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are such as to justify the remark of Dr. Cox, that “they excommunicate the total species.” Thus they violate sound philosophy, common sense, Christian liberty, and the catholic spirit of the gospel. These are the sins of Quakerism. We have no other charge against it, though we think Dr. Cox has argued soundly and conclusively against some of its speculative tenets.
We have not space to speak of other systems in the same connexion. But, in passing over them without notice, we do not mean to acquit them of the same charge. And whenever and wherever this idea of uniformity of speculative belief, as constituting Christianity, has become deeply incorporated with any doctrinal system, it has, so far, turned that system from its proper course, and its benign influence of saving and blessing the souls that could sympathize with it, and made it a monster of absurdity and mischief. It has often given a fiendish aspect to systems otherwise good. It has tracked their course, sometimes with blood and fire, and always with the worst of passions and the worst of consequences. It is this idea that has so often turned Christian hearts into stone. It has frozen up the fountains of Christian love and even of the natural affections. It has armed human tongues with the stings of vipers. It has caused the press to send out rivers of wormwood. It has changed the language of the pulpit from the message of peace and good-will into the hoarse and grating tones of malice. It disturbs the quiet of communities. It alienates neighbours and near friends. It holds up holy and Christian men to scorn. It divides Christ, and divides his Church. It is the demand for speculative uniformity that leads to all this; and systems of faith that might, that do, when this demand is kept out of view, lead humble and believing souls to Christ, and form them to holiness and fit them for heaven, are thus perverted to pernicious ends. The true ground of uniformity is overlooked, and a kind of uniformity is demanded, which is as impossible, as it is unevangelical and unnecessary. It is not the variety of systems, but the demand made and acted upon that there should be but one system, and that there is no Christianity but in conforming to that.
It may, perhaps, be inferred from the tenor of our remarks, that we would have all systems of doctrine regarded as equally true, and that none can have grounds of special confidence
in his own opinions. But not so. All the various systems that are believed are to be regarded as so many forms or Inodifications of truth. All doubtless are the vehicles of much and the most important truth, and probably none of them contains the whole, - pure, unmixed truth. It is not to be expected, that we can in this life attain to the whole truth, and the pure truth, on such subjects, — subjects relating to the infinite God and the world of spirits. We embrace such doctrines, and only such, as we think we find communicated in the gospel. And we have confidence in the truth of our opin ons, because we cannot help having confidence in our own intelligence and discernment, and in the convictions of our own understanding. From the very nature of belief, we cannot help regarding our own opinions as the truth, and other systems as erroneous so far as they differ froin ours. We cannot help having more confidence in our own minds than in those of others who differ from us. At the same time, we are 10 consider how possible and how necessary it is for minds, differently cast and trained, to view the same general truth under a somewhat different aspect, and to think they find reasons for believing some things which we, with our modes of judging, do not find to be revealed. We do not, on this account, have less confidence in whiat we believe to be revealed, nor have others, nor should they have, less confidence on account of our dissenting.
Thus God, in his adorable wisdom, has adapted his revelation to the various spiritual wants, and circumstances of his children. All can take the needful truth which is there, and so mould and modify it, that their minds can fasten upon it, and coalesce with it, and feel its power. All systems, thus deduced, contain the vital spark, the redeeming and sanctifying principle, which was meant to be imparted. Yes, they are all good for the minds that embrace them in the state in which they embrace them, and if they embrace them freely and in good faith, they all give man a Christian faith. They all raise the mind to a revealed God, and extend its views to a revealed eternity. They all bring the soul into believing communion with the blessed Jesus. They all present his image of perfect goodness, his spirit, his example, seeking a place in the hearts of men. They are all fitted to open the soul and prepare it for the indwelling and effectual working of the Holy Spirit. They all can lead their re
VOL. XVI. - N. S. VOL. XI. NO. I.
spective adherents to the same point, to the one Christianity, the one Christ, the one consummation, even the favor and acceptance of God. They are all so many somewhat differing scaffoldings, built up on the pillars of faith around the one temple of truth and holiness; and if we would all be content to stand upon our own, and cease to be offended with those of our brethren, and look together towards the one temple, and work together in building it up, and worsbip together the one spirit that dwells therein, then God's will would be done, and the followers of Christ would be one, and his kingdom would be divided no more on earth.
