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from you, or agree with us. Still, if we mistake not, there are some facts which afford ground for a distinction in the two cases. Though, on our part, there are things wbich we have often sincerely deplored, there are things which we have not done. We have not been in the habit of indiscriminate censure or denunciation of all who agree with you in opinion, not even of the clergy of your sect as a body. While we have censured the acts of individuals, we have distinguished between them and others; and, even in regard to those whose conduct we have disapproved, we have often expressed a hope of their general piety. We have never set up our peculiar or distinguishing doctrines, as a test of moral character, - censuring as infidels, or unworthy of the Christian name, all who dissent from our opinions. Nor have we formed any combination, or systematic plan of operation, for the purpose of destroying in public estimation the character of Trinitarians. If such things have ever been done by any who bear the name of Unitarians, the facts are positively unknown to us, and are such as we should most cordially disapprove. How it has been on your part, in regard to such conduct, we have no occasion to declare. On this point you are doubtless better informed than we are.
We, therefore, leave the subject to your own reflections.
Whoever may have been the more in fault, as to the present state of things between the different sects, we hope that none will be found to deny, that it is deplorable. We cannot wonder at the success of infidelity, while there is such a manifest want of that love, by which the disciples of Christ were to be known and distinguished from unbelievers. If men might safely judge of the nature and value of Christianity, from the bitter fruits which have resulted from the adoption of party creeds and tests, we might reasonably wonder, that avowed infidels are not more numerous at the present time.
We know of but one remedy for the existing evils. If all sects would adopt, as essential doctrines and tests of discipleship, those things which Christ and his Apostles taught as such; and discard, or remove from the list of essentials, such things as they never taught, or never represented as essential, the people of different sects might then enjoy the happiness, which results from love, forbearance,
All intelligent Christians, who duly reflect on the subject, must be aware, that the articles which Christ taught as essential, are truly of a “soul-humbling
soul-humbling ”nature, not because they are mysterious, unintelligible, or above the reach of reason; but because they are plain, and easy to be understood, requiring us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. As the first of all the commandments requires each man to love God with all his own understanding, we have no reason to expect true rest and peace among Christians, so long as the people of one sect make their measure of understanding and light the standard for others. When we duly consider the great diversity in the mental faculties of mankind, in the advantages they enjoy for acquiring knowledge, and in their modes of education, - a vast diversity of opinion seems inevitable. Yet, with all this diversity of opinion, honest people may agree in this, that each should love God with all his own understanding, and this is all our righteous God requires. If you have more understanding, than we have, God does not require us to love him with all your understanding, but with all our own ; and if we should be disposed to conform to the second commandment, and each love his neighbour as bimself, we shall severally forbear to usurp dominion over each other's faith, and love one another with a pure heart fervently. In this way, there may be rest to each soul, and peace one with another.
The unavoidable diversity of honest opinions among men, gives opportunity for the trial of our tempers, and for the display of Christian meekness, forbearance, and pure, undissembled love, - such oppor
, tunity, too, as we should not have had, were there no diversity of opinion.
By due conformity to what Christ taught as essential, Christians would so learn of him, as 10 find rest to their souls. An end would occur to all bitterness, wrath, strife, and censorious judging; and Christians of different opinions, would know, how good' and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity. Then they would be in the right way to make rapid advances in the knowledge of the Scriptures, and the things which belong to their peace, – and to correct a multitude of errors. Whatever new discovery of truth might be made by one, would be freely, communicated to others, then candidly examined by the law and the testimony, and, if found correct, it would soon become a part of the common stock of useful knowledge, and be applied to useful purposes. In such a state, among
, Christians, there would be something that might be called the kingdom of heaven, - consisting, “not in meat and
drink, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Then, too, Christians of different opinions, might know by experience, what the Saviour meant, when he said, “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation, for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.' Luke xvii. 20, 21.
