« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
light of divine revelation which we now enjoy, we love, honour, and worship "a majesty,”—“we know not what,” is a direct imputation on the wisdom and goodness of God—a plain contradiction of what God himself has said in holy writ—and of the repeated declarations of that on “ who hath revealed him"-made him known not shrouded him in the thick clouds of darkness and mystery. Had the Scriptures only said there is one God, without affirming who that one God is, there might, perhaps, have been some foundation on which, for the perversity of human ingenuity to speculate, as to the mode of his existence, in three, or if you will, in three thousand different persons, as either opinion would be equally reasonable ; but when it is distinctly stated, that “there is but one God the Father;" and by Christ himself, that “the Father is the only true God," thus directly excluding the Son, and the Holy Ghost, from any partnership in Deity, the Trinitarian has no alternative but the rejection of these plain declarations of Scripture, or to adopt the doctrine of a plurality of Gods. If it is true that there is “but one God the Father,” then neither the Lord Jesus Christ nor the Holy Ghost is the Father, and neither can be God; and, if what Christ affirms is true, that the Father is the only true God, then both must be false Gods for there is only one true God. This is the language of Scripture—but such as the Trinitarian can neither hold nor believe. It is not true of his God. He can only regard it as erroneous and heretical; and as such he execrates and reprobates it when his fellow-Christians employ it as the declaration of their belief respecting God. The Unitarian is “fully persuaded in his own mind" that there is “but one God the Father,” and “that he is the only true God;" but the moment he announces this as his faith, he is assailed as a “God. denier," a "soul-destroyer,”-one who “plucks the crown from the brow of the eternal”—“denies the Lord who bought him," and is refused the Christian's name, his character and hopes. And yet, what evil hath he done? Why he simply repeats and believes what the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles had affirmed before him, and which they, too, must have believed, or else they were hypocrites.
him to be in error, on whose authority does he implicitly rely, and who is it that has perverted him from the truth? Why, the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles. He acknowledges no other head; he recognises no other guide. He is a heretic, because he says and believes what the Lord Jesus taught and practised when on earth, and refuses to acknowledge any other Lord or head.
On such grounds as these, we do reject the doctrine of the Trinity -of a God in three persons. Such language is not in the Bible, and cannot, therefore, be true respecting the God of the Bible.
Neither prophets nor apostles ever affirm this. The Lord Jesus Christ--" he who was in the bosom of the Father"-"he who knew him”_"he who revealed him"-made him known to his followers has proclaimed it to be eternal life to know the Father as the only. true God, and himself as sent by the Father, thus contradistinguishing himself from the only-true God who sent him ; and, when here on earth he yielded implicit obedience and submission to his Father -made it “his meat and drink to do his will”—acted solely for his glory, and offered up prayer to him alone ; but never recognised or revealed any other persons who had equal claims to the service, or obedience of himself or his followers. We do, then, deny the claims of three persons to our worship. We hold the doctrine of a threeone God, to be a structure erected by human pride and folly, which we wish to see overturned and demolished. We seek to consumo “the hay, wood, stubble” of man's invention—to remove the rubbish which has been heaped upon the blessed foundation, so long concealed from the view of the Christian worshipper, that to him there is but one God the Father. With us it is no cold negation-it springs warm, spontaneous from the heart. We delight to bask in the sunshine of this glorious and sanctifying truth-to love, obey, and rely upon him as our Father here; and, in the humble confidence of faith and hope, look to an eternity of inconceivable bliss and glory in his presence. It is not true, then, that we pull down, but establish nothing. Here is the pillar of divine truth, which we present to the Christian worshipper, instead of the pagan phraseology of a platonic philosophy, or the unintelligible jargon of metaphysical schoolmen.
Widely as we differ from the Trinitarian, with regard to the constitution and mode of God's existence, we differ, if possible, still more widely respecting his character. Now, it will be admitted upon all hands, that it is most important we should know the character and disposition of the Master whom we serve-wish to please-in order to serve him acceptably. But the character of God, like that of any other being, is formed by his conduct. It is what he does that proclaims what he is. The record of this, we have written by himself in his works, his providence and word. But there is another source, the Confession of Faith, which purports to be an explanation of God's dealings with man for his salvation, from which we must quote, in order to see the views of the Calvinistic Trinitarian respecting God's conduct—that is, his character.
(To be continued.)
ON THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH,
(To the Editor of the Irish Unitarian Magazine. )
DEAR SIR, -As numerous petitions, for the abolition of capital punishment, are about being presented to parliament, and as I think you will find many excellent reasons adduced for its abolition in the article accompanying this, may I request you to afford it room in your next publication ?
The article was written by my relative, Miss Martha Macdonald Lamont, and was originally published in Tait's Magazine for 1838,-shortly after the accession of her present Majesty to the throne.
I am, dear Sir,
JOHN ROBERTS. Collin House, 7th July, 1846.
The address of a few respectable women, of the middle class, to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, on the subject of signing warrants for the execution of criminals.
Madam, So we must address you, with distance and respect; but our hearts overflow with feelings, which, at this moment, would rather prompt us to write as to a friend, on whom we bestowed our deepest pity. Why do we pity ? you proudly ask. Because imagination depicts you to us as signing a death-warrant ; and we shudder as we contemplate the image, even in fancy. We feel, that to us it would be as awful to write the word which should command the death of another, as to prepare to meet the King of Terrors ourselves.
