How to Contend Earnestly for the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints

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Book 7 of Samuel Baird’s Digest (formally titled A Collection of the Acts, Deliverances, and Testimonies of the Supreme Judicatory of the Presbyterian Church From Its Origin in America to the Present Time, published in 1856) is entitled “Heresies and Schisms.” It is filled with details about the controversies in the Presbyterian Church in the 18th and 19th century. Baird opens Book 7 with a quote from the 1806 General Assembly Minutes (one of these days we hope to have all the 18th and 19th century GA Minutes available on our site) that is both time-bound and timeless. May the Lord enable us to hold to and contend for the truth in holiness and love.

We live at a time when it become a duty peculiarly incumbent, to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.” It will however be remembered , that the sacred cause of truth can never be promoted by angry controversy or railing accusation. It is therefore recommended to the churches to vindicate the truth, not only by sound and temperate discussion, but also and especially by the manifestation of its sanctifying and transforming power over the life and conversation; and by evincing that “the like mind is in us which was in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It should ever be recollected, that error in doctrine has a native tendency to produce immorality in practice; and therefore, that we should not be carried about by every wind of doctrine. Let us prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. This caution, it is hoped, will be received with attention and solemnity, inasmuch as the Church has been of late invaded by errors which strike at the very foundation of our faith and hope; such as the denial of the Godhead and atonement of the blessed Redeemer, the subjection of the Holy Scripture to the most extravagant impulses of the heart of man. These, and other errors of a dangerous nature, have been industriously, and, alas! that the Assembly should be constrained to add, in some portions of our country, too successfully disseminated.