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That this change is in progress, we hope and believe; nevertheless, there are peculiarities in the position of Unitarians in this country, especially in the relation which they bear to other denominations, which have materially impeded it, and we fear, to a certain extent, will continue to do so. There are circumstances altogether distinct from the genuine intrinsic character of our principles, and even from the prevailing spirit and temper of those who profess them, which make it less easy for Unitarians to give their religious views that full practical influence over the affections and sentiments of the heart, which they are entitled, and in their own nature well fitted, to exert. It is our misfortune not our fault that, owing as we think to the unfounded and unreasonable prejudices of others, we are almost inevitably, more or less, a church militant. We are not permitted to hold and profess our principles in peace. They are the continual subjects of attack and defence. Numerous and powerful parties, both in the Establishment and of our Dissenting brethren, differing among themselves on many other points, agree to make common cause against Unitarians; and not contented with opposing their doctrines by fair argument, do not hesitate to revile the persons who hold them, misrepresenting their characters and motives, and calling in question their right to the Christian name, because, in the free and conscientious exercise of their undoubted right to inquire and judge for

means agree; and others, which we approve in the main, he seems to us to carry to an extreme; but these are combined with so much that is thoroughly excellent, that we cannot but cordially wish him the success which we confidently anticipate from his labors. His unwearied activity, and his remarkable facility both as a speaker and a writer, fit him preeminently for the work of powerfully impressing the popular mind; and we regard him as occupying a distinguished place among the instruments raised up by Providence for bringing on a great and extensive improvement in the prevailing opinions and feelings, and in the habits and manners, of the lower classes of this country. Whether Mr. Barker or any large portion of his followers will ever identify themselves with the Unitarians as a denomination may be uncertain, and is a matter of very inferior moment; but we cannot doubt the more important fact, that he is the destined leader in a formidable assault on the old edifice of error and superstition, and in bringing many to a substantial acknowledgment and practical application of the truth. If these great objects are promoted, we shall rejoice, by whatever name their votaries may be called, or whoever may be the chief agent in the mighty change.

An interesting article on Joseph Barker, his opinions, labors and publications, from the pen of one who evidently knows him well, may be found in the Christian Teacher for October last, p. 443.

themselves, and in the absence of all imaginable worldly inducement to embrace an unpopular creed, they have been led on certain important points to adopt conclusions widely different from those professed by the bulk of their fellow-disciples. The consequence is, that we are perhaps too apt to regard our principles, not with reference to their practical tendency and character, but as subjects for controversy and debate. We dwell too often, not on our actual positive faith, but on the points in which we differ from those around us; not on the great truths and doctrines of natural and revealed religion, which we hold with a firm and abiding conviction, but on the various tenets maintained by our opponents, which we do not believe. Thus the statement of our principles is often apt to assume a negative form, which is by no means expressive of its real character, and leads many to think unfavorably of its practical efficacy. For it is self-evident, that if a beneficial influence is to be exerted by our religious opinions on our conduct, on our principles and motives, on our social and devotional affections, it must arise from what we believe, and not from what we reject. But the too common result of the state of opposition in which we are placed in reference to other denominations is, that the latter is apt to divert our thoughts occasionally from the more profitable contemplation of the former. Certain it is, that our views on all the great doctrines of religion, on all the momentous questions relating to the being and perfections and providence of God, to the character, commission and message of Jesus Christ, to the duties, condition and expectations of men, are as real, positive and substantial as those of any other class of Christians; and if they do not exercise a corresponding influence over our hearts and lives, the fault lies not in them, but in ourselves.

It does however sometimes happen, that being so much. called upon to defend our opinions against the gainsayer, we are liable to think more of the uncomfortable relation in which we stand to those that are without, than of that which we sustain, or ought to sustain, to each other; and to view in our distinguishing religious principles, not things which minister to peace and mutual edification, but the subjects of strife and contention. We have sometimes been more eager to root out from the religious soil the nox

ious weeds of corruption and false doctrine, than to raise in their stead the salutary fruits of the spirit, "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance." We have besides been placed, by the opposition and hostility of others, in a state of unmerited exclusion from the sympathies of a large part of the Christian world. We cannot but feel it a serious privation, to be thus as it were shut out from the hearts of our brethren, and to be kept at a distance by many of those whom we respect and esteem, and to whom, if they would permit us, we would gladly extend the right hand of Christian fellowship. This is one of the trials to which we are exposed; and it must be admitted, that the trial is sometimes hard to bear.

