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“ The Unitarians maintain, that Jesus and his apostles were supernaturally instructed, as far as was necessary for the execution of their commission, that is, for the revelation and proof of the doctrine of eternal life, and that the favor of God extended to the Gentiles equally with the Jews; and that Jesus and his apostles, and others of the primitive believers, were occasionally inspired to foretell future events. But they believe that supernatural inspiration was limited to these cases alone, and that when Jesus or his apostles deliver opinions upon subjects unconnected with the object of their mission, such opinions, and their reasonings upon them, are to be received with the same attention and caution with those of other persons in similar circumstances, of similar education, and with similar habits of thinking." —Belsham's Calm Inquiry, fc. p. 451.
" As it is not pretended that there are any miracles adapted to prove that Christ made and supports the world, I do not see that we are under any obligation to believe it merely because it was an opinion held by an apostle.”—Priestley's Hist. Early Opinions, vol. i. p. 63.
2. All consistent Unitarians believe that Jesus Christ was a mere man.
“ It is the clear doctrine of Scripture, that Christ was simply a man.”—Priestley's Hist. Corrup. Christ. vol. i. p. 6.
“ The Unitarian doctrine is, that Jesus of Nazareth was a man, constituted in all respects like other men, subject to the same infirmities, the same ignorance, prejudices and frailties.'' —Belsham's Calm Inquiry Concerning the Person of Christ, p. 190.
“Jesus is indeed now alive; but as we are totally ignorant of the place where he resides, and of the occupations in which he is engaged, there can be no proper foundation for religious addresses to him, nor of gratitude for favors now received, nor yet of confidence in his future interposition in our behalf.”—Belsham's Review of Wilberforce, fc. Letter 8. p. 74.
“Of a certain person, who now makes a very considerable figure in the world, it may be said with truth, so far as the civil state of the continent of Europe is concerned, that he is the creator of all these new distinctions, high or low, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things are made by him and for him, and he is before them all, takes precedence both in time and dignity, and by him do all these things consist. Yet who would infer from such language as this, that the present ruler of France is a being of superior order to mankind, much less that he is the maker of the world? The language, which is true of Bonaparte in a civil sense, is applicable to Jesus Christ in a moral view ; but it no more implies pre-existence or proper creative power in one case, than in the other." —Belsham's Letters on Arianism, as quoted by Dr. Magee on the Atonement.
“ According to the maxims laid down as the guides of our inquiry, this doctrine of two natures in Christ] could not be established even by the clearest declarations of the Scriptures. For the
testimony of the Scriptures would not prove it to be true; on the contrary, its occurrence in the Scriptures would prove them to be false.”-Yates' l'indication of Unitarianism, p. 176.
3. All consistent Unitarian ministers deny the atonement of Christ.
“Christ being only a man, his death could not in any proper sense atone for the sins of other men.”—Priestley's Hist. Corrup. Christ. vol. i. p. 227.
“In the fine parable of the prodigal son, Christ informs us, that God, our true and affectionate Father, is ready to receive all his offending and penitent children, as it were with open arms, without any intercession of others, or any atonement whatever.”—Priestley's Discourses on Evid. Divine Revelation, p. 264.
“There is nothing in Scripture which represents that Christ has made it just for God to forgive sins now, upon repentance, when it would not have been before.”—Buckminster's Sermons, p. 249.
“We see, therefore, that God's justice presents no obstacles in the way of his freely pardoning all such as repent and reform, without his requiring any satisfaction for the sins they may have previously committed.”—Christ. Disciple, 1823. p. 191.
“And can it be supposed, that sinners are more likely to be brought to repentance by the thought that an innocent being has suffered for their sins instead of the guilty, than that repentance only can secure their pardon, and that repentance only is required by a merciful God ?''— Ware's Answer to Woods' Reply, p. 149.
“We ask for one text, in which we are told that God took human nature, that he might make an infinite satisfaction to his own justice; for one text which tells us that human guilt is infinite, and requires a correspondent substitute; that Christ's sufferings owe their efficacy to their being borne by an infinite being; or that his divine nature gives infinite value to the sufferings of the human. Not one word of this description can we find in the Scriptures; not a text which even hints at these strange doctrines.”—Channing's Sermon at Baltimore, p. 19.
