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and applies to it, among the other religions of the world, the eclecticism of some Christian believers in regard to the various sects. Sometimes it dwells among abstractions, and rears its fabric on the categories of the pure reason, and sometimes ranges with blithe sensations and a kindling eye, in a sort of nature-worship, through all the wonder and beauty of the actual world, preferring the mystic suggestions and pregnant silence of God's works, to the clear and eloquent distinctness of His word. I wish not to deny that there is a charm of appearance, a generosity of spirit, a power of genius, and not seldom a brilliant gleam of truth, about some of its manifestations. But, in any of its forms, to be substituted for Christ as the way of human salvation, it is a mistake and miserable failure. It cannot act with his redeeming power on the highest or the lowliest minds. It has never moved to any such undertakings or sacrifices as he has inspired in the soul. It has not been the parent, like him, of all good institutions, and of every holy cause. It has not renewed the face of the earth, as he has done, nor regenerated the individual heart, as he is forever doing. Weighed in the balances of any such comparison, it is found wanting. Even true philosophy cannot do the work of faith; and false philosophy, will only do more thoroughly, that of scepticism."
We add to these specimens of a certain style of current Unitarian preaching, a few sentences taken from a tract, recently issued by the " American Unitarian Association." "It is quite time to protest against these interpretations of all the remarkable utterances of Jesus, which deprive them of power and almost of meaning, by the substitution of Christianity for Christ, his religion for his person. There is a peculiaryes, a mysterious-relation between God and Christ, which is above, and was meant to be above, our comprehension, but not beyond faith,-a relation, also, which renders him in very truth the Saviour of man. And that relation makes up the significance of that saying of his which is now before us,'Whosoever hath seen me hath seen the Father.' Yes, the great cry of humanity has ever been and will always be, Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Show us, not tell us, not teach us only, for all language is weak and inadequate on this great subject,-but show us the Father, and we can bear all things well; we can live calmly, endure patiently, labor resolutely, hope steadfastly, and conquer in the great struggle of life.' And God hath most graciously answered that petition. He hath appeared unto man in the person of his Son. He hath veiled his glories in the flesh, and dwelt among men.
He hath made his Son to be the perfect image of himself, the full, entire, complete manifestation of himself, as the Father. He hath sent him, so filled with his spirit, so endued with his perfections, made him so one with himself, that whosoever hath seen him, hath seen the Father. He hath called upon all men to approach him through the Son, to love him as they love the Son, to confide and trust in him as they confide and trust in the Son. And what grace and mercy are here! Who shall approach unto the Infinite God? Is he not afar off? Are not clouds and darkness for ever around his throne? Is there not the distance between us and the Holy One, of infinity and eternity? Are not his perfections incomprehensible by our poor, finite minds? Are they not too awful and sublime for our weak, trembling, sinful hearts to trust and confide in? But God is present with us when Christ is before our eyes,"
Is this the general style of Unitarian teaching? Is it really taught, in the pulpits of this denomination, that "human nature itself has proclivities to evil, that make sin a uniform and unavoidable consequence of existence;" that "unassisted human nature is incapable of obeying God;" that the sinner "needs more than instruction, improvement, or a better development-he needs a change, a conversion, to be placed in a true position toward God;" that "Christ is the direct individual path of salvation;" that there is "a mysterious relation between God and Christ, which is above, and was meant to be above, our comprehension," and that the measure and degree of our love, and confidence, and trust toward the Father, is to be determined by the character of our feelings towards the Son? Surely this has not been the uniform and general tone of Unitarian preaching, in days past. What then is the present aspect of this denomination, and whither is it tending?
American Unitarianism grew up in the shade, quietly and without observation; and was hardly known to exist, till it had reached a respectable maturity. Certain doctrines gradually ceased to be noticed from the pulpit; certain forms of expression gradually slipped out of the prayers; calm, polished, agreeable essays upon the abstract virtues were received as an acceptable substitute for the gnarled and knotted doctrinal disquisitions delivered by the Puritans of the "middle ages" of New England; the cords of ecclesiastical discipline, which had been bound so tight as well nigh to stop the circulation, were now not only relaxed, but thrown off altogether; and that re-action, which, in the very nature of things, was inevitable, from so stern, and rigid, and one-sided a system as
that of Puritanism, was proved to be accomplished, almost without a note of warning. There was so much that was pleasing and attractive in the character of those who led on this "liberal" movement, there was so careful a cultivation of the graces and amenities of life, there was so much of gentleness, combined with subdued poetic fervor, there was given to the people so much discriminating ethical instruction-in which respect there had existed a lamentable deficiency;— that the fears of the more wary were lulled, and the voice of remonstrance did not dare to make itself heard. If Adam had remained in Paradise, and all had continued to be perpetual sunshine, if sin had never convulsed the soul, if the stern agonies of remorse had never rent the heart of man, if no cry "de profundis" had ever been wailed, "How shall mortal man be reconciled to his Creator ?" if God might be addressed only as "Our Father," and His law were only counsel, and His threats only advisory, this mild and gentle theology might have proved sufficient, and the necessities of humanity have been all supplied. We do not say that this system absolutely blinked the existence of moral evil, but it dealt with sin more tenderly than the convicted sinner feels that it deserves. Its diagnosis of the disease was imperfect, and therefore the remedies which it prescribed were