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dicted for the minor offence of having
relative to the measures about to be adopted for diminishing the frequency of this crime. We feel persuaded that in the present state of the arts in this country, no mode of engraving bank notes can be devised which may not be successfully imitated, and that the only rational hope of materially diminishing the crime is to revert, with the least possible delay, to cash payments.
We do not mean to discuss, much less to approve, the propriety of the conduct of juries, who, in the face of evidence proving the crime with which a prisoner is charged, return a verdict of not guilty, because, in their apprehension, the punishment which would follow a contrary verdict is disproportionately severe. But all these occurrences seem to urge upon us the question of the necessity of reforming our existing criminal law, a question by which the interest of the public is likely now to be more than ever excited, notwithstanding the loss of Sig Samuel Romilly, its great asserter.
We trust that this important subject will meet with suitable attention from parliament, which is summoned to assemble for business on the 14th of January.
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
CURIOSA; P. G.; Memoir of R. H.; LECTOR; DIACONUS; R.; THEOGNIS; X. Y. Z.; SCRUTATOR; C. J.; R. P. B.; J'ADOUBE; have been received, and are under consideration.
The Obituaries of Rev. J. B. Simson, and the Rev. H. R. Whytehead, will be inserted in the Appendix; E., also, and G. H., and some others, will shortly appear.
ANONYMOUS is quite incorrect in supposing that we slight Biographical Sketches and Religious Essays: on the contrary, there are no communications which we receive with more pleasure, and which, if suitably written, are more certain te obtain admission in our pages.
We have received, with much pleasure, and have duly transmitted A. W.'s donations of 251. to the Society for Building Churches, and 151. to the Widows' Friend and Benevolent Society.
A correspondent who requests us to notice Mrs. Adams's History of the Jews, and the New Testament in Hebrew, just published by the London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews, will find the former already reviewed in our Vol. for 1816, p. 99, and the latter, as far as then published, in that for 1817, p. 161.
VOLUME THE SEVENTEENTH,
For the Christian Observer. CURSORY REMARKS ON UNITARIANISM, AND THE ARGUMENTS BY WHICH IT IS USUALLY SUpported.
(Concluded from p. 777.)
HAVE now, I believe, put my readers in possession of every material argument, adduced by Mr. Wright, in favour of his hypothesis. I have replied to him with no hostile feeling, but with a sincere desire, that we may all come to the knowledge of the truth, and walk together in the house of God as friends.
Mr.Wright, indeed, seems to think that we may do so now, and even join in one common worship. "Public prayers," says he, " should, both as to matter and manner, be adapted to the feelings and wants of those who are expected to unite in them. They should contain no sentiment but what any truly virtuous and pious person can approve, whatever may be his religious opinions." But how can be, who believes in the Deity of Jesus Christ, and the personality of the Holy Spirit, avoid using language in his addresses to the Almighty, which must give offence to those who deny them both? The only course to be pursued in such cases is for CHRIST, OBSERV, APP.
those, who are like-minded, to worship together, and those, who think differently, apart.
