Page images
PDF
EPUB

the direct testimony in behalf of the

Sir,

December 7, 1825. miracle; while they take great pains THOUGH I cannot but feel grati

The Wy the approbation of your to bring it into doubt and suspicion, by means of objections which have correspondent Mr. Cogan, as expresno proper relation to the case. What sed in your Number for October last, they say to the parents of the inan, to [XX. 606,] yet, I trust, that he will the man himself, and to Jesus, indi- allow me to differ from him on what cates the anger of persons who feel I conceive to be the purport of his rethat they are baffled and disappointed. mark on the term mystery. Nothing, They have recourse to calumnies and I admit, can be more justly censurathreats and violence, the sure indica- ble than that love of the inysterious tions of a bad cause. How perfectly on subjects of

religion by which many frivolous the plea, “This man is not theologians, Protestant as well Roof God, because he keepeth not the inan Catholic, are unfortunately cha. Sabbath-day"! How significant the racterized; but, in my opinion, those act of excoinmunication ; and how writers who deviate into the opposite self-condemnatory the declaration, extreme are not less obnoxious to re“Thou wast altogether horn in sin, prehension. From the language adoptand dost thou teach us?”. Yet the ed by many Unitarians in particular, Pharisees were at the head of a nu- we inight be led to imagine that the merous body of the Jewish people: term mystery ought to be for ever they were what our Lord termed them, abolished, and that it can never be “blind teachers of the blind ;” and it consistently applied to any of the inwas by authority, not by argument, ferences of natural religion, or to any that they induced any of their coun- of the doctrines of pure Christianity. trymen to resist the power with which That it has been made a sublerfuge by he acted, and the wisdom and persua- controversialists when pressed with sion with which he spoke.

difficulties which they find themselves If we compare the several parts of unable to ansiver, must be acknowthis narrative with each other, we ledged and lamented; but yet it is shall be sensible that it exhibits the perfectly obvious, that there are nustrongest marks of what Paley calls merous theological and metaphysical "personal knowledge" in the histo- propositions to which it is impossible rian: it possesses a vividness and cir. to refuse our belief, thought, at the cumstantiality of description, which same time, they confessedly exceed are incompatible with the supposition the limits of human comprehension. of its having beeu framed on any in- Nor is it to be disguised that there ferior authority. Such a comparison are some few, even, which wear the I have now instituted: let me hope semblance of contradiction, and which that, as the result of it, my readers are nevertheless require, if not the full more fully satisfied of the Evangelist assent, yet certainly the acquiescence John having been an eye-witness of of our imperfect understandings. In the event which he here records. a greater or less degree, mystery ap

I finish this series of remarks by pears to be inseparable from many adding, that Christianity invites, sus- doctrinal points of religion as well as tains, and will abundantly reward, in- of metaphysics ; and those who are vestigation. As the Pharisees by nar- the greatest enemies to the name, and rowly examining into the miracle be. who would fondly persuade themselves fore us established its reality, so the that they have banished it from their adversaries of the gospel, both in early creed, atford apposite examples of the and in succeeding tiines, have unde- fault they condemn. signedly but powerfully served the It is affirmed by a writer highly cause which they laboured to over. esteemed among the Unitarians, that throw,

the great advocates for the final exN. tinction of the impenitent after en

during ages of torture, have been • Archbishop Newcome on our Lord's avowed members of that denomination Conduct, &c., p. 489, 2d ed.

of Christians; and yet there cannot exist a doubt that these individuals were firin belierers iu the infinite juo

[ocr errors]

tice and benevolence of the Deity of the Almighty to exclude evil from All, therefore, who hold a tenet only his works, or that he designedly made less terrific than the eternity of future use of it for effecting some ulterior torment, must believe that the all. purpose. Of those who enıbrace the merciful Father of the human race can first of these opinions, that the Suconsistently with his benevolence ren- preme Being could not possibly preder the existence of the majority of vent the intrusion of moral as well as his creatures a curse instead of a bles. natural evil, we might reasonably insing! They must maintain, or, at quire—what utility can result from least, if not inconsistent with themthe prohibition of sin, when its prevaselves, they ought to maintain, that lence is foreseen, and its necessity acjustice is compatible with the inflic knowledged? The inability of the tion of a preponderance of evil, and Creator to exclude it, is only rendered with the persuasion that a Being of more conspicuous by the promulgaboundless compassion may sacrifice tion of ineffectual mandaies. Nor the happiness of the many to that of does it seem to be altogether compathe few. This is surely only one re- tible with our ordinary ideas of justice, move from the horrors of Calvinism. to represent the Moral Governor of -But it is really almost incredible the universe as commanding his fee. that the same doctrine of tinal annihi- ble and short-lived creatures to avoid lation should be entertained even by that which he himself, in all the plesome of the defenders of philosophical nitude of his power, is unable to avoid! necessity; and, if I mistake not, this Will any one undertake to affirm that was the case with Dr. Priestley for a this creed is not incomprehensible? considerable period of his life.

