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would overrule their envy and wickedness towards their brother, for his future exaltation, and their own benefit, it would have entirely overcome their envy and washed away the whole of their sin.
That the sentiment which we have endeavoured to sopport in this discourse, may be fully believed and realized; and that it may have and exert a happy moral influence on our hearts and lives, may God in mercy add his blessing.
COMMENDATION AND REPROOF OF UNITARIANS.
DELIVERED IN BOSTON, SUNDAY, NOV. 29, 1829.
REVELATION, II. 4.
“Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee.”
In the epistle to the angel of the church of Ephesus, we have an example worthy to be imitated. Those things for which that church was worthy of commendation, were first mentioned, and received their due approbation; after which, the writer says,
“ Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee.” And then he proceeds faithfully to set forth those faults which deserved to be corrected.
It is our design, this evening, to follow this excellent example, while endeavouring to perforin the labours which the congregation has reason to expect. If we find it a duty to inform a beloved friend of some faults which it is his interest to reform, both love and prudence will dictate this commendable method. We must first carefully mention his good qualities; with due caution remind him of his virtues, and dwell at reasonable length on what, in his general character, we find worthy of our sincere approbation; and even when we advance to mention those faults which we wish to reformn, it must be done with reference to the before mentioned virtues, that as the character is so nearly as it should be, our friend may be induced to render the whole consistent, by reformation.
Our Unitarian brethren have just claims to our respects and approbation for many things, which both duty and inclination induce us to acknowledge. They hold many, and indeed the important, points of the christian faith accordingly as we believe they are revealed in the sacred scriptures.
These points of doctrine, at least some of them, we shall set forth, and endeavour to accompany them with some of the abundant proof, which the divine word affords.
1st. The particular tenet which gives them their name, as a denomination, is the strict unity of God, in contradistinction from the doctrine, known in the church, by the name of Trinity, which teaches that there are, in the God-head, three distinct persons, who are co-equal, co-essential, and co-eternal. That our Unitarian brethren are fully supported by Scripture authority, in their belief in the strict unity of the God-head, we entertain no doubts. As proof of this important doctrine, we adduce the following: Moses, who was commissioned by heaven to teach the house of Israel the true worship, uniformly taught the people as is expressed Deut. vi. 4, 5, “Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Now to us it appears reasonable, that if the true worship required a belief in a trinity of persons, in the God-head, Moses would have stated this fact, in place of stating what we have just recited. We are unable to see why the doctrine of the trinity was not taught by Moses if it be now the duty of religious teachers to insist on its truth. If it be said, that the doctrine of the trinity is inore specially tanght in the christian scriptures and dispensation, this at once directs us to the teachings of Jesus, who in reply to the scribe, of his day, who asked him," which is the first commandment of all »»? said ; “The first of all the commandments is, hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment." If Jesus had intended to teach the doctrine of three persons in the God-head, as an improvement on the unity of God as taught by Moses, we see not why he should use the very words of Moses, which evidently disallows such doctrine. Nor can we reasonably believe that it is now any more the duty of christian ministers to insist on the doctrine of a trinity, than it was the duty of the divine master so to do. We may further add, that St. Paul was particular in giving instructions on our present subject, especially in his communication to Timothy, where he says, “ There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.' But trinitarian doctors have insisted that this man Christ Jesus, is essentially God, being what they term the second person in the holy trinity. And yet this man told the people that he could do nothing of himself, and that his Father was greater than he.
2d. Our Unitarian brethren have travelled through the dark regions of that false divinity, which for ages has taught people to believe that it was not consisient with the divine perfections, for God to forgive the transgressions of mankind without first requiring and receiving a sacrifice of real sufferings, in room of inflicting the penalty of his broken law on the offenders ; and they have happily arrived at the rational, and scriptural truth of the divine favour as flowing from the nature of the divine Being, without being induced by any creature act or suffering. They have justly discarded the whole doctrine of vicarious sufferings, and with eminent abilities have maintained the fatherly character of the great Creator. They understand and ably maintain the vast utility of the life, preaching, sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus, as means in the wisdom of God, of planting and sup. porting true religion in our world out they do not
believe that our heavenly Father's love is the pure chase of the Saviour's sufferings. Such doctrine they justly view as dishonourable to the Father of mercies, from whom every good gift, and every perfect gist descends. In these sentiments we believe that they are justified by the general theme of scripture testimony, and in a very clear and forcible manner by the following passages : John iii. 16, 17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." 1 John iv. 9, 10, “ In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” By such testimony, we are certified that whatever benefit Jesus is to mankind, that benefit is the effect and not the cause of our heavenly Father's love.
3d. Our Unitarian brethren are deserving of high approbation, and even of gratitude, for their successful labours in disproving the unreasonable, unscriptural and heart-hardening doctrine of particular election and reprobation. Their doctors have, in their labours on this subject, contributed largely to open people's eyes, and to enable them to see that there is no scripture authority for believing, that the Father of our spirits, from all eternity elected some of the human family, and ordained them to a state of endless felicity; while he reprobated the rest to endless, unmerciful sufferings. So very successful have their labours been, in disproving a doctrine so dishonourable to God, so revolting to the best feelings of the human heart, so withering to future prospects, so blighting to the charities of true religion, and so wonderful.y productive of illiberal feelings and persecu