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the earth ; in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one." The canon of the Hebrew Scriptures closes with a similar prediction : “ From the rising of the sun, even to the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts.” Malachi, i. 11. These prophecies, it is allowed, point particularly against pagan polyiheism and idolatry ; but I see not how they can receive their full accomplishment but in the entire removal, in the overthrow, by the power of reason and Scripture, of the Christian as well as pagan deviations from the doctrine of the divine unity. The Being whose universal adoration is foretold is uniformly spoken of, in these predictive passages, as one Being, one Mind, by the personal pronouns of the singular number. The Being thus described is the one God of the Jews, whose laws opened wich this command, “ Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me:" not before us: the Being whom the Apostle, in the character of a Christian, declares he worshipped as “ the God of their fathers.” In perfect correspondence with the sense and tenor of these prophecies, the same Apostle, in a kind of predictive delineation of the character of Jesus and of the final effect and end of his exaltation, leads our views to that state of religion, when God, under the precise idea which Unitarians form of him, shall be the supreme object of adoration, in the words already quoted : “ At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth; and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The same consummation, by the acknowledgment of the supremacy of God the Father, is forctold by the Apostle in the most unequivocal and expressive terms, as to take place at the resurrection: “ Then will be the end, when Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father ; ............ and when all things shall be subjected to him, then the Son himself also will be subjected to him, who subjected all things to him, that God may be all among all," i Cor. xv. 24, 28 *. It is the sole adoration of one and the same Being which is predicted by the Prophets, and foretold by the Apostle, by the former under the name of Jehovah, or Lord; by the latter, under the specific character under which you, Brethren, revere and worship him, as the Father.
Reflect, Christians, on the circumstances in which you are
* Archbishop Newcome's Translation.
placed, and anticipate the prospect before you, to which the Prophets, Christ, and the Apostles, direct you to look with sacred hope and joy. "We are arrived,” to use the words of an highly respected and much to be lamented friend, “ at a grand period, for which Providence has been preparing the world for several centuries, when the doctrines of the unity of God and the humanity of Christ have been freed, not only from the gross corruptions of the dark ages of Popery, but likewise from the less obvious errors which were retained by the most enlight. ened of the Reformers; when these doctrines have been reconciled to the language of Scripture and the principles of reason; when a few men are so fully convinced of their truth and importance, that they have courage to profess them openly; and when mankind are alarmed at the progress which these senti. ments are making. We appear to be come to the beginning of a new æra in the Christian church, the commencement of a reformation as remarkable and important as the reformation from Popery, and which will, in the course of time, eclipse the glory of that event, the first rescuing us from the errors of the Church of Rome only partially; this entirely; the one being the dawn of day, the other the meridian light.”
Let these considerations, Brethren, confirm your purpose. Let these prophetic views animate your zeal. It is by human means, by the regular course of human exertions, that Christianity, since the age of miracles has ceased, is to be preserved and propagated; and, when corrupted, reformed and brought back to its simplicity. Happy and honourable are they whom piety and the love of truth shall engage in every rational means of recovering “ long-lost truth," and of bringing on the day of pure, unclouded Christianity!
Jan. 10, 1807. A BELIEVER IN THE PROPHETS.
To the Editor of the Monthly Repository. SIR, If the following paper, which contains little more than loose hints on a point of considerable moment, be thought worthy of a place in your respectable Miscellany, it is at your service, and I hope the insertion of it may be useful to some of your readers.
I am, your's, &c. · Jan. 30, 1807.
EUSEBIUS. * Kenrick's judicious and instructive " Discourse on Various Topics," Vol. 4. p. 354
A VIEW OF UNITARIANISM AS CONNECTED WITII VITAL
GODLINESS. Whatever may be thought sublime in theory ought to be scru. tinized as to its real utility, and the utility of religious doctrines is in exact proportion to their tendency to promote vital godliness, i. e. to generate true piety, solid virtue, and unassuming goodness. Unitarianism, though it derives no sublimity from obscurity, though it awes not by the mysteriousness of its appearance, but is confessedly the most simple and comprehensible system of religion ever main. tained, under the Christian or any other name, is eminently calcu. lated to influence the heart and life; in other words, to promote vital godliness. This is what I undertake to shew in this paper.
When it is proved that the Unitarian doctrine is clearly the uniform doctrine of divine revelation, which has been done by many able writers, it must necessarily follow that it is closely connected with vital godliness ; for what comes from, and is the truth of God, must lead to him, tend to fill the mind with pious sentiments and dispositions, to produce the image of God in man, and stimulate to an undeviating course of obedience. Various causes may obstruct the production of these effects for a time; but when the doctrine is clearly conceived, and its influence deeply felt, in all its bearings and tendencies, persuaded I am the result will ever be found most favourable to experimental and practical Christianity.
Did I not wish to avoid whatever bears the least semblance to Pharisaical boasting, I might mention many instances which I have witnessed of the holy and happy effects of Unitarianism, not only in arresting the progress of, and turning to the divine testimony, those who were in the road from reputed orthodoxy to scepticism, and in recovering those who were actually caught in the vortex of infidelity, but also in improving the character and increasing the happiness of persons, who, though steady believers, had their minds constantly embarrassed, and the influence of the gospel upon their hearts much weakened, by the admission of the inexplicable dogmas of popular systems.
