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At the commencement of the New Year, we think it is due to the readers of the Irish Unitarian Magazine, to say a few words respecting its management during the last twelve months, and also with reference to our intentions for the future.
It is gratifying to know that the readers of this periodical are more numerous now than at any former period since its original publication under the title of the Bible Christian. With the increasing numbers and spreading intelligence of our readers, we feel that our editorial difficulties and responsibilities increase also. Subjects that possessed great interest at one time would now be regarded by many as stale and unprofitable; and controversies that, a few years ago, engrossed the attention of old and young, are rapidly giving way before new themes for discussion. During the controversial excitement that prevailed in this province after the separation of the Remonstrant Synod from the General Synod of Ulster, the readers of the Bible Christian naturally looked to its pages for information on the leading points of dispute between Unitarians and Trinitarians. This information the earlier volumes of the work promptly and abundantly supplied. Although the writers had other, and perhaps more urgent, duties to engage their time and energies, they did not fail to watch over the interests, and labour for the advancement, of the only periodical in this country which spoke their sentiments and sympathized with their struggles.
We believe, however, it is generally felt by our readers, that controversial divinity has had its day, and that the pages of the magazine should be devoted at least mainly to the discussion of what may be termed more practical questions. We have had several intima
tions of this from respectable quarters, during the past year; and we are anxious, so far as in our power, to meet the reasonable wishes of our supporters and friends. Whilst we do not seek controversy, however, we shall certainly not shun it when necessary. We think it well for our readers, although they may know “these things” and “be established in the present truth, to contrast occasionally the clear, persuasive doctrines of the Gospel with those mock systems of morality and faith which usurp its authority and disfigure its glad tidings. This, indeed, is the grand aim of our publication, and we intend to keep it distinctly in view.
During the last year, the management of the literary department of the Irish Unitarian Magazine was entrusted to a person who could pretend to few qualifications for the office, save an honest wish to render it useful in promoting the cause of religious truth and practical holiness. This will readily account for the absence of certain popular questions which our readers may have desired to see discussed in its pages, for the want of sufficient variety, of which some perhaps will feel disposed to complain, and for other defects which, it is hoped, increasing experience will remedy. It is to be regretted that some important topics that now agitate the public mind, have not been more frequently introduced; and that we have been able to devote so little attention to the task of collecting and condensing articles of intelligence connected with the progress of our opinions in other lands. We intend for the future to aim more particularly at these objects, and especially to record whatever may be considered interesting in connexion with the great religious reformation now going forward in Germany.
Before concluding, we beg to express our sincere thanks to those correspondents who have so kindly and so ably assisted us in our labours during the course of the past year. Our gratitude is especially due to the Rev. Dr. Montgomery, for his very interesting “Outlines of the History of Presbyterianism in Ireland;" to Dr. Glashan, Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, for his masterly papers on the Trinity; to the Rev. J. Scott Porter, for various contributions of great interest and power; to the Rev. William Glendy, for his series of letters on the Westminster Confession of Faith ; to the Rev. William Smith of Cheltenham, for his translations from the French of M. Coquerel; and to the Rev. John Montgomery, for his Papers Explanatory of Certain Phrases employed by the Sacred Writers. We trust these gentlemen will continue to sustain, by their contributions, the usefulness and respectability of the Irish Unitarian Magazine ; and we confidently look for assistance, in our literary department, to those other brethren who pledged themselves publicly to lend us their support.
MRS. DANA, MR, HAUGHTON, AND THE REV. JOHN SCOTT
(To the Editor of the Irish Unitarian Magazine.)
35, Eccles Street, November, 1846.
Allow me to offer you my thanks for giving a place in your interesting periodical to my letter on the subject of Mrs. Dana's adhesion to the principles of Unitarianism. To that letter Mr. Porter has, after allowing himself full time for careful consideration, sent you a reply, which I think you exercised a wise judgment in also laying before your readers. The subject to which our letters refer, will be considered interesting to most of your readers. Let it therefore be well discussed: truth will be the result. Let none of us have any doubt that truth will ultimately triumph over error. This is my conviction. I am therefore glad that the question at issue has been plainly stated and fairly laid before the Unitarians of these countries. Neither Mr. Porter nor I are to be the judges, whatever our arguments may be, or in whatever language either of us may clothe our ideas : other minds than ours are to decide which of us is right, and to such judgment I willingly appeal.
I saw that some Unitarians in these countries were overjoyed because of the accession to our ranks of a gifted lady, and I feared that in their joy on that occasion they would forget that humanity was of far deeper importance than the building up of a sect. I fancied that Christianity was forgotten in an attempt to exalt Unitarianism. I am accused of making an attack on Mrs. Dana, and that is put forward as the great feature in my letter to you and to the Inquirer. I do not understand how a candid opponent could put such a construction on my remarks. I meant the letter to be—and to ту
mind it plainly conveys the impression—not an attack on Mrs. Dana, but a solemn appeal to the Unitarians of these lands to be regardless of sectarianism when it came in competition with humanity. That I should speak with severity of slavery, and of all who in any shape or form tolerate so daring an invasion of the rights of man and of the precepts of Jesus, was unavoidable; and it was equally unavoidable that I should place Mrs. Dana in the unhappy position of being either a supporter of the system or of being silent on the subject. In either case, it should be no cause of joy to us that she had cast off her own mental chains, while she sanctioned by her presence the physical enslavement of millions of her fellow-men.
