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deur of God, the invisible Witness, Judge, and Rewarder ---personal sin, the great evil we have to dread-fidelity to our highest nature, the great work of life—and holiness, the condition of Divine approval, the pledge, promise, and preparation for coming immortality!
The brevity to which we restrict ourselves, forbids our carrying out in detail the arguments on the other points enumerated; else we might deal with every one of them as we have done with the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, and birth-sin. Our argument is, that, admitting these peculiarities of Orthodoxy as true, they are secondary and unessential. The great Christian doctrines of the Divine nature, the Christ, and human nature, are unaffected by them. They are things that may be dispensed with, and still the life and soul of religion remain entire and unharmed. They are not essential, but accidental-accidental accretions around the primitive simplicity of Christianity. Analyse the writings or the discourses of those who have been most successful in bringing home religion to the consciences of men, and turning sinners from the error of their way, and, we believe, the constraining and regenerating efficacy—the unction that is shed over the eloquent page, or the pathos that flows from the lips of Heaven's ambassadors-will be found to reside, not in any of the alleged peculiarities of popular creeds, but in that common substratum of spiritual truth that lies at the bottom of them all. The truths and principles by which appeal is most successfully made to the consciences of men, are those which present God in his character of loving Father, and merciful Saviour, and wise Governor, and unseen Witness, and righteous Judge. Christ's parable of the father receiving back the wanderer, is an epitome of Christianity; and the heart of man needs no other. And what are the views of Christ which fix our regards and win our sympathies? Are they not such as show him in his purity, and meekness, and benevolence, doing the will of God, enduring for righteousness' sake, redeeming us from moral evil, at the cost of his own labours and tears, life and death, faithful unto the cross? And what representations of our own nature warm and animate us, but such as call us to put fortb our energies as children of the Most High, and tell of the worth of the soul, and the brotherhood of humanity, and of the sainted models of human goodness in patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, apostles, confessors, sages, philanthropists--and place before us a holier law, and loftier motives, and a freer service, and a more generous virtue-and exhibit to us all this in Jesus, as the pattern of human excellence, and the pledge of human immortality?
The moral, the spiritual, then, is the essential; and the mystical, the obscure, the dogmatical, the controversial, have neither part nor lot in this matter. The essential of Christianity, is not in any of those hypotheses and theories respecting things that may be too high for us. It is high time that the world had done with creeds, and dogmas, and sects, and man-made systems of theology; and that we were going forward in a spiritual Christianity--building ourselves up in righteousness and truth unto salvation-unfolding all the resources of religion and of human nature-working out, for the healing of society, the great principle of human brotherhood, the Christian and comprehensive law of Love ; for, let sectarianism preach, pray, proselyte, and persecute as it pleases, behold, this is the essential Christianity—to love God, and be like the Christ, and be constantly working toward self and social improvement.
ON THE DUTY OF DISSEMINATING UNITARIAN CHRIS
TIANITY IN ITS DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER.
To the Editor of the Christian Pioneer. SIR,—My thoughts have been attracted to the above subject frequently, of late, by the perusal of various articles I have met with, in some of our periodical publications and elsewhere, and which appear to have been written from the laudable motive of promoting the extension of Christian charity and Christian liberty in the world, but by what may perhaps be considered very questionable means; viz. by waging an undistinguishing warfare against sectarianism; and by questioning the propriety of using what are set down as mere sectarian, or party names, in designating religious societies; and under such titles the term “ Unitarian" has been included. But
it would not be difficult to show, that this term is not a mere “party name,” but a distinctive, and descriptive appellation, distinctive as marking one of the two great divisions of the religious world, and descriptive of the great principle (taught by nature and revelation of the oneness and sole supremacy of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. But 'my object at the present time is, not so much to defend the use of sectarian or distinctive appellations, as to offer a few remarks on sectarianism itself; and to show, that when exclusive bigotry and denunciatory intolerance form the ruling spirit of the land, sectarianism may become the ark of preservation, where Gospel simplicity, Christian charity, and Christian liberty, may ride in safety, free from the devastating floods of unreflecting and intolerant fanaticism.
