fails to produce unity.
At Evening Service, Nov. 14, 1852.
S. HANMER & CO.--CALENDAR PRESS.
TRINITY COLLEGE, November 17, 1852.
TO THE REV. T. W. COIT, D. D.,
Dear Sir,--We, the undersigned, members of the Theological Department of Trinity College, gratefully appreciating your kindness in delivering to us your impressive and convincing Sermon, on the appeal to the Primitive Church, and desiring that the principles set forth in it should be more widely disseminated, solicit a copy for the press.
We are, dear Sir,
Yours, most respectfully,
A. F. Gould, John Brainard,
Francis T. Russell, Hiram Stone,
A. B. Goodrich, John N. Marvin,
F. H. Bushnell, Nicholas J Seeley,
Wm. H. Douglass, Rufus Adams,
Johnston McCormac, S. Farmar Jarvis,
Wm. L. Bostwick, Wm. H. Williams,
James W. Robins, E. Seymour,
John C. Du Bois,
J. B. Lynn, Wm. H. Munroe.
TRINITY COLLEGE, November 29, 1852.
TO MESSRS. GOULD, RUSSELL, GOODRICH, AND OTHERS,
Gentlemen,--A pressure of duty constrained me to deliver a Sermon before you, composed long since, and never intended for the press. Its subject, however, seems to have awakened an interest in others than yourselves, and I therefore comply with your request.
I have added some notes, necessary to fortify its positions; and which may render it more serviceable to you as a tract for reference. With the kindest regard,
Your friend and servant,
T. W. COIT.
John, ix. 22.--For the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the Synagogue.
II Kings, v. 11.--Behold, I thought, he will surely come out to me.
Acts, xxvi. 9.--I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the Name of Jesus oF Nazareth.
Acts, ix, 6. Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
This putting together of passages from different parts of the Bible, in order to form one text, may seem singular and unauthorized; but ought hardly to do so, in view of the fact that the author and subject of the Bible are one also. And still less should it seem improper, in the present case; since all four of the passages selected bear directly upon my subject, which is to show, how differently we judge of Divine requirements, when influenced by our own spirits, and when influenced by the Spirit of God. And I cannot but think such a subject eminently deserving our soberest meditations at the present day. For never, brethren, as it appears to me, has there been a time since man was made, when he was more disposed to put his own "I thought" before any testimony to the contrary, presented by earth or heaven, or by both together. This is indeed an age, not of reason, but of individual reasons; in which every man's own mind is his highest source of information and guidance, and when, in all matters of opinion, man's highest delight has grown to be, the doing of that, and that only, which is right in his own eyes. Talk to the world now of authority in matters of religion, and you are suspected at once of talking Popery; of a disposition to steal from the unwary [5/6] the blessed right of private judgment, and to entrap them: in the toils of a second Inquisition.
And is it, then, that there is no such thing as authority in matters of religion? That there are no laws of reverence and submission, which we are obligated to respect and obey? that nothing is to be taken upon trust, but demonstration must be had for every thing; and that, too, a demonstration which suits exactly our own "I thought?" If this be the ground, which, in our protestation against Romish and inquisitorial tyranny, we are called upon and expected to take, it behoves us well to know it understandingly. That some, that many Protestants do suppose this to be the ground, which all Protestants are bound to take, I am constrained to fear is but too true; for some, for many, appear to think, that Protestantism is, in all respects, the direct opposite of Popery; and that the only way in which we can be true Christians, is to believe and to do, in all particulars, the absolute contrary of what is believed and done by Papists.
Now if this be right, in reference to authority in matters of religion, because the Church of Rome asserts and maintains that there is such a thing as such authority, then I hare simply to observe, that the Deists are, in this article at least, the most correct of all opponents of Popery; for no writers of modem times avow so stiffly, as they do, the unlimited rights of reason and of private judgment, or have advocated those rights so vehemently. If to disbelieve ail authority in matters of religion, to argue against it strenuously, and even to sneer at it as a dogma of Romanism--if this be to become a true and deserving Protestant, then, of all others, do the Deists most merit that high and honored name.