insufficient. It was reluctant to probe the open wound, and so it “healed the hurt of the people slightly." It was too humane to “cut off the right hand," or "pluck out the right eye," even when the life was in peril. It set forth the beautiful and benevolent love of Jesus, but not His constraining love; because it did not "thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” When the second re-action came in the history of New England Independency, there was of necessity, for a certain period, a time of sharp discussion and warfare. The revolution of religious belief, which had been going on in darkness and quiet, was now brought to light; and this new sect was obliged to defend the position which it had assumed. The peculiar vocation of Unitarian theologians for a season consisted mainly in the work of denial; they must show why they had discarded the doctrines of the Trinity, of Christ's vicarious sacrifice, of natural depravity, and all the adjacent dogmas. In fact, they were agreed only in regard to what they disbelieved, and not in reference to any definite code of belief; they all rejected the orthodox doctrine of Tri-unity in the Godhead, but every shade of opinion as to the nature of Christ was held, from high Arianism down to the lowest Humanitarian notions; they all discarded the dogma of a vicari
ous sacrifice, but almost every man had his own peculiar views of the relation which the death of Christ holds to the salvation of the sinner; they all disavowed the stringent claims of plenary inspiration, but few were agreed as to the precise degree of authority to be given to the Holy Scriptures. The effect of all this was that the system of Unitarianism had theologically a sort of negative aspect; and after the excitement of controversy began to die away, inasmuch as there is no' living power in mere denial, the denomination seemed to be relapsing into a state of suspended animation. It continued indeed, to exercise a certain healthful moral influence upon the community; it recalled to mind certain human relations. of Christianity, which had been too much overlooked during the prevalence of a sterner theology; it imperceptibly modified the character of the Calvinistic orthodoxy against which it had arrayed itself; it contributed liberally to the current literature of the country; but, as a positive theology, its vitality was passing away.
At this period, the system was manifested in its second form of development. In its original type, it had partaken rather of the Anglican character, and was based upon the philosophy of Locke, as interpreted and applied by Priestley it now began to seek for a new inspiration from the oracles of Germany. Up to this time, the Bible had been generally received as the authentic record of an actual revelation, not that the record itself was so dictated by inspiration as to debar all possibility of mistake or exaggeration, or false logic; the very possibility of a revelation, more true or authoritative than the intuitions of the mind, was now denied. Whatever in the Scriptures is found to accord with our innate sense of Absolute truth, is on this ground to be believed; whatever does not receive the spontaneous assent of the reason; in fact, whatever the reason would not have suggested of itself, is to be rejected. Starting with this principle, all argument based upon miracle, prophecy, and general historical testimony, is of necessity irrelevant. As a doctrinal system, it is evident that this school can admit nothing which transcends the principles of Natural Theology; and yet, in certain connections, it uses a more Scriptural phraseology than was customary in the ethical teachings of earlier Unitarianism. It professes to aim at a higher spiritual life, a more accurate analysis of human nature, a more assiduous culture of the inward light; it professes to identify the creature more intimately with his Creator, and is not unwilling to admit the need of a vital, radical transformation of the soul, in order to the indwelling there of the
life of God. As it appears to us, the peculiar absurdity of this system lies in the fact, that while it admits the inherent. perversity of our nature to be so great that we need a thorough renewal of heart, it still persists in looking only to the intuitive teachings of the soul, for the disclosure of Absolute truth, will allow of no authority beyond and above the suggestions of the reason, and declares, it to be impossible for God to authenticate the claims of any higher tribunal. Can it be supposed, that the blinding influence of corruption, does not reach the domain of the understanding and the reason? Are there no "sins of the mind," as well as "lusts of the flesh."
The Rev. Mr. Bartoe, in commenting upon this new system, has well said-" Here lies the fatal weakness of that philosophy, which is substituted for Christ; its violation of the very conditions of truth. The great principle of all true philosophy, whether of matter or mind, is, that it be based on, or governed in its conclusions by, the testimonies of fact. And such has been the character of all philosophy that has borne fruit, contra-distinguishing the best modern systems from the groundless and hypothetical character of much of the ancient schools. But the philosophy that slights or shoulders aside Christianity, is surely not of this solid and experimental kind. It shuts its eyes to, or disparages the noblest passage of all history. It discredits or allows no just weight to the finest piece of evidence, in which the most remarkable signs of verity are all joined, and, as it were, condensed. It suspects or contemns the most glorious facts that have ever transpired beneath the sun. It does not deserve the name of philosophy in this age of the world, for it violates the spirit of that whose name it bears, and, like the false herald of the era of chivalry, should have its forged insignia of office torn away. The Christian philosopher may like to reason and speculate, as well as any other man; may have a mind as fertile as any in invention and conjecture, but he turns not his back on the marvellous displays of Divine power and love, to pursue any airy, aimless flight. Patiently, as any, will he hunt out the hidden train of analogies through all material and spiritual things, but he will never substitute it for Christ, the open way. He bows his head before the amazing demonstrations of God through his Son, while the philosopher, who assumes to take a higher position in the ranks of wisdom, passes by, as though nothing had taken place."
This German development of theology has had but a brief existence in our own country, and, as a system of religious doctrine, it seems to be rapidly approaching an early grave.