« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ORGANIZATION OF A UNITARIAN ASSO- “Resolved – That we feel the impor. CIATION IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK. tance of uniting the great body of
The strength of liberal Christianity liberal Christians of every name in in New York is visibly growing:- the bands of a common cause; that During the week commencing May we owe to all Christians, who reject 10, 1846, the Unitarians from all parts human creeds and the Trinitarian and of the state came together in the city Calvinistic dogmas, an expression of of New York, and with earnest de- our hearty sympathy and co-opeliberation and enlightened discussion, ration.” organised themselves into an Asso- We understand that efforts will be ciation--a body that promises to have made to establish a newspaper in New a vigorous and efficient vitality.— York, devoted to the spread of UniMeetings were held in the course of tarian Christianity, and also that the week in the “Church of the Divine Rev. Mr. Pierpont is in that city, with Unity,” (Mr. Bellows',) at which Ze- the hope of gathering a new Unibedee Cook, Esq. presided. Mr. Cook tarian Society. The Unitarians of was chosen President of the Asso- Massachusetts and New England exciation, and James S. Cleveland, Esq. tend a cordial fellowship and a fraSecretary
ternal “ God speed" to their friends Sermons were preached by Rev. Dr. in the Empire State. Dewey of New York, and Rev. Mr. It is understood, we believe, that Osgood of Providence, R.I. In the the immediate object held most in course of the discussions, remarks were view by the Association is the apoffered by Rev. Dr. Dewey, Rev. Mr. pointment of a missionary, or travel. Bellows, Rev. Mr. Farley of Brook- ling preacher, to seek out, through lyn, Rev. Mr. Hosmer of Buffalo, Rev. the State, those who are wishing for Mr. Holland of Rochester, Rev. Mr. a more liberal and just administration Buckingham of Trenton, Rev. Mr. of Christianity, according to the rePierpont formerly of Boston, Father commendation in the fourth of the Taylor of Boston, Rev. Mr. Conant above resolutions. of Geneva, Illinois, and Hon. Mr. Jenkyns of Oneida County. The following resolutions
The corner-stone of this edifice was adopted
laid, with appropriate ceremonies, at “Resolved—That Unitarian Chris- six o'clock on the morning of May 27, tianity seeks not primarily the dif- 1846. The introductory prayer was fusion of a creed,' but the develop- offered by Rev. Mr. Hosmer, of Buffament and regeneration of man; and lo, N.Y.; Selections from Scripture that it looks to the preaching of the were read by Rev. Mr. Cordner, of life and spirit of Jesus, as the great Montreal, L.C.; the Address was demeans for the redemption of the livered by Rev. Mr. Waterston, the world."
Pastor of the Church; Prayer was Resolved— That we recognise our offered by Rev. Dr. Gannett, of Bosobligations as Unitarians to diffuse ton; an original Hymn was sụng ; the distinguishing tenets of our de- concluding Prayer was offered by nomination, because they are true, Rev. Mr. Farley, of Brooklyn, N.Y. and because they are deeply needed In the tin box encased in the cornerin the present state of religious opinion stone were deposited sermons by Rev. and of morals in the community.” Drs. Channing, Dewey, Walker, Gan
“Resolved–That the progress of nett, Lamson, Noyes, and Rev. Messrs. liberal Christianity in this state has Waterston and Robbins ; also a copy been commensurate with the efforts of the Christian Register, the Chrismade to advance it, and that there tian World, the Bible Christian, Reare no limits to its diffusion but those ports of the Cambridge and Meadville which the fewness of the labourers Theological Schools, Report of the creates."
Ministry at Large, and of the Sunday“Resolved–That this Association School Society; also, a copy of the should support a newspaper ; and a Service-Book of the Church of the missionary, whose business it should History of the Sunday School, by W. be to teach throughout this State, R. Sumner, Esq.; of the Account of scattering tracts, and preaching in all this Church, by H. B. Rogers, Esq.; the considerable towns, or supplying and of the Order of Exercises at this the pulpits of our brethren.”
ceremonial.—Monthly Religious May.
CHURCH OF THE SAVIOUR.
