as earnestly for their distinctive views as if they had different Bibles. Various constructions are placed on the teachings of the sacred volume, and multitudes of passages are diversely interpreted.
"Owing to this unfortunate fact, though belief of the Bible is significant as between the religionist and the infidel, it signifies NOTHING as between those who receive the Scriptures as the word of God. For they differ as to the import of the inspired Oracles; and the MEANING of the Bible is the Bible.
"As there is such a diversity of opinion in the religious world, it is eminently proper for those who appeal to the Scriptures as the fountain of truth to DECLARE what they BELIEVE the Scriptures to teach. To say that they believe the Scriptures is to say NOTHING to the purpose. All will say this, and yet all differ as to the teachings of the Bible. There must be some distinctive declaration.
"WHAT A MAN BELIEVES THE BIBLE TO TEACH IS HIS CREED, either written or unwritten. And though it has sometimes been said that creeds have produced differences of religious opinion, it would be nearer to the truth, logicallyand historically, to say that differences of religious opinion have produced creeds.
"As to declarations of faith, it must ever be understood that they are not substitutes for the Scriptures. They are only EXPONENTS of what are conceived to be the fundamental doctrines of the word of God. Among Baptists, as their churches are independent, it is optional with each church to have a declaration or not, as it may think best. Each church too may adopt a declaration of its own. Its independence gives it this right, nor can it be alienated.