gross corruptions of Christianity, can feel no hesitation to include in the glorious hope set before you in the word of prophecy, the unanimity and general consent with which those corrupt doctrines will, in the end, be discarded, and men will be brought to acknowledge, with one heart and one voice, that there is to us “ one God the Father, and one Mediator between God and
the man Christ Jesus ; and that every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Once more, let me call your attention to those prophecies, in particular, in which the general reception of just notions concerning the unity and supremacy of God is explicitly predicied. To this purpose is Psal. Ixxxvi. 9, 56 All nations whom thou hast made, shall come and worship before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name.” To this purpose is Isai. ji. 2. (before quoted). Likewise, ch. Ixvi. 18, 22." It shall come. that I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall see my glory. From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” So Zechariah, chap, viii. 21, 22. “And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of Hosts, I will go also. Yea, many and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord." Chap. xiv. 9. “ And the Lord shall be King over als