Page images
PDF
EPUB

they are written, but also deal with and this continually increasing guilt, the realities of that age. Every and the liabilities to its consequent period has its imaginary, as well as wo. Within its range the loud its actual world ; the imaginary of curse of the blasphemer, and the one, differing as much from that importunate prayer of him who of another, as the actual of its own would be delivered from continu. period, differs from that of another, ally “besetting sin," are beard 10or from the imaginary of either. gether. The agonizing cry of millThe present has its own ideal, well ions in many lands, in bondage to peopled with the unsubstantial im. iniquity, to ignorance, 10 man, goes ages, of its own inverted beauty and up to heaven, as a perpetual imdeformity, happiness and misery. precating sacrifice, to call down It has its own marital speculations, vengeance or deliverance. And in suddenly accumulated fortunes, im- this actual world of the present, passioned love, deep laid plots of there are not only wrongs, and woes, villainy, drawing room disasters, and despair; but also love for the watering place adventures, ball- outcast, commiseration for the sor. room ecstasies. It has its own pre- rowing, energetic, persevering toil tended admiration for the wonders for the good of all, and high hope of external nature; its premeditated for the coming of a better day. rhapsodies, over mountain, and lake, It is not strange, that a just appreand waterfall, storin.cloud, sunset ciation of the real condition of such skies, and stormy nights, and all a world, has led at least one poet, to originated within the narrow walls find in it, subjects fitted to call forth of a starveling author's garret-all, the highest exercise of his powers. from first to last, having their most No wonder he finds so little occasubstantial existence, in the muslin sion to describe imaginary sorrows, or paper bound volume, which, not while he knows of real, which are only the boarding-school miss, and so great as to surpass bis utmost the city clerk, but far graver per. power of description? How can he sonages, read in the steamboat, the waste efforts in endeavoring to make railroad car and the closet, to talk of his readers shudder at his pictures in the parlor, the social circle, and of imaginary monsters, when the by the way-side, and to dream of in daily tidings of the times tell him of the dormitory. This is the imagin- thousands who foreswear the ties of ary world of the present, upon which humanity, and deem God's image in too many expend whatever they have man a thing as base and merchantof thought, feeling, or emotion. able as paltry gold? All honor to

Tiere is also an actual world of the poet who dares speak of such the present, which deals in far high- things as they are, and who seeks er interest, and presents far more “to build the lofty rhyme" upon the subjects for thought and action. It imperishable foundation of truth and exhibits man as he is, subjected to righteousness. And thou, great the demands of the most awful and Father, who dost acknowledge, as illimitable responsibilities; a crea- thy children, the dark browned sons ture capable of soaring forever to- of bondage, not less than their pale ward the infinite heights of the di- brethren of northern climes; give vine excellency, or of plunging, with utterance to Voices of FREEDOM, continually accelerated Aight, down till they shall sound like a trumpet the dark, unfathomed, infinite abyss blast throughout all this guilty land, of eternal guilt and eternal woe. and the foul spirit of oppression shall And this eternal world presents on be scourged, by the fiery bolts of every hand, instances of this contin- truth, beyond all our borders and ually increasing excellence in the out of the world. slow process of attainment by man,

DEWEY'S CONTROVERSIAL WRITINGS.*

6. The

an en

The greater part of the articles our remarks, to a consideratiou of which compose this volume, have it in the aspect 10 which ils conbeen in one form or another, for troversial character naturally in. some time before the public ; 'and vites us. have received much of the attention, The two opening chapters of the to which as elegant and impressive volume, one upon “ The Unitarian discussions, they are certainly en- Belief,” and the other upon titled. There is great beauty of nature of Religious Belief,” present siyle-much force, and much feli- to us a question of some interest, in city, of language about them. They which our author stands at issue display a rich and vigorous imagin- with Prof. Stuart. In his review of ation, a fine and cultivated taste, Mrs. Dana's recent work, the last and for the most part an elevated named gentleman has dropped some and courteous spirit; to all which very significant expressions, with we regret thai, by the hostile bear. reference to the use of orthodox ing of the work upon our orthodox terms in some portion of the work faith, we are obliged to render but before us, alledging that in using the the scanty justice of this paragraph. the words “ Atonement, Regenera

We discover also a comprehen- tion, Depravity,” &c., to express the sive and philosophical turn of thought religious belief of Unitarians, emin many of his discourses; of which ploying at the same time" thai for “Miracles preliminary lo tirely new set of definitions,” Dr. D. the argument for a Revelation,” is has been guilly of a “ degrading arperhaps the finest specimen. His tifice," and one which “merits the views 100, of inspiration, display the scorn of every upright man,” &c. same tendency toward enlarged and These remarks Dr. D. quotes in a general views; though of these we note, as a “surprising comment" can by no means speak with the upon his language and his motives ; same unqualified approbation. This and replies in a style which, though philosophical tendency, however, not undignified, is exceedingly warın. requires great accuracy of discrim- The practice which Prof. S. thus ination, and much logical force, to severely reprehends, had been so render its results at all valuable. frequent, and is so unjust to what Without these, it is apt 10 deprive we deem the truth, that though the us of facts of the utmost moment, topic is a most uninviting one, we and give us instead of them, only feel constrained to point out the barren and useless generalizations; utter futility of the vindication which an objection to which in our view, Dr. D. has attempted. He argues much of our author's reasoning lies that he has nowhere professed to open. The fact however, that Dr. use these terms in the orthodox Dewey's work has been so generally sense, but that “throughout as every known to our readers, and his liter. reader must see, a discrimination is ary and philosophical merit so gen- studiously made between the ortho. erally and highly appreciated, may dox and ihe liberal construction” of serve as an apology if we confine them ;-that even if used “ without

