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lemic in behalf of that sect. That his mind should have taken this turn, is a fact which admits an easy explanation. He set out originally in search of a religion that might be more satisfactory to him than that in which he and his countrymen had been brought up. Finding the Christian religion to afford the most perfect system of morality, he adopts it immediately on that ground; and on that ground only, rejecting whatsoever else might belong to it, if it did not accord with his taste. He was actuated by no sentiment of piety, he felt none of that awe for the Supreme Being, which is the very corner-stone of all religion, and aimed at gratifying the speculative passion of his own mind, rather than sought to perform a duty to God. One may justly question, from his style of writing, whether such a notion ever entered his thoughts: he appears rather to be so far transported by the selfishness of enthusiasm, as to forget the Divinity altogether; and may be said to exhibit one more example of that unconscious duplicity of feeling, which seems almost invariably to attach to the profession of Deism.
“We must not look upon him in the light of a religious man of any de scription, but merely as a caterer in morality; one who carves out for himself, and for the use, as he says, of his brethren, just what pleases himself, and rejects what displeases him; though at the same time professing to believe the gospel to be the message of God.
««The parts of the New Testament which he has published for the Hindûs, under the title of “The Precepts of Jesus,” are mere selections of those passages, which he supposes to contain an exposition of the moral law. This is all vastly well, as far as it goes; but Rammohun Roy ought to have known that, supposing the establishment of a system of good morality to be the main end of the gospel, yet that on which it depends for establishment is the efficacy of the means which it employs. On these, as he ought to know, infinite stress is laid in various parts of the gospel, and it is those peculiar means belonging to it which make Christianity, to use his own words, “better adapted” for the use of rational beings than any other system of religion.
“Here then we detect that feeling by which he was secretly, and, perhaps, almost unwittingly, impelled in his design. He had commenced his labours on the subject of religion, with the laudable intention of exterminating all the superfluous gods of the Hindú system; and, still warm with the same ideas of reformation, his mind instantly revolts against any thing which seems in his view to involve a contradiction to his ideas; for this reason it is, that, though otherwise holding it in the highest admiration, he demurs to those articles of faith which Christianity requires. He is still haunted by the remembrance of his discarded and supernumerary deities, and objects to the doctrine of the Trinity as if it were another species of that Polytheism from which he has just escaped: he attacks it not indeed with similar animosity, for the subject would not admit of it, but with all the feelings of a man who had been successful in one combat, and looked to nothing but triumph in a second. He will not stop to consider the real nature of a Christian's belief on this subject, and seems as if unwilling to understand that we abhor a multiplicity of gods as strongly as he does, and denounce such belief in terms at least as positive and as sincere. He will not remember, for an instant, what it is that we assert when we call ourselves worshippers of Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.'
“He repeats the words indeed, but declares them to be utterly unintelligible; making use of the phrase which has been so often brought forward by the Deist and Unitarian, that three cannot be one, or one be three. Here then we come to his point, and will examine its meaning: we will concede, that, speaking of material substances, the assertion cannot be said to be true; but speaking of immaterial, it certainly may, and not only may but is clearly and demonstratively shown to be so with regard to our human selves. How much
more then have we a right to assume it to be the case with God, who is a spirit,' a perfect immaterial being? With regard to ourselves, we know that the soul, the will, and the perception are three, and yet it cannot be denied that they are also indivisibly one: they offer, therefore, an illustration of the common doctrine with regard to the Trinity, which no one will venture to impugn. He alludes, indeed, himself to this mode of illustration, but has got into confusion by an error with regard to the word substance, which he understands in a sense that never could have been intended by the author of the Athanasian creed, or any other rational Christian.
“But let us examine his words: “The Trinitarians,' he says, “should establish, first, that the soul, will, and perception, are three substances;” now, had the usual distinction between matter and spirit been present to his thoughts while writing, he never could have been guilty of the absurdity of imagining, that those who hold the doctrine of the Trinity could mean, by the word substance, to express a material being, or even could expect any one so to interpret it. The Greek word for substance is ovoia, or being, (whether used as explanatory, or originally so written, is of little consequence,) and unity of substance is opo-ovoia, or togetherness of being: and it is evident that nothing more is meant by the use of the word substance, than to give that analogy from matter which might be applied to assist oui conception of the divine nature.
“Another common point of the Unitarians, and which Rammohun Roy mentions, is the application to Jesus Christ of the word sent; which, he says, implies the “subordinate nature of hin, a messenger, to the nature of God, by whom he was sent.' This error again arises from a forgetfulness, on his part, of the very first condition under which we form a notion of the divine nature, namely, that it is every where present. If the word sent were to be interpreted as we use it with regard to ourselves as material beings, it would be as he states it; but we ought to read the expression under an idea of the universal presence of God: and, therefore, sent cannot, whether applied to Christ or to the Holy Ghost, be capable of being construed after his fashion. "Sent is not sent as men would send, but is spoken in allusion to the character of the Godhead: we add, however, that when the phrase is used with regard to Christ in his character of man, it becomes literal in its application; that is, so far as his humanity is concerned, but this is all that can be said.
