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Nor moral Excellence, nor social Bliss, None but the noblest passions to inspire, Nor Law were his ; nor Property, nor Not one immoral, one corrupted thought, Swain
One line, which, dying, he might wish to To turn the Furrow, nor mechanic Hand blot." Harden'd to Toil, nor Servant prompt,
VERMICULUS. nor Trade Mothér severe of infinite Delights !"
Cheetwood, near Manchester, Servant prompt is in the edition SIR, July 19, 1822. author's minute attention to the phra- pages devoted to the consideraseology of his poem.
tion of the inconveniences which atSuch are the materials for compar- tach to Unitarians in the solemnizaing the first and later editions of Sum- tion of Marriage, on account of their mer which are offered to any of your being obliged to conform to the cerereaders who have leisure and inclina, mony instituted by the Established tion for such pursuits. To borrow Church on that occasion, I have prethe language of a critic on the Seasons, sumed to address you upon that subwhom 1 before quoted, they will, i ject,-not indeed for the purpose of think, “ easily perceive that most of pointing out any farther objections the changes which the poem has un- to it, but to impress upon Unitarians dergone are happy improvements,” in general, the propriety of adopting that “the disposition of the parts has a method which I conceive would be been altered for the better,” and that the means of exciting more attention "it has been improved in symmetry to the subject, and would have a faand grace, without losing any part of vourable tendency in promoting the its original dignity and vigour.” alteration which the Society for pro
I am not aware that Thomson's great tecting the Civil Rights of Únitarians attention to the revision of the Seasons are endeavouring to obtain. has been noticed by any of his bio- It has been often said, that Unitagraphers, except Dr. Johnson, who rians in general are indifferent as to says, “ These poems, with which I this matter, because they have hitherto was acquainted at their first appear. (with a few exceptions) submitted in ance, I have since found altered and silence to that ceremony; and I must enlarged by subsequent revisals, as confess that the charge is apparently the author supposed his judgment to too well founded. I therefore congrow more exact, and as books or ceive it to be the duty of all Unitaconversation extended his knowledge rians, entering into the marriage state, and opened his prospects.” Yet, solemnly to protest against the perthough“ improved in general,” he formance of a ceremony which inculdoubts “ whether they have not lost cates doctrines directly opposed to part of what Temple calls their race; the principles of Unitarianism. By a word which applied to wines, in thus publicly and firmly expressing their primitive sense, means the fla- their dissent to such a violation of vour of the soil.”
their religious opinions, the LegislaWaller has somewhere said, that ture will perceive the propriety and “ Poets lose half the praise they would existing laws relating to Marriage.
necessity of some alteration in the Were it but known what they discreetly considerable portion of English sub
Surely, the consideration that thus a blot."
jects are compelled to submit to so However this praise may have been great a degradation as that of openly sparingly bestowed on Thomson, of a admitting a doctrine the truth of higher, and also a justly deserved re- which they deny, ought to have great putation, he has not been defrauded.
weight with Parliament; but whilst In the prologue to Coriolanus, so much indifference is manifested in acted after the author's death, in silently submitting to such a proceed1748, for the benefit of his sisters, the ing, it is but reasonable for their oppoet's friend, Lord Lyttleton happily ponents to infer, that to them it is a says of Thomson's Muse, that she
matter of but little importance. “ employ'd her heav'n- Therefore, when instances of indi. taught lyre,
viduals so protesting for, conscience'
sake do occur, I think it is highly Should you wish any further informaproper that they should be made tion upon the subject, I am willing to known for the encouragement of wait upon you to afford any explanation others, and as an inducernent to them in my power. to act in a similar manner. An in
If, however, upon such consideration, stance of this kind having lately oc- you should feel unable, or not inclined tu curred where a friend of mine entered if I am compelled to submit to the form
allow me the indulgence I request, and his protest against the Marriage cere of service as it is laid down in the Book mony, I have obtained from him his of Common Prayer, or otherwise forego permission to transmit a copy thereof the advantages of matrimony, it is my for insertion in your valuable publica- intention to enter my solemn protest tion, as also of a letter he previously against those parts of the ceremony of wrote to the clergyman officiating, to- which I disapprove, and which at all ingether with a brief statement of the culcate the belief and worship of the interview that in consequence took Trinity. Because, as a Unitarian, I beplace between them.
lieve such a doctrine to have no foundaCopy of the Letter.
tion in the Scriptures, and to be unsapcManchester,
tioned by their authority; and so believSIR, June 14, 1822.
