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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

Correspondence. — Religious Free-Thought and Church-Going

page 252


Religious Free-Thought and Church-Going.

Sir,—Will you kindly allow me to avail myself of your columns to say a few words to my co-religionists on the above subject? I am a tolerably regular attendant at the Unitarian Church, the only place in Sydney where, as I believe, service is conducted in accordance with the views of emancipated thinkers. The evening service is always cheerful and encouraging, conveying, as it must, to the minds of strangers, a fair idea of the earnestness of those who take part in it. I, for one, always return home strengthened for the week's duties, and, I hope, a little imbued with the earnest spirit of the teacher.

I go next Sunday morning, however, and, from the smallness of the attendance, might be led to infer that Unitarians are less numerous than they really are; and though I have come to worship, I nevertheless miss the warm glow of devotion that comes when kindred souls are all around, and find myself occupied in trying to solve the problem—how it is that the numbers who I know think with us, do not come to the most important Sunday gathering. No doubt the aspect of things chills them as it does me; but might it not be remedied by friends taking an interest in the ordinary services as they did in the late "In Memoriam" service, and in the Sunday School Service held only a few weeks ago? I know this cannot be done without a sacrifice, but I see no reason why this sacrifice should not be made. "He who would move the world must first move himself" is a saying from which Unitarians, taken as a body, may, I think, learn a valuable lesson. We admire our principles, but wait for the time when it shall be an easier and a pleasanter thing than it is now to take an active part in spreading them. Yet, let us not forget that "the best age of the Christian Church came before the fatal dower which the first wealthy Pope received," and so, in this difficult period of our history, when to avow oneself Unitarian, Theist, or Free-thinker in a general company awakens sentiments of either horror or pity, should we not show ourselves worthy "to drink of the cup and be baptised with the baptism" of him who, as the greatest free-thinker the world has seen, willingly sacrificed his life on behalf of the cause he durst not compromise.

Yours, truly,