« VorigeDoorgaan »
high pleasure it was to create us frail, to the contrary, let us rest in the and whose characteristic love must conviction that the God who is Love, necessarily incline hiin to treat our views, in his boundless survey of the frailties leniently; whose nature can universe, the shrinking Calvinist, the be disinclined to none but the stub- confiding Unitarian, and the whole born, unreluctant sinner; nor to liim human race with undisturbed complabut for a scason, and with the gra- cence, and with an equal regard to cions purpose of reclaiming him? their eternal welfare.
Can he be void of a death-bed con. Considering the stress laid in the solation, who has been accustoined to Scriptures upon the article of fuith, regard and look up to his Creator as and the saving merit ascribed to it, anrious" (if the expression be con- of which these examples may suffice, sistent with his attributes) for the “ As thou hast believed, so be it done happiness of all his rational offspring,
unto thee"as loving them universally and impar- “ Thy fonth hath made the whole"tially, and because he has created
Thy faith bath saved thee"them ; who has a thousand times announced his placability to sinners, rian's faith in the Divine benignity,
And, considering that the Unitaexacting no other atonement for of fences than a sincere repentance, ex
even were it overweening, appears so emplified in purified morals and cor- it would be difficult to conceive how it
consonant to the spirit of the gospel, responding habits of life?
can ever be imputed to him for unSay rather, that the Unitarian,
righteousness. under the influence of his habitual
Ill betide–I could almost breathe trust in such declarations, might in the imprecation-ill becide the sainted his extremity sing a song of triumph, bigot, who would divest him of this when the devoutest professor of Or. faith on the verge of eternity! It thodoxy-ceteris paribus in respect to the purity of their lives - might be inay be more charitable to add-En
lighten, O God! the mind so clouded weighed down with oppressive fore
as to question its efficacy in our debodings, the result of his lower estimate of the Divine character !*
parting moments !
BREVIS. The inconsistent charge has also been brought against Unitarians that P. S. All sects and denominations they respect too lightly the threaten- concur in speaking of the Almighty ings of divine vengeance, fritter away as the Father of the human race. their literal import, and repose too Contemplating him in this endearing rashly, and even presuinptuously, on character, let us retire from it to one the assurances of divine love, abound- of ourselves, upon the supposition of ing as they confessedly are.
his being even morally certain that But, is that an argument against soine or one of any children he might Unitarianism“ supplying consolation have, would, maugre all his endeaupon a death-bed" The assuinption vours to make them virtuous, so act is a non sequitur, so palpable as to as to “perish everlastingly.". Should induce a smile. The converse might we hesitate, if that man took a wife, fairly be argued ; leaving the question or approached a woman, to pronounce open as to the correctness of Unitarian him the worst and wickedest of all apprehensions on the subject.
bad men ? Would the man who vo. No, Sir! let us receive our Apos- lunteered himself the instrument of tle's repeated axiom-with the bum- such perdition, deserve from us a blest and the warınest gratitude re- more respectful mention ? I leave ceive and cherish it—in its genuine the Calvinists to make the applicasense, that God's love to mankind is tion. a feeling, which his power enables hiin to gratify; that, as the declaration of it is absolute, his love must SIR,
I ing mortals (inen who would appropriate the Divine mercy) may suggest the Evangelical Magazine, and noticed
the passage on which your correspon• Vide Postscript.
dent R. B. has animadverted with just
be unlimited ; and, whatever presum. Lahe country
, I laid my hands on
severity, p. 409.
