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Christian Sects in the Nineteenth Century   By: (1786-1858)

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Transcribed from the 1846 William Pickering edition by David Price, email


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“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.”—JOHN xiii. 35.

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“Heaven and Hell are not more distant, than the benevolent spirit of the Gospel, and the malignant spirit of party. The most impious wars ever made were called—‘Holy Wars.’”


“Let those ill invented terms whereby we have been distinguished from each other be swallowed up in that name which will lead us hand in hand to heaven—the name of CHRISTIAN.”


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The following letters grew out of a conversation between one of the editors of the “Small Books,” and a lady of his acquaintance; and as there are probably many who have felt the want of the information they contain, it has been thought that by publishing them in a collected form they may be useful. The views of the writer are sufficiently explained in the letters themselves. All lament the small sum of Christian charity to be found among religionists in general, but few when they begin to write have kept clear of a severity of comment which but prolongs differences. The writer, himself a member of the Church of England, is anxious to show that it is possible to be attached to one persuasion without imputing either folly or ill intention to others; and it is with a view of promoting the loving fellowship of all whom God disdains not to create and support, that this slight sketch is given to the world.

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You some time ago requested me to give you the result of my inquiries into the tenets of the different religious sects which I had been acquainted with; and respecting which we had at different times conversed. In the time which has since elapsed I have been endeavouring, both to ascertain them more completely, and to compare them with what I conceive to be the true spirit of Christianity; but the subject has so grown as I proceeded, that even now I can only give you a very short, and I fear, in some cases, an imperfect notion of them. Yet the subject is one of deep interest; and as I feel convinced that if we looked a little closer into the differences between the established church and those who separate from it, both parties would find them smaller and less important than they imagine, and that Christian charity would be increased by the examination, I do not shrink from the task however inadequately I may execute it.

I propose therefore to show you by extracts from the works of the principal writers among the different religious sects, how they all agree in most of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity; at the same time that I point out the evil consequences which I conceive would ensue were some of their tenets fully carried out into practice: and also to state wherein their peculiar opinions appear to me to be opposed to “the truth as it is in Christ Jesus,” so far as to prevent me from adopting them; though I can fully believe that those who hold these opinions in the abstract, may, notwithstanding, be excellent practical Christians.

Firmly attached as I am to the Church of England, whose form of worship (allowing for the imperfections which naturally cling to all human institutions), I consider preferable to any other; I can still see much to admire in other persuasions and other ceremonies, mixed up, though it be, with some imperfections and error; and my love to the established church does not blind me to some matters which might be better otherwise, and which I shall point out as I proceed... Continue reading book >>

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