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ledge the value, for instance, of machinery to the whole, and eventually to every member of society? "Are there not thousands who are injuring themselves and injuring others, from the want of information respecting the real nature of their social rights and obligations ? So are there thousands who, from ignorance of the proper method of reading the Bible, and of the enlightened views of its contents which a few have been led to · form, have rejected, and others are ready to reject, the whole as a fable, alike dishonourable to God and injurious to man. With these views we cannot do otherwise than tender our thanks to Mr. Acton, that he has, by his lectures, done his duty in his sphere, and now, by their publication, in the kingdom at large, to call attention to the great questions at issue between Trinitarian and Unitarian.
That controversy has its evils we do not deny, but so has the sunshine. One of them is, that it becomes difficult to defend one's own views of truth without sectarianising. And thus Mr. Acton undertakes the defence not merely of certain convictions of his own mind, as, that God is strictly and properly one ; but of the Unitarian doctrine concerning the sole deity of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' We intend no blame to Mr. Acton in this remark. He is at full liberty to attach himself to any body of Christians he may please; but for ourselves we must say, that that man appears to us in the best position not only to arrive at, but defend, truth, who, standing aloof from all party connexions, forms his own opinions without party bias, defends them without party aid, and also without party trammels. To his own Master each must stand or fall; and even in connexions, where the idea is repudiated that one man is answerable to another for his opinions, there does not fail practically to exist a certain accountability which the sincere lover of truth must feel irksome, if not injurious. Propound a view, which in the exercise of your best attention you have been led to form, and if it deviates ever so slightly from received notions, you are interrupted with the question—But is that the Unitarian doctrine ?' Whereas the simple question with every man ought to be'is it true?' These moulds, into which opinion has so strong a tendency to run, have a most narrowing and cramping influence on thought; and though the imputation of singularity may thereby be brought upon his character, every true disciple of Jesus ought strenuously to resist their influence, and assert for himself the full liberty of mind and expression wherewith Christ has made him free.
Let it not be imagined that we intend to intimate, by these observations, that Mr. Acton is the bondsman of a sect. He has a mind far too powerful and large, and a spirit far too generous, to allow himself to be even the leader of a party. We do but point out a danger from which common minds can scarcely escape uninjured. If evidence was previously wanting, there is enough in these very lectures, devoted though they are to the defence of the Unitarian scheme, to show that Mr. Acton discharges the duty as well as possesses the right of thinking for himself. In fact, the lectures are distinguished for a certain originality as well as for strength of mind. We do not meanthe subject does not admit of it—that originality which strikes out new systems of truth, and reveals new worlds of light, but that which gives the colour of individuality to common opinions, and occasionally leads to views and aspects of truth, which, at least in their entirety, have not beamed in other's minds. Indeed, Mr. Acton's mind is distinguished for the clearness of its conceptions. So far as the range of his knowledge and convictions goes, he lives in light. He is not one of those who strain themselves up into an elevation, where the eye grows dim in the rarity of an ethereal medium, and where, probably, forms of truth, both lovely and original, might be discovered, had the spiritual aëronaut but vision to apprehend them. He is a dweller on the earth, and in his own sphere sees, feels, loves all the substantial realities he is able to discover.
Illiberality is another great evil of controversy which Mr. Acton has successfully avoided. His danger was great. Provoked to the controversy by one who seems anxious, by his AntiUnitarian perambulations, to earn the dubious designation of
Kill-Socinian,' and who is more distinguished for a ready rhetoric than mental solidity-little sparing, moreover, in the use of such influence as may ensue from hard names, wary insinuations, well-feigned horror of heretical pravity, and well-feigned compassion for deluded heretics, flushed too with success from imaginary conquests, Mr. Acton has, nevertheless, preserved the spirit of Christian charity to an extent rarely equalled, even in cases where the fight was easier, the assailant less embittered, and the issue less important. At the same time, Mr. Acton has shown that he knows what is due to himself and the cause he had espoused. While, therefore, he breaks not the law of charity, he insists on the maintenance of the equitable laws of war.
