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lation, and of things most emphatically declared in the most rational import of divine testimony. How many things which are demonstrated before our eyes would have appeared to us 'irrational and impossible, if we had only verbal testimony concerning them? To me it appears most rational for creatures of yesterday to yield a cordial assent to the most plain harmonious sense of divine testimony in regard to all declared articles of faith. At least, if at all we express an opinion contrary to the most plain sense of scripture, in such cases, should: it not be done with great caution and diffidence, remembering that there is such a thing as to be vainly wise, above what is written? If it had not been literally true, would not the most high God have used some other words in that important case, instead of saying 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear
ye him?' And would not our Lord have chosen some other words in which to express the most interesting matter of faith, if it had not been literally true that "God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life?' These words of our Lord bring to mind another argument, of great weight in my view, in respect to which I have never seen any attempted answer: It is that gospel. representations of divine love in our redemption strongly involve the idea, that Jesus is truly the Son of God. And to take away the natural import of scripture in this case, removes the reality of all that is most affecting in such representations.
Much as Dr. Priestley has labored to prove that it was othwise, it is to my mind abundantly evident, that the doctrine i hold was taught by the apostles, and generally prevailed among Christians, until about the time of the Arian and Athanasian controversy This controversy evidently became exceedingly extensive, and more or less engaged the attention of the Bishops throughout Christendom. And yet at that time the preexistence of our Lord appears to have been by all taken for. granted. How can this be accounted for, if the doctrine was not received and handed down from the apostles? Belsham argues, as I think, conclusively, that the great alarm excited by the doctrine of Arius.is evidential that it was new. There is
equal evidence that the doctrine of Athanasius was also new. Then is not the conclusion unavoidable, that the proper divine Sonship of our Lord had been the true doctrine generally received? For is it not absolutely incredible that it should have been so universally believed, as it appears to have been in the days of Arius, that our Lord existed as the Son of God in some peculiar sense, before all time, if this had not been taught by the apostles? To suppose that Justin Martyr, or any other man or men could so early introduce an anti-apostolic doctrine of such importance, which so soon became the doctrine of the whole church, is, in my view, extremely irrational.
But clear and abundant as the evidence is to my mind that Jesus is the Son of the living God in the most proper sense of language, far be it from me to suppose that 'the wrath of God abideth on all,' who do not see with my eyes in this matter. I have no doubt that many so believe that Jesus is the true Messiah, as to have the promise of salvation, who do not, as I understand the scriptures, believe that he is the Son of God. I cannot however but regret that controversy should be kept alive by philosophical speculations on a point, respecting which probably there never can be an agreement among Christians, otherwise than by allowing the language of inspiration to speak for itself to every man's understanding. This appears to have been the case during the time when Christians were most noted for their love one to another. In those days, notwithstanding all the dreadful persecutions which the Christians endured, yet how surprising was the progress of Christianity! How great compared with any progress it has since made! And until such speculations and animosities, as were introduced by such men as Arius and Athanasius, shall be laid aside, I apprehend that Christianity can never so universally and happily prevail as every good man desires.
Excuse this freedom, and believe
me to be respectfully yours.
ON SELF-EXAMINATION. He who wishes to be virtuous, or useful, or wise, must seek to know his own character; he who wishes for happiness must both know and have power over himself, without which it is unattainable. That each one is better acquainted with himself than any one else, is probable; that each one can know himself best is certain But either not being conscious of this power, or wanting disposition to exert it, another's opinion is often mistaken for our own consciousness, and the estimation of our character accommodated to the image reflected from another's mind. The opinions entertained concerning us cannot but affect us, and if we are disposed to consider only or principally what is said or thought that is good, or that alone which is bad, concerning us, distrust of our powers, or a vain estimation of ourselves will be produced. Although then what is said of us may be of some assistance, and what is thought (could we know it) would be of much more, towards estimating ourselves, yet as others are liable to inaccuracy of judgment, as well as ourselves, as they have not the same means of knowing, and even, if they had, as we cannot depend on our judgments of their opinions, or their expressions of opinion, as we have in our full possession the subject of knowledge, and the instruments for examining it, we ought to form our opinion of our character principally from the observations which we can make upon ourselves.
