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*Well then," said Novatianus, "I will gratify you by telling you, that you may find the passage 1 John iv. 8. and the English of it is, 'God is love."” “That proposition," said Aspasia, “I most readily and firmly believe; but I and I could not believe it, till I understood it. I heartily beg Eusebius' pardon, and sincerely condemn mine own folly and imprudence, in censuring what I ought to have applauded. I will promise you I will go and hear him again; and I shall now have a better opinion of him than ever."
The next time Novatianus visited Aspasia she continued of the same mind, and severely condemned her. self, but applauded Eusebius; and thanked Novatianus, for taking so kind and ingenious a method of leading her into right sentiments upon that head. But was ready to wonder, that she had not before seen the matter in the same light; as it appeared so very obvious, now she had attended to it.
[The following notice is from the CHRISTIAN REGISTER, a publica. tion to which we have alrearly called the attention of our readers. We are happy again to bear our testimony to its value. Every friend of virtuie and of pure religion must be gratified, that a work is gaining on the public, which is so well calculated to diffuse just principles, to soften the asperity of the illiberal, and diminish the unholy influence of sectarism. We cordially unite with the writer in his sentiments respecting the Sermons of the late lamented Mr. Forster.]
A volume of sermons by the late Rev. ANTHONY ForSTER, of Charleston, S. C. has been recently published, which deserves to be known and read.
It is accompanied by a memoir of the author's life, containing a sketch of the history of his mind and the progress of his opinions, which exceeds in interest almost every thing of the kind which I recollect to have seen. No one can peruse it without instruction and delight. The sermons are of a practical character, deeply imbued with the spirit of serious piety, and, what I consider as a great recommendation, eminently christian. By which I. mean, that they constantly appeal to the Scriptures upon every subject, especially to the language and character of our Lord Jesus, and very rarely indulge in any reasoning, or speculation, or train of thought, which has not for its basis the authority of the divine word. This characteristic gives them a peculiarly evangelical unction, well suited to affect serious readers, and to improve the humble and devout spirits that rest all their hope of instruction a'id salvation on the revealed will of God, and have less taste for the moral reasoning and reflection, which is so rich and powerful in other writers. As a valuable co!lection of scriptural discourses, this volume deserves, and I hope will receive, extensive patronage and circulation.
A man, says Milton, may be an heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or the Assembly so determines, without having other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.--Let truth and falsehood grapple. Whoever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter: Her confuting is the surest and best suppressing.
TI Eighth Letter to th Rev. Dr. Miller, On the Fath and Morals of celebrated English Unitarians, will appear in the next number.
Religious Controversy in India.
VERY curious controversy has lately taken place in Calcutta, between the Missionaries and the celebrated Ram Mohun Roy. This latter personage is a native of India, and distinguished for his opulence, his superiour talents, his very great learning, and especially for having of his own accord early renounced the theology of his countrymen, and asserted the doctrine of the divine unity.
His first writings were designed to prove, that the ancient bouks of Hindu theology, in their original state, did not sanction polytheism, nor idol worship. These, he contended, were additions, which had been engrafted into the primitive system, deformed its 'simplicity, and corrupted its purity. About five years ago he published in the English language, extracts from the Vedas, or Sacred Books of the Hindus, for the purpose of establishing this point.*
In the course of the late controversy, speaking of himself in the third person, he says, that “although be was
* Other particulars respecting this subject may be seen in the first volame of the Miscellany, p. 75.
born a Bramun, he not only renounced idolatry at a very early period of his life, but published at that time a treatise in Arabic and Persian against the system, and no sooner acquired a tolerable knowledge of the English, than he made his desertion of idol worship known to the christian world by his English publications; a renunciation which, I am sorry to say, brought severe difficulties upon him, by exciting the displeasure of his parents, and subjecting him to the dislike of his near, as well as his distant relations, and to the hatred of nearly all his countrymen for several years.” After this period, he earnestly engaged in the study of christianity, but often expressed the difficulties which occurred to him respecting some of the abstruse doctrines taught by the Missionaries. In regard to the doctrine of the trinity in pariicular, he declared, after mature examination, that if this were essential to christianity, the whole scheme would be to him insurmountable. It resembled so much the polytheism of the Hindu religion, which he had laboured to disprove, that he could not consider it as makiug any part of a system of divine truth, which proceeded from God, and which inculcated the worship of one Supreme Being. And although it would not seem, that his researches have conducted him to a belief of this mystery, yet a writer in a late English publication says, "there appears every reason to believe, that he is, in the honest persuasion of his own mind, a christian, and entertains no doubt of the divine authority of Jesus, and the truth of the christian revelation."*
Monthly Repository, vol. xvi. for August, 1821, p. 478. To this work we are chiefly indebted for the facts contained in the present article, respecting the controversy in Calcutta.
More than a year ago, Ram Mohun Roy published in Calcutta a work, entitled, The Precepts of Jesus the Guide to Peace and Happiness. This consisted of compilations from the four Gospels, embracing the Sermon on the Mount, and wearly all the moral precepts and instructious of Christ. To this treatise, one of the Missionaries, supposed to be the Rev. J. Marshman, replied, and made serious objections, chiefly on the ground, that the doctrinal parts of the New Testament were not inserted, as well as the moral and preceptive. Ram Moliun Roy immediately came forward with an answer, entitled, in Appeal to the Christiun Public in Defence of “The Precepts of Jesus.” One paragraph of this Appeal is all for which we have room, but this acquaints us with facts of the highest importance. After several spirited and sensible remarks, meeting the objections of his opponents, and reminding them of the dissentions and bitter persecutions, which had prevailed among christians, wholly on account of their obscure and metaphysical dogmas, the author continues;
“Besides, the compiler residing on the same spot where European Missionary gentlemen and others, for a period of upwards of twenty years, have been, with a view to promote christianity, distributing in vain amongst the natives numberless copies of the complete Bible, written in different languages, could not be altogether. ignorant of the causes of their disappointment. He has seen with regret, that they have completely counteracted their own benevolent efforts, by introducing all the dogmas and mysteries taught in christian churches, to people by no means prepared to receive them; and that they have been so incautious and inconsiderate in their attempts to enlighten the natives of India, as to address their instructions to them in the same way, as if