I am glad, nevertheless, to applaud the earnest manner in which the author enforces the duty and uses of private and social prayer; and I transcribe, with much pleasure, the following passage. "In the patriarchal times, the head of each family, or clan, that feared God, seems
to have been considered as the priest of his own house, or clan. Though those times are long since past, it seems naturally still to devolve on the heads of families, to see that the worship of God is maintained in their respective houses. The spiritual improvement of a family much depends on this. The manner in which family worship has sometimes been conducted may be highly objectionable; there has been much superstition and formality no doubt; the affairs of trade, domestic concerns, and a variety of other things, may sometimes render it impossible for a family to unite together in the worship of God, with that reverence and decorum, without which it had better be omitted; but this cannot excuse the neglect of it at proper seasons. Calculated, as it is, to cherish individual piety, to promote a sense of religion in children and servants, 5 Q
and to render families a kind of nurseries to the church of God; a regard to the welfare of those intrusted to our care, and to the general cause of religion, should stimulate us to maintain family worship. Where it has been long neglected the introduction of it may be thought difficult, but on trial the difficulty will be found more imaginary than real, and, to accomplish an object of real importance, who would not struggle through a little difficulty? If we would have our families true worshippers of God we must not merely lead them through devotional exercises, we must take pains to instruct them, we must cultivate their minds with the principles of piety and virtue; this we must do both by precept and example. Prayers in families should be short, and adapted to the capacity and circumstances of those who join in them, that they may not prove irksome." -Even in respect to the worship of the Father, I agree with the author in the following sentiments, so far as they regard the case of true worshippers, who have what the Apostle emphatically calls "the spirit of adoption." "We are not to approach him with superstitious terror, as the heathen were wont to approach their deities; nor with the fear which a slave feels in the presence of his tyrant; but with the confidence of sons, relying on his paternal love and protection. The gloom of the monkish cell, the alarm awakened by the idea of an angry Deity, the tremour excited by the thought of a mere despotic governor, and even the timid approach of the Jewish worshipper, are all dispelled by the cheering thoughts of paternal affection. The Christian believes the words of his Master, The Father himself loveth you,' he worships with confidence, and finds that the service of God is perfect freedom." But unless we walk in the spirit of children, and obey God as our Father, any encourage
ment which we may take from these words of our Saviour, "The Father himself loveth you," to approach God with the confidence of sons, and to dispel the idea of an angry Deity (I abhor the thought of a mere despotic governor), by the cheering hopes of paternal affection, cannot be any thing but a delusion, calculated to harden us in sin, and prevent the efficacy of that apostolical argument, Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men." (2 Cor. v. 11.)
The question, "Whether the author and those who agree with him in doctrine, ought to be called Socinians, Unitarians, or by what other names," I pass by, as of very subordinate importance. My main object was to inquire, whether the system of doctrine which they uphold be or be not correct. Оп one point I think it obvious that they are at variance with the Scriptures. Our author himself cites it as an objection urged against his brethren, that they do not admit the plenary inspiration of the Bible; and his manner of replying to that charge is remarkable." What then? Did the writers of Scripture profess to be divinely inspired in all they wrote? Unitarians believe that the Prophets, Christ, and the Apostles, were divinely inspired teachers, and assert the truth of the great facts, doctrines, and precepts of Scripture." We read in 2 Tim. iii. 16, what extends far beyond this qualified admission of the author and establishes the plenary inspiration of Scripture, "All Scripis given by inspiration of God." We know, indeed, that there is an improved version of this text, which makes it say only that ail Scriptures, which are divinely inspired, are also profitable, and so forth. But the position of the conjunction, xal, is decisive against the improvement. With respect to the Old Testament, indeed, Mr.Wright has a summary way of getting rid of its opposition to any tenets be may be desirous to support. Thus
he says, on the duty of Christian worship; "The New Testament contains every thing which ought to bind the consciences of Christians in what relates to the worship of God. The regulations of Moses are inapplicable to Christians, they have no force as rules of worship among them. Christ is our Master, to his doctrines we are called to adhere, by his laws to abide." The ease, however, with which he disposes of three whole chapters in the New Testament, shews that even the volume to which he appeals has no power to hold him, whenever he wishes to escape. Yet, so far as even the Old Testament inculcates the doctrine of the Divine Unity, its evidence is regarded by him as important. Why then should it be rejected when it illustrates the doctrine of a Trinity? The regulations of Moses (it is indeed true), so far as they are prophetical, typical, or political, are abo. lished by the accomplishment of the prophecy, the fulfilment of the type, and by change of civil condition. But in what concerns the spiritual worship, or the object of spiritual worship, while the New Testament contains an ampler and more complete, the Old-Testament Scriptures convey a true and infallible, revelation. It was of them that our Saviour and St. Paul respectively said, "They are they which testify of me:" (John v. 39): "The holy Scriptures are able to make thee wise unto salvation." (2 Tim. iii. 15.)
