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sacrifices, and ascetic privations—these were 'glad tidings of great joy,' indeed, to all who, caring for their souls, felt bewildered between atheism and superstition.”—Heresy and Orthodoxy.
Note 5, page 27. “ Men want an object of worship like themselves, and the great secret of idolatry lies in this propensity. A God, clothed in our form, and feeling our wants and sorrows, speaks to our weak nature more strongly than a father in Heaven, a pure spirit, invisible and unapproachable, save by the reflecting and purified mind. We think too, that the peculiar offices ascribed to Jesus by the popular theology, make him the most attractive person in the Godhead. The Father is the depositary of the justice, the vindicator of the rights, the avenger of the laws of the Divinity. On the other band, the Son, the brightness of the divine mercy, stands between the incensed Deity and guilty humanity, exposes his meek head to the storms, and his compassionate breast to the sword of the divine justice, bears our whole load of punishment, and purchases with his blood every blessing which descends from Heaven. Need we state the effect of these representations, especially on common minds, for whom Christianity was chiefly designed, and whom it seeks to bring to the Father as the loveliest being ? We do believe, that the worship of a bleeding, suffering God, tends strongly to absorb the mind, and to draw it from other objects, just as the human tenderness of the Virgin Mary has given her so conspicuous a place in the devotions of the Church of Rome. We believe too, that this worship though attractive, is not most fitted to spiritualize the mind, that it awakens human transports, rather than that deep veneration of the moral perfections of God, which is the essence of piety.
“ We are told, also, that Christ is a more interesting object, that his love and mercy are more felt, when he is viewed as the Supreme God, who left his glory to take humanity and to suffer for men. That Trinitarians are strongly moved by this representation, we do not mean to deny ; but we think their emotions altogether founded on a misapprehension of their own doctrines. They talk of the second person of the Trinity's leaving his glory and his Father's bosom to visit and save the world. But this second person being the unchangeable and infinite God, was evidently incapable of parting with the least degree of his perfection and felicity. At the moment of his taking flesh, he was as intimately present with his Father as
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before, and equally with his Father filled heaven, and earth, and immensity. This Trinitarians acknowledge; and still they profess to be touched and overwhelmed by the amazing humiliation of this immutable being! But not only does their doctrine, when fully explained, reduce Christ's humiliation to a fiction, it almost wholly destroys the impressions with which his cross ought to be viewed. According to their doctrine, Christ was, comparatively, no sufferer at all. It is true his human mind suffered ; but this, they tell us, was an infinitely small part of Jesus, bearing no more proportion to his whole nature, than a single hair of our heads to the whole body, or than a drop to the ocean. The divine mind of Christ, that which was most properly himself, was infinitely happy, at the very moment of the suffering of his humanity ; whilst hanging on the cross, he was the happiest being in the universe, as happy as the infinite Father ; so that his pains, compared with his felicity, were nothing. This Trinitarians do, and must acknowledge. It follows necessarily from the immutableness of the divine nature, which they ascribe to Christ; so that their system justly viewed, robs his death of interest, weakens our sympathy with his sufferings, and is, of all others, most unfavourable to a love of Christ, founded on a sense of his sacrifices for mankind. We esteem our own views to be vastly more affecting. It is our belief, that Christ's humiliation was real and entire, that the whole Saviour and not a part of him suffered, that his crucifixion was a scene of deep and unmixed agony. As we stand round his cross, our minds are not distracted, nor our sensibility weakened by contemplating him as composed of incongruous and infinitely differing minds, and as having a balance of infinite felicity. We recognise in the dying Jesus but one mind. This, we think, renders his sufferings. and his patience, and love, in bearing them, incomparably more im. pressive and affecting, than the system we oppose.”—Channing
Note 6, Page 29. "We believe too, that this system is unfavourable to the charac. ter. It naturally leads men to think, that Christ came to change God's mind, rather than their own ; that the highest object of his mission, was to avert punishment rather than to communicate holi. ness; and that a large part of religion consists in disparaging rood works and human virtue, for the purpose of magnifying the value of Christ's vicarious sufferings. In this way, a sense of the infinite im. portance and indispensable necessity of personal improvement is
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Note 7, page 37. can direct you to nothing in Christ more important than his tried, and victorious, and perfect goodness. Others may for his mysterious attributes ; I love him for the rectitude and life. I love him for that benevolence which went th instructing the ignorant, healing the sick, giving sight I love him for that universal charity, which comprehe spised publican, the hated Samaritan, the benighted nc sought to bring a world to God and to happiness. that gentle, mild, forbearing spirit, which no insult,