SOME, perhaps, even now, may ob- good man's folly more likely to disject to the notion that human wisdom cover truth than his wisdom? The can enable us to interpret God's Word. great fault in the writings of that party I need not quote here the various texts who are supposed to attach least value of Scripture which are commonly to what they call profane learning, apbrought forward to support this objec- pears to me to consist in their frequent tion, and which, forced as they are misquotations and misinterpretations from their real meaning, confirm the of Scripture: they can quote detached statement which they are supposed to texts, but are by no means remarkable confute. Undoubtedly, no bad man, for a comprehensive view of large porno careless liver, is likely, by the mere tions of the Sacred Volume taken toaids of criticism or intellectual ability, gether; and, with the very best intento enter into the full meaning of the tions, they interpret St. Paul no betScriptures. But I have been all along ter than they would interpret Arissupposing the case, not of a bad or totle, and for the same reason; becareless man, but of a Christian stu- cause they do not sufficiently exercise dent, desirous to use every means and cultivate their minds to become which God has given him, in order to masters of the meaning of a profound arrive at the truth as it is in Christ. and difficult writer.-From Dr. ArIs such an one the better or the holier nold's Introduction to the Third Vol. for letting his understanding grow of his Sermon. feeble for want of exercise? or is a
OBITUARY. DIED-On Thursday, 23d July last, in which he so manifestly delighted. at Stillon, Hunts, at the house of his They who best knew him, and who father-in-law, Mr. Haddock, much be- had the most frequent opportunities of loved and lamented by all who knew witnessing the deep effect which his him, Mr. Stephen Knighten, of St. Christian faith produced on his temMartin's, Stamford, Lincolnshire, per, conversation, and all his social aged 28 years.
conduct, will long retain a grateful reMr. Knighten was, formerly, an membrance of the excellence of his esteemed local preacher among the character, and the Christian purity of Wesleyan Methodists, in the Stam- his life. Nor can they soon forget ford district, and had, subsequently, the fervid thankfulness to which he preached in the chapels of the other repeatedly gave utterance, for the Christian parties in that town. But means by which he was brought to a on his more recent adoption of Uni- more truly evangelical view of the tarian views of Christianity, he was, character of God—the mediation of of course, discarded by his former Christ—and the divine beauty, and Orthodox friends.
holy power of simple scriptural For the last several years he had truths. endured, with exemplary patience In his character, doctrine, and duty, and Christian meekness, great bodily profession and practice were seen in sufferings, which, as his friends be- striking harmony-in his life were lieve, originated in overexertion in combined the virtues of an affectionate walking home on the same day, after husband, a faithful friend, a peacevery earnest exercise in open-air loving and temperance-promoting preaching - and to remove which neighbour, and a consistent follower baffled all human skill. Had his life of his heavenly Lord and Saviour ; been preserved, and his health re- and, in his death, “the calmness of a stored, there was every rational pros- summer's eve," prevailed! The conpect of his becoming a useful and sideration of which yields the best zealous disseminator of that purer, support to the bereaved widow's heart, and truer form of Christianity, and to the minds o many sorrowing which he had recently adopted, and friends.
TO CORRESPONDENTS. The Paper referring to the proceedings of the General Assembly, at the July meeting would now be out of time for publication. We are, nevertheless, obliged to our correspondent.
It is requested that all communications intended for insertion in the Irish Unitarian Magazine will be forwarded not later than the 10th of the preceding month (if by post, prepaid), to 28, Rosemary-street, Belfast.
Our views respecting the Holy Scriptures, as far as such views require to be stated in a confession of faith, are sufficiently developed, when we admit the direct and positive inspiration of the Bible, and receive as authentic the miracles it records and the prophecies it contains. We have arrived at this point in the statement we are giving of the principles of Modern Orthodoxy. We proceed to the next truth contained in the Outline prefixed to this statement, viz. “We believe that man is unable to justify himself before God, and by himself to merit salvation.” We challenge the most rigid Orthodoxy, of whatever age, to add a word to this statement. The incontestible right of the Creator to require from his creatures perfect obedience to his laws, undivided love and entire devotement;—the impossibility of man's paying this debt, which the very gift of life imposes, and which is therefore due from every living creature—an impossibility which a review of the history of humanity stamps as an established fact;--the indignation with which conscience repels the idea of having merited, either the blessings of God in this world, or his favours in another ;-all these sad and important truths are expressed in the words, “Man is unable to justify himself before God, and of himself to merit salvation.” If man unaided could justify himself, if he could succeed in repairing the errors he has committed, if he could re-clothe himself with the virtues he has neglected, if he could conceal his moral deficiencies by casting around him a robe fallen from some glorified Elijah whom he had adopted as his instructor—then man might hope to merit salvation. Though he had been a slothful servant, yet, coming at the eleventh hour, le might fulfil his task, regain the time he had before lost, repair the evil he had before committed, and earn the wages of a faithful workman.
