Page images
PDF
EPUB

spirit of Christian charity and candour, weigh with them the subjects upon which you disagree weigh also the doctrines on which your opinions harmonize. I do not say that you will find no diversity of sentiment between you, but I do say, you will be surprised and delighted at other interesting results.

In the first place you will discover among them the presence and operations of the blessed Spirit, -- that great bond of union which connects Jesus with his redeemed family, and which ought to bind all the members of that family in the closest fellowship. You will next ascertain that the points on which you differ are few and insignificant, compared with those on which you " see eye to eye.” Nay, you will perceive that the grounds of disagreement between you and them are no more serious than between yourself and many individuals of your own church.

But even admitting everything to be true which the blindest bigotry imagines --- supposing that the barriers of sectarianism ought never to be thrown down, nor the friendly hand extended over them, is it not the worst policy imaginable for Christians to consume time and strength in opposing each other? If the advancement of sect were their only object, could they not adopt a much wiser plan? Would they not accomplish much more by gathering accessions to their respective parties from the vast crowds of unevangelized men in the world? Their efforts at mak. ing proselytes from other. denominations are generally as fruitless as they are expensive. Even should they succeed to the utmost of their wishes, -a vain supposition for all, — how little they would effect, compared with the ingathering of some of the heathen nations into their folds.

There is one rule of action, which, if observed by all sects, would result in the greatest benefit to the church and the world. It involves no sacri. fice of party interest, and it is the only plan, which, while Christians remain in distinct communities, does not sacrifice the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom to mere sectarian aggrandizement. In selecting their spheres of action, let each denomination pass by the place already occupied, and fix upon those where their services are most needed. Let it be a mutual understand. ing, that if education or predilection dispose the inhabitants of any part of a country to a particular sect, all others will yield the ground. What endless confusion and collision this would prevent? what desirable consequences it would produce? If the attention of Christians could only be diverted from each other, and from the places already occupied, and fixed in deep compassion upon the destitute parts of the world, how soon their dying fellow men in every land would feel the quickening influence. The maddening shouts of superstition would soon cease; the groans of the self-tortured devotee would be heard no more ; the errors and vices of heathenism would pass away, and the heavy curse of God be lifted from a rebellious world. And is not such a course of action an imperative duty ? Are not Christians explicitly forbidden to “ bite and devour one another ?” And have they not been commanded to unite all their wisdom and energy in extending the kingdom of Christ? Is the correction of a trifling difference in the philosophy of religion, its subtle metaphysics, or its minor doctrines, a sufficient reason for keeping millions of degraded men in ignorance and guilt? Oh, who that looks at the condition of the world is not struck with the disastrous consequences of this sin? Even if God had never interdicted the strife which prevails among Christians, what unutterable cruelty it argues to prefer so insignificant an object as they are professedly pursuing, to the eternal happiness of their fellow immortals. My heart sickens whenever I reflect on this gross perversion of talents. How shall we ever meet the defrauded heathen in the judgement? Let me entreat the brethren who have spoken, and all whom they

[ocr errors]

represent, to reconsider this subject in the light of our Lord's expressed will. Has he not commanded you to cherish love, to practise forbearance, and “ as far as in

you

lies to preserve peace? Has he not declared that this is the way to commend yourselves as his disciples, and your cause as his own? Is it not by this very exhibition that the world is to be convinced of his Messiahship ? and does not an opposite course produce the most unfavourable and unjust impressions? You profess to contend with each other for his sake; that you are justified in so doing by the spirit and laws of his religion. And is this the light in which he would have you present him to the world? Is this according to his example ? is it not in open violence to all that he taught and allowed in his disciples ? Did he not expressly declare, and with a reference to this very course of conduct," he that is not against us is on our side ? Is it not through the mutual intolerance of his disciples, that his name has become an offence to millions ? Whom am I to believe, is the common inquiry; and if I do believe and act like either party, will there be any improvement in my character?

But besides this, you are giving occasion to the enemy to triumph as well as blaspheme. While you are sowing the seeds of discord among yourselves, he is uniting and strengthening his forces. While you are engaged in opposing each other, he is employed in pushing forward his conquests; and every feeling of mutual animosity you indulge, and every attempt at mutual collision you make, are so many decided victories, which he gains, even within your camp.

Be entreated then to desist from your present struggle, and direct your forces against the common foe. If your grand aim is to subdue the world to its Sovereign, this is the only way. If your plan is first to unite the feelings, and harmonize the views of all your Christian brethren, no other mode is so efficacious. Only make it evident that you have a common enemy, and you would soon perceive that you have a common interest. A common enemy and a common interest would soon produce reciprocity of affection, and more speedily than any thing else, coincidence of doctrinal sentiment. Every object you propose, would thus be advanced.

Oh then strive to extinguish in all Christian denominations the spirit of unchristian jarring and rivalry ; let them cease to magnify trifles, and engage in investigating the many features of striking resemblance between them. And above all, in the spirit of unfeigned humility and love, let each look, “ not on their own things, but also on the

« PreviousContinue »