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The completeness with which modern Unitarianism has divested itself of every trace of the supernatural will be seen from the following extracts.

Dr. Martineau, criticising Mr. Greg’s Creed of Christendom, writes: “The education and habits of a refined and devout Unitarian family gave him the theory of life from which his independent thoughts set out. Outside observers, both sceptical and mystical, have always upbraided that theory as a weak attempt to blend incompatible elements and settle the contradictions of the world by a hollow compromise, while not denying its correspondence with a certain equilibrium of understanding and character. It may be described as essentially natural religion, enlarged and completed by a supernatural appendix. The whole of its theism, and half of its ethics, were within the reach of the human reason and conscience; but of the inner and higher range of morals,—spiritual purity, forgiveness of injuries, love to the unlovely,—the obligation was first impressed by the Christian Revelation. And the life beyond death, vainly pursued by the dialectic Plato, and claimed by the rhetoric of Cicero, became an assured reality with the Resurrection of Christ. The universe was a mechanical system of delegated causality, instituted for beneficent and righteous ends, and, for their better attainment, not excluding fresh intercalary volitions at special crises. . . . The former of these conceptions it cost Mr. Greg but little to modify or even to sacrifice,” etc.—Nineteenth Century, February 1883.

What even Mr. Greg desires to retain of reverence for the spiritual perfection of Jesus, Mr. F. W. Newman, in his review of the volume, regards only as an amiable weakness, in total inconsistency with Mr. Greg’s own principles of treatment of the Gospels. See passage quoted in Note F. to Lecture I. (from Fortnightly Review, vol. xiv.).

In his Loss and Gain in Recent Theology (1881), Dr. Martineau sets himself explicitly to state the position of present-day Unitarianism; and the two gains he principally notices are: “the total disappearance from our branch of the Reformed Churches of all external authority in matters of religion” (“the yoke of the Bible follows the yoke of the Church,” p. 9);881881The late Principal Cairns observes on this: “It is important to remark how completely his admission bears out the whole contention of writers of the school opposite to his in the Socinian controversy, that the tendency of Unitarian doctrine and criticism was to abrogate the authority of Scripture, and reduce it to the level of human literature. This allegation was vehemently resisted in their day by the Polish brethren, who often put on Scripture a non-natural sense rather than seem to invade its authority; and in more recent times, by Priestley and Belsham, and other controversialists. It will be remembered that in the earnest debate between Moses Stuart and Channing on the Trinity, the former urged the latter, by the example of Continental rationalism, no longer to profess unlimited submission to Scripture, but to escape insuperable critical difficulties which arose on his side, by openly denying its claims to be a judge in controversy.”—Art. in Catholic Presbyterian, November 1888. and, second, “the disappearance of the entire Messianic theology.” “As objective reality, as a faithful representation of our invisible and ideal universe, it is 393gone from us, gone, therefore, from our interior religion, and become an outside mythology. From the Person of Jesus, for instance, everything official, attached to Him by evangelists or divines, has fallen away; when they put such false robes on Him, they were but leading Him to death. The pomp of royal lineage and fulfilled prediction, the prerogative of King, of Priest, of Judge, the advent with retinue of angels on the clouds of heaven, are to us mere deforming investitures, misplaced, like court dresses, on the ’spirits of the just,’ and He is simply the Divine Flower of humanity, blossoming after ages of spiritual growth—the realised possibility of life in God....All that has been added to that real historic scene,—the angels that hang around His birth, and the fiend that tempts His youth; the dignities that await His future,—the throne, the trumpet, the assize, the bar of judgment; with all the apocalyptic splendours and terrors that ensue—Hades and the Crystal Sea, Paradise and the Infernal Gulf, nay, the very boundary walls of the Kosmic panorama that contains these things, have for us utterly melted away, and left us amid the infinite space and the silent stars” (pp. 14, 15).

“Time was,” says the Rev. J. W. Chadwick, of Brooklyn, “when Christianity was universally regarded by Unitarians as a supernatural revelation, attested by signs and wonders, promulgated by One who, even if purely human, was endowed with certain supernatural gifts, and perpetuated in a literature—the New Testament—whose writers were miraculously restrained from all erroneous statement, whether of doctrine or fact. These views are no longer held in their entirety by Unitarians. . . . There are to-day few Unitarians, if any, who believe in any of the New Testament miracles, from the birth of Jesus to His Resurrection inclusive, in the proper sense of the word miracles—violations of natural laws.”—In a recent paper, Why I am a Unitarian.

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