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tual plan of both explaining and enforcing the doctrines of Scripture, by shewing the right use of them.
One of the most finished sermons in the fifth volume, is the xxxivth, on the Third Commandment. Having, in the first place, briefly shewn that, in this commandment, are alike forbidden, perjury, and the profane use of the name of God on trivial occasions, whether in mirth or in anger; the preacher proceeds to evince the criminality and impiety of the latter practice, by shewing that it is, 1. in direct opposition to those passages of Scripture which identify the character of God with his name; and 2. an infallible indication of irreverence towards God.
• As there is no [adequate] method of communicating [thought] but by words, which, though arbitrary in themselves, are agreed upon as the signs of ideas, no sooner are they employed, but they call up
the ideas they are intended to denote. When language is established, there exists a close and inseparable connexion between words and things, insomuch that we cannot pronounce or bear one without thinking of the other. Whenever the term God, for instance, is used, it excites among Christians the idea of the incomprehensible Author of Nature: this idea it may excite with more or less force and impression, but it invariably excites that idea, and no other. Now, to connect the idea of God with what is most frivolous and ridiculous, is to treat it with contempt; and as we can only contemplate [objects] under their ideas, to feel no reverence for the idea of God, is precisely the same thing as to feel a contempt for God. He who thinks of [the name of ] God, without being awed by it, cannot pretend to be a fearer of God; but it is impossible to use the name of God lightly and unnecessarily, without being in that predicament. It is evident, beyond all contradiction, that such a man is in the habit of thinking of God without the least reverential emotion. He could not associate the idea of God with levity, buffoonery, and whatsoever is mean and ridiculous, if he had not acquired a most criminal insensibility to his character, and to all the awful peculiarities it involves. Suppose a person to be penetrated with a deep contrition for his sins, and a strong apprehension of the wrath of God, which is suspended over him; and are you not [immediately] aware of the impossibility of his using the name of the Being who is the object of all these emotions as a mere expletive? Were a person to pretend to the character of a humble penitent, and at the same time to take the name of God in vain, in the way to which we are now alluding; would you give the smallest credit to his pretensions ? How decisive, then, must that indication of irreverence be, which is sufficient to render the very profession of repentance ridiculous !
* But this practice is not only inconsistent with that branch of religion which [constitutes] repentance; it is equally inconsistent with sincere, much more with supreme, esteem and veneration. No child could bear to hear the name of a father, whose memory he highly respected and venerated, treated in the manner in which the name of the Supreme Being is introduced. It would be felt and resented as a high degree of rudeness and indignity. There is, in short, no being whatever, who is the object of strong emotion, whose distinguishing appellations could be mentioned in this manner without the utmost absurdity and indelicacy. Nothing can be more certain, than that the taking the name of God in vain, infallibly indicates a mind in which the reverence of God has no place. But is it possible to conceive a state of mind more opposite to reason and order than this? To acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being, our Maker and Preserver, possessed of incomprehensible perfections, on whom we are totally dependent throughout every moment of duration, and in every stage of our existence, without feeling the profoundest awe and reverence of Him, is an impropriety, a moral absurdity, which the utmost range of language and conception is inadequate to paint. If we consider the formal nature of sin as a deliberate transgression of the divine law, it resolves itself chiefly into this, that it implies a contempt of infinite majesty, and supreme power and authority. This disposition constitutes the very core and essence of sin. It is not merely the character of the wicked, that they contemn God; it enters deeply into the character of wickedness itself; nor is there a heavier charge, among their complicated crimes, adduced against the ancient Israelites, than that they “ lightly esteemed the Rock of their salvation ".'
*3. The practice of taking the Lord's name in vain is not only a great indication of want of reverence for God, but is calculated to wear out all serious religion from the mind. ..
• If the most awful terms in religion are rarely or never employed but in connexion with angry or light emotions, he must be blind indeed, who fails to perceive the tendency of such a practice to wear out all traces of seriousness from the mind. They who are guilty of it, are continually taking lessons of impiety; and their progress, it must be confessed, is proportioned to what might be expected.