One of the most remarkable characteristics of the English Unitarian Dissenters is the almost entire absence, in the greater number of their societies, of any prescribed, or even distinctly recognized, internal constitution. This may have arisen in part, perhaps, from their still continuing to be called Presbyterians, notwithstanding the abandonment of the form of Church government to which that name has everywhere else been applied. The name, while it no longer denoted anything really existing, may have been enough to prevent any other internal or external constitution from taking its place. However this may be, the fact is, that in many, perhaps the majority of cases the members of Unitarian congregations have no very close bond of union as such, but resort to the same place of worship in consequence of their approbation of the doctrines professed or preached there, or of their personal regard and attachment to the officiating minister; to which indeed may often be added an hereditary attachment to the place with which they, and their ancestors for generations back, have been uniformly connected. There is nothing corresponding to the distinction observed by the Independents, between the congregation at large, and the exclusive body called "the church." We presume not to sit in judgment on our fellow-worshippers, to examine their faith and "experience," or to determine by a majority of votes who shall and who shall not be permitted to comply with the dying command of the Saviour, "Do this in remembrance of me." There are of course proper officers to receive seat-rents and sub

scriptions, and take care of the temporal concerns of the congregation; but otherwise there is little or nothing left for an individual member to do in that capacity. He comes or goes, attends or stays away, just as seems to him good.

Whatever influence such a complete negation of government, control, or mutual inspection may have on the independent exercise of the right of private judgment in individuals, it can hardly be other than unfavorable to the prosperity of a denomination; especially where so many inducements of a temporal nature present themselves to entice the less zealous, the wavering, the thoughtless, or the worldly, into other Connexions. We have here a sufficient cause for the decline of many of our older congregations, which in some instances have dwindled away to a mere handful. A considerable change has taken place in this respect of late years, and more might still be done to advantage even in those societies where most has been done already, which without infringing in the least the liberty of thought and action, might have a satisfactory tendency to draw closer the bonds of union, by increasing the number, variety, importance and interest of the objects for the sake of which that union is maintained. The immediate and prominent motive for the voluntary connexion of a number of individuals in one religious society is, that they may meet together at stated times for religious worship and instruction, on principles and in the public profession of doctrines which they agree in believing to be rational and Scriptural; but there are, or may be, or ought to be, combined with this, a variety of auxiliary institutions, which increase its efficacy, and render their association more beneficial in many ways, both to themselves and to others. These relate to their own personal improvement as individuals, to the warmer interest which they may learn to take in each other, to the useful influence which they may collectively exercise on their neighborhood and on society at large, to the general spread of religious knowledge, to the promotion of their own views of Christian truth, to the assistance of other religious societies, formed or to be formed on the same principles with their own, to the support of institutions for liberal education, especially of young men destined for the Christian ministry, and to other pur

poses in which the main object and principle of their union lead them to take an interest. With these and similar views, congregational libraries, Sunday and week-day schools, meetings for prayer or free and friendly conversation on religious subjects, fellowship funds, benefit societies, home missions, and the like, are now more and more frequently introduced; which it is desirable to constitute in such a manner, as to engage in their active management as large a proportion as possible of every class of the congregation. By this means, in addition to the valuable objects which these institutions have immediately in view, another scarcely less important may be effected indirectly, by bringing nearer together the members of our societies, so that they shall be more ready to afford their mutual countenance and aid in every good work, laboring in concert towards the accomplishment of one great end which equally concerns them all, namely, their mutual edification, through the more constant and effective influence of the principles of religion upon their hearts, and the more extensive diffusion of knowledge, virtue and practical holiness among all those whom they can assist or serve.

These, and such as these, are plans which may be carried into effect by each separate congregation within itself; but, without interfering with any kind of independence which is really desirable, other institutions are and may be set on foot, which call for the joint and concerted support of many distinct congregations. Our various associations established in different parts of the country for the publication and distribution of tracts, Sunday school unions, both in England and Ireland, village mission societies, and the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, are all valuable and important in this way; though the last, we are sorry to say, notwithstanding its comprehensive title, receives only a partial and limited support from a large portion of our body. The opportunities of friendly intercourse which the anniversary and other periodical meetings of these institutions afford, are in themselves of great value, in facilitating the interchange of useful plans and suggestions, and promoting a feeling of Christian brotherhood. One of their principal immediate objects is also very important, in extending the operations of " the silent missionary," by the circulation of a great number of valuable tracts,

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