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establishment of error cannot enable it permanently to resist knowledge and inquiry. For a time it may be upheld by bribery; external respect may be enforced; and opposition be fiercely avenged: but this cannot last: conscience cannot be permanently bribed, nor thought imprisoned. Institutions must give way to, or fall before, the improving spirit of the times. Persecution is becoming obsolete. The puny efforts which public opinion now allows it to make, only resist the advance of mind as reeds stay the torrent, or straws impede the whirlwind.
We have “ a more sure word of prophecy." Christianity asserts its own future universality. Our Lord, by his parables of the grain of mustard seed, which became a spreading tree, and of the leaven which pervaded the whole mass, intimated the indefinite increase of his religion. He taught to pray, and therefore to hope, that the kingdom of God might come, and his “ will be done on the earth, as it is in heaven.” That spiritual kingdom, according to ancient prediction, was to “ stand for ever," and “ fill the whole earth.” Dan. i. “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah xi. 9. “ All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah lii. 10. The Lord
The Lord will “ destroy the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.” Isaiah xxv. 7.
Such prophecies as these are continually occurring, in reference to the spiritual reign of the Messiah. I will only add, that as Daniel, Paul and John, in passages formerly adduced, connect the spread of the gospel with the destruction of Antichrist, it is also blended with the conversion of the Jews. “ Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in: and so all Israel shall be saved.” Rom. xi. 25.
Truth must prevail. History records that it has no resistless enemy. It is the heritage of man, and he advances to its possession : its prevalence is the promise of Scripture, and prophecy shall be accomplished: it is the object of Providence, and Providence is universal : it is favoured of God, and God is omnipotent. We rejoice in the prospect, whether the success of truth be that of our opinions, or of others. Perish error, though we may wander in its mazes! If our workmanship be only wood, hay and stubble, let it be consumed, and ourselves saved as by fire, so that the temple of truth be purified from every incumbrance and pollution. But we believe that Unitarianism is truth, is Christianity. It bears all their sacred characters, and claims their promised universality. Prophecy envelopes them in a common glory, and decrees for them the same splendid destiny. “ The Lord shall be King over all the
earth: in that day shall there be One Lord, and his name One."
For a time indeed this union was dissolved ; and with it, fled the energy of Christianity. Only with its revival can the gospel again go forth, “ conquering and to conquer.” Corruption led to wealth and political authority; but they were ineffectual substitutes for truth. Not only did what was called Christianity cease to spread, but it actually succumbed before imposture; and Mabomelanism made more progress in five-and-twenty years, than nominal Christianity in fourteen centuries. The Trinity, and similar and kindred doctrines, are the great obstacles to its diffusion.' No extensive accession of enlightened converts can be expected anterior to their removal. That event approaches; nor does the interval of darkness and corruption affect our hopes, for it was foreseen, and its termination fixed, by the same authority as that which gives them confidence. God has sketched for us a plan of the march of truth. Her path is drawn through dark caverns and gloomy wilds; but ending on the lofty mountain of wide dominion. Into that deep abyss she entered, and through that howling wilderness her steps have passed. Already she emerges, and climbs the promised elevation; nor can we doubt her attainment of its summit, to reign there in permanent and unrivalled majesty
How felicitous then will be the power of pure religion over society; all weakening corruptions removed, the hypocrisy that disgusts, the superstition that degrades, the pride that insults ! No longer polluted by being made subservient to the policy of states, or the arts of priests, how rapid and blissful will be its career, restraining the passions of men, advancing their improvement, and blending nations into brotherhood ! But Reformation must precede diffusion. Unitarianism must herald the universality of Christianity; must go before, like the Baptist, to prepare its way; to level the mountains of prejudice; to make strait the crooked ways of mystery and superstition; to smooth the rough places of bigotry; and then “shall the glory of the Lord be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”
ISAIAH ii. 4.
And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks : nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Our present subject should, according to an arrangement strictly logical, form merely a subdivision of the next, and concluding Lecture, on the Perfectibility of Man. The human race has been, I believe, gradually advancing, notwithstanding many apparent interruptions, and even retrograde movements, and is destined to a still more rapid and brilliant course of improvement, which will chiefly be effected by the agency of Christianity, purified from the corruptions which have palsied its strength, and perverted its influence. In reviewing the obstacles which impede the salutary operations of pure religion on the destiny of mankind, war presents itself, foremost and pre-eminent, as most hideous in