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The Falleness of the Best

Who does not see, when he reads the history of the Church of Christ, repeated proofs that the best of men can err? The early fathers were zealous according to their knowledge, and ready to die for Christ. But many of them countenanced monasticism, and nearly all sowed the seeds of many superstitions. The Reformers were honoured instruments in the hand of God for reviving the cause of truth on earth. Yet hardly one of them can be named who did not make some great mistake. Martin Luther held pertinaciously the doctrine of consubstantiation. Melancthon was often timid and undecided. Calvin permitted Servetus to be burned. Cranmer recanted and fell away for a time from his first faith. Jewell subscribed to Popish doctrines for fear of death. Hooper disturbed the Church of England by over scrupulosity about vestments. The Puritans, in after times, denounced toleration as Abaddon and Apollyon. Wesley and Toplady, last century, abused each other in the most shameful language. Irving, in our own day, gave way to the delusion of speaking in unknown tongues. All these things speak with a loud voice. They all lift up a beacon to the Church of Christ. They all say: "Call no man master”; “Call no man father upon earth”; “Let no man glory in man”. They all cry, No infallibility!

JOHN CHARLES RYLE
(Source: Warnings to the Churches)

Ryle goes on to say that we need to remember this truth because we all like to depend on other human beings who we can see rather than the God who is invisible. We are far too ready to think that because some great preacher or scholar says something, it must be true, without examining whether it is in the Bible or not. Ryle says most people do not like  the trouble of thinking for themselves. They like following a leader. They are like sheep - when one goes over the gap all the rest follow. That is a dangerous way to live. 

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