"God may pardon the sins of his creatures upon any terms which he thinks proper, without exacting satisfaction to his justice.”- Unit. Miscellany, 1822. p. 180.
“We do not believe, “ that Christ has once offered himself up a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God," because this is making the innocent suffer for the guilty, and appeasing the wrath of a being, who, in his very nature, is necessarily benevolent, merciful and good.”—Unit. Miscel. 1821. p. 19.
“No position in divinity, to my apprehension, is more opposed to the general language of the New Testament, none which reflects greater dishonor on the character and moral government of the Deity, none which is more apt to mislead men in the highest concerns of religion, than the doctrine, that God requires complete satisfaction to be made to his justice for sin, by the vicarious sufferings of our Saviour to propitiate his regard to the repenting offender. This
doctrine represents our God as inexorable in his disposition; it deprives him of those moral attributes, which are the proper foundation of our love and gratitude; it destroys all goodness and mercy in the pardon of the repenting sinner; and supposes that God HAS INTRODUCED A PRINCIPLE IN HIS ADMINISTRATIONS, WHICH WOULD DISGRACE ANY GOVERNMENT ON EARTH.”—Bancroft's Sermons, p. 224.
Dr. Ware says expressly, that “the sufferings of Christ were the means of delivering us from punishment, only as they are instrumental in delivering us from the dominion of sin, only as they are the means of bringing us to repentance, only as they operate in bringing us to that state of holiness, which has the promise of forgiveness, and qualifies for it.”—Letters to Trin, and Cal. p. 93.
4. All consistent Unitarian ministers, to a man, are Universalists, and would preach the doctrine, if they thought that their people would bear it.
“ This text, (Matt. xxv. 46.) therefore, so far from giving any countenance to the harsh doctrine of eternal misery, is rather favorable to the more pleasing, and more probable hypothesis, of the ultimate restitution of the wicked to virtue and happiness."— Improved Version of the New Testament, p. 72.
“ It would be very unreasonable to infer the gloomy doctrine of eternal misery, from the loose and figurative language of a prophetic vision, (Rev. xiv. 11.) in opposition to the plainest dictates of reason and justice, and to the whole tenor of divine revelation." - Improved Version, p. 596.
“ This text (Rev. xx. 10.) has also been alleged, but with little reason, in favor of what has justly been called the heart withering doctrine of eternal torments.”—Ini proved Version, p. 607.
“It is one presumption against the doctrine of eternal misery a doctrine of so much importance if true, that it should be left to so slender a defence," &c. -Letters to Dr. Miller, by a Unitarian of Baltimore. Letter 5. p. 31. .
" What is the foundation of that love of God, which is the first and greatest duty of Christians? Does it not exist in those excellences of his character, which shine forth in his benevolence, his mercy, his paternal kindness, and unbounded love for us? But how can you reconcile these attributes with the idea of his having doomed a certain number of his creatures to an endless misery, a state and degree of suffering, which bear no proportion to any amount of crimes, that a finite and frail being is capable of committing ?”— Same work, same page.
“The surest and highest, the purest and most permanent influence will be that which arises from such views of the future punishment awaiting the wicked, as are consistent with the character of a sovereign of the world, who has nothing vindictive in his nature, who adjusts punishment to the degree of demerit; who inflicts it solely for the purpose of promoting holiness, and accomplishing the purposes of his moral government, and only to the degree which these
purposes require, and so long as they require it."—Ware's Letters to l'rinitarians and Calvinists, p. 132.
“For myself, I freely declare, that, from a diligent examination of the New Testament, I am satisfied it does not contain the doctrine of punishment, endless in duration.”—Bancroft's Sermons, p. 391.
“Many who disbelieve the doctrine of eternal punishment, are afraid to avow their opinion, lest it should weaken the restraints of religion. This is not my fear.”—Bancroft's Sermons, p. 392.
“But what passage of the New Testament states expressly that the wicked shall be preserved in a state of endless misery ?"-Bancroft's Sermons, p. 409.
“Future punishment will be of limited duration, and will terminate in the annihilation of the wicked."-Bancroft's Sermons, p. 407.
