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any foundation at all, it is not in reason, in common sense, nor in Scripture ; but in tradition and the authority of an Infallible Church.*
A brief review of THE UNITARIANS' CREED may help the reader to ascertain how far it accords with the principles on which they affirm it to be founded. With respect to the being and perfections of God, their belief is this :- That there is ONE only living and true God—one in the strict and absolute sense of unity-a spirit, simple, uncompounded, indivisible, without parallel or equal_self-existent_immutable—eternal_almightyomniscient-omnipresent-possessed of wisdom, truth, boliness, goodness, justice, with all other perfections, in their highest possible excellence. They believe that this great being created the heavens and the earth, and all things visible and invisible—that he continually presides over every part of the vast universe—that he is good to all, and that his tender mercies are over all his works. They believe that he is a God, not of inextinguishable wrath, but of infinite placability and mercy—that he requires no bloody sacrifice, for, according to Scripture, “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit—a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise :" Psalm li. 17—that he is the sole object of divine worship, and that prayer should be addressed to him alone. The character in which Unitarians delight most to contemplate God is that in which he was contemplated, and in which we are instructed to address him in prayer, by our Blessed Saviour,that of a FATHER. This contemplation, always hostile to bigotry, and favourable to that universal love which Jesus taught, naturally leads them to regard all mankind as their brethren, whatever be their name, country, complexion, or creed. They believe that God placed man on earth, in a state of probation and trial-endowed him with many noble faculties and powers, of which HE requires a proper use and improvement—that HE is a righteous moral governor, and will reward the virtuous and punish the wicked. They believe that God presides over his intelligent offspring, as the wisest and kindest of parents over a numerous family; that he employs various means, according to
* Mr. Maguire does not stand alone; nor is he the first who has held the strong post which he now occupies. About one hundred and fifty years ago, some of the most learned Trinitarians confessed, that the doctrine of the Trinity was not founded on the Scriptures, but on the tradition of the Church. "The Unitarians were then obliged to maintain, as a previous step to the establishment of their opinions, that “the Scriptures are the only infallible rule whereby to determine religious controversies.” Yates's Answer to Wardlaw, p. 17.
“Mr. Chillingworth, in the preface to his book, quotes Hosius, Gordonius, Huntlæus, Gretserus, Tannerus, Vega, Possevin, Wiekus, and others, as so many witnesses to shew, that in the opinion of the Papists, the modern doctrine of the Trinity cannot be proved either from the Scripture, or the ancients.” Ben Mordecai. Note, p. 187. vol. 1.
their different tastes and dispositions, to bless them and to do them good-that the sufferings and deprivations which they have sometimes to endure, are sent, or permitted, in mercy, to correct, to reform, to discipline the soul to virtue—that HE educes good from evil, and causes all things to co-operate for the everlasting felicity of the righteous.
Unitarian Christians believe in the revealed Word of God. They receive the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the sole rule of their faith and practice; and hold them in such reverence that they never virtually deny their sufficiency by the substitution of creeds and articles of human contrivance. All the articles of their faith they can express in the very words of inspiration ; nor are they ever obliged by the adoption of unscriptural tenets to employ an unscriptural phraseology. They believe that
all Scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteous. • ness ; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”—2 Tim. jii. 16. Deeming the pure light from heaven sufficient to guide them to all truth, they require no guidance from the dark lanteru of tradition, or the erratic wispfires of an earth-born theology. They learn from the sacred vo. lume, and they own it with gratitude and joy, that God is love, and that he so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to be our instructor, our example, our guide, and “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”—Heb. v. 9, They believe in the divinity of the Son of God, that his character, his mission, his doctrine, his power, his authority, were all divine, In a word, they believe whatsoever is written of him in the inspired volume,—with Paul, that he was the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person—with Peter, that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God—the Messiah, or Spiritual Deliverer of the Jews, foretold by the prophets; and, as he declared of himself, that he was "the light of the world, the
way, the truth, and the life,” that to him the spirit was given without measure, and that “in him dwelt all the fulness of the godhead* bodily;"--Col. ii. 9. or, in other words, that
Godhead, a Scholastic term for Deity; "to be rejected,” says Lindsey, “ because to common readers it countenances the strange notion of a God consisting of three persons.' Bodily in the original σωματικως is opposed according to Pierce and Le Clerc, to oToyslae rudiments or shudows, in the preceding verse. The apostle, speaking of the ceremonal institutions of the Jews, in the subsequent (17th) verse, says, “they are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
Col. ii. 9. is a favourite text with the supporters of the doctrine of an Incarnate Deity; though affording it no foundation. The candid reader is requested to ask himself what is meant by the abstract term fulness, and not to confound it with essence, to which it has no reference. The apostle prays for the Ephesians, c. iii. 17, 19. “ That Christ may dwell in their
he was richly and substantially replenished with all spiritual graces, and with a full communication of his heavenly Father's will; “ that in all things he might have the pre-eminence for it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell.” Col. i. 18, 19.-" And of his fulness have we all received."John i. 16. They believe that his morality far surpassed that of every other moral teacher, in purity, in motive, and in extentthat his discourses are heavenly, and that he practised what he taught—that he came to redeem us from all iniquity—to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works—to turn us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God ; that in the prosecution of this design, and in obedience to his heavenly Father's will, he submitted to a life of suffering and deprivation, and at length died upon the cross, to seal by his blood the truth of his doctrine, and by his subsequent resurrec. tion from the grave, and his manifest ascension into heaven, bring life and immortality to light--that baring deprived death of his sting, and the grave of its victory, God exalted him to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins, and ordained him to be the judge of all, when God “will render unto every man according to his deeds: to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath."- Rom. ii. 6, 8.
