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Review, now, this accumulation of various, and diverse, and uncommon excellences; and we seem to find an entire absence of all evil, and the presence of (we had almost said) all possible good. Indeed, what more could be said of any human production ? Certain we are, that such inspiration as Unitarians are wont to concede to the inspired writers, could not have made it better; and, taking some current views of inspiration advocated by distinguished Unitarians, not even so good. For this author seems to be entirely unprejudiced, and free from errors, which is more than can be said of the inspired writers, if it is true, as Priestley asserts, that “the Scriptures were written without any particular inspiration, by men who wrote according to the best of their knowledge, and who, from circumstances, could not be mistaken, with respect to the greater facts of which they were proper witnesses; but, like other men subject to prejudice, might be liable to adopt a hasty and ill grounded opinion, concerning things which did not fall within the compass of their own knowledge;" and if, also, according to the editors of the Improved Version, the Epistle to the Hebrews contains “ some far-fetched analogies, and inaccurate reasonings."* Not so with the author of these Letters. “His thoughts are not thrown off in haste, but have the weight of mature reflections. He has not a particle of bitterness. He is rigidly just. He separates things accidental, from the more essential and universal phenomena.” Behold how these men praise one another. v 3. The Christian Examiner ; vol. v. No. 1. p. 88. .
“We may speak of this work more at length hereafter ; but we esteem it our duty, now that the charm of novelty is fresh about it, to do the little we can towards extending its circulation, by giving it our cordial recommendation. We are not altogether pleased with the machinery of fiction with which it is got up, nor the manner in which that machinery is managed. But, as a calm, dispassionate, impartial exposition of the evils of popular revivals, of the manner in which they are got up, their causes, and general character, we know of no work, since Chauncey's 'Things of a Bad and Dangerous Tendency,' that can compare with it. Besides, it is beautifully, as well as faithfully written, and the reader may be assured of a high gratification for his taste, as well as an accession to his fund of knowledge of the human heart and of the way of improving his own, when he takes it up for perusal. In the present agitated state of the community on the subject of religion, it is a most seasonable gift to the public."
What more will be said, when they " speak of this work more at length hereafter," we cannot presume to say. There is no just ground to fear, however, that their stock of praise is exhausted;
* See Spirit of the Pilgrims, No. 3. p. 151, 152, for more specimens of the same kind.
for truly it would seem inexhaustible, having been so liberally dispensed, ever since it became a fashion with Unitarians to praise each other, with so little sensible diminution, that there is no serious ground of apprehension as it regards an ultimate failure. Enough, however, has been said already for a moderate man; and with this we must at present remain content. The opinion at least of the Christian Examiner is obvious.
• 4. The Christian Register ; April 12, 1828. p. 58.
* It is not often that a work of this description proves so interesting, as the one before us ; for it rarely happens that a work appears written with such elegant simplicity and powerful diction. A more faithful delincation of what is technically called 'revivals of religion, I have never seen. A less cantlid work would undoubtedly have been less popular, and deservedly so. But here no rational man, who believes in the Christian religion, can possibly take umbrage at the general sentiment of this excellent work. I know not the author,—but I must say there is a liberality and purity of sentiment and feeling, which pervades the whole, calculated to elevate the mind of the reader toward just conceptions of divine truth, and infuse into his soul those devout and holy affections, which approximate, in a degree, toward the attributes and perfections of Deity.”
Here, then, we pause. We have arrived at the highest point of the climax. Nothing more can be said. Nothing more need be said. We agree fully with the Rev. Mr. Ware, that such a work 6 ought to be read and pondered.” We shall endeavor to do this duty according to the measure of our ability. . But if it falls so little short of absolute inspiration, if it is calculated, by its sentiments and spirit, to infuse into the soul those devout and holy affections, which approximate, in a degree, towards the attributes and perfections of Deity, who can do it full justice? But, seriously, we cannot admire the wisdom of those who thus commit themselves as it regards their God. An examination of the spirit of this work may, perhaps, place them in an unlucky predicament.
At this point, let any candid man, let any gentleman, let any Christian, consider the result at which we have arrived, and the interests involved. Let him review what has been said of the importance of the general subject of revivals of religion, the connexion of a correct decision with the glory of God, and the eternal welfare of present and coming generations; let him weigh well the claims of this author, and the testimony of his coadjutors; and he will admit that the following statements are true.
1. The subject is one of the highest possible consequence. 2. The book professes to be a statement of facts, on this subject. 3. The author makes no small pretensions.
4. The leaders of the Unitarian party testisy to the correctness of his statements.
5. They also approve, in the bighest degree, the spirit manifested by the author, as preeminently excellent.
6. They also applaud his style as a writer, as uncommonly beautiful.
7. No censure of any consequence is passed on anything which the book contains. The Christian Examiner is not, indeed, altogether pleased with the machinery of fiction with which it is got up, nor the manner in which that machinery is managed.' But this is the only thing which looks like an admission even of the smallest defect, and it touches neither his fidelity as a narrator of facts, nor the spirit of the work. Nothing else of the kind is found ; and the approbation is unqualified and abundant.
Is not the Unitarian party then, fairly committed ? Have they not embarked together in one ship? Have they not volunteered to fight under one leader? Let them then, once more, as the Rev. Mr. Ware directs, read and ponder this book; and then read what they have said, as vouching for the correctness of its statements, and the excellence of its spirit, and decide what course they mean to adopt. Certain it is that they have taken an open, and conspicuous, and decided stand, against the prevailing revivals of religion. But it is no less certain, that if this work or this counsel is of God, they cannot overthrow it. Let them, at least for a moment, pause, and, we deem it not improper to say, look to God in prayer, lest haply they be found even to fight against God.
