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It is strange, that man should be so prone to think meanly of the Deity. And if we could at all believe in original sin, we should say, here is the proof. But with us, it is an axiom,—that God must be infinitely more perfect, than the best of his creatures can possibly conceive. For “ his ways and thoughts are as much above our ways and thoughts, as the heavens are higher than the earth.” And we are quite certain, that we could find thousands of human beings infinitely more benevolent, than the God of reputed Orthodoxy. And hence we are compelled to say, this cannot be the God of truth. Indeed, according to the work before us, the character of the Divine Being is completely vindictive.
As the writer depicts a horrible hell, he portrays a selfish heaven. Of the former, we have afforded abundant proof; of the latter, we adduce this one circumstance: At the last great day, friends and relations, the most beloved and dear, are parted for ever; the righteous, to smile evermore; the wicked, never to smile again. Our author exclaims,
“Strange parting! not for hours, not days, nor months,
But for a whole eternity”-(p. 347). And we respond, “Strange, strange indeed!" Yet, when the Judge has effected this dreadful, eternal separation, he ascends to heaven in a kind of transport,
“joyful to declare This day's proceedings in his Father's court!”-(p. 392). Yes, it is that Saviour who rejoices in the accomplishment of this indescribably painful separation, that beheld Jerusalem sunk in iniquity, and wept over it! The poet should have told us, by what process so wonderful a transformation took place in our Lord's character; and why heaven should render the heart less sympathetic and compassionate than earth. For our own parts, we reject his description entirely; and believe it to be nothing more than the frightful offspring of “extravagant reverie.
We are forcibly reminded by this eternal separation, of a few “ Lines written on witnessing the separation of an African Negro and his Wife, having been sold to different masters.”
“I saw the two parted
As the calm the dread torrent concealing,
It reproach'd me that mine was so dry." The “ form of excellence" introduced to us in the following lines, appears to us very much out of place. The clime, we think, is not at all congenial to its nature, neither is the company
“And everywhere through that horrid den,
That image, as I guess, was Virtue"-(p. 20).
“ like God, whose excellent majesty, Whose glory virtue is” –(p. 21). It is one part of the misery of the damned, to read their infinite loss, by ever beholding virtue, all lovely and blessed as it is. Surely this, and the gnawing torments of malignant passions, constitute misery enough, without liquid flames of vindictive fire, and the tortuous grasp of neverdying serpents, with their thousand heads and stings. In fact, the poet tells us, in effect, that these are the mere flights of fancy, or the creations of extravagant reverie.
For he says,
"'Tis this, this Virtue hovering evermore
That he, the bard three-visioned, darkest saw"-(p. 22). If the poet be right here, as reason tells us he is, it would be well, if the descriptions given of bell, were less of a material, and more of a mental and moral nature;that is, of misery arising from the torment of wicked and malignant passions, and consciences awakened to a deep sense of moral deformity and moral beauty. There
appears to us great contradiction in the annexed couplet:
“ So God ordains their punishment severe,
Eternally inflicted by themselves”-(p. 22.)
If the punishment of the wicked be ordained by God, it cannot be self-indicted; for it is God that inflicts it, in bis ordaining things in such a manner, that it shall be the inevitable consequence of wickedness; it is the result of his own established order, and is as much inflicted by him, as if we saw his own hand actually lifted up in the dread work. The opprobrium, therefore, which the doctrine of eternal punishment casts upon the Almighty, still remains attached to the Divine Character, notwithstanding the above attempt to evade so awful a conclusion. In fact, if it be not so, what are we to understand by the wicked “ drinking the wine of God's eternal wrath"?-(p. 99).
(To be Continued.)
THE CHRISTIAN PIONEER.
GLASGOW, November 1, 1830.
On Wednesday evening, the 13th instant, the members of the Fellowship Fund of the Unitarian Congregation, Green-Gate, Salford, Manchester, took tea together in the school-room belonging to the meeting-house. The evening was spent in a pleasant and edifying manner, partly in conversation, and partly in listening to addresses from the minister, Rev. J. R. Beard—Mr. J. Armstrong, Secretary of the Fund—Mr. Eckersly, Secretary of the Congregation-Rev. H. Clarke, Unitarian Missionary-and Mr. Oates. Mr. Beard, in tracing the origin of Fellowship Funds, expressed his regret, that the meetinghouse, at the opening of which Dr. Thompson first made mention of his plan, viz. at Oldham, had, through adverse circumstances—the chief of wbich was, the loss of that pious and devoted servant of God, Mr. Goodierleft the hands of the Unitarians for a time, being now made use of by a congregation of Catholics.
