“In the great controversy in the time of Elijah, recourse was had to an expedient by which the question was decided. Each party built an altar, cut in pieces a bullock, and laid the victim upon the wood, but put no fire under; and the God that should answer by fire was to be acknowledged as the true God. We cannot bring our controversies to such a criterion as this: we may bring them to one, however, which, though not so suddenly, is not much less sensibly evident. The tempers and lives of men are books for common people to read; and they will read them, even though they should read nothing else. They are, indeed, warranted by the Scriptures themselves to judge of the nature of doctrines, by their holy or unholy tendency. The true gospel is to be known by its being a “doctrine according to godliness;” teaching those who embrace it “to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.” Those, on the other hand, “who believe not the truth,” are said to “have pleasure in unrighteousness.” “Profane and vain babblings,” as the ministrations of false teachers are called, “will increase unto more ungodliness,” and their word “will eat as doth a canker.”
To this may be added, that the parties themselves, engaged in this controversy, have virtually acknowledged the justice and importance of the above criterion, in that both sides have incidentally endeavoured to avail themselves of it. A criterion, then, by which the common people will judge, by which the Scripture authorizes them to judge, and by which both sides, in effect, agree to be judged, cannot but be worthy of particular attention.”
Excerpt From “The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined and Compared”, 1802
Fuller, Andrew, The Works of Andrew Fuller. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.