But supposing the second part of To believe that intelligent creatures the alternative to be adopted-that are placed in a world without their evil is purposely selected as the inconsent, (to adopt an expression of strument of good; then the Deity Bishop Newton,) where their volitions, may be considered as issuing his pein the crimes which they commit, and reinptory commands against what he the depraved babits which they form, has expressly ordained, and as declarare the necessary result of circum- ing bis abhorrence of what he knows stances over which they have no con- will be productive of good. In one troul; to believe that, in consequence view, however, this side of the quesof this conduct and these habits, they tion is attended with less difficulty will undergo either eternal punish- than the other ; for the Divine Being ment, or temporary punishment with may very consistently prohibit his imfinal extinction; and yet to believe perfect creatures from making use of that their Creator is a being of irre- moral evil for the promotion of good, sistible power and infinite goodness, though he himself may adopt that is indeed to embrace a inystery at method, because it is impossible that which human reason “stands aghast,” their limited faculties should foresee and human faith may justly be “con- the remote consequences of their founded.” How can it excite sur plans, or should provide against the prise that the Necessarian doctrine, numerous circumstances which may unaccompanied with a belief of the frustrate their benevolent intentions. ultimate happiness of the species, Still even this hypothesis is surrounded should be rejected by so many acute by darkness, which we shall in vain and inquiring men with absolute ab, attempt to penetrate. But without horrence ?

repeating any of the remarks that were Allow me to mention an example made on this topic on a former occawhich is applicable to no particular sion, I will merely ask one question. party, of the necessity of assenting to If the prohibitions against the practice what is mysterious in the truest sense of moral evil were universally obeyed, of the word. It is evident, from the where would be that portion of happidiscussion on the origin of evil, which ness which vice, as we now believe, is. occupied some of your former pages, made instrumental in producing ? If but which I have no intention to re- the precepts of religion were invaria. vive, that we must unavoidably believe bly complied with, one great source -cither that it was not in the power of moral and intellectual enjoyment

11

[ocr errors]

would confessedly be lost; that is, apostle says, These three are one ; there would be much less real bliss if one in the unity of a consentient testimankind were uniformly virtuous, than mony; for that unity is all that is rewill result from the actual prevalence quisite to the purpose of the apostle's of the worst passions and the most present argument. It is remarkable, atrocious deeds! The commonly-re- however, that he describes the unity ceived maxim, that the world would of the testimony of the three celestial be a paradise if inen were universally and the three terrestial witnesses, in pure and righteous, must, on this sup- different terms; I conceive, for this position, be false, and the following reason: of the latter, more could not paradoxical conclusion stares us in be said with truth, than that they the face:that it is in the highest de- agree in one, for they are not one in gree expedient that the majority of nature and substance: but the Three the buman race should trample on the in heaven being in substance and in laws of virtue and religion, and egre- nature one, he asserts the agreement giously violate the commands of their of their testimony in terms which Maker!

predicate their substantial unity, in Notwithstanding these appalling which the consent of testimony is nedifficulties, one or other of the two cessarily included ; lest, if he applied opinions I have here described we no higher phrase to them than to the must necessarily embrace, and in ei- terrestrial witnesses, he might seein ther case it is impossible to avoid be- tacitly to qualify and lower his own lieving what is transcendently mysle. doctrine." rious. The true ground of complaint appears to be, not that men should Critical Synopsis of the Monthly Reassent to wbat the human intellect in its highest vigour cannot comprehend,

pository for December, 1824. for this, with our present imperfec: HS

SISTORY OF THE IRISH tions, is inevitable; but that they PRESBYTERIANS. Few should enforce the belief of palpable readers, probably, are aware of the contradictions, and should prohibit almost complete toleration which has others from calling them in question, been granted for a century to the under the pretext of their being so Irish Presbyterians. After 'perusing cred mysteries.