“Most of the difficulties, if not all, that Rammohun Roy meets with in the expressions of the New Testament, arise from his not duly distinguishing between them, when applied to Christ in his human character, and when they are so in his spiritual: which if the attentive reader of scripture hold in mind, he will easily unravel much of the sophistry of the Unitarian.
“«The unfortunate divisions which so long have existed upon this subject, have arisen from the attempt, on the part of mankind, to define and describe, with too much precision of language, those things and relations of which we have, in this our present state of being, but an imperfect idea: and the pushing analogies from "earthly things,” which are only used in condescension to that imperfection, to an extreme to which they never are meant to be carried. The cases, however, which are stated in this publication, are not of a very difficult nature: we have light enough, even of ourselves, to discover where the error lies, and to explain the pretended mystery of the objector.
“As to the rest of this work of Rammohun Roy, it is written, certainly, with great industry and ingenuity, and, during the earlier part of the correspondence which he maintained with the missionaries in the East, with much appearance of candour. If he subsequently departed from the strict impartiality which he originally prescribed to himself
, it is no more than might be expected from human nature; and it must be said, that the argument which he has constructed upon his view of a variety of passages selected from the
New Testament, is not very formidable even to the unlearned, and I will venture to say that, let any man, after their perusal, sit down with the New Testament in his hand, and read attentively ten chapters following one another, taken from almost any part of the book indiscriminately, he will then find Rammohun Roy's seven hundred pages fully answered, and a conviction the very opposite to that which he has drawn to be fairly established in his mind.
""Still, however, Rammohun Roy's unbiassed opinion as to the superior excellence of the morality of the Christian religion remains, and it is this with which we have at present chiefly concern; but of him enough, and more than enough, has been said.'” P. 40.
Sermon II. (from 1 Timothy, iv. 13,) was preached at a general ordination held by the Lord Bishop of Oxford; and, as the occasion required, has relation to the qualifications requisite for the proper discharge of clerical duties. “The knowledge of religion, (says Dr. Williams,) like every other useful knowledge, is only to be acquired by well directed industry.”
“The languages in which revelation was originally conveyed to us should be acquired; histories are to be examined, facts investigated, opinions to be canvassed, nay the precise meaning of a single word frequently to be settled : these are difficulties which successive ages have increased, and which, however they may have been diminished during this and the preceding century, are not yet, by any means, entirely removed. True it is, indeed, that the learned labours of some excellent divines in our church have furnished us with productions of the first rate, and various in their kind; but these, instead of rendering us indolent, should, at the same time that they excite our gratitude, rouse us to emulation, and encourage us to improve, with equal assiduity, the talent which hath been committed to our trust.
“But why should I entirely pass over, as an incentive to diligence and attention to duty, the regard we ought to have for the credit, the welfare, and interest of our country? It has been the fashion to hold this remote corner of the world in a supercilious point of view: Britons have never been wanting in manly spirit and integrity of principle. Let us not then degenerate from our ancestors, but rather cultivate that principle and improve that spirit in the study of whatever can invigorate or adorn it. What! thongh we are behind our more polished neighbours in the arts of luxury and refinement, why should we remain behind them in the cultivation of our understanding, and of the decent and valuable arts of life?
“There is one thing more, which perhaps, as individuals, will strike us no less forcibly, and, therefore, should not be omitted; our character and our infuence are concerned in this matter: men are not naturally inclined to pay much respect or attention to those they think no wiser than themselves, and even the very multitude will often disregard the best admonitions, when they think there is but little or no learning to give those admonitions their due weight. Thus example and advice are made to lose much of the authority naturally belonging to them: accordingly, to the ignorance, no less than to the immorality of the public teachers of religion, have been justly attributed that contempt which they laboured under, and that impiety which baffled all their exertions, when thick darkness hung over the Christian church.
“Yet high authority is often more forcible than general arguments: I will therefore just observe, that Christians of all ages and of all countries, except a few ignorant fanatics with some ill-designing men, have constantly concurred in the recommendation of sound literature; and the church, as early as the time of that crafty apostate Julian, considered his decree, which, in effect, forbad all
Christians to be taught the rudiments of grammar, as a more destructive engine against the Christian faith (and so it certainly was,) than all the sanguinary persecutions of his blood-thirsty predecessors. It is also worth while to take notice, that soon after the revival of letters had opened the way for the reformation, when we see the religion of Christ emerging out of a state of ignorance and barbarism, and approaching somewhat nearer to its original purity, that wise and salutary law which excludes unlearned persons from the Gospel ministry, acquired the force and influence it still retains in the greatest part of the Christian world: may it never be relaxed or diminished.