Do we shrink from such a conclusion, which I have purposely followed out, to show you where they must end, who account the opposite of Popery the only truth? then what remains, but that we take our stand somewhere [6/7] between the extreme of Romanism, which enslaves the judgment, and latitudinarianism, heresy and Deism, which set it free from every thing but the counsel of its own will? But this is precisely the stand taken by our own Church; of which you could not have a more thorough proof, than the fact, that, from the days of the Reformation, Papists have called us schismatics and heretics, while schismatics and heretics have called us Papists. Of course, we are exactly between the two--as far removed from the one extreme, as from the other. And, as a general rule, if you wish to know what the true doctrine of your church in any given instance is, you cannot have a better than this:--Strike the middle ground between Papists, who have abandoned the Catholic Faith on one side, and schismatics, and heretics who have abandoned it on the other; and there you will find the object of your search.
But to come now to our more immediate topic, the subject of authority in matters of religion,--What is the stand taken upon this subject by the Church of Borne, and by those at the farthest remove from her; and how is, the stand taken by our own Church, between the two, to be illustrated by the passages of Scripture arranged to form a text?
The Church of Rome teaches, that what the Pope, who is its representative and head, shall now declare ex cathedra to be a matter of faith, must be believed on peril of the soul's salvation. There is no appeal from such decree, no refuge from its obligation--none whatever. So that one of the ablest of Romish writers, to put this subject in the-strongest light possible, does not hesitate to say, that if the Supreme authority of the Church of Rome were to decree virtues to be vices, and vices to be virtues, there is no help for us; we must submit implicitly.
Those who, to avoid this manifest and inexorable [7/8] despotism, fly to the opposite extreme, tell us that in interpreting Scripture every man is a law unto himself; that what every man believes to be Scripture, is Scripture to his mind; and that consequently all we can do is, to put the Bible in his hands, and exhort him to read it for himself, responsible to God alone for the sense which he attaches to it.
Is there, then, no medium between unlimited spiritual tyranny, and the unlimited rovings of private judgment? Our Church, brethren, and her soundest Divines, have always taught that there is. We find, in the Prayer Book, "ancient authors" as well as Holy Scripture appealed to, for the settlement of doubtful and disputed points. In the Articles, we are referred to "the custom of the Primitive Church," as a means of throwing light on matters, which Scripture, according to modern disputants, determines very different ways. And in the Homilies, we are again and again reminded, that the Primitive Church was "most uncorrupt and pure"; that, in the times of that Church, ''Christian religion was most pure, and indeed golden"; and that, therefore, to follow the example of the Primitive Church, is the surest possible way to bring our religion to the pattern of actually apostolic times. [See particularly the Homily against Peril of Idolatry.]
And, unquestionably, on all points of prominence and general interest, this is the surest way of proceeding, and would sooner bring mankind to a substantial unity of faith and practice, than any other which human ingenuity has devised. I doubt, indeed, whether the testimony of pure Christian Antiquity covers as much ground, as some have fondly imagined. That Antiquity will not tell us how every disputed text of the Bible is to be translated. But it will tell us, very plainly and very explicitly, facts in respect to cardinal doctrines and rites; which is all that we want to establish substantial unity. Diversities, in respect [8/9] to lesser subjects, prevailed even in apostolic times; and will prevail, while human nature is as imperfect as it must ever be in a fallen state. Take, however, any prominent point, in doctrine, discipline, or worship--any such point as can be settled by the testimony of widely accepted facts--and pure Christian Antiquity is prompt and decisive in its answer.
Would you know, for example, whether the Primitive Church believed in the doctrine of the Trinity? The Nicene Creed, which was the testimony of all Christendom, as to what had ever been believed respecting the Godhead, is an answer which heretics cannot quibble away, as they do texts of Scripture. [The testimony, not the decree. Hence its amazing value, as an attestation of the Catholic faith "through the ages all along."] The very ringleader of ancient Unitarians tried, in every possible manner, to evade that Creed's expressions, and was forced to abandon the enterprise as desperate. [This was in A. D. 325. So in A. D. 383, the Macedonians who denied the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, gave way before "the common suffrage of the ancients."--Waterland's Wks. iii. 659.]--Would you know whether the Primitive Church had such an officer, as we now call bishop? Lists of such officers, traced up to the Apostles' days, can be produced with ease--Would you know whether Primitive Christians worshipped with a form? Their actual liturgies can be laid before you. You have a perennial specimen, in that most comprehensive and appropriate collect, at the close of morning and evening prayer, called "A prayer of St. Chrysostom."--Would you know whether they had an order of men called clergy; and employed sacraments, as outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace? You cannot stir one step, in the history of the Primitive Church, without encountering such things.
