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Now in the beginning of this chap- days, and portends an important ter we read of Christ's ascent to a change of opinion which will be ex. mountain, and of his feeding on that perienced at no very distant period. mountain five thousand persons with Nor will any one who is acquainted a few loaves and fishes ; and it clearly with huinan nature be surprised that appears that those whom he now the progress of religious inquiry addresses, are the very same persons should, in a certain stage of it, exhiwho had on the preceding day followed bit the phenomenon above described. him up to the mountain, and were Though here and there an individual fed by his miraculous supply. has possessed mental energy enough
It seems, therefore, extremely na- to pass at once from Calvinisın to the tural to suppose, that in the words, simple doctrine of the Unitarian, this “ where he was before,” Jesus had an is too much to expect from the public exclusive, and, on the part of his inind, which always moves slowly, hearers, a well-understood reference and is obstinately tenacious of ancient to the mountain on which he had prejudices. But, as I intimated above, wrought the miracle.
the good of which I have been speakBy a natural association, his allu- ing is not unmixed with evil. That sion to the mountain would at once an unscriptural system, which, if presuggest the idea of the miracle he had sented in its real colours, could not just wrought upon it. The sentence now maintain its ground, should be we are natura led to understand so softened and palliated as to be as implying that, after having seen admitted under a certain modification, him perform such a mighty and truly when otherwise it would repel belief, miraculous work for the supply of is a circumstance which is calculated their want and the confirmation of to prolong the dominion of error, and his mission, and nevertheless remaining consequently to retard the progress of unconvinced of the truth of his pre- truth. And the mischief is the greater tensions and his doctrines, they would because the system (if a system it can certainly remain so even though he be called) which is sometimes substishould again ascend the mountain tuted for the genuine doctrine of Caland perform on it the same astonish- vin, assumes no fixed and definite ing kind of miracle he had done character. A creed which is distinctly before.
laid down, and so far clearly underJ. S. H. stood, submits itself to examination,
so that its truth or falsehood may by
impartial inquiry be easily ascertained. Sir,
But a doctrine (or rather a phraseoN the paper with which the Chris- logy) which wears an ambiguous and
introduced, it is observed, that in of popular prejudices, addresses itself the present day “high points of doc- to the ear rather than to the undertrine are only here and there asserted,” standing, eludes instead of inviting and that “ the majority of congrega- inquiry, and retains possession of the tions calling themselves orthodox are feelings, while it makes no distinct contented with the name without the impression on the mind. When the reality of ancient orthodoxy.” In this preacher tells his hearers, in so many representation, which I have no doubt words, that the blood of Christ has is just, I find, as in many other things, saved the elect from the vindictive an evil blended with a good. That justice of the Father, the thoughtful the improved state of theological mind may start at the declaration, and knowledge should have led the nomi- may be disposed to ask in what part nal followers of Calvin to moderate of the sacred volume this doctrine is their doctrine, so that the human to be found. But when, instead of heart should not shrink from it with being thus explicit, the orator contents horror, (in which case, however, it is himself with merely haranguing on Calvinism no longer,) must afford the great scheme of redemption withsatisfaction to every sincere Christian, out explaining what it is, every man is the true Calvinist alone excepted. left at liberty to accommodate the This state of things may safely be description to his preconceived opiregarded as an omen of still better nions; and as few hearers are so cap
tious as to quarrel with their instruc- of scriptural language, as though they tors for treating them with words were secretly conscious that their docinstead of ideas, all may agree to trine is but feebly supported by the admire that which none can justly be authority of revelation. The fact may said to comprehend. Here I cannot be admitted, but the inference is false; help noticing, as a thing much to be they have not the slightest suspi. lamented, that preachers who enter- cion that their doctrine is unscriptural, tain what are called moderate vie.vs in but they know that in a mixed conreligion, should sometimes continue gregation there as yet may reinain to use a language which they know inany in whose minds unscriptural will be misapprehended by those who notions have been associated with hear them. They may say in their scriptural phraseology; and rather defence that the language which they than use a language which, if they did employ is chiefly the language of scrip- not perpetually explain it when used, ture. But this in my judgment makes would be liable to misconception, they the case still worse. He who uses may reasonably prefer to express what scriptural phraseology to which he is they believe to be the truths of the aware that ideas which he deems un- gospel in terms which cannot be misscriptural will be attached, wilfully understood. Moreover, there is a converts the oracles of truth into the kind of language