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the officiating ministers of all congregations RELIGIOUS.
which occurred to the Committee's rememUNITARIAN ASSOCIATION. Proeeedings at a Meeting to consider brance. The time choseu was thought must
proper, as it would enable some country the Propriety of forming an Associa
friends to attend. This was the course tion for protecting the Civil Rights adopted; many errors might have, and, no of Unitarians.
doubt, had arisen in issuing summonses; We are enabled this month to present the lists were found very imperfect in some our readers with an Account of the Pro
respects; and some from misdirection had ceedings of a Meeting of Unitarians, held
been returned from the Post-office: but it at the London Tavern, on the 13th January,
was trusted that every one would give credit for the purpose of considering the propriety for such errors being involuntary. Many, of forming an Association for the Protection it was feared, had been omitted whom it of their Civil Rights. Such a Society has, would have been highly desirable to sumwe know, been long anxiously desired by
mon, but he hoped any such omissions many Unitarians, and we trust that it will
would be excused. now receive their support as a measure
Mr. ASPLAND said, the gentlemen who which cannot fail to be productive of the acted as a Committee to prepare the way most beneficial results,
for the meeting had done him the honour John Christie, Esq. being called to the
to request he would explain the object of Chair, observed, that all present were ac- the proposed Association, and propose the quainted with the object for which they Rules intended to be submitted for consiwere assembled, and that their friend Mr. deration. In bringing forward the sub. Fox had been instrumental in convening ject, he wished it fully understood that them. He would, therefore, not enter at
the utility of such an Association would any length into the subject, but should
come fairly into discussion. The conveners request that gentleman to explain the cir.
of the meeting had but one object, one cumstances out of which the present meet. only desire, to secure themselves in the ing had arisen.
possession of their Civil Rights; and if it Mr. Fox. It would, no doubt, be per- was clear that they were already sufficiently fectly understood, that, although bis name
secured by other means, he should be the first only appeared, the meeting bad not been
to waive further proceedings. There was no convened merely at his suggestion. A bout novelty in instituring a Society for protectthree months ago, the Committee of the ing the Civil Rights of Religioos Bodies, Unitarian Fund was applied to by several Several such societies were in existence. gentlemen who were desirous that an As. The body of Deputies of the Three Deno. sociation for the Protection of the Civil minations was one, the oldest amongst Rights of Unitarians should be instituted, Dissenters, and a most respectable associa. and who wished the Committee to co-ope. tion. The recently-formed society, called rate with them. Some cases had arisen
the Protestant Society, was another most which seemed to render the measure expe- useful institution, which arnse from the dient, and a general wish had been ex- opposition to Lord Sidmouth's bill, empressed in favour of it from the country; bracing chiefly members of Calvinistic so much so, that it was probable, if it was communions. The Quakers, it was well not begun in London, something would be known, had their Committee of Sufferings attempted elsewhere to meet the general to watch over their Civil Rights; and the feeling. In consequence of the applica- Wesleian Methodists had a committee for tion made to them, therefore, the Fund the like purpose. There was nothing new, appointed a sub-committee to meet and co- therefore, in the proposal; it only reoperate with the applicants; and, after mained to consider how far it was expe mature consideration, it was deemed ex- dient to adopt it. It was known to all, pedient to call a general meeting to eon. that Unitarians were, at least, as much exsider the subject. In order to convene
posed to obloqny as any sect, and that it this meeting, some line seemed proper to was but recently that they had been brought be drawn to regulate the mode of summon- within the pale of the law. Till within a ing. Public advertisemneats would only few years they had been protected by no have drawn many persons together, some law, although they had been shielded, ia from idle curiosity, and others, perhaps, to spite of the law, by public opinion. The disturb the proceedings: the easiest and legislature bad, however, liberally extended simplest way, therefore, was thougbt to be, its toleration by the repeal of the excepting to take the lists of the two known bodies of clause in the Act of William and Mary: friends to Unitarianism, the Book Society but since that time cases have arisen, which and the Fund, adding to them the names of it was well known had created doubts
