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'The plea of many is that we ought to take our religion where the reformers left it; that to be their disciples we should implicitly receive the doctrines which they believed. This might be correct, were we assured that like the Apostles of our Saviour, they were directed by the immediate and miraculous inspiration of God: That they saw with infallible ciearnesa the line between truth and falsehood, and were enabled at once by a single blow to separate from true religion all the errors and corruptions, which had been gathering round it for more than twelve hundred years. * * [But,] to bring back christianity to its original purity, to restore its native lustre, was not the work of a day, or the labor of a single age. The magnitude and difficulty of the enterprise necessarily required a long time for its accomplishment. Had the whole christian world seconded the exertions of the reformers, and with all the ardor oi Luther and Calvin, engaged in stripping off the corruptions of christianity, and demolishing the strong holds behind which error had entrenched itself, still the reformation must have been a work of time. But when was the world, that is, the leaders of the world, ever known to be on the side of reform ?" If we wait for improvement," says Dr Paley, "till church governors solicit, or ministers of state propose it, I will venture to pronounce that (without His interposition with whom nothing is impossible) we shall remain as we are till the renovation of all things."' pp. II, 12.
We hope our readers will make themselves better acquainted with these pages than our limits allow us to make them. They will find much to repay them for the expense of time it will require.
26. An Epitome of Geography, with an Atlas. By J. E. Worcester Boston. Hilliard, Gray, Little, & Wilkins, 1826.
It would be difficult to collect within the same limits, so much exact, useful, and well chosen matter as is contained in this little volume and the accompanying Atlas. Mr Worcester's books have all been distinguished for accuracy and clearness. This is no less so than those which have preceded it. The most distinctive and important facts relating to each region, country, or state, are expressed in language which is at once simple and exact. The arrangement is clear, and the general facts and conclusions are collected in the end and in the tabular views, instead of the beginning of the volume. The maps, though on a small scale, are not so crowded with names as to be confused, and yet no names of any consequence are omitted. In many cases the situation of a place is indicated by a letter referring to the name in the volume. A great advantage which it possesses over many works on geography, is its being suited to the wants of inexperienced teachers. Every thing is arranged, we think, with great judgment, in the order in which it should be learnt. In consequence of this arrangement, a person very
little acquainted with geography, and who has not read this book through, may teach it perfectly well. This is no small excellence in a book, and especially in one on this subject. We have frequently had occasion to observe and lament a mode of teaching geography, by which facts which ought to be learnt in connexion, are kept entirely distinct from each other, and consequently fail to make a deep or permanent impression. The mode we speak of, is, there is reason to fear, very common. It is this: To require the questions on the maps to be recited separately, and without any reference to the descriptions and miscellaneous observations in the volume; and at some time afterwards, or even worse, before, to cause the body of the volume to be learnt without any reference to the maps. This is not an entire loss of time; for, however badly so interesting a subject as geography may be taught, something will necessarily be learnt and retained. But it is as nearly a loss as can well be, and this the arrangement of questions in Mr Worcester's Epitome, completely guards against.
The facts to be collected in a small system of geography like this, are of course substantially the same for all authors. The arrangement and mode ol presenting the subject to the mind alone can essentially differ. In these respects we have seen no book on the subject, so well adapted to the wants of teachers and learners as this Epitome.
One thing deserving great praise in this volume, is the care and general accuracy with which the right pronunciation of proper names is marked when those names first occur. This cannot be too highly approved, as there is nothing more frequent and more difficult to correct than wrong pronunciation, especially of proper names; and at the same time there is nothing short of false statements, so discreditable to an author or a teacher.
27. A Sermon illustrating the human and official Inferiority and supreme
Divinity of Christ. By Isaac Robinson, A. M. Pastor of the Church in Stoddard, N. H. Keene, N. H. 1826. 8vo. pp. 28.
28. Remarks on a Sermon published by the Rev. Isaac Robinson, A. M.
Pastor of the Church in Stoddard, N. H.' Illustrating the human
Thesb Remarks and the Sermon which called them forth, were not put into our hands till a considerable portion of our present sheet was in type. We have therefore had time only for a very hasty perusal of them, and our notice of them must necessarily be imperfect.
Mr Robinson's Sermon is a reiteration of the common arguments for the doctrine of the trinity. He quotes the spurious text of the three heavenly witnesses, and other disputed passages or renderings of scripture, without the least intimation to his hearers that there has ever been a question about them in the world. The very text from which he preaches, is a vexed one ;—' Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all God blessed forever,—Amen.' He establishes, with equal firmness of conviction, the humanity and supreme divinity of our Saviour, and, with the sovereign cement of the doctrine of two natures, insures their consistency. 'Whatever else he [Christ] was, that he was man,' says the preacher, ' is as plain as that he ever existed.' For proof of this he refers to good, sound texts of scripture, and admits 'that if the bible affords evidence that Peter and Paul were men; it furnishes evidence no less clear and convincing, that Jesus of Nazareth was a man.' Downright ' Socinianism'! But stop, says Mr Robinson; and then comes a volley of texts such as I have mentioned. The words of St Paul declare expressly that Christ 'is over all God blessed forever,' he gravely tells us, though it would be an insult to suppose him ignorant that a good portion of the christian scholars in the world, maintain that St Paul's words declare no such thing. In the view of Mr Robinson, it is, therefore, wicked, nay, damnable,* not to believe that Christ is, at one and the same time, infinitely God's inferior and his omnipotent equal. It is a ' mystery ' indeed; but then the world abounds in mysteries, and it is no wonder, we suppose, that a revelation intended for the world's reception, should so far adapt itself to the world's nature, as to have its mysteries too. But the differences between the mysteries there are in the operations of nature, and those Trinitarians say we must believe in or suffer, are, as usual, passed over in silence, and, we doubt not, many an honest hearer of Mr Robinson thought there was no difference at all, and left his church with admiration of the preacher's power, and with redoubled faith in the tissue of contradictions that were there so clearly stated, and so completely reconciled. We have neither time nor disposition to follow our author
"'If the view which has heen now exhibited of the person of Christ be scriptural, a denial of it, must be a virtual denial of Christianity. It is not one ol those theological speculations which we may either receive or reject, without forfeiting our claim to the character of Christians, or jeopardising our immortal interests.' Sermon, p. 26
through his proofs of the positions we have mentioned, or of others he maintains in his Sermon. Besides, the industry and acuteness of Mr Sullivan have prepared him work enough.
