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considerable difference to an English Reader : as, for instance, Assideans and Hassideans-Eicetæ and Heicetæ- Elcesaites and Helcesaites, are only different pronunciations. In this also I have endeavoured to avoid confusion, but am not sure that I always have succeeded.
From the very nature of this work it will always be subject to improvement as new sects arise, or fresh information is obtained : for this reason, a few pages are subjoined to the Dictionary, containing additions and corrections, with which I was favoured (as acknowledged above) during the progress of the Work. If the Student should wish to avail himself of these, he has only to mark the page of each Supplementary article in the margin of the Dictionary, and correct the errata with his pen : this may possibly make the book somewhat the worse for future sale, but it would be much the better for present use, and might be done in the course of an hour or two.
Deeply impressed as the writer is, and hopes he always shall be, with the imperfection of his own labours, he hopes the present Work will assist the study of others, and the progress of religious knowledge; for the practical uses which may arise from it, he begs to refer to the Remarks which conclude the Volume.
London, Nov. 1823.
Errata in the preliminary Essays._Page 1, line 22, for effect, read affect.'– Page 23, Note, for ' Anarcharsis,' read · Anacharsis.'
As the following authors are repeatedly, and some very frequently, referred to in this Work, it has been found convenient to abridge the titles in such references; but the following table will explain the abridged references, and mark the editions made use of.
R. Adam's R. W.D. Religious World Displayed. By Rev. Rob. Adam, B.A.(Oxford).
3 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh, 1809. Also, in the latter sheets,
the 2d edit. just published, 1823. H. Adams's View. View (or Dictionary) of all Religions. By Hannah Adams.
4th edit. 8vo. Boston, (United States) 1817. Bell's Wanderings. Wanderings of the Human Intellect, or a Dictionary of various
Sects, &c. By Rev. John Bell, (Rom. Cath.) Newcastle, 1814. Broughton's Dict.
Historical Dictionary of all Religions. By Thomas Broughton,
A.M., Prebend of Salisbury, &c. 2 vols. folio. London, 1741. Calmet's Dict. Calmet's Great Dictionary, &c., by Mr. Taylor, with the Frag
ments. London, 1797.-Also the New Edit. just completed,
4 vols. 4to. 1823. Ency. Brit.
Encyclopædia Britannica. 4to. 3d edit. Edinburgh; 1797, and
Supplement Evans's Sketch. Sketch of the Denominations of the Christian World, &c. By
John Evans, LL.D. Edit. 1821. Enfield's Philos.
History of Philosophy (from Brucker). By W. Enfield, LL.D.
2 vols. 8vo. London, 1819. Grégoire's Hist. Histoire des Sects Religieuses. Par M. Grégoire, Ancien
Evique de Blois, &c. 2 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1814. Jones's Dict.
Dictionary of Religious Opinions (among Christians). By
W. Jones. New Edit. 1821. Horne's Introd. Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy
Scriptures, 1818.-Also 2d and 3d editions, as marked in the
References. Lardner's Heretics. History of the Heretics of the Three First Centuries, from the
MSŠ. of N. Lardner, D.D. with large Additions, by John
Hogg. 4to. London, 1780. Milner's Ch. Hist. History of the Church of Christ. By Joseph Milner, A. M.
3d edit. revised by Is. Milner, D.Ď. F. R. S. 5 vols. 8vo.
1807. Mr. M.'s name appears only as Publisher, but he is
understood to have been also Editor. Mosheim's E. H. Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern. By J. L. Mosheim,
D.D. Translated, &c. by A. Maclaine, D.D. New Edit.
6 vols. 8vo. Baynes, 1810. Robinson's Dict. Theological, Biblical, and Ecclesiastical Dictionary. By John
Robinson, D. D. (of Ravenstone Dale). 8vo. London, 1815. Turner's Hist. Historic View of Heretical Opinions. By the Rev. R. Turner,
LL.D. London, 1788. Ward's Hindoos. View of the History, Literature, and Religion of the Hindoos.
