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* To the present age is ascribed productiveness and changeableness of opinions, and at the
'Hasten the time when, unfettered by sectarian intolerance, and unawed by the authority of
'I speak as to wise men ; judge ye what I say.'-1 Cor. x. 15.
NEW YORK : G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS.
MANY thoughtful and honest minds cannot but feel that under the pressure of a systematised theology the gospel of Christ has lost much of its freshness and power. The very reverence paid outwardly to Scripture has tended towards this result. By every generation, throughout eighteen centuries, the divine Truth has been expounded, weighed, measured, attacked, defended. This ceaseless handling could scarcely fail to soil and dim its native brightness. The atmosphere of Christian thought, necessary and life-giving though it be, is always more or less weighted with foreign particles, emanations of the human mind, which have settled into a thick film of dogmatic teaching, blurring in no small degree the truth which lies beneath. There is surely no irreverence in the touch which would brush away these accretions of centuries.
Probably they whose profession it is to preach the gospel are of all men least likely, in the ordinary course of theological study, to accept it in its simplicity. This involves no disparagement of their learning or sincerity. It arises from the fact that they are bound down to creeds and articles of religion, and that their minds have been nourished and developed by the ideas of spiritual fathers and doctors of the Church. So it comes to pass that their interpretations of Scripture are tinged unconsciously with traditional beliefs. Their expositions of the New Testament have a definiteness which did not exist in the teaching of Jesus, and almost every parable he spoke has had impressed upon it some settled, orthodox meaning
There is indeed much in the present aspect of Christianity to occasion sorrow and perplexity. On the one side are clashing creeds and sects, seeming but to rend and disfigure the