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The essentials of religion cannot be those controverted points on which good men have doubted and differed they cannot be found in any of the merely controversial aspects of Christianity. The essentials of religion, we submit, must be rather its moral aspects, its reference to man as a thinking and spiritual being. The essentials of religion must be a knowledge of the true character of God, of his moral character, of our relations to him; such knowledge as shows us ourselves, what we are; and gives us the means by which our minds may be purified; and sets before us a delineation of our duty, of the temper of mind we should seek, and so impels us to aim at our nature's highest excellence. Such knowledge of God, is life eternal. Such knowledge of ourselves, is present moral life, true liberty, and self-enjoyment. But we know how remote is all this, from any of the controversial matters on which sects have split! How different is the knowledge of God's character as the Father and friend of humanity, from any and all speculations touching bis manner of existence!

We advance another step, and contend, that though all the peculiarities of existing sects were allowed to be true, they must be excluded from being essential. What are those peculiarities which some would call the Essentials ? They are- Trinity, or a speculation respecting the manner of the Divine existence; vicarious satisfaction, or that God does not dispense his free grace without innocence bearing the penalty of moral guilt, in room and stead of the offending; birth-sin; election of some, and rejection of others, to the eternal differences of bliss or woe; two natures in the one Christ; miraculous influence in conversion; and the impossibility of good men falling away finally, called, in systems of theology, the perseverance of the saints. Now, granting all these speculations to be correct—which would be a large grantthey are of little or no moral efficacy in enabling us to do our duty, and become better men. Even if they are true, they are not the principles on which we rely for producing Christian righteousness. We are not now disputing their truth; but we are comparing them, in spiritual efficacy to make us holy and righteous, with the principles above stated. What is essential, must have an influence to make us holy or virtuous. Principles which have no such tendency cannot rank with Essentials.

Let us, then, take the Trinity, or threeness of God. What is this? A mere sound: its advocates do not pretend to explain it. They say, they have no ideas corresponding; only they choose to affirm that the Deity is " three somewhats,” or that God exists after a threefold manner of distinction. Be it so, for the moment. But this adds nothing to our knowledge of God, as the One Infinite Father of creation. Trinity is either tritheism which we are not willing to impute, and which its most rational defenders disavow-else it leaves us but One Infinite Being or Intelligence, One Mighty Mind, that built all things, and whom we adore as the Spirit of spirits. If we believe that God is our loving Father, that ' he beholds our struggles of goodness, that he regards our efforts to do his will, and will graciously accept our righteousness, and forgive the wrong that is turned from with a full and perfect heart,—what moral efficacy is there in believing, in addition to all this, that the Divine Being exists, in some mysterious way, after a threefold manner of distinction? We are not now inquiring into the evidence of this theory, but what moral or religious benefits do we gain by admitting it?

What new motives do we thereby acquire to live a life of righteousness, or fight a good fight of faith? Or what new and impressive views does it disclose to us of the character of God? Or what ampler and more magnificent prospects does it open

up of the Divine government? Every principle of the Divine nature, and every relation of ours to that nature, remain unaffected by any and all speculations concerning tri-personality. So that, after all, it is but a barren speculation, a theory, a thing of sound, a particular conformation of the organs of speech; but possessing no vitality, nor animating nor elevating power, even in those minds into whose creed it enters; for, let the experience of any good man be questioned, what are the great truths relating to the Divine nature to which the mind clings, and from which it draws support and spiritual nourishment? They will be found to be, not the abstruse, the mystical, the controversial--not such as regard modes of entity, decrees, sovereignty, and free-will. These belong to the

class of speculations in which learned men and philosophers may sometimes expatiate, but they are not the spiritual sustenance of the mind, they are not the good man's daily bread, on which he may wax strong, and grow, and live for ever. Where shall this be found, but in that which happily all Christians admit-and, unhappily, all too much overlook—in the truths relating to the moral character of God, his spiritual perfections, those aspects of the Divine nature by which he is presented to us as the Father, and Friend, and Governor, and Saviour, and Judge of the human race? It is far more important to our spiritual improvement and growth in grace, that we should believe and feel God to be the holy One that seeth us at all times, than to conceive that he is one of three “somewhats;" to believe that he governs the world, than to believe that there is some unknown distinction in the Divine nature; to experience that he is the Father who giveth good gifts, God the rewarder of them that seek him, than that he is the first in order of a tri-personal Deity. Granting all these verbal or mystical distinctions, what is their value? they signify nothing at all; they add nothing to our faith of a spiritual, holy, and paternal God. This, then, is the grand essential; and the others, supposing them true, have no perceptible power to exalt, to console, or strengthen us.