in the New Testameans of confirming prejudice and ment, which, in the age of the writers, error. If he must encourage the be- was perfectly natural, and therefore lief of opinions which he does not perfectly proper; but which, if the himself admit, let him adopt language general views of the Unitarian are just, of his own, that the mistaken views it is now rather the business of the of men may rest on the basis of human Christian teacher to explain than to authority. This authority many might adopt. Of this kind are the sacrificial dare to dispute, but what is considered allusions which the apostles make use as the authority of the word of God, of in relation to the death of Christ, is to the serious-minded Christian over- allusions which it was scarcely possiwhelming and irresistible. And thus ble for them not to employ; but when erroneous opinions which have which, if employed in the present day, originated in the misinterpretation of unless illustrated by a just interprescripture phraseology, are cherished tation, must infallibly lead to error. by the perpetual application of this I will only
add, that if in the study of phraseology, the evil scarcely admits the New Testament a due attention à remedy. Some Christian teachers had always been paid to the times and endeavour to reconcile their consci- circumstances of the writers, the tenets ences to this abuse of scriptural lan- of Calvinism would never have been guage by pleading, that were they to heard of; tenets which ought not to speak their whole mind they should have found an advocate in the world injure their usefulness. It is not mine after sufficient time was allowed for to pronounce a harsh judgment upon the circulation of Dr. Taylor's Key their conduct, but I must be allowed to the Apostolic Writings, a work in to say, that mistaken indeed must be which these tenets are refuted as fully those views of usefulness which shall and unanswerably as any error ever lead a teacher of Christianity inten- was refuted in any branch of science tionally to refrain from declaring the or of knowledge. whole counsel of God. If there is a
E. COGAN. class of men upon earth in whom P.S. When I wrote the paper of simplicity and plain dealing are more which your correspondent G. B. W. eminently important and more pecu- does me the honour to speak so liarly becoming than in all other men, favourably, (p. 160 of your last numthey are the ministers of the gospel of ber, I was aware of the passage Christ.
1 John ii. 12, a passage which I think I will conclude this desultory letter that your correspondent has explained by replying to an objection which satisfactorily enough. Had the exhas sometimes been brought against pression for Christ's sake been a scripUnitarian preachers. It has been tural expression, the phrase èice to said, that when treating of certain cyou.a avto might reasonably have been topics, they are sparing in the use interpreted so as to bear the saine
providing the nation with religious worthy of credit, and that they shall instruction and the conveniences of appear so to all his Majesty's subjects, public worship: it is not pretended under pain of imprisonment? Or, that they are any part of Christianity, the law justly render it criminal, to and therefore they cannot be fairly deny the truth of that which is true or represented as any encroachment of false, independently of any decisions the civil power upon the kingdom of which the law can make Histories Christ. When, however, not merely and doctrines appear, from their very a form of worship and an order of nature, to be placed beyond the sphere teachers, but Christianity itself, as a of judicial interference. What should system of true religion, is identified we think of being told that the History with the law of the land, and protected of Rome, or the latest Theory of from the assaults of its adversaries by Combustion, had been made part of temporal penalties, I know not how the law of England ? Surely, then, it would be possible to represent it this maxim can be nothing more than more completely as a kingdom of this one of those many amusing fictions, world. Every Christian," by virtue of with which the law delights to charm his discipleship, possesses a right, and away the tediousness of its proceeda right which he is in duty bound to ings. And however useful it may be exercise, to proclaim that such a re- found, to enable lawyers to effect presentation amounts to a libel on the what they would otherwise have no character of Christianity. We ask warrant for, when examined by the for the warrant from the lips of the tests of reasop and common sense, Author of Christianity, for this alli- it appears altogether worthy to be ance between his doctrine and systems classed with the well-known pleasantry of human jurisprudence. If the maxim of vi et armis. be true in law, it has become so by A system of religion which, like the a gross usurpation of that law, and Pagan, or even the Jewish, should ought therefore to be abandoned. Its partly consist of certain ceremonial title to authority was vicious from the observances, essentially belonging to beginning, and its long standing is it, might, with some little show of protherefore no just reason for its being priety, be incorporated with the laws of continued. It has, in short, precisely a country; for, the interference of the that mark, which a great authority in magistrate in such a case would not these cases bas laid down as a suffici. be wholly absurd and inefficient, though ent reason for its being no longer fol. it should be ever so unjust. The relilowed,-it is “ clearly contrary to the gion consisting in external forms and Divine law.”
