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tian effort, any more than innocent and salutary recreation will really diminish the common and useful labours of busy life.
Look at the amount of energy that is now expended for mere sectarian purposes. Enumerate the plans that are formed, the sermons that are preached, the bocks that are printed, the sums that are given, the churches that are built for such purposes. Compute the vast amount of effort that is thus put forth, not in promoting the common cause, but in perpetuating separation, weakness, and strife among those who by their religion are bound to be one, and for whose union the Redeemer has fervently prayed. Is it not desirable that this mighty aggregate of wasted resources should all be consecrated to the cause of Christ-should all bear directly upon the advancement of Christianity ?
Some of the best talents in the church have been employed in almost every age, in the discussion of the merely denominational differences which exist ainong evangelical Christians. Undoubtedly, this employ. ment of the energies of good men has in some instances subserved the cause of truth. But when we reflect upon the vast amount of talent and of zeal that have been thus expended, and especially when we reflect that many points have been fiercely and laboriously disputed for fifteen centuries; and that they are as unsettled now as they have ever been, may we not believe that the benefits of controversy would have been at least as well secured, indirectly, if the discrimination, the zeal, and the learning that have been devoted in such great proportions to the discussion of controverted topics had been employed directly for the conversion of men ? Says one of the master spirits of the age, “I would even hazard the prediction that ere five years have clapsed, after a public union of all sincere Christians has been effected, scarcely a doubt will remain on any theological or practical question that can be deemed at all important. It is, I think, a most delusive expectation, entertained by some persons, that the peace of the church will be effected by the argumentative determination of existing controversies. Is it not much more probable that a revival of fervent piety will, if the phrase may be used, fuse the church into a state of union, and that then the spirit of discrimination and of sound judgment in doubtful matters shall be conferred
upon it ??
And if the time, talents, and treasure, that are now expended in maintaining with exquisite jealousy, and with warlike spirit, favourite peculiarities, were all employed in the simple exhibition of the Gospel, how greatly would the conversion of the world be accelerated !
Let the friends of truth do all in their power to elucidate the truth, but not with unhallowed warmth, not to the neglect of direct efforts for the salvation of a ruined world. While the church is agitated and absorbed with ecclesiastical disputes, the world is perishing. While the church is disposed to slumber, wearied by exhausting contentions, even among her watchmen, an enemy is sowing, with ever wakeful activity, the seeds of sin and death, over that broad field which the church has been solemnly commanded to cultivate. If you have succeeded in bringing to the shore a few of the unfortunate men, whose ship is sinking, is it better to spend time in fixing their future habitations than to seize the present moment for snatching others from death?
2. When Christians become “one,” their efforts to extend the influence of the Gospel over the world, besides being more direct to their object, will be of a purer character-unmixed with jealousy, envy, or other evil passions.
Can the efforts of a contending church, to convert the world, be pure in God's sight, and thus have his blessing? At present, her efforts are most sadly embarrassed, and her treasures unnecessarily expended, from the want of mutual confidence. Different organizations are now established, side by side, professedly to promote the same object. Yet they act with as little counsel and co-operation as if one had for its object the destruction, another the advancement, of the cause. Missionaries from the same country are sent to the same field by different boards. Two exploring agents, without any concert, or design of concert, have recently been sent from this country to Persia, on the same errand, by boards of different denominations. Entirely separate theological seminaries are endowed, separate presses are established for the preparation of tracts and religious books, from a jealousy that the bread of life would be ruined by the co-operation of its friends. Even Bibles, as well as other books, of acknowledged excellence, have begun to be suspected, unless the title-page avers that they have been printed with sectarian types and have been bound by favourite hands. In every village several churches must be erected and several ministers employed.---when a single building and a single minister would be sufficient, if no sectarianism existed--and thus men of God, who might evangelize the heathen, are retained where they are not needed at the bidding of unchristian jealousy!
To such an extent does unhallowed strife seem to be gaining ascen. dency with some, that they almost overlook the great business of saving the world. Varying parties are so much engrossed in correcting their mutual errors and in considering their perhaps, trivial differences, as almost to forget the fatal errors of unconverted men and of dying nations. They are so fully occupied in mutual acts of hostility, and in mutual self-defence, as to resemble the jarring host that was besieged in Jerusalem, just before its final destruction-with this exception, that even the presence of the overpowering enemies of the church does not drive to mere occasional union the conflicting forces of our Zion. We dwell on our own varying and favourite interests, forgetsul of a perishing world ! O, how can the nations ever learn that the Son of God came from heaven to save guilty man, while jealousies thus rankle in the bosom of the church! But let Christians become “one,” and their efforts to save the world, besides being thus concentrated upon one point, will gain immense efficiency from the absence of all those jealousies which now distract and enfeeble their plans and efforts.
