Consists in being obstinately and perversely attached to our own opinions; or, as some have defined it, “a tenacious adherence to a system adopted without investigation, and defended without argument, accompanied with a malignant intolerant spirit towards all who differ.” It must be distinguished from love to truth, which influences a man to embrace it wherever he finds it; and from true zeal, which is an ardour of mind exciting its possessor to defend and propagate the principles he maintains. Bigotry is a kind of prejudice combined with a certain degree of malignity. It is thus exemplified and distinguished by a sensible writer. “When Jesus preached, prejudice cried, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Crucify him, crucify him, said bigotry. Why? what evil hath he done? replied candour.” Bigotry is mostly prevalent with those who are ignorant; who have taken up principles without due examination and who are naturally of a morose and contracted disposition. It is often manifested more in unimportant sentiments, or the circumstantials of religion, than the essentials of it. Simple bigotry is the spirit of persecution without the power; perscution is bigotry armed with power, and carrying its will into act. As it is the effect of ignorance, so it is the nurse of it, because it precludes free enquiry, and is an enemy to truth: it cuts also the very sinews of charity, and destroys moderation and mutual good will. If we consider the different makes of men’s minds, our own ignorance, the liberty that all men have to think for themselves, the admirable example our Lord has set us of a contrary spirit, and the baneful effects of this disposition, we must at once be convinced of its impropriety. How contradictory is it to sound reason, and how inimical to the peaceful religion we profess to maintain as Christians.
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.