• 4. The criminality of taking the Lord's name in vain, is enhanced by the absence of every reasonable temptation. It is not, like many other vices, productive of either pleasure or emolument ; it is neither adapted to gratify any natural appetite or passion, nor to facilitate the attainment of a single end which a reasonable creature can be supposed to have in view. It is properly “ the superfluity of naughtiness", and can only be considered as a sort of peppercorn rent, in acknowledgement of the devil's right of superiority. It is a vice by which no man's reputation is extended, no man's fortune is increased, no man's sensual gratifications are augmented. If we attempt to analyse it, and reduce it to its real motive, we find ourselves at a total loss to discover any other than irreligious ostentation; a desire of convincing the world that its perpetrators are not under the restraint of religious fear. But, as this motíve is most impious and detestable, so, the practice arising from it is not at all requisite for that purpose ; since the persons who persist in it, may safely leave it to other parts of their
character to exonerate them from the suspicion of their being fearers of God. We beg leave to remind them, that they are in no danger of being classed with the pious, either in this world or in that which is to come; and may
therefore safely spare themselves the trouble of inscribing the name of their master on their foreheads. They are not so near to the kingdom of God as to be liable to be mistaken for its subjects.'
Vol. V. pp. 334—340.
This last paragraph affords a specimen of that tremendous style of caustic irony in which, when a fit occasion presented itself, Mr. Hall was so well able to castigate either the hypocrisy or the effrontery of vice, to expose the flippancy of scepticism, or to put down ignorant pretension. Those who knew the native vehemence of his temper, and at the same time his talent for sarcasm, his acute perception of the ridiculous, his ready wit, and his keen relish for the fulminations of indignant eloquence, - could alone appreciate the restraint and control which the governing principles of his heart perpetually exerted, so as to produce an habitual suavity of manners, an abstinence from every thing bordering on splenetic severity, a kindliness of feeling that effectually sheathed his powers of sarcasm.
These were, however, consecrated, not destroyed; like weapons of war hung up in the temple. They were reserved, among the other instruments of intellectual warfare, for the combat with Infidelity and Vice; and then only, on the rare occasions which justified their use, it was seen how well able he was to handle them. But it was against things, not persons, errors, not individuals, that he ever declaimed with severity.
Among the subjects which never failed to call forth the strongest expressions of his antipathy, was Modern Socinianism, which, by its disingenuousness and its pestilent tendency, excited alike his abhorrence and contempt. Socinians he regarded as, in their religious character, the enemies of his Divine Master; and he would have slırunk from all religious fellowship with them, as he would from communion with the followers of Mohammed. Equally would he have deprecated, however, treating the persons of individuals, on the pretence of their heresy, with insult or rudeness. Courtesy was part of his religion ; but, as he deemed that the courtesy due to all men does not extend to their erroneous opinions, he never hesitated to speak of these in unambiguous and adequate terms, We are somewhat anticipating remarks which might seem to belong to a portrait of Mr. Hall's character; but we have wished to point out this material distinction, as it will enable the reader better to appreciate the very striking and forcible manner in which the spirit and tendency of Socinianism are exposed in the fifth sermon of the series ; which appears to have been originally prepared as the last of twelve lectures on the Socinian Controversy, delivered at Leicester in 1823. This sermon is so admirably characteristic of the Writer, and appears to have been so carefully prepared, that we cannot refrain from mak
ing somewhat copious extracts; and must then take leave of the volume which has so long and pleasingly detained us.
* Allow me to close these Lectures by directing your attention to some of the distinguishing characteristics of the system designated by the appellation of Modern Unitarianism.
• I. It will occur to the most superficial observer to remark, that, as far as it differs from the orthodox, it is almost entirely a negative system; consisting in the bold denial of nearly all the doctrines which other denominations are wont to regard as the most vital and the most precious. It snatches from us almost every thing to which our affections have been habituated to cling, without presenting them with a single new object.
• It is a cold negation, a system of renunciation and dissent; imparting that feeling of desolation to the heart, which is inseparable from the extinction of ancient attachments ; teaching us no longer to admire, to adore, to trust, or to love—but with a most impaired and attenuated affection--objects, in the contemplation of which we before deemed it safe, and even obligatory, to lose ourselves in the indulgence of these delightful emotions.
