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SET FOR DEFENSE
In the earnest defense of what we believe to be truth, and for the sake of those who have not as much time to devote to study, and who are therefore not as familiar with our prophetic position, when we state an error, by whomsoever taught, for the purpose of making the truth plainer by contrast, it may sometimes appear like a personal attack, and our earnestness may be taken for personal animosity. This is especially the case where but one person teaches the error to which we refer.
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But we would say that we are not opposing men, but what we believe to be false ideas; and have nothing but the kindest feelings and the best of wishes for those whom we regard as in error. We do not intend to make any personal attack upon the motive or character of any one, from the Pope of Rome, who represents a great Hierarchy, to the person who represents himself. We honor, and sometimes greatly love, a fair antagonist, and never intend to disfellowship any brother in Christ because of a mere difference of opinion.
Neither is it our purpose through this paper to defend ourselves against insinuations or garbled and false statements. We keenly feel such things, and they are hard to bear, but we will look to the Lord for help and patience. We do not even insinuate that false statements are always intentionally false. We will leave that, too, with Him who knows the hearts of all. If the Lord can afford to let His cause suffer in any way by the misrepresentation of any of His children, surely it should fortify us to bear patiently. We do not pretend to be indifferent to our reputation with good men, but, we care more to be “Popular with One Man”—the Lord Jesus, than for any earthly honor.
We think we have good precedents in the New Testament for our earnest defense of truth, even by the opposition and contrast of error. We are instructed to contend earnestly for the faith, against the inroads and attacks of men, (Jude 3,4), and Paul condemns those who taught that the resurrection was past already and overthrew the faith of some. 2 Tim. 2:16-18.
No Christian is blamed for specifying the acknowledged errors of Paganism, and no Protestant is blamed for pointing out the errors of the Papacy, but if we specify the false teachings of one person, we are blamed for being personal. This ought not so to be. It is as necessary to expose an error taught by one as by a thousand. We have never found fault with any one for specifying what in our teaching was supposed to be error, and for endeavoring earnestly to show wherein we were wrong. All we ask for is fairness and candor. What we ask for ourselves we desire to give to others.
J. H. P.
— July, 1880 —