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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.
1. 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 disputation 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 littleness 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 gratities, 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 aflirming 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 Uni. tarian 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 dif. ferent 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 atfairs 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
dent attachment which enthrones him in the soul, and subordinates to him every created object, it systematically explodes, under the pretence of its being either enthusiastic or impossible ..... The devotional feelings inculcated in the Bible, are intimately and inseparably interwoven with humility and gratitude—the humility and gratitude of a penitent and redeemed sinner. That he who is forgiven much will love much, is the decision of our Lord ; while he to whom little is forgiven will love little. But the perpetual tendency of the Soci. nian system extenuates the evil of sin, and the magnitude of the danger to which it exposes the sinner, and is calculated to weaken, beyond expression, the force of the motives (they supply).
. By asserting the intrinsic efficacy of repentance, to the exclusion of the merits of the Redeemer, it makes every man his own Saviour ; it directs his attention to himself, as the source to which he ascribes the removal of guilt, and the renovation of hope ; nor will it permit him to adopt, in any obvious and intelligible sense, the rapturous language of the redeemed, “ To Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Taught to consider the Lord Jesus Christ in no other light than as the most perfect example and the most enlightened of teachers, and believing that he has already bestowed all the benefits he is empowered to bestow, it is in vain to look for that consecration of the heart to his love, and of all the faculties of body and mind to his service, which may reasonably be expected from him who looks upon himself as a trophy of his power, and as the purchase of his blood. Not viewing himself as at any time exposed to condemnation, you must not expect him to celebrate, with elevated emotion, the riches of divine grace; much less that he should be transported with gratitude to God for the inestimable love evinced in the gift of his Son; when he considers it a high attainment to have learn. ed that this Son is a mere man, on a level with himself. The unhappy disciple of this system is necessarily separated and cut off from the objects most adapted to touch the springs of religious sensibility. He knows nothing of a transition “ from death unto life;" nothing of the anxieties of a wounded and awakened conscience, followed by “ joy and peace in believing ;' nothing of that “ love of Christ which passeth knowledge ;' nothing of the refreshing aids and consolations of that Holy Spirit whose existence he denies, whose agency he ridicules ; nothing of that ineffable communion of spirit with God and the Redeemer, the true element of life and peace ; nothing of the earnests and foretastes of that heaven which his system covers with a dense and impenetrable veil.
Facts, on this subject, concur with theory: for no sooner is a minister of the Gospel transformed into a Socinian, than he relinquishes the practice of extempore prayer, and has recourse to a written form. We are far from condemning the use of forms, where they are adopted from a conscientious preference; nor can we doubt that many members of the establishment, whose habits have combined with them the most devout associations and feelings, find them useful helps to piety. But, that those who have never used them before, should tind them necessary the moment they have embraced a particular system ; that they should feel, as some of the most eminent have confessed, an absolute incapacity, from that time, of praying without the aid of a book, affords a portentous indication of the spirit of that system. To be smitten dumb and silent in the presence of that heavenly Father whom they approached before with filial freedom and confidence ; to be unable or indisposed to utter a word without artificial aids, where they were wont to pour out all their hearts ; evinces the visitation of a new spirit, but most assuredly not that Spirit “whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Correct, elegant, spiritless-replete with acknowledgements of the general goodness of God, the bounties of his providence, and his benign interposition in the arrangements of society, and the success of the arts and sciences which embellish and adorn the present state-seldom will you hear any mention of the forgiveness of sins, of the love of the Saviour; few or no acknowledgements of the blessings of redemption. An earthly, unsanctified tincture pervades their devotions, calculated to remind you of any thing rather than of a penitent pleading for mercy, “ with groanings that cannot be uttered." Vol. V. pp. 31–42.
We must content ourselves with merely indicating the remaining heads of this fine discourse.
• IV. A remarkable feature in the system of Modern Unitarianism, pregnant with more mischief and danger than any of those just mentioned, is, the fatalism and materialism with which, since Dr. Priestley's time, it is almost universally associated. .