Intelligence.-- Unitarian Association. wliether the provisions made in favour of in the country to be hostile. He was inUnitarians sufficiently accomplished that dicted for promulgating opinions closely object; and the opinion, he was afraid, of connected, at any rate, with those of Univery eminent lawyers was, that the recent tarians; and the opinion of some persons, law did no more than repeal the penal well able to judge, was, that, though the enactments, and that Unitarians were left doctrine taught had been held by men of to stand exactly as they did at common law. learning and piety; though defended by dig. This opinion was folly avowed in the Wol. nitaries in the church, and even by Bishop verhampton Case, which is still under dis. Law; a jury might very possibly convict cussion, and in which doctrines were at- the person who maintained it of Blasphemy. tempted to be enforced, very alarming cer- This case was withdrawn, but while it was tainly with reference to the rights and pending great difficulty was experienced ; properties of Unitarians. It was there there was no body of persons to step forcontended, that they are not within the ward, within whose province it lay to deo protection of the law, that no foundations, fend Mr. Wright : the Unitarian Fund was none at any rate, prior in time to the passing applied to, and did something; but they of the late Act can belong to Unitarians, but felt that they were going beyond their proto Trinitarians, as the only species of Dis- vince, and were not justified in such an senters legally recognized. If this doctrine application of their fands: they could only should be established, it need not be ob- pledge themselves as individuals. All would served how mischievous and ruinous would see that in cases of this sort nothing should be the consequences; and if it should not be left to accident; no person harassed by ultimately, yet if individuals were left to the bigotry or ignorance of a country maprotect themselves, they would be harassed gistrate, for instance, onght to be left to the by the innumerable eviis arising from the chance of individual or friendly assistance. expense and vexation of litigation through An Association like that now proposed, a long period of distraction and fear. would give confidence to the expression of
It would be recollected that, in the dis- opinion, and diminish the probability of cussion on the case alluded to, a very un- persecution, by shewing those inclined to favourable opinion had been expressed by persecute, that there are men of equal that great man whose loss had lately occa- weight and knowledge with themselver, sioned such a shock, he meant Sir S. Ro. ready to protect the objects of their malice. milly. He declared this opinion in court; If such a society were not necessary, but besides the expression of opinion there, Mr. A. allowed, it would be injurious, as which might have been attributed to the appearing to separate our case from that of warmth of an advocate, he had in private other Dissenters; but surely it was obvious letters since expressed a strong feeling of that there was no society which would do the insecurity of the basis on wkich the what had been and might again be necescivil rights of Unitarians rest. He (Mr. A.) sary. In the case of Mr. Wright there was had received a note from him, not many none. The Deputies were appealed to, and, months before his death, stating his deli. unhappily for their reputation, the appeal berate opinion, that they were not protected was at that time made in vaiú. The absat law, and that no other course was open tract question bad been since brought before to them than an application to Parliament. them, and been decided in favour of libeHe offered willingly to assist and snpport rality and freedom; but it was loo much to such an application, but observed that he expect that perions zealously entertaining was not very sanguine as to its success. the opinions which most of them did, There was, therefore, in the opinio should be very solicitous in the cause of great a man, a strong ground for action persons whom the ir creed must lead them and exertion; and it appeared highly im- io consider as blas phemers. portant to associate, with a view both to
There was, too, a class of cases which resist aggression, and to proceed, if neces- the Deputies could not take up; be meant sary, to obtain security by legislative pro- disputes between dir l'erent portions of convisions. Nothing could be worse than un. gregations; and this: was one which was · certainty where liberty and property are becoming of consider able importance. In concerned. It struck 'him that Unitarians the Wolverhampton Csise, the minister, by were in that state, and that therefore some. setting himself in oppi vsition to the whole thing should be done, that they might no, congregation, and putting in the most ablonger fear the breaking up and destruction surd claim, had succeed ed, at any rate, for of their foundations by any internal divie a time, so'far as to drive out the whole sion, and that they might be secure from body from their meeting - house and their persecution, let whatever change of times endowments, great part of which had been happen; and that such a change might take raised by their own contributions, and to place, no one would say was impossible. put them to what must be to a small conThe case of Mr.John Wright, of Liverpool, gregation a very heavy expense. Whether shewed the feeling of many of great weight the Deputies can or cannot, by their consti.