Self-knowledge is to be acquired by honest and habitual examination. We may deceive ourselves as well as others, we may be reserved in our confessions when no ear hears them. There are favorite faults which may escape, from being the companions of our virtues; there are vices to which we may be lenient because they have in them something of refinement and amiableness, and the errors of weakness we may pity rather than condemn; when a good quality, which is congenial to our natural disposition, has grown into a defect, we may be insensible toit; and from various motives by which we are actuated we may select those that are good, and imagine that they are the only oncs which influence us, when they would be lost to a closer in
spection in the crowd of unworthy inclinations. It is not unnecessary then to say that this examination should be honest, or to be impressed with the importance of sincerity and openness in our intercourse with ourselves. Truth, without any of the drapery of prejudice or opinion, must be the test of our actions, and we must reverence our judgment too much to attempt to deceive it, or suffer it to be misled.
It is not only when some unusually strong motives have affected us, when our actions have been of important consequences, and have had much in them to interest us, that we must ask, what manper of spirit we are of? Not alone when we are suffering from recent guilt, for the stain is then fresh, and disgusting, and may cover something better, and we may, it is possible, too much condemn ourselves. Nor only when our hearts are elevated and warmed by an act of uncommon goodness, for it may daz . zle us: after we have been looking at the sun we see its image on the cloud. Nor again when we are depressed and gloomy, for melancholy is a fog, which is oppressive and chilling, through which the rays of hope cannot penetrate, which obscures vision, which distorts every object, and magnifies what would be beauty into deformity, darkening the path which we are pursuing, and presenting only a prospect of misery and distress-the fearful monsters of diseased imagination. We then only recollect to condemn. At other times we may behold from the eminence of expectation the fair landscape of futurity, gilded by the rising sun, rich with promises of good that kindles desire and rouses exertion, whose only shades are for calm repose to refresh and invigorate, and which produces delight alloyed only by the regret that we are not already in possession. This is when health has given activity and spirits; or when our cheerfulness is excessive from physical excitement, from much company, from uncommon praises, or the flattering attentions of those whom we love and respect; or when new proofs of the esteem of others make us estimate ourselves more highly, and we adopt the good opinion which we think they express; or when some prosperous event has shed light upon our prospects and discovered new sources of pleasure, or when being relieved from some evil which oppressed us, our steps
totter from the relief. In such circumstances we shall have too much levity for composed retrospection, or be too complacent for fair examination. When we are so partial to ourselves in our estimation of what is to come, it cannot be expected that we shall judge with correctness of what is past.
There may be seasons of despondence when desperation makes us acquiesce in vice-there may be periods of scepticism when, doubting the danger, we may not fear to err; when the mind cannot discern between good and bad—and amid the tu. mult of passion no voice can be heard but that which prompts us to indulgence; we may gaze with delight upon the leopard's spots or the adder's skin, and forget the venom and the fang; in the delirium of guilty feelings, the sting of conscience may be unfelt,and we may be unable to judge of our conduct. At such times we should banish thought from our minds, we should seek safety in flight, rather than by combat, we should strive to forget, rather than recollect our feelings, fearing to deepen impressions which may otherwise soon disappear.
There are many who, from the constitution of their minds, are incapable of these vicissitudes who are not liable to the disturbing influence of strong emotions, and there are none who can always remain in such states of mind as have been described. In most persons the passions and feelings are not usually in powerful operation. They rouse themselves and are violent for a season, and then leave the soul harassed by their invasion to recover its exhausted vigor, so that, for the most part, reason may possess her rightful sway, and then is the period favorable to an impartial estimation of one's own character.
This exercise must be habitual: not merely an unfrequent and occasional inquiry into our characters, to which circumstances peculiarly favorable may excite us, but a constant and unremitted attention to every action, and to each whisper of conscience. . We should unifortnly reflect whether we do what we ought. We should determine what we will do by considering the great rules of life, which religion affords, and we should judge of what we have done by reference to the same guide. We must search minutely into our own hearts; we must detect the