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with their preconceived opinions. It was equally impossible to repress the alternate surprise and grief with which their minds were powered.
After hours of unprofitable reasoning, in which each one laboured to erect his own theory upon the ruins of all others, a converted Brahmin, who had mingled with different sects of Christians, requested liberty to express a few recollections which the previous discussion had called up. When I first became acquainted, said he, with the diversity of opposing sects, and listened to the arguments by which they sought to establish their respective opinions, and saw the unconquerable zeal which animated each party, I found myself distracted, and knew not what course to pur
There must be a right, thought I; who possesses it ? Truth is simple, and homogeneous. What is truth?
I was assured by one, that I did not belong to the apostolic church, and consequently had no claim to the covenanted blessings of God. A second affirmed that my system of faith was unscriptural as my teachers were heterodox. A third suspected that my religion was made up of cold inoperative orthodoxy. A fourth declared that I was still a heathen, because the discriminating ordinance of Christianity had never been administered to me.
I was called one thing by one party, and another by another. A variety of men's names, not Paul and Apollos and Cephas; but others of whom I had never before heard, were alternately applied to me, while each sect endeavoured to convince me of the exclusive propriety of their own tenets, as well as of the advantages of assuming the name which distinguished them.
What could I do? I was afflicted, tempesttossed, almost destroyed. It seemed impossible to resist the currents which rushed upon me from every quarter ; or to keep from sinking in the whirlpool which their tremendous conflict produced.
In a paroxysm of feeling, I flew to my Bible, and humbled myself before God for direction. I did not seek in vain. From the Acts of the Apostles, and their inspired Epistles, I learned that there was great diversity of opinion and practice among the early converts to Christianity; and that as far as was consistent with the essential doctrines of grace of the Apostles, " became all things to all men.” What assisted greatly in restoring the equilibrium of my troubled soul, was the discovery that the spirit of sectarianism is contrary to the spirit of the gospel.
A kingdom divided against itself - the dearest relations at open and exterminating hostility-the very body of Christ dismemberednay, his own Spirit disunited, self-opposing-how repugnant to every principle of the gospel !
Another argument which impressed my mind with great power, was gathered from the effusion of God's Spirit upon the churches. I perceived that the Holy Spirit instead of confining his influence to any particular body of evangelical Christians, operated the most extensively in that part of each denomination, where there was the most zeal with the least intolerance. In scenes of revival, it was evident not only that no partiality was shown to sects; but that those who had been opposing and devouring each other for ages, would on these blessed occasions often forget their petty differences, and harmonize and co-operate as thou h they had always been united. These considerations wrought a total change in my feelings. The more I dwelt upon the subject of denominational distinction, the more was I disposed to transfer all my anxiety from my own personal condition to that of the church and the world. I clearly saw that the sectarianism of the present day, was incompatible with the spirit of the gospel, and opposed to its extension.
The strife it produces and the false zeal it awakens, (probably more than all other causes,) prevent the diffusion of Christianity in the world.
Sectarianism provokes the most deadly of all feuds -- an internal and perpetual warfare against the adınitted friends of the Saviour. Its elementary principle is its condemnation. With all its concessions, it proclaims by its primary rule of action, that it is more important to build churches, and expend resources, and exhaust talents, where the gospel is preached by all other denominations, than to employ the same system of instrumentality where the most stupifying and corrupting idolatry reigns. While it professes that all other evangelical bodies of Christians hold enough of the truth to be saved, it practically assumes the shocking position, that those places, where the gospel is extensively proclaimed by all these other denominations, are in a worse condition than the whole Pagan and Mahometan world.
Is this the religion of our common Saviour ? Is it not mere party which they are so anxious to extend? Oh how often my heart has been agonized at the confusion created, and the waste produced, and the animosity engendered, and the souls destroyed, by this unyielding, merciless, self-aggrandizing spirit !
Overlooking the vast field of heathen desolation, they will plant themselves where there is no room for them — they will create division where unity prevailed - they will expend vast sums merely to make proselytes- they will bury or secularize the talents of the most useful men, keeping them toiling for years where they can scarcely preserve the germ of existence, while those upon whom they have lavished all their time, would find room and welcome, and equal edification, in numerous other churches.
This is the way those resources which have been consecrated to the Saviour, and which might fill the world with light and gladness, are sacrilegiously squandered. Tell them of the unnumbered erowds whom they are bound to bless, and who must perish if neglected, and they will turn a deaf ear; or if they listen to your appeals, they have little to give and none to send. Their money, their men, are all taxed in carrying on this endless intestine strife.
And when is this contest ever to end ? Some must first yield; who will they be? As long as the present spirit prevails it is evident there can be no suspension of hostilities, no withdrawing from the field. And if this fruitless struggle be kept up between the acknowledged friends of "the Prince of peace,” how is the contest with the powers of darkness ever to be successfully maintained ? I know that each party confidently expects the victory ; but as this is common to all, it proves nothing to any. Nay, I go farther. I believe that neither