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FOR NOVEMBER, 1840.
To the Editor of the Western Messenger. preach. I must preach their
Although I have been a notions as gospel, and their member of an orthodox church opinions as infallible, before for upwards of twenty years, they will approve of my layet for several years past, I bors. have not only differed in opin- Now these assumptions, on ion in relation to some doctrin- the part of our orthodox brethal subjects, held by my breth- ren, are calculated to prevent ren, but have been thoroughly free and rational investigation. convinced that if ever rational ifl have only to believe as they and scriptural piety shall pre- do, I need only get the creed. vail over any considerable part If I must only preach orthoof our world, that men must doxy, I need only to go to the enjoy mental and intellectual orthodox for lessons, like a liberty. If I am called by my school-boy to his master. If Lord and Master to believe my faith and labor are all to the truth, as revealed in his be dictated, prescribed and word, should I not have the proscribed by orthodoxy, why liberty, according to my own need I go to the bible, or ackunderstanding and conscience nowledge any teacher or masso to believe. Who is to be- ter in heaven, for we cannot lieve for me? Who will take serve two masters—but our the responsibility to believe orthodox brethren tell us they for me? And yet many are not are liberal, yet they denounce willing that I should believe us as hereticks, call us ugly what I conceive to be the names, shut their doors against truths of heaven. Again, if I us, and will not let us partake am called of God or feel it my of the sacramental bread and duty to preach the gospel of wine with them, as though St. Christ, I must believe as my Paul commanded them to exorthodox friends believe, be- amine us, and so forbid us to fore I can be permitted to eat. This kind of orthodox
liberty we think may do for made a God to Pharaoh and to other nations, or other ages, Israel, so Christ was highly but is unsuited to rational exalted, and a name given him christianity.
above every name, viz. “ God I have been compelled to with us”—his name shall be withdraw from the Methodist called "Immanuel,'' viz. “ God church, because I could not with us,” because he was to us believe that Jesus Christ was instead of his Father. I receive equal with his father, and that Jesus Christ in all he says and there were three persons in does, as the express image and the God-head. I believed God precise 'will of the Father. was simple and uncompound The Son hath declared the ed in his existence, as well as Father to the world. Christ absolutely perfect in all his and the Father are one in their character; and that, besides gracious purposes to the world him, there was no God. I be- but as distinctly two characlieved Jesus Christ the first ters in their existence, as the begotten, brought into the disciples, who were to be one world, or sent into the world, with Christ, even as Christ and as a teacher from God—that the Father were one. he was the first-born of every However opposed and miscreature—that he was the be- represented we are in this reginning of creation and that gion, the liberal and holy doche possessed a glory with the trines believed by Unitarians Father before the world was. are like leaven taking effect in I believed he had given suffi- the country. Not a few, in cient evidence of his divine words, denounce Unitarianmission in the world, not only ism, and when you learn their by his doctrines and miracles, true sentiments, they are Unibut by his spotless life and tarians themselves. When glorious resurrection. He pos- once the reason and good sessed power over all things, sense of the public mind shall for all power in heaven and get the better of the prejudices earth was given him. He and fears that have been conspoke the words of his Father. jured up, the truths of God He did the works of the Fath- must be appreciated. er. He did the will of the
MEREDITH RENEAU. Father-and as Moses was Helena Parish, La, Oct. 8. 1840.
The value and importance of the Bible are generally acknowledged. We call it the Book of Books, the Holy Bible; the Divine Book; the Book of Life. We generally; at least in theory, regard it as differing from all other books, that have been, are, or shall ever be, in respect to its origin, design and utility. Other books we refer to the free action of the human mind; this to a direct action of God's own Spirit. Other books we take for what they seem to be worth. If they interest us, we read them: if their doctrines appear reasonable, we accept; if false or inadequate, we reject them, never fancying we sin by using Reason as the last standard whereby to measure their merits or defects. But with the Bible, a different method is pursued: men read it as a duty; assent to its doctrines without understanding them; admit its binding authority, even when its precepts consist not with the universal sense of justice, but seem arbitrary. Thus attempts are made to justify some of the sanguinary laws of Moses, and the alleged command made to Abrahain to sacrifice his son. The Bible is honored above all other books. Men form Societies, and make great personal sacrifices—the poor servant girl contributing her hard earned shilling to circulate this book
in other lands. It is in all hands. It is a well known friend in the poorest cottage. It is admitted to the proudest palace. It has a place in the pedlar's crowded pack, and cheers him when he rests from his toil, and sits down dusty and faint upon his burthen. It goes with the pilgrim who ventures untrod lands; beguiles his toil, comforts his sorrows, and kindles his hopes. Perhaps there is not a Christian bark afloat on the ocean, that sails without a Bible.
