« PrécédentContinuer »
nience or pleasure? Why should they, how can they so freely accuse us of being men who care nothing about religion, and who wish to make others care nothing about it? It is a horrible accusation, and they ought to feel horror at their own presumption, when they dare to make it. And yet they do make this accusation, and nothing less than this. All the discourtesy and unkindness that we experience, all the hard and severe looks that they bend upon their bre hren, all the horror against us that is spread through the community, all the refusal of clerical and christian intercourse, all the language of their pulpits, and presses, and prayers, and conversations, and rumors, goes upon this horrible and heaven daring presumption. It is a matter of the strongest possible feeling with them. It is not against so slight a thing as an error of the head that they are contending as they do, but against a perversion of the heart; or, it is against an error of the head as resulting from a depraved heart. The language, the undisguised language of their whole conduct, is, • You are bad men, and you are making other men bad, and we will have nothing to do with you. Beat down this accursed thing. Come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.'. They even dare to invoke the almighty, the universal Father, as if he were undoubtedly on their side, on the side of their system and sect. They pray against errors as if it never entered their minds that they had any errors of their own. How strange is it that fallible, weak, erring men should pray so; that they should never pray for their own errors; that they should have made the very word, error, mean something that always attaches to their neighbours, and never touches themselves! Are they so much wiser than other men? Do they study more? Do they think or read more? We ask these questions, not invidiously, but in simplicity and godly sincerity. We have a right to ask them. The men who lay claim to the whole and infallible truth, ought to have some special distinction in character. Are they better and wiser men? Are they men of more pure and refined minds? Are they more calm in judgment? No, not more calm,- for they profess to make zeal one of their peculiar distinctions and great arguments. And yet, let them remember that there is not a class of religionists under heaven, Jews, Mahometans, or Hindoos, but have just as much zeal for their opinions. Yes, by every mountain and river in the world, by the streams of the Ganges, and on the mountain tops of Thibet and Tartary, we find men just as zealous for their opinions as they-and, in nine cases out of ten, with just as good reason. For what is it--what is it that emboldens, in the body of the people, all this confidence and
zeal? It is tradition; it is education; it is authority; it is influence; it is terrific warning, and fearful anathema. It is not personal and thorough and unbiassed inquiry of every man for himself; every person, who reflects or observes at all, must know that it is not.
But having said thus much, and thus earnestly, we must add a word on another topic. Among the practical virtues which all Christians profess to value, is that of charity; and, as we may seem to have violated this great christian principle, let us say something by way of explanation. About nothing do we differ more with our Calvinistic brethren than this. But let us state wherein this difference consists. Not in that we profess to be better men than they; not that we claim to have more of the spirit of love and forbearance in our hearts than they. We would never forget the liability, the peculiar liability in which we stand, to irritation and bitterness; and, while we defend ourselves, as we are called upon, with firmness, we pray God that we may ever have grace to do it with forbearance. The name of Unitarian will preserve no man from uncharitableness, and we have sometimes seen it made a cloak for the worst of bigotry.
But that which we will not claim for our character, we will claim for our creed. We maintain that charity is one of its fundamental articles. Neither do we take any extraordinary merit for this; for it seems to us the simplest dictate of reason and observation, that men, frail and fallible men, should bear with each other's honest differences of opinion. There must be such differences. They result from the nature of the mind. They exist on all other subjects, and why should they not on religion? Men's minds are no more made to be alike than their faces; and there are good countenances, though they are not all the same. And so may there be good minds, good hearts, and good lives, though they do not wear precisely the same aspect.
And the great difficulty we find, the more we become acquainted with different sects, is, that they do not know each other. · Alas!' we have been ready to exclaim, when conversing with those who are most opposed to us, we do not know each other.' We do not know how many solemn anxieties, how many feelings of conscious weakness and deep humility, how many fervent prayers, how many gentle thoughts and kind wishes, how many of the ineffable joys of religion, have place in the hearts of us all. We freely accord these qualities to our brethren. We know that they have zeal for God. We know that they are anxious for the interests of piety and virtue. We would to God that they could have their eyes open to see the same in us.
would that they could have the comfort of this charity. May the spirit of charity and of love unseigned descend upon us all ! May all the blessed virtues and consolations, the divine graces and glorious hopes of the gospel, live and grow and abound in us, till we all come, in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto persect men, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ !
THE DYING CHILD.
'T is dying ! life is yielding place
To that mysterious charm,
A fixed, unchanging calm,
Upon its snowy brow;
More radiantly than now-
Were parted to reply-
Is passing from thine eye;
Throughout the kindled sky,
Amid the flames on high ;-
Upon the earth below,
And hurried from its woe
If days had grown to years !
With weariness and tears!
'T is well then that the smile should lie
Upon thy marble cheek ;
What words could never speak-
Art. I.- The Christian Philosopher; or the Connexion of
Science and Philosophy with Religion ; illustrated with Engravings. By Thomas Dick, &c. &c. First American Edition. New York, G. & C. Carvill. 1826. 12mo. pp. 398.
We are induced to recommend this work to the attention of the christian public, not so much on account of its peculiar merits, as from a desire that the subjects of which it treats, may not continue to be left in so neglected a state as they have generally been. We would not be understood to imply, however, that it is by any means destitute of merit. On the other hand, although certainly not a performance of the very highest order, it has strong claims upon the attention of every enlightened Christian, as containing, with some considerable scientific information, many edifying views of the connexion of science and philosophy with religion, and of the influence which the former are capable of exercising upon the latter.
The object of the writer is to illustrate, and not to prove. He wishes to present strong views of the truths of religion, as
lustrated and explained by the works of God in the material creation, and not to prove those truths by arguments drawn from the same source. Having confined himself within these limits, he has shown himself adequate to his design. No Christian can read his book with attention, and not feel his piety elevated, his views of the divine power, wisdom, and goodness enlarged and strengthened, his confidence in the overruling and ever present providence of the Deity confirmed. And we would even say, that no man of science, unless decidedly prejudiced against revelation, can read it and not feel some surprise at the new and more elevating views in which it presents to him some of the most familiar facts in science,—the new relations which it discloses in
studies which have been his daily occupation, and the unwonted and sometimes sublime emotions which it gives birth to in his mind, upon the contemplation of subjects in a new light, which had been objects of consideration a thousand times before, without the production of any such effect.
The principal defects in the work of Mr Dick, so far as we have examined it, are, a want of concentration and distinctness; an arrangement of thoughts too indefinite; too great a diffusiveness of style ; and occasionally an extravagance in his statements and deductions which tends very much to injure the effect of other parts. In a few instances we have noticed scientific mistakes; but upon the whole these are not common—not more so perhaps than in the work of Paley. Its merits are, the great extent of its plan and the great variety of topics which is made subservient to its purposes; the strong sentiment of devotion and religious feeling which pervades it, and generally the very correct views of the nature, attributes, and providence of God which it undertakes to illustrate. We cordially recommend it to the perusal of all who are interested either in science or religion, earnestly hoping the result may be that they become interested in both.
But while we have taken up this work, partly for the purpose of thus recommending it, we have had the further purpose of urging strongly the essential aid which may be derived to the religious character of all men, from some attention to those exhibitions of the Creator which are found in the material world. Most men, whose thoughts have been much engaged upon religion as a matter of revelation, are very prone to regard it as a subject which stands entirely by itself,-as requiring from its very nature an exclusive consideration, and as having little in common with anything else. Having had their minds originally and very strongly directed to the mysteries of the revealed dispensations of God, they forget his natural dispensations. They overlook the fact that the God of scripture is the same being with the God of nature. They do not recognise the truth that the Creator of our souls and of our bodies, of the spiritual and the material world, of mind and of matter, is the same. It is certainly a fact that an immense majority of Christians, know but little of those displays of the divine perfections which are everywhere exhibited, even on the surface of the works of nature, and which are still more strikingly manifested by the discoveries which philosophy is constantly bringing to light.
There is nothing wilful or intentional in this neglect. It arises from a sheer ignorance of the whole subject. Men in general