·V. Another feature in the system, is the tame submission to human authority, which seems to distinguish above all other persons, those who compose the class styled Modern Unitarians.
.VI. The last feature which I shall mention, in the system of the Socinians, is, their zeal for proselytism'....difficult to be accounted for on their principles.'— Vol. V. pp. 43–46; 22.
There is a very complete sketch of a beautiful sermon ‘on the 'cause, instrument, and purpose of regeneration,' (Jam. i. 18.)
which we well recollect to have heard Mr. Hall preach in London I many years ago ; and a still more interesting sketch of a sermon
on Rev. v. 6; "The Lamb slain, the object of rapture to the
heavenly hosts.' Two sermons on Spiritual leprosy' (Lev. xiii. 45); the following one, ‘On counting the cost' (Luke xiv. 28); an almost complete sermon on family worship (1 Chron. xvi. 43); and the last, “No temple in heaven' (Rev. xxi. 22); may also be pointed out as not less valuable and characteristic than those from which our specimens have been taken. Further illustrations of the Author's style and method of preaching, will occur in connexion with a review of his published works. We have now to speak of Mr. Hall as a writer..
The first volume of the present edition is composed of Ser'mons, Charges, and Circular Letters.' It contains the Sermons on Modern Infidelity, (preached in 1801,) on War, (1802,) on
the sentiments proper to the present crisis,' (1803,) and on the advantages of knowledge to the lower classes (1810); the Charge delivered at Mr. Robertson's ordination, and that addressed to Mr. Eustace Carey ; the funeral Sermons for the Princess Charlotte and the Rev. Dr. Ryland ; three · Circular Letters ;' and a Sermon never before published, 'on the substitution of the innocent for the guilty,' (Isa. liii. 8.) preached in 1822, and prepared, almost completely, for publication. This Volume, it will be seen, comprises some of Mr. Hall's most finished productions, including the earlier publications by which, chiefly, his fame as a writer was established.
The Second Volume is wholly occupied with the treatise “on “ Terms of Communion ;” the Reply to a “ A Plea for Primitive Communion ;” and the Reply to Mr. Kinghorn; writings which, both as a model of polemical discussion, and a masterly exposition of principles of far wider application than the comparatively obscure controversy which elicited them, are deserving of far deeper and more general attention than even the name of the Author has hitherto been sufficient to procure for them.
Volume the Third is miscellaneous ; comprising, first, Mr. Hall's political Tracts, in the order of their publication, 1791– 1824; the Fragment of a Defence of Village Prcaching, extending to upwards of seventy pages, and never before printed; and two or three smaller pieces.
Volume the Fourth contains seven articles reprinted from the Eclectic Review; a Fragment on Popery; biographical Memoirs of the Rev. Mr. Toller; Characters of the Rev. R. Hall, of Arnsby, the Rev. T. Robinson, and the Rev. J. Sutcliff'; several Prefaces ; speeches at the Leicester Bible Society; and other miscellaneous pieces.
The order in which the works are here arranged, is obviously the most proper and convenient that could have been adopted by the Editor ; but, in adverting to them for the purpose of illustrating their literary or theological excellence, it will be necessary to consider them as classing under three heads, Theological, Polemical, and Political. And in reference to the intellectual and religious character of their Author, an important line of chronological distinction requires to be drawn, between the earlier publications (that is, those which appeared prior to 1805) and the later writings. Most of the political writings belong to the earlier period; and we shall therefore dispose of these in the first place. But, as the mere fact, that this good and great man did not feel himself restricted from writing upon political topics, or from reprinting one of his early political productions, has been made the ground of base and virulent detraction, we feel impelled to attempt a very brief discussion of a question that may be fairly raised, how far a minister of the Gospel is justified in devoting his attention, and lending his pen to such topics. In this discussion, which must be reserved for another article, we shall avail ourselves of