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by Dr. John Thomas
Be not subject to dogmatisms ( dogmativzesqe ) after the commandments and traditions of men; which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship and humility".
These exhortations apply to all faith and worship, Papal and Protestant.
If Popery judges men in meats, Protestantism doth the same in drinks, and in the Sabbath; they both judge men in holy-days and "movable feasts"; and though Protestantism repudiates the worshipping of angels, it proclaims in its "fasts," "preparations," "concerts," etc. a voluntary humility, anti celebration of "saints and martyrs," renowned in legendary tales for "the pride that apes humility".
Let the reader search the scriptures from beginning to end, and he will nowhere find such systems of faith and worship as those comprehended in the Papal and Protestant systems.
The gospel of the Kingdom of God in the name of Jesus is not preached among them; they are communions which are uncircumcised of heart; theological dissertations on texts, called "sermons," are substituted for "reasoning out of the scriptures" -- for "expounding and testifying the Kingdom of God, and persuading men concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the Prophets;" Puseyism, Swedenborgianism, and all sorts of isms, to which in apostolic times the world was a total stranger, run riot among them; the lusts of the flesh, of the eye, and of the pride of life have extinguished even the energy and zeal of the antipapal rebellion out of which they have arisen; they are dead, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, and therefore the time is come to cut them off as a rotten branch from the good olive tree.
Let therefore every man that would eschew the wrath which is begun, and who would become an heir of the kingdom of God, save himself from the unholy, lifeless, and effete denominations of these "Latter Days".
By remaining in them, a man partakes of their evil deeds, and subjects himself to their evil influences.
The word of man has silenced the word of God in their midst; and religion has degenerated into a professional commodity sold for cash according to the taste which most prevails in the soul-markets of the world.
Let us then "cease from men, whose breath is in their nostrils; for wherein are they to be accounted of?
" "They be blind leaders of the blind," in whom is no light, because they speak not according to the law and the testimony of God.
Let us repudiate their dogmatisms; let us renounce their mysteries; and let us declare our independence of all human authority in matters of faith and practice outside the word of God.
The scriptures are able to make us wise, which the traditions of "divines" are not.
Let us then come to these scriptures, for we have the assurance that he who seeks shall find.
But we must seek by the fight of scripture, and not permit that fight to be obscured by high thoughts and vain imaginations which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
Great is the consolation that "the wise shall understand," and "shall shine as the brightness of the firmament".
Be this then our happiness, to understand, believe, and do, that we may be blessed in our deed, and attain to the glorious liberty and manifestation of the sons of God.
To the Bible then let us turn, as to "a light shining in a dark place," and, with humility, teachableness, and independence of mind, let us diligently inquire into the things which it reveals for the obedience and confirmation of faith.
The object before us then will be, to present such a connected view of this truthful and wonderful book as will open the reader's eyes, and enable him to understand it, and expound it to others, that he may become "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth"; and be able intelligently to "contend for the faith"; and by "turning many to righteousness, to shine as the stars for ever and ever".
In effecting this purpose, we must proceed as we would with any other book, or in teaching any of the arts and sciences; namely, begin at the beginning, or with the elements of things.
This was the method adopted by the spirit of God in the instruction of the Israelites by Moses.
He began His revelations by giving them, and us through them, an account of the creation of the heavens and the earth; of animals; and of man.
This then would seem to be the proper place for us to start from; and as we have the system completely revealed, which they had not, we may extend our enquiries into the reason, or philosophy of things farther than they.
Be this, then, our commencement; and may the Lord himself prosper our endeavours to decipher and understand His word, and to disentangle it from the crude traditions and dogmatisms of contemporary theologies, useful in their beginnings as "oppositions" to the Mystery of Iniquity, but now "waxed old and ready to vanish away" with the thing they have antagonized; but which, though consumptive of the civil and ecclesiastical tyranny of the Image of the Beast, have by their glosses in effect taken from the people "the Key of Knowledge," and thus shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men. Our endeavour will be to restore this "Key," that they may understand "the mysteries of the kingdom," and "have right, to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city". And this we will do if God permit.