The Remarks consist principally of Unitarian interpretations of the several texts adduced by Mr Robinson in support of his doctrine, with occasional discussions on metaphysical grounds of the points at issue, and such expositions of Unitarian views as were called for by the occasion. Though the author modestly 'makes no claim to originality,' we think his pages often and strikingly manifest his right to the praise of it. Indeed there is in his performance so much that is valuable and able, that we cannot but regret his materials are not better digested, and the style and typographical execution of his work do not show more marks of care. Had these things been attended to, the Remarks would have been one of the best scriptural examinations of the subject to which they relate, which could be recommended for popular use. There are minute points of criticism, to be sure, on which we should not agree with Mr Sullivan, but on the whole we have read his pages with great satisfaction. On the different characters of the scriptural proofs of Trinitarians and Unitarians, he writes as follows.
'The fact that the texts above, and others, which Trinitarian writers rely upon, admit of various interpretations, not only shows that there is a deficiency of plain Trinitarian proot-tcxts, hut also manifests a general and characteristic difference between the Unitarian and Trinitarian modes of reasoning from the scriptures Unitarians produce plain Unitarian texts— such as " to us there is one God, the Father "—" this is eternal lile, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent:"—and adopt their plain and obvious meaning. Such texts, those on which they place their principal reliance, have never been questioned: with regard to them, there is no variation of Manuscripts, no opposition of versions, no charge nor pretence of alteration from the original, by interpolation or corruption either intentional or accidental. In opposition to these clear texts, no texts containing in terms the doctrines of the Trinity, the personality of the Spirit, and its equality with the Father and Son, and the unity of the three, ever have been, or can be produced. There is a text which says, ', to us there is but one God. the Father:'' There is no one which states that there is one God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that these three are one God. This doctrine, in these terms, is a doctrine of inference. The Unitarian proof texts agree with the general tenor of Scripture—the natural sense which it bears. The Trinitarian inference does not. In order to make it accord with the plain sense of Scripture, it is necessary to resort to the supposition of " the union of the divine and human natures in Christ," or to the inference of a" mystery " in " the nature of the Divine Unity." Does not this characteristic difference, between the two modes of reasoning in this controversy, afford a presumption in favor of the greater correctness of that faith, which maintains the simple Unity of God f p. 45.
We wish we had room for the author's remarks on the Personality and Influences of the Holy Spirit, on the Double Nature of Christ, and others which are written with equal ability. But we must content ourselves for the present with thanking Mr Sullivan for the aid he has brought to our common cause, and recommending our readers to avail themselves of the light which his familiarity with the scriptures has enabled him to shed upon many a dark passage of their bibles.
Unitarian Chapels in England, Wales, and Scotland. (Continued from p. 441.)
ENGLAND. Lancashire, continued.
Mosley Street, Manchester. Built for the purpose of maintaining Unitarian worship. A Liturgy, accommodated to the doctrines of Unitarianism, is used in this place in the forenoon. Mr Hawkes, who died a few years since, was the first minister of this chapel. He was the author of two volumes of posthumous sermons, edited by Rev. W. Shepherd. He is succeeded by Mr Taylor, from York Academy.
Monton, near Eules. Orig. Trin. After the death of Mr Aldred in 1729, who was an intimate friend of Matthew Henry, Mr Chorley became minister at Monton. He is supposed to have adopted the Arian scheme. Mr Fermer followed Mr Chorley, and afterwards removed from this place about 1779. Mr R. Smethurst is the present minister. The endowments are about 80/. per annum and the congregation is small.
Oldham. The Unitarian chapel in this place was built a few years since, by the subscriptions of Unitarians. No minister has been settled here, but occasional supplies come to preach to a small number of people. The preacher and the whole of his congregation have been seen conducting their worship all in one pew.
Ormskirk. Orig. Trin.
Padiham, near Burnley. A chapel has been built here for the use of a congregation raised by the preaching of the Unitarian Methodists. It was opened for public worship in 1823.
Park Lane, near Wigan. This place was built by Trinitarians at the commencement of the last century. It continued Calvinistic until about the middle of the century, when it was served by Mr Kirkpatrick, and afterwards by Mr Braodbent, both of whom were Unitarians. Mr Thomas Smith, who had