3. When Christians become “one,” their prayers will be such as to secure the blessing of Almighty God, to an extent which it is now unreasonable to expect.
Once the Christian church were of one accord.” It was when the one hundred and twenty disciples at Jerusalem "continued instant in prayer." There were no jealousies among these primitive believers. Rich and poor, old and young, male and female, learned and unlearnedthey were all“ of one accord”—“ of one mind." No jarring note disturbed the harmony of their aspirations. No desire of individual aggrandizement intruded upon their worship; no strife for pre-eminence, no private partialities, no disgust towards one another, no envying, no alienation, quenched the spirit of prayer. In a short time the result was gloriously manifest. The speedy conversion of three thousand, illustrated the immense power of united prayer.
Why are not similar displays of Divine grace witnessed now? Is it not because the same united, persevering prayer is not now offered ?
Look at the demeanor of different classes of Christians towards each other-their distrust, their jealousies, their collisions. Observe how they watch for the halting of each other; observe the acrimony that characterizes their discussions. Notice the spirit with which varying parties, even of the same denomination, contend for their respective views. Look over the whole church, and mark the diversities of sentiment and of practice, that prove the sources of sad irritation within the pale of every sect. Is it wonderful that prayer, ascending from such divided and conflicting hearts, is not heard?' Indeed, how can the prayers of discordant petitioners be granted, without making the request of one neutralize and counteract that of the other?
If, when divided by alienations and rivalries, the friends of Christ pray for the blessing of God upon their efforts to convert the world, isitat all strange that the petition is unheeded? "If two of you," said the Redeemer, “shall agree on earth, as touching any thing they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” And if all that love the Lord Jesnis Christ should agree in offering earnest petitions for the conversion of men, how speedily would the promised submission of the world to Christ fill the earth with joy, and cali forth thrilling hosannas from all the heavenly hosts!
4. Let Christians he seen to “ be one,” and the example of their mutual attachment and harmonious co-operation will prove a powerful means of advancing the Redeemer's cause.
At present, the consequences of want of concert in the missionary efforts of various classes of Christians are not seriously felt. The evils resulting from this source, however, are beginning to show themselves. And should the attention of the heathen be generally awakened, they would notice, with perfect amazement, the present want of harmony among the disciples of the Redeemer. How could this discovery fail to degrade Christianity in their estimation, and to call forth prejudice and contempt? If missions could survive such a disclosure, in the eyes of the heathen, of what we all know to be true, still they could be expected only to spread farther and wider in the world the same unhallowed divisions. They would everywhere sow tares with the wheat.
Let the missionaries of various denominations, now in India, be as successful as the single-hearted Swartz was. Let them succeed in overthrowing idolatry in one of the principal cities of India. Let them proceed then to erect Christian institutions upon the ruins of paganism. Each will naturally wish to establish his own sectarian form of Christian ity. The Wesleyan will erect his chapels, and invite the converted Hindoos to adopt Wesleyan Christianity. The representative of the Church of England will plead for the liturgy and the rites to which he is himself attached. The Congregational or Presbyterian missionary will condemn both the measures of Methodism and the forms of Epis. copacy. Mine,” he will affirm, “is the more correct pattern of primitive Christianity." "No," says the zealous Baptist, “ those worthy brethren are all wrong at least on ole point. You must enter our
church, you must be re-baptized, you must confine yourselves to our communion."
Sectarian establishments would thus cover the land, reclaimed from paganism, with the same noxious growth of jealousies and contentions that burden our own soil. Is it desirable to extend thus the evils of sectarianism over the world? Will the great Head of the church tolcrate and favour the diffusion of a divided Christianity ? Will he suffer the seeds of perpetual discord to be thus mingled with the forming elements of the gospel in every land ? Is not the diffusion of sectarianisın to be deprecated? Will it not retard instead of hastening the triumph of Christ's cause? Must not Christians then become “one," before the signal favour of Heaven will crown their efforts ?
The prejudicial influence of the example of disunion among Christians is clearly seen in its effects upon the minds of the unconverted at home. These, as well as the distant heathen, need conversion. Their conversion, however, is hindered, perhaps, more by the inconsistencies and discords of Christians, than by all other causes. Their taunting plea is, “When Christians shall be agreed among themselves what Christianity is, we will give it a hearing." Christ is thus terribly wounded in the house of his friends.
