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Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived
UNITED STATES LITERARY GAZETTE.
The Detector.No. 8.
“ If there's a hole in a' your coats,
I rede you tent it,
And, mind, he'll prent it.”-Burns. " Oh, an' you talk of conscience, I must have mine eye upon you."
Shakspeare. This is the age of periodicals. They exist in almost every shape, are adapted to nearly every taste, and are conducted in every diversity of spirit. The varying denominations in Religion, and the opposing parties in Politics, have each their separate magazine, to uphold and disseminate their peculiar opinions. The metropolis of England teems with them. Nor is Scotland behind hand in this particular. There is the Edinburgh for the semi-liberals, and Blackwood for the thorough-goers in Church and State- there is the Christian Instructor for the Kirk of Scotland, and the Christian Herald for the Independents. In Glasgow, there was the Religious Observer, set up, avowedly, to put down the spurious press of the Unitarians,” but it died with No. 10; and now, Paisley has sent out, “ The Evangelical Observer intended to show forth, in 24 numbers, the gross errors and abominations of Socinians, Universalists, Arminians, Popery, Atheists, Deists, Arians, &c. &c.” It is questionable, whether it will live out its appointed period, or whether it will reach even the age of its departed friend, for it has not the tithe of its talent, nor does it possess its inviting appearance. It exhibits, indeed, a pretty plentiful supply, of ignorance on the matters which it treats; and whilst its conductors profess themselves to be “ without the slightest feeling of intolerance and bigotry," their title-page and introduction abound in both. A motley groupe, truly, have they presented. It should bave been completed, by the filling up of the “ &c. &c." by Episcopalians and Calvinists, and then the whole religious and irreligious public would have been arrayed together. The conductors boast, also, of their “spirit of meekness,” and “ assure the public, that reviling their erring fellow-creatures never will be work of theirs;" but, unfortunately for the truth of these asseverations, their pages bear testimony, either that they know not the meaning of words, or what is more probable, that the conductors know not what spirit they are of. In itself considered, the work is not deserving of notice, and might be safely Jeft to that oblivion for which it is manifestly destined. But as it is possible, that its zeal for orthodoxy may be mistaken for knowledge, and its “gross errors and abominations” in the way of mis-statement of opinion, may be regarded as facts, I think it due to truth and charity to expose its obliquities.
The first motto which the conductors of the Evangelical Observer” take, is the passage 2 Peter ii. 1. “ But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be FALSE TEACHERS among you, who privily shall bring in DAMNABLE HERESIES, even denying the LORD that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." I have printed this passage as it stands on
the cover of the Evangelical Observer.” This text is, of course, intended by the conductors, to apply to the Unitarians. It is a quotation very common in the mouths of those who advocate the popular theology. It is considered as triumpbant; and defeat and woe are confidently predicted of the luckless wight against whom the denunciation is hurled. But, to say nothing of the suspicion which attaches to the authenticity of the chapter in which the passage occurs, can the language by possibility apply to Christian Unitarians? Is this not another instance, in which persons have been led away by the mere sound of words, so as to induce them to overlook the meaning? Let the serious and intelligent inquirer turn to the Old Testament. Can he find no instance in which the Almighty Ruler is spoken of as buying his people? What does he read in Exodus xv. 16? « Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be still as a stone, till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over which thou hast purchased.” Deut. xxxii. 6, "Do ye thus requite the Lord? O foolish people and unwise, is he not thy father that bath bought thee"? If any one will read carefully the Scriptures, it will be clearly seen, that the same phraseology of redeeming, buying, selling, which is applied in the New Testament to the salvation preached by Jesus Christ, is, in the Old Testament, constantly employed to express the temporal deliverance of the descendants of Abrabam from the bondage of Egypt. It does not, therefore, necessarily follow, that because the word bought, is used in the passage in the epistle of Peter, that it can only apply to Christ.
