Imatges de pÓgina
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Doubtless, they are designed for that, among numberless other grand and efficient purposes: and this planet may, in like manner, make a return in kind to those spheres, all being communicating parts of one stupendous whole, and created each to impart light, or prove in some way beneficial, to the others. So that an historian, such as Moses, in either of WITH the decline of priestly usurpation and pretensions among that sect of Protestant Dissenters which has in some measure been deservedly entitled Rational, the ceremony of ordination fell by degrees into deserved disrepute and general disuse.

SIR,

November 17, 1824.

spheres, might, with strict propriety, record that our earth was made to accommodate, in the way ordained by Providence, the world he inhabited, without authorizing an inference that we exist exclusively for that purpose.

It appears from an article in your Intelligence department of last month, (XIX. 631,) that some Unitarian ministers are attempting to revive this exploded custom; it being stated that

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the subject of the revival of ordination services among Protestant Dissenters was discussed in several speeches." These, I conclude, were only on one side of the question, as the writer adds, that "there appeared to be but one feeling as to the agreeable and salutary impression produced by the services of that day."

Then, what is there in the passages quoted inconsistent with the soundest philosophy? It would be the excess of hyper-criticism to impute to Moses any thing beyond the questionable error (none in the view I have taken) of omission. There is no pretence to charge him with misrepresentation, either from design or from ignorance. How pitiful, therefore, the attempt to fasten upon his words a literal meaning, which there is scarcely a primâ facie reason to suppose was in the writer's contemplation! As well might we conclude him to have intimated that God made nothing else but the system, parts only of which are exposed to our cognizance; though every man of common reflection, adverting to the infinity (a word seldom taken into the account, though indispensable in the true consideration of it) of God himself, of his power, and of space, must be convinced that the last abounds with systems inaccessible to human observation, and commensurate with that portion of his infinite power which the Divine will and wisdom have hitherto brought into activity. BREVIS. P.S. Moses beheld the sun and felt its influence; the moon, and experienced hers. Of these he speaks in terms appropriate to his limited observation of their effects. “God made the stars also," is the simple (and may we not say uncommented?) mention that he trusts himself with in regard to them; for it may well be doubted whether the two succeeding verses, after such a slight and, as it were, parenthetical glance at the stars, be applicable to any but the great overruling lights which he had distinguished. Unconscious of, and not

I presume to think that the ceremony of the ordination of ministers did not fall into disuse without good and weighty reasons, because men are always reluctant to discontinue any custom until they are convinced of its impropriety; and from the little I have read on the subject, I am of opinion that those reasons cannot easily be reconciled with the revival of the ceremony. It should seem, however, from the report in question, that the only objection against it, considered in the full discussion at Bolton, is, its liability to be abused to superstitious purposes, which, the writer adds, in its present form is guarded against.

It were to be wished, for the information of Rational Christians, that the substance of the full discussion which took place at Bolton, had been given in the Repository. From the report, however, I conclude that it was not so full as could have been wished for if it be supposed that the superstitiousness of the practice in question is its weakest side, the circumstance that occasioned its discontinuance, I fear the supposition would not be borne out by facts. Was it not

daring to record a conjecture as to their office and bearings in illimitable space, he might very wisely and modestly forbear to do more than intimate their having been coeval with the phenomena whose perceptible uses he had noticed. B.

objectionable on far other grounds than this as an infringement on Christian liberty; as a practice not enjoined by Christ, or authorized or used by his apostles, and as such partaking truly of the character of willworship; as accompanied, in many cases, with a considerable degree of spiritual usurpation, and in general calculated to impress men's minds with superstitious notions, especially in regard to the validity and sacredness of the clerical office and cha

racter?

How far the ceremony, in its present form, is guarded against these and other abuses, I pretend not to say, as I did not witness the performance; but I fear that, in that single view of its objectionable character contemplated in the speeches at Bolton-its liability to superstitious purposes-it is more than the brethren can fairly promise that it will not be so abused; and it is more than I will answer for, that their own representations of it, and the stress which they lay upon it, will not tend, within the pale of Unitarianism, rather to light the dying embers of superstition, than to eradicate that rankest and deadliest of weeds.

