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strumentality of our fellow beings, or through them as the channels of his beneficence, in such a sense, that had it not been for their benevolence and voluntary agency, we should have forever wanted the blessings we enjoy.
Now, with respect to prayer, he asks, Why may not this be one thing that may alter a case, and be a reason with the divine Being for shewing favour? Why, by praying for one another, may we not, as in many other ways, be useful to one another? Why may not the universal Father, in consideration of the humble and benevolent intercessions of some of his children for others, be pleased often, in the course of his Providence, to direct events for the advantage of the persons interceded for, in a manner that otherwise would not have been done?- No truly benevolent and pious man (he adds) can help lifting up his heart to the Deity in behalf of his fellow creatures. No one whose breast is properly warmed with kind wishes to his brethren about him, and who feels within himself earnest desires to do them all possible good, can avoid offering up his kind wishes and desires to the common benefactor and ruler, who knows what is best for every being, and who can make those we love infinitely happy. In reality (he contends,) supplications to the Deity for our friends and kindred and all in whose welfare we are concerned, are no less natural than supplications for ourselves. And are they not (he demands) also reasonable? What is there in them, that is not worthy the most exalted benevolence? May it not be fit, that a wise and good being should pay a regard to them? And may not the regarding and answering them, and in general, granting blessings to some on account of the virtue of others, be a proper method of encouraging and honouring virtue, and of rewarding the benevolence of beings to
one another? Perhaps, (he adds) there may not be a better way of encouraging righteousness in the creation, than by making it as much as possible the cause of happiness, not only to the agent himself, but to all connected with him: since there is no virtuous being, who would not, in many circumstances, choose to be rewarded, with a grant of blessings to his fellow beings, rather than to himself.
That our prayers for others may be attended with beneficial effects upon their condition, he considers also to be a prevailing sentiment: otherwise wherefore should we feel ourselves impelled to offer them? Our immediate view in praying must be to obtain what we pray for. This, which is true as applied to prayers on our own behalf, must be also true of our supplications for others. We cannot mean, in addressing to the Deity our desires for others, merely to obtain some benefit to ourselves. And this in itself proves, he adds, that the effect of prayer is not merely to be estimated by its tendency to promote our moral and religious improvement.
At the same time, I cannot but lay before the reader the edifying and delightful representation, given by the author, in another place, of the beneficial influence of intercessionary prayer on the mind of him who offers it. “No one can avoid feeling how happy an effect this must have in sweetening our tempers, in reconciling us to all about us, and causing every unfriendly passion to die away within us. We cannot offer up prayers to God for our fellow-men, without setting them before our minds in some of the most engaging lights possible; as partaking of the same nature with ourselves, liable to the same wants and sufferings, and in the same helpless circumstances; as children of the same father, subjects of the same all-wise government, and heirs of the same hopes. He who prays for others with understanding and sincerity, must see himself on the same level with them; he must be ready to do them all the good in his power; he must be pleased with whatever happiness they enjoy; he can do nothing to lessen their credit or comfort; and fervent desires will naturally rise within him while thus engaged, that his own breast may be the seat of all those good dispositions and virtues, which he prays that they may be blessed with. · Resentment and envy can never be indulged by one, who, whenever he finds himself tempted to them, has recourse to this duty, and sets himself to recommend to the divine favour the persons who excite within him these passions. No desire of retaliation or revenge, nothing of unpeaceableness, ill-nature, or haughtiness, can easily shew itself in a heart kept under this guard and discipline. How is it possible to use him ill, for whom we are constant advocates with God? How excellent a parent or friend is he likely to make, who always remembers before God the concerns and interests of his children and friends, in the same manner that he remembers his own? Is there a more rational way of expressing benevolence than this? or a more effectual way of promoting and enlarging it? Nothing is more desirable or more delightful than to feel ourselves continually under the power of kind affections to all about us. Would we be thus happy? Would we have our hearts in a constant state of love and good will ? Would we have every tender sentiment strong and active in our breasts? Let us be constant and diligent in this part of devotion, and pray continually for others, as we do for ourselves." (Price's Four Dissertations, pp. 207. 221–227. 237—239.)
Such was the language of a man, who, whilst (unlike Dr. Priestley and his Unitarian associates) he really possessed, and by the habits of his studies
daily strengthened, the powers of accurate thinking, had not rationalized away those just and natural sentiments, which belong to the truly religious character, and which, whilst the highest exercises of mere intellect cannot reach, its soundest decisions cannot but approve. At the same time, how deeply is it to be deplored, that, in certain of his theological opinions, such a man should have departed widely from the truth of Scripture!
I have willingly permitted myself in this extract to wander beyond what the immediate subject demanded: because amidst the thorny mazes of polemics, the repose and refreshment which these flowers of genuine piety present, would, I apprehend, afford to the reader a satisfaction not less than they had yielded to myself.
NO. X.-ON UNITARIANS; OR RATIONAL DISSENTERS.
Page 12. (k) It is obvious, that the Sect, to which I here allude, is that known by the title of UNITARIANS: a title, by which it is meant modestly to insinuate, that they are the only worshippers of One God. From a feeling similar to that, which has given birth to this denomination, they demand also, to be distinguished from the other Non-conformists, by the appellation of Rational Dissenters.
Mr. Howes has observed, (Critical Observ. vol. iv. p. 17.) that the term Unitarian, has been used with great vagueness, by the very writers who arrogate the name : being applied by some to a great variety of sects, Arians, Ebionites, Theodotians, Sabellians and Socinians; to any sect, in short, which has pretended to preserve the unity of the Deity, better than the Trinitarians according to the council of Nice: whilst by others, and particularly by Dr.Priestley, it is attributed exclusively to those who mainVol. I.
tain the mere humanity of Christ. On this account, Mr. Howes proposed to substitute the word Humanist, as more precisely expressing the chief principle of the sect intended: and this word he afterwards exchanged for Humanitarian, Mr. Hobhouse and other Unitarians having adopted that appellation. (Crit. Obs. vol. iv. p. 91.)—However, as I find the latest writers of this description prefer the denomination of Unitarian, I have complied with their wishes, in adopting this term throughout the present work ; perfectly aware, at the same time, of the impropriety of its appropriation, but being unwilling to differ with them merely about names, where so much attention is demanded by things.
For a full account of the doctrines of this new Sect, (for new it must be called, notwithstanding Doctor Priestley's laboured, but unsubstantial, examination of “ Early Opinions,") the reader may consult the Theological Repository, the various Theological productions of Doctor Priestley, and particularly Mr. Belsham's Review of Mr. Wilberforce's Treatise. Indeed this last publication presents, on the whole, so extraordinary a system; and conveys so comprehensive a view of all the principles and consequences of the Unitarian scheme, not to be found in any other work of so small a compass; that I think it may not be unacceptable, to subjoin to these pages, a brief abstract of it as described by the author. A summary of the tenets of this enlightened sect, may furnish matter of speculation, not merely curious but instructive, to those who are not yet tinctured with its principles; and those who are, it may perhaps suggest a salutary warning, by shewing it in all its frightful consequences.Unitarianism, it is true, has not yet made its way into this Country, in any digested shape ; but wherever there are found to prevail, a vain confidence