Page images
PDF
EPUB

street a little broader, and then turns round, and tells him he cannot and must not be protected, in person, children, or property, from the greatest seduction that ever tried human weakness, and the most savage cruelty that ever jeered at human misery? While all this, be it remembered throughout, pertains to an article, which the judgment of the civilized world has pronounced wholly unnecessary, and always pernicious fas a common beverage.

When we look at these facts, and hear the objections and opinions of the present day, we are sometimes carried back to our first associations with the evil of intemperance. The earliest recollection we have of it was seeing a posted list, in our native village, of the names of certain common drunkards, who were not to be allowed to purchase strong drink, and to whom none were allowed to sell it. And whenever we do go back to those days, two questions start up to trouble us. The one, — why it should be worse, to help those out of the world, whom you have made unfit and unable to remain in it, than to begin the destruction, and carry it up to the very point beyond which there is no remedy. And the other, — how it can be lawful, constitutional, expedient, to forbid those to buy drink who have already used it to their ruin, and those to sell it who have sold all for which they can get gain, — and yet not lawful, constitutional, or expedient, to impose any prohibition on the buying and selling, which begin the whole evil, form the habit, corrupt the morals, injure the community, wreck the family, and ruin the soul.

Then history runs farther back than memory. And when we read the license laws, passed by our fathers among their earliest acts, when we see in the old colony statute of 1680, a hundred and sixty years ago, such prohibitions as these, “ Nor shall any merchant, cooper, or keeper of wines, or other persons that have them in custody, suffer any person to drink to excess;” — “Nor shall any person, licensed to sell strong waters, or any private housekeeper, permit any person or persons to sit drinking or tippling strong waters, wine, or strong beer, in their houses,” &c., — we are again perplexed to understand the present bold and angry talking about the novelty, illegality, intolerance, and utter folly, of legislating for temperance, restricting and prohibiting. Again we glance at recent times, within the knowledge of all, and see among their curious facts, that in a certain year, the Board of Health of the city of

eers, or any part or rippling we are

Washington resolved that the sale of ardent spirit was a nuisance, and they therefore “ prohibited the sale of it, in that city, for ninety days;” and Mr. Wirt gave his legal opinion in favor of their power so to prohibit. Why? Because they feared the cholera. And what did the cholera do, in all its ravages here, compared with the scourge that sweeps off thirty thousand inhabitants from the land every year? Or what power is that, which can prohibit utterly for ninety days, and cannot for any length of time that it sees fit? Yet again, there is a law in our land, and in most civilized countries, making traffic in human flesh to be piracy and murder. And must we be very cautious how we use hard terms in describing, or attempt to make and execute laws controlling the traffic in human hearts and homes, in the liberty of freemen, the reason of accountable beings, the affections and aspirations of the soul ?

We have said more than we designed on this old theme. But we have not said the half that we feel. There is a cruel wrong somewhere, and it falls with peculiar weight upon those whom we are most bound to protect and relieve, — the poor, the young, and the tempted. There are inconsistencies thronging us on every side. Men talk of their liberty as above all price, and they are throwing it away, and stripping others of it day by day. They groan about taxes, and they tax themselves and the whole cornmunity enormously year after year, or suffer dealers and drinkers to tax them, for the consumption of that which they allow they do not need, and which brings upon their revenue, their energies, and all their resources, a burden to which every other is light. We pay largely, and resign no little of our freedom, for the protection which government extends over our property and lives. But when we implore rulers or citizens to protect us and our children from the decoys and pitfalls that are thick spread around us, or help us to snatch our brother from the merciless fangs of a monster in human shape, they tell us they cannot interfere with a man's business, they will not curtail his liberty, they must not hazard an election, they dare not enforce an unpopular law; and so they dig another pitfall at our very door, and multiply the lures all along our streets, and extend over them that same defence which they refuse us and ours! O, it is miserable mockery. It is blank sophistry. It is dreadful inhumanity. Where peculiarly the guilt lies, or what is the remedy, it is for others and

VOL. XXVIII. - 3D S. VOL. X. NO. 1. 16

Parice, and is very sidecompted. pro

all to consider. That there is guilt, every conscience that is alive feels. That there must be a remedy, every believer in God and Christianity knows.

E. B. H.

ART. VIII. - The Christian Layman, or the Doctrine of

the Trinity fully considered and adjudged according to the Bible. By A CHRISTIAN LAYMAN. 1840.