Thus easily could great principles, now daily and sharply disputed, by different Christian sects, each and all appealing, with the same confidence to the Bible, and appealing, [9/10] as fact shows, entirely in vain, (since they differ still as much as ever,)--thus easily, I say, could great principles be settled, which would produce substantial unity, among all who profess and call themselves Christians.
But even the Papist, fond, as many suppose him, of relying for the maintenance of his cause upon the old Fathers, rejects their testimony, when it pleases him not. They talk of bishops, but not of a pope; and therefore in his view, the present church is both truer and wiser. The advocate of ministerial parity rejects them, because, silent if they be respecting a pope, they speak too familiarly and frequently of bishops, to be accounted any thing but Episcopalians. The Socinian rejects them for their Nicene Creed; the Anabaptist for their infant baptisms; the Quaker for their outward sacraments and standing ministry; and Protestants, of many names and classes, because of their habitual employment of forms of prayer.
And, yet, all of them, from the Papist down to the Socinian, appeal to this same Antiquity, to settle one of the most fundamental of all possible positions, the Canon of Christian Scripture itself. The New Testament was not all written, for more than sixty years after the Ascension of Christ. There was a multitude of writings, scattered over Christendom, claiming to be Epistles and Gospels; for. St. Paul warns the Thessalonians against forged Epistles, written to inculcate the opinion that the end of the world was nigh; and St. Luke, in the preface to his Gospel, alludes to "many" who had taken in hand the subject of our Saviour's life, and executed their task like bunglers; because they had not written "in order," nor had "perfect understanding of all things from the very first" But amid this mass of Epistles and Gospels, (many of which were famous enough to be preserved and to come down to our own times,) who should determine what was truly inspired and apostolic, and therefore genuine [10/11] Scripture? Who should settle the delicate and perplexing question, whether the Epistle of Barnabas, an actual apostle, should be thrown out of the Sacred Canon while productions of Mark and Luke, neither of them of apostolic rank, should be inserted into it? The Primitive Church decided these first and foremost of theological questions; and has given us our present New Testament. [In respect to this question, says the Presbyterian, Dr. Spring, "Our appeal is to the earliest ecclesiastical historians; and we find a perfect agreement among them"--Rule of Faith. 1844. p. 28.--They agree as perfectly about Episcopacy. Will the learned doctor listen to them on that point?]
Now, knowing this, our own Church has, not unwisely or strangely as some think, but most judiciously determined, that the Primitive Church, which settled the great fundamental question, 'What is the New Testament,' is equally competent to testify to the next great fundamental question, What was the New Testament, in apostolic times, believed to teach? Therefore, as in her Homily, on the peril of idolatry, she commends the Primitive Church as a standard, "which is specially to be followed as most incorrupt and pure"; and is willing to take its testimony at large, on all chief points of doctrine, discipline, and worship. And she is the only Christian communion which treats Christian Antiquity consistently. For, while she is ready to go to such Antiquity for any thing, which the Bible (as sects and disputes show) cannot settle clearly, all others, from the Romanist down to the Socinian, reject the Fathers for one reason or for another; and yet, without those Fathers, they cannot determine which is the true Scripture and which is false!
Such, brethren, is our Church's view of the necessity of something besides private judgment, or a stern anathema, to settle disputed questions in religion, and such is the standard to which she cheerfully and confidently appeals. And this mode of reference was any thing but new and strange, in those trying times, when our ecclesiastical [11/12] forefathers, attacked on all sides, had to defend themselves against their thronging foes, "by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left." Then, it was well known to the Laity, as well as to the Clergy; as an extract from even a poem will show. Says Dryden, in his Religio Laici, or Layman's Faith,
In doubtful questions, 'tis the safest way
To learn what unsuspected ancients say;
For 'tis not likely we should higher soar
In search of Heaven, than all the Church before;
Nor can we be deceived, unless we see
The Scripture and the Fathers disagree.