Dr. Wayland has said,* “Candor may be made to take the place of prejudice, and envy may be exchanged for a generous love of truth.” For such an event, Christians of every sect should pray and labor by day and by night. Happy will be the day, when such a change of feeling shall become general among the professed disciples of Christ. But, in our opinion, this happiness will not be generally enjoyed, until the doctrines, which the Messiah taught as essential, shall be preferred to those, which have been forged by fallible men in the fires of antichristian strife ; nor so long as the clergy of a numerous sect shall continue to reproach as infidels, men who verily believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and who make it their study and delight to obey his precepts. From the manner, in which a belief in this doctrine is treated by many, at the present day, who would suspect, that the following passages are to be found in the Bible ? “ Whosoever believeth, that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” " Whosoever shall confess, that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”
* Discourse on Education.
ART. V. – 1. De la Religion, considérée dans sa Source,
ses Formes et ses Developpements. Par M. BENJAMIN
CONSTANT. 5 Tomes. 8vo. Paris. 1824, 1827, 1831. 2. Du Polythéisme Romain, considéré dans ses Rapports
avec la Philosophie Grecque et la Religion Chrétienne, Ouvrage posthume de BENJAMIN CONSTANT, précédé d'une Introduction de M. J. MATTER. 2 Tomes. 8vo. Paris. 1833.
Why is man affected by religious considerations ? Why has he, wherever found, some kind of religious worship ? Why does he, by turns, embrace and abandon that vast variety of religious forms, which range from the loathsome fetichism of the savage, to the simple and sublime monotheism of the Christian? Is it by accident, or in accordance with certain invariable and indestructible laws ? If in accordance with certain laws, what are these laws ? Such were the questions which passed through the mind of Benjamin Constant, and produced the works placed at the head of this article ;- works, which, if they are not so perfect as to leave us nothing to desire on the topics they treat, open a new route to the philosopher, and let in light upon many a dark passage in the history of religions.
In these works, Benjamin Constant attempts to reduce our religious history to a science, and to verify its laws. He brings forward a striking and important theory, developes and sustains it with much felicity of style, with great beauty of language, power of argument, and extensive erudition. He may not, indeed, always convince the understanding, but he never fails to enlighten the mind, to warm the heart, and invigorate the religious sentiment. In going through his volumes, he compels us to run over the errors and the follies, the vices and the crimes, of a hundred ages ; but he spreads over them such a warm sun-light, from a benevolent heart, that they lead to no discouragement, excite no misanthropic emotions, but increase our love for mankind, and inspire us with new zeal and confidence in the noble work of setting the human race forward in the march towards perfection.
He begins his work with the position, that all beings,
created or uncreate, animate or inanimate, rational or irrational, have their laws. These laws constitute the na
. ture of each species, and are the general and permanent Cruse of each one's mode of existence. We do not know, we cannot know, the origin of these laws.
All we know, or need know, is, that they exist, and in all our attempts to explain any partial phenomena, we must assume their existence, as our point of departure.
Man has his laws,-laws which constitute him what he is, that is to say, man. By one of these laws, he is led to seek sonie object to venerate, to adore, between whom, and himself, he may establish mutual relations. That this is by a law of his nature, is inferred from its being peculiar to man, and common to nearly all men, in all ages, and in all positions, being always reproduced with the new generation. It follows from this, that inan is not religious by accident, - has not rel gion because he is weak or timid, or through the influence of wily statesmen, as some have asserted, nor because he has reasoned himself into the belief of its truth and utility ; but because he is man, and must be religious or divest himself of a part of his nature. It is no longer a question, then, whether we ought to preserve or destroy religion. That matter is seitled. Religion man has, and will have. He is determined to it by an interior sentiment, by a fundamental law of his being, a law invariable, eternal, indestructible.
But if man is determined to religion by a fundamental law of bis being, how comes it that men, even wise and virtuolis men, at_var ous epochs, are either indifferent or opposed to it? To solve this problem, we must distinguish between the religious sentiment, and religious institutions. The sentiment results from th: t craving, which we have, to place ourselves in communication withi invisible powers ; the institutions, the form, from that craving which we also have, to render the means of that communication, we think to have discovered, regular and permanent. The consecration, regularity, and permanence, of these means, are things, with which we cannot well dispense. We would count upon our faith. We would find it to-day what it was yesterday, and not have it seem ready at each moment to vanish and escape from us like a vanor. We demand the suffrage of those, with whom we have relations of interest, of babit, or of