tution, provide for the adjustment of such a some notice must be taken. Our adversacase, they certainly were not inclined to ries inight be jocular upon it, but to us it do so, and, but for some new association, was a serious grievance. He alluded to the congregations so circumstanced might be necessity of passing to the marriage state broken up from the mere want of assistance through Trinitarian ordinances. It appearand encourageinent in the support of their ed that the legislature by passing the late rights and properties.
bill meant effectually to protect us; if they A geveral opinion seemed to prevail did not, the act was a delusion and a sbare; among the reputed orthodox Dissenters, but if that was their intention, ali must see that all foundations with which Trinitarians that it was not accomplished, while Unita. have been at any foriner period connected, rians were obliged, against their principles cannot be held by Unitarians; nay, further, and consciences, to submit to Athanasian that, prior to the passing of the Trinity bill, worship. all must, in the eye of the law, be consi- As a Dissenter, on the broadest ground, dered as Trinitarian; and they have shewn he should object to such a compulsive conevery disposition to act upon these prin- formity, but as Unitarians, they were comcjples, however inconsistent with those ou pelled, in this instance, to violate their which they profess to ground their dissent. dearest opinions, and strongest religious Threats had in several places been beld feelings. The mural responsibility rested, out; in some, proceedings had (it was re- no doubt, on the legislature wbich occa. ported) been actually commenced, although sioned the offence, but surely they ongbu ihey were suffered to sleep, perhaps, on ac- to attempt to throw off' the burden. count of the delay and uncertainty of the For this purpose, it was desirable that ultimate decision on the Wolverhainpton there should be some body through whom Case in Chancery. For these reasons it petitions might pass. Small nuinbers of did seem to bio (Mr. A.) expedient to have individuals might indiscreetly commit the a standing committee, if it were only to whole body. He had himself, petitions in give advice on such occasions. They could his possession, one of which was couched take legal opinions on emergencies, and in terins so unguarded, that any jester in such advice, once take, would remain on the houses of Parliament might take it as their books; each case would guide a suc- an occasion to convulse all around bin ceeding one, and thus considerable dilli- with laughter. culty, expense and delay would be pre- Mr. Aspland concluded by saying, that vented. Such an association need not in. his object was principally to repel the terfere with any other. No case would charge of wishing in the remotest degree properly come within its jurisdiction, wbich to divide the body of Dissenters ; he only was not strictly Unitarian, or which would wanted that they should be able to protect be within the scope of the Deputies or the their peculiar objects, to which they could Protestaut Society. It could not make any not expect the main body to attend. He separation between the Unitarians and other then read the following preamble and rules, Nonconforinists; if it would, let the pro- that all might judge of them as a whole, in ject be abandoned; but the real question the first instance, and ended by moving the was, not whether such cases should be left adoption of the preamble and first rule: to other associations, but whether they The LEGISLATURE by passing the Act of should be neglected and abandoned. the 53d. Geo. III. entitled, “ An Act
He was thankful for what the legislature, to relieve Persons who impugn the Doc. . in compliance with public opinion, had trine of the Trinity from certain Penalties,"
already done; but if should say he was was understood to extend to Unitarians not contented, he would only repeat Mr. the privileges possessed by other denomi. William Smith's opinion, declared to Lord wations of Dissenters; but doubts baving Liverpool, on thai nobleman's expressing since arisen whether that object be suffia hope that Unitarians would be satisfied ciently secured, it is deemed expedient to with the Trinity Bill: “ No, my Lord,” institute a Society for the purpose of proanswered Mr. Smilli, " we shall not be sa- tecting the Civil Rights of Unitarians, under tisfied while one disqualifying statute in the following regulations : matters of religion remains on the books." 1. 'This Society shall be denominated This was his (Mr. A.'s) feeling also, avd he the Unitarian Association for the Protectherefore thought the proposed Association tion of the Civil Rights of Unitarians. very useful, not only to protect our righits, 2. The Association shall consist of indi. but to colarge the m and those of every vidual Subscribers and of the representaclass of Dissenters; for, in all general mea- tives of congregations making an annual sures for that po pose, it would doubtless contribution. cheerfully concur with other societies.
3. The qualification of individuals as There was on a subject to which it was members of this Association, shall be an difficult to allud.e, but on which much bad annual subscription of not less than 10s. Od. been of late saj d, and of which therefore or a donation of not less than £5, 5s.
