1 OCTOBER 1881, Page 2

An international conference of Free-thinkers has been held this week

in London, in the City Road. It was attended by about eighty delegates from France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Great Britain, and America, who represented, it was said, some hundreds of local associations, most of them small. Some of the delegates, like Dr. Bfichner, the chairman, were men of some distinction ; but the im- portance of the meeting consists in this,—that it records a certain change of attitude in the party of negative thought. Hitherto, they have, for the most part, been accustomed to con- form externally, being contented with the liberty of express- ing their views in books, but they now seek to manifest dis- belief by outward symbols. Half the reports read mention movements, such as the abolition of baptism, the substitution of "a philosophic ceremony for the first communion," and. the adoption of a secular ceremonial at funerals, which are intended to signify total departure out of Christi- anity. Upon the whole, that is as well. The children will not disbelieve the more for their fathers' open profession, and the world will be enabled to test disbelief, as it tests beliefs, by the effect exercised upon life and thought. That is not a complete test, for hardly any faith escapes the influence of the faiths around it, and every faith has its hours of corruption and revival ; but it is the test which the mass of mankind can most easily apply. Once fairly applied, there can be little to fear for Christianity.