One more wrong inference needs to be guarded against, namely, that according to these views, there ought to be no speculative discussion, and no efforts to extend what we believe to be the truth. This inference is not to be admitted. Such discussion and such efforts, in their proper place and degree, are wanted; for there is still, amongst us and everywhere, a world of minds which huve n't found their true place, have not found any settled faith, nes felt the sanctifying influence of any systen. We ought, in Christian love, to wish them to have such a faith and feel such an influence. And therefore all Christians should regard it as a duty to present to the world their several forms of belief, with their reasons for believing. Unitarians, for example, ought to set forth their doctrines and their reasons for believing; for we think that amongst those who have not yet known Christ there are multitudes of minds, which, by their constitution or condition, are fitted to embrace our speculative views while they could not embrace others, and to find a power, and a light, and a joy in them which they could find in no others. It becomes us therefore, not with a sectarian ambition, not with the mad and foolish project of making all the world conforın to our system as the only standard, but as fellow-laborers with all Christians for the advancement of a common cause, it becomes us to proclaim and maintain our views of Christian truth. So that while we believe that all systems have their place, and have a part to perform in this common work, while we would pray that by all means all may be saved, we should hope, as the servants of Christ, by our means to save some. This is the true ground on which, discussion, calm, catholic, and benevolent discussion is needed.
Many, haps by ourselves, rines now held sac
If the principles which we have endeavoured to unfold were adopted and acted upon by Christians, the effect would probably be, that many speculative doctrines now held sacred by various sects, perhaps by ourselves, would gradually become obsolete. Many, perhaps all, existing systems might be dissolved, and parts of them becoine the elements of new combinations. Light would break more freely from the gospel and be received into more willing and uncommitted minds. It is useless, as it is impossible, to predict the results of a state of things so new and imaginary ; but whatever they might be, it can scarcely be doubted that they would be such as the friends of Christian truth and righteousness might rejoice in.
We have thus labored to show in what consists the essential oneness of Christianity, - that it does not consist in an impossible uniformity of opinion, that it does consist in the reception of the moral truths of the gospel, that the variety of systeins in the world does not by its existence imply a reproachable or undesirable division, that all the evil of division arises from overlooking the true point of union and insisting upon a speculative uniformity.
These are the views that make for peace, plead for peace and union, on the only ground on which they can be attained. The hope of such peace may be idle and visionary. It can scarcely be breathed with confidence amidst the sad discouragements that surround us. It can scarcely be heard amidst the din of the war of sects. But it is a Christian hope, for it finds sympathy in the gentle spirit of Christ. It is a soothing and comforting hope, for it relieves us from the desperate and soul-bardening belief that it is our duty to wage an exterminating war against all systems but our own, and plant the standard of peace upon the ruins of the faith of millions of the good. It is a glorious and elevating hope, for it brings to view, though in a distant and dreamy scene, the disciples of Christ going on, side by side, as brethren, with mutual love and congratulations, laboring for the extension of the one blessed kingdom, and God and Christ smiling down with approval and a blessing upon this keeping of their commandment of love.
Art. III. – Devotional Exercises : consisting of Reflections
and Prayers for the use of Young Persons. To which is added A Guide to the Study of the Scriptures. By HARRIET MARTINEAU. From the Third London Edition. Bosion : Leonard C. Bowles. 1833. 18mo. pp. 132.
Apart from the interest which this volume derives from the circumstance of its being the earliest published work of a lady now holding a high rank in the literary world, it has strong claims of its own to the favorable regards of the friends of piety and virtue. Considering the limited number of the topics of the “Reflections, and the brevity with which they are treated, we think there is hardly a book in our language more worthy of becoming the religious companion of the private and serious hours of the young. Nor will its perusal and use be found unprofitable by those who are no longer young. Although it is particularly designed for those, who, having passed the period of childhood, are yet in the springtime of life, still the greater portion of it is well calculaied to improve the conduct and quicken the devotion of persons of every age. The “Reflections” are simple, practical, replete with rational thought, warmed by the spirit of piety, and applicable to every day's business and duty. The “Prayers” are concise, comprehensive, and deeply reverential, and contain frequent passages which are distinguished by great beauty of expression. Some Christians may think, that both the reflections and prayers are deficient in that fervor, and glow, and impassioned exclamation, which they are accusiomed to find in books of devotion ; but others will prefer them for this imagined deficiency, which they will rather esteem a merit, and none will charge them with being wanting in the fear of God, the love of the Saviour, or benevolence toward mankind.
The reflections in this volume, are not arranged according to any connexion or sequence in their subjects, but follow the artificial order of the mornings and evenings of one week. Each reflection is succeeded by a prayer, and the prayer is generally founded on the subject of the relection.
That those of our readers who have not seen this little book, may be enabled to form some idea of its character, we will draw from it an extract or two, which may induce them