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A compulsory confession of faith provides for an external superficial uniformity of profession, of Liturgy, and of ceremonial ob
A voluntary declaration of belief secures a real harmony of thought, agreement of conscience, spirit, and heart, a mutual sympathy in prayer and in ceremony.
A compulsory confession of faith is an engagement made with man. A voluntary declaration is a promise made to God.
A compulsory confession of faith is an act of submission to the decree of man: it recognises the authority of Moses and the Prophets, but adds to their testimony the commands of non-inspired teachers.
A voluntary declaration of belief is an act of submission to the decree of God: it alone recognises as authoritative Moses and the Prophets, and the inspired Word.
A compulsory confession of faith is, in a great degree, the device of a worldly policy: it prostrates the church before the civil authority, and beseeches the powers of this earth to sanction and protect religious truth.
A voluntary declaration of belief is a purely spiritual act, which leaves to the Church of Christ its intact dignity, and forbids the intrusion of worldly authority into the sanctuary of God's truth.
A compulsory confession of faith may be made from motives of worldly interest.
A voluntary declaration of belief is in its very nature disinterested.
A compulsory confession of faith often begets hypocrisy, and tolerates mental reservation.
A voluntary declaration of belief implies sincerity and candour.
A compulsory confession of faith was unknown to the Apostolic Church: we never hear of the Apostles or Disciples signing creeds, or swearing to confessions.
A voluntary declaration of belief was always required of the Primitive Disciples: the discipline of the early churches always implied such.
A compulsory confession of faith is an insult to the Book of God, and virtually declares that the preacher cannot make the Scriptures the sole basis of his ministrations, and hope thereby “to save himself and them that hear him.”
A voluntary declaration of belief is a homage to the supreme authority of God's Word, and recognises as its holy aim the union of believers in the bond of peace, and not their agreement in inflexible and inoperative dogmas.
A compulsory confession of faith is a sure means of traversing the command of St. Paul, and of not receiving him who is weak in the faith, but of having with him doubtful disputations.
A voluntary declaration of belief is a means of receiving the halting Christian, and avoiding unprofitable controversy.
A compulsory confession of faith abrogates the command, “ Prove all things: hold fast that which is good :” one examination suffices for all ages, and the good is prescribed for ever.
A voluntary declaration of belief fulfils the precept of St. Peter: “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
A compulsory confession of faith teaches the believer to say, first of all, “I am of Paul,” or “of Apollos,” or “of Cephas;" and then to add, and “of Christ.”
A voluntary declaration requires, first of all and solely, “I am of Christ.”
A compulsory confession of faith will not allow "every man to be fully persuaded in his own mind,” as the Apostle Paul requires.
A voluntary declaration of belief respects this sacred privilege, and consecrates this, and all the other liberties of the Christian.
A compulsory confession of faith annuls the precept of St. John : "Believe not every Spirit, but try the Spirits whether they be of God."
A voluntary declaration of belief not merely maintains this as a right, but imposes it as a duty.
A compulsory confession of faith, in defiance of St. Paul's declaration, places faith above all things,
A voluntary declaration of belief gives faith its proper rank, in recognising charity as a more excellent virtue. Jersey, February 10th, 1846.
UNITARIAN CHRISTIANITY-ITS ADAPTATION TO WOMAN.
UNITARIAN Christianity has achieved much for woman.
It has come to fortify her, precisely in those departments of her constitution which expose her to her greatest dangers; while, at the same time, it possesses resources which amply respond to the religious tenderness and generosity of her nature. Under other systems, the voice of usurped authority has found in woman a too unquestioning and unresisting subject: she has yielded submissively to arrogant pretension ; she has trembled slavishly before unwarranted denunciation, she has surrendered her imagination and her affections to theatrical, fantastic, imposing forms, or extreme principles of religion ; she has prostrated her faculties in helpless despair before perplexing doctrines, which forbade and condemned the very use of her reason ; she has listened to too predominant exhibitions of the terrific, until distraction and suicide have hastened to close the scene. In these circumstances, the female nature has almost cried aloud instinctively for aid, and has found it more than anywhere else in the genius of Unitarian Christianity. There is a modesty and fairness in the very manner by which Uni.. tarianism asserts its authority over the mind, which not only appeals to woman's delicate sympathy, but at once raises her from the dust, and awakens her to the fact of her own significance. It bids her to be calm—to reflect—to receive a revelation through the medium of her reason, as well as of her imagination and affections.
