Imatges de pÓgina

tianity is either a religion bearing the nions which a numerous portion of indelible stamp of eternal truth, or it them do not in truth entertain; and is a tissue of falsehood and deceit. I have heard it affirmed that the only Whatever may be thought or con- point in which they are strictly una. cluded by biblical critics as to the nimous is the personal unity of the genuineness of particular texts or Deity. This complaint, I cannot help parts of the Scriptures, the question thinking, is by no means justified in whether the New Testament is or is the extent to which it is carried; and, not the revealed will of God, must be inde it sometimes has the appearargued on general grounds, and can- ance of shrinking from an accusation, pot be affected by particular difficul. though I do not mean to assert that ties. The Christian religion has been, such is the fact. In the first place, and is now, liable to corruption. This the doctrine on which they are said the firmest and most enlightened de- to agree is too indefinite as a mark fenders of our faith are ever the rea- of distinction, embracing in its applidiest to allow. So the best gifts of cation not only those who were usuheaven are capable of abuse from the ally considered as the disciples of weakness and wickedness of mankind, Socinus, but also that denomination and God's “unspeakable gift” has been of Dissenters who profess the Arian injured and misrepresented through tenets respecting the person of Christ. the evil passions and ignorance of Since the term Socinian has been dismen. But if we do not doubt the carded, the class of Christians who existence of the sun because a passe believe solely in the human character ing cloud obscures his beams, neither of our Saviour, have, I believe, adoptlet us doubt that the “sun of righte. ed no distinctive appellation; and ousness” will shine forth on the na, though that of Humanitarian is occations, through the clonds of error, sionally employed, it does not appear infidelity and superstition, till the to have been fixed upon as one by time shall at length arrive when “the which they are desirous of being uniknowledge of the Lord shall cover the formly designated. Hence it has arisen earth as the waters cover the sea." that many assertions made generally

M.A.R. respecting Unitarians, may, strictly

speaking, be applicable only to the On the Propriety of adopling some

Arian part of that denomination. If more distinctive Appellation among

this representation be correct, it shews those who are usually styled Uni- the necessity of selecting some chatarians.

racteristic appellation by which both

Arians and Trinitarians may address Sir, December 10, 1824.

those whose principal tenet is the T is a frequent complaint with simple humanity of our Lord. It by their opponents with holding opi- much erroneous accusation on the

one side, and much useless recrimi.

nation on the other. select just what we happen to like in the gospel, and lay aside all the rest; to ad

But still it may be said—and, if I mit, for instance, the moral and

mistake not, has been said—that many

preceptive part, and reject all those sublime opinions are alleged to forın part of doctrives which are peculiar to the gos. thc creed of the Humanitarians, for pel, and which form the wall of partition which the preachers and writers among between Christianity and what is called that body are alone responsible. In reNatural Religion. This is assuming a ply to this, I would beg leave to ask, — liberty and creating a distinction which if we are not to look to the ministers no believer in the divine authority of our of any religious sect, and to their Lord can on any ground justify;Christ public advocates, for a knowledge of delivered all his doctrines in the name their tenets and sentiments, to whom of God. He required that all, without exception, should be received. He has

are we to have recourse for this ingiven no man a license to adopt just as

formation? If I am desirous of bemuch or as little of them as he thiuks coming acquainted with the principal fit. He has authorized no one human doctrines now held by Particular Bapbeing to add thereto or diminish there. tists, (for example,) I should confrom."- Porteus's Sermons, II. 314.