the present account, one cannot but All that I mean to assert is, that to ask the question, where would be the whatever system of faith we may be danger of admitting the Eglish Disattached, mysteriousness, abstractedly senters to at least an equal footing considered, does not furnish a sub- with that indulged to their Irish stantial argument against the truth of brethren? any doctrine which involves no abso- There is something quite imposing lute contradiction, (similar to Dr. Co- in the ecclesiastical order and system pleston's example of apparent incon- of Presbyterianism. We Unitarians gruity,) and which is sufficiently sup- and Independents talk and feel inuch ported by reason or revelation. about the value of our liberty, and of CLERICUS CANTABRIGIENSIS. its being unfettered by the restraints

of discipline and supervision. But P. S. In his extraordinary vindica- after all, such a system is only adapted tion of the genuineness of the Three to a few strong and independent Heavenly Witnesses, your correspon- minds. A majority of mankind acdent Ben David (XX. 533] seems tually love suhjection to some conto consider it as self-evident that if troul. They love to have their path tbe text be once adınitted to signify marked out before them. The conunity of testimony, it can never be scious weakness of the individual Aies adopted as an argument by the advo. for support to some exterior appacates of the Trinity. But what is the ratus of combined numbers. One's language of one of the greatest cham- numerical and perhaps personal inpions of orthodoxy in the Anglican significance borrows a siveet iinporChurch? It is clear that Ben David tance from one's affiliation with an never met with the following passage organized body of reverend men. in Bishop Horsley's Sermons : “The Such a system will doubtless at times

66

become the instrument, of ambition careful speakers, and I never before . and tyranny, and be subjected to saw it in print. other inconveniences; but I question Bigotry of the Home Missionary if they may not be more than com- Magasine. A just but mild remonpensated by the order, beauty and stranice. momentum infused by it into the life Mr. Frend on the British Critic. of social religion. Have not many The remarks on the term Monotheism young Unitarian preachers experi. are a most ingenious retort. enced a feeling of desolation from the Mr. Frend's proposal, towards the solitary and unleaning bravery with close of his communication, seems which they have been compelled to nearly impraeticable, because, althrow themselves on the current of though the propositions, on which he their duties? They want some im- recommends discussion, possess the inediate, fixed and definite standard utmost truth, interest and imporof ecclesiastical authority to refer to tance, yet they are precisely such as in doubtful cases ; soine systein of our brethren of other denominations rules as the channel of their general deem fundamentally erroneous in the exertions ; some sympathy and even outset, and would therefore decline controul from an uniform community; discussing altogether. Can you get What mighty effects were produced a circle of English courtiers to assemby the monastic orders! Do we sup- ble with a knot of rank republicans, pose that the Reformation has eradi- and discuss the merits of democratical cated from the human breast the es- government? prit du corps. Proud and mistaken Dr. Gale a Trinitarian. Dr. Unitarians! It still survives, and Evans's assertion may yet appear jusoperates as one of the most effectual tifiable, notwithstanding these proofs engines that play from every quarter to the contrary, during one period of on your cause. I felt a kind of envy Gale's life. towards the young Irish Presbyterian, Friendly Correspondence between when I came to the following sen- an Unitarian and a Calvinist, tence in the description of the Sy- The first letter here is truly a subnod's discipline, &c. : “ He is now lime composition. Yet why write denominated a probationer, and is sublimely, or argue ingeniously? If under the controul and direction of the following propositions of the Cal. his Presbytery." I almost longed to vinist be correct, this whole correbe bound by the same trammels. spondence is one of the most nugaMy imagination was captivated by the tory things in the world: “You and humbleness and meekness of the si- I are all blind by natnre. The Lord, tuation. I thought to myself how I trust, will give you sight and me good, how obedient, how Presbyterian too." Probably if his correspondent I would be, if I were the servant of agreed in speculation with him, the such a master, or, to soften the Calvinist would think that time had terins, the member of such a coin- come. Yet he appears to me very inunity, which might be rendered as inconsistent in holding so long an democratical in its polity as is con- argument with bimn.