But whilst we have hope as it regards the more careful and considerate, we cannot but fear that the leaders, and the most zealous partisans connected with them, are determined to maintain the ground they have taken, and from it wage desperate warfare. If so, we are glad that this work is out, and thus publicly authenticated by the leaders of the party, so as to be an authorized expression of Unitarian views on this subject.
We are happy to have a book containing so many statements, and written in a spirit so distinctly characterized, and on a subject of such fundamental importance, put into our hands for at least one good reason. The community ought to know what are Unitarian views of honesty, and candor, and kindness, and liberality; and also what is meant by an impartial statement of facts. On these points no farther doubts can be entertained, so far as this book speaks, for we are assured by the highest Unitarian authority, that these Letters seem to them to come as near to a calm, dispassionate, intelligent, and serious judgment, as is to be expected, and that we have here an account of revivals to which one who seeks information as to what they are, and what are their results, and tendencies, may be safely directed. They feel confident, from comparing his statements with what they have themselves known respecting these awakenings, that this author has rightly characterized them. He is as careful, they assert, to tell what is favorable, as what VOL I.
wears a different aspect. There is here no indiscriminate censure. His thoughts are not thrown off in haste, but have the weight of mature reflections. He is rigidly just. He has given us a calm, dispassionate, impartial exposition of the eyils of popular revivals. So much as to the narration of facts. .
As it regards the spirit of the work, we are told that there is a “ liberality and purity of sentiment and feeling which per vades the whole, calculated to elevate the mind of the reader towards just conceptions of divine truth, and infuse into his soul those devout and holy affections, which approximate in a degree, towards the attributes and perfections of Deity.”
Does any one, then, desire to know Unitarian views, in all the important particulars specified in their unqualified commendations of this author, whose Letters they are engaged in circulating far and wide? This book ought to be read and pondered. Nor shall we deem our efforts misplaced, if we attempt in our subsequent remarks, to answer the remaining inquiries relative to this work, proposed near the beginning of this article. Surely it is desirable to know what are the means used by such a writer, to attain the object which he has in view ; what he has accomplished ; and what is the general character and tendency of the work. . We hope to be assisted by the Spirit of all truth and holiness, to make some additional remarks, which will enable our readers to form correct ideas on the subjects suggested by these interesting and important inquiries.
(To be continued.)
SERMONS DELIVERED ON VARIOUS Occasions. By Lyman · Beecher, D. D. Boston: T. R. Marvin. pp. 367, 8vo.
We design that our department appropriated to Reviews, shall be of a various character. We shall sometimes take the title of a book, as a motto, or starting point, for our own meditations; in other instances, we may do little more than exhibit the views of the author whose work we introduce to our readers. An author, coming before the public for the first time, may need encouragement, or reproof, or both: his views, if a friend, may need modification; if an opponent, may deserve attention. Though we have not one doubt that the great principles, which we have already, in the first article of our first number, presented as our creed, are the fundamental truths of God's word, we are well aware that these truths may be viewed from different points, and with various degrees of light and shade. Much truth may be connected with some error, and dangerous error may be concealed, and rendered more dangerous, by its connexion with important truth. Viewing the matter thus, we shall endeavor to hold even scales between friend and foe.
Our own first principles, and, of course, our partialities, are before the public. We wish not to conceal them. Still we do wish, and so far as we know our motives, intend, to act on the motto, suum cuique, render to every man, and every party we may add, his due. We shall in vain strive to be benevolent, while we are yet unjust. As we have already hinted, in our critical capacity, commendation must not be expected, because the work presented for our examination is from the pen of an instucter whom we have long revered. Every work should stand by its own merits, or fall by its worthlessness. For instance, in the forthcoming edition of President Edwards' Works, though his character and the character of his Works, are immoveably fixed, yet the hitherto unpublished pieces from his hand, which Mr. Dwight promises to present us, will be subjects for impartial criticism. The editor will not claim, nor expect, that these pieces shall not be subjected to as rigid an examination, as though they came from an unknown writer. To be sure, the fact that they are from the pen of President Edwards, is prima facie evidence that they deserve, and will secure, attention. With some, this fact will do more; it will predispose them to judge favorably. But with others, a different state of feeling in regard to his Works, (his personal character all must revere,) will create a prejudice against anything he can say. A proper mental attitude for fair examination is between these, neither approving nor condemning by anticipation, but reading with our own eyes, and judging with our own mind, whether the views he presents coincide with the declarations of Him who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” We are so far independent in our theology, that we will ourselves, and we desire others to do the same, examine for ourselves, individually and personally, every tenet presented for belief, and every duty prescribed for practice.
It matters not who has taught, or who does teach, this doctrine, or its opposite. The great question with us is, what saith the Scripture? If the declarations of an author coincide with the declarations of Christ and of his apostles, though he be called a Mummer, a Huguenot, a Methodist, a Puritan or a fanatic; names, however opprobious, will not deter us from embracing the truth. If the opinions of a writer are in opposition to the oracles of God, though we concede to him all the applause due to him as a chymist, or an astronomer, or a philologist, we must still yield our assent to that opinion which comes to us with an authoritative 5. Thus saith the Lord” stamped upon it.
Truth, and not its advocates; arguments, and not names; are what we desire. We may call ourselves Orthodox or Unitarian, Evangelical or Liberal, and, after all, rest our belief on prejudice,