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SECT. VI. --- FAITH, ORTHODOXY, HERESY, SCHISM, AND OTHER TERMS,
OFTEN USED AS WATCHWORDS OF PARTY WARFARE.
They prove their doctrine orthodox
SAMUEL BUTLER, modified.
§ 1. FAITH AND ORTHODOXY.
Almost all sects pretend that they are wiser and of sounder judgment than all the Christian world besides; yea, those that most palpably contradict the Scriptures (as the Papists in their halfcommunion and unintelligible service), and have no better reason why they so believe or do but because others have so believed and done already. But the greatest pretenders to orthodoxness are not the most orthodox; and, if they were, I can value them for that which they excel, without abating my due respect to the rest of the church. For the whole church is orthodox in all the essentials of Christianity, or else they were not Christians; and I must love all that are Christians with that special love that is due to the members of Christ, though I must superadd such esteem for those that are a little wiser or better than others, as they deserve. — RICHARD BAXTER: Christian Directory; in Works, vol. i. p. 122.
A man may be orthodox in every point; he may not only espouse right opinions, but zealously defend them against all opposers; he may think justly concerning the incarnation of our Lord, concerning the ever-blessed Trinity, and every other doctrine, contained in the oracles of God; he may assent to all the three Creeds, that called the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian; and yet it is possible he may have no religion at all, no more than a Jew, Turk, or Pagan. SOUTH; apud Southey's Commonplace Book, second series, p. 16.
Every mean person who has nothing to recommend him but his orthodoxy, and owes that perhaps wholly to his ignorance, will think [if you venture to publish an unfashionable opinion] he has a right to trample upon you with contempt, to asperse your character with virulent reflections, to run down your writings as mean and pitiable performances, and give hard names to opinions which he does not understand. BISHOP HARE: Study of the Scriptures ; in Sparks's Collection of Essays and Tracts, vol. ii. p.
Men have thought it an honor to be styled that which they call zealous orthodox, to be firmly linked to a certain party, to load others with calumnies, and to damn by an absolute authority the rest of mankind, but have taken no care to demonstrate the sincerity and fervor of their piety by an exact observation [observance] of the gospel morals; which has come to pass by reason that orthodoxy agrees very well with our passions, whereas the severe morals of the gospel are incompatible with our way of living. -LE CLERC : Five Letters on the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, p. 108.
As to orthodox, I should be glad to know the meaning of the epithet. Nothing, you say, can be plainer. The orthodox are those who, in religious matters, entertain right opinions. Be it so. How, then, is it possible I should know who they are that entertain right opinions, before I know what opinions are right? I must therefore unquestionably know orthodoxy, before I can know or judge who are orthodox. Now, to know the truths of religion, which you call orthodox, is the very end of my inquiries ; and am I to begin these inquiries on the presumption, that without any inquiry I know it already? ... ... There is nothing about which men have been, and still are, more divided. It has been accounted orthodox divinity in one age, which hath been branded as ridiculous fanaticism in the next. It is at this day deemed the perfection of orthodoxy in one country, which in an adjacent country is looked upon as damnable heresy. Nay, in the same country, hath not every sect a standard of their own ? Accordingly, when any person seriously uses the word, before we can understand his meaning, we must know to what communion he belongs. When that is known, we comprehend him perfectly. By the orthodox he means always those who agree in opinion with him and his party; and by the heterodox, those who differ from him. When one says, then, of any teacher whatever, that all the orthodox acknowledge his orthodoxy, he says neither more nor less than this, “ All who are of the same opinion with him, of which number I am one, believe him to be in the right.” And is this any thing more than what may be asserted by some person or other, of every teacher that ever did or ever will exist ? ... To say the truth, we have but too many ecclesiastic terms and phrases which savor grossly of the arts of a crafty priesthood, who meant to keep the world in ignorance to secure an implicit faith in their own dogmas, and to intimidate men from an impartial inquiry into holy writ. — DR. GEORGE CAMPBELL : Lectures on Systematic Theology and Pulpit Eloquence, pp. 112-15.
prove a title.
A suspicion of fallibility would have been an useful principle to the professors of Christianity in every age: it would have choked the spirit of persecution in its birth, and have rendered not only the church of Rome, but every church in Christendom, more shy of assuming to itself the proud title of orthodox, and of branding every other with the opprobrious one of heterodox, than any of them have hitherto been.
It is difficult for any man entirely to divest himself of all prejudice; but he may surely take care, that it be not accompanied with an uncharitable propensity to stigmatize with reproachful appellations those who cannot measure the rectitude of the divine dispensations by his rule, nor seek their way to heaven by insisting on the path which he, in his overweening wisdom, has arrogantly presented as the only one which can lead men thither..... What is this thing called orthodoxy, which mars the fortunes of honest men, misleads the judgment of princes, and occasionally endangers the stability of thrones ? In the true meaning of the term, it is a sacred thing to which every denomination of Christians lays an arrogant and exclusive claim, but to which no man, no assembly of men, since the apostolic age, can
BISHOP WATSON : Preface to Theological Tracts, vol. i. pp. xv. xvii.; and Life, p. 451.
