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Is it right to oppose what we believe to be error? We think it is our duty to guard the flock against heresies, as truly as it is ours in any degree to „Feed the flock” with „Meat in due season.” Christ warned his followers to „Beware of the leaven (doctrines) of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And the Apostles are found not only teaching the truth, but warning against the entrance of error. „Shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker, of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some.” `2 Tim. 2:16-18`. What is true of one error is true of another, and it is the duty of teachers to defend as well as to teach,–Defend the hearers by defending the truth. The inspired word „is profitable for doctrine” (teaching), not only, but also, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. It is clearly taught in the word that God has set watchmen on the Watch Tower, who are made responsible to the people to warn them against the approach of danger, and if the watchmen fail to do their duty the people’s blood is required at the watchman’s hand.
It is a pleasant duty to preach the gospel, and also to present to the household of faith the many beautiful truths concerning the plan of salvation which we may have learned, but it is not so pleasant to defend the truth against errors. If the first elements of the gospel introduced at the beginning of the age, have served so good a purpose during nearly two thousand years, it seems as if the abundant light of millennial dawn might serve, at least in part, for the age coming on. But we still are on the watch for more, and will gladly accept light through old channels or through new ones, if our Father sends it to us. But we cannot accept as true whatever is presented by others regardless of our own judgment of what the word teaches, „Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good,” is an inspired statement of both duty and privilege. It is our duty to learn, but it is also our duty not to learn. Gather truth, but reject error.
Our object is two-fold,–to learn and to teach. We believe God has called us to both. If in our effort to teach we find it necessary to oppose the teachings of others, we purpose with the Lord’s help to do so. Sometimes in anxiety to get things new and startling, there is danger. And when our faith in its „first principles” is assailed, we find it necessary to defend it.
The doctrines of Atonement and Resurrection, as we teach them, we regard as fundamental elements of the Gospel and of these we stand in defense.
J. H. P.
— December, 1879 —