“If by everlasting punishment, is meant the proper eternity of hell torments, IT IS A DOCTRINE WHICH MOST UNITARIANS OF THE PRESENT DAY CONCUR IN REJECTING; some understanding by that everlasting destruction to which the wicked are to be consigned, an absolute annihilation ; others conceiving of their sufferings as consequential, and indefinite as to their duration ; and others, that all punishment will be necessarily remedial, and will end at last in a universal restoration to goodness and happiness.”—Christian Disc. vol. iii. New Series, p. 451.
“The writings of this gentleman, [Belsham,] whether in defending the credibility of the Gospel, and the truths of Unitarianism, or in repelling the wanton and insolent attacks made upon his brethren, or in vindicating the honors of the dead, against those who seek to tarnish them, equally prove him to be learned, temperate, acute,” &c.—Unit. Miscel. 1821. p. 109.
“Here,” in the language of the reviewer, “we ask whether any [Calvinist] ever attempted to color or exaggerate doctrines like these ?-doctrines taught in so many words by (Dr. Priestley and Mr. Belsham,) and by a thousand others; and which would now be insisted on by all real and consistent (Unitarians,] if they thought their people would bear it."
Will the reviewer say, that Dr. Priestley and Mr. Belshamn carried matters too far; and that their sentiments are not to be quoted, in evidence of what all Unitarians now believe ? On what principle, then, does he quote Calvin as affording complete evidence of what all Calvinists now believe? Let him admit the Deism and Universalism of all Unitarians, as evidenced by quotations from “ most approved” Unitarian authors; or let him have the magnanimity to confess the irrelevancy and futility of his quotations from ancient Calvinistic authors, and retract the slander, that Calvinists hold to the doctrine of infant damnation.
Will the reviewer aver, that Unitarianism has been in such a state of progressive improvement, as renders the authority of Dr. Priestley obsolete? By what exuberance of liberality shall all improvement be denied to Calvinism, and the whole arrogated by Unitarians ? Besides, there are many Unitarians of high distinction, who will be ready to claim that the chief difference between some Unitarians and Dr. Priestley, is, not that they have gone beyond him in improvement, but that they have not yet overtaken him.
In a Review of Dr. Channing's sermon, at the ordination of his colleague, contained in the Unitarian Miscellany, and ascribed to a distinguished Unitarian clergyman of this city, it is said, “We hold it our duty to remark, that we were not pleased with the manner in which the writer speaks of Dr. Priestley. It is true that the merits of Unitarian Christianity are not indivisibly linked with the character of any one of its advocates ;* but it seems to us, that if there is one man to whom, more than to any other, Unitarians can look with confidence, and point with pride, as the honest, zealous, pious, unwearied, distinguished champion of their principles, Dr. Priestley is that man. If the orthodox see fit to revile him, and speak of hiin as an instance of the injurious tendency and influence of Unitarianism, we can only say, that we wish we had many more like him, to be the objects of their calumny and misrepresentation, and of our pride.”+
“ But,” in the words of the reviewer, “ we must have exhausted our readers' patience, and shall pursue our revolting task no farther. Yet, when we look back upon what we have done, and before us at the mass of materials not yet used, our work of proving the [Deism and Universalism of Unitarians] seems but begun. For the public, we doubt not that we have said enough to establish the positions from which we started. And for (the reviewer,] we think he must be satisfied too." I
We have in reserve one topic more to which we desire to call the attention of the reviewer, and concerning which we ask for satisfactory explanation. It is contained in the fact, that the mode of stating the doctrine of original sin adopted by the Reformers, and from which the reviewer derives all his evidence to sustain the charge that Calvinists now believe in the doctrine of infant damnation, have been exchanged in New England for many years, for views and language which utterly preclude even the appearance which the reviewer thinks he finds of ground for such an inference.
Until the time of Pelagius the common mode of stating the doctrine seems to have been, that mankind inherited a corrupt nature. Pelagius denied this, and asserted that infants are born pure, and become depraved only by breathing a contaminated moral atmosphere, i. e. by example; and that there was ro
* Though the faith of Calvinists is, it would seem. + Cml Miscel. vol. vi. No. 96. pp. 208, 209. Christ. Examiner, vol. iv. No. 5. p. 4-16.