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fessed minister of Christ to use in speaking of that tremendous event, the human apostacy, which
Brought death into our world, and all our woe,
How carefully and curiously the word is chosen. It is a diplomatic word. A minister at a foreign court, who is in some disfavor by reason of a breach of etiquette, has lost position. The word is suited to elegant social life. A lady who has married somewhat beneath her, has lost position in society. Eve erred in coreting that tree. It would have been better, in some respects, had she denied herself. And yet in what way she could ever have reached “ a higher intelligence” without sinning, this tract cannot inform us. But though she became like God in one of his attributes, she did a venturesome thing; for she lost position with God by means of it. And yet, if she fell, it was like “ falling
, up stairs.” On the whole, she and her posterity will be gainers by it; though it did offend the Almighty in a measure, and she lost something thereby. It compelled the Most High to consult how he could defend himself against the law of progress, — this destiny of man to “ a higher intelligence.” The necessity of curbing man's prurient spirit placed man in a "position" of restraint before God, and induced some loss of former favor. But the effect on the Almighty was nothing more than that he was piqued, and devised the best method to preserve himself from any further disrespect. Adam became a “ Prometheus bound.” Adam's Jove was very angry, and resented it that he should have stolen a divine prerogative; but he took means to prevent the recurrence of the trespass.
And is this the fall of man! Such an apostacy, of course, needs no redemption, and Unitarianism provides none. We, as descendants of Adam, are like “a child born of a parent who has wasted his property.”
P. 10. That child, however, may in time become richer than his father ever was. So we have improved on the character and state of Adam, enjoy a higher intelligence, and are more like God in one of his attributes.” What has Christ to do with us? and “ What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou son of God ?” He professes to set us an example. Then let him first disobey God, and raise himself to a level with us! We now can teach bim, rather than he us; for we have
a “knowledge of good and evil” which he never enjoyed. His name, Redeemer, seems, in view of the principles in this tract, to be unmeaning “ Redeemer !” It implies that we are lost. Nothing is lost but “position” with God, and “ favor.” We
compromised,” as the French say, in Adam ; but as the English have it, we have since “ asserted our rank."
Correct views of sin are, of course, fundamental in every scheme for human amelioration. Such being the Unitarian views of sin, as conveyed to us by this authorized exposition, we cannot look for any thing better in the views of regeneration, atonement, and future punishment, held by those who acknowledge this tract as an expression of their views of the human apostacy. What a religion for mankind! Is this "pure Christianity,” “an enlightened and liberal faith,” “ Christianity purged from the old leaven of false views of God and human nature ?" No wonder that it has never tried its efficacy on the heathen nations. It has no foreign missionaries, though it professes to republish that pure gospel which its Founder enjoined should be preached to every creature.
The theology of this tract belongs originally neither to heaven nor earth ; it is contradicted by the whole Word of God, removes every fundamental principle in the system of revealed truth, and paves the way in every mind that receives it, for pride, contempt of Christ, favorable views of sin, licentiousness, the loss of the soul, and the condemnation of the devil. It is a theology suited to balls, masquerades, and card-parties. In the latter part of the tract, the author has some conservative views with regard to the proneness of our nature to sin; but after all which he has said in the first part of the tract, his readers, we apprehend, will trouble themselves but little with his discriminations.
One of the worst features of the tract is its insinuating way of bringing the Old Testament into contempt. It says: “We cannot rest in these conclusions, and yet we cannot so explain the meaning of the words, and interpret the passage, as not to lead to them." P. 7. That is, The plain meaning of Scripture here, is against reason.
This is also Mr. Parker's way of girdling a Scripture history, when he is unwilling to cut it wholly down.
There is one interesting and important bearing of this tract in a local respect. Its author is generally regarded as one of the most serious and conservative of Unitarians. He was prominent
in 'sustaining some meetings for prayer and conference, held last winter in the Unitarian churches of this city. His remarks and spirit led some to hope, that he and others were approximating to evangelical views. But what a development have we in this tract. Here we see the foundations of the author's religious belief. The fall is a misnomer. The fall was rather an elevation ; the apostacy more like an anabasis. It made man “ more like God in one of his attributes." Alas! our hopes are dashed. We cannot look for fiys on such a tree, nor for grapes from such a bush.
The Christian Inquirer, a New York Unitarian paper, complains that Unitarians have few or no tracts on religious biography, and religious experience, in their series, and proposes to incorporate some from the series of the American Tract Society. The reason of this destitution is obvious. There is no such thing as religious experience among those who hold the views contained in this tract, unless it be the experience of conversion from orthodoxy to Unitarianism. They have no conviction of sin in the evangelical sense, no law-work in their bearts, no sense of entire depravity and ruin, none of Paul's or Bunyan's temptations and conflicts with Satan, no discovery of free grace, no knowledge of justification by faith, no joy of pardoned sin, no love and gratitude to a dying Redeemer, no sympathy with that song of heaven, “ Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood." Progressive sanctification, the sorrows anil joys of the Christian life are no part of their spiritual history. The more we know of this system, the more we are filled with horror. Some of our dearest earthly friends are under its power. This city of the Pilgrims is greatly corrupted by it. Downward and still downward is its theology descending, to mere naturalism, denying the most obvious truths of revelation.
In the tract before us, we have the most recent development of Unitarian theology, sanctioned by the great religious Tract Society of the denomination. The fall of man was an improvement in his condition! So R. W. Emerson tells us that man's tendency is ever upward, whether he be found in a brothel, dram shop, or elsewhere. Thus error “ finds no end, in wandering mazes lost.” We are ashamed of this tract as a specimen of Biblical knowledge and theological reasoning, and we are astonished at its bold and groundless denials of the very plainest and most frequently reiterated truth of revelation.
