Imágenes de páginas

gards the authority of God, can never his salvation. I know well that this subserve the happiness of man."

congregation is considered by them as We have just seen another production the very focus of what they term bigotry; of this eminent scholar and orator, which, and I do rejoice that thus far I and you though in some parts eloquent and edify- have been counted worthy to suffer shame ing, is, in general, far from doing him for his name. Long may it continue so ! equal credit by its spirit and purpose. Long may it be thought a hopeless case We allude to bis sermon, preached at to attempt to bring you over to the felNew York, the 2d ult., on the occasion lowship of devils. Though I would not of resigning his charge of his congrega. slander the devil: he promotes his work, tion. Were not the sermon printed and as the destroyer, not by templing men to published, we should not, perhaps, feel his belief, but by persuading them to emourselves entitled to notice it thus; it brace what he does not belierewhat is might pass unmolested as one of the too coarse and abominable for hell itself ; effusions of a paroxysm of zeal, escaped and what the philosophical Christians shall in the heat of pulpit exercise, and wil. find to be so, when they get to their own lingly left only in the memory of a de- place. The pretences of these men to voted congregation. The references to kindness and candour and love, are all the Unitarians, which are made in this hollow. They mean to make proselytes vehement discourse, furnish some of the of you, aud 'two-fold more the children most revolting samples which we have of hell than theinselves. O keep at a seen, of theological rancour in the preseut distance from them ! Furthest from day. They are expressed in the strongest them, and their charity, is best. Come language of execration, and betray the not near their ice, never to be melted utmost inteusity of a hate like that de- but in that fire which shall not be quenched. scribed in the following phrase of Cicero This pulpit, this church, were destined -odium immane et crudele barbarorum in to the glory of the Lord Jesus. Let them hostem. If we could suppose the lan- never be polluted by a foot, nor profaned guage of the preacher the true criterion by a tongue, which are not mored by his of his disposition towards the religious honour." denomination whom he assails-that his This is the strain of fierce and odious anathemas are those of the heart as well passion. We can no more admire the 'as of the tongue, we should deem this Reverend President uttering it from the an opportunity to express comfort and pulpit, than we could have admired Sir joy, that the age of auto da fes is passed Edward Coke, when he called Sir Walter away, and that the clergy have it no Raleigh, “viper, monster, spider of hell, longer in their power to wreak their vile and execrable traitor, odious fellow, resentment of what they deem heresy, by and damnable Atheist." It appears to us torturing the body and destroying the as repugnant to the true ends of Chrislife, as well as blasting the reputation of tianity, as it is to the genius of our polithe obnoxious. We belong, ourselves, to tical and social systems. Among the a church whose tenets are very different “ rational Christians," whom the Presifrom those of the class of Christians dent had in view, we know one that, in whom Dr. Mason reviles and curses; universal rectitude of conduct, in practiand in signifying our horror of his furious cal virtue, in benevolence of heart, in the denunciations, we must not, therefore, earnestness, variety and success of his be supposed to be acting in our own de- efforts for the relief of the unfortunate, fence. It is our good fortune, however, and the promotion of every liberal and to be acquainted with several of that laudable purpose, has at least no supeclass, persons of the most estimable cha- rior in the United States. The country racter, for whom we ought to feel as at large knows another in the present much nearly as we would for ourselves, Chaplain of the House of Representatives wheu we see hurled against them a sen- at Washington, as a man of great learntence of proscription and perdition, such ing and talents, admired and esteemed as the following:

for his domestic merits, as well as for his “ Above all things it is devoutly to be public qualities. hoped, that you will never invite to the We cite these instances from among

care of your souls,' a man who cares the many that may be adduced, to illusnothing about them. I mean, more par. trate the extravagance and injustice of ticularly, for I would not be misunder- the language which we have quoted. We stood, a man who belongs to that rank do not meddle with polemical divinity; of traitors who miscall themselves we have no idea of interfering in relitional Christians.' Against these men I gious controversies on points of faithhave ever warned you, as the enemies of but we feel that when one denomination our Lord Jesus Christ, and all that is of Christiaus, or any association of pervaluable in his religion and peculiar in suns styling themselves such, lead, in

