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from any real obfcurity in the paffages themselves. Examination is the only way to discover errors : and when difcovered they ought to be readily given up. Why fhould any be willing to retain falfehood? The fcriptures fhould be read and ftudied with that care and attention, which is requifite to the right understanding of them. Chriftians are not obftinately to adhere to the articles and traditions received from their fallible forefathers: new difcoveries fhould not be suppreffed, but encouraged. None but bigots can be afraid of increafing knowledge. In other things improvements are made: and is it not ftrangely obftinate and unreasonable to be against improvements in religious knowledge? Truth fhould be the grand object of our purfuit. Can any good reafon be affigned, why we fhould not reject the mistakes of our forefathers, as well as they, very justly, rejected fo many errors of the church of Rome, and of their forefathers? Certainly we fhould examine, embrace and continue to defend, only what is reasonable, right and has good evidence, and reject what is falfe, how long foever it may have had poffeffion. An upright man, will be ready to give up every fentiment, upon conviction, that it is a mistaken one, whatever veneration he may have formerly had for it. To retract and renounce an opinion, upon conviction that it is an error, whatever the blind zealot may think, is truly glorious, and a fignal


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evidence of fincerity. We are to have a fupreme love to truth: upon this we are to have a steady eye: we have nothing to do with what is new or old, what is generally believed or disbelieved, with the sanctions of fynods or affemblies: we are not to regard names, characters, human authorities our profeffion and practice are to be regulated by facred truth, and truth only.

The departing from the plainnefs and fimplicity of the gospel, and the introducing into chriftianity, and laying great ftrefs upon abftrufe theories and difficult undeterminable fpeculations, has done unfpeakable prejudice to the chriftian caufe. Had nothing been taught for chriftian doctrine, but what is of eafy conception, and has a clear foundation in the New Teftament; the objections of infidels would have been obviated, and chriftianity would have appeared, to all fiacere inquirers after truth, rational and divine.

The true gospel is a pearl of great price: the value of it is ineftimable; but the benefit of it has been fadly obftructed, by wrong notions. Corruptions have been introduced. Tares have been mingled with the good grain. Human errors have been taught for chriftian truths. The gospel has been loaden and difgraced by falfe doctrines and fpurious additions, and the fcriptures frequently perverted by wrong interpretations, to the fupport of fuperftition, abfurdity, and contradiction.

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That the chriftian religion has been mifrepre-fented; that many falfe and groundless fentiments have been mixed with it; and that numberless fcripture paffages have been mifapplied and perverted from their true meaning and real defign, is a notorious undeniable fact and the objections of unbelievers have had all their force, their whole ground and ftrength, from this quarter. Every fincere friend of the gospel, therefore, cannot but ardently with, and will readily contribute all in his power towards the removal of such corruptions.

Christianity, as it lies in the New Teftament, in the facred writings of apoftles and evangelifts, and as it has been fince reprefented and established in the writings and laws of men, are two very different things, which ought carefully to be dif tinguished: the one being divine and heavenly truth, and of the greatest importance to human felicity: the other being human impofition, error and miftake, and the bane of human fociety. Many ftrange and unaccountable things have been introduced into chriftianity by men, things inconfiftent with the moral attributes and righteous government of the Deity, and with the revelation the Son of God hath delivered to us. But certainly it becomes and concerns all who call them felves chriftians, to judge of the nature of the gospel, and determine their chriftian fentiments, not from the formularies of modern churches, not from the most authorized fyftems and compofitions of men, but from


the divine oracles themselves, the infpired writings, thofe facred and only authentic repofitories of chriftian truth.

If christianity were once placed in a true light, thoroughly restored to its original purity, and perfectly free from human errors and adulterations; it would prevail, and great would be its power and influence, for it is the wisdom and power of God to falvation. Were the nature and evidence of the chriftian religion justly set before men; were it univerfally reprefented to be what it really is, as it lies in the fcriptures; doubts would vanish, it would be clearly perceived to be throughout, reasonable and excellent, and its divine authority could not be queftioned. The pure chriftian doctrine would recommend itself, and the glorious, heavenly attestations which attended its publication to the world, would engage the most serious regard of all confidering perfons. But the mixing with it falfehood, abfurdity, myfticism, and superstition, has greatly diminished its credit and influence; for nothing can recommend what is offenfive to reason to such as use their understanding in religion. True representations of christianity, would cut down all fpiritual tyranny and impofition, put an end to all fierce contentions and animofities, introduce univerfal harmony and love, difpel the groveling, debafing fentiments of fuperftition, and greatly promote true piety and fubftantial virtue. Every onc, therefore, who venerates the character of

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Chrift, values the gospel, and wishes its spread and proper influence in the world, must be ardently defirous that all abuses and corruptions were removed. And certainly it is the duty of fuch as difcern any grofs mifreprefentations of chriftianity, perceive the falfehood and evil tendency of any fentiments that have been taught for chriftian doctrine, to bear their fteady, free and open teftimony against them, and do all in their power to clear chriftianity from them. If they neglect to do it, how can they answer it to their own confciences now or to Jefus Chrift when he comes as univerfal judge?

The Trinitarian Doctrine, particularly, has been` the difgrace of the chriftian name, and turned christianity, contrary to its very nature, into a dark, fubtle, undefinable fcrence, a matter of difficult fpeculation and contentious fophiftry, the occafion of vain jangling and eternal difpute, an engine of impofition and tyranny, and the cause of Bitter quarrels, furious contentions, mutual anathemas, and the moft cruel animofities. It has been a great ftumbling block in the way of Jews and Heathens, a great hindrance to the fpread and progrefs of chriftianity in the world and it has in no small degree obftructed its proper effect, its genuine power and influence on the hearts and lives of chriftian profeffors. It is very certain that fo long as a zeal for the trinity doctrine continues *The Manufcript has controversy.



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