Not, however, "as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say"--not that our Church puts the testimony of Christian Antiquity above Scripture, or on a par with Scripture. That Romanism or Rationalism, alike may do; but we say, 'God forbid it.' With us, Christian Antiquity is "a witness, not at all competing with Scripture, never to be balanced against it; but competing with our less able, and less pure, apprehension of Scripture." [Taylor's Primitive worship, p. 4.] But unless we submit to the Pope, and take what he says as infallible; or erect every man's judgment into a pope, and make it infallible for him; there must be some umpire in disputed cases. Well, if so, what shall that umpire be? It is useless to say that the Bible shall be such an umpire, for the meaning of the Bible is the very matter in dispute? and with the Bible only for an arbiter, sects would and could come no nearer unity than they do now. If I again quote Dryden, (of whom it was said, that he reasoned better and more closely in poetry than in prose,)
We hold, and say we prove from Scripture plain,
That Christ is God; the bold Socinian
From the same Scripture urges he's but man.
Now what appeal can end th' important suit?
Both parts talk loudly, but the rule is mute,
 We must give up these opinions about the Bible, and come to facts of history, for its just interpretation. We must ask, How did those believe, and those act, who were nearest the Apostles' days; who received at their hands the Church, the Ministry, and the Catholic Faith, and were most likely to have and to exemplify the Bible's true construction? The facts which rise up to answer such a question, you have seen (a specimen at least of them;) and you have further seen, how easily, and quickly they can determine questions, now most vehemently disputed. Be it that such an appeal would fail in some cases; since there ever were, and ever will be, those who "though vanquished can argue still." It would not fail in multitudes; and it would save us from many of those lawless speculations of ignorance, self-conceit, and heresy, which are every whit as arbitrary and magisterial as decrees from the Roman Vatican. Be it that such an appeal is not perfection, or inspiration. Where I ask, with all assurance, since the Bible will not harmonize us--where can common sense or "science" not "falsely so called," or enlightened piety, point out to us a better? It is but the principle of settling doubtful constructions by the most authoritative, and least suspicious precedents. But that is a principle, of confessed and universal obligation, in all courts of Law and Justice; and in such courts, if any where on earth, is pure reason supposed to hold sovereign and undisputed sway. [Contemporanea expositio est optima et fortissima in lege, is a very maxim among jurists.--Broom's Legal Maxims. 2d ed. p. 532]
It is time, however, some of you will doubtless think, to draw a little nearer to my compound text, and show how it illustrates the topic on which I have been insisting, the necessity of some standard of appeal in disputed matters of religion, and the manner in which our own Church has [13/14] recognized such necessity, and provided for its exigencies.
That text, in its various portions, bears chiefly upon the mischiefs attending an arbitrary method of settling disputed or doubtful points, (whether by the decrees of the Church, or the decrees of our own minds;) and commends to us, in the example of one who was beginning the life of a disciple, the profound and practical submissiveness of humble and earnest piety. [I mean decrees in the proper sense. Not creeds; for I beg again to say, the point is so constantly misunderstood, the old creeds are not decrees they are testimony.]
The passage depicting the conduct of the Jews, when one of their number acknowledged Jesus for the Messiah, shows how mischievous ecclesiastical decrees may become, when founded upon nothing but present and dominant impressions. In the decree of the Synagogue, which was a decree of excommunication, you have an exact counterpart of the policy and conduct of the Church of Rome. That policy is to admit no standard of appeal, but the Church of Rome's decrees, and to denounce as heretics, all who dissent from such a violent and selfish determination; or dare even to doubt its righteousness. Sometimes all which can thus be done is simply to denounce; but where the Inquisition can prevail, the process can be pursued to shapes of torture and death, which fiends might gloat upon.
But the direful arm of the Inquisition was wielded, long before the name arose, and the thing was founded in form in modern Spain. The decree, the excommunication, and the anathema, of the Synagogue of Jerusalem, were as truly inquisitorial, as any thing ever sanctioned by the bulls of the Papal See, or the flats of papal thrones. They are the natural mischiefs attending the erection of a church, into a tribunal, presuming to speak the voice of God, with the majesty and with the force of law. Persecution will ever be the issue. The blood of the oppressed, will sooner or [14/15] later, cry unto Him, who has most solemnly and most sovereignly declared, that vengeance is his sole prerogative--that He, and He only, may repay. [We may reject a man for heresy; but we cannot go on, and heap retribution on him, after a Jewish or Romish fashion.]
