Elisha Williams: The Right of Judging in Matters of Faith



That the sacred scriptures are the alone rule of faith and practice to a Christian, all Protestants are agreed in; and must therefore inviolably maintain, that every Christian has a right of judging for himself what he is to believe and practice in religion according to that rule: Which I think on a full examination you will find perfectly inconsistent with any power in the civil magistrate to make any penal laws in matters of religion. Tho’ Protestants are agreed in the profession of that principle, yet too many in practice have departed from it. The evils that have been introduced thereby into the Christian church are more than can be reckoned up. Because of the great importance of it to the Christian and to his standing fast in that liberty wherewith Christ has made him free, you will not fault me if I am the longer upon it. The more firmly this is established in our minds; the more firm shall we be against all attempts upon our Christian liberty, and better practice that Christian charity towards such as are of different sentiments from us in religion that is so much recommended and inculcated in those sacred oracles, and which a just understanding of our Christian rights has a natural tendency to influence us to.

Source: Elisha Williams, from his sermon, “The Essential Rights and Liberties of Protestants,” 1744.

Called Unto Liberty is a project of Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal. Spelling has been modernized, abbreviations removed, paragraphs broken up in many of these sermons and excerpts of sermons by Mr. Farrell for easier reading. As edited, reformatted, and arranged in this collection Copyright © 2009-2012 Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal, except where otherwise noted.

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