Soundness of doctrine or opinion in matters of religion. The doctrines which are generally considered as orthodox among us, are such as were generally professed at the time of the reformation, viz. the fall of man, regeneration, atonement, repentance, justification by free grace, &c.
Some have thought, that, in order to keep error out of the church, there should be some human form as a standard of orthodoxy, wherein certain disputed doctrines shall be expressed in such determinate phrases as may be directly levelled against such errors as shall prevail from time to time, requiring those especially who are to be public teachers in the church to subscribe or virtually to declare their assent to such formularies. But as Dr. Doddridge observes, 1. Had this been requisite, it is probable that the Scriptures would have given us some such formularies as these,k or some directions as to the manner in which they should be drawn up, proposed, and received.–2. It is impossible that weak and passionate men, who have perhaps been heated in the very controversy thus decided, should express themselves with greater propriety than the apostles did.–3. It is plain, in fact, that this practice has been the cause of great contention in the Christian church, and such formularies have been the grand engine of dividing it, in proportion to the degree in which they have been multiplied and urged.–4. This is laying a great temptation in the way of such as desire to undertake the office of teachers in the church, and will be most likely to deter and afflict those who have the greatest tenderness of conscience, and therefore (caet par.) best deserve encouragement.–5. It is not likely to answer the end proposed, viz. the preserving and uniformity of opinion, since persons of little integrity may satisfy their consciences, in subscribing what they do not at all believe as articles of peace, or in putting the most unnatural sense on the words. And whereas, in answer to all these inconveniences, it is pleaded, that such forms are necessary to keep the church from heresy, and it is better there should be some hypocrites under such forms of orthodoxy, than that a freedom of debate and opinion should be allowed to all teachers; the answer is plain, that, when any one begins to preach doctrines which appear to those who attend upon him dangerous and subversive of Christianity, it will be time enough to proceed to such animadversion as the nature of his error in their apprehension will require and his relation to them will admit.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.