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principle--for words, as the signs of ideas: or in plain language for the principles, and ideas themselves that he is accountable. Now these principles, and ideas, seated in his understanding, are what constitute his faith ; and for this faith he is either responsible, or he is not responsible at all, seeing he cannot be judged for action, without faith.
Considered in this view, the religious sentiments of a man are highly important; and in the sameview, the difference existing between Unitarians and their opponents,is one of nolight and trifling character. Let us notice for a few moments, their adverse principles, and then consider what a directly opposite influence they must exert upon the actions of their followers. The dispute between them affects the closest and dearest interests of man, and involves within it the nature of God himself. While the latter acknowledge a triune distinction in the Divine Being, and worship a God, who as THE PATHER is invisible and unknown, in THE Son is manifested, and as THE SPIRIT operates upon man; the former believe only in an unknown, and unmanifested God-unmanifested except so far as the productions of nature, and the harmony of the universe proclaims his power. While the one receive the Scriptures as infallible in their declarations, and as containing in themselves the infinite wisdom of their author; the others are not afraid to hold up to view the pretended errors of the sacred writers—to pronounce Paul “ an inconclusive reasoner," and the Saviour himself-a tyro in natural philosophy.* While the adherents of the common opinion, look forward to a life beyond the grave, when the body is no more; the generality of Unitarians, see in man only a peculiar modification of matter, and expect to sleep insensible in the tomb, till the Divine
power restores again the material frame. While the former, in accordance with the unvarnished declarations of the Bible, look upon eternal punishment as the reward of continued obstinacy; the latter exult in the idea, that a revolution of ages must bring all to happiness, and the bottomless pit restore its purified inhabitants to the abodes of bliss. Without entering into the minuter portions of the dispute, it will at once be apparent that differences like these, involving the nature of God, the authority of the Scriptures, the state of man, and the reward of evil, must, as principles of action (and every idea fixed in the mind is a principle of action), produce the most opposite effect upon the outward conduct, and give a directly opposite complexion to the human character.
If one is right the other is wrong ;-wrong both in faith, and in conduct, as proceeding from faith. If THE SON OF God is not divine, then those who
presume to pay to him divine homage, must be guilty of derogating from the honour of God, even in their most solemn services; while on the other hand if he is “ THE MIGHTY GOD" in the form of a servant, then they who refuse to acknowledge him as such, cannot worship at all; for “ he that believeth not the Son, believeth not the Father who sent him.” If again the Scriptures be tainted with the prejudices and errors of their human compilers, we have no sure word of prophecy;" all is uncertainty and gloom: or if they are indeed“ inbreathed” by God, and contain the wisdom and spirit of the giver, then do they who thus charge them with error, insult the Majesty of heaven, by taking away the reverence due to his Word. If further, when man dies “the grave takes all,” and he lies an unconscious, and insensate mass of matter, then “let us eat and drink for to-morrow we die.” But if " there is a spirit in man;" a beam of the eternal light; a spark of the Divine nature, which lives and moves, and thinks and feels, when the body is no more, then well does it behove us to prepare for a change so awful and important. And lastly, if hell is but a preparation for eternal glory, then “ farewell fear, farewell remorse;"—who would forego the pleasures of the world while Eternal Life is the certain and unavoidable end. If effects differ in proportion to the difference in their causes, then must the effect of these two systems differ as much as light and darkness.
* Such an assertion was actually made by a Unitarian minister (who has also figured as the author of several publications), at a public meeting in the town of Liverpool,
There is yet another, and a deeper source to be considered in the responsibility of man with regard to his faith. It is true that the understanding, the receptacle of opinions, influences the conduct, but it is equally true that the will, the residence of hope and love ; fear and aversion; as greatly influences the understanding; and many of the errors which are found may be traced either to the hopes or the fears of the party adopting them. Where a man has every thing to lose, and nothing to gain, by the truth of an opinion, HIS WILL will at once incline his understanding to reject it; while on the contrary, if an idea (however false in itself) gives encouragement to his hopes, he will through the influence of his affections be as strongly inclined in its favour. It is thus that the opinions of a man take in most instances the character of his ruling love, and that those opinions regulated by that love determine his actions and his conduct.
From these few observations we may be led to a proper conclusion on the question, how far man is responsible for his errors, and how far the truth or falsehood of the Unitarian faith affects the eternal interest of the contending parties. Where error arises from invincible ignorance, which there are neither the means, nor the power to remove; it is in itself a misfortune and not a crime. But where it proceeds from the will,--from prejudice, or from evil; or where it is found arising from indolence of mind, which will not undergo the labour of examination; there it is a crime and not a misfortune. Nor do I see whilst outward evil meets its punishment, and bodily indolence its merited reward ; how inward evil can be exempted from a like fate, or mental indolence escape a like punishment.
Now on the subjects before us, it will scarcely be contended that there are not the means of inforniation. To the Scriptures as the only criterion both parties allow that opinions must be brought, and those Scriptures are open to all. It is certainly true that there are many on both sides, whose powers of mind are not capable of entering into a long and laboured examination, but neither does the subject require it. If the express testimony of the Word of God may be received, the evidence is as clear as it is convincing. The prophets from Moses to Malachi have left on record, testimonies to the nature of the Redeemer, which need no metaphysical powers to be understood. The miracles of the Saviour and his discourses, furnish additional proofs, and the declarations of the apostles put the top stone upon this pile of evidence.
These things we shall consider in order, not as mere speculations of opinion but as awful realities, affecting by our reception or denial the whole of our future prospects.