Now this lofty place, this universal reception, is granted to no other book: None other speaks equally and with the same authority to the lofty and the low, the learned and the ignorant. None other can sanction an oath, solemnize a marriage, dry a mourner's tear, or arm the soul for sadness, deepest affliction and death. Surely a book to which so lofty a place has been assigned, must possess rare merits. What are they? What are the distinguishing features of this book, which give it precedence to all others? or rather, what is the relation of the Bible to the Soul ?
Before answering this latter question, it may be well to determine what it is not.
The Bible is not the master of the Soul. The disciples of Jesus were forbidden to be called maslers. If they cannot bear that title, still less can their writings, some thousands of vears after the writers are dead. The old prophets have still feebler claims to that distinction; for the very least in the new dispensation, (the kingdom of heaven,) is above the greatest of those men. Chistianity. acknowledges no master to the soul. God is its Father; the Spirit of our Faith is that of freedom, not bondage. Its chiefapostle says, “ Call no man your master;" still less can we call any Book, “ master.” However much we may venerate the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament, they are never to hold the Soul in bondage. The artist is not to be crushed by his instruments, but is to apply them to their proper ends.;
The Bible is not the foundation of Religion. It is sometimes fancied Religion is based upon the Bible; it is said, if a man should disbelieve that book, he would of necessity cease to be religious.' But Religion is older than the Bible. Enoch walked with God without its support. Abraham, and Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and Solomon, and Daniel, knew nothing of it. Religion is not founded on the Scriptures, more than the sense of justice is based on the common law.” The reverse of this is true, for the Bible is founded on the indestructible religious sentiment, as the “ common law” rests on the sense of justice in the Soul. Men sometimes think the
statutes of the land were providentially struck out, in some happy moment, which will never return-that if these should perish, so would Order and Justice decease from being. They say the same of the Bible, and assert that Morality and Religion would have been quite lost from the world, if the Bible had chanced to perish..
Still farther, the Bible, or the New Testament, is not the sole and exclusive foundation of Christianity, but simply its historical form. Christianity at this day does not rest merely on the New Testament. Its essential truths were before Abraham, when there was no Bible. It is the word, that was in the very beginning, the true Light, which has always shone, enlightening every man, so far as he was enlightened at all; for all the real religious light of the world has only come from true Religion, which is essentially the same with Christianity: though it may differ in form, Christianity was ordained before the creation of the world; so that it is not simply " as old as the creation," but far older; ancient as the eternal ideas of Justice, Love, Holiness and Truth. It is sometimes imagined, if the New Testament had been lost in the dark ages, that Christianity also would have ceased to be. But can this be true? Had this temple of Christianity been destroyed, the Spirit of Christianity could not have perished; for, granting it were shewn, in opposition to the greatest amount of historical evidence ever brought to bear on one point, that the facts related in the Gospels, were not facts, but fictions; that Jesus never rose from the dead; never died, as it is related; never wrought miracles, taught doctrines, or even lived-still Christianity would be as true, as lasting, as now it is, when envi. roned by all these historical statements. It is true that Christianity is intimately connected with its Galilean founder, but not inseparably. Its truths are laid in human nature; they will live with the Soul. They are the Soul's law. Heaven and earth may pass away, but not one jot or tittle of Christianity can fail."
The Bible is not greater than Conscience and Reason. They are directly from God, God's voice heard plainly in the heart, as ever on Horeb, or Sinai, or the Mount of Transfiguration. Nothing can be superior to these instructors. The Bible may agree with Reason; utter the same sentiments with Cộnscience; and so far it will have authority. It can never contradict these : counsellors, and yet claim obedience. What God has made, cannot be unmade by any power short of his own: so nothing arbitrary or capricious can ever become binding on Reason and Conscience, let it be taught on what