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their heathen brethren so obstinately turn the deaf adder's ear to a voice from heaven, and prefer their miserable superstitions, with common sense, a certain blessing, to the gospel as proclaimed in Calvinism, to them at least, a very doubtful good.
We have said these things may be learned soon. For, if we do not mistake the signs of the times, there is dawning upon the christian world a brighter day than it has seen for ages. There has gone abroad in the walks of every other science, a severe and active spirit of investigation, which bas carried them to a degree of exactness and perfection, not only never before witnessed, but in many cases never before deemed possible; and it can hardly be, that it should not extend itself even to theology, in the nature of which there is nothing to prevent its producing effects as astonishing and as happy. It has indeed already shown that it is there and at work. Tares, which at the first springing up could scarcely be known from the wheat, are fast taking their distinguishing forms and proportions, and men already begin fearlessly to pluck them from the field and gather them for the fire. It is a work in which every sincere christian, every lover of truth, must heartily bid them God speed.
Such being the state of things, we cannot but pronounce the publication before us, not only a work, which would at any time
, be of great value to the professed theological student, to the general inquirer, and indeed to every one, who, to make himself a well informed man, thinks it at all necessary to know any thing of divinity-but also one which is now especially, a most important, judicious, and seasonable undertaking. Even considered in reference to the general remarks we have just made, it certainly does not recommend itself to us at all the less, either because it is to be so decidedly unitarian in its tone, or because it is to be conducted by a scholar of distinguished talents, who has so actively and successfully devoted himself to the unitarian cause. For we have miserably mistaken its design, and confess ourselves shamefully deceived as to the extent of unitarian views, if thrice repeated arguments against the doctrine of a trinity, or reasonings high of foreknowledge, will and fate-fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute, will constitute the whole, or any great proportion of the whole Collection. Its purpose, as described by the editor, in the remarks* with which he has introduced his proposals to the public, is_" to select such articles, as have intrinsic
* Had we not already copied these remarks into our pages entire, we should certainly do it here. They inay he found in our number for May and June 1822-in vol. iv. p. 221. If our readers will peruse them, and give but a glance at the present state of theological inquiry in the land, they will doubtless think us rathor sparing than profuse of praise.
merit, and are calculated to strengthen the faith of christians in the divine origin and authority of their religion-to diffuse a critical knowledge of the scriptures to exhibit rational and consistent views of the christian scheme-to inculcate principles of religious liberty and toleration to encourage the exercise of piety and charity-and to secure obedience to the laws of Christ”
-a purpose, which embraces not only the objects peculiarly dear to the unitarian, but also those of the highest interest to ečery christian.
We rejoice that one of our own sentiments rather than any other, is thus endeavouring to accomplish it, only because we do believe such an one much the best qualified to take the proper measures to insure success.
Much has doubtless been done, and is still doing, for the diffusion of liberal and enlightened views of religion, of the scriptures, and of christian duties, by our periodical publications. But over these, a collection of essays and tracts in theology, made, as this is intended to be, with a single regard to their. own intrinsic merit and no regard at all to the peculiar theological opinions of their writers, has many and important advantages. If judiciously selected, we shall find the same subjects as popularly discussed without having to regret so often as we do, that they are not more fully treated than is usually the case in periodical papers. Besides, although no religious system can be established or overthrown by authorities, still, when we find them in array against us, there is no small satisfaction in being able to show as many and as respectable on our own side. But a reasonable man would infinitely prefer to see the arguments, which decided even a few of the great and good to embrace his party, than never so long a catalogue of mere names, which is all that the limits of periodical works commonly afford us. And since our editor bas determined to levy contributions to his main design from all who are able to supply them, we shall often, as in the case of 'Turretin, who, we believe is in high estimation with the orthodox, find a writer quite as decidedly with us in some points, as he is against us in the main.
We would willingly say more of this work, if we thought it would either increase the well deserved reputation of the gentleman to whose enterprise we owe it, or give a wider circulation to the work itself. But, even from the imperfect notice of it we have now given, every one must see, that it offers an invaluable addition to his means of religious information, which, we will venture to say, it is next to impossible to procure in any other way. The discourse and essays, which comprise the first number, are admirable. Though we had rather have nothing said of fundamentals at all, still, since men will think about them,
and talk about them too, it is well that there is upon the subjeet a treatise so liberal in its spirit, and so rational in its views as Turretin's. As to the essays of Abauzit, they would fairly fill us with astonishment at the little improvement made in bibli. cal criticism since his day, did we not reflect, that common sense is the same in every age, and, if carried to the study of the scriptures, would in every age produce very nearly the same results. To each article is prefixed by the editor a short biographical account of its author, which enables us to read it with redoubled interest. There are notes besides occasionally added, which are highly valuable, both in themselves and as clear and necessary illustrations or correction of the text. Notwithstanding the uncommon beauty of its mechanical execution, this publication for cheapness is, we are persuaded, absolutely without a rival. If any one will but make a trial to procure the works enumera ted in the editor's proposals, as among those he intended to print, we are satisfied he will find he cannot do it, at twice nay four, times the expense, at which be can bave them by subscribing for this collection.
