Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

takers of one spirit, meet in the love of the universal

et; that God in heaven is no respecter of persons; and

the humblest and most neglected of his children may rise into ha

Lc hallowed intercourse with the infinite spirit. We protest moi

est with a strong abhorrence against the dreadful views which are given of the God's inability to forgive, of the Justice of the Father horribly satisfied by the substitution of the innocent for the sins of the guilty. We profess to have no hope either in time or in eternity, but in the unclouded goodness of Him who sitteth on Heaven's throne and reigneth over all—and if these things may be, and yet God be good, 11 18 a goodness we do not understand and cannot calculate upon, and the pillars of our faith are shaken in all the reliances of futurity. We do not enter now into the scriptural evidence for or against these doctrines—that will be done in other parts of this course ; our present concern is with the question. which of these views is the most calculated to nourish piety. to kindle within us a warm, unselfish, and intelligible love of vod. We meet in the world the children of one Parent with - same souls, the same hopes, the same capacities for jov. " the same God to comfort their sorrows and to work

happiness; breathing on them the same holy and in ping influences ; leading them to the same Saviour and

oning them to the same Heaven; and our love for a our fellowship with man thus mingle intimately in the

heart and shed through it the serene and blissful light hall, radiant, and unclouded Piety. The spiritual in ces of Unitarianism thus lead to a supreme love and ation for God by exhibiting the Holiness, the Forgiving hd the all embracing Impartiality of the Divine Charac thout a stain upon their brightness and their purity.

believe that there is in the spirit of these views a af power to excite an interest in the souls of our en; to give an expansive spirit of humanity; to make that we are bound by the holiest of ties; united in the

Venera

We believe

purposes of one Father; children of the same God, and educating for the same destinies. Wherever we cast our eyes they fall upon God's everlasting ones. In the humblest we see the future immortal; and in the proudest we can see no more. We believe that God made every living soul that it might become pure, virtuous and blessed; we believe that his eye of watchful care is never removed from it; we believe that He never abandons it, that He accompanies it in all its wanderings, and that He will ultimately lead it by his own awful yet merciful discipline, in this world or in the next, in safety to Himself—and we dare not to scorn the spirit which God is tending and which He purposes ultimately to save.

And with this belief at our hearts, we wonder that there is not more heroism in the cause of the human soul; we wonder that the noblest of all philanthropy, that which seeks the realization of Christian states of character, is so rare among men; that there is so little of a strong and yearning love drawing us towards sinning and suffering man ; that souls are permitted to slumber and die without an awakening voice; that our hearts are not stirred within us when we look to the awful and neglected wastes of human ignorance and sin, and reflect that through each guilty bosom, and each polluted home there might breathe the purity and the peace of Christ. We despair of none. We believe that the guiltiest may be turned from their iniquities and saved. We believe that God works by human means and expects our aid. We believe that the fire of heaven is still smouldering, and that a spark might light it into undying flame; and we are sure that the end of this faith is love unwearied, which ought to assume more earnest forms of interest for our nature, and to vent itself in purer efforts for its highest good. Others may defend themselves by casting the whole burden upon God; may point in despair to the hopeless condition of man's heart; wait for fire from heaven to come down and stir the sinner's sull; and having thus “looked upon” the moral sufferer may pass by upon the other side ; but with us there is but one dely; to go to him, to pour the spirit of Jesus into his

[graphic]

anded heart, to lay upon ourselves his burdens, and to toil This restitution as a brother immortal. The “ practical importance," then, of Unitarianism as contrasted with Trinitarianism is in this—that it tends to penetrate our hearts with a deeper spirit of Christian love ; to give us hope and interest in our nature; to call out the highest efforts of the spirit of humanity; and to supply us with lofty motive for emulating the self-sacrifice of Jesus.

