William Ellery Channing
William Ellery Channing and Unitarian Identity
Robert Michael Ruehl
Beginning in the eighteenth century, a religious split began to occur in New England. Christian ministers began to diverge over their beliefs in Christ and various other aspects of the Christian faith, such as original sin, reason in religion, and the nature of God.1 William Ellery Channing (1780-1842), therefore, grew up in America during a time when the Calvinist theology that dominated the religious sentiments of the New England area was in a process of fragmentation.2 Originally, the Puritans had adopted and adapted the tenets of Calvinism, and they had focused their energy on building Congregational churches based on a membership of visible saints.3 Resistance to this Calvinist theology emerged. One of these challenges came as early as 1719 with the anonymous publication of Choice Dialogues between a Godly Minister and an Honest Country Man, Concerning Election and Predestination, which challenged the stricter forms of Calvinism by arguing that Calvinist doctrines reduce free will, and they turn God into the creator of sin.4 It was within this environment of growing differences and hostilities between a more liberal faction of the Congregational churches and a more orthodox Calvinist faction that Channing was ordained in 1803 at the Federal Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts. These hostilities would visibly manifest themselves two years later over the election of Henry Ware as Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard College. This incident is acknowledged as the beginning of a thirty-year conflict between the liberal and the orthodox Christians of New England, which has been called the Unitarian controversy (1805-35).5 Channing would take a decisive stand on a number of occasions in this controversy and help to shape the nascent Unitarian identity in opposition to orthodox Calvinism.
This occurred in various ways, but it is easiest to see his influence by condensing and describing his guidance and influence in relation to two occasions, one in 1815 and the other in 1819. The first occasion helped to define the Unitarian identity on a local basis within New England and in and around the Boston area more specifically. This occurred through Channing's public letter to the liberal Rev. Samuel C. Thacher dated 20 June 1815, which challenged the orthodox Calvinists' injurious descriptions of the liberal Christians in New England.6 The second occasion took place on a more national and more formal level as Channing delivered the ordination ceremony for Jared Sparks in Baltimore, Maryland on 5 May 1819.7 Both helped to differentiate the liberal Christians from the orthodox Calvinists, and this is the period when the liberal Christians accepted the title "Unitarian."
Dr. Jedidiah Morse was an orthodox Calvinist.8 He had played a crucial role in dividing the liberal and orthodox Christians in New England over the election of Henry Ware in 1805. He also was the publisher of the Panoplist, a conservative Christian periodical begun in the same year.9 Over the next ten years, Morse continued to urge the liberals to make their beliefs known to the larger public and to stop dissembling. Because the liberals believed the unity of the New England Standing Order and the unity of the congregations were more important, they would not accept his challenges. They abhorred conflict and believed in the harmonious coexistence of the liberals and the conservatives. This, however, was intolerable to Morse and other orthodox Calvinists who believed that two contradictory theological beliefs could not be held. For Morse, the Trinity was a biblical teaching, and to disbelieve this doctrine forced one outside of the Christian fold. This set the stage for Morse to publish an issue of the Panoplist that would force the liberal Christians to vocalize their beliefs. To do this, he reprinted part of Thomas Belsham's book on Unitarianism in England, specifically the chapter on Unitarianism in New England based on the views of the liberal minister James Freeman, the first avowed Unitarian in New England. This issue of the Panoplist was reprinted five times in five months.10 The liberal Christians would no longer remain silent; they chose Channing to respond.
Morse's review in the Panoplist laid out three clear accusations.11 First, the New England liberals were not Christian; they were practicing a Unitarian, non-Christian tradition found in England. Second, the New England liberal clergymen were refraining from making their true beliefs known, and they were hypocritically maintaining their pastorates through dissembling about what their true faith was. Third, the orthodox Christians must no longer maintain fellowship with the liberals; true Christians should not maintain fellowship with non-Christians or heathens. Channing addressed each of these points in detail and made it clear that Morse was wrong.
Channing's letter discloses the seriousness of these charges. Channing's letter makes it clear that the charges Morse was bringing against the liberals were not only slanderous, but they potentially were legal issues in early nineteenth-century New England. By Morse accusing them of being Socinians and hypocritically dissembling about their true beliefs, this carried with it potential charges of civil disobedience and blasphemy.
