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though the effects of my religion in every convert to it will be apparent, yet as there is an unlimited diversity in the characters and circumstances of individuals, it is impossible to point out the particular manner in which the motives, instructions, promises, or threatenings of the gospel operate to produce these effects.
While Nicodemus still appears not to comprehend the observations of Jesus, he says to him, Art thou a master or a teacher in Israel, and knowest not these things ? v. 10. This address of Jesus indicates, that he had been speaking not of a supernatural and extraordinary event, but of one which is ordinary and common; of a change of character, similar to such as Nicodemus, a man advanced in life, whose rank and office implied intelligence and observation, must have witnessed in his intercourse with mankind; a change from ignorance to knowledge, and from vice to virtue.
The foregoing explanation of this difficult and obscure passage of scripture is offered with diffidence, and a disposition to receive any more consistent and rational interpretation. I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I say.
If the exposition, which has been given, be admitted, the passage yields no support to the doctrine of regeneration by a supernatural, divine, irresistible and arbitrary influence of the Holy Spirit, in favour of which doctrine it is so often and confidently produced. If this be the doctrine of the scriptures, it must be proved by other passages than this ; perhaps our examination of this may contribute to the better understanding of other passages with a reference to this subject. If, on the other hand, this illustration of this passage should not be admitted, it is still a serious question, how far remarks which were addressed particularly to Nicodemus, a Jew and a Pharisee, and one concerned in the government of Judea at the time of the appearance of Christ, may be properly applied to the cases of persons who have been born and always educated under the full light of the gospel; who can have but faint ideas of his views and feelings, and to whom, consequently, christianity presents itself under totally different circumstances.
There is, however, one important view in which this subject is useful to christians in every age. In a most striking manner it calls our attention to the spiritual nature of the religion, which we profess; it reminds us of the utter insufficiency of any privileges or external services alone to recommend us to the favour of God; and it urges the indispensible necessity of sanctifying the Lord our God in our hearts.* The fruit of the Spirit, that is, of the religion of Christ, is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gen. tleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit.*
* 1 Pet. iji. 15.
THE MODE OF OPPOSING LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY, EXEM
THE Christian Public are well aware, that the favourite and almost the only method of opposing liberal Christianity in this neighbourhood, has hitherto been by exciting violent prejudices against it and making men afraid of it. It is equally well known, we are sorry to add, that the means employed to produce this effect have not always been the most christianlike, gentlemanly, or honourable. We have thought it might do good to copy into our work some specimens of this. We do not know any better way of exposing such writers than the republishing of their own, words.
Three of the latest examples which occur to us, we beg our readers to look at carefully. The first is a notice of Wakefield's Translation of the New Testament from the Boston Recorder of March 25, 1820. Let any man of good feelings and decent manners say what impression it is calculated to make.
" It is understood that in Maine, there is a man employed in obtaining subscriptions for a new translation of the New Testament; and from all we can gather, the hand of' some modern Joab is in this thing. The translation, as we are informed, is designed to nourish that monstrous birth of reason, Socinianism, which can neither be made to thrive nor live, by the milk' or strong meat' of God's word, and absolutely requires a sort of minced dish every now and then, prepared at the shop of some semi-philosophical and semi-deistical confectioner, under the name of Improved Version, or New Translation. As it is the design of this subscription paper to give the most extended circulation to the scriptures, cut and carved' according to 'man's device, without a particle of the Life' remaining in them, or one mark of the Holy Spirit on them, we deem it our duty to caution our readers against the imposition. Wherefore will ye spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not." "
* Galatians v. 22.-25.
The next example is from the Panoplist of August 1819. It is less inconsistent with the known character of this work, than the former example with the character of the Recorder.
" It is worthy of notice, that Socinians can make catechisms, although they are so much in the habit of inveighing against them. This we had known from what had taken place in Boston and the neighbourhood, within a few years past. Perhaps there has not been a more fruitful topic of discussion, in the pulpits of the liberal party, than ihe enormous mischiefs of teaching children catechisms, and the frightful sin and egregious folly of making a catechism.
While the attack upon catechisms was carried on in a most fierce and violent manner, several of the clergy, who had been foremost in the attack, actually made new catechisms and published them with their names; some for their particular congregations, and others for the world at large. To reconcile their professions with their conduct would be a task, which we are not required to perform."
There is nothing to be said respecting this, except that the statement it contains is altogether false. We will not trust ourselves to speak of a man who is capable of so positively asserting what he could not know to be true, and what he probably did know to be false; especially when it is impossible that it should have been done from a good motive.
It is but fair to add a paragraph, which follows that which we have quoted.