Farther-Unitarians believe that “without faith it is impossible to please God,”—but was the body without spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also :" that of the Christian graces “ faith, hope, and charity, these three, ibe greatest is charity”. that “love is the fulfilling of the law," and “charity the bond of perfectness"-and that the true disciple of Christ is to be known not by exclamations of Lord ! Lord! but by earnest continued endeavours to do the will of his father who is in heaven.
Such are some of the doctrines which Unitarian Christians generally believe. But they admit no formula of human composition as their creed. They yield their “assent and consent" to the truth of no volume but the Bible--for “the Bible, the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants :" neither do they call any man
“master upon earth ; for one is our master, even Christ." In numerous points they agree with their Christian brethren of other denominations ;-in some they differ, not only from them, but, with reciprocal good will, from one another; and herein is the truly Christian philanthropic tendency of their principles conspicuous. They pronounce no anathema on those who seek the kingdom of God, by a path diverging from that which they choose for themselves ; they only desire that every man may be “ fully persuaded in his own mind, for to bis own master he standeth or falleth,” and “God alone is Lord of the conscience.” They are aware that uniformity of belief in speculative questions is, by the very constitution of the human mind, impossible--and though it were possible, not to be desired. Therefore, they “ endeavour to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace :” knowing that " there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit: and there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord : and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."-1 Cor. xii. 4, 6. Instead of shackling the mind and controuling its exercise by the imposition of damnatory creeds, articles and confessions of faith, those impious devices of ecclesiastical tyranny to guard an unrighteous domination, to rob man of his birth-right and defraud the Christian of that holy charter of liberty which was sealed by the Saviour's blood, they would send it forth free as it was created, in all the might and in all the energy of its powers, illumined by Divine knowledge, and stimulated by immortal love, puissant and indomitable as a spirit of light, ardently and fearlessly to pursue the truth to her profoundest depths and loftiest elevations.
hearts, by faith, and that they may be filled with all the fulness of God." What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you."-1 Cor. vi. 19. “ Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”—1 John iv. 15.
Unitarian Christians hold as their distinguishing tenet, to which the reader's attention is now particularly solicited, a belief in the divine unity. This belief they derive not, as has been asserted, " from a priori speculations on the incomprehensible nature of the Deity,” but from a clear interpretation of the two great volumes of the Almighty, Nature, and Revelation. The one corroborates the language of the other. What nature teaches, revelation does not contradict but confirm. The visible frame of the universe has been well denominated the “elder scripture,” and it is a work to which the book of Inspiration does not disdain to refer. The eternal power and Deity of the one supreme intelligence are clearly seen in the things that are made. earth is full of the goodness of the Lord, the heavens declare his glory, and the firmament sheweth forth the work of his band;" so that they are without excuse who do not read the volume of nature, and learn from the unity of design apparent in the creation, the unity of the great first cause. Still more inexcusable are they who do not read it in the plain declarations of Scripture.
Moses, speaking by the immediate inspiration of heaven, asserts not only the absolute unity, but the sole unrivalled supremacy, and the exclusive Deity of Jehovah.
His unity, in the solemn annunciation to the people of Israel
“ Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord-or-Jehovah, our God, is one Jehovah." Deut. vi. 4.
His sole unrivalled supremacy
“ Jehovah he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath; there is none (i e. no one) else.”—Deut. iv. 39.
His exclusive Deity
“ That thou mightest know that Jehovah, he is God; there is none else besides him."- Deut. iv. 35.
“ I am the first, and I am the last, besides me there is no God. Is there a God besides me ? Yca, there is no God; I know not any."- Isaiah, xliv. 6, 8.
“I am the the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel. Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 1, even I, am the Lord, and besides me there is no Saviour."- Is xlii. 3, 10, 11.
The prophets teach the same doctrine
“ Jehovah shall be King over all the earth, and in that day Jehovah shall be one, and his name one."-Zech. xiv. 9.
“ Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us?"- Mal. ii. 10.
Christ and his apostles confirmed the doctrine of Moses, and the prophets. When Jesus was asked by a Scribe, “which is the first commandment of all ?” He replied, “ the first of all the commandments is
· Hear, O Israel ; The Lord our God is one Lord.”—Mark xii. 29. The Scribe approved of the answer, and said,
“ Well, Master, thou hast said the truth, ; for there is one God; and there is none other but he.”—Mark xii. 32.
Our Lord in a solemn prayer attests the divine unity, and makes a clear distinction between God and himself.
“ This is life eternal, that they might know thee the ONLY TRUE God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."-John xvii. 3.
The Apostle Paul observes the same distinction.
66 We know ** that there is none other God but ONE *** to us there is but One God, the Father-and One Lord Jesus Christ."-1 Cor. viii. 4. 6.
“ To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.". -Rom. xvi. 27.
“ There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”—Eph. iv. 5, 6.
- There is One Gon and One Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”—1 Tim, ii. 5.
The absolute Oneness of the Deity is asserted, with the clearness and force of demonstration, in these passages of the sacred volume, and in a multitude of others which it would be superAuous to quote. Suffice it to say, that this is the grand and fundamental principle of all religion. It corresponds with the conclusions of the most sublime philosophy, and the plainest dictates of inspiration. It was taught, as has been demonstrated, by Moses and the prophets-by Christ and bis apostles. It has been adopted by many of the wisest and best of our species-by men who devoted their lives to the study of the Scriptures; and whose early prejudices, education, profession, and worldly interest were all arrayed against its reception-by men who have honoured it by the most heroic sacrifices of fortune and ambition-by the greatest philan