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THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER.

WITH the present number of the Christian Teacher we complete the Fifth volume of our labours.

We retain the conviction that a Quarterly Periodical conducted in the general spirit of our work, is necessary both to represent, and to aid in the development of the faith and opinions of our section of the religious world. A Periodical, the servant of no sect, loving the spirit of the gospel but afraid of no truth, might, if supported by the adequate zeal, energy, and learning, contribute something to elicit such a view of Christianity, as Reason, and History, and its own suitableness to produce a spiritual union among the civilized portion of mankind, would approve as the Universal Religion, the Genuine Gospel of Christ. It is vain to expect that any of the rival Creeds will ever unite the intelligent world beneath its mastery; but can nothing be done to establish the fundamental principles on which a true religious union must be founded, and to gain for these principles a recognition and acceptance among mankind? A work of this nature should be enabled to present vivid pictures of the existing Christian world, with an analysis of the originating elements of its leading subdivisions, and especially of those lately formed Parties, whose birth exhibits that struggle of principles and ideas, which is now every where characteristic of the present Condition of Religion. A work of this class would avoid all interference with those Periodicals more particularly devoted to the theology and literature of a sect; and accordingly in the plan and conduct of the Christian Teacher we have carefully shunned all rivalry with our older Magazines, whilst we have felt the great importance of closely identifying ourselves with the Unitarian Body, as the only portion of the religious community which could find full satisfaction in our pages, and the only nucleus of any interest or influence we could ever hope to possess.

It may be that this deficiency in a merely Denominational interest, uniting with Editorial weakness, and the necessary imperfections of a work supported by unpaid labour, every page of which has been a sacrifice and free gift of the writer, has

contributed from the first to narrow the circle of our readers, and gradually to contract it to a degree that threatens to render the continued existence of the Periodical no longer possible. As we have no interest in this matter, separate from those of the religious Body which we desire to represent and serve, there is no reason why we should not speak of the affairs of the Christian Teacher with entire plainness. No one, acquainted with the history of such publications, could engage in them with an expectation of profit. Though the extent of circulation must always be regarded as mainly the measure of good performed by any publication, we should have been satisfied with a bare existence, and the knowledge that we were supplying a want to that limited public in whose service we are called to labour. The Editor has been enabled to obtain the assistance of some few Contributors, who were willing to give their time and thoughts without recompence; and accordingly not a single Article since the commencement of this periodical has been paid for, and its readers have had to defray only the mechanical expenditure of paper, print and sale. The returns were at first sufficient for these purposes, and are only now ceasing to be so. A larger Number than usual, containing a greater quantity of pages and consequently brought out at an increased expense, leaves that additional cost a burden on the Magazine. The circulation never steadily reaching five hundred is now reduced to less than four.

An organ giving adequate expression to the views of Religion, Morals, and Society, held by the most devout and inquiring minds among the Unitarian Body of the New and the Old World, and engaging general attention by the vigour, earnestness, and fulness of knowledge with which it treated these great subjects, could not fail to be the most powerful instrument for the spread of what they hold to be Christian Truth, that the Unitarians have ever yet brought to bear upon the public mind. A Periodical, to become such an organ, must have the power of commanding the best talent and information on every subject which it opens. Its Editor, when he has designed the plan of each successive Number, and determined the questions and the books which should, at that particular time, be brought before the public, should have the power of completing his design, by engaging for his work the minds that are best qualified to labour in each department. Without a command of capital this cannot possibly be done. The usual remuneration in the ordinary Periodicals, conducted as trading speculations, is a guinea a page. It is no small matter, for it is apt to be felt as a personal favour conferred upon himself, when an Editor has to ask

that labour, so highly paid in other quarters, will be undertaken for him for no remuneration whatever, but such as may proceed from the feeble and uncertain expectation of usefulness in a very limited sphere. Where the work is thus entirely voluntary, and the solicitation to individuals for painful exertion and sacrifice of time has to be continually renewed, it will be no matter of surprise that a Periodical existing within such conditions, should fall far short of completeness and symmetry of design, as well as of freshness and vigour of execution.

We cannot but deem it as a proof of great negligence on the part of the Unitarians, and of a low appreciation of the intellectual and literary instruments of knowledge and civilization, that never at any period of their history did they entertain the project of combining their strength in the support of a Publication designed to recommend their views, on the subjects of religious inquiry, to the best consideration of the thinking and competent minds of all parties. The success of such a work would be certain. The union of the Unitarians alone, in its support, would be enough to command this,—and its circulation among the other classes of educated and inquiring men, far beyond that which any other Periodical wanting this prestige has ever been able to obtain. Even the Theological Repository, conducted by Priestley, and containing by far the greatest number of original and valuable communications that have appeared in any Periodical connected with the Denomination, never obtained a general support, and had to be abandoned from a want of means to defray the expenses of publication.