The first thing Channing addresses is the potential diminishment of the reputations of the liberal New England clergymen. Channing states that his "self respect too is wounded."12 Channing next addresses what it means to be Unitarian. Following this, Channing addresses the charges that they are secretive and plotting. It is here that Channing raises the legal issue of Morse's periodical: "But artifice, plotting, hypocrisy are crimes."13 Here Channing states that the liberal Christian failure to address doctrines they do not believe in has nothing to do with secrecy and plotting. Since they do not believe in the Trinity and other conservative doctrines, they do not speak about them; they act is if they do not exist. This is to avoid bringing controversy into the pulpits. They choose to support harmony among Christian believers instead of privileging doctrinal differences.
He reverses the charges and accuses Morse of criminal acts of slander and reducing their reputation. This, Channing argues, is the true crime.14 While he acknowledges the common charges of heresy brought against the liberal Christians by orthodox Calvinists, Channing disappointedly states that this is the first time total disbanding has been advocated. He argues that such a call is un-Christian. The liberals have been open about discussions about doctrines they believe have perplexed Christians ever since the doctrines came into existence. While the liberals have been willing to discuss their perplexities over the doctrine of the Trinity and other perplexing doctrines, the orthodox have accused them of the crime of heresy and now advocate casting them out of the community. Instead of this narrow-mindedness, Channing advocates that the orthodox Christians should start living a life with an emphasis on Christian deeds and learn to temper their language in a more Christ-like way.
He concludes his letter by asserting that the most honorable position to be in is to suffer for the cause of God. If the liberals must suffer because of their sincere beliefs, then they will gladly do so. They will continue to stand by their beliefs. If the orthodox Christians want to separate, then the division and its negative consequences rest on them. Channing's last paragraph brings forth his final plea for peace: "I now commit this humble effort to promote the peace and union of the church, and the cause of truth and free inquiry, to the blessing of Almighty God."15 Free inquiry has been the principle Unitarians have tried to maintain--even in today's Unitarian Universalist Church.
The significant aspect of this letter is Channing's attempt to explain the different history of the word "Unitarian" in order to elaborate more clearly in what sense the liberal Christians of New England were Unitarian.16 To counter the charges that the New England liberals were Unitarian in Belsham's sense, that is Socinians, Channing indicated that two types of liberal Christian existed in New England, and neither of them were Socinian in nature. For New England liberal clergymen, Socinianism was, first and foremost, the denial of Jesus' divine nature,17 and neither group of liberal Christians advocated this unsound doctrine. While there may be a few clergymen in New England who agree with the Socinian position, the dominant two groups of liberals could be broken down in a more clear and distinct way. The first group believes that Jesus is more than a mere man; this group holds that Jesus existed prior to the creation of the world and his entrance into it. The second group fully denied the three distinctions attributed to God. In the end, the aspect common to both groups was the outright denial of the three persons of the Godhead.
In order to buttress his position, Channing turned to Hannah Adams' book, A View of Religions in Two Parts.18 She laid out four definitions for the term "Unitarian." The first definition was based on Johann Lorenz von Mosheim's definition, which asserted that Unitarianism indicates that there is no division within God. Mosheim's passage reads as follows: "For the term Unitarian is very comprehensive and is applicable to a great variety of persons, who, not withstanding, agree in this common principle, that there is no real distinction in the divine nature."19 Channing liked this definition because it was broad enough to include the various groups of New England liberals. It did not challenge their different Christologies, but emphasized their common beliefs in the unity of God. Channing, thus, rejected any ties to Socinianism and the British Unitarianism that Belsham, Joseph Priestly, and Theophilus Lindsey had helped to establish in England. Channing's view of the New England liberal Christian position was that it emerged out of the cultural soil of the Puritan past and was in harmony with the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. In fact, Channing made it clear through his letter that the liberal Christians of New England who were Arian in temperament were closer to the New England Calvinists than they were to the Socinians in England.20
It was with this letter that they took on the word "Unitarian" according to their definition. They preferred the terms "liberal Christians," "rational Christians," or "catholic Christians,"21 but the "Unitarian" designation was acceptable as long as people understood the position clearly. This letter was not the last one to be written. In fact, Channing's letter precipitated further controversy as both the liberal and the orthodox Christians battled over terms and doctrines. It was through Channing's letter and the succeeding letters by other liberal disputants that it became clear that the liberals in New England were not only Unitarians who believed in the unity of God, but they also held an Arian view of Jesus that placed him somewhere between humanity and God.22 Furthermore, they held in common a belief in the immortality of the soul and a disbelief in the existence of hell.23
