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JANUARY 1, 1834.
The general objects of this work have been already set forth in the prospectus. And as its character will be better judged of by the manner in which it shall be conducted than by any prolix statement of our plan, we shall not trouble our readers with a lengthened preface.
One word, however, respecting the character of our doctrinal articles. In our own immediate vicinity, the discussion of such topics as the Trinity and the doctrines of Calvinism will perhaps appear like taking a step backwards into the region of by-gone controversy, and as being uncalled for by the prevailing state of religious opinions amongst us, now that Unitarianism has happily become so well established in our community. But it must be borne in mind that we are writing, not for our own community simply, but for the country at large, for sections upon which Unitarianism is but just now dawning. With those, then, to whose minds the argument on this subject has long been so familiar as to have now become almost stale, let this be our apology for reviving the argument and giving to it so large a space on our pages.
A word more, as to one other point — our title, The UNITARIAN. It is objected, as we anticipated it would be, that it savours of sectarianism. We selected this title, - not indeed, we trust, in a sectarian spirit, that is, with the view of
exciting divisions and fostering animosities, nor yet to help a party-object, - but simply to show our colours. Unitarians are every day charged with concealing their sentiments, with the desire of smoothing over their peculiarities in religious opinion. Now in order to meet this charge, we want our work to go forth bearing on its front the principles we hold. And besides, — in an age when error is so rise, we conceive it to be all-important to follow closely in the steps of the Apostle, "glorying in the cross of Christ ;” not
hiding the light under a bushel,” but setting it forth“ upon a candle-stick.” In common with our brethren, we look longingly for peace; yet we must say we have no sympathy, we cannot sympathize, with those who, for the sake of peace, are willing to consent even to that dishonourable peace which yields the ground to a system of faith of whose corruptness and pernicious effects every day is witness. We feel that Unitarians owe a duty to their faith, a solemn, a weighty duty, - that this cause is the cause of God, of Christ, the hope of the world, — and that we have no right to shrink from it, even seemingly. Believing thus, we would avow this cause openly, unequivocally. If the consequence be war, we shall deplore it, but we cannot think the blame will be ours ; even He who came to bring peace on earth brought first a sword. We shall therefore plainly declare what we solemnly believe to be the truth of the gospel; and we shall fearlessly expose what, guided by the principles of the gospel, we esteem error. We shall “speak the truth,”. we trust it may never be otherwise than “ in love.” Believing those who differ from us to be no less sincere than ourselves, we shall ever be ready, while we deny their doctrines, to extend to the individuals themselves the right hand of christian fellowship and brotherhood. We believe that there is no necessary connexion between controversy touching matters of faith and that evil spirit of vituperation which would make deadly foes of all who differ from one another ; and we trust, that by God's grace, we by our practice may demonstrate it.
Meantime, we commend our journal to the favour of the public, hoping for indulgence to its faults, and praying God that it may be made an instrument of good in our hands, – in its humble sphere, a light to the church, a herald of the gospel as it is in Christ Jesus, - a means of redemption to many from the sad gloom of false views of religion, on the one hand, from the fearful, and, as it would seem,
the wideyawning gulf of infidelity, on the other.
A Letter to the Editors, on the Religious Condition
and Wants of the Community, etc.
Permit me to express to you, Messrs. Editors, the satisfaction I have received from the prospectus of The UNITARIAN. Believing, as I do so firmly, that the truths we hold as the gospel of Jesus Christ are most intimately connected with the dearest interests of man, that they are truths eminently calculated to elevate and refine his character, to develope and strengthen whatever is pure and generous and excellent in his nature, to free him from sin and the power of all debasing influences, and to make him what he should be, what he was most obviously designed to be, like his Creator,
and, by their influence on the individual character, to nourish whatever is lovely in social and domestic life, and send abroad through society the vigorous and healthy streams of integrity, benevolence, and piety, I cannot but rejoice that a publication, of the character you propose, is forthcoming, and I trust that, by the blessing of God, it will be as successful as it is necessary.
Although your work will be mainly devoted to the explanation and defence of Unitarianism, I readily believe, what you would wish to be inferred from the prospectus, that its character will not be sectarian.* In advocating the cause of Unitarianism, you present the claims of Christianity. You will send your
* I wish that, some time or other, you would give the public an article on Sectarianism, and explain the meaning of the term, which I fear is but little uoderstood.