Sivut kuvina

for our spiritual nature, how readily, how universally would it have been received by all who felt that it had echoes within the soul, and that Jesus was indeed the brightest image of G od, and the very ideal of humanity! Who would not be a C hristian, if to be a Christian required faith only in such truths as these :-that the holy and affectionate Jesus was the human image of the mind of God, and that the Universal Father is more perfect and more tender than his holy and gentle child, by as much as Deity transcends humanity; that the character of the Christ is God's aim and purpose for us all, the result at which He desires each of us to arrive through the discipline and sufferings of Earth ;—that traces of Imm ortality were upon that heavenly mind; that his profound sympathy with the Spirit of God, the surrender of his own immediate interests for the sake of the purposes and drift of providence, the identification of himself with the will of God, the constant manifestation of a style of thought and action drawn on a wider scale than this present life, and that placed him in harmony with better worlds,—that these marked him out as a being whose nature was adjusted to more glorious scenes, whose soul was out of proportion to his merely earthly and external lot, and whose appropriate home must be the pure Heaven of God? Would any one refuse admission to these spiritual views as they are given off to our souls from the pure life of Jesus, if he was permitted to receive them from Christ himself, and not obliged on his way to that Heavenly Image of grace, liberty, and truth, to stoop his free neck to the yoke of Churches and of Creeds. But men preach themselves, not Christ. They embody their own conceptions of Christianity in formulas, and pronounce these to be essentials, instead of suffering Jesus to make his way to the heart, and stamp there his own impression. Hence the origin of unbelief. I quote the words of an eminent Unitarian, himself converted from orthodoxy chiefly by the force of the argument I am about to state: “ Settle your

[ocr errors]


disputes (says the unbeliever), at arguments in defence of Christia 38 3d Protestants, offer me


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

parents; the nature of sin pardoned except by pali existence or non-exi

[blocks in formation]

or), and then I will listen to your argumesto.

hristianity. Both of you, Romanists and Protestants,

of me salvation on condition that I embrace the Christian faith. You offer me a sovereign

which is to preserve me alive in happiness through all eternity; but I hear you accusing each

ut I hear you accusing each other of recom

" world, not a remedy but a poison ; a poison, mdeed, which, instead of securing eternal happiness, must

erness to eternal punishment. You both agree that it is of the essence of Christianity to accept certain ao cerning the manner in which the Divine Nature exists; Oral and intellectual condition in which man was created ; sent degradation through the misconduct of our first We nature of sin, and the impossibility of its being

Scept by pain inflicted on an innocent person; the or non-existence of living representatives of Christ apostles; a church which enjoys, collectively, some Clinary privileges in regard to the visible and invisible : ; the presence of Christ among us by means of tranCantiation, or the denial of such presence; all this, and

more, some of you declare to be contained in, and s to be opposed to, the Scriptures ; and even here there

nerce contention as to whether those Scriptures embrace the whole of that Christianity which is necessary for salvation, or whether tradition is to fill up a certain gap. I am, therefore, at a loss how to account for the invitation you give me. To me (the unbeliever might continue) it is quite

that the ablest opponents of Christianity never dis

more convincing argument against REVELATION heral, than that which inevitably arises from your own atements, and from the controversies of your churches

th agree), pitying mankind, has disregarded the

bxed by himself, and for a space of four ars, and more, has multiplied miracles for the of acquainting men with the means of obtaining

extraordinary priv
world ; the pre
much more, some

[ocr errors]

covered a more convincing argum

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

God (you both agree), pitying natural laws fixed by himself, thousand years, and more, has purpose of acquainting me

[merged small][ocr errors]

salvation, and avoiding eternal death, eternal death signifying almost universally, among you, unending torments. But when I turn to examine the result of this (as you deem it) miraculous and all-wise plan, I find it absolutely incomplete; for the whole Christian world has been eighteen centuries in a perpetual warfare (not without great shedding of blood), because Christians cannot settle what is that faith which alone can save us. Have you not thus demonstrated that the revelation of which you boast cannot be from God? Do you believe, and do you wish me to believe, that when God had decreed to make a saving truth known to the world, he failed of that object, or wished to make Revelation a snare?*

