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THE GRAND ERROR.
Sint castae deliciae meae, scripturae tuae ; nec fallar in eis, nec fallam ex eis.
From it I speak the truth to be believed.
For there must also be heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you. 1 Cor. 11: 19.
Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not. Mal. 3: 18.
The prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. Isa. 9: 15, 16.
The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord, Jer. 23: 28.
For without are dogs, and SORCERERS, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and WHOSOEVER LOVETH AND MAKETH A LIE. Revelations, 22 : 15.
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran : I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if theY HAD STOOD IN MY COUNSEL, AND HAD CAUSED MY PEOPLE TO HEAR MY WORDS, THEN THEY SHOULD HAVE TURNED THEM FROM THEIR EVIL WAY, AND FROM THE EVIL OF THEIR DOINGS. Jer. 23:21, 22.
But though we, or an ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, preach ANY OTHER Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, LET HIM BE ACCURSED! As we said before, so say I now again, if any [man or angel] preach any other Gospel unto you than ye have received, let HIM BE ACCURSED. Gal. 1: 8, 9.
THE GRAND ERROR.
For the sake of argument and for the sake of benevolence we ought, as in all controversies, so eminently in this, to ascertain the grand points in respect to which the parties are agreed. To state all these might not be useful; but some there are upon which, I suppose, our coincidence will be admitted by all. These shall be carefully recorded in the outset; and by the writer assumed as principles of reasoning in the subsequent pages. As Barclay can be shown to sanction several of them, Friends will probably assent to as many of these principles.
1. The scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as generally received by the protestant world, contain, in their proper and native meaning, the truth, and in respect to that meaning are evidently THE TRUTH.
2. These scriptures were given by inspiration of the Holy Ghost for the benefit of mankind.
3. Truth is a unit; that is, it is always consistent
with itself; as “no lie is of the truth :" and hence
4. It is impossible that the same Holy Spirit, that
5. Whatever is proved to be contrary to scripture, is necessarily false : and consequently, whatever is proved to coincide with scripture is necessarily true.
6. Whatever duty is, according to scripture, binding on the present worshippers of God, is binding by divine authority and cannot be habitually omitted or violated without sin: though duties and sins differ illimitably in form and degree.
7. Almost every rule has its exceptions; which however do not impair (they rather confirm) the rule : as, this proposition-it is appointed unto men once to die may be styled the rule of our faith in respect to the mortality of the species; but Enoch and Elijah never did and never will die, though they are of the species and were once alive on the earth ; they become exceptions to the rule, by which however the rule is confirmed rather than impaired.
8. It is monstrous and mischievous to invert the foregoing principle; that is, to make a rule of an exception, or to mistake the exception for the rule :
thus, for example; Enoch and Elijah were men, and they never died and never will die; therefore I and all other men will never die—we shall either be translated or exist in this world for ever!
Take another illustration. Iscariot was an apostle of Jesus Christ; he was also “ a devil,” a sordid traitor, one of the worst of men and “the son of perdition :" therefore the apostles of Jesus Christ were-but I forbear! Iscariot was the EXCEPTION and the only one, to the RULE that the apostles of Jesus Christ were in holiness resembling the angels of God, in fidelity incorruptible, in goodness superlative, and in salvation for ever glorious. There are, however, some subordinate exceptions, of constancy rather than of character, in the history of the holy apostles, that do not disprove their exalted excellence in general, while they reveal notwithstanding their imperfection in particular instances.
9. The best thing may be abused, and abused to a dreadfal and intolerable degree. Still, the thing itself remains the same ; and to disparage it, on account of its abuse by men, or to make it responsible for that abuse, or to infer the obligation of its disuse from such premises, instead of judging of the same by a correct standard according to its proper nature, is illegitimate in reasoning, and would in its consequences empower the wicked to destroy (by merely abusing) universal goodness ; while, at the same time, it would enervate the strength, degrade the cause, and ruin the friends, of all righteousness; since the abuse of any thing may be ad