We may think, however, that It is perfectly safe to take from the Church the power to decree, and to enforce decrees by temporal punishments, and refer the whole subject, to private judgment. But, as another part of my text teaches, we do no better. Endow private judgment with arbitrary power--let it make its own decisions the rule of right--and private judgment is just as- persecuting as the Pope, with his crook and sword. Look at Saul of Tarsus, determining by his private judgment, whether all Christianity were not treason, or an old wives' fable. "I verily thought with myself, I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." And what was the direct consequence of this arbitrary thinking with himself? To seek authority for persecuting; which, once obtained, many of the saints did he shut up in prison; many did he punish in every synagogue; many did he compel to blaspheme; many did he drive before the goads of cruelty, to strange and distant cities; while those who perished, were, by his voice, sentenced to the horrors of a malefactor's death.
So, then, private judgment can persecute, as well as Popery, and with as unrelenting vehemence; as instances in modern times, but hardly to be named with prudence, might abundantly demonstrate. And if private judgment do not, from the nature of civil institutions, or the tendencies of an age, (things which are clogs on Popery, too,) have as much swing as it could desire for a bloody hand, it will none the less indulge a furious temper. Paul said, that he persecuted some from home; probably because he could not persecute them unto death; and against these, he says, he was "exceeding mad." And where, brethren, [15/16] painful as the reference is, where will you find more of this excuseless wrath, than among sects, whose fundamental rule is, that each man's decision is infallible for his own self, and that to talk of any standard of appeal in doubtful matters, but the light within, is to talk like the servile adherents of the popedom.
From all which, it is clear, that let the Church decree, or let the individual mind decree, the issue is substantially the same; and the best cure we know of for this serious and ominous predicament, we believe to be, an appeal to a mass of facts, which are alike removed from the present Church, and from present minds---facts far away in the past, where prejudice and misconstruction cannot so easily reach and mould them. But alas! when we lisp of deference to the old Councils, Creeds, and Fathers, we are sneered or scoffed at, as depreciating the Bible upon the one hand, and offering fellowship to Rome upon the other.
Thus, we see, how to reject such a standard of appeal for authority to settle doubtful cases, as our Church commends to us, results in the indulgence of a persecuting temper. And this illustrates one class of the mischiefs, attending such rejection. There is another class, also, upon which portions of our text bear; to this would I now direct you.
Suppose the restored blind man to have been intimidated by the anathema and excommunication of the Synagogue, and to have disavowed his faith in the Restorer of his body and the Saviour of his soul. The unity of the Synagogue would not have been broken. But what sort of unity would have prevailed there? a unity of appearance solely: the same which existed in the person of Galileo, when he was denounced as a heretic for affirming the revolution of the earth around the sun. Galileo, through fear of imprisonment and death, admitted his constructive error; and then [16/17] observed in an undertone to a bystander, that notwithstanding all he had said or done, lie earth still pursued her legitimate course in the solar system. Force cannot produce genuine unity, and it never will; and under the so much boasted unity of the Church of Rome, He, who sees the heart, may perceive far more sad and numerous diversities, than disfigure the whole Protestant world. Force may make cowards and hypocrites; it can never make true believers. And he who succumbs to all the dogmas of Rome, because of her threats or thunders, would lose heaven twice over; though it were as true as Rome dictatorially assures us it is, that upon the belief of her dogmas depends our everlasting salvation.
And now, on the other hand, suppose the blind man to have indulged the querulous disposition of Naaman, who, when told to wash in Jordan for the cure of his leprosy, draw himself up in the full grandeur of self-sufficiency, and resolved to follow the dictates of his private judgment, rather than the mandate of the prophet. "Behold," said the haughty captain-general of Syria, "I thought he will surely come out to me." But he did not; and that self-willed "I thought" had nearly left His Mightiness a leper still. If the blind man had listened to the promptings of the same deceiver, he might have gone down to his gloomy grave, and never been greeted by "holy light, offspring of Heaven, first born."
And this sort of private judgment it is, which inflict upon us all the wildness and extravagance of the almost countless sects, which presume to appropriate the name of Christian. Long since did Lord Bolingbroke say, that one "cause of the multiplication of extravagant opinions and sects in Christianity, has been the arbitrary practice, of giving different senses to the same passages of the Bible." [Wks. iii. 464.] And, yet, as an infidel, he cared not which way his remark might cut; and was as indifferent to its [17/18] bearing upon one sect as upon another. And do we not see for ourselves, that he has not missed the mark, in his statement, be the motive which brought it out whatsoever it might? Can we fail to perceive, that sects are inevitable, so long as the Bible is the sole standard of appeal, and the same passage is interpreted twenty different ways; while private judgment is the only guide, and its decisions are infallible for every mind? Is not one man's "I thought," as good as any other man's? and if so, is not one man's "I thought" about the Bible, as good as that of any of his fellows; and again if so, is not the wildest sectarian under Heaven in the right?