4 vols. 8vo. 1817–1821. Cum multis aliis ; the other books consulted, which are very numerous, are distinctly described ; as also the various Religious Periodicals, Missionary Transactions and
CONTAINING AN ENQUIRY INTO ITS NATURE AND IMPORTANCE; WITH THE CAUSES
OP ERROR, AND THE REASONS OF ITS PERMISSION.
BY THE REV. A. FULLER.
CONTENTS.—On the proper Inferences to be drawn from the discordant Opinions of
Men— The Nature of Heresy - What is Truth?— Importance of Truth — Causes
of Error- Reasons why Error is permitted. The multifarious and discordant sentiments which divide mankind, afford a great temptation to scepticism, and many are carried away by it. The open enemies of the gospel take occasion from hence to justify their rejection of it; and many of its professed friends have written as if they thought, that to be decided amidst so many minds and opinions were almost presumptuous. The principal, if not the only use which they would make of these differences is, to induce a spirit of moderation and charity, and to declaim against bigotry.
To say nothing at present how these terms are perverted and hackneyed, in a certain cause, let two things be seriously considered:
- First, Whether this was the use made by the apostles of the discordant opinions which prevailed in their times, even amongst those who"
acknowledged the divinity of our Saviour's mission ?" In differences among Christians, which did not effect the kingdom of God, nor destroy the work of God, it certainly was: such were those concerning meats, drinks, and days*, in which the utmost forbearance was inculcated. But it was otherwise in differences which affected the leading doctrines and precepts of Christianity. Forbearance in these cases would, in the account of the sacred writers, have been a crime. Paul would that they were even cut offt, who troubled the Galatian churches, by corrupting the Christian doctrine of justification. And it is recorded, to the honour of the church at Ephesus, that it “ could not bear them that were evil; but had tried them that said they were apostles, and were not, and had found them liars I." Secondly, Whether an unfavourable opinion of those who reject what we account the leading principles of Christianity, supposing it to be wrong, be equally injurious with a contrary opinion, supposing that to be wrong? To think unfavourably of another does not affect his state towards God: if, therefore, it should prove to be wrong, it only interrupts present happiness.
* Rom. xiv. 17, 20.
+ Gal, v, 12.
# Rev, ii. 2.
We have lately been told indeed, but from what anthority I cannot conceive, that “ the readiest way in the world to thin heaven, and to replenish the regions of hell, is to call in the spirit of bigotry.” Far be it from me to advocate the cause of bigotry, or to plead for a bitter, censorious spirit—a spirit that would confine the kingdom of heaven to a party; but I do not perceive how this spirit, bad as it is, is productive of the effects ascribed to it. If, on the other hand, through an aversion to bigotry, we treat those as Christians to whom an apostle would at least have said, " I stand in doubt of you," we flatter and deceive them; which is really “ the readiest way in the world to thin heaven, and to replenish the regions of hell.”
Surely there is a medium between bigotry, and the esteeming and treating men as Christians, irrespective of their avowed principles. A benevolent and candid treatment is due to men of all denominations; but to consider all principles as equally safe, is to consider Truth as of no importance.
The abuse of the terms heresy and heretic by the Roman Catholics, and others who imbibe their persecuting spirit, seems to have furnished occasion for considering a departure from Christian doctrine as a light matter. Some have endeavoured to neutralize heresy, by criticising the terni; others, by a constant reference to the misapplication of it to principles held by the best of men, think themselves at liberty to treat it with derision. But the abuse of a term does not divest it of its meaning. Mr. James Foster held that “ no person can be a heretic in the Apostle's sense of the term, Tit. ii. 10, 11*; but he who, to make himself considerable, propagates false and pernicious doctrine,
So Dr. Macknight defines a Heretic to be “one who, from worldly motives, teaches doctrines which he knows to be false,” [Mackn. on Titus iii. 10.) But is not this rather the character of an impostor? And is it not a breach of the candour so strongly recommended, to say, of any teacher, that he does not believe his own doctrines? Beside, in many cases, heretics have suffered persecution, and even death, sooner than renounce their principles. Even as to “ the Judaizers, who made the rituals enjoined by the law, more necessary than a holy life,”—how do we know that they were not sincere ? Doth not a great part of mankind do the same?
