Theophilus Lindsey

 

From THE STATE OF THE UNITARIAN DOCTRINE etc., 1783 by Theophilus Lindsey

But this happy state of things [following Erasmus] so favourable to the progress of truth and free inquiry, did not long continue. Among those who separated from the church of Rome, the Bible soon became a book sealed up and hidden from the laity and the unlearned, from all who chose to submit to those who took upon them to be their guides : not indeed by forbidding the reading of the scriptures, as in former times under the papacy, but by trowing a veil over them, and diverting men from searching into them fairly to see what they truly did teach (etc).

For from that period to the present day [1783], in all protestant communities, in the churches of Scotland and England, and among Lutherans and Calvinists upon the continent, their first care and principal labour has been bestowed in securing and guarding the Athanasian doctrine of three persons making one God, by composing public Confessions, Articles of faith and Catechisms, for this purpose ; to which all ministers of religion were bound to subscribe, and conform their public teachings and preaching, at their peril.

According to these prescribed formularies, youth were to be taught the elements of christianity ; and instead of laying the greatest weight, where Christ laid it, on piety to God, love and kindness to men, and integrity and sincerity in their whole conduct : certain mysterious doctrines, particularly concerning Christ being the most high God, were recommended and insisted on as the very foundation of the gospel, without which the whole fabric must fall to the ground. And they were instructed to look upon those who held the contrary sentiments with horror, as persons whose conversation was to be shunned and avoided ; and for a long time no State would tolerate such men, or allow them to worship God in their own way, and sometimes would not permit them to stay in their country.

Public lectures have been established and stipends annexed to the preachers of them, not to encourage men in the study of the Scriptures, and in interpreting them in the sense that approved itself to their own judgments, but in agreement with that which was dictated by others.     (Etc.)

AN HISTORICAL VIEW OF THE STATE OF THE UNITARIAN DOCTRINE AND WORSHIP,
FROM THE REFORMATION TO OUR OWN TIMES.
WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF THE OBSTRUCTIONS WHICH IT HAS MET WITH AT DIFFERENT PERIODS.

London : J. Johnson 1783, pages 27-29.

 

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W. Paul Tabaka
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