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powers, what alliance is there between their duties? What argument can logically be maintained from the immortality of an angel to the immortality of a man ? Christ's resurrection sinks from a supernatural representation of human destiny, of man's alliance with God, into a mere testimony, borne by God to the providential mission of the angel; nay we do not know enough of the nature of angels to refer the resurrection of one, in a body that it had assumed for a time, to the special interference of Deity. Only on a man could God exhibit the divine image in man. Only in a man could God impersonate the duties and the destinies of man. Only on a man could God show forth the immortality of a man. There is neither obligation in the example, nor logic in the argument drawn from Christ's resurrection to that of the whole human race, if the Christ was not one of the human race. Mr. Porter himself urges against Trinitarianism that the doctrine of two natures in Christ destroys the effect of his example. But one of these natures was human, and suffered all that a man can suffer, though the divine nature suffered nothing. But in Arianism the whole spiritual nature is superhuman, and what can we know of the sufferings of an angelic essence, or of its power to resist pain? Once more, is not an angelic nature, a pre-existent spirit lodging in the body of an infant, and growing in favour with God and man, passing through childhood, boyhood, manhood, a difficulty of exactly the same kind as that which Arians, and Mr. Porter among them, oppose to the Trinitarian hypothesis of the Deity taking flesh and dwelling amongst us? Indeed the difficulty, though less in one sense as not involving the union of two natures in the person of Christ, is in another sense greater, as the Arian hypothesis requires that the pre-existent angel should dwell in the body of the infant Jesus, and under the apparent form and developments of childhood be actually veiling and concealing the highest and most perfect of created minds,—whilst in the Trinitarian Hypothesis it is not necessary to suppose the union of the two natures until the period of the baptism of the Christ. We confess we do not see how any one who is not stopped by the difficulties of Arianism can find any thing insu. perable in the difficulties of Trinitarianism. However, we cordially sympathize with Mr. Porter's spirit. Far be it from us to divide the Unitarian world on such a question, and whatever may be our views of Scripture, Reason, and Philosophy on this subject, we feel assured, on no theoretic grounds, but from the perusal of his book, that Mr. Porter has lost nothing of the truest and purest influences of Christianity.
The work is very complete in its plan: it embraces the whole
field of the Trinitarian Controversy. The first six Lectures are occupied with the external evidences of Unitarianism, as the Faith of the Old Testament, of Christ and his Apostles, and of the Primitive Church, and the last six Lectures illustrate its internal evidences, its moral character, its influences and practical efficacy, and its accordance with the nature and wants of man, as a rational, a devotional, a benevolent, a holy, a consolatory, and a progressive Faith. These topics are indeed not philosophically distinct, but they form an excellent popular classification of the leading characteristics of any Religion that is worthy of God and sufficient for man, and they afford an opportunity of presenting many interesting views of practical Reli. gion, and likewise of directly meeting many prevalent popular objections to Unitarian Christianity. The subjects of the last six Lectures cannot in strictness be separated from one another, but much of impression and of touching illustration would have been lost if the Preacher had sacrificed his appropriate aims and functions for the sake of a more philosophical arrangement.
In meeting the argument for the Omniscience of Christ drawn from John i. 24, 25, “ But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,” Mr. Porter proposes the translation, “ Jesus did not commit himself unto them because he knew them all.” There is nothing in the passage to prove omniscience, in any sense of it, and the suggested translation we think singularly unhappy. It does not meet the necessities of the very next clause, “ and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man," and it has no application whatever to Nicodemus, with whom our Lord was not previously acquainted, and with whose visit, by night, the verse in question has so close a connection that it ought not to have been separated from it by the division of chapters.
We cannot at all agree with Mr. Porter's view of the use of the expression “ Holy Spirit,” in the Scriptures. He denies its personality and consequently its deity, -and regards it mainly as signifying the power of God manifested in miracles. That Mr. Porter should disown the Arian doctrine of the personality of the Holy Spirit is only what we should expect from him; for a doctrine more unmeaning, more revolting to all sound scriptural interpretation, it is impossible to conceive. But surely there is no clearer scriptural usage than that of the holy Spirit, for the spirit of God, and consequently for God himself. When the soul of man is moved by the spirit of God, then man is said to partake of the spirit of God. And is it not so, even without a figure? In all right states of the soul are we not one with God as Christ was one with God, and is not the spirit of God in us and dwelling with us? It is frigid and totally foreign to the genius of Christianity, to its intimate feeling of the possible union between the human and divine spirit, to speak of the Holy Spirit as an attribute or power. It is God himself, but chiefly God in his connections with the soul of man, natural or supernatural.
As an example of the freedom and freshness of Mr. Porter's style, though a little out of place, we are tempted to give a passage which lies on the page (p. 74) we have been last criticizing. He had very successfully been disposing of the inferential argument for the Deity of Christ drawn from the supposed ascription to him in various passages of divine honours, and he thus closes his examination of these passages :
“Now if these passages do not establish the points in question, they cannot possibly be established; for those that have been selected are among the strongest and clearest that ever have been, or that can be brought forward in their support. Is there a man in this assembly, who, if he were upon a jury empanelled to try a case of £20 value, would feel himself justified in giving his verdict upon either side, on evidence so irrelevant, so wide of the point at issue? And yet on such evidence we are called upon to award the sovereignty of the world to one who never claimed it for himself,—who always consistently declared it to be the sole right and property of another! And we are told, that, unless we pronounce this unwarrantable judgment, we forfeit all hope of our eternal salvation !”