What are the facts of the case in relation to slavery in the United States ? It has, within forty or fifty years, increased the number of its victims from about six hundred thousand to nearly three millions
of hapless beings, who are deprived of every right, who are treated with brutality and indignity beyond the power of language to describe, -among whom the marriage tie is held in no respect by the white man, who ruthlessly sunders husbands and wives, parents and children, and considers them property in the same light as if they were soulless brutos. The entire public opinion of the south sanctions and supports all this iniquity; not a voice is raised in its condemnation ; neither is there the slightest symptom manifested to overturn the iniquity either at once or at any future period of time. Can Christianity exist among such a people? The thing is impossible. The advocates for the immediate emancipation of the coloured people in America, are falsely accused of casting impediments in the way of emancipation; and in their efforts for the promotion of genuine Christianity, they meet with no more virulent opposition than that which arises from the clergy, who occupy the bad eminence, in that land, of being, in the language of Mr. Birney—who was once a slave-holder himself, but who made his slaves and himself free, by quitting the slave States—the “Bulwark of Slavery."
Mr. Porter seems to imagine, that if no opponents of slavery resided in the midst of the vile system, we would remain unacquainted with its horrors. If so, he knows little about the sources of our information. Ile has not gone into his own soul, and inquired there what is truly horrible in the state of slavery. I tell him that it is thence the true-souled abolitionist draws his hatred of the system. We also find it recorded on the page he is familiar with, that it is the duty of man to do unto his brother man as he would be done by. We know that slavery is altogether opposed to this precept. Hence, also, wo derive our conviction of the horrors of man-stealing. We know that physical horrors, of an appalling nature, are its inevitable accompaniments; but these are but dust in the balance when we think of the prostration of soul and mind which is necessary for support of the system.
But Mr. Porter is greatly in error when he supposes that we derive our evidence of the existence and our knowledge of the details of them from persons friendly to our views, who reside in the slave States. Is he really so iguorant of the brutifying effects of the system on the minds of the white men, as to be unaware of the fact that they blush not to publish their own shạme to the world, in the columns of their newspapers, when advertising for runaway slaves, who are to be discovered by the mutilations on different parts of their bodies?
Mr. Porter, unhappily for himself, illustrates his idea of slavery by placing it in the same category as “ Popery, horse-racing, gambling with cards and dice,” &c. &c. He says he has as great an enmity to slavery as I have. If this were true, he would never think of naming slavery in connexion with any other sin. I think all other sins light in comparison with the single one of making a chattel of a human being. When this wickedness is perpetrated by a professing Christian, not a real unbeliever, it transcends all other wickedness, immeasurably. But his illustration fails him altogether, even taking it as he intends it, as a proof of my inconsistency, and only shows how very weak the cause must be which, in the hands of so clever a man, can only be supported by so miserable an argument. To have any force at all, Mr. Porter should have shown that I durst not lift up my voice against what I deem to be evils at home, except at the risk of my life from mob violence. Every man in these countries is at full liberty to denounce any practices he disapproves of, and if he do not denounce them he is a participator in them.
This letter would extend to an unreasonable length, if I were to take up and reply to all Mr. Porter's objections. If I were so disposed, I think I could easily pick out from the many epithets he has freely indulged in, in his criticisms upon myself, some few which would be quite as applicable to his own production; but I have no wish to retort unkindly. I have no time to spare for such writing: my object is to do good. I want to help the abolitionists in America to accomplish a great purpose. I ask my Unitarian brethren to assist them too, and to do so heartily. The time has arrived when man-stealers, and all who abet them, should be plainly told of their iniquities. They must be placed low in the scale of civilization, and altogether without the pale of the Christian Church. The thief, and the murderer, and the adulterer have an equal right to claim the privileges of Christian fellowship
I beg to say, in conclusion, that I have carefully read over my original letter, and my reply to Mr. Warwood, on the subject of Mrs. Dana's adhesion to Unitarianism—the former published in your magazine, and both in the columns of the Inquirer, Nos. 215 and 222; and that I do not desire to withdraw a single expression in either of them. I deny having causelessly wounded Mrs. Dana. If I am guilty of a crime in taking it for granted that she is mixed up with slavery, when all the presumptions, amounting to almost a certainty, are in my favour,—what is the amount of Mr. Porter's crime in taking her to his bosom from the very hot-bed of slavery, without making a single inquiry as to whether she was free from the stain on her soul of supporting that iniquity? It was the hurried anxiety to lay hold on her, because of her great intellectual powers, without casting a thought on the enslaved millions in whose midst she dwells, which made me desirous to express my sentiments. If she be such a person as Christian Unitarians should be glad to hold fellowship with, I believe she will be pleased that I have written as I have done. If she be a palliator of slavery, she will be just as angry with me as Mr.