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ABILITY, (natural, moral and gracious,) REPENTANCE,
REIGNTY, AND PERSEVERANCE.
OBERLIN ; JAMES M. FITCH,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847,
BY CHARLES G. FINNEY, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of Ohio.
I HAVE not yet been able to stereotype my theological views, and have ceased to expect ever to do so. The idea is preposterous. None but an omniscient mind can continue to maintain a precise identity of views and opinions. Finite minds, unless they are asleep or stultified by prejudice, must advance in knowledge. The discovery of new truth will modify old views and opinions, and there is perhaps no end to this process with finite minds in any world. True christian consistency consists, not in stereotyping our opinions and views and in refusing to make any improvement in knowledge lest we should be guilty of change, but it consists in holding our minds open to receive the rays of truth from every quarter, and in changing our views and language and practice as often and as fast as we can obtain further information. I call this christian consistency because this course alone accords with a christian profession. A christian profession implies the profession of candor and of a disposition to know and to obey all truth. It must follow that christian consistency implies continued investigation and change of views and practice corresponding with increasing knowledge. No christian iherefore, and no theologian should be afraid to change his views, his language, or his practices in conformity with increasing light. The adoption of an opposite maxim would keep the world, at best, at a perpetual stand-still, on all subjects of science, and all improvements would be precluded.
Hundreds of years since, when intellectual and moral science was a wilderness, an assembly of divines, as they are called, affecting to cast off popery, undertook to stereotype the theology of the church and to think for all future generations, thus making themselves popes in perpetuum. Every uninspired attempt to frame for the church an authoritative standard of opinion which shall be regarded as an unquestionable exposition of the word of God, is not only impious in itself, but it is also a tacit assumption of the fundamental dogma of Papacy. The assembly of divines did more than to assume the necessity of a pope to give law to the opinions of men; they assumed to create an immortal one or rather to embalm their own creed and preserve it as the pope of all gen