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United States' General Annual Chris tian Conference,' which convenes in the month of September, and usually continues in session about a week. The subordinate Conferences are, at present, thirteen in number. The Christian denomination, being the last that has arisen in America, has experienced great opposition from old and popular sectaries; but their preachers, being fired with a holy zeal, and accustomed to endure hardships as good soldiers,' have pressed through violence, borne reproach, and, by the grace of God, have reaped an abundant harvest. They have many of the peculiarities of a denomination yet in its infancy. Useless forms and ceremonies they profess to reject, and are in the custom of adopting scriptural expressions, and rejecting what they regard as the 'doctrines and commandments of men.' They disdain the application of the term Rev. to the clergy, on the ground that it belongs to Deity alone. They are in sentiment Anti-Calvinistic and Anti-Trinitarian. They receive the Scriptures as their only rule of faith and practice; consequently reject all other creeds and articles of faith.
"As my paper will soon arrest my progress, I must proceed to make some general remarks, and close. The American Baptists consider regene ration' an indispensable qualification for baptism, and those who admit open communion require all their communicants to have experienced vital holiness. They all believe that the misery of the finally impenitent will be of equal duration with the felicity of the righteous, except a few of the Christians, who believe in the complete annihilation of the wicked. The Baptists have a few colleges and other seminaries of learning under their patronage. The National College at the seat of Government is under their jurisdiction. Some of the preachers of all the Baptist denominations are regularly educated, and others become preachers by the exercise of their respective gifts; but in all cases, those who are admitted to administer the ordinances of the Lord's House, are
This, it is presumed, must be understood to apply exclusively to the Par ticular Baptista.
required to first enter it themselves by the Door-Christ Jesus. Most of the ministers are supported by salaries raised by voluntary subscription, and not by constraint. The salaries of the preachers are in general so trifling, that they are not calculated to enrich them, though they afford ample means of subsistence. Some being able to support themselves, do not accept salaries.
"I have now given you some general ideas of your brethren in America, and though they fall short of a reply in full to all your questions, may lay a foundation for you to obtain the sought-for information. I have striven to be correct in my succinct view, but this must rest on the documents in my possession, from which I derive my information. I am pastor of a church connected with the Christian denomination, and Mr. Benedict referred your letter to me to answer, as you were mistaken in his being a General Baptist: he, however, professes a friendship for you and your people. It would be very pleasing to me and to all our people to hold a regular correspondence with our transatlantic brethren. We might soon, if desirable to you, send messengers to your Assembly, and receive yours in our General Conference, by which we might be brought more intimately acquainted. As I am young and unmarried, I could realize no greater pleasure than that of visiting my brethren on that side the Atlantic, beholding their order and uniting with them in preaching Jesus and the Resurrection; but a deficiency in property must prevent such a voyage, and chain my feet to the American shores.
"In about two weeks I expect to commence the publication of a large religious newspaper, to be devoted to theological discussion, &c.; of which I am sole editor and proprietor, and am desirous of possessing some of your English publications, from which to derive some matter for it. If you, or a society for that purpose, will procure a quantity of late Magazines, &c. &c., and send me by the first vessel that sails to our ports, I will immediately on their receipt, collect a quantity of our publications and send you. Perhaps you might make an arrangement with the publishers of
certain religious works to send theirs and receive mine in exchange, by which we shall obtain a better knowledge of what is going forward.
"In the holy bonds of the Gospel, I am affectionately yours,
"REUBEN POTTER, Jun. "Should you be able to comply with my request, in forwarding a collection of periodical works, the sooner you send them the more the favour will be enhanced. Letters from you and any of your friends, will be gratefully received, and be certain of receiving the earliest attention.
"If you wish to open a correspondence with either of the other denominations, I will refer you in my next to ministers who will be happy to unite in it. As my writing is scarcely legible, and I have had but little time to devote to it, I fear you will not be able to read me. Inaccuracies you will please to excuse. Let me hear
from you soon.
"In great haste, I am yours, "R. POTTER, Jun. "The title of my paper is the Gospel Palladium.
"Mr. G. Smallfield,
June 10, 1823.
