Imatges de pÓgina
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obligation that is now upon me, in proposes to treat, is to take them all this my open profession of repentance for granted. In the Introduction he for my accursed errors and grievous proposes “ to analyze the component sins, to speak the truth in sincerity parts of the Christian scheine of docbefore God and man.

trine:" but no analysis is to be found, This recantation and sincere pro- nor does he produce any new internal fession I make willingly and freely, of evidence of the truth of revealed relimy own mind and choice: not in gion, except assertions without num. compliance with the command or will ber of the excellence of his evidence, of any other; not upon design to gain and some mysterious allusions to the a better opinion amongst men in the character of God, as exbibited in the world; not for any worldly advantage, atonement. But there is perceptible profit or self-end of my own: but out in his work an enthusiastic, yet à cauof a hearty detestation of my foul tious and abstruse apology for that errors and sins; and I am glad of this faith, which is professed by the memopportunity to disburden my soul, bers of the New Jerusalem Church, oppressed with the weight of the founded by Baron Swedenborg. In

deed, it is difficult to learn his full So help me God.

meaning, for he labours with some « DANIEL SCARGILL." extraordinary idea, which he is fearful

to let out; and much of his writing may Remarks on the Dissertation" of be twisted in such a manner, that all

THOMAS ERSKINE, Esq., Advocate, sects of Christians may find in it someon the Internal Evidence of Re- thing to favour their particular novealed Religion."

tions. In some places he leans to SanJanuary, 1823.

deman's opinions, who was a decided WHIS writer affords a remarkable Antinorian, and who maintained the


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not always secure their possessor from reprobation. Mr. Erskine does not
a wide aberration from truth ; since maintain the latter of these doctrines
they enable a man to render plausible expressly, though, perhaps, it may be
to himself and others any unreasonable implied from his scheme of atone-
prejudice which he may imbibe. There ment; but it appears a necessary con-
is a richness and force and depth of sequeuce of unconditional election,
meaning in Mr. Erskine's language, which he has no scruple to avow, not,
which predispose is to judge favoura- indeed, in these words, but in words
bly of his cause. He writes also with which bear the same meaning. The
enthusiasm, as if he were fully im- atonement, says he, (p. 125, fourth
pressed with the importance of his edition) " is the exclusive ground of
subject; yet when we find that he is hope before God,—and on this ground
reserved and obscure, in those places every one is invited to rest—without
where we are very anxious to know any fruitless and presumptuous at-
his full meaning, we suspect that his tempts to attain a previous worthi-
professional habits have had some in- ness." Sandeman has nearly the same
fluence on his writing, and that he words.
practises the art of an expert advo- Until Mr. Erskine has written about
cate, who withholds or conceals in a a third part of his work, there is no
mist, the weak parts of his cause. denomination of Christians which
When he is inclined to make himself might not adopt his introductory sen-
clearly understood, he has a pleasing timents, as the ground of an apology
manner of illustrating his subject by for their religion ; but it must appear
a variety of figures and allegories. from the sequel of his book, that he
Notwithstanding his zeal and talents, had a secret reserve and a double
his work does not appear likely to meaning in all that he admits respect.
make much impression, except upon ing natural religion, the tests of a
weak minds, which are apt to be led true religion, a state of trial and disci-
away by strong appeals to the pas-, pline, moral duties, true happiness,
sions, and generally mistake confident and the testimony of conscience. His
assertions for truth and sonnd argu- concern with these subjects is no
ment. His general mode of discussing farther than to give such a view of
the interesting sulijects upon which he them as may afterwards be accom-

* on the Internal Evidence of Revealed Religion.151 modated to his theory, which is cal- conceive how some Calvinists are lullculated to supersede them all

. From ed by this language. Here the evil of his favourable mention of them, sim, sin is inferred from the considerations, ple readers go along with him, con- that the Almighty was a sufferer, that fiding in his intelligence and zeal, he suffered as a sinner, that his sufand ignorant of his occult meaning, ferings were undeserved !!! All this until they arrive unexpectedly at his he takes for granted, without any atsingular orthodoxy, in the 66th page, teinpt at proof, and he immediately when they start, as if they beheld addresses the passions : “ Could they something monstrous. On this occa- hope to sustain that weight which had sion, his admirers set up a cry of tri- crushed the Son of God?”

