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by Dr. John Thomas
If, then, not even the preaching of an apostle was credited unaccompanied by scriptural investigation, is it not infinitely more incumbent on us that we should bring to a like test the opinions and precepts of the uninspired and fallible professional theologists of our day?
Let us believe nothing that comes from "the pulpit," "the altar," or the press, not demonstrated by the grammatical sense of the scriptures.
Let us be contented with nothing less than a "thus it is written," and a "thus saith the Lord"; for He has laid it down in His law, that no one is worthy of belief who does not speak after His rule.
"To the law and to the testimony : if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them".
If then their light be darkness, how great is that darkness.
The scriptures can do everything for us in relation to the light.
This is known, felt, and keenly appreciated by all interested in the support of error.
Hence, in the days of Diocletian, one of the pagan predecessors of Constantine, a decree was issued commanding the surrender of all copies of the Holy Scriptures: for it was found that so long as they obtained circulation the Christian doctrine could never be suppressed.
The Popes, as deadly, and more insidious, enemies of the truth than the pagan Roman emperors, followed the example of Diocletian.
The Bible and popery are as mutually hostile as the light of the sun and the thick darkness of Egypt that might be felt.
But it is not paganism and popery alone that are practically hostile to a free and untrammelled investigation of the word of God.
The Protestant world, while it deludes itself with the conceit that "the Bible, the Bible alone , is the religion of Protestants" -- while it spends its thousands for its circulation among the nations in their native tongues -- is itself hostile to the belief and practice of what it proclaims.
The "Bible alone" is not its religion; for if it were, why encumber its professors with the "Common Prayer," Thirty-nine Articles, and all the other "notions" of a similar kind?
To believe and practise the Bible alone would be a sufficient ground of exclusion from all "orthodox churches".
When Chillingworth uttered the sentiment, there was more truth in it than at this day; but now it is as far from the fact as that Protestantism is the religion of Christ.
To protest against an error, such as Romanism, and to affirm that every man has a right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, is a very different thing to believing and obeying the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and walking in all the institutions of the Lord blameless.
To do this would unchristianize a man in the estimation of State churches and sectarian denominations; for the Bible religion requires a man to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," which in these times cannot be done without upheaving the very foundations of the self-complacent, self-glorifying, and self-laudatory communions of the antipapal constitution of things.
It is true that no man or power has a right to interfere between God and the conscience; but it is also true that no man has a right to worship God as he pleases.
This is a Protestant fallacy.
Man has a right to worship God only in the way God has Himself appointed.
"In vain do ye worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men".
This is the judgment pronounced by the wisdom of God upon all worship which He has not instituted.
He declares it to be vain worship; concerning which the apostle to the Gentiles says: "Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath; let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels.