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my, and various other sermons and addresses of a miscellaneous character, which were principally delivered in the Tron church, Glasgow. It is our present intention to make some remarks on these latter productions, especially on the astronomical Discourses. There are two considerations which induce us to undertake this notice. From the extent of the universe, as made known to us by modern science, an objection bas been derived, which is supposed to bear upon the truth of Christianity. This Dr. Chalmers has undertaken to answer, and we think unsuccessfully. But as we believe, the whole force of the objection is directed against false notions of christianity; we wish to exptain our own opinions upon this subject. But beside this, the Discourses of Dr. C., both those in which this objection is discussed, and his other sermons, have gained a popularity, which is so very extraordinary, that we cannot help thinking it worth while to analyze their composition.
Our first concern is with the objection and the answer to it. Dr. C. speaks of it as occurring chiefly in conversation, and as not occupying a prominent place in treatises of infidelity. It is however stated, by the author of the “ Age of Reason” in bis strong coarse manner, and has been elaborately, in a manner conformed to his views of Christianity, answered by Andrew Fuller in the “ Gospel its own Witness.” It consists properly of two parts. First it is alleged, that in the Mosaic account of the creation, there is so “worked up” a belief that the world in whicb we dwell is the wbole of the habi. table creation, that to believe otherwise, that is, that there are innumerable worlds, renders the christian system of faith “ at once little and ridiculous.” The objection that the account of Moses supposes the existence of no other habitable world than our own, which is not noticed by Dr. C., if it have any force, goes to prove that Moses was not inspired as a historian. But it seems to us to be altogether frivolous. For what is the basis of this objection of the unbeliever? It rests entirely on the supposition, that God, provided he intended to give to the Jews such a dispensation as is asserted to have been given would at the same time bave conveyed some intimations at least, of the extent of the universe. But is tbis a fair or a rational supposition ? Is it not altogether gratuitous ? Shall the unbeliever presume to decide what God ought to have commupicated ? Should we expect to find in this early message from heaven, any thing but what it was the especial object of that message to communicate ? What then was the object of this communication ? It was to instruct a particular nation, during the infancy of the world, in the existence, unity, and perfections of the Deity, to banish idolatry, and to prepare the way for the complete revelation which was made by the Son of God. This was the scope of the Mosaic dispensation, and all this was fully and completely effected. Is it not then irrational to expect to find in such a communication, the results of modern science anticipated, which results had not the slightest coonesion with the express object of that communication ? Now the antecedent probability that God would have instructed the Jews in the discoveries of modern science, which from their nature require no revelation at all, at the same time that he made a communication to them on a subject entirely differen!,this antecedent probability is the precise measure of the force of the objection under consideration.
But this objection of the unbeliever seems to us untenable in another view of the subject. The revelations of God to man, it is reasonable to suppose,-it is indeed impossible to believe otherwise,-will not only be adapted to the objects for which they are intended, but also they will be adapled 10 the circumstances, to the degree of understanding and information of the recipients. What then was the intellectual and moral condition of the Jews? They were a people not yet redeemed from a state of the grossest ignorance, requiring grand and striking miracles to awaken them from intellectual torpor, and continual displays of divine power to keep alive in their minds the most obvious truths. was to such a people, that the unbeliever demands, that a sublime system of astronomy, perfected as it has been, by modern philosophy, should bare been given ;-that is, a communication should bave been made to them, which, from the nature of the case, they could not have understood. But why is the objection limited to the fact, that the extent of the material world was not revealed in the earliest times ? A parity of reasoning would lead him to demand that all the discoveries of modern science should have been included in the Mosaic dispensation, and in fact that it should contain in embryo the discoveries of all future times ;
“ Who asks and reasons thuis, will scarce believe
God gives enough, while he has more to give." But we proceed to consider the second part of the objection against christianity, derived from the extent of the universe. This regards the redemption of the world. Without following the course which Dr. C. has pursued, or adverting to numerous topics which might as well be introduced in a series of discourses on any other subject, we quote the unbeliever's argument as stated by him, where we first find it.
" In the astronomical objection which infidelity has proposed against the truth of the christian revelation, there is first an assertion, and then an
argument. The assertion is, that Christianity is set up for the exclusive benefit of our minute and solitary world. The argument is, that God would not lavish such a quantity of attention on so insignificant a field.” p. 44.
What is meant by quantity of attention is indicated on p. 56. Andover edition.
" Such a humble portion of the universe as ours, could never have been the object of such high and distinguishing attentions as Christianity has assigned to it. God would not have manifested himself in the flesh for the salvation of su paltry a world. The monarch of a whole continent would never move from his capital, and lay aside the spleodour of royalty; and subject himself for months, or for years, to perils, and poverty, and persecution ; and take up his abode in some small islet of his dominions, which, though swallowed by an earthquake, could not be missed amid the glories of so wide an empire ; and all this to regain the lost affections of a few families upon its surface. And neither would the eternal Son of God-he who is revealed to us as having made all words, and as holding an empire, amid the splendours of which the globe that we inherit, is shaded in insignificance ; neither would he strip himself of the glory be had with the Father before the world was, and light on this lower scene, for the purpose imputed to him iu the New Testainent. Impossible, that the concerns of this puny ball, which floats its little round among an infinity of larger worlds, should be of such mighty account in the plays of the Eternal, or should have given birth in heaven to so wonderful a inovement, as the Son of God putting on the form of our degraded species, and sojourning amoog us, and sharing in all our intrinities, and crowong the whole scene of humiliation, by the disgrace and agonies of a cruel martyrdom.”
pp. 56, 57.
