committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

WHO OBJECTS TO CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS?

  1. Those who know nothing of their history, purpose, value, or their Biblical substance.

  2. All heretics speak against the Creeds (I did not say everyone who speaks against the Creeds is a heretic.)

  3. All liberals who do not believe the Bible have no use for Creeds that define objectivity the doctrines of the bible.

  4. those who want to promote their own Creed.

(Part III)

SOME OF THE PRINCIPAL OBJECTIONS WHICH
HAVE BEEN MADE TO CREEDS BY THEIR ADVERSARIES

In part one and two we considered seven valid reasons for the importance and necessity of Creeds of Confessions.  In this study we will be seeking to answer some of the most common objections to Creeds and Confessions by their adversaries.

 

The objectors say the Bible is so complete, that it needs
no human addition, and so easily understood,
that it requires no human explanation.

 

1. And the first which I shall mention is, that forming a Creed, and requiring subscription to it as a religious test, is superseding the Bible and making a human composition instead of it a standard of faith. ?The Bible,? say those who urge this objection, "is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. It is so complete, that it needs no human addition, and so easily understood, that it requires no human explanation. Why, then, should we desire any other ecclesiastical standard? Why subscribe ourselves, or call upon others to subscribe, any other Creed that this plain, inspired, and perfect one? Every time we do this we offer a public indignity to the sacred volume, as we virtually declare, either that it is not infallible, or not sufficient.

This objection is the most specious one in the whole catalogue. And although it is believed that a sufficient answer has been furnished by sane principles already laid dawn in part one and two, yet the confidence with which it is every day repeated, renders a formal attention to it expedient; more especially as it bears, at first view, so much the appearance of peculiar veneration for the Scriptures, that many are captivated by its plausible aspect, and consider it as decisive.

The whole argument which this objection presents, is founded on a false assumption. No Protestant ever professed to regard his Creed, considered as a human composition, as of equal authority with the scriptures, and far less of paramount authority. Every principle of this kind, is, with one voice, disclaimed by ii the Creeds and 5efences of Creeds that I have ever read. And whether, notwithstanding this, the constant repetition of the charge, ought to be considered as fair argument, or gross calumny, the impartial will judge. A church Creed professes to be as was before observed, merely an epitome or summary exhibition of what the Scriptures teach. It professes to be deduced from the Scriptures, and to refer to the scriptures for the whole of its authority. Of course, when any one subscribes it, he is so far from dishonouring the Bible, that he does public homage to it. He simply declares by a solemn act, hat he understands the Bible, in other words, what doctrines he considers it as containing. In short, the language of an orthodox believers in subscribing his ecclesiastical. Creed, is simply of the following import: ?While the Socinian professes to believe the Bible, and to understand it as teaching the mere humanity of Christ: while the Arian professes to receive the same Bible, and to find in it the Saviour represented as the most exalted of all creatures, but still a creature: while the Pelaqian and Semi?Pelagian make a similar profession of their general belief in the Scriptures, and interpret them as teaching a doctrine, far more favourable to human nature and far less honourable to the grace of God, than they appear to me really to teach; I beg the privilege of declaring, for myself, that while 1 believe with all my heart that ?the Bible is the word of God, the only perfect rule of faith and manners, and the only ultimate test in all controversies?it plainly teaches, as I read and believe the deplorable and total depravity of human nature?the essential divinity of the Saviour?a Trinity of persons in the Godhead?justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ?and regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Spirit, as indispensable to prepare the soul for heaven. These I believe to be the radical truths which God hath revealed in his word; and while they are denied by? sane, and frittered away or perverted by others, who profess to believe that blessed word, I am verily persuaded they are the fundamental principles of the plan of salvation.? Now I ask, is there in all this language anything dishonourable to the Bible? Anything that tends to supersede its authority; or to introduce a rule, or a tribunal of paramount authority? Is there not on the contrary, in the whole language and spirit of such a declaration, an acknowledgment of God's word as of ultimate and supreme authority; and an expression of belief in certain doctrines, simply and only because they are believed to be revealed in that word?  Truly if this be dishonouring the Scriptures or setting up a standard above them, there is an end of all meaning either of words or actions.