It was also to be regretted, that Fellowship Funds, of which perhaps there were not more than fifty in the kingdom, had not become universal in the Unitarian communion. Of the four hundred churches of which it consists, if onebalf contributed from the penny-a-week subscriptions of their members £5, to a general fund, £1000 would be raised. Or if 20,000 persons contributed each five shillings a-year, the sum of £5000 would accrue. How much might thus be done, without any individual sacrifice, for the great cause of truth and piety. Schools might be instituted, periodicals aided, ministers sent through the country, or stationed at places likely to yield a spiritual harvest. Let the Unitarian body think of this. What a pity, if so easy a mode of doing incalculable good, should be passed in neglect. Unitarians, Mr. Beard remarked, had not sufficiently brought the energies of the people to bear upon the great objects they had at heart. In the present day, monitors of the efficiency of the many, were to be seen on every hand. The day of kings had been, and a gloomy day it was for the world; the day of priests was passed, and with it ignorance and superstition. This was eminently the day of the people --the people strong, because intelligent. Who supported mechanics' institutions-Sunday schools-co-operative societies? Who were now shaking the thrones of tyrants to their
very base? The people. How bad Methodism triumphed—how was it still supported—but by the people. Large sums were indeed necessary to effect any great object. But the largest sums came not from the pockets of the opulent few-but from the operative many. Were not the waters of the ocean made up of the smallest drops?-and did not the light which pervaded the universe, consist of the minutest particles? But workers, as well as givers, were necessary. And though the many raised no more money than the few, yet the many afforded more heads to devise, and hearts to encourage, and tongues to recommend. If, in the present day, success was, in any undertaking, to be gained, it must be sought-not by a few, however good, or learned, or great -but by inspiring multitudes. The great ones of the earth had, indeed, conspired; but though the conspiracy assumed, in order to cover the blackest designs, under a fair name, the title of the Holy Alliance--the people forming a truly holy alliance, holy because for holy objects, had made the hearts of the conspirators to tremble as the leaves in autumn. To Christians, and especially to Unitarian Christians, it was reserved to form what, with the utmost propriety, might be termed a Holy Alliance, for it was indeed a holy work to emancipate the reason to purify and enrich the heart—to make time happy, and eternity glorious. Mr. Beard considered it as a good augury of the success of their Fellowship Fund, that they had for their secretary, a gentleman who had been connected with two societies—Birmingham and Warwick
- which, excepting Swansea, were the first, he believed, to act on the suggestion of Dr. Thompson.
In noticing this remark, Mr. Armstrong entered into an interesting detail of the rise and progress of the two Funds alluded to, the difficulties he had to encounter, and the valuable assistance he met with from Mr. Kentish and Mr. Field. Mr. Clarke afforded the company much gratification by his excellent address, and particularly by that part of it in which he detailed a plan he had adopted to raise some money for a desirable object. There is at Padiham, in Lancashire, a congregation of Unitarian Christians, consisting, together with their preachers, of weavers, unable a little while since to earn more than five shillings, and, at present, more than seven shillings per week. On the chapel there is a ground-rent of £10 per annum, redeemable for £175. Towards this, about £50 bave been raised. Mr. Clarke knew the people could afford to spare nothing. Still be wished to raise a small sum among them. He therefore delivered three lectures on Astronomy at Padiham and Newchurch, at the charge of one shilling, each person. By this means he raised, together with a collection which the congregation insisted on making after the lectures, and also about eight shillings and sixpence contributed in half-pence and pence by the poor children of the Sunday school, nearly £10, towards the requisite sum. This is an excellent plan, and Mr. Clarke might, we think, pursue it with advantage, for the same or similar objects, in other places. In conclusion, Mr. Oates enlarged with much felicity and fervour, on the advantages of knowledge-the duty of self-improvement—and the opportunities afforded for both, by the library connected with the meeting-house.
Greenock Congregation. In our last Volume, p. 439, the accession of the Rev. Archibald Macdonald was recorded. Since the 29th August, when this gentleman opened the Masonic Hall in Greenock, for the worship of the One true God the Father, he has been anxiously labouring to promote a spirit of free inquiry in that town. Nor has be laboured in vain. A meeting of those friendly to the formation of a Congregation, having been called, on