Some persons are fond of imagining, that, by giving a little, and taking a little, we might soon establish that state of things, “when all creeds shall be massed and mingled together in one levelling glow of Christian light and love”! This is very beautiful in sound, but as Utopian and incongruous as the union of words can make it. « All creeds massed and mingled together”!—why, what a heterogeneous mass, or rather mess, would be produced, supposing an equal portion of each various part! But, in the commingling of Unitarianism with Trinitarianism, this would certainly not be the case; for Unitarianism, in losing its identity and its distinctiveness, would lose also its influence and its usefulness. It would be like the commingling of water with fire, which indeed is known chemically to exist; but owing to the vast disproportion of the one to the other, the fire only is seen, and its influence only is felt. Or, it would be like the commingling of the fresh inland mountain-stream, with the saline waters of the boundless sea; where its peculiar qualities would be no longer available-where it would be lost in the mighty mass, and literally exist only as “ a drop in the ocean;' while, in its original distinctive character, in its various journeyings through the land, its uncontaminated waters might give life and breath and vigour to all within its course. It is chiefly by the separation of the pure liquid particles from the ocean mass, that the refreshing dews and the genial showers are made to descend on the earth, causing the seed to put forth the blade and the ear, and to bring forth in the produce of the harvest, forty, sixty, or even a hundred-fold. So it is with the simple uncorrupted doctrines of Unitarian Christianity: preserve their identity and their distinctiveness, and we preserve their value and their usefulness. But sacrifice these to mere Utopian ideas, to theoretical, closet-born notions of Christian union, or to an extremely sensitive fastidiousness with regard to sectarianism, and we sacrifice the means of hastening the establishment of Christianity in real practical utility and gospel purity. If we cease to exert ourselves to propagate, in its distinctive character, that truth which shall - make us free”-if we thus peril our principles, and cease to hold fast our integrity—if we thus sacrifice our power of preserving and extending the pure principles of the Reformation, under the idea of promoting Christian charity in the world, or of promoting unity with our brethren of other denominations, we sacrifice that which,
“Not enriching them, makes us poor indeed." The purest and most exalted spirit of Christian charity and Christian candour, owes its very existence to sectarianism; and can only be brought into operation, in all its beauty and its purity, in that society where diversity of opinion and strict adherence to principle are to be found. And, I believe, the best display of charity and candour is to be seen, in every denomination or section of the Christian world freely holding out the right hand of fellowship to each other, and yet zealously endeavouring to do honour to that faith which each esteems and values as religious truth, by promoting its extension by all fair and honourable means; and, at the same time, rejoicing in the exertions of others, made in the same spirit, in what they esteem the same cause; scrupulously abstaining from unwarrantable denunciations founded on the supposed inefficacy (for it is incapable of proof) of the religious belief of any person or party as regards their final acceptance with our Heavenly Father. This involves no sacrifice of principle, not even to the throwing overboard of any distinctive appellation; it compels no lukewarmness or indifference in the cause of Christian truth and
doctrinal purity; but rather commands the exercise of enlightened zeal, not only that our integrity may be secured, but, that " charity may have her perfect work.” It is commonly said, in reply to the assertion that Unitarians are few in number, that “they are plentiful in: the church, and in every other sect, but have not moral courage enough to come forth and avow their principles.” But, it may be asked, does our own conduct encourage them to do so? do we not often exhibit a supineness, little calculated to inspire others with confidence, or to shame them into an open avowal of their convictions? What right have we to expect others to give up all the associations and impressions of early years, the prejudices and prepossessions of education—and, perhaps, the companionship of friends and relatives,-- what right have we to expect others to sacrifice all these feelings and affections on the altar of Truth, when we exhibit such lamentable indifference to what we believe the cause of Truth ourselves—when we have scarcely the moral courage to own our proper designation? Verily,
we can perceive the mote that is in our brother's eye, when we consider not the beam that is in our own eye!
Christian charity does not call upon us to regard all forms of religious profession as of equal value. But, after having “ searched the Scriptures," after having “proved all things,” and judged even of ourselves, we are bound not only to "hold fast that which is good,” but also to “contend earnestly for that faith which (we believe) was once delivered to the saints.” This may be decried as sectarianism-be it so,—but it is a sectarianism which exhibits no taint of bigotry or intolerance; it is a sectarianism to which we are compelled by the force of circumstances and the opinions of the world; and it is a sectarianism from wbich we cannot depart, without loosening the bond of principle, or manifesting an indifference to what we esteem religious truth. And as it is not the best way to promote virtue in the world, to remain indifferent to the progress of vice; neither is it the best way to promote Christian charity and Christian liberty, to remain indifferent to the outpourings of bigotry and intolerance. I know, indeed, how sectarianism, like everything else, is abused in the world. I know, that