ing, I should shew myself greatly wantAs it is my intention, under the per. ing in a proper regard to religious indemission of Divine Providence, to enter pendence and principles, silently to into the Marriage state, in the course of acquiesce in those parts of a service to this month, and as I am informed it will which I cannot give the assent of my be your duty to perform the service on understanding, and of which my couthat occasion, I take this opportunity to
science disapproves, request of you, that, in the solemnization Your early answer will confer an obli. of that event, such expressions may be gatiou on omitted in the ceremony which at all
Yours respectfully, inculcate a belief in or worship of the
(Signed) PETER ÉCKERSLEY. Trinity. Upon similar occasions, I am To the Rev. Mr. Fielding, informed, such omissions have been made Curate of St. John's Church, by ministers of the Established Church,
Manchester. when they have been requested by the
In parties concerned ; as, indeed, expres the gentleman to whom it was ad
consequence of the above letter, sions may be substituted that would not be offensive either to you as a Trinita- dressed waited upon my friend in a rian, or to me as a Unitarian. I really few days afterwards, when a conversacannot see the necessity of your rigo- tion ensued between them upon the rously adhering to certain words which subject. On being asked if he could may be omitted without injury to you, and comply with the request which the with advantage to myself ; nor am I aware letter contained, he replied, that, as a that, by the laws of this country, Uni- minister of the Established Church, he tarians are compelled publicly to profess could not conscientiously make any their belief in that doctrine which forms alteration in the ceremony as imposed the main ground of their dissent from the by the Church ; for that, by the oath Established Church, relative to the Marriage Act be correct, taken by him at his ordination, he was the object of it is not to prescribe a set compelled strictly to adhere to those form of words which shall imply a belief forms which the Church had enjoined, in any particular doctrine, but was enact
otherwise he should be a perjured ed for the purpose of having the contract man. He disclaimed all bigotry, and of the parties publicly registered by the expressed himself in terms of approbaminister, so as to prevent illegal or im- tion of the course Mr. E. had pursued, proper Marriages, which object I conceive and said it was that which all consciwill be sufficiently answered by perform- entious Dissenters from the doctrine ing the ceremony in the way I wish, of the Trinity ought to adopt. On without compelling me to give either my Mr. E. learning the determination of tacit or verbal assent to a doctrine in the minister, he informed him that which I do not believe. I sincerely trust that you will give the matter a serious he should, in consequence of his refuand candid consideration; as it is not sal, be compelled, before the cereonly to me, but also to the lady with mony coinmenced, to deliver a protest whom I intend to be united, a matter of against those objectionable parts of most serious importance..."
the service, which appeared to him
diametrically opposed to the truths of poses a violence upon the conscienees of the gospel. Mr. E., however, ex- the parties concerned. presses himself as being highly pleased
(Signed) PETER ECKERSLEY. with the liberality displayed by Mr.
ELIZABETH PENDLETON. Fielding throughout the conversation, and is desirous to add his testimony The protest originally went further to the respectful and gentlemanly de- in objecting to the introductory part portment which characterized his con- of the service, as being (to a mind duct on the occasion.
correctly formed) offensive to the feelThe following is a copy of the Pro- ings of delicacy. But as the minister test :
intimated his intention of omitting
that part of the service, the protest To the Rev. Mr. Fielding: against it would be unnecessary, and
was therefore by his wish expunged. SIR, You having expressed your utter inabi
F. BOARDMAN. lity conscientiously to comply with our request, by omitting or altering any part On the Buok of Genesis. of the matrimonial service ordained by From Professor Eichhorn's Introducthe Established Church, as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, we feel
tion to the Study of the Old Testait necessary, to the relief of our con.
ment, Vol. II. sciences, to protest against the doctrines
$ 416, a. which it contains. We regret that in a country peculiarly
The Book of Genesis was compiled distinguished for religious toleration, a
from Ancient Scriptural Records. service should be insisted upon by the WHE accounts contained in the Established Church which, in order to book of Genesis carry us back to enter the Marriage state, must be sub- the very cradle of the whole human mitted to by those persons who disbe- race, and refer to events which oclieve its doctrines, and which is therefore curred partly several thousand, and attended with a violation of their religi. partly several hundred years prior to ous principles and the dictates of cou. the time of Moses, of which, therescience. Surely a ceremony involving in it such painful consequences, calls fore, (admitting him to be the author aloud for reformation.
