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We can form no conception, you say, of God's essence; he must remain forever incomprehensible ; whereas a piece of bread is “one of the best known things on earth.” But, pause a little, and tell me, if you are able, what we know of the essence of bodies. Can you explain their hidden nature? Did not your Locke long ago prove, that our knowledge of spirit is just as adequate as our knowledge of bodies ? that is, our acquaintance with neither extends beyond their effects and operations. Besides, pray tell me, by what right you affirm, that the Trinity, in all its parts and adjuncts, is, and forever has been, removed beyond the cognisance of the senses? Was not Jesus, while on earth, an object of the senses ? Was he not seen and felt and handled ? Have a care, lest by your doctrine of the sufficiency of the senses, you “undermine the incarnation itself.” My senses, say you, inform me that this is bread. “With equal reason the Jews said of Christ, Is not this the carpenter's son ?” Their senses told them that he was a man, composed of flesh and blood. How then could they regard him as the infinite Jehovah ? “Whoever will enter into these considerations, instead of employing the Jewish how, will be disposed with St Austin to admit that God can do much more than we can understand,"* and that he is to be adored in the mystery of the Eucharist, as well as in the mystery of the incarnation.'
Thus, Messrs Editors, I do not see but the parallel between the Trinity and Transubstantiation holds throughout, except only that the forrner derives less support from the language of scripture, literally understood, than the latter. To refute the Roman Catholic argument, we must appeal to the understanding, and to the principles of common sense; and tried by this standard, the trinity falls at once.
* End of Controversy.
D. N. C.
UNITARIAN INSTALLATION AND ORDINATIONS,
June 24. Rev Benjamin Huntoon, installed as Minister of the Independent Congregational Society in Bangor, (Me.) Services on the occasion by Messrs Everett of Hallowell, Nichols of Portland, Mason of Castine, and Frothingham of Belfast.
June 30. Mr Jason Whitman from the Theological School in Cambridge, ordained as Pastor of the Second Congregational Parish in Saco, (Me.) Introductory Prayer and Reading the Scriptures, by Mr Thompson of Natick; Sermon, by Mr Gannett of Boston, from Matt. v, 13; Ordaining Prayer, by Dr Nichols of Portland; Charge, by Mr Whitman of Billerica; Right Hand of Fellowship, by Mr Lathrop of Dover; Address to the People, by Mr Everett of Hallowell.
July 7. Mr George Putnam, from the Theological School in Cambridge, ordained as Colleague Pastor with Rev Dr Porter, over the First Parish in Roxbury. Prayer, by Dr Gray of Roxbury; Reading of the Scriptures, by Mr Austin of Brighton ; Sermon, by Mr Dewey of New Bedford ; Ordaining Prayer, by Mr Osgood of Sterling; Charge, by Dr Ware of Cambridge ; Fellowship of the Churches, by Mr Newell of Cambridge; Address to the People, by Mr Parkman of Boston ; Concluding Prayer, by Mr Capen of South Boston.
RELIGION, ILLUSTRATED BY A COMPARISON OF IT WITH
OTHER QUALITIES AND OBJECTS.
NO. V. EVIDENCES OF PIETY AND VIRTUE.
The subject to which I shall invite the attention of my readers in this number, is usually described by the phrase, · Evidences of piety,' or · Evidences of vital religion.' And so much has the subject been narrowed, far indeed within the limits of broad and rational comparison, that I have no doubt, that the addition of the word, virtue, to the description, at once puts a somewhat different aspect on the inquiry. How much would this effect be increased, if I had stated the subject to be, evidences of worth, excellence, or goodness! There is a spell imposed by much of the prevailing religious phraseology, from which the mind can be disenchanted, only by carrying out the whole subject into its broad relations, and by bringing religion, as a principle, into free comparison, with other mental qualities and operations.
VOL. II.-NO. III.
Of all topics, too, connected with religious experience, this of its evidence, perhaps, has been involved in the greatest difficulty. Many books have been written upon it and multitudes have read them, and, I suppose, are still reading them, with the most painful solicitude and uncertainty. There are intrinsic, moral difficulties, undoubtedly, for it is not easy to be thoroughly acquainted with ourselves. But there are difficulties, that are quite extraneous to this great question ; difficulties that have resulted from circunstances, and that do not properly belong to an inquiry into the interior character. These will claim some attention, before we enter upon the immediate question.
If I were fully to trace these obstacles to the right and satisfactory judgment of our religious character, I should go back almost to the sources of religion itself. It certainly would be important to remember, that the predecessor of our system of religion, was Judaism. How many extraneous considerations, affecting the question of his piety and acceptance with God, were there in the mind of a Jew! Had he been regularly up to the temple to worship? Had he paid the due offerings at the altars ? Had he kept the whole ritual ? Above all, was he Jew? Religion was very much a national affair. It consisted, very much, in the apprehension of a Jew, in belonging to the chosen people. It consisted very much, therefore, with all prosolytes to Judaism, in the bare event, the bare fact of their proselytism. It was, of course, mixed up with many extraneous, foreign considerations. It was not the simple question, with a man, whether he were a good and pious man.
Amidst the institutions of this religion, Christianity had its origin. Not that christianity is for a moment to be confounded with Judaism. The difference between them was immense. Nothing, perhaps, more strongly characterizes and proves the divinity of our Saviour's mission, than his bringing out from the narrow pale of Judaism, the broad and beneficent system of the gospel. He could not have obtained it from earth, and we believe, therefore, that he must have received it from heaven. But still the promulgation of this system, was made in language, and was attended by circunstances, that tended to give it an appearance somewhat analagous to the Jewish peculiarity. There was, as I have said, in a former article, a proselytism, a conversion, which was marked, not by the inward, and almost imperceptible process of experience, but by epochs, by events and dates. There were, also, two classes of men in religion, the believers and the unbelievers. There was; moreover, a system and a sect arising. And the question, with a man concerning his religion, was not simply, whether he was an excellent and devout man, but also, whether he belonged to this sect; whether he had adopted this system ; whether he had been converted; whether he were a proselyte? It will be easily perceived, that all this must have given somewhat of a peculiar and circumstantial character to religion in those days; that these circumstances must have connected with the simple question of a man's goodness or badness of character, many things that are extraneous and foreign to the matter.
I conceive, that these observations have an important bearing, as upon several other subjects, so in particular