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READER, we here present you with the THIRD Volume of the FREETHINKING CHRISTIANS' MAGAZINE. If the Work has hitherto remained unknown to you, be not alarmed at the title it assumes, nor suffer your prejudices to pass a premature judgment upon that which yet you are unacquainted with. We will presume that you are rational, inteliigent, and a lover of truth; and as such, we need only remind you that names are not always correct archetypes of things; sometimes they are deficient themselves, and sometimes our pre-conceived opinions give to them significations very different from those for which they were originally used. Hence, if our title-page should excite your alarm, and rouse from their silent and settled repose the opinions of your ancestors, you will calm the emotion of sudden appeal, and proceed, with philosophic step, to investigate the nature of their cause; you will inquire whether it be the design of Christianity to fetter the intellect of man, and to forbid the exercise of those faculties with which heaven hath endued him; and if you should conclude that Christianity, instead of confining the understanding of man, is, by its very nature, calculated to enlarge it; that it commands us to think with freedom-to judge with precisionand to seek after truth in every channel where it may possibly be found; and that they who declare the use of reason in matters of religion to be irreligious, are haply more guided by its corruptions than by its true spirit;-you will then see that the votary of that religion which commands freedom of thought must necessarily be a man who thinks freely, or, in the terms of our title-page, he must be a Freethinking Christian. Custom will, perhaps, remind you of the oppro
brious ideas usually attached to freethinking; but what have good men to do with customs that are erroneous, or with prejudices that are fallacious, except it be to see the folly of such things themselves, and to display it to others? He who bursts the fetters of a superstitious custom, gains a double advantage; for he not only discovers a new truth, but he removes an old error. Be not, therefore, at open war with us on account of our name; if you think it not correct, give us, at least, the credit of intending it such, until, by the perusal of the volume before you, you find more weighty reasons either for confirming or doubting our sincerity.
As it is the nature of a Magazine to consist of a variety of miscellaneous matter, you will not, of course, conclude that every article in this book proceeded from the pen of a Freethinking Christian; much of the work we acknowledge as our own, but much also, for the honour of our religion and ourselves, we disavow. Some articles we have, perhaps, occasionally inserted for want of better-some to admit a diversity of opinion-and some for the purpose of attacking the dogmas they contain, and as affording us an opportunity of lashing the follies of the age; it will, therefore, occur, in the course of your perusal, that you will meet with doctrines which you think untenable-sentiments which you think erroneous-and language which you may well imagine affords ample room for improvement, both in beauty of composition and grammatical truth; but all these you will regard only as parts of the varied whole; and in forming a comprehensive judgment of a work, which might contain as many various principles as it does essays, you will not decide in the middle but at the end.
When the first Volume of this work commenced its publication, little did its compilers imagine that it would have Jery attained the conclusion of a third Volume. Their religious opinions, and of consequence many of their moral ones, Cast were so much at variance with the general notions of the parage, that they were anxious to commit them on record for
their own benefit and that of their posterity; they considered the Christian religion, as delineated in the New Testaiment, so beautifully simple, so admirably consistent with every known principle of nature-so calculated to promote the immediate and the eternal happiness of man--so fully demonstrative of the Divine Wisdom and Benevolence, but at the same time so different from what was usually called Christianity-that they could not, consistently with their social duties, refrain from exerting their best efforts to communicate it to their fellow-men-they, therefore, resolved, among other means, to adopt the publication of this work, the continuance of which has crowned their most ardent wishes, because it has given them the means of distributing, in different parts of the world, Christianity divested, as they sincerely believe, of error; and of handing down to their children, and their children's children, the means by which they themselves have advanced in wisdom and happiness. They rejoice that they are no longer under the fetters of priestcraft, or entangled in the trammels of such superstition as chains down the mind to a set of rites and tenets, from which they dare not depart.
Priests they have none; pay they have none; honour they have none, but that of merit and virtue; nor have they any objects before them but free enquiry, truth, and right action, hoping thereby to fit themselves for that state which God, by his messenger, has declared, shall be the reward of those who diligently seek it. Whither this freedom (to which they give no limits but those of virtue and justice) will lead them they know not; but this they know, that hitherto it has led them to the detection of innumerable errors, and to the discovery of what they consider inestimable truths. It has enlarged their understandings, improved their characters, and increased their happiness; it has convinced them that the love of truth will lead a man far beyond what even the most sanguine anticipations could expect; and that the more errors they detect, both in moral and religious views, the more wisdom they are likely