any express qualification,” “the very Discourses and Reviews, upon ques; position of the writer obviously qual. tions in Controversial Theology, and ifies them;" and finally that the Practical Religion. By Orville Dewey, D.D., Pastor of the Church of the Messiah terms in question are scriptural in New York.

terms, to which one has as good a

right as another. “I had thought tion alone would be requisite. Bespeech and Bible speech were como fore an assembly of divines the same mon property."

disclaimer would, for the same reaNow as io using this language son, be ample. But in a popular without any qualification, relying discourse this brief and occasional upon his position as a Unitarian 10 qualification, of language used with ensure a just interpretation of it, the utmost frequency and in connecthere is one obvious consideration tions which carry irresistibly 10 the which renders the plea inadmissible public mind, ideas utterly repugnant in the present instance, however to those of the speaker, would plainly valid it might be in some others. be very far below what candor and Dr. D. has himself declared that his manliness call for. Dr. Dewey's position itself is entirely misunder- explanations we are constrained to stood ;"—that there is a strange consider precisely of this character; "misconstruction” of the opinions they are far from being so ample as of himself and his party; so much to hold up distinctly and steadily the so that "it seems to be received as prominent ideas of his own system. if it were a matter of common con- A writer who aims to disabuse sent that we do not hold to the doce the public mind of a deep seated trines of the Bible and that we misapprehension, assumes a peculiar scarcely pretend to hold to the Bible responsibility for his use of language. itself." All this he asserts on the The surpassing importance 100, of very first page of his book, and as the themes on which Dr. Dewey has signs this wide and deep ignorance chosen to write, gives every reader of his views, as the very reason of a right to demand the utmost fullhis professed endeavor to tell what ness of explanation which can be he understands" the prevailing be- requisite to a distinct apprehension lief of. Unitarians to be." To re- of his meaning. The total inade. quire a community thus totally mis. quacy of his explanations for this informed as to "what Unitarianism end, becomes apparent the moment is," to interpret any language by a we apply to his opponents, our aureference to that system,

seems un.

thor's vindication of himself. He reasonable enough; but Dr. D. must protests strenuously against the aphave strangeiy forgotien himself to plication to his own party, of the ask that the public would interpret somewhat harsh terms in which they by his general position, the very lan- are sometimes mentioned. He ex. guage in which he professes to de. presses his astonishment at the bold fine that position. The logic of this and confident tone in which it is paragraph is obviously too loose to sometimes said “there is no religion require any exposure, or to admit of among us ;”—and declares that no any defense.

man has a right to charge them with But this is not his main vindica. having given up the Bible. The cation ; for that, he relies upon the case between them stands thus: I fact that the language is properly believe,' says the one, 'truly and qualified. Has our author ihen, we firmly in the atonement, though cer. are led to ask, so guarded his stale. tainly not in the popular sense of ments as to forestall the answer of that word.' • Very good,' says the Prof. Stuart? The sufficiency of other, 'I call you an Infidel, though such disclaimers as he here pleads, certainly not in the popular sense of must evidently depend very much that term. It would certainly reupon the circumstances of the case. quire some ingenuity to show that Before his own congregation, who Dr. D.'s vindication of himself is not must of course be entirely familiar equally good for his opponent. If with his views, the briefest explana- his simple and occasional disclaimer of the popular meaning, is a suffi- are constantly confounded by this ciept justification of his usage, it language, it can not be doubted that justifies also all that be so earnestly it is felt to be on the part of all who protests against, in the usage of employ it, a source of incessant mis. others.

