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[8]

Resolved, That it is nowhere enjoined as a religious duty, by Christ or his apostles, upon any man, that he should connect himself with any association, by whatever name called; but all are left free to act singly, or in conjunction with others, according to their own free choice.

While the glow of this truly spiritual occasion was still on him, Mr. Garrison produced four sonnets, which contain the pith of his contributions to the theological interchange of the Chardon-Street Convention. They appeared in successive numbers of the Liberator, under1 the titles, ‘The Bible,’ ‘Holy Time,’ ‘Worship,’ ‘The True Church.’ As poesy, none deserves to be quoted entire. As landmarks, they may yield a line or two. From the first, ‘The Bible’:

O Book of Books! though skepticism flout2
     Thy sacred origin, thy worth decry;
Though transcendental3 folly give the lie
     To what thou teachest; though the critic doubt
This fact, that miracle, and raise a shout
     Of triumph o'er each incongruity
He in thy pages may perchance espy, . . .
     Thy oracles are holy and divine. . . .

1 Lib. 11.179, 183, 187, 191.

2 Lib. 11.179.

3 This adjective was changed to ‘atheistic’ in the edition of Mr. Garrison's “Sonnets and other poems,” published in Boston in 1843 (p. 64), showing the liberalizing effect upon himself, unsuspected at the time, of those ‘memorable interviews and conversations, in the hall, in the lobbies, or around the doors,’ of which Emerson tells ( “ Lectures and Biographical Sketches,” ed. 1884, p. 354). On the appearance of Theodore Parker's epochmaking ordination sermon on ‘The Transient and Permanent in Christianity,’ preached May 19, 1841 (Frothingham's “Life of Parker,” p. 152, Weiss's “Life,” 1.165), Garrison said gravely to his friend Johnson, ‘Infidelity, Oliver, infidelity!’ So thought most of the Unitarian clergy; and the denomination first gave it official currency, as at once respectable and conservative doctrine, in 1885 (see the volume, “Views of religion,” a selection from Parker's sermons). In reviewing, in January, 1842, a volume of religious poetry by Mrs. Sophia L. Little, of Pawtucket, Mr. Garrison said: ‘Whatever goes to exalt the character of the Saviour is at all times valuable; but never more than when, as at the present time, attempts are made to decry his mission, to associate him with Socrates and Plato, and to reject him as the great mediator between God and man’ (Lib. 12: 7). The reference is to a letter of Christopher A. Greene's in the Plain Speaker (1: 22): ‘And we felt . . . that we were the brothers and equals of Socrates and Plato and Jesus and John—of every man who had written or spoken or walked or worked in the name of God.’

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