Not only so, but if the passage be accurately examined, it will be seen that it has no reference whatever to Jesus Christ. How is this? Because the original term, which is bere translated Lord, is never once applied to Jesus Christ. It is always appropriated to God our Father. The Greek word signifies the Master or Ruler. It should have been rendered Sovereign Master. It is a term derived from binding, and signifies one that ruleth over all things, as if be bad them tied with bands. The word is used in other parts of the New Testament, and is applicable solely to God—but to Christ never.
For example, Acts iv. 24: “And when they beard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea,
and all that in them is." The passage evidently refers to that almighty, all-gracious, and Sovereign Father, who of bis own abundant goodness provided means for the escape of his creatures from idolatry and vice. The passage, therefore, can by no possibility apply to the Unitarians. They do not deny “the LORD that bought them." They joy in acknowledging, that for all the blessings of existence and of salvation, they are indebted solely to the free mercy of God in Jesus Christ. It is their theme of thankfulness and of gratulation. They believe and constantly testify, that “it was the Father who sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”.
Even if the passage were applicable to Jesus Christ which it is not-but if it were, still it would not be true that Christian Unitarians deny “the Lord that bought them." With gratitude do they acknowledge, that “ the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” With veneration do they regard Jesus as the Prince and Saviour of mankind. None can rejoice more fervently in the solemn and important truth, that “God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, by turning away every one of you from his iniquities." Cordially do they welcome him as the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave bimself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” And with their hearts and lives, as well as voices, would they join in the ascription, * Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Away then with the assertion, conceived in ignorance and uttered by fanaticism, that in any rational and scriptural sense in which the words can be employed, Christian Unitarians deny “ the Lord that bought them.” Let those who fulminate such censures, look to themselves. If men, when they should glorify a Father, tremble before a Tyrant_if, instead of descriptions of a Love which is boundless and ineffable, they have a gloomy pleasure in depicting vindictiveness and wrath eternal_if Deicide be to them preferable to a Parent's tenderness—if a vicarious effusion of blood, and not personal contrition for transgression, can alone procure man's pardon—if they thus describe God without mercy, and man without hope, and whilst they outrage humanity, pervert the Scripture, may there not be room for the suspicion, that the charges such persons
bring against others, recoil fearfully on themselves, and that to their own opinions, and not to those of the Unitarian, the denunciations which they utter ought in truth to be directed?
In their “ Introduction," the conductors, after evincing " that spirit of Christian meekness," which animates them, by talking of " diabolical subtlety” and “sons of night,” and the “unprecedented boldness and effrontery" of Socinians, and that "it may be necessary to observe, for the sake of the unlearned, that Socinianism is a gangrene, and “à subtle poison,” and that “it assaults the very heart and soul of Christianity, nay, of all religion"-proceed to their statement of the doctrines actually held by Socinians. Will it be credited, that in the catalogue of errors imputed to the denomination, the following are enumerated?—“They blush not to declare, that the Spirit which guided the prophets, hath not altogether exempted them from error-that prophecies are not certain and infallible;" “ they maintain, that God is not omnipresent, but limited to a place that he is uncertain as to future events—that the matter of which this world was made, existed from eternity—that God is subject to real passions, and that he is more limited than matter itself.” - Their doctrine directly tends to the denial of Providence;" “ they hold that the souls of the wicked perish with their bodies—they deny the resurrection of the same body, and a final judgment.” And this published in Scotland, in the 19th century, and that, not amongst the wild moors of the Highlands, but in Paisley—the seat of commercial enterprise and of mechanic intellect—and in which a Unitarian Society, respectable from the character and knowledge of its members, bas for years existed! In such a town, the conductors of “the Evangelical Observer” “ blush not to declare” this tissue of untruth! They have mistaken sadly their vocation. Their place is not in the seat of the teacher, but on the form of the learner. There let them take their station_nay, further down yet, on the lowest form of all; and that to learn, not “the A. B. C. or Shorter Catechism," it is possible they have already got that by rote,) but to receive the first elements of charity and truth and knowledge, and to comprehend, before they venture again on the task of defamation, the meaning of that Scripture, “ Understand first, and then rebuke.'
Can it be necessary to add a positive denial to the