ceive that I could not materially err by consulting the publications of Mr. Mr. Lindsey, Dr. Priestley, Dr. Jebb Ivimey; or if I wish to ascertain the and Mr. Belsham, contain nothing leading dogmas of the Gallican church more than their own individual senduring the reign of Louis XIV., I am timents, still I should say, that they surely justified in placing confidence afford the only means of obtaining á in the theological works of the elo- knowledge of what their followers quent Bossuet. To this the Unitarian admit into their creed; and to works party will probably answer, that they of this character ought the replies of have no subscriptions and no autho- the opposite party to be chiefly diritative creeds to restrict the exercise rected. I do not deny that some of their faith; and that not only do particular points of doctrine may be they feel theinselves perfectly at li- strictly peculiar to each of the writers berty to differ from their pastors, but I have alluded to; all I affirm is, that that this difference in numerous cases men of their eminence and acquireactually exists. Still I contend that, ments may reasonably be regarded as in refuting what I conceive to be the the exponents of their party. erroneous sentiments of any sect, I In the next place, I may be perhave a right to assume that their cho- mitted to ask,-why, if this plea be sen preachers and principal writers considered as defensible in the case of usually speak the sentiments of their Unitarians, it is not applicable to the followers. But, allowing the differ- writings of the learned in the Estaence insisted upon to exist in its full. blished Church? Numerous doctrines est latitude,- of what value, let me have been pronounced by Unitarians ask, can be the private opinions of to be essential parts of the national the majority of the members of any creed, though, in point of fact, many religious, and I might add, of any members of our ecclesiastical Estapolitical body? Comparatively but blishment, even among the clergy, few can have investigated controver- openly profess to disbelieve them." I sial topics with sufficient accuracy to am quite aware that the Articles and be able to form a competent judgment Creeds of the Church will be adduced on their respective merits, or at least as sufficient indications of what its such a judgment as will not be shaken members either do, or, it may be by the arguments of some powerful said, ought in conscience to believe : opponent. Admitting that a variance but let it be recollected how various subsists between the ininister and his are the sentiments of orthodox divines congregation in some material points respecting the nature of the subscripof their theological creed, whose opi- tion which is required from the clenion must we consider as entitled to rical body. Some have viewed our superior deference—that of the man Articles in no other light than as artiwho has perhaps devoted his whole cles of peace, and among these we life to the examination of these spe- may name Archbishop Bramhall and culative doctrines, and who must, Bishop Fowler. Others, like Archgenerally speaking, be presumed to deacon Paley, have thought it sustipossess a greater share of learning cient that the subscriber should fulfil ihau his hearers; or the opinion of the intention of the legislature by those whose education and commer- whom the subscription was enacted, cial or professional employments pre- without any obligation to believe every clude them from pursuing, with any speculative doctrine which they may effect, the requisite inquiries ? This contain. A third class of writers remust obviously be the case with the quire that these Articles and formumass of every society. Let their in- laries of the Church should be assented telligence be what it will, the want of to in their literal sense; while a fourth leisure, and, still more, the want of class may be instanced in those who learning, must render them wholly coincide in sentiment with Archdeacon unfit for so arduous an undertaking. Powell, the learned Master of St. It is only to the leading literary men John's College, Cainbridge, who was of any religious society, and particu- not merely a theologian of great eru-larly to their writers of eininence, that dition, but a rational and sound phiwe can resort with confidence for an losopher. In the second of his adexposition of their peculiar doctrines. mirable Discourses published by Dr. If it be affirmed that the writings of Balguy, his language on this subject is at once clear and decisive: “When- for the literal interpretation of them, ever an Article,” he observes, “is we must not forget that opposite parexpressed in such general terms as ties have strenuously maintained ihat will fairly contain several particular their own explanation is the only one opinions, there, certainly, it is suffi- entitled to this character. cient for him who subscribes to be If it should be alleged that the convinced that some one of these opi- heads of the Church are alone comnions is true.” In another page he petent to determine any diversity of remarks, “And therefore when an sentiment on this point, I should reArticle has been understood by good ply in the forciblc language of Dr. and learned interpreters in a sense Paley, with whom I fully concur, that peither the most obvious nor the most “the bishop who receives the subusual, he who assents to it is at li, scription is not the imposer, any more berty to follow their guidance, or to than the crier of a court, who admijoin himself to the multitude.” This nisters the oath to the jury and witable writer then goes on to shew that nesses, is the person who imposes it; “not only the propositions to which nor, consequently, is the private opiwe assent, but the assent itself, may nion or interpretation of the bishop be differently understood.” Towards of any signification to the subscriber, the conclusion of the Discourse, he one way or other.” makes this observation : “Upon the The consequence is, that on numewhole it appears, that in the appro- rous theological questions -- such as bation we give of the established the nature of inspiration, original sin, doctrines, there is much reasonable the fall of man, and the atonement, liberty; that we may understand them to say nothing of the Trinitarian docin any of those senses which the gene trine—there is almost as great a variral words comprehend, or to which ety of opinion among members of the the received interpretation of these Church as among those who dissent doctrines, or the judgment of able from its communion, unaccompanied, interpreters, have extended them; however, by the evils which unavoidthat we are not confined strictly even ably arise from a multitude of inde, to this compass, but may allow our, pendent and discordant sects. In selves, if it seems necessary, to differ charging the Unitarians, therefore, as much from former interpreters as with holding the opinions which are they have done from each other; and, advocated by the preachers of their lastly, that there is room for various deliberate choice, and by their prindegrees of assent, according to the cipal writers, we are only pursuing various ages and abilities of the sub. the same conduct which is sanctioned scribers.” To the objection that such by the Dissenters themselves in their a degree of liberty must be liable to own practice respecting the Church. abuse, Dr.Powell justly replies, “And If numerous individuals among the so are many moral rules, which are former differ from their inipisters and nevertheless both reasonable and use- the ablest vindicators of their cause, ful: so are all the rules of civil liberty, the same may be said of the adherents which are yet of the greatest impor- to our ecclesiastical Establishment, tance to the happiness of mankind.” who, in cases of this nature, do noI must not omit to notice that this thing more than exercise the liberty Discourse was delivered before the to which they are unquestionably enwhole University, on the most public titled in the interpretation of their occasion in the academical year, when Articles of Religion-a liberty which it not unfrequently happens that men was probably in the contemplation of high in office, and even cabinet ini- the original framers of these Articles, nisters, form part of the learned and which was, at all events, requisite audience.

