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MR HAMILTON'S LECTURES.
REASONS FOR THE UNITARIAN BELIEF, plainly stated in nine Lectures. By Luther Hamilton, Minister of the First Congregational Society in Taunton.
We have read Mr Hamilton's book with much satisfaction. In his introductory lecture, he treats of the utility of religious inquiry and discussion, and offers some reasons why Unitarian christians, especially at the present day, should be ready to publish, explain, and defend their views of the revelation which God has given of his truth. The subjects of the others are, the Unity of God; the Father alone is. God Supreme; Christ not God, but an inferior and dependent being ; the meaning of the phrase, holy spirit; the evidence chiefly relied on to prove the doctrine of the Trinity ; the death of Christ; the character of man as a moral being; and the sufficiency of the Scriptures. After a classification, in his fifth lecture, of the senses in which the expression, holy spirit,' and other equivalent expressions are employed in the New Testament, the correctness of which we shall not stop to examine, Mr Hamilton goes on to rotice some texts, in which the phrases in question cannot be used to designate a person, a sense, which we fully concur with him in believing, they never in a single instance bear in the sacred writings, unless when applied to God the Father.
I proceed,' says he, to point out particularly a few of the many passages in which the phrase cannot denote a person. Acts x, 38. 'God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy spirit and with power.' Does the author mean that one person, who is God, anointed another person who is God, with a third person who is God? It seems more reasonable to suppose the meaning of the passage to be this ;
"God imparted to Jesus of Nazareth miraculous knowledge and power.' The Pharisees charged Jesus with casting but demons by the power of the prince of demons. In answer to this charge Jesus said, according to Matth. xii, 28, “I cast out devils by the spirit of God,' and according to Luke xi, 20, 'I with the finger of God cast out devils.' Thus it is manifest from these passages, that the phrases, 'spirit of God,' and 'finger of God,' mean simply, in these instances, that divine power by which Jesus was enabled to cast out demons; and that these phrases are used in both passages as equivalent to the phrase, holy ghost,' in the following verses of the same chapter of Matthew. In the 32d verse, referring to the above mentioned charge which the Pharisees had brought against him, Jesus says— whosoever speaketh against the holy ghost, it shall not be forgiven him,'— which means—the wilful denial of the miraculous testimony given to my doctrine, will not be forgiven men.' In the above passages, it is at least evident, that the phrases, spirit of God,''finger of God,' and holy ghost,' mean merely the miraculous power and authority with which Christ was clothed.
In those passages where the expression, 'baptized with the holy ghost,' occurs, the phrase canrot denote a person. Acts i, 5. “John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the holy ghost. Luke iii, 16. “John said, I baptize you with water, he shall baptize you with the holy ghost and with fire. Compare these promises with their remarkable fulfilment on the day of Pentecost, when the disciples were filled with the holy ghost,'—which must mean, not that they were baptized with a person, but that they were favored with divine inspiration, or filled with a miraculous influence, i. e. an influence from heaven. Compare these passages with the following, from John xx, 21, 22. "Jesus said to them again peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you; and when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, receive ye the holy ghost.' How did the Father send Jesus? I answer, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy spirit and with power;' gave ' not the spirit by measure unto him;' —which means, as I have before shown, that God endued Jesus with miraculous knowledge, authority and power.
There are yet many other passages in which the phrase holy spirit cannot be considered the name of a person. There are fourteen passages in which persons are said to have been · filled with,' or full of the holy spirit.' I have mentioned one of them; the rest I need not specify. Of a siinilar character are those in which thọ holy spirit is said to have been poured out,' or showered down,' which phraseology is consistent enough with the idea that the phrase "holy spirit' denotes a divine or miraculous influence, but utterly incousistent with the notion that it denotes a person. Before I leave this branch of my subject, I would invite your attention to a striking passage in John vii, 39. "This he spake of the spirit which they that believe on him should receive; for the holy ghost was not yet given, for Jesus was not yet glorified.' The word "given' is not in the original, and it is accordingly, in the common version, printed in italics. The Evangelist, then, does affirm in so many words, “there was no holy spirit yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified !' The meaning of this declaration agrees perfectly with the signification which I think the phrase almost always has in the New Testament; but it is utterly inconsistent with the doctrine that there is an eternal intelligent agent, distinct from the Father and equal with him, and whose appropriate or distinguishing name was, holy spirit. • There was no holy spirit yet,' says the sacred writer; meaning that there had not been any communication of the extraordinary gists which Jesus had promised, because he was not yet glorified. Had it been the doctrine of Christ, or the doctrine of the ancient prophets, that there is a person or being eternal, almighty, infinite, equal with the Father, and at the same time distinct from him, and whose distinguishing name was holy spirit; who can believe that the Evangelist would have made the declaration, there was no holy spirit yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified ?-pp, 52–55.
The Lectures breathe throughout an excellent spirit, and are written with plainness and simplicity, and in a tone of earnestness becoming a lover of truth. The author goes straight forward to his subject, which he generally treats in a judicious and satisfactory manner. His style does not always exhibit the utmost finish, and we now and then meet with a sentence somewhat clumsily constructed. But these are trifling blemishes. In works of this class, perspicuity, and a discriminating use of words, are the qualities mainly desirable; and these Mr Hamilton's Lectures, we think, possess.
UNITARIAN DEDICATION AND ORDINATIONS.
May 23. The new Unitarian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, dedicated. Reading of the Scriptures, and Prayers, by Mr Briggs of Lexington. Sermon, by Mr Whitman of Waltham, from Acts xxviii, 22.
June 9. Mr George W. Hosmer, from the Cambridge Theological Institution, ordained as Minister of the First Congregational Church and Society, in Northfield. Introductory Prayer, by Mr Cole of Kingston; Reading of the Scriptures, by Mr Whitwell of Walpole, N. H.; Sermon, by Mr Walker of Charlestown, f.om Revelation iii, 2; Ordaining Prayer, by Dr Kendall of Plymouth ; Charge, by Dr Ripley of Concord; Right Hand of Fellowship, by Mr Goodwin of Concord; Address to the Church and Society, by Mr Ripley of Boston ; Concluding Prayer, by Mr Ripley of Waltham.
June 10. Mr Artemas B. Muzzey, from the Theological School in Cambridge, ordained as Pastor of the First Congregational Church and Society in Framingham. Introductory Prayer, by Mr Francis of Watertown; Reading of the Scriptures, by Mr Austin of Brighton ; Sermon, by Mr Gannett of Boston, from Titus iii, 8; Prayer, by Dr Bancroft of Worcester ; Charge, by Mr Greenwood of Boston; Right Hand of Fellowship, by Mr Thompson of Natick; Address to the People, by Mr Stetson of Medford ; Concluding Prayer, by Mr Sanger of Dover.
RELIGION, ILLUSTRATED BY A COMPARISON OF IT
WITH OTHER QUALITIES AND OBJECTS.
It will help us to understand the subject of Conversion, and will prepare us to make the comparison proposed for its illustration, to take a brief historical view of that language, by which, among theologians, the doctrine has been most commonly expressed; I mean that language which is founded on the figure of a 'new birth. Three views are to be taken of it ; first, of its signification among the Jews; secondly, of its use among the early christian teachers; and thirdly, of its application to modern christian communities. And corresponding to this distinction, there are three kinds of conversion to be considered, the Jewish, the ancient christian conversion, and that conversion which is to be urged among men, already christian in their education and general belief.
Let me observe in passing, that the phrases, .born again,' new creation,' &c, are not the only expressions
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