That no other difficulty has impeded the realization of such a combined effort, than the total absence of any sense of its importance, a brief statement and calculation will clearly show. Our own Magazine will serve for calculating expenses as well as any other, and the facts are within our own knowledge. The ordinary expenses of a number are from thirty to forty pounds. Let us state the cost of publication of four numbers, that is of a whole year, at two hundred pounds. Three hundred pounds would be sufficient for the remuneration of Contributors, in consideration of the extent to which they would be influenced chiefly by a desire to propagate important views of religious Truth. So that five hundred pounds a year would meet the whole expenses of authorship and publication of a work like the Christian Teacher, if conducted in the same way as the ordinary class of Periodical Literature. A circulation of one thousand copies would produce this five hundred pounds; and the advertising department would more than meet all incidental expenses. No capital, in fact therefore, would be required, if

a union of Unitarians could be secured to such an extent as to secure a circulation of one thousand copies. There can be no question that such a result might be secured, two, three, or four fold, by the formation of a Proprietory body throughout the various congregations of our denomination in the kingdom,the proprietory body being indeed only the Subscribers, and contributing nothing more than the price of their single copy. We call them a Proprietory not strictly, but merely to indicate that they would hold themselves pledged to support, simply by taking it, a Periodical enabled to command competent talent by offering a fair remuneration for the labour devoted to its service. Such a co-operation would of course imply some controul over the Review, and arrangements might be made with the view of placing the appointment of Editor in the hands of certain select persons who had the confidence of the general Body. These persons might be responsible for the expenses of Publication, though the responsibility would be nominal. If, by so doing, he can promote the realization of such a scheme as he has now sketched, the present Editor and Proprietor will gladly withdraw himself and his work from before the Public, whilst he earnestly requests that nothing here stated may be interpreted as implying the remotest doubt on his part of the usefulness or acceptableness of the existing Magazines which are designed upon another model, and undertake a different service, from that of an elaborate Quarterly Review.

The Editor of the Christian Teacher can do no more than throw out this design, and wait to see what will become of it. Meanwhile, he will continue his present work for another year with such increased strength of authorship as he can obtain, in the hope that either it may become more successful and more deserving of success, or that something better may arise to take its place. Amply occupied by other interests and cares, yet naturally not indifferent to the fate of a work that has employed so much of the time not due to his more peculiar charge, either alternative would more than content him: but he confesses that he would regard it both a severe disappointment, and an evil omen, if this Work should perish, and no other, of a similar character, appear to take its place. It has, at all events, proved, by an experience of nearly six years, that it is possible, without actual loss, to support such a periodical by the free gifts of voluntary Contributors.

In the next year, whilst nothing of a catholic spirit will be abandoned, an attempt will be made to keep closer to us the Denominational sympathies of the Unitarian body, by allotting a considerable space, in each Number, to the review of Unitarian

works, so that no publication, of any general interest, shall appear without some notice. The neglect of some such plan, with the impossibility of giving a lengthened review of every publication, has compelled us to pass over many works deserving a respectful consideration.

An attempt will also be made to give increased variety and value to the Literary department of the Review; not by undertaking to criticise that immense mass of publications which, Coleridge used to say, was called into existence to meet the wants and tastes of the multitudes, who had acquired the art of reading without much progress in the art of thinking, but by giving some account of such new works as may be regarded as permanent additions to the Literature of the country.

In projecting these improvements the Editor has honestly avowed the difficulties and disadvantages under which he labours, and which are impediments to their execution. He earnestly solicits the intellectual, literary, and moral support of those of his brethren in the Ministry, whose faith in Christianity is accompanied by devout faith in Truth and Freedom. Their confidence and co-operation would command success. He also solicits the literary aid and contributions of the numerous minds among the laity, in whom a profound sentiment of religion has led to earnest habits of religious inquiry. He would wish this Periodical to be a meeting place for the professional and non-professional lovers and students of the Gospel of Truth: and as long as it is under his care, it is his desire that its spirit shall be, at once, Christian and Catholic; expressly devoted to the service of Christianity, in the faith that that service is perfect Freedom, and that only "the Truth makes free."

END OF THE FIFTH VOLUME.

RICHARD KINDER, PRINTER, GREEN ARBOUR COURT, OLD BAILEY.

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