Page images


mercy, and walked humbly with your God? have you lived as in his sight, followed the example of your Lord, and kept yourself unspotted from the world?*

The Unitarian sees that error on religious subjects must be injurious: that if its influence is prevented in the hearts of some, it will be injurious, directly or indirectly, to others: he is satisfied that truth connected with the character and dealings of God must do good; and that it is his duty to do what in him lies to diffuse it. He believes that he is thereby offering an acceptable service to the God of truth; imitating the example of him who came to bear witness to the truth; and contributing to glorify God in all things by Christ Jesus. But God forbid that he should ever suppose, that piety and other christian graces are confined to any religious denomination; or imagine himself better than another, because his views of christian truth are more pure.

Unitarianism does a vast service to the cause of christian charity, by levelling those narrow fences within which modern Orthodoxy confines all that is truly good and excellent. It thus disposes us to give the right hand of fellowship to all, whose dispositions and conduct show that they have sat at the feet of Jesus. It destroys all those narrowing views, which so often interfere with the great objects of benevolence; and it disposes to cooperate with all who have them in view, and to think well of them, when they separate from us and we from them, to promote respectively our more limited opinions.

By the man who has drunk deeply in the spirit of

The fact above stated is given by the late Dr Cogan.

that Saviour who loved all mankind without distinction of name or country, - who has imbibed the principles of that religion which teaches us that love is the fulfilling of the law (of social duty), that without charity we are but as sounding brass or tinkling cymbals, and that the end of the commandments is 'charity out of a pure heart and faith unfeigned,' — must it not be deemed a recommendation of any set of doctrines, and a presumption in favor of their being Christianity itself, that they promote these its grand essential qualities, and clear the way for their full exercise ?



The light of the Gospel hath not entirely dispelled the clouds and darkness, which human weakness and imperfection throw around the ways of God; and Unitarianism cannot do more; but much that Unitarianism opposes, involves them in greater darkness, or, should I not say, in gloom? Gloomy indeed are those representations of the righteous Judge of the whole earth, which present him to us as every revolving year allowing tens of millions of those, to whom His spirit hath given understanding, to go out of life, and fall into eternal misery, for want of that knowledge which His word could at once afford them, or of that grace which He who hath access to the heart could at once communicate. Terrific indeed are those doctrines, which teach us that His wrath could not be expiated, till its full vials had been emptied on the head of the merciful Redeemer of men; or that His justice could not be satisfied,

till an innocent person had been punished in the place of the guilty. He who can dare to hope, that, among the millions and millions who forever and ever must view their Creator only as the avenging Lawgiver and Judge, he stands secure from his awful indignation, may sing the hymn of gratitude for himself; but will not human weakness shrink back with horror at the prospect, that a time will come, when the ties which here bound him to all mankind, as the children of one common Father, the ties which bound him to those whom he saw doing good to men, and, as far as he could judge, obeying God, (ties which to feel was honorable,) the ties which bound him with closer affections to friend or relative, and even those which are formed by the nearest domestic relations, shall all be severed forever, even where the only crime was unavoidable ignorance, or even where the friend or relative, the husband or the son, had in view, in the general tenor of his conduct, to live as in the sight of God, and with respect to the last great account? Will the expectation of individual happiness make the groans unheard, of misery unutterable, without alleviation, irremediable, and endless?

If this be Orthodoxy, no wonder that he, who sees written in the law of Moses, 'the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,' who sees in the Prophets that Jehovah' desireth not the death of the sinner,' — who hears the apostles speaking of the kindness and grace of God, who hears his venerated Lord declare that 'He is kind even to the unthankful and the evil,' — who reads in the book of nature that the Lord is good unto all and his tender mercies are over all his works,'— and who sees inscribed in unfading characters in the ever

lasting Gospel that 'GOD IS LOVE' -no wonder that he pronounces that it is not. Christianity.

I once asked a Unitarian friend, who while among the Wesleyan Methodists had manifested the spirit of devotion, if she found her piety impeded, or its fervor lessened, by her change of sentiments? Oh, no! she replied; and she went on, with simple, serious feeling, to tell me with what unmingled delight and unembarrassed love she now contemplated the perfections and dealings of her Heavenly Father, how much more she now possessed to feed the purest flame of devotion. And it must be so. Certainly the doctrines of Unitarianism bring home the terror of the Lord.' They show that the holiness of God cannot look upon sin hut with abhorrence; they show that His faithfulness and justice are concerned to punish the impenitent and disobedient; they teach us that His judgments will be administered with impartial equity, that every one shall reap as he now sows, and that rewards or punishments shall be awarded according as our works have been: they impress the soul, therefore, with reverential awe of that great Being, who is Almighty, All-wise, All-holy, All-just, our Omniscient Witness, and our Final Judge: they will not allow of irreverence or familiarity towards the Infinite and adorable Majesty of heaven and earth. at the same time, they present everything to enable us to offer to him the best affections of the heart. They teach us, in an especial manner, to view God as our Father; and in this, the most delightful and comprehensive appellation, (that in which our Saviour so continually represents the Great Being who sent him, and under which he teaches us to call upon Him), they include


everything that can encourage, that can animate, that can console, that can prompt to submission, to reverence, to love, to gratitude, to trust, to the best tribute of prayer and praise, of adoration, resignation, and obedience: and by this endearing representation, they give us, as the scriptures do, from which they are derived, the pledge of parental love, of parental care, of parental guidance, of parental chastisements indeed, but also of parental mercy.

I well know that every Christian uses the appellation FATHER, and that he considers the Supreme Being as standing in this relation: but I ask, is it not at utter variance with those doctrines which make the infinite satisfaction of the Son of God the sole ground on which the sinner can rest his hopes; which represent the death of Christ as appeasing the wrath of God; which talk of God standing upon full satisfaction and not remitting one sin without it, of the blood of Christ calming the Father's frowning face, of Jesus forcing Him to spare, &c? To my mind it is clear, that if the discourses of Jesus and his apostles have divine authority, those doctrines have not; and that he who, though in words adopting the latter, keeps close in thought and feeling to the former, is in reality a Unitarian at heart, even if he never heard the appellation.

Now Unitarianism presents nothing to interfere with these heart inspiring representations of the paternal character of God. It teaches us, indeed, that our heavenly Father will, for the good of his large family, support his authority, and will punish the impenitent of‐ fender; it teaches us that in the future state he will exercise a righteous retribution, and that guilt and misery

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »