Benjamin Fish Austin

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Benjamin Fish Austin (10 September 185010 January 1933) was a nineteenth century Canadian educator, Methodist minister, and Spiritualist.

On Women (1890)[edit]

  • No young woman should be placed in circumstances such as to make marriage an only refuge from poverty or dependence upon her friends or a life of ennui
  • Christ has recognised and declared woman's equality with man

Sermon (1899)[edit]

Excerpts from the Sermon that led to his expulsion from the Methodist Church
  • Truth is the daughter of God, and in all her attributes God-like and eternal. Truth never depreciates in value
  • We know as well as history can teach us that all religions are one and the same- all the outgrowth of man's moral nature, differing only according to the intelligence and advancement of the people among whom they originated
  • To know the Truth, to love the Truth, and to live the Truth is the whole duty of man.
  • Every word of Truth proceeds from God, whether that Truth be written in the rocks and read by the geologist or written in the heavens and read by the astronomer or written in the heart of man or written in this old book
  • There is no divine Truth, and no impure Truth. There is no secular Truth, the Truth taught in the college or the school house is as sacred as Truth taught from the pulpit
  • A difficulty in seeking Truth is the notion that certain men are ordained of heaven to seek Truth for all mankind and that we are to accept their acquisitions in the place of seeking for ourselves. We can never attain Truth by proxy. By divine ordination every man is an original investigator of Truth. He denies his own reason who hands over his religious views and opinions to any priest or religious teacher… We are to accept nothing on the opinions of others. What another man has thought and believed, what a Church Council or synod has formulated is nothing to me, only that it may be a reason for personal investigation ending in acceptance or rejection as I may find it in harmony with reason and well established truth.
  • It is a mistaken notion that all spiritual truth was given to the world in one complete system nearly 2000 years ago.
  • Jesus' teachings were never set before his followers as a finality. God has dealt with Humanity as we deal with children. He has given to every…age Truths adapted to their development
  • The Church has become hostile to new ideas. If any doctrine came from the priesthood the church would hear it and heed it, but if it came from an out of the way place, like Nazareth, they would scorn and persecute it. It was churchmen who put Jesus to the cross. In Luther's time when he hurled his advanced ideas like bombshells into the Roman Church, it was the churchmen of his day that sought his death. In Wesley's time, though he preached the purest form of spiritual Truth that was proclaimed to his age, yet the churchmen of his time drove him out and he had to preach in graveyards and coal mines and on the markets.
  • New truths in science are often condemned and 25 years ago it was very common and very popular for preachers to sneer at the evolution theory, but to-day it is no longer sneered at, for there is arising in all intelligent minds who have candidly examined the evidence the conviction that this was the method of creation, and no scientist of note to-day denies it.
  • The scientific fact of clairvoyance, telepathy, soul-flight, psychometry, and prophecy are well established by incontrovertible evidence yet to mention them in certain circles is to ostracize yourself.
  • Why should old interpretations of scripture, all of which reflect the ignorance and prejudice and limitations of the age in which they were formulated, bar the way to progress in our modern day?
  • Have we not the right to our own views, and own interpretations, and own creeds, and own Truths equal to those that proceeded us? Must we forever wear the cast-off garments of past ages?
  • Why should inspiration be limited to one past age? If Truth came to Paul 1900 years ago it can come to you today. After all, Heaven is as near to-day, God is as loving and as kind to-day, and truth as abundant to-day, as in the ages when men are said to have possessed inspiration.
  • Is God asleep that he should cease to be all that he was to the prophets of the past?

Defence at his Heresy Trial[edit]

  • I have found a truth that humanity needs, that brings unspeakable joy to human hearts and homes, that brightens all the life, that assuages sorrow, that dispels care, that kills the materialistic spirit of our age, and lifts mankind into noble thought and life
  • The use of the divine gift of common sense would teach the opponents of the philosophy that what was shown to be fraud was not spiritualism and that a doctrine that thrives in the midst of the bitterest oppression and grows in the fire of persecution has some measure of truth in its keeping to give it vitality
  • We live in a period of transitions. Old interpretations of the scripture are giving way to new ones. Old conceptions of the method of creation are no longer popular
  • The creeds are not changing as rapidly as the beliefs of the people, nor as rapidly as most men of progressive mind desire
  • The heterodoxy of one age will become the orthodoxy of the next
  • It is easy to see what is heresy today, but who can tell what will be heresy tomorrow
  • I do not believe in infallible men, nor in an infallible church, nor in an infallible book

External links[edit]

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