’Unitarian Christianity loves the Parable of the Prodigal Son, because it shows so clearly and so beautifully the love and forgiveness of God, and with what tender pity he looks on us when we have sinned.
’Unitarian Christianity believes that God speaks to his children now as truly as he did to the Prophets of old and to Jesus Christ, comforting, strengthening, enlightening them. Conscience itself is his holy voice.
’Unitarian Christianity sees in Jesus Christ a supremely beautiful life and character, a marvellous inspiration for us all, an ideal after which we may strive; and it loves to think of him as our Elder Brother, of the same nature as ourselves.
’Unitarian Christianity does not believe that God will plunge any of his children into everlasting woe. Such a thought of God is a contradiction of his Fatherhood. He is leading us all, by different ways, towards the pure and holy life for which he brought us into being.’
Along with this may be taken the declaration adopted, as a result of somewhat protracted discussions, at the National Conference of Unitarians in America, 1894; it would probably be accepted in all similar assemblies.
’These churches accept the religion of Jesus, holding in accordance with his teaching that practical religion is summed up in love to God, and love to man; and we invite to our fellowship any who, while differing from us in belief, are in general sympathy with our spirit and our practical aims.’
The broadly sympathetic spirit which has been observed at work in the foregoing story has led to interesting relationships between Unitarians and some other religious bodies. The Universalists, who are strongest in the United States, are cordially fraternal with them; and a large proportion of the ’Christians’—a non-dogmatic body—are equally close in sympathy. The Hicksite Friends, named after Elias Hicks, who early in the nineteenth century avowed Anti-trinitarian views, and some other religious bodies less conspicuous are more or less directly included in the Unitarian forces, though not organically in union. With the French Liberal Protestants there has been warm co-operation for many years, and the same is true of Dutch, German, and Swiss reformers. Since the visit of Rammohun Roy, the Indian reformer, in 1833, the English in particular have developed kindly relations with the Indian theist movement, and students from India and Japan are regularly educated at Oxford for the ministry of free religion in their own countries. It is in this way, more than by the ordinary types of missionary activity, that Unitarians have hitherto attempted to influence the non-Christian races.