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have said before, follow my own private interpretation. But this latter course, though so repug. nant to reason and common sense, is yet so generally prevalent among Protestants, that, in my mind, it forms another very powerful argument against conformity to their principles. Considering the fluctuations of opinion necessarily attending the person who frames his creed merely by the light of his own judgment in the interpretation of the scriptures, it is utterly impossible he can ever attain to that firmness of belief on which a rational man would ground the security of his faith; or if by such inadequate and disproportionate means, he should form to himself some consistency of mind
upon the subject, he must, at least, be guilty of presumption, in venturing upon that which the wisest and best men in Christendom have always declared themselves incapable of accomplishing.
But there are not wanting those, who, seeing the difficulties of their situation, boldly contend that a diversity of opinion in matters of faith destroys not the unity of religion. This is a doctrine so monstrous, that it is impossible to read a chapter in the inspired writings, and not feel convinced of the falsity of such a position. It is at variance with the very principles of the Reformation, because, if unity of faith were not necessary, why make a schism in the church in favour of
any particular code of tenets? It is at variance with
reason, because it is unreasonable that we, who are the children of obedience, should be permitted to follow our own fancy in interpreting the immutable word of God: it is at variance with revelation, because it destroys charity, which is the essence of religion, because revelation says: speak all the same thing, and let there be no schisms among you.
If a diversity of religious opinions were permitted, whence all those denunciations against innovators and false teachers ? Why does the Apostle so often and so strenuously insist upon unity? Why does he exclaim, Is Christ divided? God is not the God of dissension, but of
(1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2. (s) 1 Cor. i. 10. (l) 1 Cor. i. 13.
Jesus Christ, praying to his father for his apostles and disciples, says: As thou hast sent me into this world, I also have sent them into the world. And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.... That they all may be one as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee: that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one. (St. John xvii.) How could truth and unity be more clearly and more energetically inculcated?
The following passages are to the same effect. St. Paul, writing to the first Christians, says: For first of all I hear that when you come together in the church, there are schisms amongst you; and in part I believe it. For there
peace.com) Many also hush the voice of conscience, and, while they strive to vindicate their conduct to themselves, plead for their apology, that their faith is complete if they believe, in what they call, the grand leading tenets of Christianity; and in consequence they profess to consider doctrinal points as matters of minor importance. But so
must be heresies, that they also who are approved, may be made manifest among you. (1 Cor. xi. 18, 19.) ' Again; Be of one mind, have peace; and the God of peace and of love shall be with you. (2 Cor. xiii. 11.) But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there shall be among you lying teachers, who shall bring in sects of perdition, and deny the Lord who brought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 St. Peter, ii. 1.) My brethren, if any of you err from the truth, and one concert him, he must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.” (St. James, v. 20.) For such false Apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ. (2 Cor.xi. 13.) The word of the Lord endureth for ever, and this is the word which has been preached unto you. (1 St. Peter i. 25.) We are of God: he that knoweth God, heareth us ; he that is not of God, heareth us not: by this we know the spirit of Truth, and the spirit of error. (1 St. John iv. 6.) How true it is that error does, will, and must exist, and that truth is immutable and enduring, and always discoverable, if we will but apply the proper means, and have recourse to the proper sources.
(u) 1 Cor. xiv. 33.
far from this being the reality, there is not the slightest doubt but that we shall stand or fall, we shall live or die, by our faith in doctrinal points.
We may find a striking illustration of this in the doctrine of the real presence. The Israelites in Egypt were informed that, unless they were sprinkled with the blood of the paschal lamb, they should be destroyed. Our Saviour informs us, that except we eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, we shall not have life in us.co) Is it, then, a matter of minor importance whether we are to live or die, and that eternally too? and yet the words of Christ declare that this depends upon our eating his flesh and drinking his blood. But do Protestants do this? They frequent the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper - but do they there eat of his flesh and drink of his blood? They say they do not. We say we do, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.—Is it, then, a matter of minor importance to have this point decided, on which depends everlasting life? Is it a case of little moment, whether we have a false or a true faith, upon adoctrine involving such stupendous consequences? A8, without faith, it is impossible to please God," so, without faith, even though we should be the partakers of it, it is impossible to live by this bread of life.
6) St. John, vi. 53.
(3) Hebreros, xi. 5.
Many also hold the preposterous idea of an amalgamation of truth and falsehood in the true Church of Christ, and are satisfied with it in this state; but surely, if the religion of the God of truth once becomes contaminated with error, it ceases to be his. By superadding new and unwarranted doctrines, or by denying the smallest article of the Christian faith, she errs as much as if she rejected the greatest mysteries of our belief, because the smallest rests upon the same authority as the greatest, not upon the wisdom of men, but upon
power of God. If she has failed in one point, she has failed in all : He that offends in one point, is guilty of all. Truth is essentially one-she associates not with error, without the loss of her reputation. What fellowship hath light with darkness and what concord hath Christ with Beliala(e) If there be a true Church, and undoubtedly there is, that Church is true, in every sense of the word. She is not an unnatural combination of truth and falsehood, a chaotic mixture of light and darkness, which neither the ingenuity nor the capacity of man can separate or distinguish. She is the truth, and only the truth; not true in some doctrines, and false in others; but, like the God by whom she was established, and by whom she is still protected and directed, she is Truth itself.
(a) 1 Cor. ii. 5. (St. James, ii. 10.
(0) St. James, ii. 10. (C) 2 Cor. vi. 14,15.