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Some may suppose that enough has been written on this subject, and that there is no call for a work of this description at the present time. This has been considered by the author, and after a due examination of the principal works on this important subject, he has come to the conclusion to add one more to the number, for which he offers the following reasons :
1. “The works which have already been published have not yet fully put a stop to the errors against which they have been directeil, nor do they appear likely to accomplish this object, very seasonably, without additional aid. While others have commenced the assault and battered down some of the bulwarks of error, the writer of these pages wishes to add his humble efforts, hoping that others will follow his example, until her strongest holds shall be demolished, and the heresy shall be known only in the history of the past."
2. Uniturianism“ has so shifted its ground and changed its complexion, that many of the works which, at the time they were written, were directed against it with a deadly aim, are now left to spend their strength in the air, the enemy having fled and erected his battery on other ground, from whence he renews his incendiary warfire, and talks as much of courage and victory as though he had never been defeated.”
3. Most of the works which have been published on the subject, are too voluminous to admit of a general circulation, or to be read by a large portion of the public. The compiler of this work has, therefore, looked upon it as an object of no small importance, to put into the hands of the public, in one convenient volume, a refutation of Unitarianism in all the various forms which it assumes, as it is driven from one position to another.
In conclusion, whatever may be the fate assigned to these pages by the impartial judgment of the public, the compiler can appeal to his Divine REDEEMER, the adorable Immanuel, to whom he now dedicates this work, for the rectitude of his motives; to whom, also, he directs his most fervent prayers, that both writer and reader may be guided into all truth.
BLOOMFIELD, August 1, 1841.
ON THE IMPROPRIETY OF MAKING HUMAN REASON THE
TEST OF THE DOCTRINES OF DIVINE REVELATION.
It is one of the disadvantages to be encountered in this work, that while the evangelical party take only the Scriptures for their guide, Unitarians claim it as a privilege to appeal from the sacred writers to the dictates of unassisted reason. The latter will submit their opinions to the test of Scripture, only when the Scriptures will stand the ordeal of their opinions. Or, to speak with greater propriety, they choose to try rather the Scriptures by their creed, than their creed by the Scriptures. When the language of the evangelists and apostles appears to favor their hypothesis, they are prepared to make the utmost use of its authority ; but when the contrary is the case, and the plainest declarations of the sacred writers cannot be transformed into metaphor, allegory, or figurative representation; when the primitive teachers of Christianity obstinately refuse to become Unitarians, or even to be neutral, our opponents are prepared to pronounce against them a sentence of excommunication, and to erase their testimony from the record, as an interpolation, a corruption of the sacred text, or an inconclusive argument.
That this is the course pursued by Unitarians, the following extracts from some of their principal writers, will abundantly show:
Socinins, the founder of Socinianism, while speaking on the doctrine of Atonement, says :-“Though it were found not only once, but frequently, written in the Holy
Seriptures, I indeed would not believe it to be entirely as you suppose. Though the divine oracles may attest things to be so in appearance, yet they cannot by any means be admitted, because they are very evidently impossible.”
Smalcius, another Unitarian, says:-"We believe that though we should find it not once, nor twice, but very frequently, and most expressly written in the Scriptures, that God was made man, it would be much better, as it is an absurd proposition, entirely contrary to sound reason and full of blasphemy, to invent some other way of speaking which might render it safe to be affirmed of God, rather than understand it in the literal sense.”
Dr. Priestly, a very celebrated Unitarian, says, in the Theological Repository :-“I think I have shown that the Apostle Paul often reasons inconclusively, and therefore that he wrote as any other person of his turn of mind or thinking, and in his situation, would have written without any particular inspiration.”
Mr. Belsham, of the same school, says : -“That Jesus of Nazareth was a man constituted in all respects like other men, subject to the same infirmities, the same ignorance, prejudices and frailties."
Mr. Theodore Parke, in an Ordination Sermon, re-, cently preached in Boston, after speaking of what he calls the difficulties of the Bible, says :-+
“ Hence the attempt which always fails, to reconcile the philosophy of our times with the poems in Genesis, written a thousand years before Christ; hence the attempt to conceal the contradictions in the record itself. Matters have come to such a pass that even now, he is deemed an infidel, if not by implication an atheist, whose reverence for the Most High forbids him to believe that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, a thought at which the flesh creeps with horror; to believe it solely on the authority of an oriental story, written down nobody knows when, or by whom, or for what purpose : which may be a poem, but cannot be
the record of a fact unless God is the author of confusion and a lie.”—pp. 20, 21.
“On the authority of the written word, man was taught to believe fiction for fact; a dream for a miraculous revelation of God; an oriental poem for a grave history of miraculous events; a collection of amatory idyls for a serious discourse, "touching the mutual love of Christ and the Church; they have been taught to accept a picture sketched by some glowing eastern imagination, never intended to be taken for a reality, as a proof that the infinite God spoke in human words ; appeared in the shape of a cloud, a flaming bush, or a. man who ate and drank and vanished into smoke; that he gave counsels, to-day, and the opposite to-morrow; that he violated his own laws, was angry, and was only dissuaded by a mortal man from destroying at once a whole nation-millions of men who rebelled against their leader in a moment of anguish.”—pp. 19, 20.
“ The history of opinions on the New Testament is quite similar. It has been assumed at the outset, it would seem, with no sufficient reason, without the smallest pretence on its writers' parts, that all of its authors were infallibly and miraculously inspired, so that they could commit no error of doctrine or fact. Men have been bid to close their eyes at the obvious difference between Luke and John; the serious disagreement between Paul and Peter; to believe on the smallest evidence, accounts which shock the moral sense and revolt the reason, and tend to place Jesus in the same series with Hercules and Apollonius of Tyana, accounts which Paul in the Epistles never mentions, though he also had a vein of the miraculous running quite through him.”
“Who shall assure us that they (the writers of the New Testament] were not sometimes mistaken in historical, as well as doctrinal matters, did not sometimes confound the actual with the imaginary, and that the fan.
cy of these pious writers never stood in the place of their recollection.”—pp. 27, 28.
“No doubt the time will come when its true character will be felt... Then it will be seen, that, amid all the contradictions of the Old Testament; its legends so beautiful as fictions, so appalling as facts ; amid its predictions that have never been fulfilled ; amid the puerile conceptions of God which sometimes occur, and the cruel denunciations that disfigure both Psalm and Prophecy, there is a reverence for man's nature, a sublime trust in God, and a depth of piety rarely felt in these cold northern hearts of ours."'--p. 30.
It may be pleaded in favor of Unitarianism that the opinions of Mr. Parker are not generally held by its adherents. This we hope is really the case ; but what are we to make of the following notice of Mr. Parker, which recently appeared in the Unitarian Christian Register, the great organ of the Unitarians in Boston :
“We doubt not that the author is eminently a Christian in life; and we have not said, nor dare we say, that he is otherwise than a CHRISTIAN IN BELIEF.
Mr. Grundy, another late author, says :-“To what end was reason given? Precisely, that it may be the rule of life; the helm by which we must steer our course across the tempestuous billows of mortality ; the touchstone of every doctrine; the supreme umpire in every difficulty and doubt.”
Mr. Millard, of that class of Unitarians who claim to be called Christians, talks of bringing the doctrine of the Trinity to the test of reason, (see his work called the True Messiah, p. 23,) while it is well known that all classes of Unitarians call in question the translation of every passage of Scripture that stands opposed to their views.
These quotations clearly show that Unitarians do appeal from Revelation to the dictates of human reason in matters of religion ; yea, that they receive reason as the "test" and "touchstone of every doctrine" as “the rule