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have an unfavorable opinion of a doctrinal system, and of its moral tendency, without having any unkind feelings to its advocates.
7. We will proceed to show how the Anti-Trinitarian system leads men to neglect the everlasting concerns of the soul. In relation to this, they, in general, appear to express very little anxiety. A revival of religion, is a thing unknown in their connection. A change of opinion in favor of their scheme, is all the conversion they seem to wish to produce. With such a change, in connection with a common degree of morality, they appear to be entirely satisfied. They seem to have no conception of the nature and necessity of that, which the Scriptures call “ A new heart.” Many of them wholly deny the separate exisence of the soul.
The doctrine of materiality is strongly advocated by Dr. Priestley, and it seems to be very generally received by the Anti-Trinitarian fraternity. By that philosophy, there is not an immaterial spirit connected with the body, and all mental operations, result from the peculiar modification and organization of mere matter. That system, of course, will lead its adherents to believe, that the mind is wholly suspended by death, until the resurrection. It is not the design to attempt a confutation of that theory at present--that is reserved for a subsequent discussion. It is sufficient for my present purpose, just to observe, that this philosophy may be one thing, that leads to that religious indifference, which seems to pervade the whole Anti-Trinitarian denomination. On this ground, there is nothing to excite either hope or fear, between death and the resurrection ; and such impressions may very naturally lead to a secret hope, that none of mankind will ever be disturbed from the
repose grave. Be that, however, as it may, it is very obvious that there is but little religious
of the grave.
concern among those who believe in the Anti-Trinitarian doctrine. Who ever heard of one of them asking that solemn question, "What shall I do to be saved ?” Who ever saw such an inquirer, with an unshaken belief of that doctrine ? This would not be the case, if the system had any tendency to produce serious reflections. No one on that side of the question, appears to be burdened with a sense of guilt, nor with a sense of his need of sovereign mercy. In relation to eternal concerns, a remarkable ease appears on every countenance. The preaching of the Apostles certainly produced very different effects on the minds of
How can this be accounted for, on the supposition that the system in question is truly evangelical ? That Trinitarian doctrines very frequently move the hearts of men, and alter their lives, are facts that cannot be
very easily denied. But why should falsehood now have such an effect as truth once had, and truth be heard at present with a cold indifference ? May we not expect similar effects under similar causes, in all ages? This difficulty must hang like a dead weight on the Anti-Trinitarian system, in the view of impartial observers ?
Under the preaching of St. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, his numerous audience “were pricked in their heart;" three thousand were converted, and added to the church in one day. No such seal of heaven has ever been set to the preaching of the Anti-Trinitarian theory, in any age. If I saw such glorious effects flowing from it, I should not venture to oppose the thing. It is really surprising that any arguments should be thought necessary to convince men, that there is no truth in a system, that is as barren of all good fruit as the deserts of Africa! The finger of God is evidently pointed against it in every generation, by refusing to accompany its promulgation with his blessing. It seems, that the simple humanity of Christ, and denying the Personal existence and renewing operations of the Holy Spirit produces no alarm, either on the mind of the instructors nor the instructed. All are in profound peace. But we need not enlarge ; for the force of these remarks must be deeply felt, by this congregation. The appeal is made to your eyes, your ears, and your conscience. The subject is not a matter of mere speculation-it is of the very last importance.
That the Anti-Trinitarians live in the frigid zone of the Christian system, appears very clearly from the following observation, made by Dr. Priestley. He says, “ It is not necessary to dwell in our thoughts on death and futurity, lest it should interrupt the business of life, and cause us to live in perpetual bondage." But this forms a grand discord with the following Scriptural admonitions ; namely, • Prepare to meet thy God." Amos 4. 12.
- Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest what a day may bring forth.” Prov. 28. 1.
“ Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Rom. 14. 12. Thus we may see, that the Anti-Trinitarian writers are at war with the Scriptures, in almost the whole of their communications. We are not, therefore, at liberty to hear them, until they speak more “according to the law and the testimony." Our eternal interest is too precious to be tampered with in such a manner. It is acknowledged by Dr. Priestley, that “a great number of the Unitarians," as he calls them, “ of the present day, are only men of good sense, and without much practical religion ; and that there is a greater conformity to the world in them, than is observable in others.” It must be allowed, that this was a great deal for him to say ; but as to the propriety of it, we readily subscribe.
Thus, when we say, that their system leads them to idifference in relation to the concerns of the soul, it is on
their part, in a great degree, admitted. But the necessity of making such concessions, must, I think, have been very morrifying to such an advocate for the Anti-Trinitarian cause, as was Dr. Priestley.
8. A concise view may be taken of the plan, as it relates to the evil of sin. Their thoughts of that, appear to be superficial to a mournful degree. They seem to see no need of any other atonement for it, but repentance and reformation. According to their arguments, eternal punishment is quite disproportioned to the magnitude of that evil. A certain writer in the Monthly Review, says, “ We are neither amused nor edified by the corruscations of damnation. Nor can we, by any means, bring ourselves to think, with the late Mr. Edwards, that the vindictive justice of God is a glorious attribute.” Mr. Belsham says, “ If God is so severe as to mark every instance of iniquity, we must needs consider him as a merciless tyrant, and wish that the government of the universe were in better hands." They contend, that our virtues are a sufficient satisfaction to the justice of God, for all the offences of which we may have been guilty. Dr. Priestley says expressly, that pentance and a good life, are of themselves sufficient to recommend us to the Divine favor.” But Mrs. Barbauld is more bold than Dr. Priestley. She says, “When a man like Dr. Price is about to resign his soul into the hands of his Maker, he ought to do it not only with a reliance on his mercy, but his justice. It does not become him to pay the blasphemous homage of deprecating the wrath of God, when he ought to throw himself into the arms of his love." This is valuing our supposed virtue at a high calculation ; and sinking the evil of sin to a great degree. It is selfrighteousness without any covering. The complete contrast of this doctrine with the Holy Scriptures, cannot escape the eye of the most superficial observer. Sin is by
no means treated in this extenuating manner in that inspired volume. It informs us, however, that " fools make a mock at sin ;" that it is against God; that it is exceedingly sinful; that it is the thing that his soul hateth; and that it is as the poison of a serpent. But the system under consideration leads the mind to reduce the number of sins, as well as to lessen the magnitude of its evil. It leads us to suppose, that the sins of men bear but a small proportion to their virtues. Concerning this case, Dr. Priestley says, “ Virtue bears the same proportion to vice, that happiness does to misery, or health to sickness, in the world,” Is not this judging in our own favor to a high degree ? But, if there were no higher tribunal, all would be well. We may be assured, however, that the Dr.'s opinion will have but little influence on the decisions of the great day; that it will appear as a very incorrect calculation, when the secrets of all hearts are developed. We obtain no such impressions from the Bible, as the AntiTrinitarian writers are endeavoring to make on our minds. But the unrenewed heart is in great danger of falling in with such flesh-pleasing schemes; and on this account, it is highly necessary to administer the most powerful antidotes against the poison. There is no hope of awakening the human mind, while any Anti-Trinitarian impressions remain on it. That doctrine is the most fatal anodyne that can possibly be administered to immortal souls, laboring under the disease of sin. The reasonings of such divines “ on righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come," are by no means such as to make sinners tremble. Your own observations, my hearers, must have convinced you of this, independently of my arguments on the subject. You have nothing to do but to open your eyes, to see the deep moral sleep into which that theory lulls the souls of men. This argument is sufficient to silence all