of this book,) Moses cannot speak as As Unitarian Christians, we therefore an eye-witness, but merely as an hismost solemnly protest against the ser- torian. Whence, then, may it be asked, vice :
did he gather the materials for his Because we are thereby called upon, uot work? Was he favoured with an im: only tacitly to acquiesce, but to profess a mediate revelation from the Deity? belief in the doctrine of a Trinity of per- Is his narrative grounded on the resons in the Godhead, which is a dogma cords of antiquity, or is it an invention (as we believe) totally unfounded upon of his own brain? Ought the critic the Scriptures, unwarranted by reason, and historian to condemn him as an and expressly contradicted by both natu, ral and revealed religion.
artful impostor ; or to applaud him Because we are compelled to submit as a writer of the most unbounded to the performance of a service which is veracity? Are his relations nothing in direct opposition to those views of but a series of amusing tales invented Christianity which we have derived from to portray the childhood of mankind the gospel of Jesus Christ, unshackled by in fascinating colours, for the success the creeds of fallible men, or the deci. of which he trusted to the ignorance sions of venal councils.
of his contemporaries? Or are they Because we conceive, that if such a ce such as exhibit, in undeniable charac, remony were submitted to by us in si ters, the stamp of authenticity and lence, it would be a dereliction from our truth? duty as worshipers of one God the Fa. ther, and as faithful disciples of his Son
The book of Genesis no where contains Jesus Christ.
even the most distant allusion to supBecause we conceive, that in the per- port the assertion that its contents are formance of so important and solemn a the immediate revelations of the Deity. service as that of matrimony, every ex. Hence, as no peremptory Autoseda pression ought to be omitted which im exists to silence inquiry, every one is
authorized to examine it, and to de- distinct documents. Nor has this obcide upon it for himself.
servation escaped the notice of various This maxim has already to a certain writers distinguished by their critical extent been acted upon, and a variety acumen; but either their predilection of circumstances have led to the con- for a certain system prevented them elusion, that the book of Genesis may from pursuing the advantages to be be a human production; or, in other derived from it, or the gleam of truth words, that it may have originated in which dawned upon them was too human sources, and been handed down weak and too quickly lost again in the from generation to generation hy clouds by which it was surrounded, to means of oral traditions or seriptural admit of their tracing the discovery records. And truly, could it even be which they had made throughout the proved that it were grounded on the whole book.* Astrue, a celebrated former alone, still would I hail it as physician, at length effected what no an important document, and its source critic by profession had previously should be ever sacred to me: for if ventured to do, and actually divided we feel inclined, once for all, to admit the whole book of Genesis into dis, the longevity of the patriarchs, (which, tinct fragments. In my turn, I have however, it must be owned, is liable also made a similar attempt, but to to serious objections,) it must also be allowed, that in the earlicst periods of the world the pure stream of historical Observ. Sacc. Lib. i. c. iii. pp. 29, seq. ;
* Writers on this subject are-Vitringa, information could not easily, or to Clericus, de Scriptore Pentateuchi, $ 11; any great extent, be adulterated by R. Simon, Histoire Critique du V. T. Lib. the accession of turbid waters. And i. C. vii. í Fleury, Mæurs des Israëlites, as Lamech may have been contempo, p. 6; Le François, Preuves de la Relirary with Adam, and Shem with La- gion Chrétienne, T. I. P. ii. C. iii. Art. 1. mech; again, as Lamech may have Detached ideas on this subject may be seen Abraham, and the latter have also found in Jo. And, Sixt., Dissert. de been seen by Jacob; further, as many Origine Histor. Creationis, quam Moses of the contemporaries of Moses may dedit, Altorf, 1782, 4to. (Astruc) Conhave personally known Jacob, --it fol. jectures sur les Mémoires Originaux dont lows, first, that oral tradition, origi
il paroit que Moyse s'est servi pour com
le Livre de la Genèse, à Bruxelles, nating in the earliest ages of mankind, 1753, 8vo. Jerusalem follows him (but could not have passed through the briefly) in bis Letters on the Mosaic mouths of many different persons, and Writings and Philosophy. To these may be was therefore less liable to change or added, a Dissertation of Schultens, which, perversion ; and, secondly, that inore however, contains nothing peculiar or recent traditions extending downwards new: Jo. Jac. Schultens, Dissert. qua to the days of Moses, could not have disquiritur unde Moses res in Libro been circulated for any great length Geneseos descriptas didicerit. See the of time without being scripturally re
same reprinted in Jo. Oelrich's Belgii corded, and without their genuineness Litterati Opusculis Historico - Philolohaving been determined by actual re- of all the authors here quoted, none has
gico-Theologicis, T. I, pp. 247, et seq. ference to the party with whom they entered so deeply into the subject as originated, or to soine other credible Astruc. Ilgen has since treated upon it authority.