In the following very characteristic passage similar thoughts
" In like maner did the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, surrounded as he is with the splendours of a wide and everlasting monarchy, turn him to our humble habitation ; and the footsteps of God manifest in the flesh, hure been on the narrow spot of ground we occupy; and small though our mansion be, amid the orbs and the systems of iminensity, hither the King of glory bent his inysterious way, and eniered the tabernacle of men, and in the disguise of servant did he sojourn for years under the roof which canopies our obscure and solitary world. Yes, it is but a twinkling atom in the peopled infinity of worlds that are around it-but look to the moral grandeur of the transaction, and not to the material extent of the field npon which it was executed--and from the retirement of our dwelling place, there may issge forth such a display of the Godhead, as will circulate the glories of his name among all his worshippers. Here sin entered. Here was the kind and universal beneficence of a Father, repaid by the ingratitude of a whole family. Here the law of God was dishonoured, and that too in the face of its proclaimed and unalterable sanctions. Here the mighty contest of the attributes nas endedmund when justice put forth his demands, and truth called for the fulfilment of its warnings, and the immutabilily of God would not recede by a single iota, from any one of its positions, and all the severities he had ever ultered against the children of iniquity, seemed to gather into one cloud of threatening vengeance on the tenement that held usdid the visit of the only-begotten Son chase away all these obstacles to the triumph of mercy-and humble as the tenement may be, deeply shaded in the obscurity of insignificance as it is, among the statelier mansions which
are on every side of it-yet will the recal of its exiled family never be forgotten—and the illustration that has been given here, of the mingled grace and majesty of God, will never-lose its place among the themes and acclamations of eternity." pp. 88, 99.
He speaks p. 83, of the dignity, justice, and wisdom of God, being put to a trial, and afterwards of the lustre of the God head being obscured.”p. 120.
We believe that this objection so far as it has any force, only adds one other difficulty to a false theology. It affects not tbe revelation of the New Testament, but a certain set of dogmas, to which, as we believe, our Saviour never gave his sanction, which were unknown to the evangelists and apostles and their immediate followers; but which spring up in the hot and murky night of religious controversy. We refer to the doctrine of the Trinity, and the other doctrines connected with it, in their purest or most absurd form, in which they assert the mysterious union of Three co-equal and co-eternal Persons, absolutely distinct, yet essentially the same ; one of which Persons may be said (thouge to be sure without meaning what is said to have suffered on the cross, in the person of the Saviour; and to have thus suffered for the sins of men. Now the objection of the unbeliever is founded altogether on the character of that Being, to whom this work of atonement is ascribed. He alleges, that it is incredible that the eternal God, in and through whom all things subsist, whose equal and impartial care extends to systems vast and numberless beyond all comprehension,that the Infinite Spirit should clothe himself in flesh, come upon our earth, submit to contumely, pain, and death, for the sake of making satisfaction to his own justice, and delivering med, or rather some portion of men, we know not how small, on this little speck in the universe, from the effects of the sin of their first ancestor, which he had himself before inflicted on the whole race. Now when thus stated we confess we feel the full force of the objection; as it is directed against a doctrine which does indeed stagger all belief and baffle all comprehension.
And let it not be said, that this is an exploded doctrine, an absurdity which has had its reign and is dead, which no one at the present day presumes to advocate. It is a prevalent doctrine, a popular doctrine, a doctrine, for disbelieving which rational christians are stigmatized as heretics in this world, and are delivered over to the endless tortures of the world to come. We know indeed, that they who hold this doctrine, though at one time they are ready to affirm that God suffered on the cross, (language which seems to us pot far from being at once the most horrible and the most absurd which ever proceeded from the lips of men) yet when pressed more closely, allow that only the human nature of Cbrist suffered. Their system, however, requires something more. For if it do not, how was that plenary atonement made for the sins of the world, which they consider necessary, and how is God's infinite abhorrence of sin manifested? Could this be effected by the sacrifice of a mere man? And if they talk of the efficacy of the connexion of this man Christ Jesus, with the second person in the Trinity, let then define this connexion in any intelligible language, that they may know on what they rest their faith, and that we aray know of what they speak.
The whole weight of the objection which we are considering, resting, as we have said, on the character of that Being who made the atonement ;-it has less and less weight against every form of this Proteau doctrine of the schools, as it has been mo. dified to outrage less and less the text of scripture and the plain inferences of common sense. We, as Unitarians, have no concern with it-it cannot be urged against oui apprehensions of gospel truths; for we do not believe that the Infinite God, or any coequal with bim, suffered contumely and death for a sinful world. We believe that our Almighty Father sent a divideiy inspired messenger, the Son of bis love, to reveal whal unas. sisied human reason never could otherwise bave known, 10 gire motives and aids to a virtuous course of life, and by his precepts, example, death and resurrection, to prepare for us the way to heaven. Is there any thing in this message of love, wbich our God hath vouchsafed, which jeopardizes his care of other worlds than ours? Does it not comport with our best apprehensions of the Deity ? May not this divine errand have been accomplished, without any desertion of the throne of Omnipotence; or any infringement of the attributes of the Deity ? Whether other worlds required an equivalent blessing, whether a message as benignant may have been sent to them, is an inquiry altogether irrelative as it regards us ; it is not imposed on us by any doctrines which we adopt; we have no facts on which to found an argument; and it must be in the bighest degree unnecessary and unphilosophical to pursue such an investigation, until we are made acquainted with the moral state of the unnumbered worlds around us.
But as we bave seen, this objection is of no triffing into portance to another class of Christians, and we proceed to sketch as briefly as we can, the answer which Dr. C. has given.
The existence of a countless multitude of worlds is not, by any means, attempted to be denied. On the contrary, in a very spirited sketch of modern astronomy, in the first discourse, the author exults, as every devout man must in this grand illustraNew Series--ool. I.