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IRISH UNITARIAN MAGAZINE.
The threatened cessation of the Bible Christian has happily led to its continuance in an enlarged form, and with prospects of increased interest. In enlarging the form, it has been considered advisable to adopt the title of Irish Unitarian Magazine, as more distinctly expressive of the objects which it is intended to serve. We regard such a periodical as most important to our denomination in Ireland, as it is the only vehicle of religious intelligence connected with our church which the people possess; and ignorance respecting the difficulties, labours, and success of our brethren, is sure to engender indiffer. ence respecting them; while the man that is indifferent to the spiritual freedom and progress of others soon becomes indifferent to his own spiritual condition,
The world is, at the present time, awake to the cause of religious reform, and wherever we look, in England, France, Germany, we see traces of a growing interest in Scriptural Christianity. Now, therefore, we particularly need the assistance of the press to convey to us tidings of the progress of freedom and truth. Now, too, a blind attachment to human authority is leading men back to the religion of a darker age, and it is most necessary to set forth the Scriptures as the only sure rule of faith. There never was a time when more vigorous efforts were made in the cause of moral and social reform, as evidenced by domestic missions in the larger cities, and philanthropic exertions everywhere. In these good works, Unitarian Christians are prominent, and in them Unitarians generally should take a lively interest. Intelligence on these subjects will occupy an important place in the Irish Unitarian Magazine ; while one benevolent and Christian institution,-the Sunday School,will receive particular notice.
Much of the value of the Bible Christian latterly consisted in the extracts which were given from American works. Some may have supposed that it dealt too liberally in foreign articles ; but the life, and energy, and
of our church in New England, will be to most an ample apology for drawing so largely on its writings, and noticing so particularly its public institutions and meetings. From the same valuable source, the pages of the Irish Unitarian Magazine will be enriched; but we would, at the same time, earnestly solicit our brethren, lay and clerical, to give a more local interest to the work, by frequent contributions and the communication of suitable intelligence.
We are gratified to be enabled to state that the Rev. Dr. Montgomery has consented to make this work the vehicle of publication of a History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, which he has undertaken at the request of the Remonstrant Synod, giving an outline of the events which led to the secession of the Remonstrant Synod from the General Assembly, and also giving the principal events connected with the passing of the Dissenters' Chapels Bill. The first portion of this history will appear in February, and it will be continued from month to month.
We expect that other articles of an important character will be regularly furnished ; and we wonld respectfully suggest to our contributors that their papers would possess additional value if accompanied by their names, or the initials of their names.
FAITH OF THE UNITARIAN CHRISTIAN.
EXTRACTS FROM THE DISCOURSE PREACHED BY THE REV. DR. GANNETT, AT
THE DEDICATION OF THE UNITARIAN CHURCH, MONTREAL.
What are the truths of Unitarian Christianity? What do Unitarians believe? This is the first question, and it is one which thousands might ask under a profound ignorance even of the nature of the reply that would be given. So little pains llave been taken to learn what we really hold as truth, and so great misapprehension prevails, that the simplest statement of our faith may not be out of place. We believe, then, in God, as the Supreme, Perfect, and Infinite Being, Lord of heaven and earth, Author of all life, Source of every blessing, Searcher of hearts, and Judge of men. We believe in his universal, constant, and righteous providence, through which alone the framework of the creation and the processes of animate or inanimate existence are sustained. We believe in his moral government, which he exercises over all beings endowed with intellectual or moral capacities, and which, as it is rightfully exercised, so is inflexibly administered. We believe in his paternal character, in which he has been pleased to reveal himself to our admiration and love; a character which never shows him to us as weakly indulgent or capriciously tender, but as always consistent with his own perfections, while full of parental regard towards men. We believe in the requisitions of duty which he has promulgated, by which are laid upon us the obligations of outward and inward righteousness; and it is made incumbent on us to cultivate purity, devotion, disinterestedness, and the harmonious expansion of our nature, that the result may be an excellence which shall redound to the glory of God. We believe in his mercy, which enables him, without impairing the integrity of his government or subverting the original conditions of his favour, to forgive the penitent sinner and admit the renewed soul to an inheritance of eternal life. We believe in his revelations, which he has made by those of old times who spake as they were moved by the holy spirit-Moses and the divinely inspired teachers of the Jewish people, and in a later age, by Jesus Christ, the Son of his love and the Messenger of his grace. We believe that God is one in every sense in which the term can be applied to him- one in nature, in person, in character, in revelation; and therefore we are Unitarians. We believe that Jesus was the Christ-the Anointed and Sent of God, whose truth he proclaimed, whose authority he represented, whose love