If he umph, concluding that the reader had were consistent, he would have said, suddenly denied the fair inference from which had crushed the Almighty ; acknowledged principles, which to that but to be explicit is not his object. moment he had admitted ; whereas, “ Could they rush into that guiltthe inference which Mr. Erskine draws could they refuse their hearts,” &c. can follow only from his own secret Then he continues the subject in the view of the principles. Instead, there form of an allegory, which affords fore, of triumphing, they should be him a covered way to advance his ashamed of the sophistry of their pare batteries. Is it not plain from this tisan. But to what an extreme have management, that he was fearful his some of his admirers arrived before Calvinistic readers would discover too they are aware! In yielding to the soon the nature of his orthodoxy? fascination of his impassioned lan- But impressive as he is on the un. guage, they probably imagined that just sufferings and humiliation of the they still kept within the precincts of Almighty, Jesuits can address their Calvinism, which they supposed was hearers with more affecting eloquence; placed by him in some new, and fa- and, therefore, according to his tests vourable point of view. But now, of excellence in a revelation, their unless they can make good their re- orthodoxy must be superior to his treat, they find themselves unexpect- own. They will adopt all his quesedly opposed to their former friends, tions, and his appeals to the passions, and ranged among the disciples of but in a sense which refers, as they Swedenborg, or Sandeman, or perhaps teach, to a second person, who is a of a compound from both, under the third and coequal part of God, and title of Glassites.

they can then remonstrate fartherWhen Mr. Erskine ventures to in- “ Ye hardened wretches, is it not troduce his orthodoxy, he shews great enough to make you hate sin, and address in appealing suddenly to the submit implicitly to our jurisdiction passions of his readers. He figures and doctrine, that the Almighty beaway like a conjuror, who baffles ob- came man, and ' encountered the servation by the flutter he excites. terrors of guilt and bore its punishHe bursts upon us in this manner : ment? Must he also, before he can “What more prevailing appeal can melt your stubborn hearts, submit to be made ? Must the Almighty Warner be reproduced in our hands, and must demonstrate the evil of sin, by under- he then go down your throats ?" If going its effects ? Must he prove the we judge of such an appeal by its indanger of sin, by exhibiting himself fluence, which is the grand test of a as a sufferer under its consequences ? true revelation, in the opinion of Mr. Must he who knew no sin suffer as a Erskine, we may see him distanced in sinner, that he might persuade men the race of orthodoxy; for, let it be that sin is indeed an evil? It was considered, how those persons must even so. God became man, and dwelt be affected with this mystery, who amongst us. He himself encountered receive it with an implicit faith, as exthe terrors of guilt and bore its pu- bibiting an additional moral feature nislament; and called on his careless of the Divine mind,” (p. 91,) and creatures to consider and understand with what devout prostration of mind the evil of sin, by contemplating even they view the unutterable condescenits undeserved effects on a being of sion of their God, when they eat him! perfect purity, who is over all, God Mir. Erskine, no doubt, holds this blessed for ever.” We may easily mystery in contempt; yet all his tests

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of a true revelation are as completely unutterable, has presented to us a like accommodated to this mystery, as to aspect?”. “ In the gospel, God is rehis own atonement. His presumptive presented in the combined character proofs would justify the grossest su- of a gracious Parent and a just Judge. perstitions of Christians, provided The Judge himself bore the punishthey can be received with implicit ment of transgression.” All this is faith, and can produce a due portion the language of a Patripassian, and it of fanaticism ; and his tests would is entirely discordant from the notion prove that the victims under the wheels of atonement held by Calvinists. To of Jaggernaut possessed a purer reli- object here to the doctrine of both gion than any Christians, because it one and the other, as opposed to rea“ influential.”