actions, would bear some analogy to But, quitting this positive declara- the proper objects of civil jurisprution of the Author of Christianity, let
dence. But human laws ought, surely, any one compare the nature of this to be bounded in their contemplated religion with the power and objects of operation, by the natural limits of human laws; and they will appear too human power : and what can human essentially dissimilar ever to amalga- power effect for a religion, which has mate. The one can never be justly nothing in it of a positive and arbiregarded as part of the other, until the broadest distinctions in nature can be annulled at the will of advocates
serve the attention of our modern Churchand judges. . Christianity is a system men, who wish to surround Christianity of faith, resting for the evidence of its with penal sanctions : “The true and claims chiefly upon the authenticity genuine Christian religion is a plain, and and genuineness of certain historical honest, and disinterested thing, full of narratives. Its entire authority de- sweet candour and holy simplicity, hath pends upon its truth, and its anthority 10 tricks in it, vo designs upon any man, with every individual upon his belief but only to make him wise and good, of its truth. Can the law deterinine and so, happy for ever: and it suits not that the Christian histories * shall be
at all with the noble fine spirit and ingenuousness of it, to pretend or desire to
be taken upon trust, or 10 obtrude itself The following noble sentiments of upon any man without examination." ove of the few Archbishops that ever Archbishop Sancroft's Address to James, made sacrifice for conscience' sake, de. Duke of York.
trary nature, which is altogether a our country from one of its foulest religion of the mind, resting upon stains. Whence is it, we may ask, moral considerations, both for its that the governments of the world authority in the first place, and for its have manifested so much readiness to influence upon individuals and society? take inder their patronage the truth Can the power of the law multiply and the doctrines of Christianity, the evidences of this religion, or exhi- which admit of no beneficial alliance bit them with greater advantage to the with temporal power, while so little minds of unbelievers ? Or can it even reverence has been paid to its golden counteract the misrepresentations of lessons of justice and humanity, which scoffers and revilers, which may be might so well be made the basis of conveyed in a whisper as well as in a legislation? It cannot be thought book? The law can only provoke strange, if this circumstance should and injure the enemies of our faith, excite a suspicion, that when governwithout in any effectual manner check- ments display so much zeal in defence ing the progress of infidelity, while all of Christianity, they have usually other the odium of its unjust proceedings is objects in view than the interests of reflected upon Christianity; for which true religion and the moral welfare of the enlightened friends of this religion the people. cannot be expected to be very forward Little attention seems due to the in the expression of their gratitude. plea for regarding Christianity as part
I cannot refrain from observing, in of the law, drawn from the supposithis place, that there is one sense in tion that it is necessary to support the which it seems possible that Christian- civil regulations of society, and the ity may be made a portion of the law validity of judicial oaths. That Chrisof the land; I mean, by infusing its tianity is the foundation of all the just and benignant spirit into the whole institutions of the country, as has system of our jurisprudence and do- been asserted, appears to be a very mestic government. Doubtless, every vague and extravagant position. Some Christian would rejoice to see our of our most valuable institutions, it beloved country elevated above the has been thought, may be traced to a nations of the earth, by the justice and time prior to the introduction of mildness of her criminal code, and by Christianity into the country; and, at the equitable manner in which all the least, this religion professes no direct operations of the law should provide interference with the political relations for the liberty and welfare of all and establishments of mankind. Yet classes of the community. And when it may be readily granted, that Christhis system of wisdom and benevolence tianity, by its tendency to render inen had been completed, no true disciple upright, peaceable and lovers of truth, of bis Master would blush to own it adds strength to judicial testimony, and as the work of Christianity. But, can in various ways affects the best interit be true, that Christianity is yet a ests of society. This, however, is not part of the law in that country where because it is the law of the land, but its first injunctions are violated, by because it is the belief of the people : fighting against its adversaries with and unless we can be furnished with the weapons of oppression, and where better evidence than experience has hithe heart of humanity is daily afilicted, therto afforded, that the interference