The orthodox minister Dr. Samuel Worcester responded to Channing's letter. He argued that the only way to full salvation was through a belief in the Trinity, and he believed the Unitarianism of New England was undermining the Christian faith. Worcester elicited two more letters from Channing.24 Through his letter to Thacher, Channing helped to establish characteristics of Unitarians for the upcoming years. He disclosed the tendency of the liberals toward openness, dialogue, and harmonious Christian fellowship. He disclosed to those still in the closet about their liberal ideas that there was a large group of religious believers in New England who no longer subscribed fully to orthodox Calvinism. He did all this through a methodical and carefully reasoned argument that revealed the liberal Christians' dependence on reason in religion. Once it was clear that no reconciliation was possible between Worcester and him, Channing published Systems of Exclusion and Denunciation in Religion Considered in 1815, which argued that such denunciations stifled free enquiry into the writings of the Bible and undermined the Congregational church polity found in New England.25 Other liberals entered the controversy in defense of Channing's arguments and theological position. With this split clearly demarcated, the Unitarians now could establish themselves more solidly as a group within New England with no sense of injustice. Channing's letter provided the opportunity to openly discuss the differences between the orthodox and liberal Christians, but Morse and other orthodox Christians rejected this attempt. Through Channing's letter, the liberal Christians could prepare to establish their position on a national level, and Channing would be the person they would turn to again four years later, which is seen as the "founding" of Unitarianism.
Channing had never been one who enjoyed controversy, but in May 1819, he would once again help to define what it meant to be a Unitarian. Baltimore, Maryland was beyond the confines of New England, and the liberal Christians there were attempting to battle orthodox Calvinism. A year after Channing's letter to Thacher, prominent citizens in Baltimore requested the aid of New England Unitarians to help establish liberal Christianity in Maryland.26 On 13 October 1816, they held their first service at Gibney's Hall. There were two services, one at 11:00 a.m. and another at 3:00 p.m. James Freeman was the temporary minister who preached the first message of Unitarian Christianity in Baltimore, as he had in Boston's King's Chapel when he questioned the doctrine of the Trinity and turned his congregation into a Unitarian congregation by 1785.27 Freeman's message traveled around the city, and orthodox ministers were angry; they threatened to excommunicate members if they attended liberal services. Within the first few years, the congregation had built a church at an exorbitant cost, a total of $100,000 including the land.28 By 1818, they were ready for a settled minister, and they looked to Jared Sparks for whom Channing was a ministerial mentor.
The ordination ceremony that took place on 5 May 1819 was not ordinary. It was highly orchestrated. First, this occasion was chosen for its ability to place the cause of Unitarianism before the nation. Channing's letter to Thacher was directed to the state of religion in New England, but Maryland would be the hub from which the Unitarian message could begin to spread to the Southern states.29 Seven of the most prominent liberal clergymen from New England took part in the ceremony.30 Channing was the one chosen to elaborate in a clear and forceful way what Unitarianism was in America. Furthermore, the liberal clergymen in attendance had agreed to spread his message as far and as clearly as possible. This took place; Channing's sermon has been described as the "Pentecost of American Unitarianism,"31 and it has been said that the sermon's "circulation exceeded that of any other American publication up to that time, save only Tom Paine's Common Sense."32 The sermon, "Unitarian Christianity," not only led to twelve immediate responses to his views provided that day, but Unitarians in England also respected and praised it as a fine piece of theological writing coming from American soil that laid out their similar theological ideas; they were not in the habit of giving such praise.33
"Unitarian Christianity," which took approximately ninety minutes to deliver, outlines the central theological tenets of Unitarianism, and it also addresses their hermeneutic presuppositions regarding the interpretation of the Bible.34 He divided his sermon into two sections. The first section addresses one topic, but the second section covers five issues. In section one, Channing discloses their understanding of the Bible.35 A controversial point that went unnoticed by the orthodox Calvinists was his assertion that Unitarians "regard the Scriptures as the records of God's successive revelations to mankind."36 The belief is that the Bible is written by inspired people who are recording revelations, but the Bible itself is not a divine work. This means that it must be read and interpreted with careful reasoning as one would interpret the Constitution. Channing asserts the "Bible is a book written for men, in the language of men, and that its meaning is to be sought in the same manner as that of other books."37 Not only must people approach the Bible rationally, they need to remember that God's revelation was given to humans as rational beings.38 In this way, reason and revelation are able to exist in harmony.