When I read the the Bishop's skill in Greek, I repeat passage I said, This is in course, and the words, “ and of our Saviour Jesus gives me no concern. But I am sorry Christ ;" which version is not inconto find that a learned and estimable sistent with the terms of the original, man, the Bishop of St. David's, should as the Greeks not unfrequently pass have chosen to pronounce in the House from one subject to another without of Lords that Unitarians are not Chris- repeating the article before the second. tians. Whether the Bishop means of this some curious examples may that they are unbelievers in disguise, be found in Thucydides. I know the or that, though they fancy themselves canon by which it has has been atChristians, they are not really such, I tempted to prove the divinity of Christ neither know nor wish to be informed. from the passage now cited. But in But as I would willingly suppose that the application of the canon it is asthe Bishop does not profess to search sumed, that the expression, “the the secrets of the heart, I shall con- great God," can be an attributive of sider his declaration as meaning, that the subject, Jesus Christ. But if this though Unitarians believe what they can be, how comes it to pass that we profess to believe, still they are not never meet with the simple expression entitled to the appellation of Chris- our God Jesus Christ in the New tians. What then is the definition of Testament? an expression which was the term Christian? I should propose used when the divinity of our Lord the following ; a Christian is one who was at length believed. Jesus Christ admits the divine mission of Christ, is sometimes called our Saviour, but and consequently acknowledges his re- his usual desiguation is that of “ our ligion as the rule of faith and practice. Lord;” a designation which occurs And I should add, that he who suc- about 100 times in the epistolary part cessfully endeavours to act up to the of the New Testament. But in no moral precepts of this religion, in the one instance is he simply called our expectation of a life to come, is a real God. But, perhaps, some one may and a good Christian. This definition say, is not the passage in question would not satisfy the Bishop of St. rendered ambiguous by the omission David's. Nor, I presume, would the of the article?" Ambiguous to whom? Bishop's definition satisfy the Catho- I will venture to say that it was ambilic. But the Bishop, no doubt, would guous to no one who read the epistle say that the Unitarian rejects the es- in the age in which it was penned. sential doctrines of Christianity. But But granting it to be anbiguous, which who is authorized to determine what version has a just right to be preferred, are and what are not its essential that which makes Jesus Christ the doctrines ? Until this question is sete same with the great Supreme, or that tled, it may seem reasonable to con- which distinguishes him from his Faclude that those doctrines constitute ther and our Father, his God and our the essence of Christianity which are God; that which makes the passage inculcated in the New Testament with speak a language consistent with the such perspicuity and force, that they tenor of the sacred volume from behave been adinitted, in every age, ginning to end, or that which imports though with various combinations of into it an inexplicable mystery which error, by all who have borne the has no support whatever except from Christian name. The doctrines for two or three passages of dubious conwhich the Bishop is so zealous are struction? Yet for explaining these doubtless essential to the system which passages in such a manner as to renhe considers as Christianity, but I der them conformable to innumerable should marvel if his Lordship, with clear and express declarations of scripthe aid of all who think with bim, ture, Unitarians are reproached as could prove them to be essential to unlearned, and pronounced not to be the great practical object of the Chris- Christians ! tian faith, that is to living soberly, I believe the Bishop of St. David's righteously and godly in this present to be a Christian, and though in my world, in the expectation of “ that judgment a mistaken, yet a conscienblessed hope, and the glorious appear. tious Christian. But allow me to deing of the great God, and of our Sa- fine the essentials of the Christian viour Jesus Christ.” Not awed by faith, and let me imbibe a little of luis Lorship's spirit, and borrow bis Lord- having impressed it deeply on our ship’s inode of reasoning, and I shall own ininds, we should labour to give be able to shew that he has no just it a due influence on the character of claim to this appellation. Christian- our fellow-creatures? ity, I should say, teaches that God is This course was adopted by the one undivided essence or person ; but Apostle Paul. “Knowing,” says he, this fundamental doctrine the Bishop “the terrors of the Lord, we persuade does not believe; therefore the Bishop men.” Can any one justly charge him is no Christian.
with a want of philanthropy? Was Quam temere in nosmet legem sancimus not this conduct the best evidence of iniquam!
a generous concern for the welfare of
mankind ? E. COGAN.
Philadelphus acknowledges, and not
without reason, that his thoughts Sir,
Sept. 14, 1824. are thrown out with little regard to who are more accustoined to ded, I apprehend, with little regard to discussions of this nature, do not ap- coherence or consistency. Near the pear disposed to examine the papers beginning of his first letter he declares of “ Philadelphus,” (pp. 15, 283,) I himself * A believer in the doctrine feel compelled to resume the subject. of Philosophical Necessity and an
It has been shewn, to the satisfac- Optimist,” adding, “I will candidly tion, I should imagine, of Philadelphus confess that this view of the system himself, [p. 389,) that he is mistaken of the universe, although, upon the in ascribing to Dr. Priestley the opi- whole, highly calculated to inspire nion that future suffering will not (or confidence in the great Power that may not) be necessary for the refor: rules over us, has nevertheless, at mation of those who have passed some seasons, suggested uncomfortathrough life in vicious courses. The ble reflections.”. Te goes on to state readers of the Monthly Repository, the nature of these reflections, and however, although they may entertain then adds, “ Froin such thoughts as a high veneration for Dr. Priestley's these I bave gladly fled for consolatalents and excellences, will not be tion to the exhilarating declarations satistied that an opinion is unfounded of the sacred writers, that a period merely because it was not held by shall arrive when pain and death him. The question must after all be and every description of evil will be tried on its own merits; and lest any abolished, and God shall be all in all.” should suppose that it is easier to Who would have expected to find this take away from this opinion the sanc- writer intimating in the same paration of Dr. Priestley's authority, than graph, that the prospect of future sufto shew its intrinsic erroneousness, I ferings which is exhibited in scripventure once more to solicit your ture, even as interpreted on the scheme notice.
