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The Unitarian view of human nature, and the dignity of that nature, is to the multitude of mankind, like a pleasant tune from one who can play well on an instrument, but it leaves no permanent, or at least useful inpression. There may be a few who are roused by it—indeed I am quite sure there are; but their number is very small. We live in a world of Scribes and Pharisees, men who are trained to the form of godliness without the power. On such men, the smooth preaching of our Unitarian friends produces no good resultsunless it is beneficial to inflate men with pride, and set them to thanking God that they are not as other men are.
A very different course was pursued by the Founder of christianity. Religion, like rowing against tide, wind and current, was then found to require effort. But now, according to some modern teachers, it consists of little else than gently gliding down a smooth and equable current—not of water, but of oil. Whether the end of the voyage will be prosperous, eternity must decide.
It has always appeared to me a little singular that those who talk about the dignity of human nature, should in their dealings with men, be most on their guard against their depravity. There are
no persons more forward than they to complain of the prejudice, the ignorance, the error, of certain individuals, and even classes. At one time, their complaints are against one person or class of persons; at another, their denunciations fall elsewhere ; and in the end, few escape them. They talk much of their sympathy with the common ranks of men, and the lower walks of life, but with republicanism on their tongues, they are apt to be aristocratical in their practice.
Evangelical Christians have as inuch confidence as others in the dignity of human nature. For while they believe that without the influences of the Holy Spirit, they “can do nothing ” which shall be effectual towards working out their own salvation, they yet believe that with such assistance they “can do all things;" can become “perfect,” even as their “ Father in heaven is perfect. To what greater dignity is it possible to aspire than this? They do not believe, it is true, that there is in every individual a spark of the Divine nature which only requires nourishing and cherishing—and such influences from the Creator as he sheds on the animal and vegetable world—to make it spring up unto everlasting life. They believe that there is an analogy between the modes of operating on the material and spiritual worlds,
which the Creator has adopted, to a certain extent;—but that beyond this it fails. They believe that we go astray, and discover by our conduct the total absence of any relish for true holiness, from the first, and that nothing but that influence from on high, which may justly be termed supernatural, would ever lead that which is earthly, to aspire after that which is pure and heavenly. We all endeavor to avoid pain and secure pleasure. But the pleasure, or heaven which we naturally seek, is the creature of our own imagination, and partakes of our own character. This being utterly unholy, the heaven after which we seek, even if we really suppose we seek heaven, being a creature of our own imagination, cannot be holy.
MY VIEWS IN MORALS.
Mere morality considered.—Popular mistakes on this sub
ject.—A practical illustration of the difference between morality and religion.
One of the last things a man of skeptical turn—and so indeed of every sinner—will relinquish, in coming to Christ is, the hope of securing the favor of God by his own good conduct. He will have it that he is to be rewarded for his good works, and not according to them, as the Scripture states it. Tell him a person may possess the most excellent moral character that ever was known (I mean in the usual sense of the word moral) and yet be as far from the kingdom of heaven as the most grossly vicious, and he rejects the statement with disdain.
Indeed this confounding morality with religion appears to me to be one of the most fatal errors of the day. It is not confined to any class of men, but finds its advocates in almost every sect.
With the Unitarians and Universalists, so far as I am acquainted, it is nearly universal.
They say that to be holy is to be like Christ, and that in proportion as we resemble him, we are truly holy, and must consequently be happy. Very well. No one doubts it. But what is being like Christ? They tell us it is to do no harm, to obey the dictates of conscience, &c. One says, it is “to do justice, to love mercy, and to endeavor to make our fellow creatures happy.”
But is this all? It is well as far as it goes ; but it is nothing more than yielding obedience to the command, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” It happens that there is another command besides this, and it is denominated by Him who gave it, the first and great one ; “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Now to be like Christ we must keep his commandments. We must love God.
We must have that affection which the Savior so well describes when he says, “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Do we talk about being like Christ, and yet scarcely send up one thought or prayer to heaven? He was often in prayer-earnest prayer