But still it is asked ?where is the need of any definitive declaration of what we understand the Scriptures to teach? Are they not intelligible enough in themselves? Can we make them plainer than their Author has done? Why hold a candle to the sun? Why make an attempt to frame a more explicit test than He who gave the Bible has thought proper to frame: an attempt, as vain as it is presumptuous?? To this plea it is sufficient to answer that although the Scriptures are undoubtedly simple and plain; so plain that ?he who runs may read;? yet it is equally certain that thousands do, in fact, mistake and misinterpret them. This cannot possibly be denied; because thousands interpret them, and that on points confessedly fundamental, not only in different, but in directly opposite ways. Of course all cannot be equally right. Can it be wrong, then, for a pious and orthodox man or for a pious church, to exhibit and endeavour to recommend to others, their mode of interpreting the sacred volume? As the world is acknowledged on all hands to be in fact full of mistake and error as to the true meaning of the Holy Scriptures, can it be thought a superfluous task for those who have more light and more correct opinions, to hold them up to view, as a testimony to the truth, and as a guide to such as may be in error? Surely it cannot. Yet this is neither more nor less than precisely that formation and maintenance of a Scriptural Confession of Faith for which I am pleading.

Still, what right has any man, or set of men, to impose their authority and undertake to deal out the sense of Scripture for others? Is it not both impious in itself, and an improper assumption over the minds of our fellow men? This reasoning would prove too much and therefore proves nothing. For, if admitted, it would prove that all preaching of the gospel is presumptuou5 and criminal; because preaching always consists in explaining and enforcing Scripture, and that for the most part in the words of the preacher himself. Indeed, if the objection before us were valid, it would prove that all the pious writings of the most eminent divines in all ages who have had for their object to elucidate and apply the word of God were profane and arrogant attempts to mend his revelation and make it better fitted than it is to promote its great design. Nay, further upon the principle of this objection, it not only follows that no minister of the gospel ought ever to do more in the pulpit than simply to read or repeat the very words of Scripture, but it is equally evident that he must read or repeat Scripture to his hearers only in the languages in which they were given to the church. For as has been of often observed, it cannot be said that the words of any translation of the Bible are the very words of the Holy Spirit. They are only the words which inspired men have chosen, in which to express as nearly as they were able, the sense of the original. If, therefore, the objection before us to be admitted, no man is at liberty to teach the great truths of revelation in any other way than by literally repeating the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, and the Greek of the New, in the hearing of the people. So extreme is the absurdity to which an erroneous principle will not fail to lead those who are weak enough or bold enough to follow it to its legitimate consequences!

 

Do those who defend Creeds esteem the Bible less? Do they
read it less? Do they appeal to it less frequently,
as their grand and ultimate authority?

 

 But, after all, what language do facts Speak on this subject? Are those individuals or churches, who have been most distinguished for their attachment and adherence to creeds more regardless of the Bible than other professing Christians? Do they appear to esteem the Bible less? Do they read it less? Do They appeal to it less frequently, as their grand and ultimate authority? Do they quote it more rarely or with less respect in their preaching? Where they once refer to their Creeds or Catechisms for either authority or illustration in the pulpit do they not notoriously refer to the Bible a thousand times? Do they take less pains than others to impress the contents of the sacred volume on the minds of their children and to hold it forth as the unceasing object of study to all? Look at the reformed churches of Scotland and Holland, of France and Geneva, in their best state, when their Confessions of Faith were most venerated, and had nest power, and then say whether any churches since the days of the apostles ever discovered more reverence for the Scriptures, or treated them with more devout regard, as the only perfect standard of faith and practice than they? Nay, am I not warranted in making a similar appeal with respect to those churches in our land which have been most distinguished for their attachment to creeds? Are not their ministers in general quite as remarkable for very rarely quoting their own ecclesiastical formularies for either proof or illustration as they are for their constant and abundant quotations from Scripture for both purposes? Can the same incessant and devout recurrence to the sacred oracles be ascribed with equal truth to the great body of the opposers of Creeds, in ancient or modem times? I will not press this comparison into further detail; but have no apprehension that even the bitterest enemy of Creeds, who has a tolerable acquaintance with facts and the smallest portion of candour will venture to say that the result fairly deduced, is in favour of his cause.