[ocr errors]


general, lives as useful and moral as the these Dissertations exactly confined best of the community, they ought to be myself, in every punctilio, to the deemed sincere in their interpretation of same sentiments which I had publishthe Bible, and that no member of any ed some years ago, with relation to other denomination has a right to hold the doctrine of the Trinity; and parthem up to the world as the worst of reprobates. Such intolerance and uncha- ticularly, that though I continue to ritableness canuot fail to be condemned maintain the supreme Deity of the by public opinion, and richly deserve to Son and Spirit, yet that I have exbe signalized for rebuke and repudiation. pressed the doctrine of their personaThe example of a spirit like that which lity in stronger and more unlimited is breathed in this Sermon, is bad. It terms heretofore than I have done in may be more common thau we suppose; these papers. Here let me first give it may have been further provoked than one general answer. When I apply we imagine ; but when it is vented in myself with diligence to make further this manner, it can only exasperate blind inquiries into the great doctrines of animosities and serve to bring the reli- the Gospel, I would never make my gious character into disrepute.

own former opinions the standard of

truth, and the rule by which to deterSir, Torquay, 1822.

mine my future judgment. My work (T I

consider the essence of the Unita- to consult that sacred and infallible rian doctrine, and the origin of its se- guide, and to square and adjust all veral particulars, the more we shall my sentiments to that certain and be convinced that it amounts to this : unerring rule. It is to this supreme that the word and spirit of God, as judge of controversies that I pay an spoken of in the Scriptures, are not unreserved submission, and would dedistinct persons, or conscious minds, rive all further light from this founfrom the Father, but merely certain tain. I thank God, that I have learnpowers inherent in his divine, self-ex-ed to retract my former sentiments, istent nature. Wherever this is fairly and change them when, upon stricter admitted, there is no real doctrine of search and review, they appear less a Trinity left, and though some clouds agreeable to the divine standard of may still lower round the mind, yet in faith.”—“I think it proper to acknoweffect the person is become a Unita- ledge, that I was at ihat time inclined rian. From a sense of the import- to suppose these personal represenance of this point, I am induced to tations in Scripture, especially so far send you some extracts from Watts, as relates to the blessed Spirit, were a name truly illustrious; which for really to be understood in a more prolearning, piety and candour, has per and literal sense than I now find scarcely been outshone since the Re- necessary; and on that account I did formation. The passages which I then express the doctrine of three perquote are from the work entitled, sons or three distinct intelligent agents, “The Arian invited to the Orthodox in terms a little stronger and more Faith: Part II. ;” and it may afford unlimited than my judgment now apsatisfaction to some of your readers, proves. For since that time I have who have not Watts's Works in their more carefully considered the Jewish hands, to see how clearly he main- idioms of speech, wherein powers, tains the great Unitarian principle virtues and properties are frequently above-mentioned.

personalized, or represented in a perIn the Preface the author observes, sonal manner.” “Such as know little of these disputes, So much from the Preface: we and have never ventured to read any afterwards read as follows: thing but the writers of their own “The great and blessed God, consiside, generally imagine that all things dered in his own nature, is far supein their own particular scheme are as rior to all our thoughts, and exalted clear as the light; and they are too high above our inost raised apprehenready to impute all the doubts or sions. And because we are not capadifficulties that are raised on these ble of taking in heavenly ideas in their subjects to the want of a due regard own sublimest nature, God has been for truth.”_" Perhaps it may be pleased to teach us the heavenly things charged upon me, that I have not in that relate to himself, in earthly language ; and by way of analogy to to us in Scripture as one God, even as creatures he has let us know some- the soul of man, his mind and his will, thing what God is.

are one spiritual being. Since reason “Among all the creatures that and Scripture agree to teach us the come within the reach of our common nature of God, and inform us who and obvious cognizance, human na- and what God is by this analogy, I ture is the most perfect; and, there think in our inquiries on this sacred fore, it has pleased the great and glo- subject, we ought to follow this anarious God, by resemblances drawn logy so far as reason and Scripture from ourselves, to accommodate the allow us. Now it is evident that a descriptions of himself to our capaci- human soul, in its nature, is one conties. When he speaks of his own na- scious mind; and it is utterly inconture in the language of men, he often sistent with the nature of it to have uses the names of human parts, and two or three distinct conscious princinjembers, and faculties, to represent ples, or natures, in it, that is, to inhis own properties and actions thereby, clude two or three different conscious that he may bring them within the beings; and since we are told that notice of the lowest capacity and the God is one, and God is a spirit, it meanest understanding among the would be something strange if we children of men. Therefore he speaks must believe that God is two or three of his face, to signify the discovery of spirits.”—“If there be some distinchimself; his eyes to describe his know- tions or differences in the Divine naledge; his heart to describe his ture, greater than that of relations, thoughts; his hand and arm to signify modes or attributes, and less than his power and activity; and his mouth that of substances, Í know not what to denote his resolutions or revela- name to give it better than that of tions.