overpower; and which desired as earnestly the repentance and happiness of its foes as the happiness of its friends. "" the spirit of magnanimity, constancy. and fearless which, amid peril and opposition, he devoted hin which God gave him to do. I love him for the wise anu
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every sin, to frame them after his own God-like virtue. I love him, I have said, for his moral excellence ; I know nothing else to love. I know nothing so glorious in the Creator or his creatures. This is the greatest gift which God bestows, the greatest to be derived from his Son. You see why I call you to cherish the love of Christ. This love I do not recommend as a luxury of feeling, as an exstasy bringing immediate and overflowing joy. I view it in a nobler light; I call you to love Jesus, that you may bring yourselves into contact and communion with perfect virtue, and may become what you love. I know no sincere, enduring good, but the moral excellence that shines forth in Jesus Christ. Your health, your outward comforts and distinctions, are poor, mean, contemptible, compared with this ; and to prefer them to this is self-debasement, self-destruction. May this great truth penetrate our souls ; and may we bear witness in our common lives, and especially in trial, in sore temptation, that nothing is so dear to us as the virtue of Christ ! ***
"Thus Jesus lived with men ; with the consciousness of unutter, able majesty he joined a lowliness, gentleness, humanity, and sympathy, which have no example in human history. I ask you to contemplate this wonderful union. In proportion to the superiority of Jesus to all around him was the intimacy, the brotherly love, with which he bound himself to them. I maintain, thạt this is a character wholly remote from human conception. To imagine it to be the production of imposture or enthusiasm, shows a strange unsoundness of mind. I contemplate it with a veneration second only to the profound awe with which I look up to God. It bears no mark of human invention. It was real. It belonged to, and it manifested, the beloved Son of God.
“But I have not done. May I ask your attention a few moments more? We have not yet reached the depth of Christ's character We have not touched the great principle on which his wonderful sym. pathy was founded, and which endeared him to his office of universal Saviour. Do you ask what this deep principle was? I answer, it was his conviction of the greatness of the human soul. He saw in man the impress and image of the Divinity, and therefore thirsted for his redemption; and took the tenderest interest in him, whatever might be the rank, character, or condition in which he was found. This spiritual view of man pervades and distinguishes the teaching of Christ. Jesus looked on men with an eye which pierced beneath the material frame. The body vanished before him. The trappings
the rich, the rags of the poor, were nothing to him. He looked through them, as though they did not exist, to the soul ; and there, amidst clouds of ignorance and plague-spots of sin, he recognized a spiritual and immortal nature, and the germs of power and perfection which might be unfolded for ever. In the most fallen and depraved man, he saw a being who might become an angel of light. Still more, he felt that there was nothing in himself to which men might not ascend. His own lofty consciousness did not sever him from the multitude ; for he saw, in his own greatness, the model of what men might become. So deeply was he thus impressed, that again and again, in speaking of his future glories, he announced that in these his true followers were to share. They were to sit on his throne, and partake of his beneficent power. Here I pause; and I know not, indeed, what can be added to heighten the wonder, reverence, and love which are due to Jesus. When I consider him not only as possessed with the consciousness of an unexampled and unbounded majesty, but as recognizing a kindred nature in all human beings, and living and dying to raise them to an anticipation of his divine glories ; and when I see him, under these views, allying himself to men by the tenderest ties, embracing them with a spirit of humanity, which no insult, injury, or pain could for a moment repel or overpower, I am filled with wonder, as well as reverence and love. I feel that this character is not of human invention, that it was not assumed through fraud, or struck out by enthusiasm ; for it is infinitely above their reach. When I add this character of Jesus to the other evidences of his religion, it gives to what before seemed so strong a new and vast accession of strength; I feel as if I could not be deceived. The Gospels must be true; they were drawn from a living original; they were founded on reality. The character of Christ is not fiction ; he was what he claimed to be, and what his followers attested. Nor is this all. Jesus not only was, he is still, the Son of God,—the Saviour of the world. He exists now; he has entered that Heaven to which he always looked forward on earth. There he lives and reigns. With a clear, calm faith, I see him in that state of glory; and I confidently expect, at no distant period, to see him face to face. We have, indeed, no absent friend whom we shall so surely meet. Let us then, by imitations of his virtues, and obedience to his word, pre. pare ourselves to join him in those pure mansions where he is surrounding himself with the good and pure of our race, and will communicate to them for ever his own spirit, power, and joy.”—Channing.