Intelligence.-- Unitarian Association.
51 4. Every congregation contributing au- been preceded by some prosecution unde" nually not less than one guinca, shall be at them, it might have been regarded as merely liberty to send two representative members : removing a punishment too severe, not as lesOfficiating ministers of congregations shall tifying the destruction of a principle. But, be eligible as representatives.
granted as it was without any circumstance 5. An Aunnal General Meeting of the tending to bring odium on the particular staAssociation shall be bolden on the Thurs- tute, it could only be regarded as the abo. day in Whitsun Week.
lition of a principle, which the progress of 6. A Committee consisting of ten per- opinion had long rendered merely ludicrous, soos resident in or near London, shall be and on which persecution by the cominon chosen at the annual meeting, ló transact law, as well as by the statute, depended, the business of the Association, of whom Surely it could not be believed that the four, viz. those who shall have given the legislature would have conceded as a boon least attendance at committee meetings, that which they intended as a snare, or shall be ineligible for one year.
that Unitarians would have earnestly sought 7. A Treasurer and Secretary shall also the repeal of open and undisguised denunbe chosen at the general meeting, who shall ciations which no Attorney-General would be added to the Committee. The Trea- have dared to enforce, to encounter mystesurer sball receive subscriptions, and make rious and vague liabilities which Protestaot all necessary disbursements on account of Dissenting Ministers would not blush to the Association, and the Secretary record revive against them! its ininules, conduct its correspondence, They bad, however, recently heard it conand summon committee and general ineet- tended, that all foundations for Unitarian ings.
worship constituted before the passing of the 8. In all meetings of the committee, late bill, cannot be supported; or, at least, the presence of five members shall be ne- that in ascertaining the will of the founders cessary for proceeding to business.
for the purpose of carrying it into literal ef9. All subscriptions shall be paid in fect, courts will decide that they never deadvance, and be considered as due on the signed to support a worship, at the time re1st of January in each year, and no person garded as illegal. This doctrine must excite shall be allowed to vote at the annual greater surprise when advanced under the meeting, until his subscription for the sanction of Protestant Dissenting Ministers, current year be paid.
of high talents, intinence aud piety, who bave 10. The above Rules shall not be al. even called on the religious world to bring tered except by two-thirds of the members their charitable contributions to its aid. If present at a general meeting. Any altera. such a construction of the will of a founder tions intended to be proposed to the So- were to govern dissenting trusts, it would ciety, must be first notified to the Commit. lead to the strange conclusion that wbile all lee at one of its meetings.
else might be progressive, while every MR. TALFOURD rose to second the motion. other institution might be moulded gently He felt sure that much would not be neces. to accord with the adrances of the species, sary, after the observations they had just while acts of the legislature might amelioheard, to impress on the meeting the ne- rate even the established system, the founcessity of forming the Association which dations of Dissenters should alone be incahad been proposed to them. He had, in. pable of change; struck, as it were, by deed, hoped that the time had passed for some cold and deadening enchantment, and ever, when Unitarians had to contend, sepa- fixed immoveable, amidst an improved age, rately from the rest of their dissenting the only relies of more barbarous times! brethren, against the injuries of power; And this consequence to follow the inters that they were placed by the legislature on pretation of the will of those who first the same footing with all others who op- struggled for free inquiry-in the principles posed the established forms, and were only of whose dissent was the germ of all future called on to unite with them in the noble changes in opinion however extended, and effort to remove every vestige of their com. who had given the first impulse to a pro. mon oppressions. He believed that any gress which their endowments only would candid and impartial mind must conceive thus be suffered to oppose ! that the Act called the Trinity Bill went But we are further told (said Mr. T.) that to this length; that, as it repealed not only Unitarians, by the promulgation of their opithe denunciation of penalties, but the nions, are still offenders at common law, liaclauses by which Anti-trinitarians were ble to crimi prosecutions, and that their excepted from the benefits of the Act of institutions, even now formed, are beyond Toleration, it completely tolerated and pro- the pale of legal protection. This doctrine tected Unitarian worship, and gave to in- can only be supported by construing the stitutions for the adoration of the Father proposition that'« Christianity is part of alone, the opportunity of legal aid, should the law of England,” to mean Christianity it become requisite. Had, indeed, the re- as established by law. And to what pepeal