I might also insist on the wonderful effects, in the hearts and lives of men, of various classes in society, produced by the preaching of the Apostles, which was strictly Unitarian, according to the accounts given in the Book of Acts; but on this, though an argu. ment of great weight, I shall not now enlarge. I shall content myself with making a few general remarks which naturally arise from an impartial view of the Unitarian doctrine.
I suppose it will be generally admitted, that no doctrine can affect the heart, and influence the conduct, any further than it is under stood; for there seems no avenue to the heart but through the medium of the understanding. Incomprehensible and irrational notions may appeal to the passions, and agitate the feelings with
tcrror or with joy, by the false sublimity they derive from their obscurity, hy the imposing solemnity with which they are asserted, by being regarded as a succedaneum for steady piety and undeviating virtue, and by the awful sanctions erroneously associated with them; but they cannot rationally influence the heart and life. The Unita. rian doctrine, its cvemies being judges, is most simple and compre. hensible, so much so, that they have wrongly supposed it to be plain even to dulness and insipidity. If then it be calculated to in. spire men with steady principles of piety and virtne, and to warm their hearts with benevolence, and that it is capable of doing this I shall show presently, its tendency to promote vital godliness cannot be reasonably doubted; for it appeals at once to the understanding, and is on a level with the common sense of unlearned men. It is what a doctrinc intended to promote true godliness in the world ought to be, rational, easy to comprehend, suited to the leisure of the bulk of mankind, and a plain though narrow way to moral excellency and happiness. It is a fondness for marvellous and inexplicable things, generated and fostered by ages of misconception and prejudice, that prevents this being perceived.
Unitarian views of God have a tendency to produce the most exalted piety and virtue, and to render men happy in all circumstances. Unitarians view the Creator and supreme Governor of the universe, who upholds and directs all things, as one undivided Being ; they believe that he is essentially loving and merciful, at all times, to all his creatures; that he is the common Father of all; that he orders every thing in wisdom and goodness, and will make every thing that takes place conduce to the individual and general happi. ness of mankind; that there is nothing in God, or that can proceed from him, that is in the least contrary to the purest goodness; that he neither wills nor desires any thing respecting his rational creatures but their improvement and happiness. How can these sentiments fill our minds without our sceing all things in God, and God in all things ?-withont our living under a sense of his presence, consider. ing every thing as coming from his hand, and having a regard to him in cvery thing we do? They are certainly calculated to fill us with the highest admiration of his character, the strongest confidence in him, the most cheerful submission to his will; to yield great consolation in affliction; to inspire the most ardent lore to God and man ; in a word, to produce the highest-toned piety, virtue, and benevolence. I know that these effects can only be produced gra. dually, as the sentiments proclucing them imbue the mind, and babi. tually associate with the feelings.
Unitarian views of Christ have a direct tendency to promote vital codliness. Viewed simply as a man whom God hath exalted, and glorified in consegnence of his obedience, Christ is perceived to be more nearly related to us than he could he, if a being of a different order to ourselves; and the suitableness of his example is more evi. dent and striking. Viewing him as our elder brother, made in all
things like unto us, our feelings are the more excited towards him, we feel the more interested in all he hath done and attained. Consi. dered as one of the human race, his example is perfectly suited to us, and the imitation of it appears practicable. Hence from his example, associated with his doctrine, we may derive constant support and encouragement, when called to struggle against powerful temptations, to endure severe afflictions, or to perform the most difficnlt duties. No pretence to excuse our want of conformity to his likeness, by arguing the natural disparity between him and us, remains. The great reward he hath attained assures us what will be the happy and glorious issue of an unwearied course of piety, virtue, and goodness, and inspires us with zeal and perseverance ; for what a man hath attained men may attain ; if we imitate him here, we shall be like him in glory hereafter. The tendency of these views to in. spire the most powerful motives to holiness, and to fill us with strong consolation and everlasting joy, appears to me most evident.
The views Unitariany entertain of other religious doctrines tend effectually to secure the interests of vital godliness. They admit no excuse for ungodly tempers on the absurd gronnd of hereditary de. pravity, nor for the excesses of the passions, by irrationally sup. posing them to be inflamed by an invisible and most potent adver. sary. They reject the monstrous notion, which tends to sap the foundation of moral obligation, that another person has been righte. ous in our place and stead, and admit no man to be righteous any further than he doeth righteousness. They assert that every man is approved or disapproved of God according to his real character: that all the virtuous and good will be glorified with Christ, and all the wicked excluded from his kingdom. They admit no godliness to be real but what is vital, what exists in the heart and appears in the life, consisting in an habitual course of piety, accompanied by virtue and goodness.
Is it so manifestly appears that Unitarianism is eminently cal. calated to promote the cause of rational and vital piety, on which the moral improvement and happiness of mankind essentially depend, our regard to the glory of God, and our love to our fellow-crea. tures, ought to stimulate us to make the most active and persevering exertions to promote the spread of Unitarian sentiments, and exhia bit their practical tendency. Most ardently is it to be wished that erery one who professes Unitarian doctrines may feel their influence in a high degree, and attain to that exalted tone of piety, virtue, and goodness which they are calculated to produce: this will be the way, if I may be allowed the expression, to live down the objec. ons of oli adversaries.