« ÖncekiDevam »
friend to expulsive than to compulsive measures, had I any right to advise in this case, I would drop a verbum sapientibus, and recommend their not losing sight of the nature of the misdemeanor which occasioned the expulsion of their society from Poland for ever.*
In other respects, I have remarked much genuine candour, and various amiable traits of character in each of the three modern pillars of Unitarianism-Dr. Priestley, Mr. Lindsey, and Mr. T. Belsham; between whom a good understanding and mutual affection seem to have subsisted all along, notwithstanding some difference of opinion in lesser matters. This happy “concordia discors" must no doubt have tended to further the common cause in which they were engaged; and yet, to observe it cannot be unpleasing even to those who widely differ from them in religious matters; and it should command not their attention only, but also their imitation.
To say nothing of Dr. Priestley's being a strenuous, and at the same time an able, advocate for the truth of Christianity against infidels, I cannot close this article without noticing his warmly recommending, and always maintaining in his own household, the very important and becoming, but in our days much neglected, duty of family prayer. The pleasure also which he took in the religious instruc
* See above, p. 154.
† Mr. Belsham also has lately published a respectable work on the evidences of Christianity.
tion of youth, and the importance and weight which he seemed to attach to that duty in the several congregations with which he was connected as pastor, cannot be too highly applauded; nor can this hiş example be too generally followed. What a pity is it, that instances of such attention to two most important duties should be so unfrequent in the world, and particularly among those whose talents and distinction, as in this case, would give weight and currency to their example!
“ Difference in opinion shall never, I hope, cause me to detract from any man's just commendations, or lessen my esteem of him in any thing wherein he deserves it."*
At the same time, I am ready to admit with Mr. Belsham, “ that a religious party may be very numerous, very pious and benevolent, very zealous and successful, and yet its distinguishing tenets may be erroneous and unscriptural.” How far the tenets of the party now considered may be erroneous and unscriptural it is not the author's province to say; his duty in regard to it is discharged for the present, , and he now leaves the reader to judge for himself, and to determine between it and the Established Church, upon whose tenets these and such like epithets are so unmercifully hurled.
“I believe in God, and Mohammed his prophet,” says the disciple of the celebrated oriental imposter. “I believe in God, and Jesus Christ, a prophet and teacher," is the creed of the Unitarian. But the member of the church established will not reduce his faith to a level with that of Mohammed; nor will he look for salvation in the Manual of Epictetus, or in the Offices of Cicero. No,-he“ finds a fuller faith in scripture, which is the anchor of his soul, both sure and certain ; a faith, which has God for its object, in the most perfect state of unity, but in whose essence are Jesus Christ, the Son of his love, without whose meritorious death and sufferings sinners never could have been reconciled to the Almighty, and All-just; and the Holy Spirit, without whose inspiration the best of men could neither think a good thought, nor perform a good action. The language of scripture is rendered consistent by thus considering the great Object of religious adoration. The true state of man's condition is laid open, his utter incapability of redeeming himself from the penalty of sin is rendered clear and perspicuous; his sole dependence on a Saviour is made manifest, in whose person are united both the human and divine natures, that he might at once, though sinless himself, represent that nature which had sinned, and at the same time afford an adequate propitiatory sacrifice; and his gratitude is inflamed by a revelation of that holy divine Comforter, who descends into his heart with gifts and graces, the precious fruits of faith, and the blessed assurance of immortal happiness.
* Dr. Brett's Remarks on Dr. Waterland's Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, p. 176.
“ What have heathen morals, what have the corrupted doctrines of Christianity to offer equal to · If ye
these great and invaluable blessings? Man, who knows his own weakness, relies not on his own merits, but on the merits of his Saviour ; man, whose carnal heart sinks under wordly oppressions, and wordly temptations, rises superior to them all, in the confidence of spiritual assistance. live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit God, they are the Sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.'*-Rom. viii. 13, 14, 15."
* Brewster's Secular Essay, p. 267, &c.
NAME.-The Manicheans, and several Oriental sects, had an abhorrence of matter, and therefore all parts of scripture that mentioned the uses of matter were rejected by them as spurious, and at
* See above, p. 170, note;
171. I confess, I am disposed to believe with Dr. Priestley, that the doctrines of Unitarianism, Materialism, and Philosophical or Mechanical Necessity, if they be not equally parts of one system, are at least more nearly connected than Mr. Belsham seems willing to allow. Thus, the scheme of necessity is the immediate result of the materiality of man, mechanism being the undoubted consequence of materialism ; and this last is eminently subservient to the Unitarian doctrine of the proper or mere humanity of Christ. For, if no man have a soul distinct from his body, Christ, who in all other respects appeared as a man, could not have a soul which had existed before his body; and thus the whole doctrine of the pre-existence of souls, of which the opinion of the pre-existence of Christ is a branch, will be effectually overturned.