Again, Dr. M. says, “He also is a heretic who, from the same motive, makes a party in the church, in opposition to those who maintain the truth.” But how are we to judge of motives? Can we search the heart? And without this how are we to reject heretics, if the heresy depend upon the motive ?
But St. Paul says of heretics, that they are self-condemned ; and does not this imply a knowledge of their error? I conceive not. Every man, whose principles are inconsistent with his practice, is self-condemned. So the Judaizing preachers, admitting the mission of Christ, and adhering to Moses—and the heretics spoken of by Peter, who (in allusion to a master buying, or redeeming a slave) though they professed to admit the doctrine of redemption, yet disowned the authority of the Redeemer,“ denying the master (dsorotns), or lord, who bought them,"- --were therein inconsistent and self-condemned.
What then constituted the notion of a heretic in the first ages of the church? 1. He was supposed to be in an error. 2. That error was thought pernicious. “Heresy (says Dr. Waterland) lies in espousing pernicious doctrines. [Import of the Trin. 2d edit. p. 115.) 3. That error was of sufficient importance to break communion, and so violate the unity of the church. This I conceive accounts for the different use of the same term in the Acts and the Epistles, which is admitted by Dr. Campbell. Prior to Christianity, the word was used indifferently for any sect or party, religious or philosophical: but after the erection of the Christian church, it was used for such separations only as were made on the ground of doctrine or principle; and other separations, grounded on difference of religious rites, or the preference of particular preachers, were denominated schisms. 1 Cor. i. 10–12.
knowing it to be such.” Mr. Foster was answered by Dr. Stebbing and Mr. Brine. Dr. George Campbell also objects to Mr. Foster's position, that it makes the precept of the apostle, to “ reject an heretic,” of little or no use, seeing it is impossible for us to judge whether he who professes an opinion be sincere or not. bell considers the term as having no relation to doctrine, but merely to denote a sect or faction. There is no doubt but the term heresy (aipeous) is used in the New Testament for a sect, without any reference to doctrine, and sometimes without implying any thing evil. It does not appear to me, however, that Dr. Campbell has proved it is thus used in 2 Pet. ï. 1, where false teachers are described as bringing in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and as bringing upon themselves swift destruction; or that his criticism on that passage is well founded. But if it be, while he allows false doctrine to be “ destructive,” it is of small account whether we call it heresy or not. It is certain that this term is now generally used in reference to false doctrine, and in that view is by many lightly treated.
Let us candidly enquire, Christian reader, whether, notwithstanding the diversity of sentiments in the religious world, Truth may not be clearly ascertained?- Whether it be not of the utmost importance? Whether the prevalence of Error may not be accounted for?-And, lastly, Whether the wisdom, as well as the justice of God, may not be seen in permitting it?
WHAT IS TRUTH? In attempting to answer this question, I desire to take nothing for granted, but that Christianity is of God, and that the Scriptures are a revelation of his will. If Christianity be of God, and he have revealed his will in the Holy Scriptures, light is come into the world, though the dark minds of sinful creatures comprehend it not. It does not follow, because many wander in mazes of fruitless speculation, that there is not a way so plain as that a way-faring man, or one who “ walketh in the truth, though a fool, shall not err. The numerous sects among the Greeks and Romans, and even among the Jews, at the time of our Saviour's appearing, did not prove that there was no certain knowledge to be obtained of what was Truth. Our Lord considered himself as speaking plainly, or he would not have asked the Jews, as he did, “ Why do ye not understand my speech?” The apostles and primitive believers saw their way plainly; and though we cannot pretend to the extraordinary inspiration which was possessed by many of them; yet, if we humbly follow their light, depending on the ordinary teachings of God's holy Spirit, we shall see ours.
Truth, we may be certain, is the same thing as what in the Scriptures is denominated “ the gospel *,"
," “ the common salvation," “ the
* “ It is a part of the office of the Holy Spirit to lead believers into truth ; and our excellent translators, through a slight inadvertence, by overlooking the article in the original, have rendered the text, He shall lead you into all truth;' that is, as many have understood it, into every branch of religious truth; whereas (as the learned Bishop Lowth long since