divine powers. Let us therefore sup“But since in the composition of pose the great and blessed God to be human nature there are two distinct one infinite spirit, one conscious being, parts, a soul and a body, and the soul who possesses real, distinct or differis much the nobler and more exalted ent powers, which in sacred language principle, it has also pleased God to are called the Word and the Spirit. rise above corporeal images, and to And though this difference or distincdescribe himself, his attributes, pro- tion be not so great as to allow of perties, power and operations by way different consciousnesses, or to make of analogy to a human soul.' We distinct spirits, yet these two powers know by our own consciousness, or may be represented in Scripture in a by an inivard inspection into ourselves, figurative manner, under distinct perthat our soul or spirit is a being which sonal characters." has understanding, and will, thoughts, “May not the human mind and the inclinations, knowledge, desires and will be represented in a personal manvarious powers to move the body. ner, or as distinct personal agents, at Therefore our Saviour has told us, least by a figurative way of speaking, God is a spirit, and the brightest and though they are but two powers of sublimest representations of God in the same soul? May I not use such Scripture, are such as bear an analogy language as this : ‘My mind has laand resemblance to the soul of man, boured hard to find out such a diffior a spiritual, thinking nature. culty; my will is resolutely bent to

As the chief faculties of our souls pursue such a course'? And many are the mind and will, or rather a other common expressions there are power of knowing, and a power of of the same nature, wherein the mind acting, so God seems to have revealed and will are still more evidently and himself to us as endued with two plainly represented as persons. divine faculties, his word or wisdom, “And since human powers are and his spirit or efficient power. It thus represented as persons, why may is by this word and this spirit, that he not the word and the spirit, which are is represented in Scripture as manag- divine powers, be thus represented ing the great concerns of the creation, also? And why may not God be reprovidence, redemption and salvation presented as a person transacting his and these three, viz., God the Father, own divine affairs with his Word and his Word and his Spirit, are held forth his Spirit under personal characters, since a man is often represented as God does not seem to be described as transacting human affairs with his un- a distinct Spirit from the Father, or derstanding, mind, will, reason, fancy, as another conscious mind, but as an or conscience, in a personal manner;" eternal, essential power, belonging to

“With respect to the term person, the Father, whereby all things are since neither scripture itself applies effected.” it to the Word or Spirit, nor the elder “ Thus it appears, that, as outward por later writers of the church have speech and breath are powers of the confined themselves to the use of this human body, as reason and vital actiterm, I can see no necessity of the vity or efficience are powers of the confinement of ourselves or others to human soul, so the great God in it, when we are speaking of the pure scripture has revealed himself to us distinctions in the Divine nature. And as a glorious Being, who has two eterwhen we are endeavouring to explain nal, essential, divine powers, which, in them in a rational manner, and to condescension to our weakness, he is form and adjust our clearest ideas of pleased to describe by way of analogy them, I think we may use the term, to our souls and bodies; and this he divine properties, or rather divine doth by the terms Anyos and Ilyeva powers, for this end. Perhaps this in Greek, and in English, Word and word, powers, comes nearest to the Spirit.” genuine ideas of things, so far as we Thus we see that, in the judgment can apply human words to divine ideas, of this great man, the Word and Spirit and this word, powers, makes the disa are not properly to be regarded as tinction greater than properties, and I persons, but rather as powers belongthink it is so much the better. But ing to the Divine nature. The way in we have several precedents for the use which he explains and illustrates this of both these terms among the ancient point, is highly interesting and instrucwriters."