very elaborately in his work on the OriBut, although the credibility of the ginal State of the Documents belonging narratives contained in the book of to the Archives in the Temple of JeruGenesis, would in no wise bé dimi- salem, 1 vol. Halle, 1798, 8v0., although nished by their having been compiled his excessive minuteness (however laudafrom oral traditions at the time of ble in itself) gives him the appearance of Moses, the general character, and, if wishing to do more than at present it is I may use the expression, the very possible to do. I must leave it to the genius of the book itself does not the present attempt, requesting him, at
pose between his work and warrant its being ascribed to such a source. On the contrary, every thing the former in the Allgemeine Litteratur
the same time, to peruse the reviews of in it seems clearly to prove the use of Zeitung, (Jena, 1798,) and in Gabler's scriptural records, and what is more, Theolog. Journal, where he will find even speaks for its being a compila- much useful information on the subject tion of fragments from separate and generally,
prevent my being diverted from those styled Jehovah Elohim. It remains to views which I had once for all adopted, be asked, if so striking a difference I considered myself bound to pass can be the effect of mere chance, or over the previous labours of Astruc, rather if it ought not to be considered and to decline his assistance as my as denoting the existence of two dise guide. What the results of my inves- tinct works, the productions of diftigations are, shall be hereafter de- ferent writers ? tailed, without the smallest claim on The second chapter, from the fourth my part to any superiority over my verse, and the whole of the third, predecessors, by affecting to shew breathe the same spirit, and exhibit wherein Clericus and Simon may have the same train of thought and ideas; suffered themselves to be misled, or in so that in fact the narrative contained what particulars Fleury and De Fran- in both, appears as intimately cone çois may have been mistaken, and nected and suited together as ever two Astruc, Jerusalem and Ilgen may have fragments of an antique monument fallen into error. In the mean time, can possibly be supposed to be. They and as a necessary step to our ulterior inform us, that “God allotted to the proceedings, it may not be amiss to first human pair a beautiful part of devote a section or two to consider Eden for their residence, where they the most ancient modes of preserving were permitted to partake of all kinds history.
of fruits and herbs ; but at the same (Desunt S$ 416, b. et c.)
time cautioned against the produce of a certain tree of a deadly nature: not
withstanding which, they suffered 1. The Book of Genesis contains se
themselves to be persuaded by a serveral separate and distinct Docu- pent to eat of the prohibited fruit,
and, in consequence, became subject ments or Records.
to death and expulsion from the happy Several chapters in Genesis bear abodes of paradise.” Lastly, in no the stamp of being distinct, isolated other part of the whole book of Gerecords, the authors of which, as far nesis, except in the second and third as we are at present able to judge, chapters, is the name Jehovah Elohim had nothing whatever to do with the applied to God. Such a union of cirremainder. That portion of it com- cumstances naturally warrants the inprising the second chapter, exclusive ference, that both chapters compose of the four first verses, but including one distinct and separate document the whole of the third chapter, exhibits connected with the remainder of the an instance of such a distinct and book, solely by the subject of which isolated document. The first chapter they treat, namely, the earliest history is in no wise connected with the second of mankind, and in no wise by the from the fourth verse, and the super- name of their author. scription itself, (chap. ii. 4,) “ 'l'his The fourteenth chapter, which is is the origin of heaven and earth,” introduced into the narrative of Abraplainly enough separates them. The ham's history, appears equally abrupt reader will moreover find, that in the and isolated. It has nothing to do first chapter a very ingenious plan is with the fifteenth, and is merely conlaid down, which througbout is fol- nected with the twelfth and the thirlowed up with no small display of art, teenth chapters by the circunstance and according to which every idea has of its referring to an event which its appropriate place allotted to it; occurred subsequent to the separawhereas a perusal of the second chap- tion of Abraham from Lot; whilst ter will shiew, that from the fourth its general tone and style shew a verse the narrative is that of early marked difference between it and childhood, characteristic of a noble any preceding or subsequent chapsimplicity, and breathing the language ters. In it alone God is mentioned as
. , “ The name Elohim is invariably applied inost high God, possessor of bearea to God throughout the first chapter, and earth;" in it alone the Creator of and as far as the fourth verse in the the universe is designated as nap second; but from thence to the end 78 D'DU," the possessor of heaven of the third chapter he is as invariably and earth ;" and in this chapter only