Thomas Smyth.

Complete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D online

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♦Unitarian Tracts No. 186, pp. 33, 34.



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UNITARIANISM ANOTHER GOSPEI«. 387

recognize in him only a fictitious character, or a mere historic
personage, having no higher authority to promulgate the truth
in the name of God, and no greater security against error, than
may pertain to any truly virtuous philosopher of our own times.
They brand as falsehoods and fable, a large class of facts, all
the supernatural facts, recorded as real in the four gospels.

I do not charge every Unitarian with these views of scrip-
ture. But what I affirm is, that I cannot receive a system as
the gospel which leaves me in uncertainty as to whether there
is an inspired Book of God, — ^if there is, how much and how
far it is inspired,— or whether God has given to men a message
which he requires them to obey under pain of his eternal dis-
pleasure — which they can reject only at the peril of their souls,
— and which is after all so vague that we cannot tell whether a
man is a believer or an infidel.

Coleridge in one of his conversations with Mr. Cottle,
remarked "that he had renounced all his Unitarian sentiments :
that he considered Unitarianism as a heresy of the worst
description ; attempting in vain to reconcile sin and holiness : the
world and heaven ; opposing the whole spirit of the Bible ; and
subversive of all that truly constituted Christianity. At this
interview he professed the deepest conviction of the truth of
Revelation ; of the Fall of Man ; of the Divinity of Christ, and
redemption alone through his blood."

But once more I remark in conclusion, that Unitarianism
represents the character of God in such a way as contravenes
my reason, my conscience, and my knowledge of human nature,
of God's works, of God's providence, and of God's word.

The MODE OF GoD^s EXISTENCE is Utterly beyond the compre-
hension of the human intellect, which can neither determine
whether He is absolutely one, or whether while one in essence
there is in God a threefold subsistence of distinct and personal
attributes.

Certain it is that reason, unaided by revelation never pro-
pounded the dogma of God's absolute unity, — that a trinity is
involved in all the most ancient and prevalent theologies — that
nature is in harmony with the doctrine of a triune God, as its
creator, governor and beautifier — and that scripture makes it
undeniable to the simple faith of the great mass of inquiring
minds. I undertake, by the same species and amount of proof,
to establish the deity of the Son of God and of the Holy Ghost,
which can be brought from Scripture to prove that the Father
is truly and properly God. For in what way is this possible,

28— Vol. IX.



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338 UNITARIANISM ANOTHER GOSPEL.

but by showing that every name appropriated to Deity is his —
every attribute characteristic of Deity his — every work peculiar
to Deity done by him — ^and the worship which is distinctive of
Deity his. But this is all true of the Son and therefore he is
over all — God, blessed for ever. He is God — ^the Great God —
the Mighty God — the true God. He is Omniscient, Onmipo-
tent, Infinitely Wise. He creates, he upholds, he governs the
universe: all is for his glory. "He is," believer, "thy Lord,
and worship thou him." — (Ps. xlv. 11.) And this is all true
also of the Holy Ghost.

As to the CHARACTER OF GoD also, I must believe that He is
necessarily holy and just, in order to be good and gracious,
since a God all mercy is a God unjust. He must be a governor
as well as a creator, a law enforcer as well as a law giver.
Mercy, therefore, can be exercised by such a God only in
accordance with the good of the whole universe of being and
the maintenance of the holy laws by which that universe is
governed.

Every element in my nature, therefore, combine to demand
for the salvation of a guilty sinner, just such a divine and
Almighty Saviour — such an omnipotent and omnipresent Sane-
tifier — such an all sufficient and vicarious redemption, — such a
free and gratuitious salvation, — ^and such a full and gracious
pardon, — as we believe to be announced in the plain and uni-
form teaching of the Bible.

While Unitarianism is thus condemned by reason as well as
revelation, while it involves us on every hand in inextricable
difficulties — it removes none. All that Dr. Gilman objects to
in Calvinism, is objected to by infidels against Unitarianism.
The existence of moral evil, — differences in the character and
condition of men, — exhibitions of depravity, like that of Dr.
Webster, inexplicable upon any ordinary motives to human
conduct, — ^the belief on the part of perhaps most Unitarians,
that there will be a future judgment and the punishment of men
hereafter for sins which God permitted to be done here* — in
short the fact that God brings man into existence with such a
nature that he does sin, and with such a destiny that he may
everlastingly suffer for sins thus committed — this, which is the
great difficulty in all theology, Unitarianism leaves as terrible
as ever.