We shall give another example of the same homely strength, combining a directness and a solemn earnestness well fitted to be very effective with a popular audience :
" In former lectures, I have compared the Unitarian and Trinitarian systems, with reference to their agreement or disagreement with Scripture, and I think I advanced some solid reasons, from our sacred books, for the hope that is in me. I have now briefly contrasted a few of them together, with reference to their claims respectively, to the designation of rational. I have shown you, that Unitarianism involves nothing that can be considered as self-contradictory, absurd, or irrational. I have shown, that the commonly-received hypothesis involves a number of contradictions in its very statement : that these contradictions have not been, and cannot be removed ; that, therefore, its doctrines cannot possibly be believed by any one who considers the meaning of the terms in which they are expressed, without violating the laws of the human mind; and that this opposition between reason and orthodoxy, is so far from being denied, that it has been admitted, nay, asserted and gloried in, by some of the most able writers who ever maintained the Trinitarian doc. trine. Here then I close the case for the present. I put it to you, as reasonable and accountable beings, to weigh the evidence, and determine which of the two systems is the rational faith; and were you on your oaths, as a jury to try the point, I should fearlessly look for your verdict. You are not upon your oaths at present; but you are every day of your lives upon your consciences; and remember, I beseech you, that you will one day be on your trial.”
We must pass over the first six Lectures on the evidences of Unitarian Christianity, Scriptural and Historical, with a general commendation of their force, breadth and clearness, though we cannot always agree with Mr. Porter's criticism of individual texts, and in treating of the faith of the primitive Church he assigns an importance to the Epistles of Clement and Polycarp which we think by no means their due. Upon the whole however we do not know where, in the same compass, so comprehensive and convincing a summary could be found, of the principal external evidences of our Faith,—though we cannot say, nor indeed would the compass permit of it, that the examination of the counter evidence is equally satisfactory.
We turn with almost unmixed pleasure to Mr. Porter's delineation of the moral power of our faith, of its adaptation to the conscience, to the griefs and joys, to the weakness and strength, to the aspirations and struggles of man. There is a reality in the delineation of this moral power that fits it to be impressive on every class of minds. The author indeed, here as before, does not leave the beaten course, but he makes it his own; he sees with his own eves, and feels with his own heart. And though he travels on the thoroughfare where many have gone before him, he makes it evident that he could have asserted and maintained a right of road if none had existed before. He sheds his light upon the old paths, mainly because he has no love of singularity. We are inclined to believe that he has no desire either to be considered, or to be, an original thinker,--and we are led to doubt whether he ever tasks his mind to the utmost, and calls out of it the noblest and most perfect things it is capable of producing. There is an easy power, a fatal facility, with which a nature capable of so much must not be satisfied.
We shall now without much of remark or criticism present our readers with a rather copious selection from these forcible illustrations of the moral character and efficacy of Unitarian Christianity. Mr. Porter exposes “ the tactics of holy war,” which consist in first running down, most furiously, the distinguishing characteristics of an opponent's creed, and when at last it is found that the more they are opposed the more do they rise up in condemnation of the opposer, in suddenly turning round and appropriating, as peculiarly one's own, the
Vol. III. No. 14.-New Series.
very qualities that had previously been ridiculed and disowned. The Trinitarian Controversialists have followed this course in their treatment of our claims, first, to be the peculiar vindicators of the Unity of God, and secondly, to exhibit a peculiar harmony between our Reason and our Faith.
" It is curious to see how the religious world will sometimes begin by hurling anathemas against a particular system of faith, and by denouncing the name which expresses that system, as the index of every thing that is false and dangerous; and will persevere, both long and vehemently, in repeating the denunciation ; but if, notwithstanding all the clamour and abuse, the obnoxious name grows at last into some respectability, the very party which thus clamoured against it and abused it, will end by turning round and claiming that very name for themselves. So it has been with the term Unitarian. It was at one time regarded by the Orthodox as a synonyme for all that is false in theology and corrupt in moral feeling. To call a man a Unitarian was then like fixing a brand upon his brow. But at length this very name Unitarian was claimed, amidst the applause of his party, by a Prelate of the Established Church, as the birthright of the Orthodox. And some years ago it was publicly assumed to himself, by the champion of the Trinity in this town, and our exclusive right to it was openly contested and denied. And as this has been the case with Unitarianism, so has it also been with the equivalent designation which I have prefixed to this lecture, viz., a Rational Faith. We have seen with wonder, that notwithstanding all the denunciations which have been fulminated against human reason, as corrupt and blind and totally depraved ; and notwithstanding all the outcry that has been raised against the profession of rational views upon religion, as savouring of carnal pride and sinful arrogance; and notwithstanding all the anathemas which have been pronounced against religionists who are not prepared to exhibit a 'total prostration of the understanding,' we have seen, not without wonder, notwithstanding all this, an advocate of orthodoxy put in a claim, on behalf of his own party, to the designation of rational Christians. After all, we ought not, perhaps, to feel surprise at this denial of our right to possess or employ a title, of which we have been left in possession so long, and the use of which has subjected us to censures so severe. Such changes have taken place before, and I suppose we ought not to be astonished when we witness a similar transposition once again.*
“Observe, however, the difference between us and our opponents upon this point. We do not believe that reason is corrupt, depraved, and totally opposite to all good. We think, on the contrary, that it is a great and glorious gift, which the Creator has bestowed upon us to guide us to the knowledge of truth ; and that when faithfully used, it is capable of performing its noble functions well. We therefore covet an
* “ These sentences refer to the title of a lecture which was announced as about to be delivered in one of the Meeting-houses in Belfast, the object of which was to prove that Trinitarianism is a Rational System of Belief."