2. Another objection frequently made to church Creeds is that they interfere with the rights of conscience and naturally lead to oppression. ?What right,? say those who urge this objection, ?has, any church, or body of churches, to impose a Creed on me, or dictate to me what I shall believe? To attempt such dictation is tyranny; to submit to it is to surrender the right of private judgment.? There would be some ground for this objection if a Creed were in any case opposed by the civil government or by an established Church; if any were obliged to receive it under heavy pains and disabilities, whether they approved it or not. But as such a case does not and happily cannot exist in our favoured country, the objection is surely as illegitimate in reasoning as it is false in tact. One is tempted to suspect that those who urge such an objection among us have found it manufactured to their hands by persons living under civil governments and ecclesiastical establishments of an oppressive character; and viewing it as a weapon which might be wielded with much popular effect, they have taken it into their service and thenceforward refused to abandon it; though proved a thousand times to have no more application to any Creed or church in the United States, than to the inhabitants at another planet.

It will not surely be denied by any one that a body of Christians have a right in every free country to associate and walk together upon such principles as they may choose to agree upon, not inconsistent with public order. They have a right to agree and declare how they understand the Scriptures; what articles found in Scripture they concur in considering as fundamental; and in what manner they will have their public preaching and polity conducted for the edification of themselves and their children. They have no right indeed to decide or to judge for others nor can they compel any man to join than. But it is surely their privilege to judge for themselves; to agree upon the plan of their own association; to determine upon what principles They will receive other members into their brotherhood; and to form a set of rules which will exclude from their body Those with when they cannot walk in harmony. The question is not whether They make in all cases a wise and scriptural use of this right to follow the dictates of conscience, but whether they possess the right at all? They are indeed accountable for the use which they make of it and solemnly accountable to their Master in heaven; but to man they surely cannot, and cannot, to be compelled to give any account. It is their own concern. Their fellow-men have nothing to do with it, as long as they commit no offence against the public peace. To decide otherwise would indeed be an outrage on the right of private judgment. If the principles of civil and religious liberty generally prevalent iii our happy country be correct, demonstration itself cannot be more incontrovertible than these positions.

But if a body of professing Christians have a natural right thus to associate, to extract their own Creed from the Scriptures and to agree upon the principles by which others may afterwards be admitted into their number, is it not equally manifest that they have the same right to refuse admittance to those with when they believe they cannot be comfortably connected? Let us suppose a church to be actually associated upon the principle laid down, its Creed and other articles adopted and published for the information of all who may wish to be informed, and its members walking together in harmony ad love. Suppose while things are in this situation, a person canes to them and addresses them thus, ?I demand admittance into your body though I can neither believe the doctrines which you profess or embrace, nor consent to be governed by the rules which you have agreed to adopt." What answer would they be apt to give him? They would certainly reply, ?Your demand is very unreasonable. Our union is a voluntary one for our mutual spiritual benefit. We have not solicited you to join us, and you cannot possibly have a right to force yourself into our body. The whole world is before you. Go where you please, We cannot agree to receive you unless you are willing to walk with us upon our own principles.? Such an answer would undoubtedly be deemed a proper one by every reasonable person. Suppose, however this applicant were still to urge his demand, to claim admission as a right, and upon being finally refused to complain that the society had ?persecuted? and ?injured" him? Would any one think him possessed of common sense? Nay, would not the society in question if they could be compelled to receive such an applicant, instead of being oppressors of others, cease to be free themselves?

 

Does a church not have a right, yes, a duty to question a
candidate for the office of pastor of their congregation
concerning his creed as well as his conversion?

 

The same principle would still more strongly apply in case of a clergyman offering himself to such a church as a candidate for the office of pastor among them. Suppose, when he appeared to make a tender of his services they were to present him with a copy of that Creed, and of that form of government and of worship which they had unanimously adopted and to say??This is what we believe. We pretend not to prescribe to others, ?but so we have learned Christ;? so we understand the Scriptures, and thus we wish ourselves, our children, and all who look up to us for guidance to be instructed. Can you subscribe to these formularies? Are you willing to cane among us upon these principles and as our pastor thus to break to us and our little ones what we dean ?the bread of life??? Could the candidate complain of such a demand? Many speak as if the church in putting him to this test, undertook to ?judge for him.? But nothing can be more remote from the truth. They only undertake to judge for themselves. If the candidate cannot or will rot accept of the test, he will be of course rejected. But, in this case, no judgment is passed on his state toward God, no ecclesiastical censure, not even the smallest is inflicted upon him. The church only claims a right to be served in the ministerial office by a man who is of the same religion with themselves. And is this an unreasonable demand? Are not the rights of conscience reciprocal? Or do they demand that while a church shall be prohibited from ?oppressing? an individual, an Individual shall be allowed to ?oppress? a church? Surely it cannot be necessary to wait for an answer. And if a candidate who fell totally short of the qualifications required, and who of course was rejected, should make a great outcry that he was ?wantonly? and ?tyrannically? deprived of the place to which he aspired, would not every one think him insane, or worse than insane? The same principle applies to every voluntary association for moral, literary, or other lawful, purposes. If the waiters have not a right to agree on what principles they will associate and to refuse membership to those who are known to be entirely hostile to the great object of the association, there is an end of all liberty. Of the self evident truth of all this no one doubts. But where is the essential difference between any one of these rights and the right of any community of professing Christians to agree upon what they deem the scriptural principles of their own union, and to refuse admission into their body of those when they consider as unfriendly to the great purposes of truth and edification, for the promotion of which they, associated? To deny then this right would he to make then slaves indeed!

It will probably however, be alleged that a church cannot properly speaking, be considered as a voluntary association, That it is a community instituted by the authority of Christ, that its laws axe given by Him, as its sovereign Head and Lord, and that its rulers are in fact only stewards bound to conform themselves in all that they do to his will, that, if the church were their own, they would have a right to shut out from it when they pleased, but as it is Christ? s they must find sane other rule of proceeding than their own volitions. This is doubtless all true. The church of Christ certainly cannot be regarded as a mere voluntary association, in the same sense in which many other societies are so called. It is the property of Christ. His will is the basis and the law of its establishment, and of course, none can be either admitted or excluded but upon principles which his own word prescribes. This, however, it is conceived, does not alter ?one jot or tittle,? the spirit of the foregoing reasoning. The union of Christians in a church state must still from the nature of things be a voluntary act, for if it were not so it would not be a moral act at all. But if the union be voluntary, then those who form it must certainly be supposed to have a right to follow their own convictions as to what their Divine Master has revealed and enjoined respecting the laws of their union.

If they are not to judge in This matter who, I ask, is to judge for tint? Has the Head of the Church then prescribed any qualifications as necessary for private membership, or for admission to the ministerial office in his church? If so, what are they? Will any degree of departure from the purity of faith or practice be sufficient to exclude a man? If it will, to wham has our Lord committed the task of applying his law, and judging in any particular case?to the applicants or delinquents themselves; or to the church in which membership is desired? If to the latter, on what principle is she bound to proceed? As her members have voluntarily associated for Their mutual instruction and edification in spiritual things, have they not a right to be satisfied that the individual who applies to be received among them, either as a private member or minister, entertains opinions and bears a character, which will be consistent with the great object which they seek? Can any such individual reasonably refuse to satisfy than as to the accordance of his religious sentiments with theirs, if they think that both the law of Christ, and the nature of the case render such accordance necessary to Christian fellowship? If be could not reasonably refuse to give satisfaction verbally on this subject; could he, with any more reason refuse to state his own sentiments in writing, and subscribe his name to that written statement? Surely to decline this, while he consented to give a verbal exhibition of his Creed, would wear the appearance of singular caprice or perverseness. But if no rational objection could be made to his subscribing a declaration, drawn up with his own band, would it not be exactly the same thing, as to the spirit of the transaction, if with a view simply to ascertain the tact of his belief, not to dictate laws to his conscience, a statement, previously drawn up by the church herself, should be presented for his voluntary signature? What is required of an individual in such case is not that he shall believe what the church believes, but simply that he shall declare as a matter of fact whether he does possess that belief, which from his voluntary application to be received into Christian fellowship with that church he may be fairly presumed to possess. Again, I ask, is it possible to deny a church this right, without striking at the root of all that is sacred in the convictions of conscience, and of all that is precious in the enjoyment of Christian communion? I fully grant, indeed, that, as her authority rests entirely on the declared will of Christ, she has no right, in the sight of God, to propose to a candidate any other than a sound orthodox Creed. She cannot possibly be considered as having a right on this principle to require his assent to anti?scriptural principles. Still however, as the rights of conscience are unalienable and as every church must be considered, of course, as verily believing that she is acting according to her Master?s will, we must concede to her the plenary right, in the sight of man, to require from those who would join her, a solemn assent to her formularies.

But, perhaps it will be asked, when a man has already become a member, or minister of a church, in virtue of a voluntary and honest subscription to her articles, and afterwards alters his mind, if he be excluded from her communion as a private member, or deposed from office as a minister, is not here ?oppressions?? Is it not inflicting on a man a ?heavy penalty? for his ?opinions;? ?punishing? him for his ?sincere, conscientious convictions?? I answer, if the Lord Jesus Christ has not only authorized, but solemnly commanded his church to cast the heretical, as well as immoral, out of her communion, and wholly to withdraw her countenance from those who preach ?another gospel;? then it is manifest, that the church in acting on mis authority, does no one any injury. In excluding a private member from the communion of a church, or deposing a minister from office, in the regular and scriptural exercise of discipline, she deprives neither of any natural right. It is only withdrawing that which was voluntarily asked, and voluntarily bestowed, and which might have been without injustice withheld. It is only practically saying??you can no longer, consistently with our views, either of obedience to Christ, or of Christian edification, be a minister or a member with us. You may be as happy and as useful as you can in any other connection, but we must take away that authority and those privileges which we once gave you, and of which your further exercise among us would be subversive of those principles which we are solemnly pledged to support.? Is this language unreasonable? Is the measure which it contemplates oppressive? Would it be more just in itself or more favorable to the rights of conscience if any individual could retain his place as a teacher and guide in a church, contrary to its wishes, to the subversion of its faith; to the disturbance of its peace; and finally to the endangering of its existence; and all this contrary to his own solemn engagements, and to the distinct understanding of its members, when he joined them? Surely every friend of religious liberty would indignantly answer, NO! Such a church would be the oppressed party, and such a member, the tyrant.

The conclusion then is that when a church makes use of a Creed in the manner that has been described, as a bond of union, as a barrier against what it deems heresy; and in conformity with what it conscientiously believes to be the will of Christ, it is so far from encroaching on the rights? of others, so far from being chargeable with ?oppression,.? that it is really, in the most enlightened manner, and on the largest scale, maintaining the rights of conscience, and that for such a church, instead of doing this, to give up its own testimony to the truth and order of God?s house; to surrender its own comfort, peace, and edification for the sake of complying with the unreasonable demands of a corrupt individual, would be to subject itself to the worst of slavery, what is the subjugation of the many, with all their interests, rights, and happiness to the dictation of one, or a few, but the essence of tyranny?

 

To suppose any one capable of entering on the duties of the
ministerial office while he is wavering and unsettled, and liable
to be carried about by every wind of doctrine,? is to suppose
him both weak and criminal to a very great degree.

 

3. A third objection of often urged against subscription to Creeds and Confessions is that it is unfriendly to free inquiry. ?When a man,? say the enemies of Creeds, ?has once subscribed a public formulary, and taken his ecclesiastical stand with a church which requires it, he must continue so to believe to the end of life or resign his place; new light in abundance may offer itself to his view; but he must close his eyes against it. Now, can it be right,? say they, ?for any one voluntarily to place himself in circumstances of so much temptation, willingly to place himself within the reach of strong inducements to tamper with conscience, and to resist conviction??

In answer to this objection, my first remark is that when a man takes on himself the solemn and highly responsible office of a public instructer of others, we must presume that he has examined the most important of the various Creeds, called Christian, with all the deliberation, sincerity, and prayer of which he is capable, and that he has made up his mind with respect to the leading doctrines of Scripture. To suppose any one capable of entering on the duties of the ministerial office while he is wavering and unsettled, and liable to be ?carried about by every wind of doctrine,? is to suppose him both weak and criminal to a very great degree. I know indeed, that sane ardent opposers of Creeds, consider a state of entire indecision with regard even to leading theological doctrines, as the most laudable and desirable state of mind. They wish every man, not only to feel himself a learner to the end of life, which is undoubtedly right, but also, it possible, to keep himself in that equilibrium of mind with respect to the most important doctrinal opinions, which shall amount to perfect indifference whether he retains or relinquishes his present sentiments. This they eulogize as ?openness to conviction,? ?freedom from prejudice,?, etc. Without stopping to combat this sentiment at large, I hesitate not to pronounce it unreasonable in itself; contrary to Scripture; and an enemy to all Christian stability and comfort. We know what is said in the word of God, of those who are ?ever learning, and never able to cane to the knowledge of the truth.? I repeat it, we must suppose him who undertakes to be a teacher of others, to be himself, as the apostle expresses it, ?grounded and settled in the faith.? We ought to be considered then as having all the security that the nature of the case admits, that he who canes forward as one of the lights and leaders of a religious community, is firm in the principles which he Las professed and will not be very apt essentially to alter his Creed.