In all that is fundamental to Unitarianism, therefore, I con-
sider it to be another gospel which is not another — depriving

•Unitarian Tracts No. 186. pp. 33, 34.



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UNITARIANISM ANOTHER GOSPEL. 339

man of consolation and strength in the discharge of life's duties,
and the endurance of life's trials,— of all hope and triumph in
death, — and of all confidence in the anticipation of the judg-
ment day.

These points are of infinite importance. They involve a
total difference of sentiment in regard to the God we worship,
the medium of worship, the nature of all true and acceptable
worship, and the way by which alone any of our guilty and sin-
ful race can ever become sanctified and acceptable worshippers
in the church on earth, and in the church of the first bom in
heaven. One or the other must be false. Both cannot be true.
If one is idolatry the other is blasphemy. Dr. Dewey says he
would rather be an infidel than be a Calvinist Expressions
quite as strong might be quoted from English Unitarians. Dr.
Channing allowed himself to say that the Cross of Christ as the
appointed way of salvation was the great central gallows of the
universe. And "the unoffending and good Servetus" called
"the Triune CJod a three headed hell bound monster."

On the other hand, Coleridge who had long been a Unitarian,
says in his Literary Remains, "In consequence of our Redemp-
tion, the Trinity becomes a doctrine, the belief of which as real,
is commanded by conscience. To christians it is commanded,
and it is false candor in a christian, believing in original sin
and redemption' therefrom, to admit that any man denying the
divinity of Christ can be a christian."

"Socinianism (Unitarianism) is not a religion, but a theory,
and that too, a very pernicious or a very unsatisfactory theory.
Pernicious, for it excludes all our deep and awful ideas of the
perfect holiness of God, his justice and his mercy, and thereby
makes the voice of conscience a delusion, as having no corre-
spondent in the character of the legislator; regarding God as
merely a good-natured pleasure-giver, indifferent as to the
means, if only happiness be produced. Unsatisfactory, for it
promises forgiveness without any solution of the difficulty of
the compatibility of sin with the justice of God; in no way
explains the fallen condition of man nor offers any means for
his regeneration."! It never did and never can subsist as a
general religion."

Amid these variant creeds there is but one infallible guide.
It is that Spirit of wisdom — ^Who is able and willing to
guide into all truth — who is promised to them that ask — ^and

tSee Coleridge's Nightly Prayers to the Trinity, in his Literary Remains,
Yol. 2, p. 3, 6.



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340 UNITARIANISM ANOTHER GOSPEL.

Who has said that if any man do His will he shall know of the
doctrines whether they be of God.



Supplementary Note.
Presbyterianism and Republicanism.

Dr. Giknan justly remarks in his discourse that it "is a sus-
picious circumstance for the votaries of any religion to recom-
mend their views as peculiarly harmonizing with any form of
civil government whatever. It is unworthy of their great mis-
sion, thus to flatter the political opinions and predilections of
those whom they addess." In this decision I fully agree, only
that I extend the denunciation to those who endeavor to
"recommend their views," by shewing their peculiar claims to
literary and scientiiic attainments and to the great names of
Newton, of whose theology we know little — of Locke, who
affirms, as I understand him, his reception of the doctrine of
the Trinity — of Milton, who certainly did not agree in one
single point with modern Unitarianism, I can well remember
when Calvinism was made to hide its diminished head by the
triumphant inquiry, "What poem has it written?"

Dr. Oilman even arrays against us the name of Leibnitz who,
although a member of the Lutheran church, illustrated and
established the doctrine of Philosophical necessity, or the per-
fect consistency of the freedom of a moral agent with the
infallible determination of his conduct, which is Calvinism.
There is a small book of his entitled "Essais de Theodcee, sur
la bonte de Dieu, la liberte de Thonmie, et Torigine du mal,"
which contains almost all the principles upon which we rest the
defence of the Calvinistic tenets. Leibnitz also laid down,
very clearly, the distinction between the absolute nature of God
which is one undivided Godhead, and the will or personal
attributes of God, which may be threefold and distinct in their
conscious personality."*

Dr. Priestley who is also gloried, in his work on Philosophi-
cal necessity has established as he thinks, principles which lead
inevitably to all that is so staggering to the common sense of
mankind in the doctrine of predestination.

