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Unit. A very important one. Unitarians believe that he died for the salvation of mankind. He suffered for us, not indeed in our stead, but for our benefit; not to appease the wrath of the Almighty, and to render him placable, but to offer new motives to holiness and obe. dience, and thus to render us fit subjects of his favour. He died to establish the truths of his gospel; “to bring life and immortality to light,” by his resurrection from the grave; for it was necessary that he should die, that he might rise from the dead. He died to set an example of patient submission to his followers; and to be “made perfect through suffering,” that he might be exalted to his high dignity and glory in the Church? As it was indispensable to the fulfilment of his commission that he should give up his life, it may be said, without doing violence to language, that he became a sacrifice for the good of mankind. That this word, and others of a similar meaning, must be taken in a figurative sense, is evident from the simple fact that Christ is called our High Priest, as well as a sacrifice, and it is impossible that he should, in a literal sense, be both. I do not say that these which I have mentioned are all the ends of Christ's sufferings and death, but Unitarians dare not attribute to them any other efficacy than is clearly assigned to them in the Word of Truth.
Epis. Where then is the sinner's reliance? On what ground is the transgressor to hope for pardon and acceptance? In setting aside the doctrine of atonement, you most presumptuously rely for your salvation on your own good works.
Unit. By no means. We no more rely on our own good works, than on the imputed good works of the Saviour. We should be deceived in doing either. We
rest entirely on the mercy of God, which is declared to us by Jesus Christ, and through which, we firmly believe, our sincere, though imperfect obedience, will be received as the condition of our acceptance and salvation.
Epis. You call Jesus Christ your Saviour. What meaning do you affix to that name, according to your belief?
Unit. A most interesting and rational one. By revealing to me the true relations in which I stand to the Author of my being; by giving me a confident assurance that after this life there is to be another, which shall endure for ever; and by leaving precepts, and an example, by observing which my happiness in that future and endless life will be secured, through the loving mercy of God; he has presented me with both the motive, and the means, of escape from the power of sin, and of perseverance in a course of holiness. He saves me from the dominion of guilt, from the bitter consequences of transgression, from the chains and gloom of moral death, from lasting degradation in the universe of God. What could I be saved from more terrible than this? What salvation can be more momentous or precious than this? In what higher sense than this, I pray, could Jesus be my Saviour and Redeemer?
Epis. O, there is so much arguing on this side, and explaining on that side, that for my part, if left to myself, I should not know where to turn. As I said before, I shall believe as the church believes, and take my Bishop for my guide in all these matters of faith.
Unit. Then if your Bishop had been a Roman Catholic, you would have believed in transubstantiation; you would have worshipped the holy mother of God," and bowed to the decision of the intallible Pope. And there might have been some apology for your implicit faith, if you had been born where the duty and privilege of inquiry, and the right of private judgment in matters of religion, had never been properly understood; but living where the records of divine truth are open to all, and where every man is secure in professing his own opinions, it is hardly to be conceived by what process any one should bring himself to be willing to receive his faith from another, without examination, and even without the exercise of that degree of reason which would be bestowed on matters of the most trivial importance in common life.
Epis. Reason! Reason! the Unitarian's idol! As if feeble, unassisted reason were capable of discussing the truths of a revelation, coming from an incomprehensible, infinite God! You wish to subject the sublime mysteries of faith to the laws of human reason, and this is the foundation of your strange belief, or I might rather say, unbelief.
Unit. If you mean to say that the Unitarian rejects the doctrines of revelation, because he cannot clearly, and in all points, understand them, you misrepresent him. The Unitarian professes to receive, as divine truth, whatever he finds revealed in the gospel. But he does not feel himself bound to believe the doctrine of the trinity, because it baffles his understanding, or that of atonement, because it is opposed to all his ideas of justice, and conceptions of right. If he use his reason in endeavouring to discover what are the truths of religion, he conceives he is making, not only a legitimate, but a commendable use of this noblest gift of Heaven. Let me ask you if it was not by the employ. ment of this faculty, that protestant bishops discarded
the doctrine of transubstantiation, or the real presence of Christ in the sacramental bread and wine, which is still revered as a mystery by a majority of Christians, which has more direct support in the Scriptures than the doctrine of three persons in one God, and which requires a no less entire “prostration of the understanding” Is it only when reason cries out against some article of your own church, that you protest against its interference? If so, you have only changed one infallible pope for a whole bench of them. Depend upon it, my dear sir, that a man neither evinces his piety, his humility, nor his gratitude, by hesitating to employ, in the highest of all researches, that power, which like his other powers, was given to him by his Maker, to be exerted and improved. I am as much opposed to a spirit of undistinguishing skepticism, hasty determination, or reckless levity, as any one can be. The abuse is as bad as the neglect of reason. But I give not that sacred name to what I regard as the height of tolly. Others may raise a cry against human reason, and apply for their faith to popes, councils, bishops, churches, synods, conventions, or creeds; for my part I shall resort to a higher and purer source. I ask no man what I shall believe or disbelieve, and I care for no mortal's excommunication; but taking the light of that reason, which I value as my distinction and birthright, I shall go with an inquiring mind, and a humble heart, to learn my faith and my duty from
-But I am warned by the clock of our friend that I must attend to an engagement abroad; so I will bid you farewell.
THE WORD OF GOD
Wolzogen on the Mystery of the Trinity. Many
persons, who profess to believe the doctrine of the trinity, acknowledge that it is extremely difficult, and incomprehensible to the human intellect. They cry out, it is a mystery, which is above the human understanding, and not subject to any known rules of reasoning. It is simply to be believed, and not to be examined. But they, who speak thus, distrust the soundness of their faith, and fear the light.
The Jesuit Becanus, while controverting the opinion of Calvin, who calls his doctrine of the Eucharist an ineffable mystery, remarks exceedingly well; “Here you see the manner of these heretics; when they run into a manifest contradiction, they declare to you that their doctrine is not a contradiction, but a mystery, with which reason has no concern.” Such is the lan. guage, which Becanus justly used in regard to Calvin; but he ought to have seen, that the very same words might have been retorted upon himself and his associates, who, when they are urged to explain their doctrine of the trinity, resist all argument by exclaiming, it is a mystery.
This sound of mystery has so long seduced the uninformed and the uninquiring into a blind and incon. siderate reverence of this unscriptural doctrine, that the time has at length come, when they tremble with fear, and are seized with a sort of horror, if any one attempts to bring it to the test of his understanding; as if it were an offence against the majesty of heaven to insist, that an article of faith, which is declared to be necessary to salvation, should be well known and