of Universal Restoration (“ sufferings No one, I would hope, will be so such as even Dr. Southwood Smith unjust as to impute a want of bene- supposes may be endured by some volent feeling to him who, from a human beings”) cannot be contemserious conviction that those who die plated with composure; and who would in iinpenitence must undergo grievous expect to find him endeavouring by suffering in order to their purification, a train of reasoning to prove, what he endeavours to impress his own belief thinks to have been the opinion of on the minds of others. This persua- Dr. Priestley, that this prospect may sion respecting the future destiny of not be realized, and concluding with the wicked, is not to be confounded a candid confession, p. 286, with a malignant wish for the misery Scriptures do appear to me to conof our fellow-creatures. If, indeed, it tradict the theory of the Divine Gobe false, let its fallacy be pointed out, vernment which I have framed out of and whatever may be the immediate the scanty stores of my analogical etfects of its rejection among man- gleanings;" evidently meaning by this kind, every rational person would in confession, that analogical reasoning that case acknowledge its untruth. on the future condition of man, jusBut if it be a true persuasion, does tifies hopes which the Scriptures apnot benevolence itself require that, pear at least to discourage
It will be difficult I think to make perfect impartiality in exact proporout the consistency of these state- tion to the degree of virtue or of vice ments. They indicate a mind vacil. which belongs to each individual chalating between philosophy and reve- racter.” How can this passage be relation, sensible at times of the insuffi- conciled with the denial in toto of ciency of the former, and disposed to future punishment? And further, as rest with confidence in the latter ; but if to form a climax of inconsistency, at other times pursuing analogical while “reasoning from analogy" for reasonings, or rather, perhaps, in- the purpose of shewing that future dulging benevolent conjectures,) till suffering may not be necessary to conclusions are formed at variance change the riews and reform the bawith the Scriptures as generally un- bits of sinners, this benevolent, but derstood ; and hence, not indeed in- too lasty, writer actually admits and clined to reject Revelation (for it is reasons upon the existence of that expressly said, “ I hold myself bound very suffering. to give up any speculation which Adverting to the hypothesis which stands opposed to clear and positive supposes a continuance of consciousscriptural doctrines"); but anxious ness and activity after death, he exto interpret the passages of scripture prcssly says of the virtuous, “ It is “ which appear to teach that men will reasonable to suppose that, actuated be punished after the resurrection for by the same feelings which distinguish the sins comunitted in the body," so good men in this world, their efforts that they inay “be consistent with have been unceasingly directed to re. the hypothesis that the pains of this lieving the miserable, enlightening life may suffice for the whole of our the ignorant, and reclaiming the vifuture existence,”
cious." In noticing the hypothesis Philadelphus, as we have seen, which assumes a suspension of conthinks that Dr. Priestley, and in con- sciousness between death and resur. sequence of his statements Dr. Hart- rection, he does not, indeed, explicitly ley, bad been led to hope for the advance the same idea; but there is reformation, without punishment or nothing in his argument which tends suffering, of those who have passed to establish a distinction between the through life in vicious courses; and, two hypotheses as to this point. We endeavouring “ to discover the train have here then a distinct adinission of of reasoning which they pursued,” he vice and misery as existing in the futhinks that he has adduced at least ture state. Philadelphus does not plausible reasons in favour of the indeed say that the one will be the conclusion to which they had arrived; effect or the punishment of the other; and his great solicitude is derived but when he sets out (p. 284) with from the circumstance that there are supposing “ the invisible world and “several passages of scripture which the invisible dispensations of Provi. appear to teach that men will be pu. dence to be analogous to what apnished after the resurrection for the pears; or that both together make up sins conmitted in the body," and one uniform scheme, the two parts of which, of course, appear to be incon- which,—the part we see, and that sistent with his speculations as to the which is beyond our observation are termination of pain with the present analogous to each other;" le warrants life. This is all in itself very per- the inference that, as in this world plexing, but it becomes doubly so vice naturally tends to produce misery, when contrasted with the language of so in the world to come the vicious the writer, p. 284, in commenting on will be exposed to suffering as the Dr. Hartley's assertion that reason consequence of their evil character