CAN any of your correspondents or Rev. John Hope, formerly Tutor of Warrington Academy, (mentioned in the Theolog. Repos. Vol. VIII. pp. 4, 86, 577,) was educated, and at what age he commenced his studies? What was his father's Christian name? and where he resided when John was born?
A CONSTANT READER.
R. BELLAMY (who has distinguished himself as a Hebrew scholar) has somewhere said that we can have no other conception of the Deity than as embodied in the person of Jesus Christ; and that, in our prayers, we address a reality only so far as we have the image of Jesus Christ before us. This may seem to come strangely from one familiar with the Jewish Scriptures; who must have known that the worship of God
amongst the Jews previous to the Christian æra, could not possibly embrace the views of Christians of the person of Christ.
And yet, Mr. Editor, this gentleman's notion frequently recurs to my recollection in my intercourse with and suggests a somewhat formidable persons holding the popular creed, difficulty in regard to the adoption of Unitarian views by plain, unlettered minds. It has, hinted, the Unitarian doctrine is too believe, been often abstract and philosophical; too rational (I had almost said) for popular belief; but, thinking as we do, the Scriptures most clearly teach the worshop of a Spiritual Being, (not Jesus Christ, but a Being in a high spiritual feel more affected, Sir, by the difficulty sense, the Father of Jesus Christ,) I which seems to attend the competent conception and grasping of the idea of such a Being by uncultivated minds. It will occur to many of your readers, how relieved such minds seem, the instant they associate the person of Jesus Christ with the Godhead; they then expatiate with all freedom on a "pardoning God," a "merciful God," &c.; and if their convictions are not very clear, their feelings seem then to have an object to which they promptly attach themselves with grateful, fervent affection.
ing femals of the F with a well-meanseemed peculiarly happy in a new religious experience, I found it impossible to fix her view for a moment on the Deity separate from the personal image of the Saviour. She notwithstanding declared she prayed to God, and, I had some reason to believe, used a language in prayer that might seem almost correct and scriptural to Unitarian Christians. But, till the person of the Mediator was in her view, her ideas seem to have been without an object, and her words without meaning. For my own aid and guidance, Mr. Editor, I shall be happy in the suggestions of any of your intelligent readers on this difficulty; and beg to ask them, whether we may not (for a creature of sight and sense as man is) refine too much in the worship of God, and reject the aid of the senses and imagination more than it could ever have been intended we should do? For my own part, I freely
Dr. J. Jones on Gen. iv. 26. :
confess the difficulty I have ever felt to lay hold on the Deity, (reverently using the words,) without the aid of a natural object or moral relation bor-rowed from things of the earth; and, perhaps, in minds of the noblest powers, the idea of the Deity in its grandeur and excellence, is least of all separable from great and beautiful objects submitted to the senses. It certainly seems a beautiful accommodation to human imperfection, and must be acknowledged a very lovely -feature of Christian truth, that it presents a Deity to us under the parental relation, and thus greatly aids the struggling mind of man; at once enabling the understanding in some measure to grasp the object, and making it dear and interesting by touching the sweetest affections of the heart. Might not, Sir, the Christian worship of the Father be aided by means which seem to be studiously rejected by the Reformed Christian Churches, and particularly by Noncons of our denomination? Would it essentially violate NO passage in the whole range of the law of pure and spiritual worship or is to introduce any more sensible media of adoration amongst us? It appears to myself, we aim at a simple abstract worship which wars with human in'stincts, and a character of mind inseparable from the circumstances of human life; and that we deny our devotional sentiments the benefit of associations which might aid their fervour without injuring their purity. The burst of adoration suggested by the blue sky or green earth is surely correct and good; and devotional feeling never more pure and amiable than when prompted by the winds and the waves, the woods and the streams, the valleys and the mountains, &c. We have music and poetry in our worship; might not painting and sculpture also assist it? I suggest this with mis'givings, aware of the shock of it to the severer character of Nonconformity, and the simplicity of our Unitarian faith. But may we not be superstitiously afraid of superstition? And, though the spirit and principle of religion must ever be one and the same, 'must not its modes and forms be accommodated to the character of the age, and ever modified by the prevailing standard of intellect and taste? It was once asked, (with a little ill\nature perhaps,) who ever thought of
