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Our Unitarian Gospel

De
342 pages
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Our Unitarian Gospel, by Minot SavageThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.orgTitle: Our Unitarian GospelAuthor: Minot SavageRelease Date: June 13, 2006 [EBook #18578]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK OUR UNITARIAN GOSPEL ***Produced by Edmund DejowskiOUR UNITARIAN GOSPEL B M. J. SAVAGE "The good news of the blessed God"BOSTON GEO. II. Ews, 141 FRANKLIN STREET 1898.DedicationTO THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT THE MESSAGE OF GOD TO HIS CHILDREN MUST BEONE OF LIFE AND HOPE INSTEAD OF A THEOLOGY WHICH TEACHES DEATH ANDDESPAIR.NOTE. The sermons which make up this volume were spoken in the Church of the Messiah during the season of 1897-98. They are printed as delivered, not as literature, but for the sake of preaching to a larger congregation than can bereached on Sunday morning.CONTENTS.UNITARIANISM "WHAT DO YOU IN PLACE OF WHAT YOU TAKE AWAY?" ARE THERE ANY CREEDS WHICH IT IS WICKED FOR US TO QUESTION? WHYHAVE UNITARIANS NO CREED? THE REAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRESENT RELIGIOUS DISCUSSION DOUBT AND FAITH - BOTH IS LIFE A PROBATIONENDED BY DEATH? SIN AND ATONEMENT PRAYER, AND COMMUNION WITH GOD THE WORSHIP OF GOD MORALITY NATURAL, NOT STATUTORYREWARD AND PUNISHMENT THINGS WHICH DOUBT CANNOT DESTROY ...
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Our Unitarian
Gospel, by Minot Savage
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at
no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the
terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Title: Our Unitarian Gospel
Author: Minot Savage
Release Date: June 13, 2006 [EBook #18578]
Language: English
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK OUR UNITARIAN GOSPEL ***
Produced by Edmund Dejowski
OUR UNITARIAN GOSPEL B M. J. SAVAGE "The
good news of the blessed God"
BOSTON GEO. II. Ews, 141 FRANKLIN STREET
1898.Dedication
TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT THE MESSAGE
OF GOD TO HIS CHILDREN MUST BE
ONE OF LIFE AND HOPE INSTEAD OF A
THEOLOGY WHICH TEACHES DEATH AND
DESPAIR.
NOTE. The sermons which make up this volume
were spoken in the Church of the Messiah during
the season of 1897-98. They are printed as
delivered, not as literature, but for the sake of
preaching to a larger congregation than can be
reached on Sunday morning.
CONTENTS.
UNITARIANISM "WHAT DO YOU IN PLACE OF
WHAT YOU TAKE AWAY?" ARE THERE ANY
CREEDS WHICH IT IS WICKED FOR US TO
QUESTION? WHY HAVE UNITARIANS NO
CREED? THE REAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
PRESENT RELIGIOUS DISCUSSION DOUBT
AND FAITH - BOTH IS LIFE A PROBATION
ENDED BY DEATH? SIN AND ATONEMENT
PRAYER, AND COMMUNION WITH GOD THE
WORSHIP OF GOD MORALITY NATURAL, NOT
STATUTORY REWARD AND PUNISHMENT
THINGS WHICH DOUBT CANNOT DESTROY
EVOLUTION LOSES NOTHING OF VALUE TO
MAN WHY ARE NOT ALL EDUCATED PEOPLE
UNITARIANS? WHERE IS THE EVANGELICALCHURCH?UNITARIANISM.
THROUGH the lack of having made themselves
familiar with the matter, there is a common and, I
think, a widespread impression among people
generally that Unitarianism is a new-fangled notion,
a modern fad, a belief held only by a few, who are
one side of the main currents of religious life and
advance.
Even if it were new, even if it were confined to the
modern world, this would not necessarily be
anything against it. The Copernican theory of the
universe is new, is modern. So are most of the
great discoveries that characterize and glorify the
present age.
But in the case of Unitarianism this cannot be said.
It is not new: it is very old. And, before I come to
discuss and outline a few of its great principles, it
seems to me well that we should get in our minds a
background of historic thought, that we may see a
little what are the sources and origins of this
Unitarianism, and may understand why it is that
there is a new and modern birth of it in the modern
world.
All races start very far away from any Monotheistic
or Unitarian belief. The Hebrews are no exception
to that rule. The early part of the Bible shows very
plain traces of the fact that the Jews were
polytheists and nature-worshippers. If I shouldtranslate literally the first verse of the Bible, it
would read in this way: In the beginning the Strong
Ones created the heavens and the earth. "The
word that we have translated God is in the plural;
and I have already given you its meaning. This is
only a survival, a trace, of that primeval belief
which the Jews shared with all the rest of the
world."
From this polytheistic position the people took a
step forward to a state of mind which Professor
Max Muller calls henotheism; that is, they believed
in the real existence of many gods, but that they
were under allegiance to only one, their national
Deity, and that him only they must serve.