From this rational approach to the Bible, Channing proceeds to lay out what their rational enquiries have uncovered in the biblical texts. First, they encounter a united God, not a God divided into three persons.39 The Trinity is nowhere expounded in the Bible: "The proposition that there is one God seems to us exceedingly plain. We understand by it that there is one being, one mind, one person, one intelligent agent, and one only, to whom underived and infinite perfection and dominion belong."40 The doctrine of the Trinity subverts the unity of God and diminishes the respect and devotion God deserves by disseminating it among a fallacious tripartite division. While the Unitarians did not believe that these disagreements were enough to separate them from Trinitarian Christians, they did believe that the Orthodox views were unscriptural and irrational.41
Part two of the second section is similar to the first part as it proceeds to affirm the unity of Christ.42 He is "one mind, one soul, one being, as truly one as we are, and equally distinct from God," and the Trinity and the orthodox Christological beliefs "introduces infinite confusion into our conceptions of his character. This corruption of Christianity, alike repugnant to common sense and to the general strain of Scripture, is a remarkable proof of the power of a false philosophy in disfiguring the simple truth of Jesus."43 This establishes Jesus' inferior position in relation to God and culminates in an Arian Christology that elevates Jesus above humankind because of his message of truth able to transform individuals in order to rebuild their relationship with God.
His third point in the second section is that the orthodox position has negated the perfectible nature of humanity because of its pernicious view of God.44 The Unitarians view God as infinitely just and compassionate. To envision God as a punishing, vengeful God is to diminish God's perfect nature. Instead of being cruel, God is merciful. It is here that Channing describes the father-like nature of God that would guide the theology of Unitarians for years to come.45 To view God as anything less than a loving creator is to dishonor the ground of our being. This negative view of God has a direct effect on how the orthodox Christians view humans. While there is no doubt that humans tend to sin, they are not depraved as Calvinism asserts. Humans come from a loving God who has implanted divinity in us all. Humans are not beyond aid. They can improve with God's loving mercy.
This naturally leads to the fourth point.46 How will God help to make sure people improve? God sent Jesus as a mediator to help return people to God's love. Unitarians deny that Jesus came into the world as a direct sacrifice to lessen God's wrath on the world. Jesus did not come into the world to change the mind of God, but to change the mind of individuals, so they could recollect the divinity within. By recollecting this divinity within, humans would be able to nurture that likeness to God and infinitely move closer to the divine.
The final part follows from this almost flawlessly.47 What is this divine likeness? It is our moral nature, the spring of all our virtuous acts. From this moral foundation, we are able to be responsible to others. Through God's love and Jesus' example, humans can turn away from sinful patterns and begin to live more virtuous lives--lives that praise God through their virtuous actions. A religious sensibility is present in us also that predisposes us to encounter God's love throughout our life.
