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is no more sunshine, for the world is damned." "The heaven of this system is a grand pay-day, where humility is to have its coach and six; where the saints and martyrs are to take vengeance of their persecutors, by shouting Hallelujah, Glory to God, when they see the smoke of their torment ascending up forever and ever. Do the joys of Paradise pall on the pleasure-jaded sense of the elect? They look off in the distance to the tortures of the damned, where the devil and his angels stir up the embers of the fire which is never quenched,-where the doubters whom the church could neither answer nor put to silence, where the great men of ancient and of modern times, who would not insult the Deity, by bowing to the foolish word of a hireling priest, where all these writhe in their tortures, turn, and turn, and find no ray, but yell in fathomless despair; and when the elect behold them, they strike on their harps of gold, and say, Aha! We are comforted and ye are tormented; for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth; and our garments are washed white in the blood of the Lamb." Pp. 423–434.
Our readers will form their own opinion of slanders and blasphemies such as these. They might be multiplied to any extent. They stare upon us from almost every leaf of the volume in hand.
Mr. Parker is very fond of charging contradictions upon the sacred writers; and he must not complain, if, before dismissing him, we point out some of his own.
The most contradictory representations are made, in different parts of his works, respecting the apostles. At one time, Peter and Paul are "flaming apostles," in possession of "a living holiness," "calling things by their right names, and applying Christianity to the life.”* But ere long it is said, that " Peter would now and then lie, to serve his turn;" that "Paul was passionate and one-sided;" and that both "were full of Jewish fables and technicalities," and "had false notions, on many points." P. 295. Now, these apostles are "the willing seeds-men of God, bearing in their bosom the Christianity of Christ, desiring to scatter this precious seed in every land of the wide world." Again; they are "men of little learning, imbued with the prejudices and vain philosophies of the times, with passions, some of them, quite untamed, notwithstanding their pious zeal." P. 376.
* Miscellanies, Pp. 7, 15, 232, 185, 188.
Mr. Parker very often contradicts himself on other subjects. In general, he discards all pretensions to miracles, as absurd and impossible. Yet, in some passages, he seems to concede to Christ and his apostles the possession of miraculous powers. "There were some places," says he, "where even Jesus did not many mighty works, because of their unbelief." He quotes also with approbation Christ's promise to his disciples: "Greater works than these shall ye do, because I go to my Father."*
On one page it is said, that Christ "is not the author of Christianity, but the revealer of it; the messenger through whom God spoke it to mankind." P. 265. But on another, we are told, that "Christianity was before Abraham-in the very beginning; and will not change. From it, Jesus subtracted nothing; to it, he added nothing." Again: "God has made the highest revelation. of himself to man, through Jesus of Nazareth." P. 384. Compare this sentence now with the following: "The great doctrines of Christianity were known long before Christ. There is no precept of Jesus, no duty commanded, no promise offered, no sanction held out, which cannot be paralleled by similar precepts in heathen writers before him." P. 266.
In one connection, inspiration is represented as universal and perpetual. It is as "regular a mode of God's action on conscious spirit, as gravitation on unconscious matter." P. 203. But in another place, it is said, "the hours of inspiration, like the flower of the aloe tree, may be rare. They are not numerous to any man. Happy is he that hath ten such in a year; yes, in a lifetime." P. 218.
Mr. Parker eulogizes the church of the middle ages in the following terms: "It laid its hand on the poor and down-trodden; they were raised, fed, and comforted. It rejected with loathing from its coffers, wealth, got by extortion and crime. It touched the shackles of the slave, and the serf arose disenthralled, the brother of the peer. It annihilated slavery, which Protestant cupidity would keep forever. It touched the diadem of a wicked king, and it became a crown of thorns. The monarch's sceptre was a broken reed, before the crozier of the church." P. 402. Compare this now, or rather contrast it, with what he says of the same church, only a few pages onward: "It sold heaven to extortioners for a little gold, and built St. Peter's with the spoil. It
* Miscellanies, Pp. 7, 16, 168.
wrung ill-gotten gains out of tyrants on their death-bed; devoured the houses of widows and the weak; and built its cathedrals out of the spoils of orphans. It absolved men from oaths; broke marriages; told lies; forged charters and decretals; burned the philosophers; corrupted the classics; altered the fathers; changed the decisions of councils; and filled Europe with its falschood." P. 497. He often descants on the lamentable defection in religion, during the early and middle ages. "Even in the apostles Christianity had lost somewhat of its simplicity." But "in their successors, in the course of a few years, it appeared, in the mass of the churches, an idle mummery-a collection of forms and superstitious rites, Heathenism, and Judaism, with all sorts of absurdities in their train, came into the church." P. 373. But in another connection, he says: "Mankind never apostatizes. One generation takes up the ark of religion where another let it fall, and carries forward the hope of the world. The old form never passes away, till all its truth is transferred to the new." P. 101.
We present these few specimens of Mr. Parker's inconsistencies. One curious in such matters might easily detect many more. But these must suffice to show the character of his mind, and the danger of trusting to him as a guide in religion.