“ It is manifest, however, that the preaching and the conduct proceeded from the same hostility to the principal catechisms in circulation. If these could not be driven from circulation entirely, it was hoped that they might be supplanted to some extent by little manuals of a different tendency; and it was easy to see, that the objection was not so much to catechisms themselves, as to the kind of catechisms in which the public had confidence. We suppose that not fewer than a dozen of these rivals to the Assembly's Catechism, and the catechisms of Dr. Watts, have made their appearance within a few years."
There is more truth in this. Undoubtedly there is no objection “to catechisms in general,” but there are exceedingly strong objections to "certain kinds of catechisms." And there are few lovers of scriptural christianity, who would not rejoice to see The Assembly's Catechism supplanted by one of a different tendency.
The third example is from the Christian Spectator of May 1820. It is less remarkable than the two preceding, and we trust is not to be regarded as indicating what is in future to be the style of that respectable work.
“But, unfortunately, his* views of religion are undefined and wavering. What shall we think of the man who bestows equal applause on the soft sentimentalism of Alison, in which not one trace of the gospel can be found, and the deep-toned energy of Chalmers, which pierces to the dividing asunder the closest recesses of guilt? With such a man the christian religion is but a name, a mere appendage of a more civilized state of society,
-useful in adding its weighty sanctions to the moral code, and therefore entitled to respect, but without one particle of authority over the understanding or the heart. Multitudes of such men we have, especially in one part of our country, who reject with scorn the appellation of infidel
, who found churches to the one Jehovah, and propagate their want of faith with the most eager zeal, while they refuse their homage to Him whom all the angels are commanded to worship, make his blood of no effect as an expiation for sin, contemn the influences, and deny the existence of his Holy Spirit, and reduce the gospel of his grace to a mere code of moral precepts.”
Our readers will draw their own inferences from these extracts, which afford a fair sample of the efforts which are made to keep alive such prejudices against Unitarians, as shall prevent a deliberate and candid inquiry into the correctness of their sentiments. Much has been done, and much will be done in this way to hinder the progress of the truth. We expect it; but it does not discourage us. The same arts were used by the orthodox Jews in the time of our Saviour, to prevent a fair examination of his claims, and crush his religion in its infancy; and they succeeded but too well for a time, notwithstanding the power of his miracles. But at length truth triumphed over prejudice; and we trust that truth will yet triumph over prejudice.
ON ORIGINAL SIN.
FOR THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE.
Sir-Should you think the following worthy of a place in the Christian Disciple, please insert it.
A FRIEND TO THE CHRISTIAN Disciple.
Would that party of christians, who have seen fit to style themselves “the orthodox," and their dissenting brethren, form an explication of the scripture doctrine of "original sin," ir.
* Speaking of the author of Peler's Letters to his Kinsfolk.
which they would agree, the contention “about fundamentals," to adopt the phraseology of good, honest Richard Baxter, "by which the Christian world, for more than a thousand years,
has been plagued,” would cease. In this case, it is evident that little, if aught, would remain, that could excite them to interested dispute.
For many years, I have been fully convinced, that the orthodox” explication of this doctrine is not true. When Professor Stuart, in his strictures on a part of Mr. Channing's sermon, gave to the public a pledge that the whole of that sermon should be reviewed, it excited in my mind an high expectation, that the doctrine of original sin would be ably discussed. For, as is well known, the superstructure of Calvinism has no other basis for its support, than that particular explication, which the friends of that system give of the scripture doctrine of original sin. It constitutes the foundation of their building, the key-stone of their arch. It is, therefore, reasonable to suppose, that the view of this subject, given in the Letters of Professor Woods, recently published, is the result of the united efforts of the gentlemen, who are at the head of the Theological Institution at Andover. To those who are acquainted with the writings of President Edwards, and of others on this subject, it cannot be necessary to observe, that this production is very far from meeting the public expectation.
My object, however, is not to attempt a review of Dr. Woods's letters, but to state, among several views which my mind contemplates, one particular view of the subject, which has long set my heart perfectly at rest, in the utter rejection of the orthodox explication of the doctrine.
The explication which our orthodox brethren give of this doctrine, is, virtually, this, viz. That, in consequence of the sin of Adam, God has caused the fact to exist, that each of his posterity enters existence possessed of a corrupt moral nature, which is the source of his actual sins. That, in this state, mankind are objects of abhorrence in the view of their Maker, and that he will consign them to everlasting destruction, unless, by an act of grace, he should renew their hearts, and thus dry up the fountain whence their evil actions proceed. And respecting this act of grace, they teach, that although it is passed in favour of some individuals of the human race, yet the number of those who are thus distinguished is very small, in comparison of the whole family of mankind.
If this doctrine be true, it evidently is a doctrine of infinite moment; whether the subject be viewed in its relation to man, or as it refers to the moral character of God. Viewed in its re