We think, further, that in our views of God, of Christ, and of human nature, we have a peculiar encouragement for the personal virtues, a peculiar demand for individual holiness. We have already alluded to the force and distinctness with which we teach that the greatest work of Christ is in giving inward power, strength of purpose to the soul: and Mat there is no salvation except where the purity, the free. com, and the love of Heaven are growing in the heaven. pound heart; but we also recognize peculiar claims upon the conviction which we hold so sacred that our righteons her has created us with a nature capable of knowing doing His Will. Others may cast the odium of human s upon human inability, and thus at last throw down + "dens at the door of their God; but as for us, we can on

our heads in sorrow and ask the forgiveness of Heave believe that God has united us by no necessity with six deny altogether the incapacity of man to do the will

'; we feel that there are energies within us which, if but called

e out into the living strife, would overcome all the resist.

of temptation ; we hear a deep voice issuing from the soul and

and witnessed to by Christ, calling us to holiness and promisir

Ingus peace ;—and with God's seal thus set upon our le, and God's voice thus calling to the kindred spirit

! Father ha

ance

within, why are we not found farther upon the path of Christ, and brightening unto the perfect man?

For, alas! there is not only energy and holy motive in this lofty conviction, there are also the elements of a true and

deep humility. If the glory of our souls is marred it is our · own work. If the spirit of God is quenched within us, we have ourselves extinguished it. If we have gained but little advancement upon Heaven's way, we have wasted and misdirected immortal powers. Elevation of purpose, and true humility of mind, the humility that looks upwards to Christ and God, and bows in shame, are thus brought together in the Unitarian's faith, as they are by no other form of Christianity. I know it is said, with a strange blindness, that this doctrine of the incapacity of man to know and do the will of God is rejected by Unitarianism because it rebukes our pride; but no—it suffers man to be a sinner without hurting his pride; it transfers the disgrace from the individual to the race; and that, on the other hand, is the humbling picture which represents our sins not of our inheritance but of our choice, the voluntary agent of evil degrading a spirit made in the image of God, pouring the burning waters of corruption into a frail though noble nature, until the crystal vessel is stained and shattered. “ Preach unto me smooth things, and prophecy deceits,” is the demand of the less spiritual parts of man, and Trinitarianism is certainly the Preacher whose views of sin fall softly on enervated souls.

We cannot conclude without alluding, however generally, to the practical importance of our views of the future meo We believe that the fitness of the soul for Heaven, its oneness with God and Christ, will form the measure of its joy : and that the thousand varieties of goodness will each be con signed to its appropriate place in the allotments of happiness. We believe that the glory of Heaven will brighten for evo as the character is perfected under the influences of Hea

[ocr errors]

en,

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

22

I that to this growing excellence there is no limit or end.

believe that even in the future there is discipline for the i that even for the guiltiest there may be processes of re"Pion; and that the stained spirit may be cleansed as by fire. We'm

• We believe that this view of a strict and graduated retribution exerts a more quickening, personal, realizing power than that of Eternal torments which no heart believes, Which no man trembles to conceive; where the iniquity which is to be visited with such an awful punishment becomes a shifting line which every sinner moves beyond himselt ; until Heaven itself is profaned, and all its sacredness violated and encroached upon by those who feel that it would be infinite injustice to plunge them into an Eternity so unutterably dreadful, but who have been taught to believe that to escape this Hell is to be sure of Heaven.

Now our present objection to this doctrine of eternal punishment is the practical one that it has no moral power. It woes not come close enough to truth and justice to take a bold. upon the conscience, and so instead of binding and constrain ne, it is inoperative and lax. The fact is, it is not practicall..

chieved. It is too monstrous to be realized. Where, we de the fruits of this appalling doctrine, which is everywher preached? Onewould suppose that its dreadfulness would e tempted spirit in constant alarm. I know that it occas sery to the timid, to the sensitive, to the feeble of ne e is just to those who require the purer and gentlerin hces of religion to give them trust in God: but what sin 'has it alarmed? what guilty heart has it made curdle with "or? what seared conscience has been scared from evil ha Shriek of woe coming up from the depths of the everlast Torture? No; these are not the influences that convert

They are not believed or realized, and yet they displace the thoughts those definite views of the future which

have power to move and save the soul. The righteous nents with which God will award the joys and sorrows of

[ocr errors]

it it occasions

nery

would have pow

allotments

« EdellinenJatka »