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He was naturally formed for domestic life, and many are the sacrifices of ease and of enjoyment which he has made, to fulfil his duty. About seven months since (how brief a space!) he was married, when he entered his solemn prótest against the marriage service, because it required from him an implied assent to the truth of doctrines which he believed to be fundamentally erroneous. How mysterious are the ways of Providence, that one who was just entering life, and whose energies were devoted to the service of his brethren, should be cut off in the bloom of existence! But it is a pleasing though melancholy reflection, to call to mind how well he was prepared for the awful event. No one knew better than he did, how dangerous, and, indeed, how hopeless is the condition of those who put off the great business of preparing for eternity, to the hour of decay and sickness. Frequently had he expressed with what a tranquil pleasure he looked forward to futurity. He contemplated the last solemn change to which humanity is subject, without the least feeling of terror or alarm. He put his trust in the mercy of God, and in it he felt the most unbounded confidence. Thus did he prove the efficacy and sufficiency of his faith. His last moments were marked with peace and serenity, and like the last departing rays of an evening sun, the vital spark fled from its tenement of clay.
WE, from the first, expressed our conviction, that the proceedings of the Synod of Ulster would ultimately be productive of good. Had the unjust and unchristian proposition, with regard to Mr. Porter, only issued in binding together in friendly feeling, the Protestant inhabitants of the town, which is the scene of Mr. Porter's ministerial labours, it would have produced public benefit. Its influence, however, will extend much farther. We rejoice that the Congregations in that place, have vindicated themselves from the imputation of joining in the work of intolerance; and have, at no little cost, shown themselves to be sincere professors of the great Protestant principles of the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and the right of individual judgment. The Meeting in the Town Hall, Newtownlimavady, on the 18th December, for the purpose of presenting a Service of Plate to the calumniated and persecuted Clerk of the Synod, was not more heart-cheering to Mr. Porter, than it was honourable to the parties who contributed to the splendid and liberal gift. Dr. Moore, on the part of the Protestant inhabitants, read the following address:
"TO THE REV. WILLIAM PORTER,
"REV. AND DEAR SIR,-We, members of the different Protestant Congregations in the town and neighbourhood of Newtownlimavady, request your acceptance of a Service of Plate, as a mark of our sincere regard and esteem. We feel great pleasure in declaring, that we recognise in you the exercise of those Christian virtues, without which, profession is but a name. We recognise in you, Sir, an indulgent parent, an affectionate husband, a kind master, and a sincere friend; with a morality unspotted, a candour and adherence to truth unsurpassed.
"Though some of us may entertain sentiments different from yours on certain doctrines, about which the wisest and best men have not been able to agree, yet we all perfectly concur, in expressing our warm approbation of the impressive manner in which you have uniformly inculcated, both by precept and example, the practical duties of Christianity, and of your strenuous advocacy, and manly exercise of the right of private judgment in the formation of religious opinions.
"We feel ourselves called on to express our disapprobation of the attempt made at the last meeting of Synod, to deprive you of the Clerkship of that body, merely because you had the candour to avow, and the consistency to adhere to theological opinions which you believed to be right. We, however, rejoice, that that attempt was defeated by the good sense and good feeling of the body.
"Whilst we admire and applaud that elevated spirit and unbending integrity, which, in opposition to the seductive suggestions of worldly wisdom, prompted your conduct on that occasion, we marvel that in the present enlightened age and country, such conduct should have incurred the censure of some of your brethren in the ministry. We cannot help lamenting, that teachers of the Gospel should have departed so widely from its forbearing and charitable spirit, and that men, calling themselves Presbyterians, should have evinced so little regard for what we deem the fundamental principles of their church, namely, the right of private judgment, and the sufficiency of the Scriptures, as a rule of faith.
With the most ardent wishes for your happiness here, and your acceptance hereafter, through the blessed Redeemer, we take the liberty of subscribing ourselves your affectionate friends."
To the above Address, Mr. Porter replied:
"MR. CHAIRMAN,-I do assure you, and my other friends, that with very few persons, indeed, would I at this moment exchange my feelings. During the course of last summer, there was a time, I confess, when my spirit was nearly subdued, and when I thought I should be borne down by obloquy, merely for having expressed opinions, which, however erroneous they may be deemed, can have emanated from no other source than conscientious conviction. But that time is past. I have found that there are liberal-minded men of every church, and of every creed, who will not allow an individual, whose intentions are upright, to be run down by vulgar clamour. The approbation of the persons whose names are subscribed to that address, more than compensates for all the injurious imputations to which I have been subjected; they are persons whose social, moral, and intellectual respectability, cannot be called in question. These articles are not begrimed, as such things have sometimes been, by the filthiness of the hands which present them. It affords me additional gratification, to reflect that this mark of your regard has not been earned by subserviency to popular prejudices, or by fomenting sectarian and political animosities. By ministering to the dissemination of jealousy, hatred, and all uncharitableness, it is easy for any one to obtain applause from the misjudging multitude; but the approbation of the wise and worthy cannot thus be conciliated. That right of private judgment, which you are pleased to give me credit for vindicating and exercising, I do most willingly allow to all my fellow-Christians. Though perfectly conscious that the commendation of my conduct as a man, a minister, and a member of Synod, is much exaggerated; yet I do not hesitate to acknowledge, that this very exaggeration is gratifying to my feelings; for it is kindness which has biassed your judgment.
