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The same reason which demands our assent to credible testimony, also proves the necessity of believing what it attests, according to the plain and natural meaning of the terms in which it is conveyed.

Since then the faith of a Christian is built upon the word of God himself, which is infallible, we conceive not how it can be otherwise than one. When facts are stated upon human authority only, if we have no reason to doubt the integrity or the knowledge of the relator, we do not hesitate to believe them to be as he has asserted; nor do we think ourselves justified in torturing his words, to impose upon them different senses. How then can they be defended, who deal thus with the language of a God of infinite wisdom and holiness? How can they suppose, that the words which the Holy Ghost has dictated, may be fairly made to bear any interpretation, which the perverted subtlety of man can impose on them; or that more than one faith can be built upon the same foundation?

See Note LII. Appendix.

The position then under consideration may now, I trust, be considered as sufficiently established. It has been tried by the rule of Scripture, and by the practice of the Church; and it has appeared, that as truth is one, so the faith of Christians must be one also; that this one faith is by the word of God declared to be an indispensable condition of salvation; and that in the primitive Church, which adhered to the instruction and the example of the Apostles themselves, it was constantly so regarded.

By investigating also the nature of faith, as an assent of the mind, upon the authority of divine revelation, to certain truths not discoverable by human inquiry; I have endeavoured to shew, that it is irreconcileable with the principles of sound reasoning to suppose, that this revelation can speak other than one and the same meaning to all who interpret it aright; or that we are at liberty to understand it in any sense but that which the manifest import of the language proves that it was intended to convey.

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The result then of the inquiry may be thus briefly stated our blessed Lord has declared, that none but they who believe in him can be his disciples; and that all may know what they are to believe, he has left upon record with the Church the doctrines which she is to teach.

These doctrines are to be found in the holy Scriptures; whence they are to be gathered, not from a few dark or doubtful passages, but from the full, clear, and harmonious testimony of all the inspired writers; by each of whom, in his own method, varied according to the specific purpose of his labours, but still under the controlling influence of the same Spirit of truth, they have been stated, illustrated, and enforced.

Taken together, these doctrines constitute that one faith, by which alone we can arrive unto the perfect man, unto the 66 measure of the stature of the fulness of "Christ;" and therefore, he who does not hold this m" form of sound words,"

1 See Note LIII. Appendix.

m 2 Tim. i. 13.

as the Apostle calls it, cannot be a partaker in that fellowship, which connects him with Christians as a member of the same body, and with Christ as its head.

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They who have perversely wandered from the true faith, have therefore ever been considered as destroyers of Christian unity. St. Paul indeed "declares, that • heresy may be made to serve a good purpose, as it affords an opportunity to true believers to shew their faith, by a stedfast opposition to it; but in another place he reckons it among those "works of the "flesh," which may exclude a man from an inheritance in the kingdom of God; and he directs Titus to reject a heretic, after due admonition, considering him as one that is subverted, and sinneth, being "condemned of himself;"" that is," says the learned Hammond, inflicting upon "himself that punishment, which the "Church is wont to do upon malefactors, by cutting himself off from her commu"nion."

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n 1 Cor. xi. 19.

P Gal. v. 20.

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• See Note LIV. Appendix.

9 Tit. iii. 10, 11.

The language of those who immediately succeeded the Apostles in the government of the Church, and who must be supposed to have been intimately acquainted with their sentiments and practice, may also be allowed to have considerable weight in determining this question: and they are unanimous in considering a departure from the fundamental articles of the Christian faith, as a breach of Christian unity; separating those who are guilty of it from the flock of Christ, and depriving them of the privileges of his covenant.

It is indeed impossible to conceive, that real unity can exist without the one faith is preserved; and all attempts to s promote it by stifling controversies, and concealing breaches which we cannot heal; by unwarrantable compromises, or mere external conciliation; will either wholly fail, or will produce, at best, a temporary union, by the permanent sacrifice of truth. The history of eighteen centuries has suffici

I See Note LV. Appendix.
s See Note LVI. Appendix.

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