for the progressive improvement of I might likewise adduce, were it succeeding ages. necessary, the authority of Dr. Hey, I cannot conclude these remarks the late Norrisian professor at Cam- without again expressing a wish that bridge, who is a decided advocate for those among the Unitarians who proconsiderable latitude in the assent fess their belief in the simple humanity which is required to our Articles. of Christ, would adopt some more But even among those who contend specific appellation, which, received the concurrent approbation of truth, that opinion should be alof their own party, would obviate lowed to make its own natural promuch of the evil of which they at gress, free from obstruction; and it present so loudly, though, in my opic is certain that all such persons would nion, so unreasonably, complain. utterly deprecate the idea that, in the CLERICUS CANTABRIGIENSIS. present age, any class of Christians

should be put to the slightest inconKnutsford, venience or hardship, or be visited Sir, November 27, 1824. with the least obloquy, because, in A a

the exercise of their unquestionable few days ago, a newspaper,

right to think for themselves, it is containing a letter on Unitarian Cha- their fortune to think in certain repels, by a writer who subscribes him- spects differently from ancestors to self “ Another Orthodox Dissenter.” whose piety they and their fathers Much of the letter in question is in have been indebted for some of their a style of invective, which, whatever religious accommodations and advanmay have been its effect on the minds tages. of prejudiced and ill-informed indivi. Unitarians to whom this description duals who have perused it, was fitted applies, will never be reluctant either to make little impression on the intel- to acknowledge their obligations to ligent and dispassionate reader. Under their Presbyterian ancestors, or to the influence of considerable misap- bear their testimony to the serious prehension, as it would seem, with religious spirit with which a large regard to Unitarians generally, the proportion of them were deeply imwriter reflects on them in a highly bued. To which of the various prininvidious manner, as being, in a large ciples existing in their minds in a mumber of instances, in the occupa- certain state of combination, and formtion of Chapels built and endowed by ing the whole of their religious creed, ancestors whose doctrinal sentiments the genuine piety and eminent Chriswere Trinitarian. I apprehend that tian virtues which many of them posno enlightened or liberal person will sessed, are in justness to be ascribed lend his sanction for a moment to a as their cause, is a question not to be suggestion, however raised, that the so hastily disposed of as a warm parlineal descendants or regular success. tisan might be apt to fancy; but is ors of the Presbyterian Dissenters, one which it is evident, to be satiswho as such are still recognized under factorily determined, must be reserved that denomination by the Dissenting for the decision of the exact and disbody in general, should be disturbed criminating inquirer, the cool and in their possession of the places of accurate reasoner. An intelligent Uniworship which have descended to tarian would anticipate, from a proper them through several generations; or examination of this point, a result any be reproached with it because, in their thing but derogatory to the character 'serious exercise of the right of pri- of those views of Christian doctrine vate judgment, they have been gra- to which he ascribes so much impordually led to embrace views of Chris- tance and efficacy, and which he actian doctrine which they think more counts it his own highest happiness in agreement with the language of to entertain. scripture, correctly interpreted, and With regard to Unitarianism, I beg more accordant with reason, than leave to observe, that it is a systein those which were entertained above of doctrine which directly bears with a century ago by the founders of its whole weight and force on the their Chapels