"The pecuniary value of these things, considerable as it is, constitutes only a small portion of their worth: neither silver nor gold did I expect to bequeath to my children, but these memorials of your esteem and friendship, it shall be my study to transmit to them unsullied, and I
trust they will duly appreciate the legacy. To you, Mr. Chairman, and my other friends, I return heartfelt thinks. Most sincerely do I wish, that it may be well with you now, and eternally well with you hereafter."
On the Tea-pot and Coffee-Urn, is the following inscription, beautifully engraven:-"Presented to the Rev. WILLIAM PORTER, by his Protestant Friends, of different denominations, in Newtownlimavady and its vicinity, as a mark of their high esteem for his many amiable qualities in private life; and their cordial approbation of his fearless and disinterested assertion of the invaluable RIGHT OF PRIVATE JUDGMENT. -1827."
ON Sunday and Monday, December the 30th and 31st, 1827, was held the Third Anniversary of the opening of the Unitarian Meeting-house, Green-Gate, Salford, Manchester. The religious services, on the occasion, were conducted by the Revs. W. Shepherd, J. G. Robberds, J. Grundy, and J. Brettell. The Society feel deeply indebted to all these gentlemen, for their valuable services; nor are they without hope, that Mr. Robberds may be induced to give to the public, the very excellent sermon on the popular doctrine of the two natures in Christ, with which he favoured them. On the Monday, a large and respectable company of members and friends of the Society, assembled together to dine in the School-room of the Meeting-house, when the Rev. W. Shepherd presided. The singular and splendid abilities of the Chairman, supported by other gentlemen of great talents and piety, afforded to the meeting the highest gratification. And we are sure, that we utter the sentiments of at least the majority of those who were present, when we assert, that it was almost impossible for any individual to leave the room without feeling that the best powers of his nature had been called into exercise his dearest principles corroborated, and his desire for the extension of truth and goodness enhanced. It was delightful as well as edifying, to witness the flow of kind and brotherly feeling that prevailed, and the truly Christian advocacy of the most liberal and philanthropic sentiments. Though the Society have made great exertions during the last year, to liberate themselves from their incumbrances, we are sorry to know that they are still shackled with a considerable debt. We respectfully invite for them the aid of our more opulent congregations in particular, as well as of the Unitarian public at large.
Glasgow Unitarian Chapel.
THE Unitarian Society in this City, was originally founded by the zealous and indefatigable exertions of a few individuals, excited to this labour by the late Dr. Spencer of Bristol, then a student of medicine at Edinburgh. In its infant state, it was aided by the exertions of the Rev. James Lyons and the Rev. Richard Wright, Missionaries from the London Unitarian Fund. Increasing in numbers, the Society invited the Rev. James Yates to become their Pastor; and soon after his settlement amongst them, they were induced to erect the first Chapel in Scotland sacred to the Worship of the One living and true God, the Father. Perceiving the importance of the principles they had embraced, to the promotion of human happiness, and their all-powerful efficacy in leading to the practice of virtue, they were sanguine enough to anticipate, that those principles had only to be publicly and powerfully advocated, and their progress was secured. They, therefore, issued proposals for building a Chapel in Glasgow, and the objects intended to be accomplished by the permament establishment of a Unitarian Congregation in this city, were these:-"1st, That every aid and encouragement will
be given to Free Inquiry on religious subjects; 2d, That prayer and adoration will be addressed in the name of Jesus Christ, solely to the One true God; 3d, That repentance and reformation of manners, piety to God, benevolence to man, and a strict abstinence from every sinful passion and indulgence, will be enforced, as the only means of obtaining happiness in this life, and in that which is to come. The supreme importance of these principles, will, it is hoped, incline all who perceive their close connection with the welfare of individuals, and the general improvement of society, to support, according to their ability, a House of Prayer, in which they may worship the Father in spirit and in truth; in which pure and elevated devotion may spring from their knowledge and contemplation of the character of their Maker, in all its majesty and loveliness; where they may meet with kind and friendly assistance, in the calm, dispassionate, and unbiassed investigation of sacred truth; and where they may be incited to do honour to their Christian profession, and to accomplish the great ends of their being, by growing perpetually in conformity to the image of their Saviour, and in fitness for the presence of their God."