Under the pretence of simplifying Christianity, it obliterates so many of its discoveries, and retrenches so many of its truths; so little is left to occupy the mind, to fill the imagination, or to touch the heart; that, when the attracting novelty and the heat of dispntation are subsided, it speedily consigns its converts to apathy and indifference. He who is wont to expatiate in the wide field of Revelation, surrounded by all that can gratify the sight, or regale the senses, reposing in its green pastures and beside the still, transparent waters, reflecting the azure of the heavens, the lily of the valley, and the cedar of Lebanon,—no sooner approaches the confines of Socinianism, than he enters on a dreary and melancholy waste. Whatever is most sweet and attractive in religion,—whatever of the grandeur that elevates, or the solemnity that awes the mind, is inseparably connected with those truths, it is the avowed object of that system to subvert. And since it is not what we deny, but what we believe, that nourishes piety, no wonder it languishes under so meagre and scanty a diet. The Iittleness and poverty of the Socinian system ultimately ensures its neglect; because it makes no provision for that appetite for the immense and magnificent, which the contemplation of nature inspires and gratifies, and which even reason itself prompts us to anticipate in a revelation from the Eternal Mind.
By stripping religion of its mysteries, it deprives it of more than half its power. It is an exhausting process, by which it is reduced to its lowest term. It consists in affirming that the writers of the New Testament were not, properly speaking, inspired, nor infallible guides in divine matters; that Jesus Christ did not die for our sins, nor is the proper object of worship, nor even impeccable ; that there is not any provision made in the sanctification of the Spirit for the aid of spiritual weakness, or the cure of spiritual maladies ; that we have not an intercessor at the right hand of God; that Christ is not present with his saints, nor his saints, when they quit the body, present with the Lord; that man is not composed of a material and immaterial principle, but consists merely of organized matter, which is totally dissolved at death. To look for elevation of moral sentiment from such a series of pure negations, would be “ to gather grapes of thorns, and figs of thistles,"—to extract “ sunbeams from cucumbers.”
II. From hence we naturally remark the close affinity between the Unitarian system and Deism. Aware of the offence which is usually taken at observations of this sort, I would much rather wave them, were the suppression of so important a circumstance compatible with doing justice to the subject. Deism, as distinguished from Atheism, embraces almost every thing which the Unitarians profess to believe. The Deist professes to believe in a future state of rewards and punishments ;--the Unitarian does no more. The chief difference is, that the Deist derives his conviction on the subject from the principles of natural religion ; the Unitarian from the fact of Christ's resurrection. Both arrive at the same point, though they reach it by different routes. Both maintain the same creed, though on different grounds : so that, allowing the Deist to be fully settled and confirmed in his persuasion of a future world, it is not easy to perceive what advantage the Unitarian possesses over him. If the proofs of a future state, upon Christian principles, be acknowledged more clear and convincing than is attainable merely by the light of nature, yet, as the operation of opi. nion is measured by the strength of the persuasion with which it is embraced, and not by the intrinsic force of evidence, the Deist who cherishes a firm expectation of a life to come, has the same motives for resisting temptation, and patiently continuing in well doing, as the Unitarian. He has learned the same lesson, though under a different master, and is substantially of the same religion.
• The points in which they coincide are much more numerous, and more important, than those in which they differ. In their ideas of human nature, as being what it always was, in opposition to the doctrine of the fall; in their rejection of the Trinity, and of all supernatural mysteries ; in their belief of the intrinsic efficacy of repentance, and the superfluity of an atonement; in their denial of spiritual aids, or internal grace ; in their notions of the person of Christ; and finally, in that lofty confidence in the sufficiency of reason as a guide in the affairs of religion, and its authority to reject doctrines on the ground of antecedent improbability ;-in all these momentous articles they concur. If the Deist boldly rejects the claims of revelation in toto, the Unitarian, by denying its plenary inspiration, by assuming the fallibility of the apostles, and even of Christ himself, and by resolving its most sublime and mysterious truths into metaphors and allegory, treads close in his steps. It is the same soul which animates the two systems, though residing in different bodies ; it is the same metal transfused into distinct moulds.'
III. A third feature in the Unitarian system is, the unfavourable influence it exerts on the spirit of devotion. It appears to have little or no connexion with the religion of the heart. Of all high and raised affections to God proudly ignorant, love to Christ, involving that ar