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The Rev. Thomas Bowring moved, and Mr. W. Lowe, Jun. seconded, a vote of thanks to the Secretaries.
[We regret being obliged to break off thus abruptly the account of the proceedings of this important meeting; it will be concluded in the April number.]
The Rev. R. E. B. Maclellan, of Edinburgh, has been delivering a course of Six Lectures, in St. Mark's Chapel, in answer to the question, "What is Unitarianism ?” — which have been listened to with very great satisfaction.
TO CORRESPONDENTS. Our desire to finish, in this Number, the account of Proceedings on the Presentation of a Testimonial to Mr. Gibbs, Devonport, has necessarily excluded various articles intended for insertion this month, amongst which may be named, that by Christophilus; one on the Temperance Reformation; and notices of various interesting Publications.
Communications have been received from Vigil; G. H. B.; and the Rev. F. Howorth. Most gladly shall we receive papers in reply to Objections against Abstinence Societies. The Dublin Evening Post; British Indian Advocate; Liverpool Mercury,—have also been received.
The prefatory remarks to the Sermon on the Reunion of the Virtuous in a Future State, preached on Sunday, Feb. 14, by the Rev. W. Stevens of Maidstone, on occasion of the death of our excellent and venerated friend, Mrs. Cooper, will be inserted in the April number. In consequence of the Editor having to open the old Secession Meeting-house of Tillicoultry as a place of Christian Unitarian worship, on Sunday, Feb. 21, and his having to preach on the following week-evenings at Stirling, Tillicoultry, Bannockburn, and Falkirk, this Number of the Christian Pioneer has been put to press earlier than usual; and must plead his apology, in addition to the desire already named, for the non-insertion of this last communication, as well as others, in the present Number.
We heartily agree with a most valued friend in the warmest commendation of "The Hour and the Man," Miss Martineau's latest contribution to Christian liberty and righteousness. It should be read by every one who would understand one of the most important moral and political movements in behalf of our wronged, and oppressed, and maligned brethren of the Negro portion of the great human family. The character of Toussaint L'Ouverture is worthy of deepest study: an unanswerable refutation of all the sophistical and prejudiced objections arising from injustice, oppression, bigotry, and the pride of caste, against the intellectual and moral faculties and affections of that cruelly treated race of which he was the vindicator, and we trust in very truth, by his principles and actions, the Deliverer.
THE CONTRAST OF CHRIST'S TEACHINGS AND
PAUL'S WRITINGS. To the Editor of the Christian Pioneer. SIR,—In your publication, as in other periodicals, you frequently favour your readers with reviews of new books. This is a useful plan, in an age when such a crowd of publications solicit our attention, that it is impossible for a private person, by other means, to know how far the merits or the subject of new books might be interesting to him. For a like reason, I offer you extracts out of a manuscript intended at some future time for publication.
The subject has not been hitherto discussed (to my knowledge), and is likely to prove interesting to your readers. On the general merits of the work I will say nothing, because that cannot be fairly judged till the whole be laid before the public. Your readers, however, will be able to estimate the evidence and importance of the specific views and arguments laid before them in the extracts. The accumulated evidence of the whole would no doubt be more favourable to the conclusions of the author; but as his sole object is Truth, he is desirous in this way of ascertaining the impressions which certain specific views shall make upon such of your readers as are disposed and competent to criticise them. He solicits their remarks, through your medium, in like manner as he has already privately obtained the opinions of different persons whose judgment he values. Among other opinions, he has received the emphatic approbation of Dr. Channing, on the leading idea of his work. This idea is, That there is a marked difference between the doctrine and style of Christ's personal teachings, and of Paul's writings; and that the source of almost all the disputes and contentions which have distracted the church, may be traced to the writings of Paul, or rather to the habit of
putting his, writings upon an equal footing of authority and importance with the teachings and history of his Master, as recorded in the four Gospels. This observation applies to the Epistles of all the Apostles in some respects, but more especially to Paul's.
Without going farther at present into explanations, I now send you an extract, pointing out some distinguishing excellences and peculiarities in the personal teachings of Christ.