so widely mistaken, or the mistake of which has opened so wide a door to the influx of superstition as the following: "Then merr began to call on the name of the Lord." Gen. iv. 26. This is the exact rendering of the original, according to the vowel points, and yet it is obviously at variance with the truth, Adam, Eve and their children, especially Abel, having from the beginning never ceased to call on the name of the Lord. If we disregard these points we have the true sense: "Then men began to call themselves by the name of Jehovah," that is, they assumed the title and attributes of the eternal God, thinking themselves immortal on the earth. This presumption, however impious or unreasonable it may now appear to us, was, in the then circumstances of mankind, very natural. The leading idea, which men ever attached to the character of God, was exemption from death; and as there were among the Antediluvians those who lived for ages in full vigour, without, it is probable, being visited
the charms of poetry in connexion with the Unitarian question? But, Sir, would not our cause be more acceptable to certain classes, if we drew it off more from the dryness of a theological argument, and brought it in closer contact with the elegant arts of life ?*
But I am trespassing, Sir, and need your indulgence for the inconsistency of adverting to the question of facilitating the success of Unitarianism with the higher classes, when my original object was, to consult your correspondents on the best mode of obviating the difficulty first alluded to; namely, that of unlettered minds to form any conception of the Deity without the aid of personality; that is, (what is usually the case,) without the human form of Jesus Christ being suggested to the imagination.
The architecture of the New Chapel, Finsbury, will not, I trust, disgrace either the age, or its neighbour, the London Institution.
by infirmity or sickness, they began to consider themselves as gods, and to hold themselves forth as such to the world, thus claiming the submission and homage of their fellow-mortals. Moses mentions this circumstance as the origin of idolatry, and proceeds to state the shortening of the period of human life, and the destruction of the world by a flood, as the consequences of it. But it being his purpose to relate the pedigree of Adam, who remained in the knowledge and worship of the true God, unseduced by the impious presumption of their degenerate brethren, he digresses to fulfil that purpose; and after exhausting it, he returns to the subject. Thus, "Then men began to assume the name of Jehovah. And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of the Gods saw the daughters of men that they were fair, they made them their wives whomsoever each might choose. And the Lord said, My breath shall not for ever remain in man, for he is himself but flesh, so that his days shall be a hundred and twenty years. Thus there were marauders in those days: for after the sons of the gods had commerce with the daughters of men, they bare them children who became violent and mighty men, the same with those who of old were men of renown."
The passage thus brought into one point of view, and more faithfully translated, is clear and consistent. Some of the descendants of Cain, who having forsaken the true God, and who living for ages probably with great bodily strength, began to consider themselves immortal, and to hold themselves forth as gods to be worshiped by their inferiors in rank, might and years. God beholding their impiety, removes the foundation of it, thus saying, "These men think that they have the principle of life in themselves, and that they will for ever live independent of me; I will correct their presumption: and as they breathe only in the breath which I gave them, I will recall it, and thus teach them humility and wisdom by shortening their days."
This passage owes its obscurity to the misconception of two words in the
original. The phrase 'nan 23 translated sons of God in our cominon version, means "Sons of the Gods," that is, the sons or descendants of those who made themselves gods, or, according to the language of Moses, who called themselves by the name of Jehovah. These men, instead of confining themselves to a faithful union with one woman, agreeebly to the marriage institution appointed and recommended to Adam by God himself, indulged themselves in promiscuous intercourse with the daughters of men, that is, women in the lower classes of life, and thus gave birth to a race of children who, possessing vast stature and great bodily strength, and withal abandoned on the world, without virtuous example or education, lived by violence and plunder, the terror and disturbers of society. Many tales respecting these marauders, who in after days were called Giants, were doubtless handed down to posterity by the family of Noah; and it is to these traditional tales, current in his days, that Moses alludes when he says,
They became violent and mighty men, the same with those who of old were men of renown."