What, again, are the discussions respecting what has been called the person of Christ? They are all second and third-rate matters. Whatever were the rank of our Lord in the scale of being, his office and relation to us are the same. All Christians see in Jesus the organ of the Divinity; though the human being surely never was, nor was supposed to be, the Divine Being himself. Still, all see in Jesus the seal and stamp of that which is Divine. After all, the Divinity of Christ has never been questioned. Men, even while disputing about his person or natural rank in creation, have all, unconsciously, felt the Divinity of his character, in its excellence, and universality, and stainless purity, and pure human sympathy. Jesus of Nazareth has always been regarded as the visible Shekinah of the Deity, God's symbol or image upon earth. The pious Unitarian and the pious Trinitarian have agreed in this, however they might seem to differ in definition and speculation. The controversy respecting the

person of Christ ends in words, as in the former case. Men rely upon a Divine Saviour, when they rest upon God the Father; and Christ is ever felt, within the soul, as the pledge and proof of the Divine philanthropy. The moral virtue of Christ, bis piety and patience,' his selfdevoting benevolence, and gentleness of wisdom, is unaffected by any speculations touching two natures in one person, hypostatical union, &c. The essential of Christianity is, to have the mind of Christ within us, to be like him in piety to God and love to man, and the rule and regulation of our own spirits. If we receive the doctrine of Christ, and keep his commandments, and are imbued with his spirit, what signify those nice and undecypherable points on which a scholastic theology bas made shipwreck of Christian charity? If we feel the example and the spirit of Christ cheering us on in our career of virtue, animating us to struggle and endurance, creating within us the mind that bears and forbears, and still believes and hopes the best, and forgives the erring, and supports the weak, and comforts the feeble-minded, and feels the superior blessedness of giving, over that of receiving, and is unwearied in well-doing, and endeavours to overcome all evil with good,-is not this, again, the essential of Christ's religion? and what power is there in those disputed and disputable theories respecting his person, to which so much importance has been erroneously attached, and on whose account Christians have' been estranged from one another and opposed in warfare unholy? What am I the better for believing in a distinct and separate Deity of Christ—if this is the thing really meant—when I already see, that the One only Living and true God, the Father, dwelt in him. I have a Divine Saviour, if I look up to the Father, who sent and sanctified his Son. Every great truth, and every spiritual principle, and every inspiring motive, and every holy duty of the Christian life, remain untouched by scholastic notions, which are altogether extrinsic and foreign to the essence of our faith in a spiritual Christianity. What can any notions touching the person of Christ, add to our perception of his character as the great model of human excellence, the object of Divine approval, the messenger

of God's mercy to man, the preacher of righteousness, the revealer of immortality. Admitting the truth of what is peculiar to Orthodox Christianity, that peculiarity of Orthodoxy is no essential of Christianity.

The same mode of illustration might be carried through and applied in other instances. Take the doctrine respecting human nature. Man's highest glory is in being faithful to his moral nature, in unfolding the reason and conscience that are within him, in self-culture, in ceaseless advancement, perpetual progress toward the true, the excellent, the everlasting. To feel, that by holiness we resemble God, that by beneficence we are the disciples of Christ, and that our calling is a high and a holy one, this is the life and soul of virtue within us. And to feel that sin is the bane and ruin and dishonour of our nature, this is the great faith of goodness-the faith that purifieth the heart, worketh by love, and overcometh the world. But how are we advantaged by adding to all this, certain ideas touching federal headship of our progenitor, imputation of guilt and sin, fall and sin of ours before we existed, vicarious offence without our consent, and vicarious redemption without our consciousness? What moral or spiritual power resides in ideas of this class, supposing them true? Where is their efficacy to arm ns against temptation, or make us strong in the day of trial? What solemnity do they add to the feeling of personal responsibility, if, indeed, they do not obscure it? How do they deepen our sense of the evil of sin, or enhance our perception of the glory of goodness ? Must we go out of ourselves, and beyond the sphere of conscience, to find some source of evil in the remote past? It is not surely to such refined, and recondite, and wire-drawn speculations (even granting them to be true speculations), that we are to trust for the purifying of the human mind, the sanctifying of the human spirit, and the elevation of society. We need something far more simple, practical, and nigh unto us. And we do not find this in the subtleties of the schoolmen, or the creeds of the middle ages. We must not trust to these for nerving the heart, and strengthening the hands, and making us endure as seeing Him who is invisible. How do all these remote and elaborate theories fade away before the simple gran

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