I unite, therefore, in thinking that "it is an alarming thing
(and in this case certainly suicidal) to see religion thus
encroaching on unconsecrated ground, and seizing on the per-

•See Coleridge's Lit. Rem. vol. 3, p. 73.



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UNITARIANISM ANOTHER GOSPEL. 341

ishmg elements of the world to advance her power and preten-
sions."

Calvinism, as a theology, must stand or fall with its scrip-
tural authority, and the analogy to Republicanism, claimed for
our Presbyterian Polity, must stand or fall by a comparison of
it with the Synagogue Polity of the Hebrew Republic, to which,
as a model, it is undoubtedly assimilated, — by the historical
evidence of its afiinity, to constitutional forms of government,
responsibility in governors and representation in the people ; —
by its whole history and character in England and in this coun-
try; — by the evidence for the declaration stated by Lafayette
that it was looked to as a model in the formation of our
national constitution, — and by the undeniable facts connected
with the doings of our church and its members at the period of
the revolution and since.

Dr. Humphrey made no exclusive claims to the glory of patri-
otism for the Presbyterian church and he certainly did not deny
this glory to Congregationalism which embodies many of the
elements of Presbytery. If, however, Unitarians can shew
that they have been specially excluded in the distribution of the
rewards due to patriotism, or if any other denomination has
been unfairly dealt with, let them present their claims, and full
payment will be made on demand.

But when Dr. Oilman goes on to say, "As for the enumera-
tion in a note, of all those Presbyterians who took a leading
part in the war of the American Revolution, I have always
r^^etted to see such things brought into notice. There is not
the slightest pretext for their introduction. The idea did not
originate, I am persuaded, from this preacher, nor any other
true born native American/' I would remind him that in his
over vaulting ambition to be severe, he has only unhorsed him-
self. Let him consult his own Unitarian fellow-believers, the
historian Bancroft, who is "a true bom native American," in
his History of the United States. (Vol. I., p. 462, 464, and
266, 267; Vol. H. p. 459, 463.) He will find Mr. Bancroft,
there declaring as an historian that "Calvinism is gradual
Republicanism.'' And what is far more, "the political char-
acter of Calvinism," says Mr. Bancroft, "which with our con-
sent and with instinctive judgment the monarchs or that day
feared as Republicanism, and which Charles I. declared to be
a religion unfit for a gentleman, that is a man of no creed and
no morals, is expressed in a single word predestination."



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342 UNITARIANISM ANOTHER GOSPEI,.

If not satisfied with these testimonies, let Dr. Gihnan read
the authorities and historical facts presented in my work on
Ecclesiastical Republicanism, and perhaps he may have reason
to alter his opinion, and to say, "Would that I could say as
much for either the missionary or the political philanthropy
of the system of Unitarianism."t



Affinities of Calvinism.

From the Sermon by Rev. Albert Barnes.

The Calvinistic doctrines seem to have some kind of affinity
with the Presbyterian mode of government. It may not be
easy to see precisely why it is but the general course of events
has shown that there is such an affinity, and that this is a
natural alliance. Using the word Presbyterian in a large sense,
as it is often used, to embrace our brethren of New England,
and as, in such a sense it is not improperly used, for they stand
up for the essential views which we maintain on the subject, —
it is to be observed that the purest form of Calvinism has
sought to express itself in connection with Presbyterianism.
Indeed, in the popular apprehension, these are now almost
identical. It was not a matter of accident that the church
founded by Calvin in Geneva was Presbyterian ; it was not a
matter of accident that the church formed by John Knox was
Presbyterian ; it was not a matter of accident that the churches
in Holland represented in the Synod at Dort were mainly Pres-
byterians ; it was not a matter of accident that the Calvinistic
doctrines of the Puritans, represented in the Westminster
Assembly, and the whole Calvinism of England in the time of
Charles I. and the Protectorate, went forth in essential Presby-
terianism as opposed to prelacy; and it was not a matter of
chance that when the New England pilgrims came to our
shores, though most of them had been reared in the bosoms
of Prelatical churches, and most of the ministers had been
ordained by Prelatical Bishops, the substantial form in which

