Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Channing, which he has reprinted, give us highly favourable impressions of the talent and temper which he brings to his glorious work. The sermon is from John XX. 31, and is chiefly an exposition of the meaning of that text. It does not show, what indeed there was no reason to expect, much acquaintance with the Unitarian controversy, or with the rules of biblical interpretation; but it is well written, and evidently from a heart warm with the subject. The following extract is a favourable specimen of the manner of reasoning.

Others assuming the existence of Jesus before he came into the world, and that this title is descriptive of his pre-existent nature, consider it as expressing his true and proper Deity. The general reception which this interpretation has met with, and the confidence with which it is urged, would seem to intimate that it possesses a clearer evidence and a more convincing force, than, on examination, we are able to ascribe to it. For, in the first place it is opposed to the very nature of things, by which the Son dever can be the same identical being as the Father. · If it is objected that this may be true of the nature of man, but cannot be true of the nature of God, we must then remember that John was a man, writing to men, in the language of men, with a view to convince and persuade men, and that it is utterly inconsistent with the very definition of a revelution to suppose that an inspired writer to describe the nature of God should employ terms which are opposed to every form of speech current amongst men. If it should be contended that there is no opposition to the ordinary usage of language, but that the Son, as a Son, is God in a true and proper sense, then, as this usage of language is founded upon the nature of things, and the nature of things is opposed to every idea of an identity of person between a Father and his Son, it is evident, that the unity of the Divine Being-a doctrine equally dear to both sides-is irrecoverably lost. The same important doctrine is injured by an argument not unfrequently adduced, viz. that as the son of Man is man, so the Son of God is God, and therefore Jesus Christ is God. ,,A more correct mode of stating the analogy would be this--that as the Son of man is a man, so the Son of God is a God, and therefore Jesus Christ is a God, one of two, one of three, or one of many, as may be. Instead of thus multiplying the Deity, let it be remembered that the term 6 God” is not like tbat of sman” a common name including many individuals under it, but a proper name belonging to, and describing only a single individual who has no identity of nature or of person,

with any other individual in universal existence. Leaving several arguments which might be adduced against this interpretation, I mention only one other. If there is one idea which the expression “ Son of God” conveys more directly than any other, it is that of derivation and indeed this idea, as applicable to the original nature of Christ, is commonly admitted and even dwelt upon. But who, as the pious Watts exclaims some

a

α

where in his works, who can for a moment admit the idea of a derived Deity ??

The letter to the secretary of the English Unitarian Fund which we have quoted above, urges the importance of missions in India, and proposes a system of extensive operations. We extract a few passages which throw light upon the interesting inquiry in what manner the Hindoo population is to be addressed.

l'he conquered naturally view with great respect all who belong to the cast of the conquerors, especially if the latter possess learning, and I, perhaps, may say piety, as they are by no means blind to the excellencies and defects of those who bear the Christian name. I have reason 10 suppose that they even exercise a very strict scrutiny over those who profess to teach them a religion better than their own ; and the fact that they have discovered, or suppose that they have discovered, much that is selfish and worldly in the conduct of such, has operated powerfully against the propagation of the gospel. On the other hand, if Christians of sound learning and rational piety, unfettered by worldly pursuits, and independerit of pecuniary assistance from those to whom they are sent, engage in Missionary labours in this country, they will command the respect of their bitterest native antagonists, and may be eminently useful in spreading the knowledge of the gospel.'

• There is a large majority of Idolaters, and a small but increasing minority of Theists. With respect to the former, a Trinitarian missionary is placed in inextricable difficulties which a Unitarian cannot feel, for after having convinced them of the absurdity of Idolatry, he is obliged to refute himself by teaching them the Supreme Deity of Jesus Christ. The same arguments which he employs against the Idolaters, they may employ against him. Those whom 1 denominate Theists are the followers of the Vedant system of philosophy, and are in fact Unitarian Hindoos. This system has been of late revived in Bengal with considerable success, through the exertions of Rammohun Roy, and those who have embraced it form a small but highly respectable portion of the Hindoo community. From them the Trinitarian missionary experiences much greater difficulty than from their idolatrous countrymen, for here it is not as in the former case, one error struggling with another, but error contending against truth. The Unitarian Hindoo possesses a vantage ground, from which the Trinitarian Christian never can dislodge him. Yet in them we have a proof that the doctrine of the Divine Unity alone does not humble the mind, restrain the passions, and reform the life, for no one is more deeply impressed with the necessity of giving them the light of Christianity than Rammohun Roy, who has had the best opportunities of knowing the effect which their conversion from Idolatry to Unitarian Hindooism has produced.'

* With respect to those who shall be employed as Missionaries, they should not only be pious, which is of course indispensable, but, if possible, well versed in literature, both sacred and profave. It has too frequently happened, that persons have come to this country as Missionaries, who have no other recommendation or qualification but their piety; and the injury which is thus done to the Christian cause is incalculable. How great must the injury be, when instead of teaching others, they need themselves to be taught the first principles of the oracles of God, and when, instead of being superior, or at least equal, they are far inferior in a knowledge of the principles of reasoning and in a general acquaintance with science, to most of those amongst whom they are called to labour.'

