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words, as annihilation. Now we do not conceive that we are at liberty to fix our whole attention to one of these representations, as our Calvinistic brethren do. Indeed, if any will thus limit their attention to one point, others have just as good a right to adhere exclusively to another, and the Destructionist will stand on just as certain scriptural ground, as the believer in a perpetual existence of misery. We conceive that we are bound to give heed to the whole scriptural record, and to the general import of that record, rather than to particular words in it. Indeed, if the Calvinist will stand upon the particular words eternal, everlasting, &c. we conceive that he stands insecurely. For the Universalist rightly answers him, that these words were, and are, often applied to things of a temporary nature. Or, if any one thinks that a whole text will furnish broader and surer ground, and quotes what he thinks is the strongest of all, that their worm dieth not and their fire is not quenched,' even that will not support him. For if he will turn to the last chapter of Isaiah, he will find this very language applied to an event confessedly temporary. These words are obviously quoted from Isaiah, and if they had a limitation there, they cannot fairly be construed to have an unlimited meaning here.
We go then, as the only safe course, to the general sense of the New Testament. We find fearful evils denounced against the unrepenting and incorrigible. We know that the misery attendant upon unrepented sin must be bitter, in this world and in every world. But we do not undertake accurately to decide what these evils are, because we do not think that the scriptures enable us to do this. We do not know altogether what it means, but we bow with fear and trembling to the awful revelation. do not know but the guilty soul may be annihilated. We do not know but it may suffer for ages. And we do not think it sinful to entertain a benevolent hope, that, purified at length by suffering, the sinful soul may be restored to happiness. But after all, we do not feel warranted by the scriptures to expect this, and we wait with awe the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
We are sometimes called, by way of reproach, Universalists. We are free to say, that, in strict reason and justice, and according to our judgment, the term Calvinist would be a greater reproach. For to us it appears that the system of the Universalist leans to a far more just and filial view of the attributes of God, than that of the Calvinist. But this is not material to our present purpose. We are concerned at present only to state a fact.
Unitarians are not properly classed with Universalists. We differ from our brethren of that class; we differ especially from the great body of modern Universalists, in believing that there is a future and fearful punishment for sin. We differ still more in our practical views of preaching the gospel. For whereas they, at least many of them, very naturally with their belief, think that universal immunity from future suffering, as it is the great and special revelation of the gospel, ought to be the continual theme of preaching—we regard the moral and spiritual principles of the New Testament as the great things to be inculcated, and we do inculcate and enforce them by all the solemn sanctions of future good and evil. It must be obvious, therefore, that although it may serve a turn to denominate us Universalists, it serves not the great cause of truth and justice.
IV. We shall now say something, in the fourth place, of the terms of acceptance with God. We believe that we are to be saved, that is, to be made happy, hereafter, by the mercy of God, through Jesus Christ, and on the sole and essential condition of our own holiness. To this general statement, we suppose the Calvinist will not object. But the subject must be carried into some detail.
In the statement just made there are three points. First, the mercy of God is the original fountain and constant spring of all our hopes. Secondly, this mercy comes through a Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is offered by him as the inspired servant and messenger of God; it is assured to us by his teachings and sufferings; it is thus in a very important sense procured by him, and to Jesus, as our Saviour, we owe the most unfeigned gratitude. We trace our hopes to him as the great instrument, but not as the original cause. The cause of all is God; the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Thirdly, this mercy of God, and this medium through which it is communicated, does not lessen, in the slightest degree, the necessity of holiness in us. Jesus is not the minister of sin, nor is God's mercy the minister of sin. In different senses, therefore, we may be said to depend on God's mercy and aid, on the mediation of Christ, and on our own virtues. We depend on God as the supreme cause of our salvation ; on Jesus as the teacher and Saviour appointed by him, and on ourselves, as under God, the active and intelligent agents in this work. Such are our constant representations.
Now we are continually charged with relying upon our own merits, and with rejecting both the grace of God and the Saviour he offers. There never was a charge more false and absurd than this, and yet perhaps there is not one which is more pertinaciously insisted on. The salvation we seek, the heaven we hope for, we feel to be above and out of all proportion' to any virtues we possess, though they were increased an hundred fold. To think of meriting the blessings of eternity were not impiety only-it were madness; it were folly and presumption in the extreme. On the other hand we do dissent from much of the teaching that prevails on this subject. We think that the dependence on Christ is urged with an exclusiveness that too much puts out of sight the necessity of a holy life. We do not deny that this too is urged at times. But we observe that this holy lise, this obedience, is not urged so much as the condition, as the consequence of the condition. The condition is faith—faith as distinguished from obedience. Now we think this separation is very improperly and injuriously made. Faith implies, involves in it, all the duties of a holy life. We would refer those who have a value for New England divinity, to one of their own writers—to an essay of Dr Hopkins' on this subject. There, if we rightly remember our old reading, it is shown by a most laborious induction of particulars from the New Testament, that saving faith is especially and essentially the obedient principle; that it does not relate to Christ alone, but to God, to futurity, to duty, and that it implies a holy state of feeling and conduct in reference to all these objects. With this statement we fully agree.