The other mistake lies in the verb 117 idun, which our translators have rendered by " shall strive," while the Syriac and Arabic Versions, the Chaldee Paraphrase, the Septuagint, and even the Latin Vulgate, have rendered it by terms expressive of the meaning I give to it, viz. "shall remain." How is this to be accounted for? The Chaldeans often changed the final into, such as the termination of plural nouns D'um, into 'un. Thus the verb D1 dum, to continue, perpetuate, became changed into 17 dun, the same in form with another verb already existing in Hebrew, under the sense of "striving, contending, litigating." This accidental corruption may have taken place in the times of Moses or upwards, who has consecrated the vulgar corruption with the primary meaning of "continuing or remaining." The corrupted verb dun, is the parent of the Greek dny, dnvasos, dŋɑa, dqfvow; while dun, to contend, gave birth to devos, devvala, &c. This confusion having taken place, it was natural that the interpreters of Moses should have been divided, some adapt
ing the sense of the corrupted, and others that of the genuine verb, and agreeing in nothing but in overlooking the meaning of the passage.
In the Jewish Scriptures angels are called "sons of God." See Job i. 6, xxxviii. 7. Now as the Jews believed that angels were employed under God in superintending the affairs of men, and as the title by which angels are elsewhere designated is here used by Moses, it was natural for the Jews to conclude that the same writer meant angels in this place. But it seems that some of these angels, while engaged in the affairs of men, perceiving how fair their daughters were, became enamoured of them, and seduced them; and thus fell from God. Josephus, the Jewish historian, who could not have been mistaken as to the sentiments of his countrymen on this subject, states this to be the fact, in express terms. See Antiq. Jud. i. 4; and also Just. Martyr, Apol. 2, p. 112. Here we see the origin of fallen angels; nor is there another single verse in all the Jewish Scriptures that can be considered as countenancing the same absurd and impious notion. But though the Jews believed in the preposterous notion of fallen angels, they did not think it consistent with the character of God to suffer beings so subtle and powerful to roam at large, worrying mankind and seducing them to evil. They therefore imagined that the Almighty keeps them chained up in hades till the day of judgment. This notion is countenanced by Peter. 2 Pet. ii. 4" For if God spared not the angels who transgressed, but cast them down to hades, and put them in chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment, and spared not the old world .. when he brought the flood,” &c. It is needless to say that this is a piece of Jewish mythology, which forms no part of the gospel. For neither Christ nor any of the Evangelists sanctions it; and Peter alludes to it as an opinion, which he believed in common with other Jews before the coming of our Lord; and he himself refers to the very passage in Moses, on which that notion is grounded.
But these fallen angels, being spirits, could not have commerce with flesh and blood in a state purely incorporeal. The meaning then was, that they had previously entered the bodies of men; and the men, thus possessed, acting solely under the influence of the supposed indwelling spirits, assumed their name of "sons of God." In other words, they were demoniacs, tyrannical and violent men, instigated by demons or evil spirits. Hence the origin of demoniacal possessions.
According to the Jews and many Christians, good angels are still employed in administering the affairs of men. But it is thought they will not look in the face of women, lest they be tempted, and follow the example of their fallen brethren. And to this alludes the following verse of the Apostle Paul: "For this cause ought a woman to have a veil over her head, because of the angels." This illustrious champion of the Christian faith correctly understood the language of Moses, and his words are to this effect: "The marauders and oppressors of old, who go under the name of sons of God, or angels, laid violent hands on those females who came within their view. For this reason let every woman wear a veil, lest she should become the victim of temptation,lest she should expose herself to some person, who, by intrigue or violence, by wealth or power, may lead her astray." Nor should it be forgotten that this admonition was given to the women of Corinth, a place celebrated for its wealth, and in which rich men were collected from every part of the world to expend their property with loose women. Hence the proverb, said in reference to those who had not riches to dissipate in debaucheries, Ου παντος ανδρος ες Κορινθον εσθ ̓ ὁ πλες, It is not every man that can sail to Corinth. The circumstance that many men flocked from all parts to this city to purchase beautiful women, and to carry them away either by force or money, must appear to give much propriety to this precept of our apostle.