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The insinuation that my “strictures” are "produced at second hand," as I stated the contrary in delivering the second part of this Discourse, is extraordinary. The reasoning, however, is this,--they were borrowed, it seems, from Archbishop Magee, because he stole them from Dr. Carpenter! Now Dr. Carpenter's book I certainly have never seen ; and if I owe any thing to him, it must have been derived through a secondary source. But from the Archbishop I have taken nothing, without express acknowledgment, and my readers will soon see how little I have chosen to be indebted to him. I might, beyond all doubt, have selected from the works of that great man, and from others, arguments as cogent, or perhaps more cogent, than any I have produced; and where they have treated the same subjects, I have not been so self-confident as not to consult them, in confirmation of my own; but I must be allowed to state, that the criticisms in the following Discourse, on which I place the greatest reliance, I have never seen in any author ; whatever be their value, or by whomsoever anticipated, they have been originated by myself. I was anticipated, it seems, in my remarks on the centurion's exclamation at the crucifixion, by Dr. Carpenter. I am happy to learn it. And, now that I have once more the opportunity, from the mention of his name, by my respected opponent, to speak of that excellent person, I will say, that it is to me, at once, mysterious and mournful, that such a man should be connected with such a system.
Mr. Martineau charges me with having indulged in sarcasm. I am astonished at the charge! My own friends brought a very different accusation against me. He, however, may, perhaps, be right. The subject was one, which, constantly requiring the use of the reductio ad absurdum, would naturally present a strong temptation to such a mode of treatment. thought, however, that I had been preserved from yielding to it. Sarcasm, I think, may appear in the reasonings of an author or speaker, when it does not dwell in his mind. I fancied, for instance, that I saw more than one instance of it in Mr. Martineau's pages; but, of course, as he seems to entertain an abhorrence of this unlovely spirit, I must have been mistaken.
The charge of extravagance, whether it relate to style, or to temper, from the author of a discourse which describes the Bible
the great autobiography of human nature,” and speaks of the "colours of the Saviour's mind projected on the surface of infinitude;" which outrages the memory of departed greatness, by imputing to Archbishop Magee, "a mass of abuse, the most coarse, and misrepresentation, the most black;" and traduces the characters of the living, by accusing them of “acquiring his aptitudes of calumny;"—this charge, I confess, I was tempted to retort; but I remember my respected opponent's admonition concerning sarcasm, and I withhold my pen.
THE UNITARIAN INTERPRETATION OF THE NEW TES
TAMENT BASED UPON DEFECTIVE SCHOLARSHIP, OR ON DISHONEST OR UNCANDID CRITICISM.
BY THE REV. THOMAS BYRTH, M.A., F.A.S.
“ GIVE ATTENDANCE TO READING."'-1 Timothy, iv. 13
The object of this Discourse is to vindicate the inspired record of Christianity from the misrepresentations of false criticism, and the errors of defective scholarship.
But let it not be supposed that I attach an undue importance to the influence which human erudition exercises upon the written Word of God. I feel not the slightest reluctance to admit that “Christianity is not the property of Critics and Scholars, but the gift of God to all Men.”* On the contrary, should I fail to rescue from the dominion of perverted, or pretended learning, one single passage which it has attempted to corrupt; and if it shall be the conviction of my hearers that I have failed to dispossess those who, as critics and scholars, have laid violent hands on the text of the New Testament; I contend, nevertheless, that the peculiar doctrines of Christianity,—by which I mean, of course, the doctrines which are denied by Unitarianism, -are so inseparably wrought into the whole texture of the Bible, that it is impossible to detach them from it, and at the
* The title under which a reply to this Discourse has been announced.
same time to leave any integral part of the original fabric. The book may be altogether altered, and thus virtually destroyed; but while a fragment of it remains unchanged, we possess an indication of the character of the whole. A minute portion of the frame of one of the gigantic inhabitants of a former world, enables the physiologist, to ascertain the magnitude of the body to which it belonged; and one unadulterated portion of the Holy Book, would be unquestionable evidence of the mysterious and awful statements which pervaded all its pages. The light of saving truth may be obscured under the oppressive load of philosophy, falsely so called; but it will continue to be saving light until it be totally extinguished. To use the language of an illustrious man,* once himself a Unitarian preacher: “It appears to me impossible for any man to read the New Testament, with the common exercise of an biassed understanding, without being convinced of the Divinity of Christ, from the testimony of almost every
And I cannot but congratulate my Unitarian friends, upon their broad admission of the noble principle for which I am prepared to contend, as strenuously as themselves. To suppose, that profound learning and philological research were necessary to the understanding of the substance and the essential doctrines of the Revelation
* Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
+ “In the Improved Version itself, the principal part which attracts our attention, is the copious notes by which it is accompanied ; for evidently, and in some cases, not the most legitimately, as the text is improved and corrected, to one end, the establishment of the Unitarian system, we are persuaded that no honest and competent reader, would find Unitarianism in the text, were he not assisted in the discovery by the creative and plastic energy of the notes....... It is in the human part-in the decisions of poor, vilified, exploded human authority, that the whole creed of Unitarianism has its foundation.”—Christian Observer, 1809. The preceding observations are too unqualified ; but they contain much truth.
from heaven, would be to represent that Revelation as incapable of accomplishing its own end,—which is, to illuminate the world. To demand from every disciple of Jesus the preliminary qualification of scholastic erudition, would be to pronounce a sentence of exclusion from the school of Christ, upon the vast majority of mankind; at once depriving them of all the blessings to be obtained from the provisions of salvation, and releasing them from all the responsibility incurred by the appeals and instruction of the Saviour.
But although the learning of the schools is not necessary to enable men to understand the essential principles of a moral system, it has a peculiar and appropriate province of its own. I maintain,—what, perhaps, my opponents deny,—that Christianity, as a system of revealed truth, is to be found in the Bible, and there only.* Scholarship, then, must be the instrument by which the knowledge of Christianity is transmitted from one language to another. And what learning has communicated, the same learning must be called in to defend against the assaults of its foes; while it alone can clear the truth from the misconceptions and distortions of that ignorance, which is, too frequently, as rashly ingenious in its speculations, as it is, in the laborious task of real investigation, indolent and careless.
For, if Christianity be not—as it unquestionably is not -“the property of critics and scholars,” still less is it the property of false criticism and pretended scholarship. And the legitimate employment of true learning, is to
* A distinction, I understand, has been attempted to be drawn, between " the Word of God," and “ the words of God.” Do our opponents intend to conceal themselves among the clouds of exploded mysticism? That, in the sense contended for, the Saviour is ever called “the Word of God," it would be difficult to prove; but the question is, are the words of God," to be found any where but in the Bible ?