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"Unitarianism is a system most favourable to piety, because it presents to the mind one person. Let this truth dwell in me in its uncorrupted simplicity, and I have an object for my mind, towards which all things bear me."

Now, where is this person, where is this truth, what becomes of this object which is in and for the mind, when we so "refine our conceptions of God," as "to regard him as a pure intelligence?" Is there not a fallacy in the very words? When we regard Him as a pure intelligence, do we regard him at all? Does our mind then see any thing?


We would ask our respected author, if there be not here an inconsistency; and if he have not fallen into it, in part at least, from viewing spirituality as inconsistent with form. To him most particularly would we suggest, that a renewed consideration of this subject may bring before his mind truths which no one would value more highly. Let us not be charged with mysticism. We ask no profound and abstracted speculations. Gladly would we return to the simple and original conceptions of childhood, unlearned in the fallacies of maturity. In that state," and of such is the kingdom of heaven,”—there is no straining of the intellect to catch at conceptions of being without any mode of being -of essence, or principle, without form. That "spiritual body of which the apostle speaks, is to the spiritual senses precisely that which the natural body is to the natural senses; and it is this truth which fills the mind of the child with distinct and operative views, when you tell him to be good, and he will go to heaven, where happy beings have a home; and, when sorrow softens with fire the obdurate, it is this which comes from its living source to bind up the broken heart; and, as we stand by the corpse whence the soul has gone which was knitted to our own, this tells us, that soul lives. But philosophy comes, man's miserable philosophy, to cast her shroud upon the light, and tell her victim that the spirit has no form, no senses to take cognizance of its own objects, and commands him to discard these objects of thought, and belief, and affection, and be satisfied with words;

The shapings of the unregenerate mind,
Bubbles that glitter as they rise and break
On vain philosophy's aye-babbling spring.

Let this be done away with. Let true philosophy dissipate the darkness her counterfeit has conjured up. A profounder inquiry, a steadier gaze upon existence and the evidence of existence, teaches that the mind has no proof whatever of the individual and formal being of the bodily forms, which through its bodily organs it notices, that does not apply with greater strength to its own

individual and formal existence. Into this inquiry we may enter hereafter; but a further pursuit of it would be improper here.

As the third head of Dr. Channing's discourse is peculiarly connected with the two upon which we have already remarked, we proceed to a very brief examination of it. He says,

"III. Unitarianism is the system most favourable to piety, because it presents a distinct and intelligible object of worship, a being, whose nature, whilst inexpressibly sublime, is yet simple and suited to human apprehension. An infinite Father is the most exalted of all conceptions, and yet the least perplexing. It is interesting as it is rational. The sublime simplicity of God, as he is taught in unitarianism, by relieving the understanding from perplexity, and by placing him within the reach of thought and affection, gives him peculiar power over the soul."

We have but to ask, does the "simplicity of God" as taught in unitarianism," in fact place any thing within reach of thought and affection? Is it possible for a human being to have, we do not say an exalted, easy, rational conception of "an unmixed and infinite mind," but any conception whatever? Again,—and we repeat the question in its simplest form, because we would not have it misunderstood,-while the mind strives to see and worship the Lord as an "intelligence," does it see and worship any "person?" We urge the consideration of this subject earnestly upon our readers, because we think it indicative of the essential character of unitarianism. We think so, because it seems to us, that in proportion as a system of religion rests upon the sufficiency of man to himself, just so will it regard the Deity as an inconceivable, inapprehensible, indefinite, and impersonal essence.

Let not any of our readers infer from our preceding remarks, that we object wholly to that exposition of the difficulties attendant upon the tripersonality of God which, in this discourse, goes along with the views of unitarianism that we have been examining. Upon that exposition, and upon those difficulties, we shall remark hereafter. Dr. Channing cannot give to any of them. greater weight than we do. But we do not hold that Jehovah must be only a principle, an essence, an "intelligence," and thus a nature inconsistent with personality, or else that he must have three persons. We worship our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and him only; we look to him, glorified, as the only Lord God; as him whom only we can worship; as the manifested Father, manifested because man hath not seen and cannot see the Father, face to face, but in the Son.

We proceed to consider the fourth head of the discourse; which is thus expressed:

"IV. Unitarianism promotes a fervent and enlightened piety, by asserting the absolute and unbounded perfection of God's character."

"There is a plain tendency in that system which manifests the divine perfections most resplendently, to awaken the sublimest and most blessed piety."

Dr. Channing endeavours to demonstrate that unitarianism thus asserts the divine perfection, by showing that it is marred and disturbed by the trinitarian system. There are reasons why we should be glad to have him distinctly consider, and show, how far unitarianism by itself declares, and illustrates, and makes manifest the perfection of God. But Dr. Channing, in this discourse, makes but little endeavour to do so. With some qualifications, which we may specify hereafter, and with the expression of our doubts whether trinitarians generally believe in three divine persons, we are willing to admit the following statement:

