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ly, the object of thought, and of religious worship,(however much the mind may, by the aid of metaphysical subtilties, bring itself to believe that these three distinct infinite Minds or Persons are ONE GOD, and that by holding the existence of such three distinct Persons in the Godhead, the great principle of the divine unity is not violated,) - one thing is certain, that each being separately God, must be the object of religious worship separately from the others.
In accordance with this plain and necessary conclusion, prayers and other branches of religious worship, are offered up to each of the three Persons separately. The consistent Trinitarian, believing each Person to be truly God, and worshipping each separately, necessarily has three objects of worship. By what principle shall he regulate his devotions to each? If he rest satisfied with partial examination, still his mind is likely to be bewildered: but if he look into the christian's directory, he there finds no precept directing the offering of religious worship to any other being but the Father: and, on the contrary, he finds numerous plain, direct declarations in the Law, and the Prophets, and the Gospel, confirmed most powerfully by the uniform example and instruction of our Saviour, all pointing to this great truth, that the FATHER is the only proper object of religious worship. If So, the conclusion necessarily follows, that HE is the only true God.
Through the embarrassment and perplexity with which, to the reflecting mind, Trinitarianism is often attended, respecting the direction of christian worship,
many have been led to consider the evidence of popular opinions, and to relinquish them for those plain fundamental truths which shine with clear and strong effulgence throughout the whole of revelation. And when they have embraced these, they have no longer any perplexity. Their devotions acquire a simplicity, which often adds to their fervency; and at least makes their devout affections steady and clear, and gives them the best prospect of shedding their influence over the whole tenor of life.
But, besides this consideration, there is another of great weight. Not merely are there, on popular doctrines, different objects of equal worship, but these have different characters and offices assigned to them. And it will generally be found, among those who hold the higher forms of what are called Evangelical doctrines, that he whom the scriptures represent as the effect of God's love to mankind, is often thought of as the cause, the procuring cause of divine mercy; and thus that highest gratitude, which reason and revelation teach us is due to Jehovah, is diverted into a different channel. And can that commandment be then fulfilled, which our Saviour most solemnly sanctioned, when he said, 'The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength?'
I have indeed no doubt, that many who profess and believe Trinitarian sentiments, influenced by the plain principles, examples, and commands of the Gospel and of the Law, do, in practice, confine their worship, and the highest adoration of their hearts, to the Father, and
love Jehovah as the supreme object of their best affections: but then they are so far (that is, practically) Unitarians; and we can only wish that they were so in avowed profession.
On this point Unitarianism is unrivalled. While it affords abundant grounds of love to him, who bore in his character so eminent a resemblance to the moral excellencies of the Supreme Being, and who was, under Him, the agent of communicating the richest gifts of divine mercy; while it warms the heart with gratitude to our Saviour, for his exertions and sufferings to insure and extend the blessed privileges of the Gospel; while it makes him the object of our faith and trust, as possessed of divine authority, sanctioned by the most signal marks of divine approbation; while it demands our reverence for him as the Son of God, as exalted to be the Lord of the dead and the living, and, under the appointment of God, to raise the dead and judge the world; it keeps clear and close to the great fundamental principle, Thou shalt worship Jehovah thy God, and to Him only shalt thou offer religious service:' it teaches us, (as the scriptures teach us, and because the scriptures teach us,) that HE is the only true God, that we ought to pay religious worship to Him alone, and that He is LOVE, and His love the source of every blessing, temporal and spiritual; - that He therefore should be the object of the highest love, and gratitude, and trust, and reverence, and obedience.
III. It is a most important advantage of UNITARIANISM, that it THROWS NO IMPEDIMENT IN THE WAY OF THE GREAT PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES OF THE GOSPEL.
VOL. III.-NO. V.
Though it ascribes no merit to works, and represents all rewards of faith and obedience as solely the gifts of divine grace, yet it lays, as the Gospel does, the utmost stress upon good works, i. e. christian conduct springing from christian principles, such as love to God and to mankind, love to Christ, the desire of imitating his example and obeying his precepts, the prospects of his Gospel, the dictates of conscience enlightened by christian duty, &c. From the necessity of a holy life and conversation to obtain the divine favor and final acceptance, Unitarianism presents nothing to draw off the mind: but, on the contrary, it lays the greatest, most steady, and most consistent stress upon this. It gives abundant hope to the broken and contrite heart; but it does not, through unhappy views of the work and merit of the Son of God, afford any room to delay the work of repentance, or to expect that strong and agonizing feelings, an appropriating faith in his merits, and inward assurance of pardon, will supply the place of a sober, righteous, and godly life.
Unitarian Christianity goes to the heart, and requires watchfulness and caution in the work of duty: it allows no value to actions, which do not spring from such principles within, as are conformable with the will of God: in short, it assigns its due place to faith, as a valuable practical conviction of the great truths of religion influencing the heart; but it does not lead away from attention to its influences, by making it consist in some mysterious inwrought feeling, which may be totally unproductive of that religious obedience, which we have the authority of our Saviour's precepts and his example to pronounce the sum and substance of religion.
It may not at once appear obvious, but to the reflecting mind I may safely leave the examination of the position, that strict practical adherence to the divine unity, and its direct consequences of the exclusive worship of the Father and His unpurchased essential mercy, will necessarily lead to the adoption of those sound and consistent views of religion, which the instructions of our Saviour communicate; and to the eradication of those fallacious and baneful notions, which lead men to hope for some shorter and easier way to heaven than what he has pointed out to us.
The present popular views of Christianity have a direct tendency to make religion greatly consist in frames and feelings; or at least to represent these as essential tests of the state of the soul. Now these very much depend upon the constitution of the individual, upon the state of his bodily system at the time, upon the strength of his imagination, and other causes utterly independent of christian excellence. In proportion as this standard or test is adopted, the mind is led away from scriptural tests; and there is a great and natural leaning in the human mind to rest upon the former, which are obvious and easily applied, to the entire or partial exclusion of the latter. I do not think that this was so much the case with the Orthodox writers of past times (who seem to have had in view christian principle, more than the peculiarities of christian belief;) but if we are to judge by the publications, and discourses, and hymns of many belonging to what are termed the Evangelical classes at present, I think there is reason to believe that the tests of christian excellence, and grounds of the divine favor, are more now than formerly, a mysterious, inex