. In the present age, production of religious and moral exsuch modes of opposition to what cellence. Of its power to sway the may be deemed error, are happily affections and establish an effectual regarded as inappropriate by the en controul over conduct-to bring these lightened part of the community. It into subjection to all the benign and seems now universally admitted, by salutáry influences of piety and virtue, men of enlarged and liberal views, to wherever it exists not in mere ignobe highly expedient for the interests rant or thoughtless profession, but in

the clear and steady perception and The Manchester Gazette of Nov. 6th. settled convictions of the understand


ing—it is not easy to find language cess,) may be due to the readers of strong enough for adequate descrip- Unitarian intelligence in your pages. tion. The serious Unitarian feels that It is possible, therefore, that, under there is in this glorious system of this impression, I inay send a state

grace and truth,” every considera- ment relative to the Chapel at Allostion and motive to kindle in the heart tock for insertion in some future the most lively interest, to call forth number of the Monthly Repository. the most ardent and persevering zea!

J. ASHTON. in the great cause of the religious and moral improvement of mankind. And Brief Notes on the Bible. very efficient exertions of Unitarian

No. XXV. piety are not seldom carried on in a manner the most unobtrusive possible,

“In the beginning, God created the hea

ven and the earth.”—Gen, i, 1. with otot catch the applause of men, THIS the subject'about to be very but under a deep, habitual sense of the inspection of the All-seeing. May briefly immortalized in detail. It emI here have leave to observe, that braces, thus concisely, our whole visiyour own recent pages, Sir, record ble creation, with other wonderful acts of munificence, [Vol. XIX. p. works, invisible to mortals—in fewer 631,} having for their ultimate ob. words, the solar system. It also seems ject the spiritụal welfare of mankind to import that the entire system was by means of Unitarian agency, most willed into existence simultaneously. cheering to the lover of his species, Ver. 14. And God said, Let there be most grateful in the sight of God and lights in the firinament of the heaven, to man; of the source of which we are divide the day from the night ; and let permitted to know nothing but what them be for signs and for seasons and we learn from obvious inference, that for days and years. they proceed from one who seeks his

15. And let them be for lights in the reward, not in the praises of men, but firmament of the heaven, to give light in the benefits he confers on them,

upon the earth; and it was so.

16. And God made two great lights ; and in the approbation of Him “who seeth in secret and will reward openly”? lesser light to rule the night: he made the

the greater light to rule the day, and the The letter to which I alluded in the stars also. beginning of my own, contains a list, 17. And God set them in the firmain alphabetical order, of Unitarian ment of the heaven, to give light upon the Chapels in the county of Chester, earth; with a short statement of particulars

18. And to rule over the day and over relative to each of them. In reading the night, and to divide the light from the statement concerning the Chapel the darkness. at Allostock, which is in certain re. Very probable, indeed, that God spects inaccurate, I was reminded that should have produced such immense a debt of gratitude from those who and multitudinous bodies for the sole are in occupation of the Chapel, still purpose of being tributary to the conremained undischarged to soine of our venience and illustration of this comUnitarian friends for the assistance paratively insignificant planet ! they afforded us in a subscription in- This has been very frequently and stituted for putting that place into a Aippantly said and reiterated. state of complete repair. I most gladly But is it a fair construction of the and gratefully make public acknow- language assumed to have such a tenledgment of their liberality on that dency? occasion, through the medium of your Moses appears to have known noRepository. Perhaps an account of thing of a solar system; and if any some particulars in the history of the indistinct idea of it had entered his Chapel at Allostock, (of which I am mind, the brevity with which he wrote minister, in conjunction with the Uni- precluded his adverting to any effects tarian Chapel at Knutsford,) and of of it, except such as had relation to very humble, but well-intended, exer- the globe he inhabited. tions made in connexion with that He says not that the heavenly boplace, (hitherto, from the character dies were created for no other purof the neighbourhood, with little suc- pose than to accommodate the earth.

« AnteriorContinua »