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simply for the truth in its corresponding and appropriate expression, but in some favorite dogmatic form of a subsequent age, is clearly at once an historical and unphilosophical process, in which much ingenuity may be displayed, but by which truth can never be elicited and advanced. It is tainted with the worst vice of the old method of physical inquiry, from which Bacon initiated our deliverance; making, as it does, the limited ideas and idol formulas of some one age the measure of that objective truth which transcends them all. — North British Review for May, 1853; Amer. edit. vol. xiv. p. 49.

In the formation of your own opinions, ... be independent; your own reason, your own senses, your own Bible. Be untrammeled; throw off the chains and fetters which compel so many minds to believe only what they are told to believe, and to walk intellectually and morally in paths marked out for them by human teachers. ... Be modest. It is the characteristic of a weak mind to be dogmatical and positive. Such a mind makes up in dogged determination to believe what it wants in evidence. Come to your conclusions cautiously, and take care that your belief covers no more ground than your proofs. Do not dispute about what you do not understand, nor push your investigations beyond the boundaries of human knowledge. Men are often sadly perplexed with difficulties which arise from the simple fact that they have got beyond their depth. — JACOB ABBOTT: The Corner-stone, pp. 357–8.

The principles which have been recommended in this and the two preceding sections are ostensibly held by all Protestants, whether Trinitarian or Unitarian. But they are contravened by parents, teachers, and divines, when they would quench the love of truth and of investigation, natyral to, honest and noble minds, by grounding belief on the authorit jvlahometans of the church, or of celebrated men; by misrepresenting the favor of the

, that no genuine faith, no sincere piety, no well-grounded hope of t.. can be found beyond the pale of their own narrow creed; in fine, by virtuahy? declaring, “ Inquire, - but never doubt; search the Scriptures -- to find our views; read with the understanding - that we are right; reason with the conviction that all else are wrong. Your interests in this world, and your salvation in the next, depend on the unconditional surrender of your understandings to the faith we prescribe, on the unhesitating rejection of all contrary opinions."

These and other impediments to free inquiry, and to the reception of views of truth founded on individual conviction, will be treated of in the following section.

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Another great cause of pretended false knowledge and confidence is the unhappy prejudices which our minds contract even in our childhood, before we have time and wit and conscience to try things by true deliberation. Children and youth must receive much upon trust, or else they can learn nothing ; but then they have not wit to proportion their apprehensions to the evidence, whether of credibility or certainty; and so fame and tradition and education, and the country's vote, do become the ordinary parents of many lies; and folly maketh us to fasten so fearlessly in our first apprehensions, that they keep open the door to abundance [of] more falsehoods; and it must be clear teachers, or great, impartial studies, of a self-denying mind, with a great blessing of God, that must deliver us from prejudice, and undeceive us. RICHARD BAXTER : Knowledge and Love Compared ; in Practical Works, vol. xv. pp. 156–7.

It is no small work to examine the truth, when we arrive at an age manahle of discussion. The fundamental points of religion, I grant, lie

is clear and perspicuous, and within the comprehension : :use to attend to them; but when we pass from infancy

du, and arrive at an age in which reason seems mature, we maid ourselves covered with a veil, which either hides objects from us, or disfigures them. The public discourses we have heard in favor of the sect in which we were educated, the inveterate hatred we have for all others who hold principles opposite to ours, the frightful portraits that are drawn before our eyes of the perils we must encounter if we depart from the way we have been brought up in, the impressions made upon us by the examples and decisions of our parents and masters and teachers, the bad taste of those who had the care of our education, and who prevented our acquiring that most noble disposition, without which it is impossible ever to be a true philosopher or a real Christian, - I mean that of suspending our judgment on subjects not sufficiently proved, -- from all this arise clouds that render the truth inaccessible, and which the world cannot dissipate. We do not say that natural talents or supernatural assistance are wanting : .we are fully convinced that God will never give up to final error any man who does all in his power to understand the truth. But the world are incapable of this work. Why? Because all the world, except a few, hate labor and meditation in regard to the subjects which respect another life; because all the world would choose rather to attach themselves to what regards their temporal interests than to the great interest of eternal happiness; because all the world like better to suppose the principles imbibed in their childhood true, than to impose on themselves the task of weighing them anew in the balance of a sound and severe reason; because all the world have an invincible aversion to suppose, that, when they are arrived at manhood, they have almost lost their time in some respects, and that, when they leave school, they begin to be capable of instruction. JAMES SAURIN: Sermons, vol. i. p. 29.

Many persons, not generally uninquiring or uncandid, or incompetent to reason accurately, have yet been so early accustomed to take for granted, and assent to on authority, certain particular points, that they afterwards adhere to the belief so formed, rather from association than on evidence. ARCHBISHOP WHATELY : Essays on Difficulties in Paul's Writings, p. 219.

One great source of erroneous impressions on all subjects is the power of influences exerted in early life, and which are sometimes so strong as utterly to bid defiance to all argument. ... This influence of early associations has more power than all other causes put together, in the formation of religious opinions. The children of M become Mahometans themselves, without arguments in : Prophet; and, in the Christian world, religious opinions are heren and pass down, with exceptions comparatively few and rare, from fatinos to son; so that Popery and Protestantism, Episcopacy and Dissent, and Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist opinions, occupy, in the main, the same ground, from generation to generation. . . . Every intelligent observer of the human mind, and especially of the habits and susceptibilities of childhood, will at once admit, that other influences than those of argument are the efficient ones in the production of these almost universal effects. -- JACOB ABBOTT: The Corner-stone,

pp. 290–2.


Is it not blameworthy in us, and a proof of carnality, ... to give up our judgment to be wholly guided by the writings of Luther or Calvin, or of any other mortal man whatsoever ? Worthy instruments they were, both of them, of God's glory, and such as did excellent service to the church in their times, whereof we yet find the benefit; and we are unthankful if we do not bless God for it: and therefore it is an unsavory thing for any man to gird at their names, whose memories ought to be precious. But yet were they not men ? Had they received the Spirit in the fulness of it, and not by measure ? Knew they otherwise than in part, or prophesied otherwise than in part? Might they not in many things, and they not in some things, mistake and err? Howsoever, the apostle's interrogatories are unanswerable. What saith he? “Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul ?" Even so, was either Luther or Calvin crucified for you? Or were ye baptized into the name of Luther or Calvin, or any other man, that any one of you should say, I am of Luther; or any other, I am of Calvin ;

and I of him, and I of him? What is Calvin or Luther ... but “ministers by whom ye believed ;” that is to say, instruments, but not lords, of your belief ? BISHOP SANDERSON : Thirty-five Sermons, p. 295; Lond. 1681, seventh edit.

There are many among us so strangely engaged by false principles to an ill cause, that it is in vain to offer them the clearest arguments to convince them. If you bring them Scripture, it is true that must be

but then, be it never so plain, they are not competent judges of the meaning of it; and they durst not trust their own interpretation to tell them that Abraham begat Isaac, if the church should think fit to expound it otherwise. ... If you offer them reason as clear as the plainest demonstration, why, that were well; but still private reason may err, and the church cannot. ... Sense, reason, Scripture, all are of no force against this one prejudice of their church's authority. ARCHBISHOP WAKE: Sermons and Discourses, pp. 18, 19.

Implicit faith has been sometimes ludicrously styled fides carbonaria, from the noted story of one who, on examining an ignorant collier on his religious principles, asked him what it was that he believed. He answered, “ I believe what the church believes.” The other rejoined,

What, then, does the church believe ?” He replied readily, “ The church believes what I believe.” The other, desirous if possible to bring him to particulars, once more resumes his inquiry: “ Tell me,


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then, I pray you, what it is which you and the church both believe.” The only answer the collier could give was, “Why truly, sir, the church and I both believe the same thing." This is implicit faith in perfection, and, in the estimation of some celebrated doctors, the sum of necessary and saving knowledge in a Christian. DR. GEORGE CAMPBELL: Lectures on Ecclesiastical History, Lect. 23.

Deference to great names is a sentiment which it would be base to attempt to eradicate, and impossible were it attempted. But, like other offsprings of the mind, it is at first rude and ill-shapen. It makes no selection, no discrimination; it retains the impress of its original entire, just as it was made; it is a vague, undistinguishing admiration, which consecrates in a mass all the errors and deformities, along with the real excellences, of its object. Time only, the justest of all critics, gives it correctness and proportion, and converts what is at first merely the action of a great upon an inferior mind into an enlightened and impartial estimate of distinguished worth. ROBERT HALL : Reply to the Rev. Joseph Kinghorn; in Works, vol. i. p. 502.

Think you, my brethren, that there is no Popery among you? Is there no taking of your religion upon trust from another, when you should draw it fresh and unsullied from the fountain-head of inspiration? Do you ever dare to bring your favorite minister to the tribunal of the word ? or would you tremble at the presumption of such an attempt; so that the hearing of the word carries a greater authority over your mind than the reading of the word ? Now, this want of daring, this trembling at the very idea of a dissent from your minister, this indolent acquiescence in his doctrine, is just calling another man master; it is putting the authority of man over the authority of God; it is throwing yourself into a prostrate attitude at the footstool of human infallibility. It is not just kissing the toe of reverence; but it is the profounder degradation of the mind, and of all its faculties. It is said that Papists worship saints; but have we no consecrated names in the annals of Reformation, - no worthies who hold too commanding a place in the remembrance and affection of Protestants ? Are there no departed theologians, whose works hold too domineering an ascendency over the faith and practice of Christians ? Do we not bend the understanding before the volumes of favorite authors, and do a homage to those representations of the minds of the men of other days which should be exclusively given to the representation of the mind of the Spirit, as put down in the book of the Spirit's revelation ? It is right that each of us should give the contri

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