So confident were its projectors of meeting with public support, that they proposed to raise the sum necessary to complete the buildings, by subscriptions, the principal and interest to be duly paid back to the subscribers. Some donations, from members of the Congregation, and from friends both in Scotland and England, were, however, at the same time, kindly and generously offered. Still a considerable deficiency remained: the amount of which was advanced, on interest, by a respected individual of the Unitarian denomination in Lancashire. The Society, however, had relied too confidently on the immediate success of their principles. They had not sufficiently remembered, that the country in which they lived, was one, in which the doctrines of Calvinism had taken deep root-in which they were associated with the memory of revered ancestors, and the most glorious of patriotic struggles-in which they were endeared by the recollections of infancy, and confirmed by the power of education, and of habit. They had not taken sufficiently into account either, that utter indifference and scorn of all religion, which the re-action of reason and human nature, against the popular doctrines, had produced on a large and influential class. Where they looked for aid, they met with repulsion,-those who might privately applaud, withdrew their applause when so public an effort was determined on, and a host of prejudices were banded against the progress and prosperity of the Congregation.
The cost of the Chapel, Cellar, &c. was £2300.. It may easily be conceived, that to so small a Society, the mere interest on the sum subscribed and borrowed, amounting, as it has already, to upwards of £800, together with the ground-rent and insurance, being near £30 additional, per annum, with the unavoidable expenses attending Public Worship, must have pressed heavily on its members. Indeed, so great has been the burthen, that although sometimes elated with hope, and never doubting the ultimate success of their principles, yet they saw so little prospect of liquidating the debt, that, but a few years since, the sale of the Chapel was taken into consideration, under the view, that could the sale be advantageously effected, the debt would be paid, and a considerable surplus remain towards the erection of a smaller place of worship. The Congregation at that time in want of a Chapel, have since built one for themselves.
In addition to the difficulties already enumerated, the Congregation think it right to state, that for so small a Society, the removals and emigrations, to say nothing of the decease of many of their zealous and leading friends, have been very considerable, sufficient, indeed, had they continued, to have constituted a large and respectable Society. The
friends of truth and righteousness, must not therefore imagine, that little has been effected, because the remaining members may be comparatively few. The doctrines of pure and undefiled Christianity, have, they trust, through their instrumentality, been disseminated far and wide, though their particular Society has not been the gainer. The labours of their former Ministers, have, they know, been effectual in enlightening many minds, and improving many hearts, that are now enjoying in other places, and other climes, the benefit they derived from their instructions. Notwithstanding the obstacles which have been mentioned, the Congregation, partly by the relinquishment of subscriptions from themselves and friends, and partly by donations from England, for which they gladly embrace this opportunity to return their grateful acknowledgments, have succeeded in paying off £802, and in reducing the original debt to £1499.
The Congregation, taking into consideration the immense population of this city, amounting to upwards of 170,000-its vast importance as a seat of learning, the constant resort of the young from all portions of Great Britain and Ireland, through whose means their principles, if their attention could be drawn to scriptural inquiry, might be extensively disseminated-its celebrity as one of the chief marts of commerce, bringing together persons from all quarters of the world, and by whom, it might be hoped, fresh channels of diffusing religious knowledge would be opened up, were induced, in 1825, to make another and yet more vigorous effort, towards the advancement of the cause of Unitarian Christianity in Glasgow, and from thence through Scotland. During the two years their present Pastor has resided with them, the prospects of the Society have gradually brightened. The prejudice existing against the doctrines professed by the Congregation, has evidently declined; a spirit of inquiry has been called forth; an eagerness to read the works on Unitarian principles has been manifested, shown by the constant application for books, which are lent out, free of expense, at the close of each evening worship; and a desire to hear the Lectures on the Sabbath evenings has been evinced, which is highly cheering and satisfactory. Additional Sittings and Forms, capable of accommodating upwards of two hundred persons, have been placed in the Chapel, but these are found insufficient to accommodate the numbers which generally assemble in the evening. The effect of these exertions is witnessed, also, in the gradual and steady increase of the Congregation, and the attendance during the morning and afternoon worship. The Sittings at present taken, are treble those let three years ago; and the Collections at the door, have increased in about a similar proportion. The morning attendance averages about two hundred persons; the afternoon, between three and four hundred; and in the evening, the Chapel is crowded, and would be so, were it even much larger-numbers frequently being obliged to go away for want of room even to stand, the aisles and vestries being also filled,-tending to confirm the impression of its members, that a large and permanent Congregation will at length be established.
The Debt on the Chapel is still, however, a weight which oppresses and checks the efforts of the Society, to extend still further their exertions; and should the premises beneath the Chapel, from the rent of which, the interest of a portion of the Debt is in part paid, remain unoccupied for any length of time, or should considerable repairs be needed, as will most certainly ere long be the case, the consequences to the Congregation in particular, and to the progress of Unitarianism in Scotland generally, might be very serious. Impressed with these united considerations, but unwilling again to ask the aid of their brethren, until they had themselves done what they could, and conceiving that their better prospects authorise them now to make fresh exertions, the Congregation have resolved to make another attempt (may it prove a final because successful one) to liquidate the Debt on their House of Prayer. They