“Progress” is Their Watchword

What I regard as a terrible evil, is abounding unbelief. I am not speaking now of that coarse kind of infidelity which rails at the Scriptures, and blasphemes the Name of the Lord our God. There is not much mischief in such a devil as that; he is too black, too plainly a fiend of hell! There is a more dangerous spirit now abroad, entering into Nonconformist churches, climbing into their pulpits, and notably perverting the testimony of some who count themselves somewhat, and are regarded as leaders by those who reckon themselves to be men of culture and intellect. Macaulay rightly said that theology is immutable; but these men are continually contradicting that opinion in the most practical manner, for their theology is fickle as the winds. Landmarks are laughed at, and fixed teaching is despised. “Progress” is their watchword, and we hear it repeated ad nauseam. Very far are we from denying that men ought to make progress in the knowledge of the truth, for we are aiming at that ourselves; and by daily experience, by study, and by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, we trust that, in some humble measure we are gaining it. But words need interpreting,—what is intended by “progress” in this case? Which way does it go?

It is too often progress from the truth, which, being interpreted, is progressing backwards. They talk of higher thought, but it is an ascending downwards. I must use their terms, and talk of progress; but their progress is a going from, and not a going to, the place of our desires. Evidently, it is progress from usefulness. They invite us to follow them in their advance towards a barren Socinianism, for thither the new theology tends, or to something worse. Now, we know, at the present time, certain ancient chapels shut up, with grass growing in the front of them, and over the door of them is the name Unitarian Baptist Chapel. Although it has been said that he is a benefactor of his race who makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, we have no desire to empty our pews in order to grow more grass. We have in our eye certain other chapels, not yet arrived at that consummation, where the spiders are dwelling in delightful quietude, in which the pews are more numerous than the people, and although an endowment keeps the minister’s mouth open, there are but few open ears for him to address.

“An All-Around Ministry”

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