Imatges de pàgina


Mr May

special solicitude for the preservation of Dr Hawes' doctrines of grace.' He notices the fact, that the early New England churches . prescribed no creeds.'

They relied on covenants; in the earliest of which there is no allusion whatever to the doctrines of grace.' In fact, they were not doctrinal covenants. refers particularly to the covenants of the Salem, the Boston, and the Watertown churches, and observes that others formed sometime afterwards partook of the same character, that is, were not designed to be tests of doctrine. They show that our ancestors were particularly solicitous about practise, that they 'emigrated to New England, not for the sake of the doctrines, so much as the duties of religion.'

The covenants of our early churches form an interesting subject of historical research. We cannot forbear subjoining, in a note,* that of the church in Dedham, adopted in 1638. Like those alluded to by Mr May, it is almost altogether, as it will be perceived, of a practical character, and in its general complexion, is decidedly, though no doubt unintentionally, Unitarian. It was published in the appendix to a Century Sermon, delivered Nov. 1738, by Samuel Dexter, then pastor of the church, and father of Samuel Dexter, founder of the Dexter Professorship of Sacred Literature in Harvard University. The original, with a very minute account of the proceedings preparatory to its adoption, is preserved in the manuscript records of the first church in Dedham.

**We whose names are subscribed, having found by woful experience the unstedfastness of our hearts with God, and proneness to go astray from his ways (for which we desire to abase and humble ourselves in his presence) and desiring to be joined forever to the Lord, and to cleave together in spiritual love and communion, according to his holy institutions, that we might enjoy in his name such holy helps as the Lord Jesus in wisdom and compassion hath ordained in his Gospel for his people, thereby to let out himself unto them, and to build them up in faith and holiness, till he have prepared them for everlasting communion with himself.

We do therefore, in the name and presence of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, and before his people here assembled, solemnly enter into covenant with the Lord our God, professing and acknow. ledging the Lord Jesus, our blessed Redeemer, be the only priest, prophet, and king of his church, and (through the help of his grace) his only merit we rest upon for our pardon and peace with the Fa. ther, his only teaching and righteous government, with all the bless, ed ordinances of his kingdom, we do embrace and submit unto in all things, as the only rule of our lives; renouncing all our own righteousness, with all the doctrines, devices, and commandments of men, not agreeing with his holy word; especially all the superstitions and tyrannous commands of Antichrist, and hisadherents, wherein we have in any kind been entangled : Professing and promising (through the help of his rich and free grace) henceforth not to live unto ourselves, but unto the Lord Jesus, who hath bought us with his blood, avoiding carefully all such things as be offensive to his majesty, and dishonorable to our profession of his name, with all such dangerous temptations as our sinful hearts are wont to be drawn aside withal, in special, the inordinate cares of, and entanglements in, the affairs of this life : Promising and professing also, through the help of the Lord, to live together in this our holy fellowship, according to the rule of love, in all holy watchfulness over each other, and faithful mutual helpfulness in the ways of God, for the spiritual and tempor. al comfort and good of one another in the Lord; and all to the setting forth of the praise of his rich grace in Christ, who hath called us, in his abundant mercy, to his holy fellowship with his majesty and one with another.'

Mr May's fifth and last Letter relates to certain charges and insinuations against Unitarians,' contained in Dr Hawes' book. They are the common charges or insinuations of laxness, unbelief, want of seriousness, and especially opposition to revivals;' by which the attempt has been made, and continues to be made, to excite a prejudice against Unitarianism among the more ignorant and credulous. With regard to the commotions called “revivals,' Mr May observes, that it is the duty of the friends of Christ to examine, and estimate them at what they are worth, and not to take for granted that every thing is good, which may have assumed a good name.' We have the authority of the famous New Lebanon convention, for believing that revivals may be productive of more harm than good; the excitement in 1639 and 1640, was disapproved by a majority of our forefathers; and again, during the commotion of 1740, much the largest proportion of both ministers and churches, were opposed to the measures and doctrines of the revivalists. If Unitarians therefore err in their opposition to revivals, they err in what Dr Hawes must esteem good company. If they do not believe them to be the very best nurseries of piety and true christian goodness, neither did our pious foresathers so believe. They were no more friendly to them than we now. The truth is, as ordinarily conducted, they never have met the approbation generally of the sober christians of New England. From the very first, they have been regarded with suspicion and distrust; and the extravagancies of which the western part of the state of New York was recently the scene, and which are now, it seeins, revived, to say nothing of operations nearer home, are not of a nature, surely, to procure them favor with the judicious portion of the public.


Our limits will not allow us to follow Mr May through all his various topics and illustrations. The pamphlet is the fruit of much care, and parts of it indicate no little research. It is well written, and breathes in a remarkable degree the gentle spirit of the gospel. In this respect, it may be regarded as a model of controversial writing. It can hardly fail of being useful, especially in the quarter in the vicinity of which it originated, and where, from the local interest the discussion must excite, it may have a chance of being read by some, who are not much in the habit of looking into Unitarian publications.

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Orthodoxy is fast approaching the light. Let it retain its favorite tegms, if it will part with all they once meant. On no subject, of late years, has its progress been more rapid than in regard to the doctrine of the atonement.

What would the Calvinists of former days say, if they could read the discourses of Stuart, and Woods, and Murdock? We have just read the sermon delivered by President Wayland at the installation of Rev William Hague, in this city, with great satisfaction. The title is, the Moral efficacy of the doctrine of the Atonement. But for two or three brief passages, which seem to have been introduced to conciliate the audience, we should have mistaken it for the production of a Unitarian. In purpose, sentiment, and language, it accords with the simple truths of the gospel.

That we may not do Dr Wayland injustice, we copy the whole paragraph in which he explains his doctrine.

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The Bible, if I have not mistaken its meaning, speaks of the sacrifice of Christ as designed to have a twofold effect. First, it is revealed to us as a propitiation, or as that which renders it consistent with justice that God should be propitious to sinners; as that which removes the obstacles which on the part of Divine holiness existed to our pardon. In this view, Christ is spoken of as “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,' as he who died for our sins,' and he by whose stripes we are healed.' But I think that the offering up of Christ is alsɔ presented in another light, namely, as having special reference, not to God, but to man; and as distinctly, adapted to transform man into new obedience. Man is represented as alienated in his affections from God, and his moral powers are declared to be enfeebled and utterly enslaved by his sinful propensities. There was needed some manifestation on the part of God, not of wrath, that could not do it, but of love, to awaken a correspondent emotion on the part of man. There was needed some moral exhibition which should bear directly upon the conscience, which, appealing to every sentiment of gratitude, should call into new life man's moral powers, and which, disenthralling them from the bondage in which they had been held, should give them a victory over the sin that dwell. eth in hin. Now, this is precisely what is done by the offering up of Christ. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Thus it is that Christ crucified, though to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness, is yet to them that believe, Christ, the power of God, and Christ, the wisdom of God. Hence is the cross of Christ so often spoken of as the grand meang both of converting and of sanctifying the world. Thus you see how the death of Christ is the grand centre of the whole system, the on: ly means whereby the law of God could be magnified, the only means by which the enmity of our hearts can be slain.'

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