tin Tract No. 199 of the Unitarian Association, p. 19, it is said, "The
only missions to a heathen land which we of set purpose have cherished,
were those of Madris — ^where the Rev. Mr. Roberts died in his faithful
work — and at Calcutta, where Rev. Mr. Adam was compelled by the opposi-
tion of other christians to desist A few years ago we were applied to,
to send a missionary to the Sandwich Islands. Steps were taken to that
end, but were retraced, from the fear of distracting those partially civil-
ized regions with the same doctrinal contentions which have been going
on here, and which have since taken place there between Catholics and
Protestants."



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UNITARIANISM ANOTHER GOSPEI<. 343

these doctrines expressed themselves was the Presbyterian
rather than the Episcopal form. There have been Calvinists,
and there are still, in the Established Church of England, and
there was a large infusion, we think, of genuine Calvinism into
its "articles," but the doctrine has from some cause found little
that was congenial; has been little welcomed there; has been
cramped, and has never found its full development there ; has
been buried imder forms, and silently melted away, or has been
made a term for reproach. In connection with Presbyterian-
ism, however, it has worked freely; combining, with a very
efficient mode of church government, its own great energy as
adapted to move and mould the human mind. In Geneva, in
Scotland, in Holland, in New England, in the various Presby-
terian organizations in our country, it has operated without
restraint, and its proper fruits are to be found there.



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Dr. Watts Not a Unitarian.



BY

REV. THOMAS SMYTH, D. D.



HjprinUd ffm
Tki Carolina Baptist.



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i



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DR. WATTS NOT A UNITARIAN.



Dr. Watts was a very remarkable man. Born in weakness,
he spent a life of continual suffering, and dwelt, as it were,
upon the very confines of the grave. And yet so truly was the
strength of God perfected in his weakness, that while the out-
ward man was continually perishing, the inward man was made
strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. A child in
physical energy, he was a giant in intellectual prowess, and
exerted seventy-five years of unintermitting mental labour.
His poem on "Complaint and hope under great pain," seems to
be an emblem of his daily experience.

He was bom in troublous times, which tried men's souls, and
tested their principles by persecution. His father was impris-
oned for six months for his non-conformity, and afterwards
driven from his family for two years. And when in prison,
his wife, it is said, was seen sitting on a stone near the prison
door, suckling her son Isaac. Thus introduced to the cause of
non-conformity. Watts did not, like Butler, Seeker, and others,
yield to the overpowering influence of worldly advantages, but
having studied the principles of non-conformity, and being
satisfied that these principles were most congenial to a kingdom
not of this world, he rejected the most flattering proposals and
devoted himself to the interests of the dissenters.

He was a remarkable instance of early attention to books.
Before he had well learned to speak, a book was his greatest
pleasure, and when he received any little present of money, he
was accustomed to run to his parents crying "a book, a book,
buy a book." He began to learn Latin at the age of four, and
his leisure hours seem to have been very early occupied in
poetical efforts. He thus "lisped in numbers," and from four
to fifty, was a writer of verses. And yet it may be said that
in all this time he wrote no line, which dying, he could wish to
blot No uninspired poet has ever obtained the popularity of
Watts, or so identified his muse with all that is sacred to the
best interests of his species. His songs still constitute a prin-
cipal medium of divine worship to the larger portion of Prot-
estant Christendom, and while they perfect the hosannas of
"babes and sucklings," waft to heaven the aspirations of the
hoary headed saint, and put songs of exulting triumph into the
mouth of the dying believer "just ready to depart" Breathing



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348 DR. WATTS NOT A UNITARIAN.

the Spirit of their divine originals, conveying not their typical
and literal sense, but their spiritual and true import as propheti-
cal of the saviour and "shadows of good things to come," and
written in every variety of metre, and in a style equally adapted
to the unlettered and cultivated mind — his Psalms have far out-
shone any other version which has been attempted for the use
of the christian church in the public worship of God. And as
it regards his hymns, it may be safely affirmed that, taken as a
whole, they are inimitable for their scripturality, fervour, and
devotion, and that without many of them, no collection of chris-
tians Psalmody can be complete. And had Dr. Watts left no
other legacy to the church than his Psalms, and Hymns, and
Spiritual Songs, he would have erected for himself an enduring
monument, not in tables of stone, but in the hearts of christians,
whose lips employing his time hallowed language, will ever
celebrate the high praises of God, the Father, Son and Spirit,
where there are works to make Him known or saints to love
the Lord.

