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be such as shall avert the Divine displeasure, or whether we go before that Awful Presence with the ragged and defiled characters which so many wear on earth ?
It is a fearful thing to live; it is a fearful thing to die; it is a fearful thing to be continually approaching death through life. There is one way in which we can turn the fearful into a subject of caml and happy contemplation. It is by constant thoughtful
We must be willing to look at that when remote from us, which ere long we shall be forced to meet face to face.
We must not shrink from the consideration of that, which is true whether we will perceive it or not. That which we must meet is death ; that which is true is our approach to it. Attention to our destiny and our progress will suggest inquiries which ought to arise in our minds, and may lead to results in which we shall hereafter rejoice. It will prompt us to ask such questions as these—Am I ready to die? · Am I living as one whose death is certain should desire to live? Is there not little time enough left in which to make the necessary preparation for death? Ought I not at once to change my course, and live for heaven and eternity ? Such questions, seriously propounded and faithfully answered, will bring us to repentance and clothe us in the righteousness which comes of faith. We shall be afraid in view of judgment, ashamed in view of our own nature, to waste the time whose issues are the experiences of immortality. We shall listen to the counsel of the departing year, and as its dirge-like voice remonstrates with our perversity, we shall yield to its persuasion, and resolve that another year shall leave us, either faithful in duty on earth, or blessed with forgiveness in heaven.
E. S. G.
DEWEY'S DISCOURSES. *
This new volume, from the ready pen of one of our favorite writers, is distinguished by all the peculiarities of its author. It differs from the two volumes which he has before given us, in the nature of its subjects, and from this difference will possess less interest to one class of readers, and more to another. It is designed, as the Preface tells us, “ to give a comprehensive reply to the question-What is Unitarianism ?" Thinking that there is no book at present which answers this question directly and in full, Mr. Dewey designs, " in the first place, to offer a very brief summary of Unitarian belief ; in the next place, to lay down the essential principles of all religious faith; thirdly, to state and defend our construction, as it is generally held among us, of the Christian doctrines; fourtl.ly, to illustrate, by analogy, our views of practical religion; and finally, in two closing sermons, to discuss the true proportion and harmony of the Christian character."
* Discourses and Discussions in Explanation and Defence of Unitarianism. By Orville Dewey, Pastor of tặe Church of the Messiah, in New York. Boston : Joseph Dowe. 1840. 12mo. pp. 307.
This is a large plan, and no one will doubt that it is executed with ability. The only question we should make, arises from the fact that large parts of the volume were separately and independently written, before the thought of a plan occurred. In such a mode of constructing an edifice, it is difficult to secure coherence and completeness; and if these were made the tests of the present work, we should value it less. They are not, however, fair tests, nor do we suppose the author had them specially in view. He gives us simply a volume of discourses on connected subjects—subjects pertaining to the foundation and characteristics of the system called Unitarianism. Viewed in this light it is exceedingly valuable. It is original. There is no other to be compared with it, though we cannot say we know of no other of the kind. We should not find it easy to make out a case of absolute want of such a volume, from the paucity or poverty of treatises on most of these themes, separate and collected. Indeed so much has been written, and so well, that we used to regard it as even less than a work of supererogation, to add anything. But not so does it seem to us now. As we live longer, while the old truth that of “making of books there is no end” grows more palpable, it also grows more tolerable. There should be no end. It is only by the constant production and re-production of books, that knowledge “shall be increased,” with the great mass. Say what you will, people will not read old books as willingly as new; and if you do not give them new, they will be very apt not to read at all. It is astonishing how soon they forget or lay aside the most valued productions, particularly on grave subjects. It might serve to keep the most successful author humble, or make him so, to enter the dwellings of common readers, good readers too,
and ask for his " latest works "-or ask about them. Better go home and bring forth, out of things new or old, another “latest,” if he would be read and remembered for a season.
So, again, in regard to controversies, and the discussion of doctrines. “Of these we have had enough,” we are continually saying and hearing “ There is no need of anything more on the Trinity, Calvinism, Unitarianism, and all that. Every body has heard and read of these matters to satiety, to weariness." Deeply, at times, can we sympathise with such confession. Inwardly do we groan, whenever we first hear of a new book on the “ Points.” And if perchance we find ourselves constrained to write on them, it is with the feeling that we either owe an apology or deserve a reward. Yet after all, the thing must be done, and done again and again—" line upon line, line upon line." It is necessary because of forgetfulness, it is necessary because of ignorance, it is necessary from the changes taking place in every community and society, and the rapid accession of the young to fill the places of their fathers. Do we not overrate the familiarity of the people with matters of doctrine ? In other matters, on many topics, we underrate their intelligence. But in these, which are in great part, matters of fact and history, the distinctive opinions of different sects, the proper grounds of our own opinions, the “reason of the hope that is in us," the use that is made and the use that should be made of scripture-proofs, the ready power of explaining, defending, exposing, and refuting-in regard to all these, we are persuaded it is needful to give instruction often and freely, to give the first principles, to take little for granted, but to store and replenish the minds, especially of the young, with accurate and various knowledge. True, they may not desire this kind of knowledge, and you, as a teacher or counsellor, may not think it important. In that you and they, and all, will of course judge for themselves. But that some of this knowledge is needed by all, that many need it deplorably, that many hunger for it, that some are perplexed and hindered from the want of it, some mortified by their ignorance and defeat when assailed, and some drawn away from the faith, if not from all lively interest in religion—we know. Are we not concerned ? Are none accountable ?
