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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1


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There is a fashionable cry in those times against any argument of religion. We may discuss in science, politics, and literature, but a theological controversy has an odium about it which is often injurious or fatal to a good cause. Yet, why? Is it because the deepest interests of men are in their religion, and they do not like it touched? But the more solemn and weighty the subject, the more ought we to be satisfied of the soundness and safety of our doctrine. What kind of medical science should we have if a bar were put upon argument. It is freedom of discussion that opens the glories of modern science, and the same policy which forbids argument in religion forbad freedom in astronomy, and imprisoned Galileo for saying the world moved. But if it be the spirit of controversy against which the feeling rises,—rancorous and bitter party spirit,—then we agree; but there is no more need for a bad spirit in a religious argument than in a money question or a question in geology; and, if I am a reasonable man, I shall be no more offended when my neighbour convinces me that I am accepting false principles as true, than if he were to prevent my taking counterfeit money for currency of the realm. On the contrary I shall feel and express my deepest obligation to him for holding a lamp to my feet in a dark and dangerous road, and for leading me into the possession of the true riches of my soul, my greatest, best boon, and God's dearest, best gift for both worlds.

There is no spirit of championship in this our argument; we only desire to bring the truth as it is in Jesus out from under the bushel, and set it on a candlestick where all may see the Light that can enlighten every man that cometh into the world, free from all sectarian clouds and human prejudice, with the hope that some now in darkness or only seeing men as trees walking may by the blessing of God be brought to the brightness of His shining, and taste the riches of His grace, instead of groping sadly in the night as if the Sun of Righteousness had not yet risen, or there were nothing on earth of religion, but the corpse or the dry bones bleached in the valley of a stagnant church.

This is the Christian day. Let men go forth out of their narrow cells to its goodly brightness and genial warmth; and if this tract shall help any of them to turn the key or open the page II door, or look up to the open heavens and taste that the Lord is gracious, that his goodness abounds in offers of a free salvation, now to be accepted and enjoyed, not indeed in one church only, not in Jerusalem, nor in this or that mountain, but wherever the true worshippers worship him in spirit and in truth, then we will rejoice and be thankful that the occasion arose, and the words were written in truth and love.

Truth only needs for once to be spoke out,
And there's such music in her—such strange rhythm,
As makes men's memories her joyous slaves,
And cling around the soul as the sky clings
Round the mute earth, for ever beautiful.