Those Christians who are usually designated by this name in the United States, and who are also called Liberal Christians, are mostly Congregationalists, and are found principally in New England.

They acknowledge no other rule of faith and practice than the holy Scriptures, which they consider it the duty of every man to search for himself, prayerfully, and with the best exercise of his understanding. They reject all creeds of human device, as generally unjust to the truth of God and the mind of man, tending to produce exclusiveness, bigotry, and divisions, and at best of doubtful value. They regard, however, with favor the earliest creed on record, commonly called the Apostles', as approaching nearest to the simplicity of the gospel, and as imbodying the grand points of the Christian faith.

They adopt the words of St. Paul, (1 Cor.8:6,) "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." They make great account of the doctrine of God's paternal character and government, and continually set it forward as the richest source of consolation, and the most powerful motive to repentance and improvement.

Receiving and trusting in Christ as their Lord, Teacher, Mediator, Intercessor, Savior, they hold in less esteem than many other sects, nice theological questions and speculations concerning his precise rank, and the nature of his relation to God. They feel that by honoring him as the Son of God, they honor him as he desired to be honored; and that by obeying and imitating him, they in the best manner show their love.

They believe that the Holy Ghost is not a distinct person in the Godhead, but that power of God, that divine influence, by which Christianity was established through miraculous aids, and by which its spirit is still shed abroad in the hearts of men.

They advocate the most perfect toleration. They regard CHARITY as the crowning Christian grace, -- the end of the commandment of God. They consider a pure and lofty morality as not only inseparable from true religion, but the most acceptable service that man can render to his Maker, and the only indubitable evidence of a believing heart.

They believe that sin is its own punishment, and virtue its own rewarder; that the moral consequences of a man's good or evil conduct go with him into the future life, to afford him remorse or satisfaction; that God will be influenced in all his dealings with the soul by mercy and justice, punishing no more severely than the sinner deserves, and always for a benevolent end. Indeed, the greater part of the denomination are Restorationists.

Unitarians consider that, besides the Bible, all the Ante-Nicene fathers -- that is, all Christian writers for three centuries after the birth of Christ -- give testimony in their favor, against the modern popular doctrine of the Trinity. As for antiquity, it is their belief that it is really on their side.

In the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, which was written towards the close of the first century, -- and the evidence for the genuineness of which is stronger than for that of any other of the productions attributed to the apostolical fathers, -- the supremacy of the Father is asserted or implied throughout, and Jesus is spoken of in terms mostly borrowed from the Scriptures. He is once called the "sceptre of the majesty of God;" and this highly-figurative expression is the most exalted applied to him in the whole Epistle.

Justin Martyr, the most distinguished of the ancient fathers of the church, who flourished in the former part of the second century, and whose writings (with the exception of those attributed to the apostolic fathers) are the earliest Christian records next to the New Testament, expressly says, "We worship God, the Maker of the universe, offering up to him prayers and thanks. But, assigning to Jesus, who came to teach us these things, and for this end was born, the 'second place' after God, we not without reason honor him."

The germ and origin of the doctrine of the Trinity, the Unitarians find in the speculations of those Christianized philosophers of the second century, whose minds were strongly tinctured with the Platonic philosophy, combined with the emanation system, as taught at Alexandria, and held by Philo. From this time they trace the gradual formation of the doctrine through successive ages down to Athanasius and Augustine; the former of whom, A. D.362, was the first to insist upon the equality of the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son; and the latter, about half a century afterwards, was the first to insist upon their numerical unity.

In all ages of the church, there have been many learned and pious men who have rejected the Trinity as unscriptural and irrational. The first attempt, at the council of Nice, to establish and make universal the Trinitarian creed, caused disturbances and dissensions in the church, which continued for ages, and produced results the most deplorable to every benevolent mind which exalts charity over faith.

Soon after the reformation, the Unitarian faith was avowed by Martin Cellarius, who was then finishing his studies at Wittenberg, where Luther was professor. In 1546, the Unitarian opinions made a considerable movement in Italy, and several persons of learning and eminence were put to death. In 1553, Michael Servetus was burned for this heresy, at Geneva. The elder Socinus made his escape from this persecution, and spread his views throughout several countries of Europe, more particularly in Poland, where a large part of the Reformed clergy embraced them, and were separated, in 1565, from the communion of the Calvinists and Lutherans.

In England, the number of Unitarians was considerable, according to Strype, as early as 1548; and in 1550, he represents the Unitarian doctrine as spreading so fast that the leading Churchmen were alarmed, and "thought it necessary to suppress its expression by rigid measures." These "rigid measures," such as imprisonment and burning, were successful for a time. But afterwards, the "heresy" gained new and able supporters, such as Biddle, Firmin, Dr. S. Clarke, Dr. Lardner, Whiston, Emlyn, Sir Isaac Newton, &c., and has been spreading to this day.

In the north of Ireland, the Unitarians compose several presbyteries. There are also congregations of Unitarians in Dublin, and in other southern cities of the kingdom.

In Scotland, there are chapels of this character in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other principal places.

In the United States, Unitarian opinions were not prevalent till towards the close of the last century. Since that time, however, they have advanced rapidly, and have been embraced by some of the wisest and best men in the land.

Of late years, the Congregational Unitarians have generally abstained from controversy, in the United States. They have, however, published and circulated extensively a large number of tracts, of a doctrinal and practical character. They have at the present time assumed a positive condition, gained a strong and permanent hold amongst the Christian sects, and are manifesting new signs of vitality and usefulness.

The following proof-texts are some of those upon which the Unitarians rest their belief in the inferiority of the Son to the Father: -- John 8:17, 18. John 17:3. Acts 10:38 1 Tim.2:5.1 John 4:14. Rom.8:34 1 Cor.11:3. John 10:29. John 14:28. Matt.19:17. John 17:21. John 20:17.1 Cor.8:5, 6. John 10:25; 7:16, 17, 8:28; 5:19, 20; 8:49, 50. Matt.20:23. John 6:38, 57; 5:30. Mark 13:32. Luke 6:12. John 11:41, 42. Matt.27:46. Acts 2:22-24. Phil.2:11. Col.1:15. Rev.3:14. Heb.3:3. Matt.12:18. Luke 2:52.

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