ho unfolded; and therefore we are Christians. We believe that Jesus Christ came on a special mission to our world- to instruct the ignorant, to save the sinful, and to give assurance of immortality to those who were subject to death; that such a teacher and redeemer was needed; that he spake as never man spake, lived as never man lived, and died as never man died. We read the history of his life with mingled admiration and gratitude. We are moved by his cross to exercises of faith, penitenco, and hope. We rejoice in his resurrection, and celebrate him as Head of his church, the authoritative Expounder of the divine will, the faultless Pattern of the Christian character, the Manifestation and Pledge of the true life. We believe that man is a free and responsible being, capable of rising to successive heights of virtue, or of falling into deeper and deeper degradation; that sin is his ruin, and faith in spiritual and eternal realities the means of his salvation; that if he sin, it is through choice or negligence; but that in workiug out his own salvation, he needs the Divine assistance. We believe that man, in his individual person, is from early childhood, through the force of appetite, the disadvantage of ignorance, and the strength of temptation, liable to moral corruption; that social life is, in many of its forms, artificial, and in many of its influences, injurious; and that both the individual and society must be regenerated by the action of Christian truth. We believe that all life, private and public, all human powers and relations, all thought, feeling, and activity, should be brought under the control of religious principle and be pervaded by Christian sentiment. We believe that piety is the only sure foundation of morality, and morality the needed evidence of piety. We believe that “perfection from weakness through progress" is the law of life for man; and that this law can be kept only where an humble heart is joined with a resolute mind and an earnest faith. We believe that men should love and serve one another, while all love the Heavenly Father, and follow the Lord Jesus to a common glory. We believe in human immortality, and a righteous retribution after death; when they who have lived in obedience or have reconciled themselves to God through sincere repentance, shall enter upon a nobler fruition of life, while they who have been disobedient and impenitent shall realize the consequences of their folly in shame and suffering. We believe in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as containing the authentic records of God's wonderful and gracious ways, seen in the history of his ancient people, and in the miraculous works and divine teachings of Jesus and his apostles; and to these Scriptures we appeal as the decisive authority upon questions of faith or duty, interpreting them in the devout exercise of that reason, through which alone we are capable of receiving a communication from heaven. We belicve in the Christian Church, as a
consequence of the labours and sufferings by which Christ has gathered unto himself, out of many nations and communions, “a peculiar people,” embracing his gospel and cherishing his spirit—the church on earth, with its ministry, its ordinances, and its responsibilities, the anticipation and promise of the church in heaven.
Such are the prominent truths of Unitarian Christianity, I conceivo, as held by those who adopt this name as the designation of their faith, and who, however they may disagree on questions of inferior moment, would probably concur in this exhibition of the articles of their belief.
As Unitarian Christians, we differ from unbelievers of every class and name—in our doctrine concerning Christ. They deny his supernatural mission, if not his moral excellence. We believe in both the one and the other; in the perfection of his character and the divine authority of his teaching. To us he is the representative of God, speaking in his name and reflecting his glory. We hold it to be our privilege to sit at the feet of this heavenly Master; accounting it a higher office to listen reverently to him, than to occupy the proudest chair of philosophy or the most despotic throne on earth, Unitarian Christianity has no affinity with unbelief. They belong to opposite poles of experience. Infidelity, whatever form it may take, from the coarseness of the scoffer to the sophistry of the sceptic, meets with no favour at our hands. We treat it justly, as we would treat everybody and everything, be it man or devil, error or vice; but we can bestow on it only our pity, our condemnation, or our counsel. We gratefully accept the records of the Saviour's life, and follow him in holy admiration from Bethlehem to Calvary, exclaiming, as we hearken to his words, “this is one who speaks as having authority;" as we behold his wonderful works, “who could do these miracles, except God were with him;" and, as we gaze upon his last suffering, “truly this was the Son of God.” We will not be seduced from our faith by the ingenious theories or mystical discourse of some who affect to honour Jesus while they throw suspicion over his whole history. We cannot divorce the history from the divine influence which it conveys. Spiritual Christianity needs historical Christianity as its basis. To separate the former from the latter, is as if we withdrew from the towers and spires of a lofty cathedral the support of the foundation which enables them to soar upwards in their graceful beauty. Of coarser material may that foundation be made, and be partly buried in the earth, but its solid strength upholds the walls out of which those lighter creations of art spring towards the skies. So must the loftiest aspirations of faith spring from convictions that rest on the firm basis of the gospel history. We repol the charge of promoting or countenancing infidelity. Wo warn those whose hearts are set in this direc