I must confess, Mr. Editor, that I feel great concern to see many Unitarians of the present day revert to some of those " beggarly elements" from which the Rational Christians of the last century were rescued by a race of enlightened and disinterested ministers, who sacrificed their worldly interests to those of Christian truth in its primitive simplicity. They exhibited greater courage, and underwent greater hardships in the warfare maintained against superstition and the errors of Christian idolatry, than is required of us their followers. They had severer contests to maintain, weapons of warfare very different from ours to contend with, and forces and means of attack greatly inferior to ours; and yet, if they did not gain a glorious victory, they successfully repelled the enemy's attacks, and gained ground inch by inch. And

shall we now collect the scattered ruins of the fabric of superstition which we saw trampled under their feet the relics of an age in which Christianity was essentially different from the religion of Christ-the cru

cifixes, the signs of the cross, the vestments, the gowns, the bands, the form of Common Prayer, the union of Church and State, and all the studied formalities of devotion? Hocce erat, Magne Parens, quod nos per tela atque ignes eripuisti? No; let us still continue to trample upon every relic, and try to erase every vestige, of superstition. Let us join in no unauthorized practice, however sanctified by custom, in no "will-worship." Let us renounce every notion (antichristian in its very nature) of things, persons or places rendered holy by consecration or superstitious usage. Let us not pretend to keep Christmas or venerate Good Friday, because they pretend ("lying in wait to deceive") that those days are the anniversary of the birth and crucifixion of Christ. Let us never consent to meddle with any unauthorized observance, however it may be reiterated in our ears that it may be made useful, and that there can be no harm in it. There is harm in it. It is useful only to the ends of false religion, and not of godliness. Every such act or observance is an encroachment of superstition upon the confines of pure Christianity. Let us never be wheedled by the ensnaring observation, that a religious service may be very useful on a particular occasion, to countenance any ordinance or observance not of divine authority.

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The measures adopted, I fear, in compliance with the superstitious veneration of men for pretended religious observances; this compromise of the men who understand pure Christianity, with the enemies who have sowed the tares," has a very unpromising aspect on the future progress of Unitarianism. Let me obtest my Unitarian brethren, who alone, of all Christians, I consider to have, with any tolerable degree of correctness, developed the system of religion contained in the New Testament,-let me earnestly beg them to renounce all the machinery and specious devices of a fictitious devotion and an assumed sanctity. Let them not endeavour to

vive what Christ has abolished-the whole ceremonial constitution of the law, including the consecration or ordination of priests. What Christ positively and expressly condemned, cannot be approved by his true dis

ciples. Let us leave all extra-christian devices to the moles and 'the bats, to the temporal priest and to the furious zealot, with whom (i. e. the zealot) the end sanctifies the means, and whose profit and boast is the increase of his Let not Unitarians, I obtest them, adopt any measure, lowever speciously it may be advocated by a general muster of the argumenta ad hominem, and which is dictated by a worldly and compromising policy, but which will eventually do more injury to their cause, and that of truth, than any opposition, however violent. Ha non vobis erunt artes.

RURIS COLONUS.

To the Rev. John Baker, on his “Prayer-Book.”

Taunton, SIR, January 8, 1825. EEING your advertisement on the

and Christian Reformer for last month, of a new work by you, entitled "The Family Prayer-Book," &c., in which you state that "it will be found perfectly consentaneous with the opinions of every religious sect, and calculated to promote the best interests of mankind;"-feeling desirous to possess and promote the sale of a cheap work on such a basis, I purchased a copy; and when I tell you that my sentiments on religious subjects are in unison with the Monthly Repository and Christian Reformer, you will perhaps guess my surprise when I read the following lines from this work, at p. 162:

"O Love divine! what hast thou done! Th' immortal God hath died for me! The Father's co-eternal Son

Bore all my sins upon the tree :
Th' immortal God for me hath died!
My Lord, my love, is crucified.