God would be his debtor, and the blessings of Providence and Grace -a peaceful death and a happy immortality - would be simply the returns due to the expiation he had made, and the labour he had performed. Such a supposition as this precludes the necessity of a Saviour altogether. If man can save himself, there can be no reason why God should offer salvation. If we can dispense with the salvation it offers, we can also dispense with Christianity entirely. But we cannot believe that man can thus merit pardon and Heaven, we cannot believe that he can thus instantaneously convert his injustice into justice, his sinfulness into purity, and deserve eternal happiness, at the moment he surrenders a life which has been one unshaken scene of folly and crime.
There is no occasion, either amid the terrors of remorse or the enthusiasm of gratitude, to exaggerate the moral state of man. To exaggerate it is in fact to weaken our cause. No language can enhance the enormity of sin, and when we say “I do not merit anything, I cannot merit anything of God,” what can I say more? The verbiage of fanaticism attempts to exaggerate our sinfulness, but it fails to increase its enormity, and the humility which a sense of our unworthiness inspires will be the more valuable as it is founded upon calm conviction, rather than rapturous emotion.
The evil of exaggeration is seen in one circumstance which here suggests itself to our recollection. We have said that all men are undeserving of God's favour, that no man can merit anything; from this it has been concluded by some, that all men are equally guilty before God! Such is the folly to which a blind, unreasoning dogmatism will sometimes lead. What enlightened conscience can believe that the shade of doubt which crossed the mind of Moses when he struck Mount IIoreb-the passing bigotry which prompted St. John to desire fire from Ileaven to destroy a Samaritan village—the timidity which drew from St. Peter a denial of his Master in the hall of Pilate — are to be placed in the same rank with the cowardice of a Caiaphas who delivered up the holy one and the just, and the treachery of a Judas who betrayed him! Yet to this excess of absurd injustice, in which all law and all conscienco is set at naught, are they led who represent the whole human race, of all ages and of all races, as plunged into one motionless abyss of equal guilt, who see not in the lower deep a deeper still, nor hear, according to the sublime image of the sacred penmanı, “deep calling to deep at the noise of his waterspouts.” Yes, unworthiness is equal, because nowhere is there merit, but iniquity is not equal and cannot be so. It must vary in every man by shades, alone perceptible to the eye of God,-shades that are infinite; because to the growth of sin, as to the progress of virtuo, no limits have been placed.
Ancient Orthodoxy, instead of avoiding this exaggerated representation of man's moral condition, prided itself upon it, as something improving and edifying. This wretched error led to the greatest mistakes in the interpretation of some passages of Holy Writ. Overlooking the fact that these are infinite degrees in corruption, and regarding all as equally guilty because all are equally unworthy, every text which speaks of crime or condemns it, has, with them, an equal value, and is applied without modification to all generations, and to all states of society. Sodom and Gomorrah, whose iniquities “cried unto heaven," is with them a picture of the world as at present constituted. The hyperboles of Job's friends, necessary to bear out their absurd theory that our misfortunes are all sent in anger and none in love, all chastisements for sin and none trials of our fidelity—these exaggerations are referred to, as correct descriptions of men's ordinary failings and God's uniform providence! When David, after his conscience had been roused by the rebuke of Nathan, laments his atrocious wickedness towards Bathsheba and Uriah, the terrible remorse of this adulterous murderer is regarded as the ordinary expression of the Christian's repentance ! And finally, when the later prophets, and especially Jeremiah, pour forth the thunders of their rebuke against the cupidity, the injustice, the licentiousness, and idolatry, which overran the Jewish court and capital, even when besieged by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar—a state of national depravity which has never been equalled but during the decline of the Roman Empire-these indignant remonstrances are received as applicable to the manners and habits of a Christian people! The certain result of such exaggerations is to cast a reproach upon the book of God as unjust in its rebukes, and to encourage sinners to console themselves with the thought that their faults cannot deserve such severe censures, and may perhaps entirely escape reproof. Modern Orthodoxy avoids this error.
She does not range every sin in the same rank and on the same level. She believes that every man is a sinner, and therefore no man merits God's favour, but she adds, “Every man shall bear his own burden.”
The prevalence of moral evil and the universality of sin, are the very foundations of Christianism, for without sin there had been no necessity for redemption. But this statement seems to us sufficient, without our adding to it a reception of the doctrine of Original Sin, and the damnation of infants. As to the doctrine of Original Sin, if by it is meant merely that sin commenced with the commencement of the human race, and hung around the very cradle of humanity, this is not so much a doctrine as a fact, an event, upon which the record in Genesis is found in agreement with a crowd of vague traditions floating amid the legends of almost every nation. We believe, with St. Paul, “ that by the first man, Adam, sin entered into the world."