The most amusing part of the volume before us consists of its remarks upon Unitarianism. The history of Unitarianism in this country Mr. Parker divides into two periods, the negative, and the positive. Its first work, he says, "was critical and negative. It was a statement of reasons for not believing" the orthodox doctrines. During this period, the Unitarians "clung strongly as ever to the New Testament, while they admitted the greatest latitude in the criticism and exegesis" of it. "They were called cold, and were never accused of carrying matters too fast and too far, and pushing religion to extremes." Among some of better character who joined them, were "men of no spiritual faith; who hated to hear hell mentioned, or to have piety demanded; and who came, hoping to have less required of them."
But at length, the negative work was well over, and "the time came for Unitarianism to do something to develop the truth it had borne latent and unconscious in its bosom." And And now, "the Trojan horse of sectarianism was brought into the citadel, with the usual effect. The Unitarian sect was divided. There is an Old School, and a New School, with a chasm between them, not 12*
wide, as yet, but very deep. The Old School differs, theoretically, from the Orthodox in exegesis, and that alone. It creeps behind texts and usages, is ready to believe anything which has a Thus saith the Lord before it, and does not look facts in the face. It censures the traditionary sects, yet sits itself among the tombs. It would believe nothing not reasonable, and yet all things Scriptural; and so, with perfect good faith, it explains away what is offensive. To such a proficiency has this art of explaining away been carried, that the Scripture is a piece of wax in Unitarian hands, and takes any shape. The devil, with them, is an oriental figure of speech; Paul believed in him, no more than Peter Bayle; Moses and Isaiah never speak of Jesus in their writings; yet Jesus is right when he says they did. David, in the Psalm, is a sick man, speaking only of himself; but when Simon Peter quotes that Psalm, the inspired king is predicting Jesus of Nazareth. These things," says Mr. Parker, still speaking of his Unitarian brethren," are notorious facts. If the Athanasian creed, the thirty-nine Articles, or the Pope's bull Unigenitus, could be found in a Greek manuscript, and proved to be the work of an inspired apostle, no doubt, Unitarianism would in good faith, explain all three, and deny that they taught the doctrine of the Trinity, or the fall of man." Pp. 441-448.
There is more truth, we apprehend, in these remarks, than in any other part of the book. And what a testimony have we here, and that too from a professed and leading Unitarian, that the Bible, honestly interpreted, does contain the Orthodox doctrines.
But Mr. Parker has not yet done with the Old School Unitarian clergy. "They think one thing," he says, "in their study, and preach a very different thing in their pulpit. In the one place, they are free as water; in the other, conservative as ice. They think it necessary to use a little deceit in the world; and so use not a little. These men speak in public of the inspiration of the Bible, as if it were all inspired with equal infallibility; but what do they think at home? In the study, the Testament is a collection of legendary tales; in the pulpit, it is the everlasting gospel, to which, if a man add, the seven last plagues shall be added to him; and from which, if he takes aught, his name shall be taken from the book of life."*
* Miscellanies, P. 188.
In the quarrel between our author and a portion of his liberal brethren, we feel no particular interest. We hope they may derive some profit from his rebukes. He evidently regards himself in the light of a reformer, and has laid his account with meeting a reformer's treatment. "The world has been saved," he says, "by crucified redeemers.”
But what is that reformation, at which our author so earnestly aims? What is the nature of it? What its extent? It is, confessedly, to cut down all religion to the mere standard of the religion of nature. It is to throw away all of the Bible, unless it be that little, which may be learned just about as well without the Bible, as with it. And is this to be called a reformation? If so, it is obviously and altogether a reformation backwards. It is the wanton destruction of that which alone distinguishes Christendom from heathendom. It is a casting away from us what the Psalmist describes as "a light unto his feet," that we may grope in darkness, and perish at last for lack of vision.
After having exhibited so fully the opinions of this writer, and more especially his mode of treating the Bible, we feel constrained to say, that we know of no book from the days of Julian the Apostate, to those immediately preceding the French revolution, and from Paine's Age of Reason to the present hour, which speaks so contemptuously of the Book of God, and the influence of which, is likely to be so disastrous upon the cause of Christ, as the "Discourse of Religion," now lying before us. And yet the author is a professed minister of the gospel; and an acknowledged leader of the New School of Unitarian theology! Thus has American Unitarianism accomplished the predictions uttered by Professor Stuart and others, almost thirty years ago;-predictions which were denounced as scandal at the time, but which time has speedily and terribly verified.
The author of the volume which has been before us, will find ere long, what many in the same cause have found before him, that he has been laboring in the very fire, and wearying himself for very vanity.
"Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven! Thy faithfulness is unto all generations!" This is not the first time the Bible has been assailed. "The word of the Lord is tried." But this Holy Book has not been destroyed; and it will not be. It comes out of every conflict, as it always will, not weakened, but strengthened in its evidences, not vanquished, but victorious.