And here, the first thing which strikes our attention, is the circumstance, that all his doctrine was delivered verbally. He committed nothing to writing. It appears, farther, that this was done with a special reference to the peculiar character and design of his doctrine and mission. His doctrine was intended for all mankind, for every age and country, for men in every condition and circumstance of life. It was to contain a full manifestation of Divine truth, adapted to all capacities. It was to bring about the time “when none should be required to teach his neighbour, saying, Know ye the Lord, but when all should know him, from the least to the greatest.” It was to be the introduction of that era when “ the glory of the Lord was to be revealed, and all flesh should see it together." This made it requisite, therefore, that such a revelation should be made in a manner so as to afford no grounds of mistake about it; that it should be expressed, not in precise words, liable to be tortured and twisted critically, to be rendered differently by translators, or copied incorrectly by transcribers. The essence of it, required to consist of distinct ideas and things, not of words and definitions. The Christian doctrine was to consist of truths which might be clothed or expressed variously, without danger of being lost in the variety of languages, idioms, and preconceived opinions. The style of our Lord's teaching, and his mode of communicating it orally to the attention and memory of his hearers, was adapted to this character. In its form it consisted of pithy and striking sayings, and of parables which could not be easily forgotten. In its circumstances it was associated with wonderful events. Hundreds who attended his ministry, or occasionally heard his doctrine, repeated it, after his departure, without mistake or variation. This was the boast of the primitive churches, that their doctrine was one that all understood. It was especially committed, indeed, to the charge of the Apostles, more fully in all its details and varied aspects; but even when propagated by others, there was no misụnderstanding or differences about it, whenever the accounts of the reporters were compared, and so far as each of them went. Proofs of this shall be produced afterwards; but our present remark is, that the style of our Lord's teaching was adapted to these ends. 'He taught orally and popularly, to show that his doctrine was not trammelled, or to be interpreted by verbal niceties and learned criticisms. Whoever will read the Gospels under this view, will find the same truths repeated in various forms and
different occasions, so as to fix the mind upon things more than on words. This observation applies more particularly to the matter of the three first Evangelists. The sayings and discourses of his Master, recorded by John, are in the nature of a more precise character, and depend more upon the ipsissima verba--the very words employed. But this does not militate against our general remarks ; in one way, it confirms them. The three early Gospels contain the substance of all that was generally remembered and published for the first and second generations in the Church. They contain, therefore, all the elementary principles and essentials of Christianity; for it cannot be doubted, that those two generations of Christians possessed and manifested as much, or rather far more, of the genuine spirit and doctrine of their religion than any which followed. We do not mean, that the doctrines of John were the less true or important in their place; but they are such as can only be properly understood and appreciated, like the higher departments of many sciences, after the disciples are well grounded in the primary truths. That such higher truths, therefore, should have been reserved, and published in writing at an advanced period, confirms the idea we have expressed about the designed propagation of the Christian doctrine, in its essential characteristics, by tradition.*
The three first Gospels were not committed for many years to writing, and then they were just the record of the primary tradition. It follows, from the preceding view of our Lord's teaching, that he did not consider there was any mystery in it-anything that the common sense of the common people could not understand. There were mysteries in the institutions of Moses, and in the predictions of the old prophets, which could not be understood till the fulness of the time arrived, when the types should be explained by their anti-types, the prophecies by their accomplishment. Then that which was shadowy and provisional, gave place to what was solid and permanent-what was dark, to what was clear. The mystery of God's former ways was revealed. In that, as in some other respects, Christ was the light of the world; and he who followed him needed no longer to walk in darkness, but enjoyed the light of life. The only thing that prevented men from perceiving the beauty, and yielding to the evidence of his doctrine, were prejudices of a moral kind. They that loved the darkness would not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved. They only who did, or were willing to do the will of God, could value and receive the doctrine. Others were prejudiced and blinded; but the fault there lay in the person's own mind. It did not lie in any proper obscurity or perplexity of the doctrine. On some occasions, indeed, our Lord veiled the direct purpose of his doctrine in parables and metaphorical language, where he knew his audience to be prejudiced and seeking to entrap him; but the explanations he gave in private to his disciples, and in other instances the course of events, clearly evinced his meaning. Even when explanations were not thus given, the structure of his parables and his sentences left no room for any reflecting person to misapprehend him. For example, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, few need to be told that the object of it was, not to instruct us regarding the personal employment of Abraham, or the local and physical circumstances of Hades; these constitute the mere framing or drapery of the picture; the lesson is, that in the final judgment of God, he will not be influenced, as men are, by the imposing circumstances of individuals in this life, but rather quite the contrary, his sympathies being in favour of the poor and against the rich. Again, our Lord says,