of with beholding crowds of unbappy the law is likely to promote the belief beings cut off from existence, almost and reverence of Christianity among in boyhood, for a fraud or a robbery? the people, we cannot admit, that Ye archbishops and bishops, ye chan- such interference is conducive to the cellors and judges, the joint guardians good order of the community. of our holy religion, make good the A general glance at the history of maxim of the law; dispense from your the Christian religion, is not very learned and right reverend benches a likely to give its enlightened believers portion of the spirit of the Christian any great partiality for its close alli. Lawgiver, and move the hearts of our ance with law and temporal authority. legislators to establish the humane in proportion to the extent in which endeavours of Romilly and Mackin- the civil power, in every country of tosh, and to cleanse the reputation of Christendom, has been permitted to
embrace this religion with its false the only medicines which the civil protection, its proper energies of truth power can now administer for the and moral excellence have been en- cure of infidelity. The sting of the feebled, and it has waned to a mass of law, for this purpose, has lost its pitiful superstitions. It has been the power; it can only irritate, not deleast understood and practised, and stroy its victims. has consequently produced the fewest Many circumstances there undoubtbeneficial effects on the improvement edly are in the present condition of and happiness of man, in those coun- Christianity, calculated to excite a tries where it has been made most
more than ordinary degree of interest dangerous to call its truth or its sup- in the minds of its serious professors. posed doctrines in question. And This religion is now perhaps more where has Christianity at length as- than at any former period, except at sumed the most respectable and digni- its first introduction, before the tri. fied aspect in the eye of reason, and bunal of the public. The body of produced the happiest effects on the the people, who have no learned sysreligious character and habits of the tems to support, but whom the inpeople? In those countries where its creased means of education, and the evidences, its doctrines and records, spirit of the times, have awakened to have been exposed to the most unli. inquiry upon religious subjects, who mited discussion ; where the friends have no secular interests depending of religious liberty have succeeded to upon their profession or denial of the greatest extent in wresting from Christianity, but who cannot fail to be the hands of the civil authorities the sensible, that the truth or falsehood power to injure Christianity by their of religion is a question that involves pretended patronage. These are plain the most momentous consequences to and powerful lessons from experience, themselves; these are the inquirers to which, if governments overlook, re- whom Christianity is now appealing flecting and liberal Christians should for belief and attachment in a more keep constantly in mind.
direct and open manner than the There are also particular circum- circumstances of the Christian world stances in the present times, which have heretofore admitted. Now these must render any interference of the are the class of persons to whose law in behalf of Christianity altoge minds it is most desirable that Christher injurious. It is no longer possi- tianity should be presented free from ble for the civil power, as in past ages, any association with objects foreign to shield this religion from the inves- from its nature and spirit. Philosotigation of unbelievers, nor even from phers and men of habitual reflection their ignorant and malicious misrepre- cannot be so easily iinposed upon, by sentations. The adversary or the the accidental association of things reviler of Christianity cannot now be which have no proper connexion. But consumed at the stake. Only a few the mass of mankind judge from apof the boldest can be chosen to be pearances and from general represenimprisoned and harassed as exam- tations. Since, therefore, the question ples. By such examples the preju- concerning the truth of Christianity dices of unbelievers may be con- appears to excite increasing attention fired, and their passions excited, amongst the people, it becomes daily but their tongues cannot be silenced. more necessary, that they who consi“ Schism,” says an old and sensible der this religion to be wholly indepenwriter, “is an ailment in the body dent of all human law and government, politic, not curable but by an utter should vindicate it from every false extirpation of the limbs infected, and representation; that they should openly a steady cruelty, zealously pursued denounce all means of persecution without pity or remorse. “All petty taken for its defence; in other words, severities, however wholesome they that the principles of consistent Nonmay appear, are only quack medicines, conformity and perfect liberty of opiwhich put the patient to pain, without nion and discussion should be earnremoving the distemper." * Such are estly supported.
H. A. Mandeville's free Thoughts, Chap. 9.