of the provisions against Unitarians riod of time does the proposition refer? To the period when the common law had been recently promulgated under the sme its origin, the period when those maxims tion of Protestant Dissenting Ministers. It were established, which, handed down to was melancholy, indeed, to view these, the tradition, and confirmed by authority, are legitimate guardians of religious freedom, supposed to bave formed part of a written thus attempting to destroy its first prineicode? The present establishment had no ex- ples ;-to find men holding their own staistence in those times ; and, perhaps, could tions by free election, and making the we penetrate into an autiquiiy so dark, we propriety of such election, and the right might even find that Unitarianism was then of dismissal, a ground of their dissent, the received faith, and that all other creeds calling on their congregations to snpport are heresies. At all events, there must the doctrine that a Dissenting preacher, have been a time, when, under Catholic once chosen, is established in a freebold princes, it must bave been an offence at for life ;-looking into dark times, when common law to support those forms which their own ancestors suffered from persecuit is now an offence at common law to im- tion, for maxims of persecution against pugn. Had the common law of England, their opponents ;—and searching among then, silently changed and veered round on the ashes of bigotry for some spark, wbich every variation of the court religion? If only the haste of the legislature to extioit be so, the evil is not peculiar to Unita- guish its flames had heedlessly suffered to sians, but common to every class of Dissen. remain unquenched, from which they might ters, and must fall upon those who are now light a torch to consume the institutions of subscibing to support it. For, if any thing their foes, and which must shortly destroy more be intended by that Christianity their own. There was something low and which it is illegal to controvert, than those petty in the proceeding, which the furigreat principles which all who assume the ous persecutors of old, would hardly bave Christian name recognize as the basis of deigned to employ. They would have present moral obligation and the ground acted a bolder part: if they pursued beof future hope, it must imply all the doc. retics, it would be with a disinterested trines, services, rites and ceremonials of enthusiasm, not with an eye to their posthe Established Faith. The law can know sessions; they might have led them to the of no scale whereby to measure the degrees fires of Smithfield, but would scarcely have of heresy. They who presume to disbelieve condescended to put them into the Court that in Baptism a child is made 6 an heir of of Chancery. When it was considered, Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of then, that these men, justly esteemed for the kingdom of heaven,” are then as really all excellences, save when bigotry usurped offenders as those wbo deny the Trinity; and the place of kind affections and solid judg. on the ground upon which political inter- ment, were our opponents, could it be ference is exerted, they are more deeply hoped that sooieties composed, for the most oriminal because the contumacy of schism part, of the persons over whom their influis greater, and is left more entirely, in the ence extended, would advocate our cause eye of persecutors, without excuse, in pro- against them? Even supposing the maportion as its grounds are inore trivial. Also jority, at last, to be with us, should we on the principle contended for, of those endure a preliminary struggle before every within the church who dispute respecting step in our defence, and act after it, without the meaning of her formularies, one party that promptitude and decision which alone must be offenders against law, since both could give us the slightest probability of cannot be maintaining the true doctrine as succeeding? she has declared it. Courts of law must For the final result, if this Society acted decide between the Evangelical and Armi- with wisdom and zeal, he (Mr. T.) had no nian clergy, and we must add to our law. apprehension. Let the battle only be fairly libraries, already sufficiently extensive, all fought, and whether, in a court of law, it the volumes of ecclesiastical controversy was lost or won, the cause must ultimately which bave ever been written. If, there. triunph. The day when the Board Mifore, it were contended, in consequence of nisters should succeed in establishing the the illegality of Unitarianism, that all fonn. existence of persecution, they would mark dations even now reared for its snpport are it out for destruction. Let them“ drag void, all other Dissenting trusts, even since the struggling monster into light,” and in the Act of Toleration, are in the same con- that light it would instantly expire. But dition; and, even were the illegality now we must fairly meet every objection on the confined to the former, all of the latter es- ground of its advocates, and must ascer. tablished before the Revolution, must be tain the fact whether we were tolerated or liable to be diverted from their purposes, not, before we either sat down in quiet, or and that very antiquity become the ground applied to Parliament for a remedy. We of their fall, which seemed to have rendered must protect our brethren at a distance them more sacred.