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- Let me remind you of the days that are past, when we took sweet counsel together and went to the house of God in company, wben we had to strive together for the faith of the gospel, to escape from ignorance and error, to free ourselves from the fetters of prejudice and human tradition, and to attain clear and consistent views of the truth as it is in Jesus; when we had to encounter the most formidable difficulties, were exposed to the grossest misrepresentations and the most bitter reproaches, and seemed to stand almost alone in maintaining what were called our new and strange doctrines, being disowned by our former religious connexions, and having, at that time, found scarcely any new oues : yet even then you were not afraid to follow truth on account of its unpopularity, to profess what you believed, and to adhere to a cause which those around you generally despised ; you shrank not from difficulties, you persevered in the search after truth, and, as you discovered it, gave it your countenance and support. :
May the same ardent love of truth, and zeal in its cause, the same firmness in the midst of difficulties, and deter
mined perseverance in promoting what you believe to be 1 pure and genuine Christianity, ever abide with you. Suffer
not your zeal to cool, nor your exertions to be diminished, Let the recollection of former times, of the ardour you then felt in searching after truth, of the pleasure you felt in the discovery of it, of the firmness with which you stood against the opposition you then met with, and of the exertions you then inade, revive the same feelings in your breasts and reaniinate you in the glorious cause in which you are engaged. If you be weary of well-doing, suffer your zeal to die, and fall from your steadfastness, what reward can you expect? You will lose all your former labour, and forfeit the crown of righteousness which the Lord hạth .promised to his faithful servants. I pray that this may not be the case with any of you; but that you may hold fast the beginning of your confidence and the rejoicing of hope firm unto the end, always abounding in every good work.. .
. More than thirty years have elapsed since I fixed iny residence and began my labours in your district. At that time, though on the whole an Unitarian, my views on many points of doctrine were not completely arranged and fixed; I had still much to do in informing myself and digesting my thoughts on various subjects, and for several years I knew not of a single Unitarian, either in the town where I was minister or in any part of the district. I had to bring before you, in all the places to which I extended iny labours, doctrines which were to you new, and whickr you had been taught to regard with abhorrence, as dangerous and damnable. This was done gradually, but witir openness and perseverance. You heard me with candour and serious attention; you opposed what you thought erroneous, until, by evidence and argument, convinced of its truth; and held fast what you had been taught to regard as truth until brought to perceive its repugnancy to the Scriptures. . The conflict we had to go through can best be judged of by those who have had their whole religious system to change, in the midst of a variety of difficulties and continual opposition. At length we so far succeeded in our inquiries and struggles after truth, that Unitaria Å Christianity, both in doctrine and in worship, seemed firm: ly established in different parts of the district, and the seeds of it pretty widely scattered : not only were many individuals brought to avow it, but whole congregations; so that Unitarian worship was regularly conducted in different places, and a numerous and respectable associations was formed several years before my removal from you.
It is with peculiar interest that I review the time and circumstances to which I have referred, and I am anxious to revive in your ininds the devout ardour, mutual affection and holy zeal I have heard you formerly express, and to stir you up to renewed exertions in the great canse in which I have seen you take so lively an interest.
I am, my Christian Brethrer, most truly and affectionately, yours, &c. ..
Singular Tribute to the Memory of Dr. Priestley. CERTAIN occurrences, now and then, would almost make us doubt whether the world is making progress in truth and liberty; but there turn up facts occasionally which will allow us to doubt no longer, and bring home to our breasts the delightful assurance, that the efforts of the labourers and sufferers in the cause of mankind have not been in vain, that the standard of the human mind is rising, that prejudice and bigotry are gradually sinking away, and that whatever names of error and offence may
remain, the spirit of truth, the spirit of goodness, the Holy Spirit (for it is the Spirit of God) is predominant amongst us.
We are led to this remark by what took place at Birmingham in October last. At an annual dinner given by the Low Bailiff, persons of all parties usually assemble. On this occasion, there was, we understand, a more than ordinary mixture of creeds and worships. In such a company, an aged clergyman, Mr. Burn, who had been an eager and fierce opponent of Dr. PRIESTLEY, just before the memorable Riots, took the opportunity of recanting his own prejudices and of shewing respect to the memory of the long-deceased Patriot, Philosopher and Christian Re. former. The key-note of charity was struck, and the chords of Christian benevolence vibrated in harmony throughout every heart.
