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to form a moral sect , any more than a political party , without erecting for it a distinct standard , without forming some mass of principle , without founding itself , in fine , on some grounds more noble and substantial than mere negative ideas , mere dissent , this third class have
adopted a creed , vague indeed and undefined , as yet extant but in airy speculation , yet for that very cause more convenient . To define what this creed , or those principles are , is beyond my power . "— -Vol . III . pp . 222—229 .
On R . M ' s Questions on the Atonement . To the Editor . Sir , Ireland , June 13 , 1828 . " In the spirit of candour and sincere inquiry after truth , " which I cordially believe has actuated your correspondent
" R . M ., " in your Number for May , I beg to offer a very few comments on the subject , upon which , in common with him , I entertain a very anxious interest ; and which , if treated in the manner his example recommends , instead of in that acrimonious , dogmatic , and insolent tine , which is alike the bane of all Christian
charity and all rational discussion , might be rendered the source of much plea ' surable excitement to the mind , and of mutual instruction to the contending parties . I think I can discover one deep error at the foundation of the reasoning to which R . M . seems at present disposed to resign himself . In speaking of the Justice of God > , he appears to answer
the Unitarian ' s objection , —that to have treated Christ , who was really innocent , as if he were a guilty person , " would be a counterfeit of justice , and a collusion beneath the character of God /'—by urging the reverse of that treatment , with respect to man , which he supposes to be the admitted doctrine of Scripture , namely , that it can as little become the justice of God to treat , as innocent , him who is ** actually and really guilty . "
But is this the doctrine of Scripture ? I apprehend uot . To me it is apparent that no person is said to be forgiven , upon mere faith , unless that faith include in it a renunciation of sin t and the * commencing of a totally opposite course of thought and action . * ' If any man be in Christ , he is a new creature - old things are passed away ; behold all things are become new . " Of which fewness , and putting away of former evil habits ,
&c , baptism was the external sign ; . intimating , by the submersion then practised in that form , that , having buried , or drowned , —and , as the apostle , always exuberant in figures , sometimes expresses it , " crucified the old man ;" the body of sin being thus destroyed , men should thenceforth no longer serve it .
Now I put it to the verdict of unsophisticated human nature , whether that be the same attribute which would forgive the unconverted , the uurepenting , the wilful , hardened , insensible , offender , with that which would extend a pardon to the humble , contrite , confessing , regenerated , supplicant , whom alone the
Scriptures and common sense recognise as the genuine Christian believer ? Is the former , which is the proceeding your correspondent would seem to fix upon the Deity , a remission consistent with justice ? No ; it is an indulgence granted upon the most arbitrary , improper , and mischievous grounds .
Is the latter , supposing it to be an uncircuitous and uninflueneed manifestation of favour towards repentance , inconsistent with it ? No ; it is a mercy administered upon the most intelligible , worthy , and beneficial grounds . I could wish your correspondent , and all the unbigoted orthodox , ( among whom I have pleasure in recollecting " Clericus Cantabrigieijsis , " nor would I willingly exclude Dr . Pye Smith from the number , )
to consider well , that mercy and justice are absolutely consentaneous ; and that , correctly understood , each may be said to lose itself in the other . For mercy never pardons where justice disapproves ; and justice never desires to punish where mercy can be fitly applied . The Divine Mercy is exerted only when it is proper to be exerted ; and it would be aa much a violation of justice aa it would of mercy , not to exert it when it is proper . Speaking strictly , therefore—and in .
Occasional Correspondence . 565
OCCASIONAL CORRESPONDENCE .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Aug. 2, 1828, page 565, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2563/page/53/