tive, nor could a Unitarian wish to see “The divine Logos seems to be re- his own characteristic opinions more presented, both in scripture and in the justly stated. Yet we should hesitate primitive writers, as much distinct to say that at this time Watts was a from the Father as the same essence Unitarian; for though we have seen admits of, or as distinct as may be, that he had the root of the matter in without being another conscious mind. him, yet he had not as yet put forth Now this seems to be something more the characteristic branches. At this than a mere attribute; and therefore time he held the strange opinion that I call the Logos a divine power; imi- the human soul of Christ pre-existed, tating herein both the ancient Jews and was employed by God in the creaand the primitive fathers, who call tion of the world, and he likewise aphim frequently, Sopia and Nous, and proved of the religious worship of Aurapis @es, and particularly Clemens Christ as the Mediator, with other inAlexandrinus, who makes him latpixn consistencies, which we have good reaTIS EVEgyes. But since God and his son to believe he afterwards abandonco-essential Word do not seem to have ed. Nothing can be plainer than that two distinct consciousnesses, or to be the doctrine contained in the foregotwo conscious minds; this eternal ing extracts, cuts at the very root of Logos can hardly be called a person, every branch of the Trinitarian scheme in the common and literal sense of the and worship, and must, if admitted, term, as a distinct man or angel, but bring the whole of that luxuriant only in figurative and metaphorical growth defenceless to the ground. language."

EUELPIS. “The Spirit seems to be another divine power, which may be called the power of efficience; and although

P.S. Allow me particularly to reit is sometimes described in scripture which I have made the above extracts,

commend that work of Watts's from as a personal agent, after the manner of Jewish and eastern writers, yet if to the attention of your readers. It we put all the scriptures relating to is fraught with learning and interesting

remarks. this subject together, and view them in a correspondent light, the Spirit of VOL. XVII.

3 G


ance, will render it difficult or impos

sible to reconcile. WHERE are few subjects of greater Let us distinctly understand why a ests of the Dissenting body, than the public worship. Is it not that the Deeds of Trust by which their several inembers, being agreed in their “mode places of worship are held. Few sub- of faith,” consider it for their mutual jects are, however, less understood, or convenience and improvement to asless inquired into. In fact, the usual semble together under the guidance course has been to confide the prepa- of a common pastor ? This argues ration of the instrument to an attor- no necessary connexion with a particuney, as a piece of routine; and, it lar edifice. They may assemble on being once signed, sealed and deli- the high-ways, as the first Christians vered” in due legal form, to consign did; they may use one building this it to the custody of some faithful Trus- year, and another the next. But a tee, there to abide in undisturbed se- constitution-fixed principles for the clusion until his death imposes on his regulation of their concerns, and acheirs the task of searching among his knowledged by all the members—is papers; and it has been brought essentially necessary to the well-being again to light just in time to be re- of every Society, and no religious newed, before the last of those who Society should exist, nor indeed can were invested with the power of re- be said to exist as a Society, without newing it had followed his brethren it. to the gravet

It will not, however, be questioned, As a mere security for the tenure of that a building set apart for the use our chapels, then, it is highly import- of such a body must greatly contriant that this subject should be looked bute to their comfort and convenience; into; but in another view it appears that, in other words, it may be subserto me of no less importance, and I am vient to the object for which the Soanxious to draw the attention of Uni- ciety was formed. It is therefore tarian Dissenters in this direction at highly desirable, that every such Sothe present moment, because the in- ciety should enjoy the benefit, when crease of their numbers is multiply- it can be obtained without sacrificing ing the number of congregations in superior considerations. But if some various parts of the kingdom; and of the Trust Deeds are examined, it new buildings are consequently rising will be found that this secondary obup for their accommodation.

ject, this matter of convenience, has Hitherto a great error has been assumed the place of the first; that committed, by confounding in the same the affairs of religion, as a congregainstrument the tenure in the building tional concern, are absolutely supand the constitution of the Society as- planted by an anxiety that the prosembling therein. Where the build- perty in the building shall not be ing is held in trust for the Society, alienated. Thus, in one place, the this is sufficiently objectionable ; be- choice of the minister is altogether in cause a power is conferred on the the hands of the Trustees ; in another, Trustees, which is in a great ineasure the members of the congregation are permanent and irresponsible ; and fre- not permitted to exercise a choice quently interferes with the free exer- until the proprietors have agreed to cise of their judgment by the Society recommend, and other restrictions at large, with respect to such concerns are devised, by which some or all of as should be altogether subject to the congregation are prohibited from their regulation or choice. But where enjoying any substantial right of memthe building is the property of indivi- bership beyond those of attending pubduals, whether they form a part of the lic worship, and contributing towards congregation or not, the objections its support. become infinitely more formidable ; To say nothing at the present moinasmuch as differences may arise ment of the prejudicial effects which which the jealousy, so easily excited must ensue from such a system as between interests obviously separate, this, on the zeal, or, when any cause and probably supposed to be at vari-for excitement occurs, on the temper

« AnteriorContinuar »