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the future; the character of the individual mind when it first appears for judgment; the value of every moment of present time in assigning us our first station in immortality; the exact righteousness in which every variety of character shall have its graduated place on the scale of recompense; the appalling thought of every separate spirit standing before God just as the last effort of convulsed nature dismissed it from the body;
-the trifler in his levity, the drunkard with his idiot look, the murderer with the blood-stains on his soul—and the sainted spirit passing on the breath of prayer from the outer to the inner Court of God's presence ;—these, the solemn distinctions of that awful world, are all lost, because of that common Hell into whose abyss unawed Conscience hurls her fears, and then forgets the infinite gradations of punishment that still remain to pour dread recompense on evil at the award of a retributive God.
There are some objections urged against these views of the practical importance of Unitarianism to which I must now give brief and emphatic answer.
1. It is said that Unitarianism generates no love to Christ: and the reason assigned is, that as we reject the primal curse of original sin, we have not so much to be forgiven, and consequently not equal obligation to love; for to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. Now in our view forgiveness is of God, in whom Trinitarians find no forgiveness, and Christ is the image of our Father in Heaven, and we love him who leads us into that pure and blissful presence, and in whose face we have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, full of grace and truth. We love Jesus for what he is to our souls, and not for the theological fiction, that he took off a disqualification which our God laid on. We love all holy and good beings for the same reasons, that they strengthen in our own nature the springs of goodness and unselfish love, and lift us into fellowship with themselves ; and therefore we love God supremely, and next to God, him who through selfdevotion and perfect filial trust preserved the moral lineaments of Heaven, of a mind harmonized with providence, against the weaknesses and through the temptations of this humanity, whose tremblings we know so well, and whose fallings away in ourselves from the higher impulses of God, have taught us the love of veneration for him who made it bear the likeness of Heaven, and, through its trials and its shrinkings, realized perfection. The moral estimate that would proportion our love to Christ, not to his own fitness to inspire love, to the heavenly benevolence that breathed through his own life and death, but to the selfish measure of the outward benefits received, can be equalled in the confusion and impurity of its moral ideas only by another moral judgment pronounced upon the same occasion—that the guilt of the Jews, when they crucified Jesus, must be estimated and measured in proportion as Jesus was man or God. This certainly is quite consistent with the Trinitarian scheme, that guilt can be contracted unknowingly; but who will set right this utter ignorance of the primitive ideas of morality? What spectres of the thirteenth century rise before us when we listen to these conceptions—of God dying under the hands of his creatures : and of their guilt, by some process, (not moral, but metaphysical,) becoming infinite because the sufferer was infinite, though they knew it not, and believed themselves to be cru. cifying the man Jesus! It is only further proof that the Atonement and its allied ideas tends to confuse in the minds that receive it the fundamental perceptions of Right and Wrong.* 2. It is said that Unitarianism leads to infidelity: and the
ned is that those whom Trinitarianism makes sceptics, find with us ideas of Christ and Christianity with which they have sympathies. We intercept the minds whom they have driven from Belief; we present our serene and perfect image of Duty and of God to minds wearied and perplexed
with views of Religion which are felt to be too coarse for their own nature and therefore infinitely unworthy of the spirit of God; but because they leave the Church, that Christian Jerusalem, and come to sit at the feet of Jesus in our humble Bethany, where at least he is loved purely and for himself;—then this is Infidelity, and we who stay the wanderer, and retain him within the fold, are called producers of unbelief. The spirit of Jesus said, “he that is not against us is for us.” The spirit of Trinitarianism says, “ he that is not for us is against us." It was said that the spirit of infidelity is the spirit of this age. I only ask, if this is so, could there be a more practical condemnation of that system, and of that Church, which sways all the religious influences of the country; and whose representations of Christ and of Christianity, the universally prevailing ones, have produced the religious character of these times? If there is Infidelity in the land, it is mainly the recoil from Orthodoxy.*
3. It is said that Unitarianism encourages the pride of human Reason. Now I shall answer this very briefly, because any lengthened exposure would necessarily take the form of sarcasm. Whose Reason is it that we oppose when we reject Trinitarianism ? Trinitarians say that it is the Reason of God. But how do they know this? Because they are sure that they know the Mind of God as it is revealed in the Scriptures ; and they are sure that we are in error. Infallibility again! So that to oppose their interpretation of the Scriptures, is to set up our own Reason against the Reason of God. Now I ask, in all simplicity, Can they who say these things have taken the trouble to clear their own ideas? If there is any pride of Reason, on which side does it lie? They first identify their own sense of the Scriptures with God's sense, and then they charge other men with the pride of Reason, for not bowing down their minds to God, having first taken it for granted that their Reason and God's Reason are one and the same.