And we know of no instance in which the frowardness of a fancied orthodoxy is more successfully repressed, without an infringement of the claims of Christian meekness and good-will. The difficulty in this and in other matters was the greater, because the lectures were delivered without having been previously written. We are desirous of marking this fact distinctly. The power of extemporaneous speaking is the great need in Unitarian pulpits. We have no doubt that the lectures as delivered produced incomparably more effect, than had they been composed with the minutest care. And while they served
effectually Mr. Acton's purpose in delivering them, they are not the less fitted for the general reader. Nay, they are more fitted. We may miss in them some of Mr. Acton's characteristic elegance and terseness, but the little thus lost is amply compensated by the vigour of thought and language, the occasional bursts of eloquence, and the general animation and glow, for which they are distinguished.
It is no part of our plan, in this notice, to enter into a detailed analysis and review of these admirable discourses, simply because we hope they will be speedily in the hands of all our readers :—they are published at so low a price that few need be without them. From the extract which follows, our readers may form for themselves some conception of their merits.
EFFECTS OF THE UNITARIAN FAITII. Perhaps I shall be expected to say a few words, in conclusion, on the moral influences of the Trinitarian and Unitarian Doctrines respectively. It is a theme on which I feel that I could expatiate long and largely; but not, I fear, without the risk of saying that which might appear invidious. On this branch of the subject, therefore, which is but collateral to the main argument, I shall be very brief. I apprehend, that we are all of us very indifferent judges of the value and influence of other men's religious sentiments. We know the value and efficacy of our own faith, having felt and proved its power. We cannot so well judge of the efficacy of a faith which we have never experienced. I can only testify, that to the best of my humble judgment, whether that be altogether blinded, or moderately enlightened, God alone knows,-but having been a Minister of the Gospel for more than fifteen years, I can only testify that to the best of my judgment, I have seen the Unitarian faith produce, in very many instances, on the hearts and conduct of men, and on the departing spirit, all that is necessary to complete the salvation and the happiness of human beings. I will not proceed to controvert what I have lately heard advanced, on this head, in favour of the Trinitarian doctrine. I will not venture to tell you of all the influences which I think I can discern in the popular faith. It is very possible that I may be mistaken in this respect; it is very certain, that to my Trinitarian hearers I should appear to be mistaken. But you will allow me to state, in a few words, what influences I discern in the Unitarian view of Christianity. I perceive in it, all that is calculated to fill the mind of a serious believer, (amongst us, as amongst all sects, there are undoubtedly some who are not serious,) therefore I say, all that is cal. culated to fill the mind of a serious believer, with a deep, humbling sense of his own personal unworthiness in the sight of God; and with a most lively conviction of the wonderful compassion and all-conquering love of Christ; and with a devout feeling of the infinite, forgiving mercy of God; and with an awful sense of the great malignity and danger of sin; and with a solemn dread of the judgment which awaits the impenitent, and equally, with the joyful anticipation of the glory, honour, and immortality, prepared for all the sincere followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
• In regard to the Atonement, I deny that there is any thing in the Unitarian view of the person of Christ at all inconsistent with the doctrine delivered in the Scriptures, on this important subject; any thing inconsistent with the belief of a most interesting and affecting doctrine of Atonement, which is, the reconciliation of sinners unto God. I know, indeed, that our view of the nature of Christ is inconsistent with the present popular notions of the Atonement, which make it to consist in an infinite satisfaction having been made to the justice of God, by the blood of his own infinite Son. But then I beseech you to consider, that this, again, is not a statement of the Scriptures, but a mere inference which some men draw from the language of Scripture, a mere human explanation of the Atonement. With all that is actually delivered in the Scriptures, concerning the reconciliation of sinners unto God, through faith in Christ, and through the efficacy of his sufferings and death, with all this, I will ever contend that the Unitarian doctrine is perfectly consistent.
