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HON. AND REV. B. W. NOEL,
REV. J. H. STEWART,
REV. W. MARSH,
REV, J. W. CUNNINGHAM,
RIGHT OF PRIVATE JUDGMENT.
HON. AND REV. BAPTIST W. NOEL, M.A.
I Peter iii. 15,-Be ready always to give an answer to every man
that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
The religious hope of a Christian requires him in many things to separate himself from irreligious persons, while he invites them to believe humiliating truths, and to adopt self-denying habits, with the additional assurance, that an eternal condemnation will be the reward of unbelief. He should, therefore, be able to justify a hope which involves so many offensive peculiarities. Now, as he must justify it to those who oppose him, he should do it with meekness; and as it regards his own personal salvation, he may well do it with fear.
His hope includes his own personal salvation; and he should be able to show grounds for this. But he must do more: for his individual salvation depending upon the existence and power of the Saviour, in whom he trusts, he should be able to establish these. In other words, he must, before he can convince others or obtain well-grounded peace for himself, be able to prove the truth of the Christian doctrines. Now, as a strong persuasion of these truths, however satisfactory to the person himself, affords no proof of them to another, this will not satisfy the direction of the text: a proof of them is still to be rendered. That our fathers have believed them; that they are received by the common consent of Christians; that we have been taught so from childhood; though some evidence for them, is not sufficient; because