son and a rational interpretation of Let us now revert to his allegory. Scripture, would be to appeal to rules “ Ancient history tells us of a certain and tests which no advocate for any king who made a law against adultery, atonement will submit to; and, on in which it was enacted, that the of- this ground, no Calvinist can ever fender should be punished by the loss convict a Swedenborgian of error, nor of both his eyes. The very first of- can a Swedenborgian ever confute a fender was his own son. The king Calvinist. On the same principle, was an affectionate father, as well as disputes can never be decided between a just magistrate. After much deli- them and Romanists, or amongst any beration and inward struggle, he finally of the orthodox, who pride themselves commanded one of his own eyes to be on their faith in spite of reason. But pulled out, and one of his son’s.” whoever listens to reason or common Much stress is laid on this allegory, sense, will soon perceive how grossly which is put forward in place of argu- they all pervert the Scriptures. How ment; but it illustrates merely that violently must the sense of Scripture notion of atonement which is held be wrested, before it can be made to by the Swedenborgians, who believe teach that the one God and Father of that Christ and bis Father are only all has suffered unjustly for the sins one person. Allegories may, in some of men ! But, is it not a worse perpoints, be unmanageable, particularly version of it to suppose, on the Calif they are taken from some known vinistic scheme of atonement, that history, whether authentic or fabu. He has infinite wrath, and is caprilous; but, in his reflections on this cious, cruel and unjust? To illustrate history, Mr. Erskine has not remarked this latter view of the subject, and any points of discrepancy between it place it in contrast with Mr. Erskine's and his own scheme of doctrine. On opinions, let us now mould the allethe contrary, his remarks are in unison gory into such a form as may suit the with the allegory, and they convey the Calvinistic scheme. same doctrine which was held in an- The king should on no account subcient times by men who were called mit to any punishment on himself ; Patripassians, because they believed but he should have the satisfaction of that God was only one person—that pulling out the two eyes of his beloved he became man—that the manhood wife, or of his favourite son, who was called Christ, and suffered on the must be bis heir apparent, before he cross. No other meaning can be put would allow the remotest possibility upon the following observations. Suf- of sparing the eyes of the son who fering for the guilty person “justi- transgressed. The wife or favourite fied the king in the exercise of cle- son, on knowing the demands of the mency ;” and with respect to the king and his immense wrath, should guilty person, “it identified the ob- attempt to appease him, by offering ject of his esteem with the object of voluntarily to undergo all the punishhis gratitude." “ There is a singular ment due to the transgressor; and resemblance between this moral exhi- one of them should accordingly subbition and the communication which mit to it; and the king should be so God has been pleased to make of him- delighted with the unjust suffering of self in the gospel.” “ Shall we refuse his beloved wife, or favourite son, that our love and admiration to the king he should consent to give the transand Father of the human race; who, gressor one chance in one thousand, with a kindness and condescension to have not one, but both his eyes

on the Internal Evidence of Revealed Religion.


spared, and even to be highly rewarded, invested with the highest privilege. independent of any conditions. But The allegory should farther suppose if it should not be the lot of the guilty that the wife or son, who manifested son to see and own the moral beauty such astonishing pity in one case, of this transaction, the chance of which should feel none at all in near a thou- . lot is as one to one thousand, he must sand similar cases.

Want of power be doomed to suffer all the torment should not be assigned as the cause which the king can inflict, notwith- why they refuse their aid, but want of standing the mutilation of his wife.or: inclination; for the allegory could not son.

be perfect, unless the wife or eldest Under this statement of the alle son, though distinct persons, be of gory, in what light should we view one substance with the king. Being the king's character? Certainly we thus of one substance, the king should should consider him as insane, or as a himself, in one sense, be obliged to wicked and furious tyrant. Mr. Er- suffer, like the deity of the Patripas- : skine may well be shocked at such a sians; and for the same reason, the picture; but so strong are his preju- transgression should be as much dices, that an atonement of some sort against their dignity and authority, as he must have. . No substitute will an- against those of the king, yet neither swer his purpose. The king himself of them should have the satisfaction of must be the victim, and must mani- seeing any innocent person's eyes fest “ a self-sacrificing benevolence?” pulled out to sooth their sense of (p. 143). What effect now would a wrath or justice. The sacrifice of one belief in the despotic character of the of them, at the same time that it king have upon the guilty son? Would should relieve the king from the mihe attempt to mollify a personage of sery of a portion of his immense his fierce wrath, and violent justice, wrath, yet, as being the suffering of and capricious humours by repentance part of his own substance, should be and good works ? No, but he would more costly to him, and give him more soon find out that the true way to pain than the sins of all his subjects, ingratiate himself with a capricious and, after all, the effect of this costly tyraat is by flattery. By the same sacrifice should be scarcely perceptible. art only could he hope to gain over It should farther be supposed, that his mother or brother, especially if the king, with his wife and council, he had been so fortunate as to learn, had decreed the wickedness of all his that the remote chance of their favour. sons before they were born, and their is not clogged by any troublesome certain punishment, with a trifling ex-" conditions, being neither promoted ception. Another feature of the allenor prevented by his good or evil gory should be, that when the king works. If by his flatteries he could should charge his sons with this origipersuade himself that he had become nal sin, he must, by the saine act, exa favourite with any of them, would pose his own injustice and tyranny. he not riot in selfish joy? And would To insert here half the particulars he have any great objection to repeat which might be added, would render his transgression, when he made sure it a more complicated and embarrassof his pre-election by the king, and ing allegory, than ever entered into. the powerful interest of his mother or the head of an Indian Bramin. brother?