"O see, and to the Cross draw nigh, The bleeding Prince of Life and Peace! Come, see, ye worms, your Maker die, And say was ever grief like his ?" &c.

Your statement, that these Devotional Exercises "would be found perfectly consentaneous with the opinions of every religious sect," led me to suppose that you were not unacquainted with the views of the various

sects of Christians. I am quite at a loss how to reconcile your statement in your advertisement with truth. H.

SIR,

*

Dec. 6, 1824. INYO45) M. Cogen admits that your last Number, (Vol. the canon, which he has quoted from the Classical Journal, holds good in the following expression,- Kupios ήμων και σωτηρ Ιησες Χριςος. Now this expression is, I believe, peculiar to the Second Epistle of Peter. See i. 11, iii. 18, and, with the exception of the word juwv, ii. 20. But if Mr. Cogan admits that the canon holds good in this expression, how will he explain the words ὁ Θεός ήμων και σωτηρ Ιησες Χριςος, which occur in the first verse of the first chapter? Both expressions are used by the same writer, within no great distance of each other; and, if the canon holds good in the one case, why should it not hold

Three ways present themselves to my mind of getting rid of the difficulty. The first is by denying that Peter was the author of the epistle, and attributing it to some later and more orthodox writer, who regarded the two expressions as conveying in effect the same idea: the second is by supposing that the author, whether Peter or any other person, was not sufficiently skilled in the Greek language to inake the proper distinction: and the third is by considering owing as sustaining the same relation to Kupios, in the three passages first mentioned, as Kupios, without the article, does to Θεος or ὁ Θεός, in the passages to which Mr. Cogan has principally confined his remarks. This last explanation, however, is scarcely admissible, because, among other things, the pronoun avto, in the last clause of chap. iii. ver. 18, seems to require that Kupios and own should be understood of one and the same person. Of the first and second explanations, I feel inclined to give the preference to the latter. It is no new thing to call in question the genuineness of the epistle in which the above expressions occur; and the argument furnished by the difference of style between this and the First Epistle of Peter, which is universally acknowledged to be genu

ine, appears to me decisive and final upon the subject. But allowing that Peter was the author, is there any thing heretical in charging the apostle with the commission of an inaccuracy in a language with which he was, in all probability, but imperfectly acquainted?

I observe that the words re e ήμων και σωτηρος Ιησε Χρισε, (ch. i. ver. 1,) are rendered, in our common English Version, "of God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ:"-but is this a correct translation? Are we at liberty to take w from its connexion with T8 Oce, and apply it to ownpos? I think not; but I write with diffidence. Perhaps Mr. Cogan, whose knowledge of the Greek language is far superior to mine, can help me to a satisfactory solution of these questions?

In the Improved Version, the expression is rendered as follows: "of our God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ." But if we apply to this passage the canon in question, the general accuracy of which Mr. Cogan allows, must we not be compelled to admit, either that the article is necessary before σwraps, in order to justify this translation; or that the exception which Mr. Cogan makes in the case of the word Kupios, should be extended likewise to the word σωτηρ?

be so.

Again, Mr. Cogan admits that the canon holds good in the words & Kupio ήμων και σωτηρ Ιησες Χριςος. It may But if the words Kupios and owing are descriptive of the same person, would it not have been better, and more agreeable to scriptural usage, to have said ὁ Κύριος και σωτηρ ήμων Ιησες Χριςος, or Ι. Χ. ὁ Κύριος και σωτηρ

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av? See Philipp. ii. 25, Exappodirov τον αδελφον και συνεργον και συςρατιώτην με ; 2 Thess. ii. 16, Ο Θεος και πατηρ ἡμων ὁ αγαπησας ήμας; and Philem. 1, Φιλημονι τῳ αγαπητῷ και συνεργῳ ἡμῶν. Lastly, if ὁ Κυριος ήμων και σωτηρ Ιησες Χριςος is correctly rendered our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," why should not ὁ Θεός ήμων και σωτής Ιησές Χριςος be rendered our God and Saviour Jesus Christ"? I believe that no man, living at the time when the second epistle which goes under the name of Peter was written, (whether Peter was himself the author of it, or any other person,) could intentionally have used such a phrase as "our God