By trying to obstruct such enquiries into the nature of religion and the Christian life, Christianity has caused severe harm.48 The exploration of matters of great concern should not be forbidden; they should be encouraged in an open environment with support and constructive criticism. A sincere search for the truths found in the Bible can only occur in a rational environment of open dialogue where censure is abnormal and mutual support is encouraged. Underlying this would be a strong awareness that all people are fallible. No human doctrine will be perfect, and they will be open to revision perpetually. The common desire to know God's will should be the common bond that creates Christian solidarity, not the divisive doctrines created by new sects. In his common way, Channing urges tolerance and compassion in matters of religion. He prays that God will "overturn, and overturn, and overturn" all obstacles standing in the way of living a Godly life.49
This sermon performed a number of tasks. It expanded upon his letter to Thacher by describing in more detail the theological and hermeneutic ideas valued by Unitarians. Second, it more clearly established a dislike for the pessimistic Calvinist doctrines that Channing had finally relinquished. It brought into the discussion the active role of humans in the religious life. No longer were humans merely the pawns of God. Instead, God had placed within humans a divine spark that provided all people with a high level of spiritual agency. Channing disclosed how humanity is not preordained to some particular end by God; they are active agents in their reception of God's mercy. They play an important role in their relationship with God.50 Unitarianism was gaining the vocabulary of secular humanism in line with the nineteenth-century creation of "man" as an object of scientific research as Channing gave humans a level of "power and dignity."51
Immediately following this, Channing and Sparks set into motion their plans to publish his sermon, which had been discussed prior to the ceremony. The orthodox ministers began to attack Channing immediately. The first to do so was Andover professor Moses Stuart, and Harvard professor Andrews Norton responded in defense of Channing. The division between the liberal and the orthodox Christians would last for another sixteen years. During this time and in 1825, the Unitarians would establish the American Unitarian Association as an ecclesiastical organization intended to help sustain liberal Christianity in America. They would seek Channing as its president.52 His definition of Unitarianism as found in his 1815 letter to Thacher and his 1819 ordination sermon in Baltimore set the stage for Unitarianism for much of the nineteenth century. When people would discuss Unitarianism, Channing's name would always enter the conversation, and many came to describe their position as "Channing Unitarianism."53 He was known in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, and all of the North East.54 Channing had become the "charismatic prophet" that would help to establish the solidity of the Unitarian denomination in America.55
Prior to his letter to Thacher and his ordination sermon for Jared Sparks, Channing was a respected member of the liberal Christian community, but these occasions helped to propel him into the religious spotlight and to establish him as an emerging literary figure in America and in Europe.56 What Channing accomplished on these occasions was a clear demarcation between the liberal and orthodox Christians within a rhetoric of toleration and a hope for reconciliation. His writings helped to establish Unitarianism as a search for meaning based on careful analyses of the Bible. Religion should conform to reason. Passions are part of religion, but reason should be the ultimate criterion from which religious inspiration is judged. Through his letter and his sermon, Channing used his respectability to establish the Unitarian tradition in opposition to the Trinitarianism of Calvinism and its pessimistic view of humanity. Channing's contributions in 1815 and 1819 outlined in an acceptable way the central tenets of Unitarianism within the realm of tolerance and reason that built a consensus among liberal Christians in America and in Britain. In this way, Channing was a crucial person for the formation of the Unitarian identity in nineteenth-century America as he clearly elaborated their beliefs and what it meant for them to be a Christian.
2. Madeleine Hooke Rice, Federal Street Pastor: The Life of William Ellery Channing (New York: Bookman Associates, 1961), 20.
3. Mark W. Harris, "Calvinism," in Historical Dictionary of Unitarian Universalism (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2004), 84. Wright, The Beginnings, 10-11.
4. Wright, The Beginnings, 20.
5. See "Unitarian Controversy" in William Ellery Channing and William Henry Channing, The Life of William Ellery Channing: The Centenary Memorial Edition, ed. William Henry Channing, Reprint ed. (Hicksville: The Regina Press, 1975), 181-224. Conrad Wright, The Unitarian Controversy: Essays on American Unitarian History (Boston: Skinner House Books, 1994), 1-16.
6. Sydney E. Ahlstrom and Jonathan S. Carey, eds., An American Reformation: A Documentary History of Unitarian Christianity (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1985), 76-77. Joseph A. Bassett, "In What Sense Unitarian?," Unitarian Universalist Christian 49 (1994): 49-57. Arthur W. Brown, Always Young for Liberty (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1956), 116-19. Andrew Delbanco, William Ellery Channing: An Essay on the Liberal Spirit in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), 86-93. Gary Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900 (Lousville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 20-24. David P. Edgell, William Ellery Channing: An Intellectual Portrait (Westport: Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1955), 26-28. Charles C. Forman, "Elected Now by Time," in A Stream of Light: A Short History of American Unitarianism, ed. Conrad Wright (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1982), 16-20. Jack Mendelsohn, Channing: The Reluctant Radical (Westport: Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1971), 138-46. Rice, 82-85. Earl Morse Wilbur, Our Unitarian Heritage: An Introduction to the History of the Unitarian Movement (Bostorn: The Beacon Press, Inc., 1925), 410-14. Wright, Unitarian Controversy, 162-63.