Mr. Erskine's scheme of atoneIn this form of the allegory, it illus- ment is free from most of these misetrates and exposes many of the Cal- rable conceits, as he supposes that vinistic ideas of the atonement; but the one God and Father of all, who is in the first sketch it could not easily above all, did himself assume a manbe moulded in such a form as to ex. hood, which manhood was called pose them all. For instance, the king Christ, and atoned on the cross for should have at least a thousand chile the sins of a few men. · It should be dren, in order that nine hundred and observed, however, that he does not ninety-nine inight undergo the severest state this doctrine expressly, and that sentence of the law, while one of the some Calvinists have read his book thousand, · who should be equally through without perceiving it, but he guilty, must not only be spared, but inculcates it secretly, and with great




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art. ' He stigmatizes the Calvinistic himself, in order to atone to hiinself atonement in this manner. “lo fact, for the sins of men? How are we to this doctrine undermines the divinity account for the fact, that a map of of Christ, as much as Socinianism, talent and learning should inaintain, inasmuch as it makes a separation be- in a civilized society, that the Omnitween the views and character of the potent, Omniscient Creator of all Father and those of the Son."-P. worlds, and of all beings, should be 120,

reduced to the necessity of becoming On the Patripassian system of a man, and dying upon a cross, before atonement, Mr. Erskine is enabled to he could forgive any one individual enlogize it without measure, as im. man, and before he could induce any plying, in one sense, the unutterable rational creature to hate sin? There love of the Deity, and not the unut- is in these notions a depth and height, terable malignity which sticks closely and breadth and length of absurdity, and inevitably to his character, ac- which defies the power of language. cording to every Calvinistie scheme. The remainder of his book contains This love he describes thus, (p. 104,) not much clearer elucidation of his “What a wonderful and awful and atonement ; but the whole is conenlivening subject of contemplation is trived with great ability, and a studied this! God so loved the world that he obscurity to sooth the prejudices of gave his only-begotten Son"—that Calvinists, to enlist them on bis side, part of himself which assumed the and even to persuade them that he manhood. " And the same God sent coincides with their ideas, when he forth this Son” this manhood. discourses in rhapsodies on the cha“ This is the God with whom we have racter of God, and the wonderful efto do. This is his character, the just fect which his unutterable love must God, and yet the Saviour. There is produce on the hearts and lives of an augustness and a tenderness about inen. We cannot but regret that a this act, a depth and height, and man of his talents and acquirements, breadth and length of moral worth with so much devout feeling, should and sanctity, which defies equally the be driven blindly from one frightful full grasp of thought and language." extreme, respecting the character of Might not the Jesuit, whom I before God, to an opposite extreme no less introduced, adopt this pathetic lan- monstrous, and to advocate a cause guage with as much propriety and which would tend to bring revealed effect, when he dwells on the conti- religion into contempt. nued and excessive humiliation of a

S. third part of his God? A very small additional portion of faith would ena.

Yeovil, ble Mr. Erskine to join, in ecstatic Sir,

March 12, 1823. delight; with those who worship the HAMI. Adam in "The Unitarian

CAVING seen the statement of Deity in the form of a beast.

As he has taken good care not "to Fund Register, No. I.,” attached to analyze the component parts of the your last Number, I cannot fail (in Christian scheme of doctrine,” which common with every lover of truth) to he says is the object of his Disserta- rejoice in the prospect of the spread tion, we cannot, therefore, certainly of Unitarianism in India. Connecting decide, that he makes his atonement with it the accounts which have reachto operate so partially, as to imply ed this country before, there seenis the doctrines of unconditional election little doubt of the ultimate success of and reprobation. But, though we a well-digested plan, since our breshould acquit him from representing thren at Calcutta have succeeded in the Deity as capricious, unjust and effecting so much. The impression malignant, still there is an extrava. already made on the Jaggernaut estagance of folly in his notion of atone blishment, by that mighty engine ment, which no sane mind can endure which is sapping the foundations of for a moment. What man in his the Holy Alliance in Europe, and the senses can believe that the infinite and very citadel of religious tyranny in sole God of the universe has degraded India, "shews what might be done by himself upon this earth, and punished men who can offer a system of faith,

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