He expects sistent with a proper exercise of re. from an unawakened Universalist all gular government." Doubtless such a the docility and reasonableness of an relation might contribute much to awakened Calvinist. He says, that one's happiness, virtue, and intellec- pride cannot consist in an awakened tual advancement. Will a correspon- Calvinist. But cannot something very dent of the Repository present the like pride consist in him, so as to considerations that belong to the op- deceive and provoke the undiscerning posite side of the question?

world? In reply to one of the arguI am uncertain whether the fol. ments of the Universalist, the Calvinlowing phraseology in note, p. 706, ist says, “ Time will shew: we shall be pure English, George i. who, see how it will be.” Would he perit is reported, should say,&c. Al init his opponent to use such an though in some parts of America it argument? One of these notes, howis used in common conversation, yet cver, contains, I think, a very happy I believe it is aroided by the inost and unanswerable retort. The Uni

[ocr errors]

a

versalist says, that in a future state, in this world of matter. It will not "every individual will shall be ren- do, the Calvinist thinks, to look upon dered conformable to the Divine will.” sin as it actually exists in life, with The Calvinist immediately suljoins, its common mixture of motives, ori" Then nothing that the blessed will ginal infirmities, strong temptations, sce will cause pain.” This is strong. ignorance, &c. We must reduce it What becomes now of the argument, to a kind of essence. The newly-inthat the happiness of the blessed in vented extracts of bark and ipecacuhearen will be imperfect, as long as anha illustrate well his notion of the there is a sinner suffering in bell? nature of human sin. The woody, Soon comes a feeble, if not a dan- earthy matter of the plant is entirely gerous argument. When the Uni- separated, and leaves the medicine in versalist anticipates from scripture a state of pure crystal, of which a that “ death and hell shall be swal- single grain is all-powerful, and the lowed up in victory," the Calvinist very taste of which remains on the only replies, “ We want more light tongue for hours. to understand this.” Is it so? Then The Unitarian ends the controversy why not want more light to under- in a somewhat pettish style. I could stand every Calvinistic text in the bave wished from him a different conBible? You have put into the clusion. mouths of the unregenerate a tri- On the Friendly Correspondence, umphant answer to your own most &c. I am a little astonisbed at this urgent and solemn appeals. The fol- communication. It has at least well lowing maxim of the Calvinist is, in nigh confirmed me in my suspicion of some points of view, sufficiently ex- a stratagein in the correspondence. cellent and weighty: “ People do I scarcely can believe that any real not incur evil by fearing it, but by W. W. would have treated an existing not fearing it enough." But has not Calvinist with so little delicacy and the Calvinist known persons whose liberality. The latter miglit well say fears are a greater curse to them than to him, “You have first injured me the apprehended evils ? He talks by publishing my correspondence about the paramount necessity of be- without my consent, and then you ing arcakened. Will he not allow, have added insult to injury by the that there are good and amiable be. contumelious language of your second ings, so unexceptionably pure and paragraph.”. No. This paper of W. moral in their lives, from the cradle W. I must believe, is only a pleasant to the toind, that it would be better fiction. not to awaken them? The following Remarks on a Friendly Corresponis unfair : “ You do not adduce pro- dence, &c. Will the following alteraselytes of the character of deeply tion be any improvement upon the convinced persons, walking close with common rendering of 1 Tim. ii. 3— God, living in the light of his coun- 5, &c. ?-—“Who will have all to be tenance, and blessed with the sealing saved, and come to the knowledge of evidences and unction of his Holy the truth, namely, that there is one Spirit.” I have known Universalists, God, and one Mediator,” &c. This to whom every letter of this descrip- seems to preserve a connexion in the tion of blessedness exactly applies. passage, and to throw on it a light, This testimony I cheerfully accord, which are wanting in the present though I am not absolutely an Uni- translation. That wag may be proversalist myself. “As to quotations perly rendered namely, see Schleusfrom Scripture,” says the Calvinist, ner. "I did not like to offend you by men- The considerations under No. 4, tioning thein ” This is singular e- are very well urged. At a late ato nough. Let us strive,” he says, tempt among the Calviniste of Bos. "to obtain full convictions of sin.” ton, New England, to get up an awaA Calvinist in religion is what a pure kening, some of their mosi intellimathematician is in practice. Both gent preachers and writers came out are conversant in an ideal world. quite boldly with the sentiment that Both aim at metaphysical, unattain- there are certain doctrines' which able impossibilities. Neither of them must not be preached during revivals is aware of the unavoidable frictions of religion ; such as our inability to

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »