« ForrigeFortsæt »
bad habits are corrected and his evil passions subdued; in other words, when, being made free from sin, he shall become a servant of righteousness." Mr. Winchester's sentiments on other topics, particularly respecting the person and death of Christ, were, it is believed, what are usually called orthodox; but his spirit was truly liberal. As specimens of his liberality, allow me to relate two facts of which I was a witness.
In the months of February, March, and April, 1796, the late Dr. Priestley delivered a course of Lectures in the Universalists' Church of Philadelphia, of which church Mr. Winchester was at that time the minister. Dr. Priestley preached on Sunday mornings, when Mr. Winchester always attended. After the lectures on the Evidences of Divine Revelation had been concluded, Dr. Priestley delivered a discourse in vindication of Unitarianism, and the same morning administered the Lord's Supper, of which Mr. Winchester partook; thus publicly showing that, in his opinion, there was no reason why Unitarians and Trinitarians should not unite in celebrating the death of Christ; the greatness of whose love they all acknowledge, and whom they equally own as their Lord.
But Mr. Winchester avowed his catholicism, as well by his language in the pulpit, as by his conduct when simply appearing as a private Christian among a numerous assembly of worshippers.
One Sunday afternoon, in the course of his sermon, he related the following incident, which will now be detailed, as much as possible, in his peculiar manner. “I was once asked,” said he, “whether I thought it possible that a Socinian could be saved. Knowing
that the person who put such a question was weak and narrow minded, instead of giving an immediate and direct answer, I said to him, my friend, before I make any reply I must know what you mean by a Socinian. As he appeared to hesitate, I proceeded thus. Do Socinians believe that Jesus is the Messiah? he answered, 0 yes, they believe this, but they deny that he is God, equal with the Father. I farther asked, do they believe that God raised him from the dead? he promptly rejoined, they believe and lay great stress on his resurrection, and often dwell on it; but they do not believe in the great doctrine of his atonement. To this I answered, recurring to the question he had put to me, "whether I thought it possible that a Socinian could be savedp” it is of little consequence what my opinion is on this subject, but I can give you the opinion of the Apostle Paul respecting persons who acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, and who believe that God raised him from the dead. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Rom. x 9. Now, as you have admitted that Socinians believe both these truths, it necessarily follows, agreeably to the decision of Paul, that, provided their conduct correspond with their profession, they shall be saved."
It is of importance to bear in mind, in order fully to estimate the liberal spirit of Mr. Winchester, that he was higiself a believer in the deity and atonement of Christ; but he did not venture to limit the mercy of God to those who were like-minded, nor to utter anathemas against any sincere professors of christianity, however widely they differed from himself on points of faith.
• The Christian Examiner.”
We have received the two first numbers of “The Christian Examiner and Theological Review.” It may be considered as commencing a new series of the “Christian Disciple and Theological Review," being conducted by the same gentlemen, and on the same principles. The form and appearance of the book, however, are much changed for the better. The type is larger and more clear, the page is handsomer, and the paper
is whiter and better. The articles in these numbers are remarkably excellent. Nothing could be better than the review, in the first number, of Dr. Beecher's sermon, entitled, The Faith once delivered to the Saints. This work, which we strongly recommend to all practical Christians, and inquirers into the true meaning of God's word, is published in Boston by Oliver Everett, and is principally supported by the contributions of the clergymen of that city. The acting editor, we understand, is the Rev. John G. Palfrey.
ERRATA. On page 240 of last volume, line 8th, for Rev. Mr. Felton, read Rev. Mr. Tilton. In the piece of poetry, same volume, page 256, line 7th, for guest, read quest; line 15th, for light, read sight.
Religious Dissipation. THERE are many people who are never easy unless they are attending some religious assembly; hearing a sermon, a lecture, or a prayer; going about to all kinds of missionary meetings, and all sorts of clerical conventions; receiving exhortations, and perhaps making them; listening to the recital of experiences, and then in turn reciting their own; crowding round a show of Cherokee children, or conversing with a convert from New Zealand; never easy, in fact, unless while they are trespassing on their real duties, by the fruitless performance of imaginary ones. They must have the bell of the meeting-house rung every other day, and the doors of the school-house opened every other night; but their own house may take care of itself. The Choctaw youth must be attended to, it would be a sin to neglect them; but in the mean time their own offspring are running wild, and making rapid advances toward a state of barbarism, or, which is still worse, by being obliged to go through the same round of, to them, insufferably tedious ceremonies, are imbibing a fatal distaste for religion itself, which they will perhaps never get over as long as they live.
I am quite ready to allow that a large portion of such people are sincere in these practices, and that they go to meeting every day in the week with the best and most serious motives in the world. Without, at present, saying any thing of the erroneous views of this portion, I intend to take some notice of another, equally as large, whose conduct is not so parely actuated, and to enumerate some of the worldly and selfish motives, which, I have every reason to believe, enter into, and alloy, their perpetual attention to religious forms and exercises. In doing this, I shall not merely propose, unless I greatly deceive myself, a captious and groundless theory, but shall draw my inferences and statements from what I have myself remarked of the characters of those persons, who are wonderfully busy and punctual in every spiritual observance, commanded and not commanded, especially the latter, without being at all more virtuous or pious, so far as I could see, than their neighbours.
I am pretty confident then, that motives of vanity have considerable influence over this class of devotees. It is not enough that they are seen in the house of wor. ship one day in seven. Every body else is seen there too, and they are not noticed in the crowd. This gives them no distinction--they have nothing to do-people are on that day assembled together to worship God, and not to talk about themselves; and there is no opportunity to exercise any particular gifts, or show off any remarkable graces Neither can they, on the Sun. day, expect to obtain any special attention from the clergyman, nor hold any discussions with the elders,