Yet whilst this system presents just enough of poise and negation to restore woman to her lost equilibrium, it retains, as we have hinted, sufficient positiveness and warmth to satisfy the demands of her earnestly religious constitution. It gives her, in the Eternal Father of spirits, an object of profound adoration, combining in himself whatever glorious, awful, and endearing attributes or agencies can possibly be ascribed to the Trinity of the middle ages; while, by demonstrating the singleness and simplicity of his being, it quiets her harrowed faculties, fixes her distracted vision, and raises her faith from a state of abject prostration to a serene, enlightened, and confiding repose. In the innocent babe upon her knee, she no longer beholds a mass of total depravity, a viperous enemy of God, a vessel of eternal wrath and torment—but a hopeful subject of the kingdom of heaven, whose immortal powers are in part to be unfolded by her own prayerful vigilance and faithful exertions. In the Scriptural view of the Atonement which she is now called upon to adopt, she is not bewildered by the dramatic representation of one Divine being possessing all the justice, and another all the mercy ; nor is she baffled by the contradictions which incessantly spring up between the alleged necessity that a Divine being should be sacrificed, and the allowed impossibility that he could die, coupled with the freshly puzzling fact that after all only a human being endured the sacrifice required. She rather sees in the Atonement a great scheme of reconciliation-a series of healing and restoring influences, contemplated from eternity by a God whose justice and mercy well knew how to temper and coexist with each other, and at length introduced by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world—a scheme, thus truly worthy to be illustrated, and even prefigured, by the types and shadows of the Mosaic dispensation. In her prospect of the retributions of futurity, her imagination is no longer either pampered or revolted by presentments too overpowering for human nature ; but it is wholesomely stimulated by that solemn indistinctness, yet awakening certainty of result—the heaven of happiness and progress all above her, the hell of darkness and misery all below her-which are everywhore characteristic of the moral government of God. In Jesus Christ, as presented by the same system, the chief among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely, the chosen of the Father from the bosom of a past eternity, she recognises the link which unites the human and divine—the realized ideal of her most exalted imaginings—the perfect archetype of her purely aspiring affection. While the perplexing metaphysics of a falselystyled orthodoxy had taken away her Lord, and buried his identity in a mass of contradiction and mystery, Unitarian Christianity has restored him to her in his original proportions : it has rescued from artificial clouds and darkness the great subject of the New Testament biography ; she can now venture to approach him again as a being whose heart beats in unison with her own—to bathe his feet with her tears, and to wipe them with the hair of her head.
Accordingly, woman in return has effected much for Unitarian Christianity. In the critical transition-period when a change was in progress from a complicated and humanly devised to a purer and simpler faith-when the spirit of reform was necessarily more or less analytical, negative, and defensive when charges of coldness and unbelief rang from all the camps of Orthodoxy-woman was found ready, in a full-proportioned representation, to partake of the enlightening process. She perceived, by her characteristic intuition, much that was positive and profoundly religious in the system that was unfolded anew, and she acted upon it by anticipation. The moment that Unitarianism respected, appealed to, and convinced her understanding, she accepted it with all its consequences-discerning and despising the hollowness of the spasmodic outcry raised against it. The divine authority of Jesus and his religion she at once and honestly felt could be no cold negation, no isolated or empty fact, no dictate of infidelity or deism ; but, from the very terms of the question, a principle deep as the wants, lofty as the hopes, and wide as the workings of the human soul. Therefore, it has been, that in the darkest and most laborious periods of his career, the Unitarian reformer has been invariably cheered and supported by her countenance and adhesion. Part of his reproach her manifest faith and piety have turned away, and the rest she has cheerfully borne along with him. When, with an anxious heart, he has first spread the table of his master, and invited the guests to come, she, if few or none else, was near, to partake of the speaking memorials. How often, in the hour of death, has her deliberate testimony and ripe preparation put to silence and shame the solemn but silly saying, so widely circulated, that Unitarianism is a poor religion to die by! How often, in the battle of life, has she sustained, with a heavenly composure, the lowering odium of excited communities? And how often have her quiet smile and pungent remark refuted the extravagant dogmas, or retorted the
menancing artillery of bigotry and fanaticism? With her “willing hands" she has toiled to uphold and adorn the ark of her faith, as it rose amidst sad discouragements and difficulties; and, even now, wherever that faith, no longer struggling and militant, has become triumphant and commanding, many of its golden fruits, its spontaneous emanations, are started into life, or carried into larger effect, by her fostering and benignant enterprise. Religious charities and amenities spring up all around ber home; wliile the missionary, supported by her exertions and bounties, transplants to the distant wilderness the truths and principles which her experience assures her are from above. It is unquestionably the peculiar blessings of every Unitarian Minister in the land, that he can gratefully point to the female portion of his congregation, as unsurpassed for intelligence, refinement, virtue, and attachment to religious institutions. - Boston Christian Examiner.
OBJECTIONS TO UNITARIANISM CONSIDERED.
(To the Editor of the Irish Unitarian Magazine.) Sir, Among the many objections, frequently, and popularly arged against Unitarianism, are the following :- That it is a system of cold and heartless negations ; that it demolishes and roots up all the peculiar and fundamental doctrines of Christianity, long and firmly believed and revered, but that it affords nothing to supply their place; that it may suit a speculative and metaphysical mind in the day of health and enjoyment, but gives no comfort to the bowed down—no hope of an adequate atonement to the sinner-affords to the bed of sickness no sustaining aid, and to the dying hour no Almighty arm to shield from the wrath of offended justice; that the bed “is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it, and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it."
Now, it must be admitted, that if these objections are well founded, Unitarianism does not give a full and fair representation of Christianity. The religion of the Lord Jesus is pre-eminently a religion for the sinner, the afflicted, the dying. “ He came to seek, and to save that which was lost”-to bring back the wanderer to his God "not to call the righteous, but to invite sinners to repentance—to raise up the bowed down—to bind up the broken-hearted—to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison doors of the grave to those that are bound.”
The Unitarian, however, justly regards such charges as calumnies heaped upon his holy faith, the effect either of ignorance, and therefore an object of pity, or a wilful misrepresentation of the truth. He invites the ignorant and prejudiced “ to come and see”-“to examine