On the whole, I think enough has been said in the course of these papers to shew, that Unitarians depreciate the Bible, not only by denying its evidence, and curtailing its contents at their pleasure, but by explaining away the force of many of its remaining expressions, and thus evading many of the doctrines which it inculcates. But here our author recriminates. Who," he asks," are the persons that charge Unitarians with depreciating the Bible? They are men who suppose the Scriptures
are so inefficacious that they cannot convert one sinner, nor save one soul, without the influence and teaching of the Spirit; and they bring the charge against those who maintain that the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation, tlie ministration of the Spirit of righteousness."-If we maintain this doctrine upon the authority of the Scriptures, we do not depreciate them. To explain away their clear declarations, is to depreciate them; but to accept their statements in their obvious meaning and tenour, is not to depreciate them. Even Unitarians suppose the Scriptures to be so inefficacious, that they cannot convert one sinner, or save one soul, without the exercise of reason. Why then should it be thought derogatory to the sufficiency of that volume, if we make the assistance of the Holy Spirit necessary to a right apprehension of its saving truths? The Holy Spirit, we maintain, is always more ready to hear than we to pray; and we are never so sure of his assistance and guidance as when we are reading those holy words, which he himself taught, and to which he will assuredly give effect. The question, therefore, is simply whether we are right in maintaining the necessity of this assistance, which, indeed, we do most strenuously maintain, for the two-fold purpose of enlightening the eyes, and inclining the will, which are both alike essential to the conversion of a sinner. To determine this question, I will content myself with referring to the subjoined texts. 1 Cor. ii. 13, 14: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Cor. xii. 3: "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." Tit. iii. 5, 6: "He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Acts ix. 31: "Then had the churches rest, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." The question between us and the Unitarians is one of infinite importance. One party must, indeed, be fearfully in error. Either we are guilty of paying divine honours to a created Being, or they of refusing divine honours to a Divine Creator. The first of these is denounced in the second commandment, while the latter exposes the soul to that curse foretold in Luke xii. 9: "He that denieth me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God."
It should not, therefore, be without great seriousness and a sincere love of the truth, that a question of this magnitude is agitated. We should discharge our minds from all prejudice, and from every thing which can warp the judgment; and we should look simply to the testimony of that Scripture which alone is the depository of all truth.
It is necessary, however, in order to a satisfactory issue to such an inquiry, that both parties should come to it not only with equal sincerity and candour, but with some agreement in principle also, that they may have a common standard of appeal in all their differences, and seek information and conviction as nearly as possible by the same methods.
Now in one or two respects I presume to think, Mr. Wright deficient in those qualifications which are requisite for a successful investigation of scriptural truth. He is, indeed, sufficiently on his guard against all prejudice and preconceived opinion, though he must be aware, as I confess I am, that the influence of such prepossessions is sometimes more than a match for all our caution, and will often intrude itself, where we least suspect
it. Nay, even in this as well as other habits, there is an excess as well as a defect, for it is possible to be so much on our guard against preconceptions of all sorts, as to be even better inclined to adopt an opinion in proportion to its variation from our previous notions; to regard the fact of being in a minority, as a decisive proof of independence, and singularity itself, as a test of truth.
I am almost tempted to suspect the author of some bias in this way: for he warns his readers so repeatedly against being misled by the sentiments in which they have been educated, the religious notions which happened to be in repute, and principles or maxims which have long been established, as if he thought the danger lay only on that side, or as if an excessive love of novelty might not sometimes be as dangerous as an excessive reverence for antiquity. He is afraid of prejudice, but fearless of innovation: he is on his guard against superstition, but not against irreverence. Yet assuredly all that is new, is not simply on that account preferable to all that is old; nor is a superstitious at tachment to antiquity among the characteristic faults of the present day. I can imagine, indeed, many occasions on which it would be advisable to repeat that admonition of Scripture; "Stand ye in the ways, and see; and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein; and ye shall find rest for your souls." (Jer. vi. 16.)
But, whatever may be the author's qualifications or mine for a decision of this vital question, I cannot suppress, especially after this extended investigation, my entire and deep-rooted conviction, that the doctrine of the Deity of Christ Jesus is built upon a rock, which nothing on earth shall ever shake.
Some of the reasons for this conviction have partly appeared from what I have had occasion