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^ Newport , Isle of JVight , Sir , December 16 , 1819 . S a member of one of those un-Afortunate Societies which have fallen under the formidable lash of Mr . Belsham ' s censure , fXIV . 657 , ] permit me to state a few circumstances which may at least serve to palliate , if they do not justify our conduct .
The London Unitarian Society , it appears , " was first formed by a few individuals , who , assuming as a principle that the simple humanity of Jesus Christ is a doctrine of the highest importance , and believing that every
deviation from it tends to still greater errors , and that these deviations have , in fact , proved the primary source of the grossest corruptions of the Christian doctrine , conceived that they could not render a better service to the
interests of pure and practical Christianity , than by instituting a society , the direct and avowed object of which should be the public profession and promulgation of this fundamental truth /'
Not so , the Southern Unitarian Society : this Society was formed by persons , some of whom held that our Saviour , before his birth , existed in a state of great glory and happiness ; others , that he was by nature , in all respects , like his brethren ; though they all believed in his subordination to the
Father and complete dependence upon him . They all acknowledged the absolute unity and unrivalled supremacy of Jehovah , the almighty , all-wise , and allgracious Creator and Preserver of all things , the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . To teach this great
doctrine was the object which the formation of the Society had in view : its members were far from adopting the contracted notion , that in order to associate for this purpose it was necessary that a complete similarity should exist on minor points of opinion .
In order to bear their united testimony to the unity of God , they no more conceived it necessary that they should think alike as to the age of Christ , than as to his stature and complexion . Where , then , is the justice , as far at least as we are concerned , of
the charge " that the unforeseen aa& unexpected junction of the Arians has , in some measure , disturbed the harmony of the Society , as they have been continually pushing to alter the preamble , and in some cases , among the
affiliated societies , with too much suecess ; having actually subverted the original object of the Society , the prof es sion of the simple humanity of Christ" ? But , Sir , we have great examples to plead in excuse of our " modern
Latitudmarian principles . " At the first annual meeting of the Southern Society , held at Portsmouth in 1812 , the secretary informed the committee that he had obtained the consent of the
Rev . Thomas Belsham to preach at the next anniversary ; it was subsequently resolved , after thanking Mr Belsham for his obliging compliance with the request that had been made to him , " That he be informed that this Society is associated only in the doctr ine of the Divine Unity / ' Now , Sir , I have not Mr . Belsham ' s sermon €
before me ; but I fear that , instead of the good old original practice of preaching the truth as it is in Jesus , " he adopted , " the modem principle of the reformed societies , " which is , " to give offence to their new friends , " and that something else was "
substituted in the room of a plain , energetie declaration of the absolute unity of God and the simple humanity of Jesus Christ , as the great and fundamental articles of the Christian faith : " for I
find in the record of proceedings at the meeting for business , held immediately after the morning service , the following resolutions :
" That it be entered as a , minute on the journal of the Society , and printed with the list of subscribers , that by calling ourselves Unitarians , we mean only to avow our belief in the simple unity of God . "
" That the thanks of the Society be given to Mr . Belsham , or the candid manner in which he received the information of the Society ' s character and design , as well as listened to their request of adopting his discourse . " Mr . Belsham , who had become a
member of the Society , is stated to have been present when the above resolutions were passed , and it does not appear that any objection was made to them . Several of our succeeding preachers , like Mr . Belsham , adapted
ley on the points which are the subject of these Letters , it is proposed , on a proper occasion , to examine the value of their authorities .
indication of the Southern Unitarian Society . 24
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1820, page 21, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2484/page/21/