I suppose this state of thought was maintained
throughout the larger part of the history of the
Hebrew nation. You will find traces constantly, in
the early part of the Old Testament, at any rate, of
the belief of the people in the other gods, and their
constant tendency to fall away to the worship of
these other gods. But by and by all this was
outgrown, and left behind; and the Hebrew people
came to occupy a position of monotheism, spiritual
monotheism, that is, they were passionate
Unitarians, so far as the meaning of that word is
concerned. Though, of course, I would not have
you understand that many, perhaps most, of the
principles which are held today under the name of
Unitarian were known to them at that time, or
would have been accepted, had they been known.
In the sense, however, of believing in the onenessof God, they were
Unitarians.
Now, when Christianity comes into the world, what
shall we say? It is the assumption on the part of
most of the old- time churches that Jesus made it
perfectly plain to his disciples that he was a divine
being, that he claimed to be one himself, and that
the claim was recognized.
So far, however, as any authentic record with
which we are familiar goes, Jesus himself was a
Unitarian. All the disciples were Unitarians. Paul
was a Unitarian. The New Testament is a Unitarian
book from beginning to end. The finest critics of
the world will tell you that there is no trace of any
other teaching there. And so, for the first three
hundred years of the history of the Church,
Unitarianism was its prevailing doctrine.
I have no very good memory for names. So I have
brought here a little leaflet which contains some
that I wish to speak of. Among the Church Fathers,
Clement, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen,
and Lactantius, all of them in their writings make it
perfectly clear and unquestioned that the belief of
the Church, the majority belief for the first three
centuries, was Unitarian. Of course, the process of
thought here and there was going on which finally
culminated in the doctrine of the Trinity. That is,
people were beginning more and more to exalt, as
they supposed, the character, the office, the
mission of Jesus; coming more and more to
believe that he was something other than a man,that he was above and beyond humanity.
But one other among the Fathers, Justin Martyr,
one of the best known of all, takes care to point out
explicitly his belief. I will read you just two or three
words from it. He says: "There is a Lord of the
Lord Jesus, being his Father and God, and the
Cause of his existence."
This belief, then, was universal, practically
universal, throughout the first three centuries. But
the process of growth was going on which finally
culminated in the controversy which was settled by
the Council of Nicaea, held in the early part of the
fourth century; that is, the year 325. The leaders of
this controversy, as you know, were Arius, on the
Unitarian side, and Athanasius, fighting hard for the
doctrine then new in the Church, of the Trinity.
The majority of the bishops and leading men of the
Church at that time were on the side of Arius; but
at last the Emperor Constantine settled the
dispute. Now you know that the sceptre of a
despotic emperor may not reason, may not think;
but it is weightier than either reason or thought in
the settlement of a controversy like this at such a
period in the history of the world. So Constantine
settled the controversy in favor of the Trinitarians;
and henceforth you need not wonder that
Unitarianism did not grow, for it was mercilessly
repressed and crushed out for the next thousand
years.
Unitarianism, however, is not alone in this. Let mecall your attention to a fact of immense significance
in this matter. All this time the study of science and
philosophy, that dared to think beyond the limits of
the Church's doctrine, were crushed out. There
was no free philosophy, there was no free study of
science, there was no free anything for a thousand
years. The secular armed forces of Europe, with
penalties of imprisonment, of the rack, of the fagot,
of torture of every kind, were enlisted against
anything like liberty of thinking.
So you need not wonder, then, that there was
neither any science nor any Unitarianism to be
heard of until the Renaissance. What was the
Renaissance? It was the rising again of human
liberty, the possibility once more of man's freedom
to think and study. Though the armed forces of
Europe were for a long time against it, the rising
tide could not be entirely rolled back, and so it
gained on human thought and human life more and
more. And out of this the Renaissance came, the
new birth of science, on the one hand, and on the
other, issuing in the Reformation's assertion of the
right of thought and of private judgment in matters
of religion; and along with this latter the rebirth of
Unitarianism, its reappearance again as a force in
the history of the world.
During this Reformation period there are many
names of light and power, among them being
Servetus, whom Calvin burned because he was a
Unitarian; Laelius and Faustus Socinus, Bernardino
Ochino, Blandrata, and Francis David; and, more
noted in some ways than any of them, GiordanoBruno, the man who represents the dawn of the
modern world more significantly than any other
man of his age, not entirely a Unitarian, but fighting
a battle out of which Unitarianism sprung, freedom
of thought, the right of private judgment, the
scientific study of the universe, the attempt,
unhampered by the Church's dogma or power, to
understand the world in which we live.
As a result of this Renaissance, what happened?
Let me run over very rapidly the condition of things
in Europe at the present time, with some glances
back, that you may see that Unitarianism has
played just as large a part as you could expect it to
play, larger and grander than you could expect it,
considering the conditions.
In Hungary, one of the few countries where
freedom of thought in religion has been permitted,
there has been a grand organization of the
Unitarian Church for more than three hundred
years, not only churches, but a Unitarianism that
has controlled colleges and universities and
directed the growth of learning.
Let us look to the North. In Sweden and Norway it
is still a crime to organize a church that teaches
that Jesus is not God. So we may expect to find no
Unitarian churches there; though there are many
and noble Unitarian men, thinkers and teachers.
Come to Germany. There are no organized
Unitarian churches under that name here; but
there is a condition of things that is encouraging for
us to note. There is a union of the Protestant

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