approves of the pure and indefinite and conduct. happiness of the good,” and “acqui- From what has appeared under the esces in the indefinite punishupent of signature of Philadelphus, in “ The the wicked.” * As God is no re- Monthly Repository," I am induced to specter of persons, it would seem to anticipate with confidence that his canfollow,” says Philadelphus, “ not that dour will prompt him, on a careful there should be such an iminense dis- review of his papers, to acknowledge parity in the future condition of such the justice of these remarks. If this mixed characters, but that rewards be admitted, if it appear, after all, and punishments will be dealt out with that we cannot reason fairly from
analogy without anticipating the ex- ference, according to previous ciristence of suffering in the future life cumstances, in the future condition as the effect of unrepented guilt,--the of those who leave this world unprebestowment of rewards, and the inflic- pared for the pure happiness of heation of punishments, with perfect im- ven. “He who knew not his Maspartiality, in exact proportion to the ter's will,” and therefore did it not, degree of virtue or of vice which be- “ will be beaten with few stripes,” longs to each individual character,-I will need a comparatively gentle course do not see that the theory of the of discipline. The comunication of Divine Governinent which we are led that knowledge which in this life was by reason to form is opposed to that withheld, would be likely to exercise unfolded in the Scriptures : “ Say ye ou his mind an immediate, powerful, to the righteous, that it shall be well and happy influence. But alas for with him ; for they shall eat of the hiin, “who knew his Master's will, fruit of their doings. Woe to the and yet did things worthy of stripes," wicked ! it shall be ill with him : for him to whom the majesty and the the reward of his hands shail be given loveliness of the Divine character as him.” Isa. iii. 10, 11. God "will exhibited in the works of God and in judge the world in righteousness.” the gospel of Christ have been disActs xvii. 31. God “ will render to played, and who, notwithstanding, every man according to his deeds,” lived and died without cultivating the &c. Rom. ii. 6, et seq. The dictates fear and love of God. Can we be of sound philosophy and the plain de. surprised that such men should incur clarations of Holy Writ concur to as- a dreadful condemnation, be beaten sure us that “it is an evil and a bitter with many stripes, and having resisted thing to sin against God.” Even on in vain the grand inotives presented the inost favourable supposition, ads to their minds, be subjected to “ trimitting that the sufferings of the wick, bulation and anguish,” to a discied will have a purifying tendency and pline of tremendous severity, and be effect, (and, I 'frankly confess, that I placed in a situation of eternal disknow not how, on any other theory, advantage? These are, indeed, proswe can both
pects painful to the pious and bene
volent mind; but it is of little use to “ assert Eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to man,")
close our eyes to them. We cannot
by this means even avoid the un-, the prospect disclosed to us should comfortable reflections to which the excite alarm in the sinner, and rouse existence of evil gives rise. Suppose the righteous to zealons exertion. it could be proved that there will be
When the awful language of the no future suffering, suppose that the New Testament (lenouncing bodily en- language of the New Testament were durance on the inpenitent is softened shewn to be consistent with this hypodown as much as possible, granting thesis, the object aimed at would not that it is but a figurative mode of be attained. He who thinks that representing the realities of the spi- future suffering, although corrective, ritual world to our imperfect appre- is inconsistent with the superintendhension, there are still the tortures of ance “ of a truly benevolent Being,” the inind, the raging fire of evil pas- and hence persuades himself that it sion, the overwhelming force of sinful will not be inflicted, will still be dishabits, the goadings of an accusing satistied. When he notices “the conscience, the horrors of remorse, miseries which'! in an infinite variety and the pangs of repentance to be “flesh is heir to,” (and the existence endured. He who has felt in any of which can neither be denied nor degree the wretchedness which sin doubted,) he will be sometiines temptproduces in this world, he who hased to doubt whether such things could witnessed with a feeling heart the happen under the government of a misery which it brings on the sinner, truly benevolent Being, and will conwill not be inclined (unless he denies tinue to experience uncomfortable rea future state altogether) to entertain flections. For these doubts and paindoubt as to its baneful operation in ful emotions; whether suggested by the world to come.
the existence of evil at present or by There will, no doubt, be great dif- the anticipation of future evil, there is