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and Saviour Jesus Christ." This was the language of a much later period. It was alike unknown to the apostles and to their contemporaries and immediate successors. As far, therefore, as I am able to see my way at present, we are reduced to this dilemma,either we must admit that two expressions constructed exactly alike, in ihe most perspicuous of all languages, are capable of different and opposite senses; or that the author of this epistle did not understand the language in which he wrote, and therefore wrote ungrammatically and unintelligibly.

Ω.

P. S. I will here take an opportunity of adding a remark or two on Galatians vi. 11: "Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand."-It is generally supposed that the apostle alludes, in this place, to the length of his epistle. But if this had been his allusion, he would not, as Dr. Whitby observes, have used the word ypaμμao. The Greek scholiast supposes that the apostle, by the words wλinois ypaμμaσi, intended to call the attention of the Galatians to the largeness and inelegancy of the character in which the letter was written. But if the handwriting had been of this kind throughout the whole epistle, the proper place for this remark would have been, not in the body of the letter, but at the end, in the way of postscript. If again, his object had been, as Mr. Belsham says, in his excellent work on the epistles of Paul, to call the attention of the Galatians to the circumstance of his having written the letter himself, and to preclude the possibility of the pretext that the letter was forged, why allude particularly to the largeness of the hand-writing? This could have afforded no actual proof that Paul had written the letter himself; for it is nowhere upon record that he had before this time addressed any instructions to the Galatians in writing. But even if he had, and they were well acquainted with the hand-writing, why call their attention to the size of the characters in which this letter was written? Why not merely state that it had been written by himself? Would not this have answered every purpose?—The proba

bility is, that Paul had, according to his usual custom, dictated to an amawhich

forms the substance of the epistle; but that he was so anxious to call the attention of the Galatians to the few remarks which he had yet to add, and which were only, in fact, a recapitulation of what he had before advanced, that this part was written in a different character, and with his own hand, in order that it might leave the deeper impression upon the minds of the Galatian converts: as if he had said, The sum of the whole matter is this, and, that what I now subjoin may attract the more attention, and come with greater effect, you will observe, that it is not only written in a larger character, to distinguish it from what goes before, but that I have deviated from my usual practice, and written it with my own hand.

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London Unitarian Book Society.
January 20, 1825.

the Unitarian public, that this T may perhaps be known to Society has for some years past been in rather a declining condition, and doing much less for the benefit of the general cause than such an Institution in the Metropolis might be thought capable of effecting. This is not to be attributed to any defect in its original constitution, or to the want of intelligence and zeal in those who, at successive periods, have taken an active part in the management of its affairs. The evil probably originated in the success of the Institution, and has been increasing by almost imperceptible degrees from circumstances which it was perhaps impossible to controul. The worthy and venerable founders of the Society, in the year 1791, thought and felt that "rational Christians had been too cautious of publicly acknowledging their priz.ciples;" they deemed it "high time for the friends of genuine Christianity to stand forth and avow themselves; " and they anticipated the best effects as to "freedom of inquiry, liberal discussion, and the fearless profession of principles embraced after due examination, which can be formidable to nothing but to error and vice," from the establishment of the association they projected, for the distribution of such books as were adapted to "promote Christian knowledge and the practice of virtue." The event proved that they had not miscalculated upon the consequences of their proceedings. The spirit which actuated them was instantly communicated to other parts of the country, and in the following year a society upon the same plan, and contemplating similar objects, was formed in the West of England. Subsequently to that period, numerous other societies, having the same general design, have been established in every division of Great Britain.

When the London Society was instituted, few books were to be obtained suited to its purpose, and it was under the necessity of printing what it wanted for its own circulation; and its funds were therefore applied to the

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