Now not believing that Revelation has failed of its object, or that it is a snare, and believing that under all the so-called Essentials, which we regard as mere human additions, there is yet a true and universal impression received from the spirit of Jesus, believing in fact that our Controversies are about accidentals, and that under all our differences there is, deeper down, the untroubled well of Christ springing up into everlasting life, I would proceed to expose those errors in the Trinitarian conception of Revelation which have laid it open to the charge of not being a Revelation, of dividing mankind by Controversies instead of uniting them by moral Certainty,and to contrast this Trinitarian Conception of Revelation with what, for the following reasons, we hold to be the true one, because it represents God as accomplishing what, from the very nature of a Revelation, he must have intended to accomplish, namely, the communication of moral and spiritual knowledge; because it removes the materials for doctrinal strife and controversial rancour which never could have been God's object in sending a Revelation, but which are inseparable from Trinitarian ideas of Revelation; and because it would realize that union for which Christ prayed and

• “Heresy and Orthodoxy,” by Rev. J. B. White, pp. 8, 9.

[ocr errors]

Apostles intreated, a moral onenes
Jesus, a unity of spirit in the bot



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Then God

storld, ble

Felation a

s objeto

one who, passing through then
would show them in his own P
intended this present discip
again after death, morally
Heavens, would reveal
the unbroken spiritual co

[blocks in formation]

oneness with God as revealed in
Jesus, a unicy ose the the bond of peace.
Let us suppose, there God having the design to send a
lation to Mankind. There are two methods, either of
e might adopt in the execution of that intention. He

them a written Revelation in the form of a Book :
or He might send them a living Revelation

hem a living Revelation in the form of a
might announce to them His Will through words :
or He might send to them one of like nature with themselves,

could actually work the Will of God before their eyes;
passing through their circumstances of life and death,

them in his own person the character which God
us present discipline to create; and who, appearing

Cath, morally unchanged, and passing into the "uld reveal to them, by these his own destinies, en spiritual connexion of the present with the

the immortal home which God has with Himself Dirits of those holy ones who are no more on Earth. urst case, then, we suppose God to send a verbal ge to men, a communication by words teaching ines, spoken first, and afterwards committed to writing:

cond case we suppose that a pure and heavenly being suing the will and purposes of God through his own Which is also our nature, is himself the divine Message our Father; one who walks this earth amidst our

our sins,—transfiguring the one and reclaiming ther and gathering up into his own soul the strength

s to be derived from both :—who enters our dwellings, sheds thro

through them the divine light of heavenly love, plants

e of immortality in the midst of trembling, because og and dying, beings, and binds together the perishi dren of Earth in the godlike Trust of imperisha

th can glorify but cannot kill ;—who places

mstances of severest trial, and shows us ergy of a filial heart, and the unquenchable brightness

future, and the im for the spirits of In the first case

[ocr errors]

Message to doctrines, SP

men to

In the second case we suppo



that is to be derive

[blocks in formation]

of a spirit in prayerful communion with the God of Providence; who, that he might be a revelation of a heavenly mind amidst every variety of temptation, passed on his way to death, through rudest insults, and showed how awful a thing is moral greatness, how calm, how majestic, how inaccessible, how it shines out through aggressive coarseness, a mental and ineffaceable serenity, a spirit that has its glory in itself, and cannot be touched ;-who, having showed man how to live and to suffer, next showed him how to die ;-who in the spirit and power of Duty subdued this garment of throbbing flesh to the will of God, and in the death agonies was self-forgetful enough to look down from the cross in the tenderest foresight for those he left behind, and to look up to Heaven, presenting for his murderers the only excuse that heavenly pity could suggest,—“ Father forgive them! they know not what they do ;”—and who having thus glorified God upon the earth, and finished the work given him to do, was himself glorified by God; taken to that Heaven which is the home of goodness ;-thus showing the issues to which God conducts the tried and perfected spirit, that His Faithfulness is bound up with the destinies of those that trust Him, and that His providence is the recompense of the just, who live now by Faith.

Now the first thing that will strike you in comparing these two possible methods of a Revelation is, that the written communication containing doctrines is cold, formal, indistinct and distant, when contrasted with the living presence of a pure and heavenly being, who places himself at our side, enters into our joys and sorrows, shows us in action and in suffering the will of God reflected on every form of life, and works out before our eyes the vast idea of perfection. No message, no written document, no form of words, could leave such distinct impressions or quicken such sympathy and love, as the warm and breathing spirit who entered into communication with us, whose influences we felt upon ou

« EdellinenJatka »