But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.…
How weak is that reason which would argue from the holiness of a teacher to the truth of what is taught. It must never be taken for granted that the doctrine is sound, because the preacher seems righteous. There are certain standards to which doctrines must be referred, and by their agreement with these — not by the character of their supporters — are we bound to decide upon their truth or falseness.
I. REVELATION MUST IN ALL ITS PARTS BE CONSISTENT WITH ITSELF. Fresh disclosures of His will God may make from time to time, but they must always be in harmony with what has gone before. In reading the Bible we always look, as it were, on the same landscape; the only difference being, as we take in more of its statements, that more and more of the mist is rolled away from the horizon, so that the eye can include a broader sweep of beauty. The later writers turn towards us a larger portion of the illuminated hemisphere than the earlier; but as the mighty globe turns majestically on its axis, we feel that the oceans and lands which come successively into view, are but constituent parts of the same glorious world. There is the discovery of now territories, but as fast as discovered the territories combine to make up one planet. In like manner, it is no fresh system of religion, which is made known to succeeding generations of men, as the brief notices given to patriarchs expand in the institutions of the law, under the teachings of prophecy, till at length in the days of Christ and His apostles they burst into magnificence and fill a world with redemption. From beginning to end it is the same system — a system for the rescue of men through the interference of a Surety; and revelation has been only the gradual development of this system — the drawing up another fold of the veil from the landscape, the adding another stripe of light to the crescent; so that the early fathers of the race, and ourselves, on whom have fallen the ends of the world, look on the same arrangements for human deliverance, though to them there was nothing but a cloudy expanse, with here and there a prominent landmark, while to us, though the horizon loses itself in the far-off eternity, every object of personal interest is exhibited in beauty and distinctness. Nothing, therefore, is to be believed, .which contradicts any portion of what is thus revealed. No matter what other credentials a teacher brings, if there be not this evidence in his favour his doctrine is to be rejected.
II. HOW ARE MEN TO KNOW THAT PROPOUNDED DOCTRINES ARE NOT ACCORDING TO TRUTH? Evidently by comparison.
1. The duty of determining why you believe. The hope of believers is in no sense a baseless or indefinite thing, but rests upon grounds capable of demonstration. It is of paramount importance that you know thoroughly the claims of that gospel which is to expel every other.
2. The duty of examining what you believe. God has furnished the Christian with a rule by which to try doctrines, and commanded him to reject, without regard to the authority of the teacher, whatever that rule determines to be error.
3. The duty of thorough acquaintance with the Scriptures. What can be the worth of your decision, if you know but little of the criterion?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.