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have nothing better to substitute in their place.
But this, my brethren, is not our persuasion. God forbid that it should be so. We firmly believe that the Christian doctrine is a revelation from heaven: that Jesus is a teacher sent from God: and that with him alone are the words of eternal life.
Can it then be a doubt in the mind of any
considerate person, of any serious be
liever in the divine mission of Jesus Christ, that it is an object of prime importance to receive his doctrine in the purest form; and to discard every principle which is foreign to its nature; and especially every thing which is contradictory to its spirit?
The fact is, that all Christians, of all denominations, agree in all that is essential to the Christian religion. But the great body of professing Christians have so involved truth in error, that it is almost impossible to discover and to extricate the pure and simple doctrine of Christianity, from the immense mass of corruptions with which it is confounded, and by which it is disfigured, and almost overwhelmed.
The reformers have done much, but they could not do every thing. Much still remains to be done to purify the doctrine of Christ from the anti-christian errors which are blended with it: and they are little worthy of the benefit which they derive from the labours of preceding reformers, who are unwilling to contribute what lies in their power to the progress of truth.
Many talk as if the differences of opinion among Christians were merely speculative. And, if they were so, truth would still be desirable, and well deserving the trouble of investigation. The Ptolemaic system of the world was a speculative error; but who does not feel himself obliged to the great philosopher who discovered and revealed the truth?
But errors in religion are not merely speculative. More or less they affect the practice. And though their influence may be counteracted, and happily is so in many instances, it is nevertheless an obvious and undeniable fact, that those churches which are most erroneous in doctrine, have commonly been most corrupt in practice.
Let none, therefore, be discouraged from the indispensable duty of seeking diligently after revealed truth, and acting fearlessly up to their conviction. Their temporal interest, perhaps, may suffer. The world may scoff. Their mistaken brethren may condemn. By some they may be denounced as heretical: by others they may be avoided as singular. But let them steadily pursue their course: supported by the testimony of an approving conscience; and calmly appealing to the decision of that long-expected day, when, to their unspeakable delight, and immortal honour, their great and revered Master, whose doctrine they have professed, whose footsteps they have followed, and whose cross they have taken up, shall testify before an assembled world, that " He is not ashamed of those who have not been ashamed of Him."
J. M'Creery, Tooks Court,