7. Ahlstrom and Carey, 90-91. Brown, 130-37. Dorrien, 28-35. Edgell, 27-30, 93-99. Forman, 20-26. Mendelsohn, 156-64. Rice, 87-89. Wilbur, 414-16. Wright, Unitarian Controversy, 83, 162-63.
8. For more on Jedidiah Morse, see Wright, Unitarian Controversy, 59-82.
9. Wright, Unitarian Controversy, 56.
10. Wilbur, 410-11.
11. Dorrien, 20-24.
12. See "A Letter to Rev. Samuel C. Thacher" in Ahlstrom and Carey, 77.
13. See "A Letter to Rev. Samuel C. Thacher" in Ahlstrom and Carey, 80. Italics in the original text.
14. See "A Letter to Rev. Samuel C. Thacher" in Ahlstrom and Carey, 83.
15. See "A Letter to Rev. Samuel C. Thacher" in Ahlstrom and Carey, 88.
16. For this section of the paper, see Bassett, 49-57.
17. Mark W. Harris, "Socinianism," in Historical Dictionary of Unitarian Universalism (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2004), 435-36.
18. Bassett, 53.
19. As quoted in Bassett, 55. Italics found in the original text.
20. Wilbur, 412.
21. Wilbur, 412.
22. Mark W. Harris, "Arianism," in Historical Dictionary of Unitarian Universalism (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2004), 27.
23. Dean Grodzins, "Unitarianism," in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism, ed. Joel Myerson, Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, and Laura Dassow Walls (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 52.
24. Brown, 119-21. Forman, 19.
25. Brown, 122.
26. Mendelsohn, 156-64.
27. Mark W. Harris, "James Freeman," in Historical Dictionary of Unitarian Universalism (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2004), 195-96.
28. Mendelsohn, 157.
29. Mendelsohn, 158
30. The seven were Dr. Nathaniel Thayer of Lancaster; Dr. Eliphalet Porter of Roxbury; Dr. Henry Ware of Harvard College; William Ellery Channing of Boston; Nathan Parker of Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Henry Edes of Providence; and Ichabod Nichols of Portland, Maine. See Ahlstrom and Carey, 90. Brown, 131. Forman, 21-23. Mendelsohn, 158.
31. Forman, 23
32. Forman, 24. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 614. Rice, 89.
33. Rice, 89.
34. See "Unitarian Christianity" in William Ellery Channing, The Works of William E. Channing, D. D, New and complete ed. (Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1898), 367-84.
35. Channing, The Works, 367-71.
36. Channing, The Works, 367.
37. Channing, The Works, 368.
38. Channing, The Works, 370.
39. Channing, The Works, 371-73.
40. Channing, The Works, 371
41. Channing, The Works, 371.
42. Channing, The Works, 373-76.
43. Channing, The Works, 373.
44. Channing, The Works, 376-78.
45. Ahlstrom and Carey, 37-38.
46. Channing, The Works, 378-80.
47. Channing, The Works, 380-83.
48. Channing, The Works, 382-83.
49. Channing, The Works, 384.
50. Mendelsohn. 162.
51. Brown, 134. For a brief elaboration of the development of the science of "man" that coincides with this period and Channing's humanistic language, see Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1970), xv-xxiv.
52. Brown, 167.
53. Charles T. Brooks, William Ellery Channing: A Centennial Memory (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880), 158-59, 208-10. Wright, Unitarian Controversy, 161.
54. Mendelsohn, 169
55. Mendelsohn, 170.
56. For a somewhat negative view of Channing in Europe, see Warner Berthoff, "Renan on W. E. Chaning and American Unitarianism," The New England Quarterly 35, no. 1 (1962): 71-92. Ernest Renan recognized Channing's integrity and religious sincerity, but he could not understand how somebody who believed in the rational foundations of religion could still hold a preposterous belief in miracles and other irrational religious tenets.