These Psalms and Hymns are employed by the churchman,
the dissenter, and the Methodist ; and "every Sabbath, in every
region of the earth, where his native tongue is spoken, thou-
sands and tens of thousands of voices are sending the sacrifices
of prayer and praise to God, in the strains which he prepared
for them a century ago."

"A copy was taken into Central Africa by Mr. Anderson, the
fellow-traveller and brother-in-law of the unfortunate Mungo
Park, and lately found by the Landers at Youri, hung up in the
residence of a chieftain as fetishe, or sacred. From his pulpit,
Dr. Watts instructed and edified a numerous and attentive
auditory ; from his study he benefitted, by practical and doctri-
nal treatises, thousands who never heard the sound of his living
voice ; but from his closet he has given songs of praise to the
churches, which will be used in their solemn assemblies and
private devotions, till time shall be no more, and have been
employed by the delivered spirit soaring triumphant over death,
to its native skies. They have been instnunents in the hand
of God, of improving the religious experience, and increasing
the spiritual enjoyments of his people, rousing their deadened
affections, enkindling the almost extinguished flame of love,
prompting the longings of desire, and calling back, by the
'voice of music,' and the gushing of 'sweet sound,* many a
wandering sheep to the fold of his heavenly Father and
Redeemer."



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DR. WATTS NOT A UNITARIAN. 349

James MonXgomtry himself, pre-eminent as a poet, a chris-
tian, and a psalmist, in the preface to his Christian Psalmist,
remarks, "Passing by Mrs. Rowe, and the mystical rhymes of
her age, we come to the greatest name among hymn-writers ;
for we hesitate not to give that praise to Dr. Isaac Watts, since
it has pleased God to confer upon him, though one of the least
of the poets of his country, more glory than upon the greatest
either of that or any other, by making his "divine songs," a
more abundant and universal blessing, than the verses of any
uninspired penman that ever lived. In his Tsalms and
H)anns,' (for they must be classed together,) he has embraced
a compass and variety of subjects, which include and illustrate
every truth of revelation, throw light upon every secret move-
ment of the human heart, whether of sin, nature, or g^ace, and
describe every kind of trial, temptation, conflict, doubt, fear
and grief, as well as the faith, hope, charity, the love, joy,
peace, labour, and patience of the christian, in all stages of his
course on earth; together with the terrors of the Lord, the
glories of the Redeemer, and the comforts of the Holy Spirit,
to urge, allure and strengthen him by the way. There is in the
pages of this evangelist^ a word in season for every one who
needs it, in whatever circumstances he may require counsel,
consolation, reproof, or instruction."

It was owing to the earnest wishes of his friends, that Dr.
Watts, about the year 1729, gave to the world, the work now
presented in a new form to the public. This humble and unpre-
tending performance, says his biographer, Mr. Milner, speedily
obtained an unwonted popularity ; edition after edition rapidly
issued from the press in England and America; and transla-
tions have since appeared in many of the European and trans-
Atlantic languages. The number of copies that have been cir-
culated throughout the world, must amount to many millions ;
upwards of thirty editions in this country are regularly kept in
print; and, upon a moderate computation, the average annual
sale in England only cannot be less than eighty thousand. It
was stated some years ago upon authority, that two Institutions,
the Society for promoting Religious Knowledge among the
poor, and the Religious Tract Society, had distributed upwards
of one hundred thousand. It is an honourable distinction, that
the most popular books in the English, and probably in any
other language, have proceeded from the pens of non-conform-
ists. In proof of the accuracy of this statement, there need
only be instanced the "Pilgrim's Progress" of Bunyan; the



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350 DR. WATTS NOT A UNITARIAN.

"Saint's Rest/' of Baxter; the "Rise and Progress of Religion/'
of Doddridge; the "Divine Songs/' of Watts; and the "Robin-
son Crusoe/' of De Foe. Wherever the English name is
known, and its language has penetrated, these productions have
travelled the heralds of the literature and religion of the coun-



Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 34 of 68)