“I need not point out to you minutely the uses of the different branches of human learning, or observe in what respects they severally contribute to the illustration and confirmation of sacred scripture. Without entering into these particulars, the reason to induce us to give attendance to reading is, I should hope, sufficiently strong: I might add, however, that we shall thus prepare ourselves for filling higher stations in life with proper dignity; that we shall best understand the true end and happiness of man; that, should it be our lot to mix much with the world, we shall check, hereby, any latent propensity to idleness and idle diversions, and keep aloof from the vicious and foolish fashions of mankind, that, in the greatest solitude, we shall avoid the danger of becoming slaves to our appetites, because we shall have always in our power the means of pleasure and mental conversation, and, above all, that whatever rational, and moral, and religious improvement we shall here make, we are to consider it only as a foundation for further acquisitions : for righteousness is immortal, and to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
“ If then, upon the whole, we have good reason to believe it to be the settled purpose of God's providence, that learning and philosophy properly so called shall ever contribute to the understanding and advancement of true religion, and that the alliance which by nature seems to subsist between the human mind and whatever things are true, aud fair, and good, shall always be disordered by ignorance, it becomes the duty of every liberal-minded man to give attendance (according to his leisure and abilities,) to reading to the improvement, that is, of his intellectual faculties; if then of every such man, how much more of him who is purposely appointed to check the progress of wickedness and vice, and to maintain the cause of true religion and virtue." P.65.
“With regard, then, to the mysterious parts of our religion, (and mysterious parts one could not but expect in a religion come from Heaven, and addressed to creatures of such confined capacities,) a man of this character being fully persuaded that all the knowledge to be gained of them must be derived from relation, will attend, therefore, principally to the expressions of the inspired writers themselves. Here, however, he will carefully avoid that dangerous, though common, error of considering such expressions separately, but will compare them with the contexts and with each other, and will take an enlarged view of the scope and argument of the author: he will not attempt to refine on what is above his comprehension, or explain, on principles of human philosophy, what he would never have had any notion of, had it not been supernaturally revealed; nevertheless, he will not reject any assistances that can be obtained from the exertions of the human mind, but will be careful that it be exerted in a proper way, and confined within those limits which Cod has fixed to it.” P. 84.
Sermon III. (from 2 Timothy, ii. 15,) is entitled “The difficulties attending a just explanation of Scripture considered, as they have
arisen from the gradual progress of revealed religion through a length of time. This is not the production of our author, but of Dr. Joshua Berkeley, and is well worthy of a place in the selection, as will appear from the following passages.
“Another important occasion of difficulty in explaining the books of the New Testament, arises from the evidences of Prophecy, which those writings, as the other scriptures had done, carry with them; and which, gradually unfolding themselves, support the cause, and assist the progress of revelation.
“The application of prophecy, is necessarily a matter of great nicety and judgment; requiring also extensive learning and long acquaintance with the prophetic style and manner; particularly, where prophecies, as it is observable often in the New Testament, are blended and incorporated with other subjects. The wonderful agreement of events, as they have sprung up, with the prophecies thus left us, as sacred pledges of the truth of the gospel, has sufficiently explained to us the reasons of the divine economy in this respect.
“IÍ. If the causes assigned were sufficient to introduce obscurities in the earliest period; a great length of time hath at present heightened every former difficulty, while it hath added others nearly as important, and immediately arising from itself. The consideration of these was the second object I had in view.
“A just knowledge of the laws, customs, and manners of foreign nations, is, even to their contemporaries, a matter of great study and attention. It is unnecessary to observe how much more judgment, as well as industry, will be required, when these laws and customs have so long, in a great measure, ceased to have any existence but in description. In these respects, therefore, and in all circumstances affecting the history of nations, every former difficulty has been increased by time, while new ones have arisen immediately from the
“The divine wisdom, having at the time it thought expedient, withdrawn the gift of Inspiration and sealed the sacred volume; it soon became the grand object of the Christian church to draw the line, and to ascertain with precision, what should be judged to be the genuine work of the Spirit, and what should be admitted as useful to explain the sacred writings, but not received as of equal authority.
“The canon of scripture was at length settled on the clearest evidence, and the strongest proofs of the genuineness of the several writings were laid up for the use of future ages. Such, I mean, as result from the attestation of the great number of transcripts of the original; of ancient versions into the principal languages, which were dispersed through the most distant countries; of citations of inany parts of the New Testament occurring in the writings of the first fathers; and of early testimonies of ancient authors, both Jewish and heathen.
"Such evidences having been, by the Divine care, treasured up, which the discretion and industry of future ages, might call forth and avail themselves of, the dark period of ignorance and superstition succeeded. During this period the knowledge of the sacred writings received little cultivation; yet a strong argument of the genuineness of those writings, as we now possess them, may be derived from the history of those times. The oracles of the Old Testament were committed to the Jews, as unsuspicious guardians of those scriptures by which themselves were condemned. In the same manner many of the acknowledged manuscripts of the Greek Testament, and some of the most respectable versions, were intrusted to the church of Rome; which may, had we no other evidence of their genuineness, be hence conceived to have come down to us without any essential corruption; since every page condemns the principles and doctrines of that church, to whose keeping these books had