"But the worst has not been told. I observe then, in the third place, that, if three divine persons are believed in, such an administration or government of the world must be ascribed to them as will furnish them with a sphere of operation. No man will admit three persons into his creed, without finding a use for them. Now it is an obvious remark, that a system of the universe which involves and demands more than one infinite agent, must be wild, extravagant, and unworthy the perfect God; because there is no possible or conceivable good to which such an agent is not adequate. Accordingly, we find trinitarianism connecting itself with a scheme of administration exceedingly derogatory to the divine character. It teaches that the Infinite Father saw fit to put into the hands of our first parents the character and condition of their whole progeny; and that, through one act of disobedience, the whole race bring with them into being a corrupt nature, or are born depraved. It teaches that the offences of a short life, though begun and spent under this disastrous influence, merit endless punishment, and that God's law threatens this infinite penalty; and that man is thus burdened with a guilt which no sufferings of the created universe can expiate, which nothing but the sufferings of an infinite being can purge away. In this condition of human nature, trinitarianism finds a sphere of action for its different persons. I am aware that some trinitarians, on hearing this statement of their system, may reproach me with ascribing to them the errors of calvinism, a system which they abhor as much as ourselves. But none of the peculiarities of calvinism enter into this exposition. I have given what I understand to be the leading features of trinitarianism all the world over; and the benevolent professors of that faith who recoil from this statement, must blame not the preacher, but the creeds and establishments by which these doctrines are diffused. For ourselves, we look with horror and grief on the views of God's government which are naturally and intimately united with trinitarianism. They take from us our Father in heaven, and substitute a stern and unjust lord. Our filial love and reverence rise up against them. We say to the trinitarian, touch any thing but the perfections of God. Cast no stain on that spotless purity and loveliness. We can endure any errors but those which subvert or

unsettle the conviction of God's paternal goodness. Urge not upon us a system which makes existence a curse, and wraps the universe in gloom. Leave us the cheerful light, the free and healthful atmosphere, of a liberal and rational faith; the ennobling and consoling influences of the doctrine, which nature and revelation in blessed concord teach us, of One Father of Unbounded and Inexhaustible Love." pp. 21, 22.

Then the question recurs, in what respect is unitarianism better than this? We regard unitarianism as consisting, essentially, of denial; and, of course, cannot admit that it asserts the divine perfection. Let us not be understood to say that all unitarians are deniers of all spiritual truth. We believe that in the unitarian system there is much truth, of great power and value; but it is truth not peculiar to unitarian christianity, nor to christianity at all. It is that truth, and truth of that kind and measure, which has always been on earth, because God hath "not left himself without witness." In all ages there has existed a general belief of a sustaining and controlling power, and of a future life dependant upon this. And there were wise men to whom the darkness of paganism was made visible by the light mingled with it, and in whose minds and works these truths assumed almost their original brightness. But christians must agree in admitting that immortality and life were, in some strong sense, brought to light by the gospel; and does unitarianism give to the mind much more than that general belief which existed before the gospel,-freed perhaps from some errors and falsities which before that time encumbered it? Is not that gospel which is emphatically "glad tidings," intended to do something more than simply exhibit an instance of one who died, and afterwards lived, and thus afford a new argument in favour of a previously existing belief?

We are aware that there is a class of unitarians,—a numerous class, we hope,—to whom these questions might not properly be addressed; for they believe that the connexion of Christ with the Father, and the efficacy of Christ's life and sufferings and resurrection, are asserted in the gospel without being explained there, and are mysteries which they cannot comprehend. To such we would say, "seek, and ye shall find." In the letter of the gospel they are shown, but not clearly; for round the word of God are gathered clouds, "lest men should see" a light which in freedom they could not follow. But now, the Son of Man hath come in these clouds of heaven, with power and glory; and therefore man may learn the absolute and true nature of his Redeemer, and of his redemptive act.

Dr. Channing next proceeds to show the excellence of unitarianism, inasmuch as it "accords with nature," and "opens the mind to new and ever enlarging views of God." We ought rather

VOL. I.-NO. I.


to say, that he endeavours to show the greater excellence in this respect of unitarianism than of orthodoxy; for, relying mainly on the comparison, he speaks briefly and indirectly of the positive accordance of his own system with nature and with God.

Man was made in the image and likeness of God; and nature was prepared for man in precise adaptation to, and correspondence with him. Nature is but the eternal principles of Deity, flowing through man and subsisting in their ultimate forms. Well then may we

Find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

This, which is now but the beautiful dream of poetry, will be realized; will become serious, practical, fruitful truth. Science has gone far into the mysteries of nature, but faith has not gone with her. To the spirit of man, the earth is without form, and darkness is upon the face of the deep; but we trust the time is at hand, nay, now is, when the spirit of God shall move upon the face of the waters, and there shall be light. We cannot understand in what way unitarianism has any peculiar accordance with nature, or with the Author of nature. There is nothing in the essentials that distinguish and characterize this system of faith, which can interpret the instructions of God's works, and make them teach man aught of himself, or his Maker-his duty, or his destiny. Nor do we think it was in Dr. Channings's mind, when he wrote the part of his discourse which we are now considering, to advance any claim of this kind. He goes at once, after some highly ornamented but very general remarks upon his own system, to show forth the deformities of orthodoxy; and we cannot but think that, in his own view of the subject, he attributes these merits to unitarianism, not because it concentrates and strengthens the light which has ever flowed from the forms of the universe into the mind of man, but because it does not seem to him to intercept that light. He exposes, in naked and severe simplicity, the system he assaults; and, supposing it to be expressed in the literal, usual sense of the words which define or describe it, he shows that such falsities must overshadow the mind in which they are suffered to fasten their roots and send their branches abroad. Perhaps it was reasonable that he should deem his work thus accomplished, if it was his purpose only to show the superiority, in this respect, of unitarianism over orthodoxy. Let us be permitted to ask, would it not be useful to go further? To inquire if unitarianism indeed teaches, with peculiar force, that immortality and life which prophets and righteous men desired to see and hear in vain; if it indeed makes the creation vocal with sounds before unheard; if it indeed sends up from earth an

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