We think, in fine, that this whole matter is mystically represented. Faith is set forth, so it appears to us, as some mysterious act that secures salvation, and good works and good affections as consequent upon this act. Faith is said to be the peculiar grace that unites us to Christ. But we cannot think that it any more unites us to Christ than love. Love to him, to his religion, to bis Father and our Father, does most obviously and emphatically unite us to him. If faith unites us to him in some other manner, it mystically unites us; that manner is unintelligible.
The popular theology claims to itself the title of strict. On this great subject of the way of salvation, we regard it as too lax. It tells us that there is one act of the soul, the act of faith, which insures heaven to a man, though he should die the moment after. We say, that true saving faith implies a habit of the soul, and a holy lise, neither of which are the work of a moment.
V. But we are now verging on the subject of conversion, which we intend to make a distinct topic. Unitarians and Trinitarians, Calvinists and Arminians, agree in teaching the doctrine of conversion. Indeed, we might ask what class of religionists in the world do not? There is so little merit in believing this
doctrine, that it results in fact from the most obvious dictates of huinan experience and common sense. Is there a sinful or vicious man? Who does not acknowledge that in order to be happy and to be accepted of God, he must become virtuous and good? Is a man sensual, worldly, selfindulgent? Who can teach less, than that he must be spiritually born again? It is not, therefore, about the general nature, or the absolute necessity of the change, that there can be any difference, but only in regard to the manner. And on this point we aver that the change cannot be sudden. The beginning of it may be sudden, but the change itself from si to holiness, from wrong habits to right habits, of feeling and action, must take considerable time to accomplish it. The doctrine of the suddenness of conversion, we conceive, is derived from certain language of the New Testament, without a sufficient consideration of the circumstances in which that language originated. The original christian conversion involved, not a change of heart only, but a change of religion; a change from Paganism or from Judaism, to Christianity. This change, the adoption of a new worship, of course, was sudden. It took place on a given day. But the change of heart, from the very nature of the case, is a thing that cannot take place in a day.
Here again we must object to the claim of strictness in the preaching of Calvinists. It seems to us that nothing can be more lax and dangerous, than what they say on this subject. They teach that the vilest sinner on earth, may, in one moment, have a work done in him that will prepare him for heaven. This inevitably results from the system of Calvinism. It teaches that every man by nature, every unregenerate man, is totally depraved. The moment that one good affection enters his heart, he ceases to be totally depraved-he is converted—he is constituted, by the experience of that moment, a Christian, and he is, of course, an heir of heaven. Now the system that teaches us that the great work of preparing for heaven may be reduced to a moment, whatever credit it takes for other things, it seems to us should not boast of its strictness.
It is an easy thing, we know, to take credit to ourselves, and but a doubtful evidence of our deserving it. We shall therefore take no merit for what we are about to assert; and yet we feel called upon to make the assertion, that, in our apprehension, Unitarians teach a more spiritually strict and thorough religion than the more popular sects in this country ;-not the most strict in regard to certain outward, and, as we think, indifferent things, but the most comprehensively and inwardly strict. The distinction is not a difficult one to make. One illustration will VOL. V.-NO. 1.
suffice to show it. The Pharisees were strict. They were “the straightest,' that is, the strictest, 'sect.' Jesus taught a simpler religion, and one that in certain innocent particulars, gave more liberty to his disciples. And on this account, too, he was called in question. Why do not thy disciples fast? And why do they pluck the ears of corn on the sabbath ? Behold, said they, of our Saviour, a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners. He enjoyed the innocent freedoms of life. He mingled easily and freely with society around him, not even talking about sinners and reprobates, and saying, Stand by thyself, for I am holier than thou. This the Pharisees did, and were very proud of their distinction as the holy and religious men of the country. But who does not know that Jesus taught a far more spiritually strict and thorough religion than the Pharisees?
VI. But we must not leave this topic of practical religion without a more distinct notice, and it is the last to which we shall now invite attention.
We approach this topic, we will freely confess, with no ordinary feeling. We would use stronger language than we can use, if we could find that language, to express the horror we feel, at any letting down of the lofty and holy principles of piety and virtue. God forbid, that there should be any just cause for bringing this charge against us. We would warn our brethren against the remotest danger of this, as we would warn them against the coming of a pestilence. With all our hearts would we pray God, that if the world is not yet prepared for the reception of what we believe to be a purer religion, without this dreadful abuse of it, then, that this religion may retire till the world is prepared for it. We do not believe that this is the fact. We believe that the world is prepared to go forward. But still we would have, if there were occasion, we would have warning follow warning, till every faithful voice is hushed in death, that the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, should not be turned into licentiousness.
In this great and solemn judgment concerning the importance of practical and vital religion, we do not doubt that our Calvinistic brethren agree with us. They may honestly think that some of our opinions tend to indulgence and laxity, and we may as honestly think that some of their opinions tend to indulgence and laxity ; but here, for the sake of heaven, let us stop.
Let us not rashly break into the sanctuary of each other's motives.
And why should they so readily bring against us the charge of wishing to let down religion to the standard of worldly conve