These are some of the considerations, which lead us to welcome a good book on polemic theology. And if we mistake not, such books are more needed now, than they were ten or fifteen years ago. The controversy was then new in many of its features, and books, tracts
and sermons were poured upon us in such profusion, that the appetite was soon glutted, and many were offended. Then followed a decline and comparative dearth. Of late there has been little of this writing or reading. Ask now about the pamphlets of Worcester and Channing, or Woods and Ware, or Sparks and Miller, and though many perfectly remember that such things were, few know anything more about it.
But though none of these things were so, we should read with interest at all times a volume of such freshness and force as this before us. It is not all new. As the author says—“It consists partly of discourses not before published, and partly of reprints of former publications."
The reprints have been remodelled, some entirely re-written ; and we must be allowed to pronounce these better than the wholly original portions. Of the latter, one of the best is the discourse on the Atonement, which we recognized as preached at an Installation the last summer. It pleased us in the hearing, but did not strike us so forcibly as it does in the reading. It is not a formal exam. ination of the whole doctrine, but a selicitous mingling of the doctrinal and the spiritual. Of the spiritual and truly practical view of the sufferings and death of Christ, how little have we had. How much has been lost in the speculative and the dogmatical. And how sad indeed, that “a death should have been made a dogma; that blood should have been taken to write a creed ; that Calvary should have been made the arena of controversy.” After speaking of the relation of the Cross to the pardon of sin, the writer then treats of its relation to deliverance from sin—its great and ultimate object. We can only make a brief extract.
“ The death of Jesus is the greatest ministration ever known on earth to human virtue. It was intended not to be a relief to the conscience, but an incentive — a goad to the negligent conscience.
It was not meant, because Christ has died, that men should roll the burden of their sin on him, and be at ease ; but that, more than ever, they should struggle with it themselves. It was designed that the cross should lay a stronger bond upon the conscience, even than the law. When I look upon the cross, I cannot indulge, my brethren, in sentimental or theologic strains of rapture, over reliefs and escapes; over the broken bonds of legal obligation ; over a salvation wrought out for me, and not in me; over a purchased and claimed pardon — as if now all were easy
as if a commutation were made with justice - the debt paid - the debtor free and there were nothing to do, but to rejoice and triumph. No; I should feel it to be base and ungenerous in me, thus to contemplate sufferings and agonics endured for my sulvation. The cross is a most majestic and touching revelation of solemn and bounden duty. It makes the bond stronger, not weaker. It reveals a harder, not an easier way to be saved. That is to say, it sets up a stricter, not a looser law for the conscience. Every particle of evil in the heart is now a more lamentable and gloomy burden, than it ever was before. The cross sets a darker stamp upon the malignity of sin, than the table of the commandments, and it demands of us, in accents louder than Sinai's thunder, sympathetic agonies to be freed from sin.”
The volume we are noticing contains two series of sermons, or papers, parts of which we remember to have read with pleasure some years ago in a periodical then issued by our denomination, but since discontinued and now little read probably.
The first series consists of Cursory Observations on the Questions at issue between Orthodox and Liberal Christians; using these terms in their popular sense. Under this head, all the important questions relating to the Trinity, Atonement, Five Points of Calvinism, and Future Punishment, are discussed in a free, fervent, and perfectly candid spirit. There is as little of the mere controversialist or textual quibbler to be seen here, as in any similar discussion that has ever been attempted, we will venture to say. It is this, not least, that distinguishes Mr. Dewey, as a writer and reasoner on doctrines. He writes not as for victory. He reasons not as a partisan or an opponent. He is earnest to do justice to truth, rather than throw ridicule at error. He would build up, not battle down. He does not fight, but feel. And, moreover, it seems not opinion so much as principle, that he contends for. Religion he views as a fervid sentiment that is to sway the soul, not a cold system leaning on a text. And he is unable to conceive of the feeling, or the opinion, which allows any frail, fallible being, to deny religion to another, to excommunicate from its pale and its blessings, so far as possible, a whole church and community, on account of the interpretation of a text. It is, indeed, amazing assumption, or inconceivable self-ignorance. And then, that those who thus dare to exclude their brethren from the Christian Church, should condescend to admit that they may be good men, as men, and are to be treated civilly! From the heart do we sympathize in the following view of this strange conduct, and join in the remonstrance against the treatment, to which, as Christians, we are often subjected — indeed all the time subjected, by a large portion of those whom we would meet as brethren.