The following report of the proceedings is from “ The Birmingham Journal,” a paper lately established in that town, avowedly supporting High-Church principles, but
conducted with much impartiality and ability. On the hul toast being given, The Established Clergy of this town and
The Rev. Mr. BURN said, it devolved upon him to acknowledge the honour they had done the clergy of the town, and himself, by the manner in which the last toast had been received. He felt with peculiar pleasure, after a residence of forty years in Birmingham, the manner in which he had the satisfaction and happiness of meeting that day persons of all opinions on the terms of cordiality. They had seen other days, when discord and disunion stalked abroad; but those times, he hoped, had now gone by for ever. The clergy were instructed in the school of the Constitution and of that Christianity which they taught. In the school of the Constitution they learnt to do what they considered right themselves, and leave others to act according to their own opinion. In that of Christianity, they were taught that that man who was acting in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel was deserving the friendship of his Christian brethren, however different their sentiments might be. That church to which he belonged inculcated feelings of charity to all mankind, and though there might be things in which they differed, they had no prerogative to assume the right of directing the consciences of others. He could only say, that whatever might have been the defects of his own conduct, in the earlier periods of his life, he now felt himself better established in the principles of his religion than at any former period; yet had be to live his past life over again, he should
have to correct the asperity of feelings and expressions which it was his misfortune to have used in his controversies with a late respectable and highly-talented individual (Dr. Priestley). Whatever degree of error there might have been in that procedure, he begged to say, that it did not arise from any disrespect to that highly-respected individual, but from what he then con. sidered to be his duty. (Cheers.) The probability was, he might not again have an opportunity of avouring his ininten: tional errors; and, at the same time, of stating his consciena tious opinions. He wished also to declare his satisfaction at the liberal feelings and constitutional sentiments which had been that day expressed, and his entire concurrence with every thing that had been said in that room relative to those liberal prin ciples which might tend to perpetuate the prosperity and happiness of the town of Birmingliam. To promote those ends was their purpose in attending that day, and would be their never-ceasing endeavours. (Loud cheers.)
The Rev. T. CHAPMAN * expressed his perfect assent to the opinions which had just been delivered, and in accordance with those sentiments, and in that spirit of liberality, he begged to propose the health of the Dissenting Ministers of this town and neighbourhood. (Loud applause.)
The Rev. Mr. Corrie,t in returning thanks, said, he did so with ten-fold pleasure, because he considered the toast they had given as a testimony of their possessing those liberal Christian. principles which had been expressed by the clergymen on the other side the table. The spirit of religious bigotry, he hoped, was flying away, and that they should be still more and more united in the bonds of Christian charity.
The Rev. H. HUTTON I felt himself called upon to express his thanks for the mark of respect which had been shewn to the Dissenting ministers of the town, and he hoped the chairman would excuse his proposing a toast, in unison with the senti. ments that had been expressed, which was—the Catholic Clergy of the town of Birmingham.
The Rev. Mr. M'Donnell & said, that in rising on this occasion he participated in the feelings expressed by the gentle. men who had preceded him, and he also experienced sentiments which were peculiar to himself. That was the first time, this toast had been proposed on occasions like the present, and he regretted that none more able than himself was there to return thanks adequate to the manner in which the toast had been given. He hailed it as the establishment of the great principle that all the members of the Christian religion are alike worthy
* A Clergyman of the Church of England. of An Unitarian Minister. ,
Minister of the Old Meeting (Unitarian), Birmingham. § A Catholic Priest.
of being admitted into Christian fellowship-of a system which went to destroy all difference arising from religious sentiments in the great principle of the Christian religion, which was-universal charity. (Cheers.) He was ready to enter the arena of religious discussion, and to shew the superiority of liis creed by the superior evidence of its possessing that grand principle of Christianity-universal benevolence. Difference of faith would, perhaps, exist till a late period, but it should be their duty to prove that there is one virtue common to all, which is greater ihan faith; and he hoped the time would come wben the spirit of Christian benevolence would be universally diffused, and that they might meet hereafter and unite in one common bond of fellowship. These were the sentiments he had cherished from a child, and were entertained by all his brethren. He felt inoté than usual in returning thanks to the company on such an oc. casion, and he most heartily wished health and happiness to them all. (Loud applause.)
History of the Unitarian Congregation now building a
Chapel at Radford, Nottingham.
Nottingham, February 15, 1826. The lively and praiseworthy interest manifested by yourself and a large proportion of your readers in the spread and establishinent of doctrines which you believe to be really those of the Gospel, encourage us in an endeavour, through the medium of the Reformer, to direct the attention of the Unitarian public to the situation (as set forth by himself) of a worthy and acceptable Minister, aud a respect. able, though small, society of Unitarians, of the lower class, in Radford, a populous village in the vicinity of Nottingbam.
In the hope that his appeal to public feeling will meet · with the countenance and aid which we believe that it deserves, we remain, &c.,
JAMES TAYLER. ;
Society, Nottingham. os Rey. AND DEAR SIR,
With respect to the rise, progress and present state of our little society at Radford, I inform you, that we were originally a society of Methodists, amongst whom I was brought up. My parents were pious members of that cominunity; and, when I arrived at years of maturity, I joined the society from a conviction of their piety and use.