Look again to the uncertain doctrines which they deduce from the Scriptures by processes of inference, sometimes technical and sometimes mystical, and say, does the world afford a more marked exemplification of the pride of human Reason, than the absolute confidence with which these doubtful conclusions are received, and not only that, but pressed upon men, as the exact meaning of God, at the peril of their eternal Salvation? What do these divines rest upon when they deduce from the Scriptures their essentials of Christianity? Their own reasonings. And yet they will tell you, that to differ from them, is to oppose your own Reason to the mind of God. I ask, hereafter in this controversy, Should not this matter of the pride of human reason be a weapon of attack in our hands, an accusation against Trinitarians, instead of a charge which Unitarians are to answer? We have too long, in this and many other matters, stood upon the defensive.*
And now, in conclusion, let me say once more, that though we think Trinitarian views of man's connexions with God injurious to Christian perfection, inasmuch as they throw the minds which receive them out of harmony with the realities of God, and must therefore undergo future correction and readjustment, still our strongest objection to the Trinitarian scheme is the fundamental one that it is based upon principles of exclusiveness, upon the indispensable conditions of a narrow and technical creed, and that thus it is the parent and fomenter of all those dissensions and practical evils in religion which these times witness and deplore. How many has orthodoxy persecuted into a hatred for the very name
ow many minds has it darkened, or mixed up with the most incongruous associations, the beautiful image of Christ, destroying its healing and persuasive power? O! why should it be, except for this Trinitarian scheme of an Exclusive Salvation, that Religion should be directing her whole energies to the support of creeds, instead of going about doing good, and with her heavenly spirit entering into conflict with the moral evils that afflict society, and degrade man, and rebel against God? Why is it, that instead of this, we have a distinct class of sufferings, that go under the name of religious evils? Why is it that we are here holding controversy with our fellow Christians, instead of uniting our spirit and our strength to work the works of Christ? We wage not this controversy for the purpose of aiding a sect; but we wage it, to do what we can to expose and put down universally the sectarian spirit. The great evils of society, the crying wrongs of Man, are mainly owing to this diversion of Religion from spiritual and practical objects to the strife of tongues and Salvation by creeds. What is the Religion of this country doing? Contending for creeds. What ought it to be doing? Spreading the spirit of the life of Christ through the hearts of men and the institutions of society. How long are these things to be? How long are the spiritual influences of this country to be all consumed in striving with heresies instead of striving with sins; leaving untouched the bad heart of society, whilst wrangling for a metaphysical faith? Look to the religious apparatus of this country. Look to the number of pulpits that should send forth the spiritual influences of righteousness and peace; and the number of men that should move through society apostles of the beneficence of Christ.
Suppose all this strength directed to practical and spiritual objects, and could the things that are, remain as they are, if the religious forces of the country instead of being exclusive, doctrinal, controversial, were full of the love of Jesus, and sought simply to establish the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth? Could Religion excite the angry passions that she does, if her aims were spiritual and not doctrinal ? Could Religion be divorced as she is from practical life, and confined to a class kept under powerful stimulants, and called the “ religious public,” if her aims were spiritual and not doctri