apprehension. Since then the lanIf our author were to be assailed guage by their own admission conas “an ungodly man, turning the veys to the popular ear only the idea grace of our God into lasciviousness, of the orthodox doctrine, why perand denying the only Lord God and sist in the use of it? Dr. D. has our Lord Jesus Christ,” very slen. exposed the reason with a simplider justification would he deem it, city which provokes some wonder. to be told that all this was studiously “The body of the people,” he says, declared to be not in the popular but page 5, “ not often hearing from our the scriptural import of the language. pulpits the contested words and phraAnd if such a vindication would be ses, * hold themselves doubly felt and declared to be a mere cover warranted in charging us with a de. for theological rancor, in any oppo. fection from the faith of Scripture.” nent who should solemnly declare His use of scriptural language then, that in that sense he most fully be- is not because it really conveys to lieved it, how can it furnish any jus. those who hear it scriptural ideas; tification for Dr. Dewey's usage? it is a mere theological artifice, emLet any inan describe the Unitarian ployed for a sectarian purpose. as a man full of all subtlety, and The question narrows itself at mischief, unceasingly perverting the once then to this : Has any one the right ways of the Lord,' and he right to create constant misappre. would find that no cautious state. hension, for the sake of avoiding ment that he used the terms not in unjust aspersions upon his character the popular sense but in what he and his faith? Has any one the really deemed a more scriptural and right to create erroneous impressions just one, would exempt him from of his system, for the sake of givthe charge of calumny. He would ing that system greater currency? be told that whoever uses such terms To these questions an honorable not in their popular meaning, has mind can render but one answer. no right to use them in a popular We say therefore, that Dr. D. has discourse ; and that none but a cov: failed to make out any justification ert and unworthy design could lead of his usage. him to persist in it.

Still it will no doubt be termed a As for the right" of using " com. hardship that the Unitarian should mon property" in this manner, Dr. be shut out from the common heri. Dewey's concessions effectually neg. tage of Christendom, and forbidden ative ihat. It needs no argument to to give utterance to his religious conprove that no one has a right to use victions, in the consecrated words of any language which perpetually and inspiration. One additional consid. necessarily misleads men ; and that eration will serve to show how unthis use of scriptural language does founded even this impression is. If so mislead, is beyond a question. it is really a hardship to be com. Our author himself tells us that at pelled to abandon the scriptural first, Unitarians hesitated about the mode of expression, how does it use of these terms, because they happen that on certain subjects the “stood in the prevailing usage for Unitarian so readily and cheerfully orthodox doctrines.” When to this does abandon it. On the topic of admission, we add the repeated and eternal retribution, no Unitarian evmost earnest assertions of all ortho- er adopts the phraseology of the Bidox readers, that they themselves ble. Dr. D. himself takes occasion more than once, to explain and vin. There is perhaps no one of the dicate at large his views of this top- subjects mentioned in this volume ic; and we have carefully examin. which Dr. Dewey discusses with ed his language. He does indeed deeper interest than that of the Trinsay that “ all the language of Scrip. ity. In a discourse now first preture on this solemn subject we have sented to the public, on the theme no hesitation about using :” but he “ that errors in theology have sprung no where ventures to use in the ex. from false principles of reasoning,' pression of his faith, any one of its his most important application of ihe decisive declarations. Nay, he ev. principle is to this doctrine, and his idently feels not the least disposition remarks upon it disclose a sense of to employ a certain style of Scrip- iis importance, with which we most ture language in defining his views heartily sympathize. upon it. This departure from bibli- After a very earnest presentation cal usage he vindicates most satis- of his objections to the orthodox factorily, indeed, on the ground that view of ii, be speaks thus :-“So “popular ignorance” has so fixed powerful, so overwhelming, has ap. the meaning of this phraseology, peared to me the argument against that “it is difficult to use it without the Trinity, that for years I confess constant explanation.” Very true; I have been looking for its effect but then why employ this kind of upon the churches of England and language on other subjects, in re- America. I have sometimes invol. spect to which a popular ignorance" untarily said-Is it possible that is equally profound? Why, when what appears so clear to me, so unpopular ignorance perpetually mis. answerable, can go for nothing with understands this language, insist up- the minds of others ? What are the on a right of perpetuating the con- men of England and America think. fusion? Is the consideration that ing?'" &c. We will not withhold the Unitarianism might suffer somewhat expression of our respect for the in popular estimation, a ground on earnest spirit in which these remarks which a generous mind can feel con- are conceived ; nor can we help retent to abate a jot or tittle of its en- garding the frankness with which deavor to convey the most accurate they are uttered, as highly honoraconceptions of its faith? That it ble to their author; especially when would suffer seriously from such an contrasted with the resolute and unendeavor, we most certainly believe; candid disposition which we have but this conviction in the mind of one found in some other quarters, to who receives that system as the sum consider this a settled question. of Christian truth, would betray a Probably every intelligent obser. pitiable want of confidence in truth ver of the progress of opinion bas itself. We might pursue this subject cherished similar anxieties ;

has farther, but it is by no means an waited, and watched, and longed, to agreeable one, and we gladly leave see some token of the things which it. We have said enough to sustain he felt assured “must shortly come the remark with which we conclude to pass." The advocate of free our discussion of it ; that in pursu- communion has looked with interest ing a course which to say the least for the effect of the calm and re. of it, is so questionable, Dr. D. must sistless logic of Robert Hall; and he be indebted altogether more to the finds at length the whole Baptist courtesy of his opponents, than to community in England, pervaded any well founded claims of his own, with his sentiments to an extent he for his exemption from the unpleas. had scarcely hoped for. The Protant terms in which Prof. S. has char. estant has waited and prayed for the acterized it.

reaction which he knows must be at

« PreviousContinue »