But what, then, the captious will exclaim, must we sell the birthright of our soul's freedom, and go and bow down to the image of unity, which ecclesiastical pride and usurpation has set up in the Vatican at Rome? We ask no such unqualified surrender of your reason, and power of judging aright, and for yourselves. There is a medium; (oh that it were not such an invisible and inconceivable paradox to thousands!) there is a medium, and a most blessed one, between the extravagancies of Rome upon the one hand, and the extravagancies of schism and heresy upon the other. We ask you not to surrender your reason, to be bound with links of iron; and we beg you not to let it run rampant, like the untamed wild ass, which will not be held by bit or bridle. Exercise it no longer upon conjectures, but upon facts; no longer upon opinions, but upon history. Go to the Church, as she was in the days of her virgin purity, before she was wedded to the state, and began to do, as the married do, the will of an imperious husband. There is a period of three centuries for you to inquire into; and what the Church then was, baptised in the blood of martyrdom, and refined by the fires of persecution, you may safely, most safely, be. Cast in your lot with her, as she then was; for then, most assuredly, her Lord was with her; then she was the brightness of everlasting light, the [18/19] unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness. The ignorant will try to frighten you, by telling you that this will lead you into the mazes of Popery, and that you will lose your independence, if not your soul. But it is a grand mistake to suppose that Popery existed, during the first three centuries, when the Church stood alone, untrammeled, and uncorrupted; when, as one of her oldest historians informs us, there was an inseparable communion between the Western and Eastern Churches; i. e. throughout Christendom. Popery was the growth of the middle ages; of periods when this communion began to be broken, or sundered. It attained its fullest development, in periods when this communion was most effectually interrupted. It grew fastest under the shadow of monarchical patronage; and is one part of the tribute, which the Church has had to pay, for the misnamed privilege of allowing the State to call her after its own name, and receive her nominally under its protection, but really under its domination. If the Church were set free, to-morrow, from all civil control and interference, the doom of Popery would speedily be written. "The holy text of pike and gun" now furnishes its strongest arguments; and "infallible artillery" is its surest peacemaker.
Take then, my brethren, such a standard to settle disputes about the Bible's meaning, as that commended to you in the Prayer Book, Articles, and Homilies, the Primitive Church "most incorrupt and pure;" and let that be your rock, while the surges of sectarian controversy are beating about you, and against you. And, with all his ease, and all his comfort, will you do this, if the temper which prevailed in Paul's bosom, when he had ceased to listen to the dictates of private judgment, and sought wiser counsel, prevail in yours. "Lord," said the new convert, when he gave up thinking within himself as a guide, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" True piety [19/20] is not a boisterous and self-willed assertion of our own rights, the certainty of our own judgments, and a reckless discardance of all authority in spiritual matters. Ecclesiastical despotism, and Pharisaism, and heresy, and Deism, can stand by themselves, and be satisfied with their own selves, perpetually. But genuine piety is humble, diffident, clinging, relying, reverential, anxious not for distinction or self-gratification, but for obedience. Where, it says, are the old paths, in which they whom the world knew not, nay whom it hated, the paths in which they walked, where I may find refuge for my longing soul? Carry me back to the days of the earliest followers of Christ, let me see how they thought, and felt, and acted, and I may obtain light and peace. I am weary with the din of sects; this perpetual arrogance of infallibility, I am of Paul, and I of Applies, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. The Bible, in modern hands, means every thing or nothing. Let me have its meaning, as the Primitive Church possessed it, and I will content myself and be at rest. [To understand the Holy Scriptures aright," says the eminently devout Bp. Wilson, "is to understand them as the Primitive Church did."--Wilson's Wks, ii, 227.
Thus may God help you to discover your Master's will, and to do it perpetually for your everlasting joy. And setting out with such a scheme; discarding Popery on the one hand, and sectarianism on the other, as the manufactures of men; relying on the Church," as she was in her earliest and best days, for your model and guide, my faith is all-confiding, that if, under God, the truth as it is in Jesus without mixture is any where to be found, it will greet your eyes--nay bless and gladden them, to your latest days. And, then, when the light of the Church below shall cease to shine on you, the light of the Church above shall be exchanged for it. Ho more shall your sun go down, or your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.