The most ardent zeal, the most pertinacious obstinacy, is displayed in preserving the minutest article of what is called orthodox opinion. But, alas! what, in: a world of woe like this, what signifies our boasted orthodoxy in matters of mere speculation, in matters totally irrelevant to human happiness or misery? What signifies a jealous vigilance over thirty-nine articles, if we neglect one article, - the law of charity and love; if we overlook the "weightier matters” which Christ himself enacted as articles of his religion, indispensably to be subscribed by all who hope for salvation in him; I mean forgiveness of injuries, mercy, philanthropy, humility ? VICESIMUS KNOX : Preface to Antipolemus; in Works, vol. v. pp. 417–18.
Let us recollect, that speculations, however sound in their principles, however exact in their process, and however important in their results, are insufficient to fill up the measure of our duty, if they terminate solely in our inward persuasion, or in outward profession, or in transient though ardent feeling, or in mere orthodoxy, be it real or imaginary. – DR. SAMUEL PARR: Sermon on Faith; in Works, vol. v. p. 361.
In the New Testament, the absolute subserviency of doctrinal state ments to the formation of the principles and habits of practical piety is never lost sight of: we are continually reminded, that obedience is the end of all knowledge and of all religious impressions. But the tendency, it is to be feared, of much popular and orthodox instruction is to bestow on the belief of certain doctrines, combined with strong religious emotion, the importance of an ultimate object, to the neglect of that great principle, that “circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” ROBERT HALL: Preface to Antinomianism Unmasked ; in Works, vol. ii. p. 461.
Orthodoxy by itself does not touch the conscience does not quicken the affections: it does not connect itself in any manner with the moral faculties. It is not a religion, but a theory; and, inasmuch as it awakens no spiritual feelings, it consists easily either with the grossest absurdities or with the grossest corruptions. Orthodoxy, powerless when alone, becomes even efficient for evil at the moment when it combines itself with asceticism, superstition, and hierarchical ambition. What is the religious history of Europe, through a long course of time, but a narrative of the horrors and the immoralities that have sprung from this very combination ? ISAAC TAYLOR : Lectures on Spiritual Christianity, pp. 100–1.
This writer, however, holds Orthodoxy, or Trinitarianism, to be the basis of all Christian piety.
Let us, in explanation of the term “faith," advert to the wide distinction which obtains between the popular imagination of what it is, and the apostle's definition of what it is. The common conception about it is, that it consists in a correct apprehension of the truths of theology, or soundness of belief as opposed to error of belief. It appears to be a very prevalent impression, that faith lies in our judging rightly of the doctrines of the Bible, or that we have a proper understanding of them. And, in this way, the privileges annexed to faith in the New Testament are very apt to be regarded as a sort of remuneration for the soundness of our orthodoxy. Heaven is viewed as a kind of reward, if not for the worth of our doings, at least for the worth and the justness of our dogmata. Under the old economy, eternal life was held out as a return to us for right practice. Under the new economy, is it conceived by many, that it is held out to us as a return for right thinking. Figure two theologians to be listed, the one against the other, in controversy. He who espouses error is estimated to be a heretic, and wanting in the faith. He who espouses truth is estimated to be a sound believer, so that his faith resolves itself into the accuracy of his creed. It is not, “Do this, and you sliall live;" but it is, “ Think thus, and you shall live;" and this seems to be the popular and prevailing imagination of being saved by faith, and being justified by faith. Now, look to the apostolical definition of faith, as being the “substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. Let us look to it, not as the mere acquiescence of the understanding in the dogmata of any sound or recognized creed, but as that which brings the future and the yet unseen of revelation so home to the mind, as that the mind is filled with a sense of their reality, and actually proceeds upon it. - DR. THOMAS CHALMERS : Select Works, vol. i. pp. 410–11.
It may be safely affirmed, that no weak and fallible man ever yet held the whole of revealed truth free from the slightest mistake or defect. The bigot, however, will make no such confession. He maintains and defends his own creed as being perfect. It is the very type of truth. He condemns every man either as not holding the truth, or as holding it in a very defective way, who does not see with his eyes, and believe with his heart. All must lie down on the bed of orthodoxy which he has spread, and be conformed to it in length and breadth; otherwise he must be cast out of the church as a heretic, and shunned as if infected with leprosy. DR. GAVIN STRUTHERS : Party Spirit; in Essays on Christian Union, p. 420.
§ 2. HERESY AND SCHISM.
It is a vain thing to talk of a heretic; for a man for his heart can think no otherwise than he does think. In the primitive times, there were many opinions, nothing scarce but some one or other held. One of these opinions being embraced by some prince, and received into his kingdom, the rest were condemned as heresies; and his religion, which was but one of the several opinions, first is said to be orthodox, and so have continued ever since the apostles. — JOHN SELDEN : Table Talk: art. 4, Opinion.
The word “heresy” is used in Scripture in a good sense, for a sect or division of opinion; or sometimes in a bad sense, for a false opinion, signally condemned. But no heresies are noted in Scripture but such as are great errors practical, such whose doctrines taught impiety, or such who denied the coming of Christ directly or by consequence; not remote or wiredrawn, but prime and immediate. Heresy is not