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purchase, they have enlarged the number and variety of works intended for distribution, and have now on hand an extensive assortment.
It must be highly gratifying to the Society, not only to observe the fruit of their own exertions, in the spreading influence of principles and doctrines, which they deem of the first importance, but also to witness the corresponding efforts of their brethren in other quarters. It is now two years since this Society was first instituted, and within that time, associations have sprung up in different parts, with the professed object of distributing unitarian publications. A double purpose, highly auspicious to the cause we have at heart, will be thus effected; the comparatively small means and narrow influence of individuals, will be made more extensive and effectual, by bringing them to act in concert; and the respective associations, by mutual aid in exchanging publications, will be able to do the greatest good at the least expense. It is hoped that the time will not be long, before every unitarian congregation will perceive the importance of such a system, and unite in carrying it into general operation.
The progress of Unitarianism in this country has been rapid, more rapid than even the most sanguine could have anticipated; it is going on, and will go on; it carries with it the majesty and the power of truth; it is the cause of Heaven, and the work of God; it will not stop while reason is honoured, or piety cherished, or the Scriptures revered. Yet there is enough for the friends of righteousness and of sound doctrine to do; truth will conquer at last, but it requires incitements from human aid. God is the author of all, but men are his agents; we must labour if we would hope; we must
do what we can to build up the kingdom of God in the world, if we would seek for the blessings of his good government, and the joys of his final approbation. With these views we may be encouraged to persevere, and trust to the great Ruler of all things to direct our labours, in conformity with his wise and holy designs.
To the present time, the good influences of an overruling Providence have been manifest, in strengthening the hands, and cheering the hearts of our brethren in this country. New congregations are forming, preachers are multiplying, the demand for unitarian writings is increasing, and a spirit of inquiry has gone abroad. In some parts of New England, a large portion of the inhabitants are Unitarians; many are found at the South and the West, and some in almost every town and village in the union. More than forty preachers, professing unitarian sentiments, are employed in Kentucky and Ohio, some with established congregations, others in the duties of missionaries, Our central situation gives us facilities for sending our tracts and books in these various directions, and this should prove to us both the value of our institution and the importance of zealous activity.
But for the influence of our religious views, we do not look more to the increase of our numbers, and prosperity of our churches, than to the gradual change of public feeling. We see it in the softened tones of orthodoxy, the subdued spirit of bigotry, the weakened power of prejudice, the gradual relentings of malevolence, the dying embers of kindled passions, and in all the indications of the increasing ascendency of truth over error, of reason over blind credulity, of piety over hypocrisy, and of charity over the narrow views of sectarism, and the holy zeal of the self righteous In all these respects a visible change has taken place, favourable to peace and religion, and to the progress of those principles of faith and action, which exalt, purify, and adorn the hu. man character.
Pulpit denunciations have become less frequent. The cry of heresy, the incorrect assertions, and reproachful language, which were the burden of orthodox journals, have gradually given way to a more christian spirit, and a milder temper. The wise have learnt to be silent, where they could not confute; the virtuous and candid have learnt to respect the voice of seriousness and candour.
This change, so beneficial to the harmony of Christians, and to the interests of pure religion, we have good reason to believe, has been owing, in no small degree, to the exertions which have been made to diffuse a knowledge of our sentiments. Such will always be the consequence; ignorance is our worst enemy. The principles of our faith need only be known to be respected; they are the principles of the Scriptures, of reason, of nature; they accord with the best feelings of the human heart, and the highest powers of the human understanding; they have God for their author; they are the principles revealed and published by Jesus Christ, illustrated by his own life, proved by his miracles, sanctioned by his assurance of a future judgment, and confirmed by his death and resurrection.
Such are the principles which we are united to promulgate, and when they are understood as we under: stand them, we cannot believe that there will be so much blindness in bigotry, and perverseness in prejudice, as to make them the subject of reproachful de
nunciations. They make for peace, and righteousness, and love, and christian fellowship.
The means of knowledge, which the managers possess, have made them acquainted with several facts respecting the present state of Unitarianism abroad, and they are happy to say, their information is encouraging. In England, there are nearly four hundred regular unitarian congregations, and numerous Societies for publishing and distributing books and tracts. In Scotland, several churches have been established, and others are forming; and from Ireland, the missionaries send favorable report.
A letter written at Clausenburg, Transylvania, in the month of May last, by a member of the Unitarian Consistory, in that place, conveys the information, that in Transylvania there are at present forty thousand Unitarians, constituting one hundred and twenty churches. Unitarianism is one of the four religions, which enjoy equal rights and privileges in that country, the other three being the Roman Catholic, the Calvinistic, and the Lutheran.
During the last year a Unitarian Society has been formed in Calcutta, under the direction of a Baptist missionary to that place. Hopes are entertained, that much good will result to the cause of christianity from this society, and another of the same kind at Madras. It is well known, that the natives of that country, among whom are many wise and learned men, have always represented the peculiar doctrines of orthodoxy, as an insuperable obstacle to their ever embracing christianity. It is not unreasonable to hope, that when they shall be acquainted with this religion in its native simplicity and purity; free from the inventions and additions, which now encumber its most popular forms, they will not be slow to receive its doctrines, become the worshippers of the true God, and the humble followers of his Son.
Such are the reflections and facts, which the Managers have thought proper to lay before the Society, as a testimony that their own labours are not vain, and as motives to future zeal, and perseverance. By order of
HENRY PAYSON, Prest.
The officers and managers for the ensuing year are the following;
HENRY Payson, President.
WILLIAM C. Shaw, Librarian.
DR. E. PERKINS, John W. Osgood,
Spirit of Orthodoxy.
Those of our readers who were informed through the medium of the public papers, or who knew from the evidence of their own senses, that the first church bell, which ever swung its sabbath sounds over the city of Washington, was placed on the Unitarian Church lately built there, will be a little surprised,