But further, the same objection might be urged with quite as much force against a man's making any public declaration of his sentiments, either by preaching ox by writing and printing, lest ha should afterwards obtain more light and yet be tempted to adhere, contrary to his conscience, to what he had before so publics; espoused. But does any honest minister of the Gospel think it his duty to forbear to preach, or otherwise to express his opinions, because it is possible he may afterward change them? We know that the preacher of a Unitarian congregation should alter his views and become orthodox he must quit his place, give up his salary, and seek employment among his new connections. The same thing would happen if a change the converse of this were to occur and an orthodox preacher become a Unitarian. What then? Because an honest man, when he changes his mind on the subject of religion will always hold himself in readiness to change his situation, and to make every necessary sacrifice shall he Therefore never venture to take any public station, lest he should not always thinks he does at present? No, this objection, if it prove anything will he found to prove by far too much even for our opponents themselves. The adversaries of Creeds acknowledge with one consent that every one ought to be ready to profess his belief in the Bible. But is not even this profession just as liable to the charge of being ?unfriendly to free inquiry? as any other? Suppose any one, after solemnly declaring his belief in the Bible, should cease to believe it? Would he be bound to consider his old subscription, as still binding and as precluding further examination? Or would it be reasonable in any man to decline any profession of belief in the Bible lest he should one day alter his mind and feel himself embarrassed by his profession?

There can be no doubt, that every public act by which a man pledges himself, even as a private member, to any particular denomination of Christians, interposes sane obstacle in the way of his afterwards deserting that denomination and uniting himself with another. And perhaps it may be said the more delicate and honorable his mind, the more reluctant and slow he will, be to abandon his old connections and choose new ones. So that such an one will really labour under a temptation to resist light and remain where he is. But because this is so, shall a man therefore never join any Church, never take one step that will directly or indirectly pledge his religious Creed or character lest he should afterwards alter his mind and be constrained to transfer his relation to a different body, and thus be liable to find himself embarrassed by his former steps? Upon this principle, we must go further and adopt The doctrine equally absurd and heathenish that no parent ought ever to instruct his child in what he deems the most precious truths of the Gospel, lest he should fill his mind with prejudices and present an obstacle to free and unshackled inquiry afterwards. For there can be no doubt that early parental instruction does present more or Less obstacle in the way of a subsequent change of opinion on those subjects which that instruction embraced. Yet our Father in heaven has expressly commanded us to instruct our children and to endeavor to pre-occupy their minds with every thing that is excellent both in principle and practice. In short, if the objection before us be valid, then no one ought ever to go forward in the discharge of any duty, for he may one day cease to think it a duty, in other words, he ought habitually and upon principle to disobey some of the plainest commands of God, lest he should afterwards entertain different views of those commands, from those which he at present entertains. Nay; if this be so, then every book a man reads and every careful deep inquiry he makes concerning the subject of it must be considered as tending to influence the mind and to interfere with perfect impartiality in any subsequent inquiry on the same subject and therefore ought to be forborne!

Surely no man in his senses judges or acts thus. Especially, no Christian allows himself thus to reason or act. In the path of what appears to be present duty he feels bound to go forward leaving future things with God. If subscription to a correct Creed be really agreeable to the will of God, if it be necessary both to the purity and harmony of the church and therefore in itself a duty, then no man ought any more to hesitate about discharging this duty than about discharging any of those duties which have been mentioned or any others which may be supposed. There is no station in life in which its occupant does not find some peculiar temptation. But if he be a man of a right spirit, he will meet it with Christian integrity, and overcame it with Christian courage. If he be a truly honest man he will be faithful to his God and faithful to his own conscience at all hazards, and if he be not honest he will not be very likely to benefit the church by his discoveries and speculations. Accordingly the voice of history confirms this reasoning. On the one hand how many thousand instances have the last two centuries afforded of men who were willing to incur, not only obloquy and reproach but also beggary, imprisonment, and even death itself in their most frightful forms rather than abandon the truth and subscribe to formularies which they could not conscientiously adopt! On the other hand, how many instances have occurred within the last hundred years, of unprincipled men after solemnly subscribing orthodox Creeds, disregarding their vows, and opposing the spirit of those Creeds, and still retaining their ecclesiastical stations without reserve!  It is plain then, that this whole objection, though specious, has not the least solidity. Truly upright and pious men will always follow their convictions, while with regard to those of an opposite character, their light, whether they remain or depart, will be found to be of no value, either to themselves, or The Church of God.

 
 
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