OBSERVATIONS ON MEN, BOOKS, AND THINGS.
Rev. Jonn PIERCE, D. D. - Having long held in high esteerd
this lately departed worthy, we somewhat eagerly took up for perusal a small, but beautifully printed pamphlet, containing the discourse preached by his colleague at the Doctor's funeral, and a Biographical Sketch. As to the discourse, it is, we regret to say, in every respect, a failure. It is strangely spiritless and unfeeling. Its apathetic dullness is distressing to the reader. How such preaching could dry the mourner's tears, unless by working as an opiate to seal their eyes in slumber, it is hard to imagine. There was nothing in the coffin so lifeless as the twice-dead sermon delivered over it. It is said that Sir Godfrey Kneller, after several ineffectual attempts to execute the portrait of a stupid London Alderman, returned to the astonished cit the fee which had been paid in advance, with the remark : “ Sir, you gave me this money to paint your face; but you have got no face to paint!” There is no such excuse for him who fails to delineate the strongly marked character of Dr. Pierce. The features of his mind were as massive, healthy, and genial, as those of his animated and cheerful visage. It was a sad day for his church when he departed, and left it to the sole care of one, in whom, (judging by this funeral discourse, which is all that we know of the gentleman or his performances,) there is so much less of the evangelical element, than was wont to be manifested by the good Doctor himself.
The Biographical Sketch is taken from the columns of the Christian Inquirer. It is vastly superior to the Sermon; but it is far from being a compensation for its inanity. We sincerely hope that they with whom Dr. Pierce was ecclesiastically connected, will not consent that this pine-scantling monument shall be the only tribute erected to his memory. He merits from them better treatment than this. The Christian Examiner for November contains a discriminating and well-drawn outline of the Brookline patriarch, from the pen of Dr. Putnam; but it is quite too brief and general.
The Orthodox were far from approving Dr. Pierce's “ non-committalism ” as to the great doctrines of the Christian faith. Yet they ever esteemed him highly for his many excellent traits of mind; and had no wish to prevent him from pursuing his own course, though they would not walk in it themselves. It was his hobby to “ ride the fence” between Orthodoxy and Unitarianism; and he succeeded in the awkward attempt as gracefully as any elderly gentleman could, though he had to ride, like the ladies, with both feet on the same side. He kept his face turned to the right, toward the Orthodox, as much as might be; and a pleasant and friendly face it always was to us. But had he been flung from his side-saddle, we fear that he would have fallen in the wrong direction. It was, doubtless, easier for him to tell what he was not, than what he was ; but we desire to give him the full benefit of his declaration made with such earnestness in the Massachusetts Convention, a year or two ago: "I am not a Unitarian; I never was a Unitarian; and, by the grace of God, I never will be a Unitarian !” As for the rest, we humbly leave him with that righteous Judge, whose utmost mercy we all shall need alike.
The Last StridE OF INFIDELITY. — The resurrection of our Lord was the turning point in the establishment of the Christian religion, which waited for this event before it could take sure hold upon the human mind. If the crucified Saviour had not risen from the dead at the time prefixed, his doctrine would have exploded at the outset, and would have been heard of no more. His name would have quite perished, finding no more place in history than thousands of the undistinguished victims of Roman tyranny and judicial butchery. But his fully attested resurrection fixed the faith, and fired the zeal, of the primitive disciples, till his religion has become the chief element in the history of the world. * The Lord is risen indeed,” or Christianity is a fable. There is no medium between these two positions. Ile who denies that God raised up Jesus from the dead, is no better than a “heathen man.” How can be expect to be saved by a dead man ? and by one whose predictions that he should rise the third day after he was slain, were utterly falsified, proving him either an enthusiast or an impostor?
Yet Mr, Theodore Parker, in a sermon delivered on the last Sabbath in October, argued at length against the resurrection of Christ; and intimated that his appearances to his disciples, after death, were only subjective, that is to say, existed only in their imaginations. The utter absurdity of this notion, it were easy to shew. It is enough to say, that the man who embraces and teaches it, and yet pretends to be a minister of Christ, is no better than he whose signal to the foe was “Hail, Master!” There is treason in his kisses.
This new attack on the main evidence of Christianity, as it must have been to the earliest believers especially, will fail as surely as all the other devices against the truth. “ The Word of the Lord is tried.” Tested by eighteen centuries of human experience, it is proved true by its fruits, and stands demonstrated in a clearer light than ever.
We have often admired the following fragment, found in the fourth volume of Coleridge's Literary Remains : “ The result of my own meditations is, that the evidence of the gospel, taken as a total, is as great for the Christians of the nineteenth century, as for those of the apostolic age. I should not be startled, if I were told it was greater. But it does not follow that this equally holds good of each component part. An evidence of the most cogent clearness, unknown to the primitive Christians, may, compensate for the evanescence of some evidence which they enjoyed. Evidences comparatively dim have waxed into noon-day splendor; and the comparative wane of others, once effulgent, is more than indemnified by the SYNOPSIS OF THE WHOLE, which we enjoy, and by the standing miracle of a Christendom commensurate, and almost synonymous, with the civilized world.”
THE PURITAN AND HIS Daughter. We took up this work with some misgivings, but in the hope that it might not be altogether a novel. Attracted by the title, we looked for at least a historical romance. But we found only a common love-tale, spun out and interwoven with what sounds to us like the talk of a witty and garrulous old man. Mr. Paulding evidently respects the Puritans, though