« AnteriorContinuar »
conceptions of man. It was to the glory of his sovereignty and mercy and love that the work should be all his own-the way fully comprehended by his mind alone—that his creature man should, in all his happiness and in all his faculties, be a monument to the praise of the sole Origin of all good. Did the nature or limits of this Essay admit of such a train of argument, it might be demonstrated that if man, as man, could comprehend the mystery of Redemption, there would be something in that glorious work which was not of God. The whole subject is all summed up in that striking text (1 Cor. ii. 11), "The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God."
All experience shews that the most effectual way of inculcating Scriptural truth is by forcible addresses to the heart and the conscience. Man, both by nature and practice, is a sinner, and as such lies under condemnation. While in this state, discourses upon the existence and attributes of his Maker, disquisitions respecting the moral fitness of virtue, exhortations to obedience, and the like, are neither effectual in awakening his conscience, nor suited to his condition. An act of grace must precede the rebel's allegiance -the culprit must be pardoned before he can
serve-obedience must spring from gratitude. It is only they who have had "much forgiven," who "love much." Apart from the Atonement, there is no encouragement for the sinner to approach his Judge. But exhibit to him the propitiation" by which God can at the same time be just, and the Justifier of him who believes in it, and his heart is melted and subdued: and, cordially embracing the offers of mercy, he can give a "reason" for the hope that is in him. He then loves God, who first loved him. And love is the only principle that can either adequately interpret the benefits of redemption, or assimilate the character to that of the great Exemplar of all holiness, justice, and true benevolence. This is the compendious way of producing a Swartz, a Brainerd, a Martyn; a Howard, a Wilberforce, a Nasmith. Did Unitarianism ever produce such benefactors to their species? Did it ever give this evidence of the Christianity of its creed? Where, among Unitarians, do such fruits of Christian love appear as distinguish various bodies of Trinitarian Christians? In what large enterprises of mercy have Unitarians ever embarked? What Missions to the heathen have they originated? What comprehensive and continuous efforts to enlighten
the dark places of their own land have they made? What Benevolent Associations even, do they, as a body, sustain ?-These questions are put, not invidiously, but in justice to the cause of truth.* The stream cannot rise above its The nature of unregenerate man is selfish. Moral Philosophy has never possessed the power to evangelize it. The mere term benevolence, if not absolutely unknown, was certainly unfelt by classic antiquity. Neither Greece nor Rome ever founded a hospital. Divested as it is of every thing like spiritual influence, Unitarianism can be regarded only as the Moral Philosophy of the New Testament. But, as of old, it is still true, that grapes are not gathered of thorns, nor figs of thistles. If the tree is to be judged by its fruit, Unitarianism is not Christianity. Can we, by possibility, persuade ourselves that St. Paul or St. John were Unitarians? Was the large heart of the one, and the loving spirit of the other, associated with that comparatively sterile and frigid system? Human nature
* Whilst the Compiler has felt constrained thus strongly to express his conviction that all great efforts for the spiritual welfare of mankind can spring only from evangelical motives, he would offer his tribute of praise to many of the Unitarian body in our own Country who have taken a deep interest in the extinction of Slavery, and in an especial manner to those who at the present moment are found labouring in that noble cause of humanity in the United States of America.
is essentially the same in every latitude. So long as the Greenland Missionaries preached only the truths common to natural as well as revealed religion, their hearers remained unimpressed, unaffected, unconverted: but when they told the simple story of Christ crucified, those previously obdurate men felt that that was precisely what they wanted. The result is well known. Believing in Jesus, they had conscious peace with God: and then the love of Christ constrained, and his Spirit enabled, them to live to Him who died for them.
"Talk they of Morals? O thou bleeding Lamb!
The idea of this Publication originated in a desire to give renewed circulation to the excellent treatise by the late Rev. Joseph Freeston which forms the first of the series of kindred productions here presented to the Public. The comparative brevity of that treatise then prompted the practicability of combining with it several other short pieces, germane to each other, and all having a manifest bearing upon one common subject. In making this selection, the Compiler has availed himself of the best sources within his reach-it is probable that a person of
more extensive reading than himself might have produced a much larger collection. Limited as it is, however, he ventures to hope that it may not wholly miss of his object. Since the period at which Mr. Freeston wrote his antidote to Unitarianism, it is just possible that several of what may be styled the accidents of that system may have been somewhat modified. Unhappily, however, the necessity for a satisfactory reply to the inquiry, "WHY ARE YOU NOT A SOCINIAN ?" is not yet superseded: for the heresy here refuted still continues, under various names, to infest the professing Christian Church. In a word, the question discussed in this Publication, as has been shewn, regards considerations of the very last importance, and involves consequences to man the most tremendous. The question is no less than-whether God exists purely and simply as the Creator and Governor of the world, in which case it is not easy to see how He could pardon sinners; or, whether He has revealed Himself under a trinity of Persons, each bearing a distinct part in the great plan of human redemption-as the Father, who originated that scheme of mercy; as the Son, who accomplished the mighty work; and as the Spirit, who applies its benefits to the human