« PreviousContinue »
The present circumstances of our religious Society are at once the reason and the apology for my venturing to address my fellow-members in Christian profession. Those essential points of doctrine on which the Society is divided, admit of no compromise. They must be brought, like all other points, whether of faith or practice, to the only infallible standard, -the written word of God. To no other authority is any Christian called to bow; and while appealing to this alone, I trust to obtain the candid attention of my fellow-members generally; who, however they may question any of my conclusions, must approve the ground on which I have sought to form them. Nothing is more prejudicial to the mind, in reference to religion, than settling down upon a conventional or traditional faith ; and thus accepting as Gospel Truth that which is asserted to be such, without examining the grounds on which these assertions
rest. This believing by proxy may be better suited to the natural indolence of man, than a diligent and prayerful examination of Holy Scripture; but the one will keep the mind in a state of dangerous ignorance, accessible to every error, while the other will make “ wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. iii. 15.)
The opinions I have ventured to express, are not the result of“ new views." They were formed long before I was aware how many in secret entertained them : they have been deepened and strengthened by closer examination. Every fresh recurrence to the only legitimate source of Gospel Truth, has confirmed my conviction of their general accordance with that paramount authority; while a renewed investigation of the early history of the Christian church, has satisfied my mind, that the origin of certain prevalent unscriptural views, is to be found in some very early, and apparently unimportant, departures from Scripture language, and from the simplicity of revealed truth. It was thus, that succeeding ages were furnished with a plausible foundation for many serious errors in doctrine and practice, and also in matters relating to church government.
If, in this feeble effort, I have unintentionally or ignorantly advanced any thing not in accordance