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praises and advancing the glory of God,-I say, admitting this doctrine to be true, does it not exhibit the Deity in a more exalted and engaging light, than the other doctrine, and under such a character, that the soul can with more freedom and fervour express towards him its emotions of piety and love, and as will enable all men to discharge with greater sincerity and confidence the duties springing out of the relation in which they stand to their Maker? This will hardly be denied; and if not, it follows most clearly, that the moral influence of this doctrine is more efficacious, than that of the other, in drawing us to a proper love and devout service of the Supreme Being.
In regard to a sanction of the divine laws in securing a virtuous course, it must first be asked in what way the circumstance of future punishment has any influence on the mind? Evidently by its being believed and fully realized. Whether punishment be infinite or limited will be of no consequence as a motive to aetion, any farther than it can be grasped and felt by the mind. When it is understood, that future suffering will be in exact proportion to the wicked deeds and intentions of this life, the idea is natural, easy, and rational. It accords with the understanding, and with the inhea rent principles of justice. There are persons, whom no moral considerations will actuate, who refuse even the wise counsels and wholesome admonitions of reason, who listen with heedless indifference to the warning voice of conscience, and to the faithful, but alarm. ing testimony of their own hearts, and who, notwithstanding all the light, and aids, and encouragements they possess, may say, each one for himself, video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor. Such are not to be moved by any representations of futurity. There must.
be some degree of thoughtfulness before any distant prospects will be made to reflect back an influence that will be felt. If the sinner will not be arrested in his career by a full conviction, that every sin will hereafter bring down upon him a punishinent, whose intenseness and duration extend to the utmost reach of his understanding, it will be in vain, that you go beyond these bounds, and plunge into the unfathomable depths of eternity. If you intend to act upon the human mind, you must keep within its sphere. Hence it is, that the doctrine, which represents future punishment as in the highest degree severe, but limited and proportionate to the wickedness of men, will produce all the effects, in regard to practical morals, that can be produced.
According to this scheme, every thing is credible, and analogous to what passes in this life. Every one will acknowledge, that the wicked should suffer in the world to come for the same reasons, that they ought to suffer in the present. No doubts can be entertained, and no illusive hopes encouraged, where it is deeply felt, that every sin will inevitably be punished in proportion to its magnitude, and that the justice and mercy of God will be blended in all his dealings with his creatures.
I have no room to continue the parallel; but it seems to me from the above brief hints, that the interests of virtue gain nothing froin the doctrine of eternal misery, which would not be gained in at least an equal degree froin the other doctrine; and, therefore, adinitting your charge to be just, which it certainly is not, the inference you would draw, in regard to the moral tendency of unitarian preaching, amounts to nothing.
As to the doctrine of annihilation, which you have also charged upon unitarians, I have very little to say,
That you should be egregiously mistaken with respect to facts, after what we have seen above, will surprise
The annihilation, or as others choose to call it, the destruction of the wicked, has been believed by a few speculative individuals of all denominations. Dr. Watts held, that "the children of ungodly parents, who die in infancy, are annihilated;" but he adopted this opinion while he was yet a trinitarian. Before you fixed this faith on unitarians, as an evidence of their immorality, you ought to have proved it to be common among them, or at all events more so than among other christians of whom you would speak more favourably. This you cannot do, and hence the injustice of your charge. There was a controversy on this subject a few years since in Mr. Aspland's Theological Repository, but a very few individuals only would appear to have been engaged. You may have been deceived from the circumstance of one of the most zealous defenders of the annihilation system, Mr. Bourn,
having been a unitarian.* Dr. John Taylor and Dr. · Price are said to have been of this faith, but I know
not, that either of them wrote expressly in its defence. That you were deceived, however, argues little in your justification. You were not making light charges, nor such as ought to have been hazareled on slender grounds. It is not true, that this doctrine has any connexion with the prevailing tenets of unitarianism.
But in any case it could hardly be supposed, that this doctrine would be held up as defective in its moral in. fluence. What idea can be more dismal, painful, and
Miss Hannah Adams has failed in her usual accuracy in attributing this doctrine to the Polish socinians, as is plain from the testimony of B Wissowatius above cited. See Hannah Adams's Dictionary of all Religions, fourth edition, p. 274.
appalling, than that of ceasing to exist? Who can look without emotions of dread and horror into the gulf of annihilation? Where is the man, however abandoned in wickedness, however lost to a sense of virtue and duty, who, with all his crimes on his head, would not feel infinitely more comfort in the certainty of a future existence, although he must suffer the just punishment of his sins, than he would at the gloomy thought of falling into nothing, and being forgotten even by his God? Do you believe a doctrine can be preached more terrible to the sinner, than that which puts him beyond the reach of infinite mercy, goodness, and love? If the doctrine of eternal punishment has any tendency to restrain men from vice, this must act with double force, as it is doubly awful in its nature and its prospects.
The succeeding letter will be occupied with further considerations on your remarks respecting the comparative morals of unitarians and calvinists.
Professor Lindsly's Discourse.
We have before us a discourse entitled, A Plea for the Theological Seminary at Princeton, by Professor Lindsly of the College in that place. This discourse is principally occupied in the laudable attempt of kindling the dormant zeal of the presbyterians, in behalf of the pecuniary interests of the theological institution, which has been "established by the supremne judicatory of their church.” The author labours to obviate several objec. tions, which, it seems, have unluckily entered the heads, and eontracted the purses of some well intentioned
sons. In connexion with this work he resorts to appeals, reflections, exhortations, and argument, that no means may be left unemployed to rouse the apathy, move the feelings, and enlist the understanding of his presbyterian brethren. After exhausting every other topic, he comes at last to the following, which he seems to have reserved as a sort of cap to the climax.
“Behold the progress of heresy and infidelity under the disguise of rational christianity. See the artifice of the great destroyer in these latter days. He has commissioned his emissaries to assume the garb and the funetions of the ministers of the gospel, that they may the more effectually sap the foundation of the whole christian edifice. He has enlisted talents, and learning, and indefatigable enterprise in this work of desolation. He has taught the deistical scoffer at revelation to step a little aside from his accustomed track; and to come forward in a new shape, but with the same malignant hostility against the truth. He is now willing to be esteemed a catholic liberal christian. But he rejects the essential divinity of the Saviour; the depravity of human nature, the doctrine of the atonement, and of justification by faith.Or, he is a christian without holding one principle of the christian religion which can distinguish it from the religion of na. ture. Modern unitarianism, which is every where insinuating itself into the hearts of men naturally predisposed to its reception, because it is exactly suited to the natural character of men, is more to be dreaded than any species of infidelity ever yet avowed. It is a deadly enemy wearing the mask and the name of a friend.
“To be able to meet such an enemy on equal ground, requires much care and preparation. Many of the teachers of this heresy are thoroughly skilled in scholastic theology, logic, and metaphysics; in history, antiquities, philology, and modern science; well versed in the ancient languages; bold and subtle biblical critics; prepared to take advantage of an imprudent or incautious adversary; and thus to triumph over truth itself in the eyes of superficial observers when their sophistry seems to get the victory over its unskilful defender. Such wily disputants may now be met with in almost every section of our country. We must send into the field men sufficiently learned and disciplined fairly to encounter them. A good, honest, wellmeaning, but superficially taught person will not do. Such a man had better not put his strength or rather his weakness to the test on any such occasion. He may be useful in his place. But we must