How is life known to you, but by its vanities, its splendours, its pleasures, its comforts, and by the simple feeling—that it is dear to you? You know not that it would be dearer yet, if the means of existence had been dealt out to you day by day, in a scanty pittance from the hard hand of a taskmaster, until the soul of the slave had become yours ; until, at last, when the pittance was refused, you would have been tempted to commit crime to prolong that life. How many thousands of such are there! Do they, degraded till reason is almost lost,- do they know what they do?
You know not how many thousands of your fellow-creatures are educated, trained, step by step, in vice, from the cradle to the prison, or the scaffold! To them, virtue, and honour, and immortality, are names unknown: life is the only good; and to grasp, in any way, aught that can give it value, or prolong it, is to them what is right. Do they, thus uninstructed, know what they do?
You know not to how many thousands in this land the Sacred Volume, which contains the commands,- “ Thou shalt not steal ; Thou shalt do no murder ; Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour,” is a sealed book. Nor do you know how many, in the close and noisome lanes of crowded cities, remain pent up, to conceal either vice or wretchedness; and never seek the house of God, where they might hear those commandments. Are they, who break laws of which they are ignorant, guilty? Do they know what
Think not we would lead you by casuistry to the opinion, that all vice springs from ignorance, or want of right reason,—that it should no more be punished than idiocy. 'Far from it. We know that the Just Ruler of this world has not left the vices of the ignorant unpunished, although a greater condemnation is pronounced on those who sin under the law; and we know that those who aspire to rule societies, must also humbly aspire to follow His great laws of justice. Dread responsibility! Do they understand those laws ? When they say, Punish, have they asked why the Deity punishes? Have they looked into the whole constitution of nature, which shows that the object of His punishment is to make better? Have they looked into the intention of our holy religion, which says, “Leave time for repentance, that it may work newness of life”?
We ask not that the criminal should go unpunished ; nor do we ask that he should be sent back into a society, which taught him only evil. We say only to him who would condemn, Let thy brother live; he knew not what he did ; let him live, that he may know ; let him live, that he may offend no more ; let him live, that he may deserve freedom ; let him live, that he may taste the bitterness of repentance, and the sweetness of hope ; let him live, that he may teach others how great the wretchedness of vice, how great the mercy of God; let him live, that he may yet be happy, for life was given for happiness, and the vicious cannot have tasted it; let him live, because humanity pleads for mercy ; let him live, because Christianity commands it.
Oh! may sentiments of piety and humanity become yet more deeply fixed in your heart ! sentiments of charity and pity for the poor, the wretched, the vicious, with whom, in the kingdom of spirits, where distinctions and titles are unknown, you must stand before the throne of judgment! Our prayers in sincerity and truth are ever yours.
Thus their address ends; unfit, indeed, to be presented to any royal personage ; yet the appeal, made to one, may waken some Christian sentiments in the many. If we might add a word on this
subject, which is by women naturally regarded on the side of religion and feeling alone, we would remind our readers that Nero wept when first called on to sign a death-warrant; and we would ask those who counsel adherence to the good old customs of past times, have they ever considered how much of the vast tide of vice that poured in on his soul, was owing to the breaking down of the barrier of natural feeling, which made that act so repugnant to him? But, if it was odious even to a Pagan, what should it be to a young woman—a Christian—whose feelings must be a hundred-fold more keen, whose conscience a thousand-fold more enlightened? The demoralizing effect of public executions on the masses, is of no account with legislators ; let, then, the womanly feelings, and the virtue of their sovereign be of some. What would now be the fame of Elizabeth, if, free from the bloody stains which rest on it, she had acted from the conviction, that to command the death even of the guilty, is forbidden by the Christian religion.
POPULAR FALLACIES OF TRINITARIANISM.
11.- TRINITARIAN FALLACIES CONCERNING REASON AND PRIVATE JUDGMENT.
ANOTHER fallacy of Trinitarianism consists in attempting to disparage reason ; while, at the same time, it is and must be constantly appeal: ing to the use of reason. We would not say all; but certainly many Trinitarians are fond of crying up mystery and down reason, in matters of religion. But he that runs down reason, under pretence of supporting religion in any form, is only like a man affecting to use the best means for preserving an edifice entire, while he is digging out its foundation. Take away reason, and what becomes of religion? or what could any poor fellow get to say against reason, without some portion of it remaining with him? But the truth is, no man wishes to run down reason any farther than it strikes against his own favourite opinion. Let that alone, or let reason be its humble slave, and she is a very good child, and everybody glad enough to press her into his own service ; none more so, than those that are the loudest in crying her down. Indeed, those pretended despisers of reason in religious matters only remind us of certain venders of quack nostrums, who, for their own ends, affect to cry down and discourage the use of certain common remedies, alleged to be dangerous, which yet they themselves, in a quiet way, are constantly making use of, and would cut but a sorry figure without. Reason, certainly, like every other mercy of God, is liable to abuse, and is, alas! too often sadly abused by the bigotry, passion, and prejudice of man; still reason is God's