[ocr errors]

ALTHOUGH the interest in the controversy respecting the doctrine of the Trinity has so far subsided, that a work on the subject must fail of attracting that attention which would hare been drawn to it a few years ago, there is still room for a gc d treatise; and we suppose, that in some parts of the country, such an one as this before us would be secure of a hearty welcome. Where the subject has been longest and most familiarly canvassed, there yet remains a great deal of partial knowledge; and we know many well-satisfied believers, who yet are so superficially indoctrinated, that this little volume would be of essential service to them, if they could be persuaded to read it. And why should they not read it? Why should they be so reluctant as they are to inform themselves on the gro”nd of their doctrinal belief? A main reason why error keeps its ground and truth is so inefficacious is, that there is so little intelligent acquaintance with the reasons which disprove the one and sustain the other. We cannot help hoping, thurefore, that the appearance of a new work, written not by a professed theologian, but by a man occupied with other cares and pursuits, will excite the dormant interest of some minds, and lead them to the study of this great argument. It is vain to say that the controversy is over. It is not over. It never can be over, so long as the churches prefer to substitute human creeds for the Bible. The error is too deeply inwrought into the very heart of society, and the whole structure and texture of the church, to be soon or easily removed. To what avail an unanswerable argument, an irrefragable demonstration ? It is heard perhaps by six hundred or a thousand; it is possibly

orld is confore the immons be" ders convictive of e or ten, a

read by two thousand more ; all of them, but five or ten, already holding the truth, and one of those five or ten perhaps in a state of mind which renders conviction possible. How many years must sermons be preached and books written at this rate, before the world will be converted ? And until the world is converted, the controversy is not ended. It does not rage, as it did twenty years since; so much the better ; but the truth needs just as much to be told, and ignorance and prejudice to be enlightened. The gospel never can completely triumph till it is completely purified ; and it can be completely purified only by a continuation of that process of discussion by which it has advanced thus far.

We do not therefore esteem “ The Christian Layman ” an unseasonable intruder. There is a place for his book, and we trust it will find readers. If so, it will do good. Making no pretensions to extensive learning, or profound research, though not deficient in either particular, and laying no claim to novelty 01 views, it presents, with great simplicity and in an earnest manner, such arguments as cannot fail to enlighten and satisfy those, who shall give them a candid perusal. We acknowledge that, for ourselves, there are some points on which we should have preferred a different representation, and some expositions of Scripture which we esteem of doubtful validity. But there is room for diversity here, without abridging the value of the main argument.

The Introduction” to the work, in the first chapter, explains, the purpose of the writer, and the principles on which he intends to proceed.

« Every writer has some object in view, when he undertakes any work ; and it is well to state that object, at the commencement. I will here say, that it is not my intention to increase the unhappy divisions, and unkind feelings, which exist in the relig, ious world ; nor to build up or aid any sect, doctrine, or creed, that is not fully supported by the Bible ; nor to condemn any, that is not clearly contrary to the testimony of God. If I know myself, I have no preference for any system, beyond what the truth as it is in Jesus requires. Although I have been educated in what is called the orthodox school and faith, yet I have no desire that it should be supported, if it is not fully substantiated by the gospel truth ; nor would I favor any other doctrine, that is not clearly maintained in the same way. It cannot be my object to endeavor to gain, personally, the applause of men,

(I only hope to escape abuse and reproach,) for I do not intend that it shall be known even who I am; being desirous that the work should stand or fall, according to its merits or demerits.”

" It is my most ardent desire to discourage and do away, as much as possible, all differences, divisions, controversies, and unkind feelings, that now unhappily prevail; to unite all professors as a band of brothers, so that, as Christ prayed, they all may be one, as he and the Father are one ; and that it may be said of all, with admiration and praise — see how these Christians love one another !' And I do seriously hope, that all the churches on earth, which are now, nominally, almost innumerable, may be united into one general church, headed by the same glorious name, the only name by which salvation can be obtain. ed — and be called the Christian church, or the church of Christ on earth ; that all the names of the different sects may be laid aside, and that there may be but one denomination known among Christians, which should be that of Biblists, or Scripturalists. Should I be the means, in any degree, of promoting any of these objects, I shall feel happy ; though, at nearly threescore years and ten, I cannot surely expect, or look for, any earthly reward — but shall aspire only to a consolatory hope, that I may receive, at last, that divine, beatific annunciation of the Judge — Well done.'” — pp. 1 – 3.

The second chapter is made up of a large selection of passages, which contains all the most important evidence in the Bible, which has any relation to the nature and character of God, of his Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” . A very brief chapter succeeds on " the Being and Attributes of God," and then five of some extent on “ the Divinity of the Son of God,” in which are discussed the prominent texts that have been adduced in favor of his supreme divinity, and the doctrine of his preëxistence and superangelic nature set forth as the true theory of the gospel. The eighth and ninth chapters treat of the mediation of Christ and its Object, in the course of which the doctrines of the double nature and the atonement are examined. The subjects of the succeeding chapters are, “Salvation by Christ ; ' “ The Trinity in Unity," with an account of the inconsistent and contradictory explanations of the doctrine sent out in different ages by its most noted advocates ; - The Evidence relative to the Trinity ;” “The Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit;” « The doctrine respecting the Son of God, and respecting the Father; Trinitarian Creeds; the arguments of the ancient fathers, and of late writers on the sub

« PreviousContinue »