In regard to the forgiveness of sins, I am ready to acknowledge, that the Unitarian doctrine is not adapted to foster any of those sudden convictions and conversions, any of those unseemly expressions of triumphant confidence, which a very natural abuse of the popular doctrine, if not the doctrine itself, too often produces. And I fearlessly appeal to every sober-minded believer, of every Church, whether this be not an argument rather for than against our views of the Gospel. But I am sure, that the Unitarian doctrine can produce, in the mind of every sincere believer, a strong and peaceful sense of the forgiving mercy of God; such a feeling as it becomes a frail and dependent creature to cherish. I protest that, of all the charges commonly preferred against the Unitarian faith, this charge of its being cold, dead, and inefficacious in its moral influences on the heart, seems to me the most preposterous. In the views which it gives of the attributes, ways, and purposes of God; in the representations which it affords of the mind that was in Christ Jesus, so holy and so meek, so full of piety towards God, and of com. passion to men; in the soleme truths and promises, the means of grace and hopes of glory, which it holds out to the faithful; the Unitarian doctrine seems to me powerful to awaken, in the bosoms of all true believers, emotions as ardent as they are pure, as full of a steady and genial warmth, as they are free from the grossness and violence of feeling, to which certain popular errors so frequently lead. Can any man give me a reason why the contrary should be supposed ? Why should simple and rational views of religion be thought incapable of powerfully affecting the heart? Does it absolutely require the mystery, the perplexity, and the terror striking dogmas, of the popular creed, to influence a mind at all disposed to cherish sober and rational piety? The principal points on which we differ from Trinitarian Christians, relate to the strict Unity of God's nature, and the strict Paternity of his character and ways. We believe that God is One, to the exclusion of all personal divisions and distinctions, of whatever kind. We believe that he is a Father, and acts always as a Father towards all his intelligent creatures. We hold these doctrines of the divine Unity, and the divine Paternity, free from all admixture with any opinions of a contrary tendency; and thus we allow these great truths to operate with all their proper, concentrated energy, on our affections of reverence, admiration, gratitude and love. Whatever of true and proper deity the orthodox system ascribes to Jesus we of course ascribe to the only true God, the Father. I contend, therefore, that nothing is lost by us, so far as relates to furnishing the mind with a suitable object for the exercise of all its devout and trustful affections; unless, indeed, Trinitarians mean to say, that they enjoy an advantage over us, in having three objects of supreme adoration instead of one. We have One infinitely holy and compassionate Being, to love with all the heart, with all the mind, and with all the soul. Have they more than One? or if they have, is it possible that they can so love more than One? It likewise appears to us, that our views of the nature of Christ enable us to understand more clearly, to appreciate more justly, and to feel more strongly, the glorious example of all righteousness which Jesus exhibited as a man, sanctified and devoted unto God. Jesus is not, to our minds, the same object of reverence and love as God, his and our heavenly Father. He is a perfectly distinct object of reverence, but one greatly adapted to call forth the warmest and strongest sympathies of our hearts. We behold in him, one of our own race, carried onwards by his unutterable love and compassion for men, by the wonderful strength of his piety and of his benevolence, through unexampled sufferings, shame and death, for our salvation. Believing in such a Saviour, therefore, and believing, at the same time, in one all-merciful God, his Father and our Father, is it possible that we can be destitute of a faith abounding with all good, moral, and spiritual influences ? Oh no! depend on it, that this accusation against the Unitarian doctrine is in every point of view frivolous and vexatious.'
· The Sufficiency of the Scriptures, the great Protestant Principle;
a Sermon, preached in Lewin's Mead Chapel, on Sunday, October 4th, 1835, being the Tercentenary Anniversary of the Printing of the first English Bible. By R. Brook Aspland, M. A. Hunter,
London. Mr. R. B. Aspland's Sermon contains a neatly executed outline of the history of the translations made of some portions of the Scriptures up to the time of Coverdale's version of the whole, and a brief notice of Coverdale's translation itself. Then succeed some remarks, tending to show that the sufficiency of the Scriptures was the great, but imperfectly developed, principle of those who laboured to bring about the Reformation from Popery in the sixteenth century. Care is taken in the conclusion to prevent the abuse which ill-regulated zeal might make of the occasion on which it was delivered, to the infraction of charity, and the prejudice of our Catholic brethren. The discourse is as plain and unpretending in its style, as it is mild in its spirit. A Rational and Scriptural Religion the One Thing Needful; a Sermon, preached before the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, at their Tenth Anniversary. By Henry Aclon.' London, printed
for, and sold by, the Unitarian Association. Mr. Acton's discourse comes as near as any we have seen for years, to .