If it be replied, that there is substantial agreement among Christians, and that they disagree only on minor points, the statement calls forth the prompt demand, "Why then do you dispute upon points confessedly unessential with acrimonious feeling and vindictive warmth, and keep up, for ages,
the unhallowed warfare? How can such discord consist with the avowed belief of the infinite importance of Christianity ?" This reasoning of sinners proves, in too many instances, an impenetrable slıield against the force of truth, entreaty, and remonstrance. It is a shelter under which multitudes remain unalarmed. Biit let Christians become “one," and they remove from the impenitent this shield—they drive them from this shelter which only threatens their ruin. Let discord among Christians cease, and their bright example would act with resistless influence upon all around. It would give new energy to their. appeals, new lustre to their lives, new success to all their efforts. It would wrest from the caviller his favourite weapon. It would paralyze the energies of the scoffer. It would confound and silence the skeptic. It would remove the saddest perplexities of the conscientious inquirer.
The new and glorious spectacle of a great body of believers, entireiy free from factions and from rivalry, imbued with the pure spirit of their Lord, fully united in heart and in effort, concentrating with unbroken harmony all their benevolent exertions, maintaining thus their true character, as the light of the world--such a scene would prove the most forcible and successful inculcation of the gospel ever witnessed. It would at once multiply a thousand fold the efficiency and success of all Christian efforts.
A gentleman in South Carolina, who resides in a district where several evangelical sects maintain each its separate worship, desired to profess religion. He loved the Saviour; and he enjoyed the confidence of Christians of different denominations. But he did not dare to make a public profession of his faith. Why! Because he feared the reproach of the world ? Not at all. This he did not fear; nor could he meet with this difficulty in his circumstances; for the chief influence of the neighbourhood was on the side of religion. Why then was he afraid ? Because he must incur the displeasure of his neighbours of different denominations as soon as he should identify himself with any particular church. As a non-professor, he enjoyed the Christian confidence of all, and mingled with them freely in the courtesics of social life. If connected with any one sect, he knew well, that he was instantly dissevered from the friendly regards—not of men of the world-but of prosessing Christians, and good men too, of other sects. He must not profess Christ in one church, lest he should draw upon himself the uncharitableness, the suspicions, and the censures of other churches! The dilemma in which he was placed, was a trying one. Conscience urged him, a man of peace, to confess his Saviour before rnen; but to do this, in his situation, was to embroil himself with professed Christians, who were not charitable enough to love one another! And is it come to this! Must good men be repelled and kept back from the communion of Christians, not by the frowns of the world, but by the animosities of the church?
Let Christians be one, and the best efforts will be made, and made in the best manner, for the conversion of the world. The number of devoted missionaries will be multiplied. The hackneyed plea that much is tɔ be done at home, will not then check the missionary enterprise. The union of Christians will do more to convert men at home, than all the heralds of salvation, who are labouring among the Heathen could do, if they had devoted their lives to this object. And the attention of the churches and their prayers would then be given in undiverted fulness to the work of saving the unevangelized world. The church would have but little to do besides converting the Heathen. And since a purer Christianity would be diffused, and an approving God would then smile upon the efforts of his united people, the announcement would soon be made from heaven, “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”
Such are some of the advantages of union among Christians. Will not the real friends of the Redeemer seize joyfully these advantages ? Magnify, to the highest degree, the benefits of sectarian estrangement, they dwindle into the most dwarfish insignificance when contrasted with the blessings lost to the Redeemer's cause by such estrangement. Would you weigh the salvation of the world against the advantages of sectarianism ? Will you cling to these advantages, questionable as they are, though you assume, by so doing, the fearful responsibility of deciding that the world shall not yet be evangelized ? UNION AMONG CHRISTIANS, OR THE PERPETUATION OF PAGANISM AND INFIDELITY is the alternative that now demands the attention of the church. It was that the world might know the Gospel, that the Redeemer prayed for union among his followers.
And does not the imperfect success of modern missions confirm the representation that Christians must be one, or the world will not be converted ?
The Israelites, when ordered back to the wilderness by their offended Lord, would have gone forward to take possession of the promised land, at the margin of which they were then encamped: but the message from God
was, "Go not 11p-neither fight, for I am not among you." So while the
camp of the Christian Israel is torn with dissensions, of what avail is it to talk of going forth to convert the nations ? Must not the God of Israel refuse to accompany such a camp, in such an undertaking ?