Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

thing hidden and cabalistic; something which they cannot understand themselves, or, what is still better, an awful and blessed secret known only to themselves and the initiated few. Like Naaman the leper, they are not content with the Prophet who merely directs them to “wash and be clean. They want some 'great thing' done to them; something, which shall give them consequence in their own eyes; something, which shall make them the subject of remark and conversation; something, which shall elect them from, and elevate them above, the common herd of mankind. Besides, to the mass of the people there must be a peculiar attraction in doctrines, which, by their avowed incomprehensibility, level at once the intellects of men-doctrines, for the proper understanding of which study and education can afford no advantage, and for the effectual preaching of which it is much more important that a man should be bold than wise. Men, too, conscious of their guilt, and alarmed at their future prospects, must like mystery. They must like to have so much confusion introduced into our thoughts on God and providence, that no clear ideas can be formed as to the final issue of things. They must like to hear the character of the Supreme Being represented as so dark and incomprehensible, that no reasonings can be founded on it as to his final arbitration on the destiny of his creatures. This is precisely what a sinner must like, one especially who purposes to continue such; for where there is nothing to be known that is not likely to give him uneasiness and pain, the more mystery the better, and he must prefer that system above all others, which is best adapted by the absurdity of its doctrines, or the jargon of its technicalities, to throw a mistiness and indistinctness over all things. Next to believing that christianity is altogether a fable, the present comfort of a sinner will be best promoted by believing it to be altogether a mystery. If therefore he cannot succeed in persuading himself, that there will be no future state at all, he has but to believe that every thing relating to it is involved in impenetrable mystery, and it will answer his purpose almost as well. Here, then, we discover the true reasons, or at least the principal reasons, why those preachers find themselves such favourites with the multitude, who represent religion as so mysterious, and veil all its doctrines in mystery, and introduce such confusion into our thoughts as to the rule by which God will reward and punish mankind."

Geneva Catechism-Second Part.

We are very glad to see the second part of this excellent catechism. The first part has already been briefly noticed in the Miscellany. We think, however, that we cannot too often, nor perhaps too highly recommend it, and we take this opportunity to speak more fully in its favour.

It is not intended for very young children, as it is above their comprehension, and too long to be imposed on their memories. But for youth of ten or twelve years of age, and upwards, we consider it a most profitable religious exercise, and one which is adapted to ground them thoroughly in rational, liberal, and at the same time, serious, interesting, and practical views of the Christian religion, and the Christian life. We do not say that it exactly coincides with our own ideas

on several important points; and such a coincidence we could not, and did not, expect. We are, nevertheless, quite willing to receive it as it is, and to place it in the hands of any of our friends, as the best catechism with which we are acquainted.

Nor is it a book for youth alone. A person can hardly be too old, or too learned, to read the Geneva Catechism with profit and pleasure. It is an excellent compend of the Christian system. Its language is pure, its method is lucid, its views are enlarged, its sentiments are just, and its frequent quotations from Scripture are, in general, appropriate and conclusive. We think, in short, that it contains more sense, and more real theology, than many a folio Body of Divinity which we have seen.

This second part contains Questions and Answers upon the Truths of the Christian Religion, arranged under eighteen sections. Each section comprises a separate subject. The first part was an Abstract of Sacred History, and the third, which completes the Catechism, is on the Duties of the Christian Religior.

Unitarianism in Northumberland.

It gives us pleasure to know, that the Rev. Mr. Kay is pursuing his valuable exertions in Northumberland and its vicinity, with unabated zeal and success. We cannot but feel a strong interest that the principles of unadulterated Christianity should be kept alive in the place, which DR. PRIESTLEY chose as his refuge from persecution, and which was the scene of his last labours, and of his death. We have every reason to believe, that they did not die there with him.

In our second volume, page 328, our readers will find a notice of Mr. Kay's preaching in that quarter, and of a society which harl been formed by him. This gentleman is a countryman of Dr. Priestley's, and was formerly minister of a congregation in Hindley, Lancashire. We extract part of a letter from him to a friend in Liverpool, which gives an interesting account of his situation and labours. It is copied from The Christian Reflector, a periodical work, conducted by Unitarians in the last mentioned city. The date of the letter is Oct. 1, 1822.

“My diocese (if I may use such a dignified expression,) extends to the distance of fifty miles, and includes many places much nearer. I may indeed say, that a great and effectual door is opened, and there are many adversaries! The opposition I have met with, since I came to this place, has been of such a nature, as would have silenced me, had I not been fully satisfied that I was serving the cause of truth, and promoting the best interests of my fellow creatures. Here I stand alone. Not a single minister in the whole of this district to support my hands. Every pulpit resounds with the cry of heresy; and the press has been employed to assist the pulpit, in crying down the blasphemous, soul-destroying doctrines, as they term the pure principles of the gospel. In the midst of this opposition I go on, and have the satisfaction to witness the rapid, and to me, unexampled spread of our views of Christian truth. To give you some idea of the extent of the excitement that has taken place, I will just state to you the places at which I preach, either statedly or occasionally, with their distances from Northumberland, which I call my head quarters.

Sunbury, two miles, County Town of Northumberland County. New Berlin, ten miles, County Town of Union County. Lewisburgh, eight miles. Chilisquaque, nine miles. Pennsborough, twenty-seven miles. Milton, twelve miles. Muncey, thirty miles. Mont Lewis, fifty miles, the summit of one of the Alleghany Mountains. Bloomsbury, twenty miles. Catawissa, twenty miles. Danville, eleven miles, County Town of Columbia. In all these places there are now Unitarians.”

New-York Unitarian Book Society.

We have received the Annual Report of this Society, including their Rules, and Catalogues of their Library and Tracts. The library, considering the short time which has been spent in its collection, is very respectable, both in regard to the number and value of its books. It contains nearly twelve hundred volumes The Society also possess a large number of excellent tracts, which are for sale. We congratulate them on their flourishing condition, and have no doubt, that with their present zeal, they will continue to prosper.

The concerns of the Society are managed by a committee of five, who are, for this year, E. Townsend, Daniel Stanton, James Fox; Henry D. Sewall, Treasurer, and B. Armitage, Jr. Librarian.

A second Letter from W. P. on the Conversion of the Jews, has deen omitted for want of room. It will appear in our next number.

« ForrigeFortsett »