The annual report of the society for propagating the gospel among the Indians and others in North America, has been published since the appearance of our last number; and we regret that we have no room for the extracts, which we intended. The annual meeting of this society was held on the first Thursday in November last, and the discourse was delivered by the Rev. Abiel Holmes, D. D. of Cambridge.
Wedeem it a suitable piece of intelligence to be preserved in the pages of the Christian Disciple, that the present Lord Bishop of London, the Right Rev. William Howley, bas in a charge, delivered to his clergy at a visitation in July last, uttered the following sentences, which in this day of advancing knowledge seem to bear something of a retro-grading tendency; and to intimate not obscurely a wish to bring things back to what his lordship would seem to think the happy quiet and security of the ignorance of past times.
· For a series of years preceding the French revolution, the . diffusion of knowledge and the cultivation of intellect, in France and the neighbouring countries, exceeded in such proportion the
COUNTERVAILING POWERS of religion and morality, that all competent judges agreed, that some great convulsion was near at band.'
Again, When we direct our attention to the systematic culture of intellect introduced in the course of a few years among all classes, we cannot but feel an anxiety, lest the balance of Society suffer disturbance from this sudden increase of its momentum.'
Once more, 'There is no necessary connexion between knowledge and goodness; between the possession of intellectual power and a disposition to apply it to its proper ends.'
Now it is very true, that great talents and learning have been abused. Yet we had thought, that knowledge was an instrument of virtue; and that one way to make men good was to enlighten them. But his Lordship here teaches us, that diffusion of knowledge and improvement of intellect, of themselves, have an evil tendency, and will lead to mischief, unless countervailed, as he is pleased to term it, or as we should say, counteracted by some other means. As we profess under this head only to give intelligence, we leave our readers to make the inferences for themselves. But it seems to us, that his Lordship in these remarkable axioms is labouring with some very high church notions, which he chooses to intimate rather than express: such as, that it is very unsafe to trust men with religious inquiry; and, agreeably to the doctrine explicity laid down by Dr. Marsh, the present Bishop of Peterborough,* and which has found its advocates even in this country, "that it is inexpedient to circulate the bible among the common people, unless it is bound up with (or, may we here use the Bishop's term 'countervailed by") the church catechism and prayer book.'
Through the kindness of a friend, one of the publishers of this work, we have just been favoured with a copy of five letters from William Roberts, teacher of the native unitarian congrega. tion near Madras, addressed to Rev. T. Belsham, &c. and published in London since January last. They contain a satisfactory account of the state and prospects of the unitarian establishment there, and give additional evidence to what we have already known [See Ch. Dis. vol. ii. 1820] of the fidelity, and zeal of this humble, but intelligent and truly interesting native
*This Prelate is well known, and is at this period exciting to himself no small attention in the House of Lords, as the propounder of eighty-seven questions with thirty-two others, supplementary and explanatory, which he applies as tests to all candidates for ordination, with a view to puige his diocese from calvinism. He contends, that the Arminian interpretation of the Thirty-nine articles is the true interpretation; and that calvinists should be excluded from the church.
'One of my hearers, about six years back, went from Madras to Hydrabad, and reading the New Testament, which he took from us, at his leisure hours, and reflecting on the principles he had heard among us, in time, a change took place in his religious sentiments; but he could not satisfactorily go to any other denomination of christian ministers, that were near, to receive baptism. Returning to Madras the beginning of this year he came to our chapel, on the first Sunday after his arrival, with four or five of his friends, and after sermon, made himself known to us. After relating his religious progress, and firm faith in christianity as profest by unitarians, he exprest his desire, that I should baptize him. Shortly after he was taken sick; and agreeably to his wish, I went to his house and baptized him. His name is Lazarus: his former heathen name was Handiapah. On this occasion there were present some of Larazus' heathen and Roman Catholic neighbours, and among them one Anthony, and his father, a very sensible good man, and both Roman Catho
'A few days after, Lazarus, though still sick, brought his mother, his wife, his two little sons, and two of his brother's children to the chapel to be baptized. On this occasion also, Anthony, his father, and some of the neighbours attended divine service and heard the discourse. They were well pleased to see and hear every thing done in their own language; and without unnecessary ceremonies. The father and son set their minds to enquiry, and joined our Society. Anthony has taken the place of a schoolmaster, and from his instructions, I hope to derive good to the unitarian Cause."
Writing at a later date, he says Anthony, proves to be a zealous unitarian. Through his indefatigable exertions and exemplary life, in the course of twelve months he has brought over to join us, his wife,his sister, his mother, his brother, his brother in law, and their families. His endeavour is to become an unitarian teacher. Since he has kept a school for unitarian children, he has often been annoyed by his Roman Catholic neighbours; but no one has appeared to confute him by scripture proofs or cool reasoning.'
We wish our limits would admit of more extracts from these interesting letters.
From the Monthy Repository, för Dec. 1822, we extract the following. "Died, at Stoke-Newington, Dec. 6th, in his 75th year, Dr. JOHN AIKIN, (brother of Mrs. Barbauld,) well known to the world by his numerous elegant and useful contributions to English Literature; and the head of a family, which has perhaps done more than any other in England, for the promotion of knowledge, and the gratification of the literary taste.