Phases of Faith eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 272 pages of information about Phases of Faith.

[Footnote 1:  I afterwards learned that some of those gentlemen esteemed boldness of thought “a lust of the mind,” and as such, an immorality.  This enables them to persuade themselves that they do not reject a “heretic” for a matter of opinion, but for that which they have a right to call “immoral”.  What immorality was imputed to me, I was not distinctly informed.]

[Footnote 2:  I really thought it needless to quote proof that but few will be saved, Matth. vii. 14.  I know there is a class of Christians who believe in Universal salvation, and there are others who disbelieve eternal torment.  They must not be angry with me for refuting the doctrine of other Christians, which they hold to be false.]

[Footnote 3:  In this (second) edition, I have added an entire chapter expressly on the subject.]

[Footnote 4:  The same may probably be said of all the apostles, and their whole generation.  If they had looked on the life of Jesus with the same tender and human affection as modern Unitarians and pious Romanists do, the church would have swarmed with holy coats and other relics in the very first age.  The mother of Jesus and her little establishment would at once have swelled into importance.  This certainly was not the case; which may make it doubtful whether the other apostles dwelt at all more on the human personality, of Jesus than Paul did.  Strikingly different as James is from Paul, he is in this respect perfectly agreed with him.]

CHAPTER IV.

THE RELIGION OF THE LETTER RENOUNCED.

It has been stated that I had already begun to discern that it was impossible with perfect honesty to defend every tittle contained in the Bible.  Most of the points which give moral offence in the book of Genesis I had been used to explain away by the doctrine of Progress; yet every now and then it became hard to deny that God is represented as giving an actual sanction to that which we now call sinful.  Indeed, up and down the Scriptures very numerous texts are scattered, which are notorious difficulties with commentators.  These I had habitually overruled one by one:  but again of late, since I had been forced to act and talk less and think more, they began to encompass me.  But I was for a while too full of other inquiries to follow up coherently any of my doubts or perceptions, until my mind became at length nailed down to the definite study of one well-known passage.

This passage may be judged of extremely secondary importance in itself, yet by its remoteness from all properly spiritual and profound questions, it seemed to afford to me the safest of arguments.  The genealogy with which the gospel of Matthew opens, I had long known to be a stumbling-block to divines, and I had never been satisfied with their explanations.  On reading it afresh, after long intermission, and

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