The statements which have occurred in the course of these remarks justify us in the inference, that, little success as has yet attended missionary attempts in India, it affords no ground for despondence concerning the religious prospects of that fruitful, populous and opulent empire. Christianity has been rejected; but not when presented in a form in which it is capable of being sustained by satisfactory evidence ; and this will be the only method of introducing it among Hindoos, for their fancies and feelings are already engaged with mysteries of their own. There is no proof that pure Christianity, stript of its Greek and Gothick embellishments, would be thus rejected, for the experiment has not yet been tried. And there are many appearances to encourage an opposite opinion. The inhabitants of a Christian country may from the force of education, or of some constitutional or accidental bias, sincerely adopt some corrupt form of Christianity in which it is incapable of being shown to be true ; and this the Hindoos certainly will not in great numbers, because their tendencies of this nature lead them, in common circumstances, a different way; but the decisive evidence on which Christianity rests, when not counteracted by incredible dogmas attributed to the system itself, is capable of operating with as convincing force upon an Indian as upon a European understanding. Pure Christianity, supported by its proper evidence, forces a fair inind to receive it; and it is capable even of convincing minds strongly prejudiced against it. It has, to say the least, no such powerful and general prejudice to encoudter among the better part of the Hindoos, as to cause their reception of it, when favourably presented to them, to be regarded as a wholly improbable event. There are among them great numbers capable of estimating the worth of solid arguments. The scriptures have already to some extent diffused, and are now rapidly diffusing among them, the information, which provides a basis and materials for such argument; and, if Christendom were faithful to its duty, we see nothing to forbid the hope, that, before this generation should pass away, millions of tongues in India should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.- Entertaining these views, we have not heard with indifference of the conversion of Mr. Adam from the erroneous faith, which he could not have propagated, to the pure one, which we trust he will; and we know not that there is any individual to whose labours we look with a more lively interest.

INTELLIGENCE.

THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL AT CAMBRIDGE.

The public examination (or exhibition, perhaps, it would more properly be called) of the students belonging to the Theological School at Cambridge, took place in the University chapel on Tuesday. The exercises commenced at nine o'clock, and closed at two o'clock P. M. The performances were generally of a high character, and did much honour to the young gentlemen, and to the Institution. The number of dissertations was twelve ; and the depth and faithfulness of research, the soundness of views, and the modesty and good taste which they manifested, gave pleasing evidence of the great advantages enjoyed at this Institution for acquiring theological knowledge. The greatest circumstance of regret is, that the funds for the support of indigent students are not greater ;-that those who are pursuing their studies here might devote themselves exclusively and without embarrassment to the object before them,—and that those whose want of funds induces them to place themselves under the patronage of other institutions, might not be deterred by any motives of this nature, from resorting for their education to this distinguished "School of the Prophets."

This is the second year on which the examination has been public. The number of ladies and other auditors was great on this occasion than it was last year; but it was much less than it should be, considering the importance of the occasion. It has been suggested, that the circumstance, that it is called an Examination, operates as a hindrance of many who would otherwise New Series Vol. V.

40

attend--on the ground, either that the performances are supposed to be dull and uninteresting, or that they are designed only for the literati. It ought to be known that these performances are intended for the public, and that they are of a character highly interesting and instructive.-We trust that nothing is necessary in order to excite a proper interest in these performances, in the public mind, but merely to make known their interesting character, and that they are intended for the benefit and gratification of the public, as well as for the improvement of those who exhibit.

The following is a list of the subjects of the different dissertations, and of the names of those who performed.

JUNIOR CLASS. 1. The evidence of the existence of the writings of the New Testament in the first century.

Samuel Presbury. 2. The support which Christianity derives from the martyrdom of the early Christians.

Nathaniel Gage.

MIDDLE CLASS. 3. The character of the common version of the New Testament.

Alexander Young. 4. The necessary ambiguity of language.

Charles W. Upham. 5. The grounds of union among different sects of Christians.

Edward B. Hall. 6. The errors of the early Christians in the interpretation of Scripture:

Eliphalet P. Crafts. 7. The objection to the goodness of God, drawn from the existence of evil, natural and moral.

Calvin Lincoln. 8. James v. 16: “ The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Benjamin Kent. 9. The importance of the obligation of positive institutions in religion.

Benjamin Hersey. 10. The means of a general revival of practical religion.

Ezra S. Gannett. 11. The value of Revelation, though nothing more be taught by it than is maintained by Unitarian Christians.

Wm. H. Furness. 12. John i. 29 : “ The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto

him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

William Farmer, Christian Register, Aug. 15, 1822.

SENIOR CLASS.

« ForrigeFortsæt »