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he neglected nothing which could be devised, consistently with the freedom of hu. man will, to secure the object of his petition.
· For what can be conceived more like. ly to promote peace on earth, than a spiri. tual association, which, at once indepen. dent of all human institutions, and interwoven with them, should by degrees pervade every region of the globe ; and offer to persons of all nations, characters, and habits, the same objects of faith and hope, the same motives to moral action an association which, while it acknowledged its dependence upon one supreme head, its origin from one common fountain, its obligation to obey the same code of laws, should be connected by an external system of discipline essentially one; and ruled by governors, deriving their authority from the same source, and responsible for their administration of it to the same Lord ?
What could tend more forcibly to cherish sentiments of good-will among men,
a See Note XII. Appendix.
than a common bond of union, by which all Christians, of every country, should be taught to consider each other as brethren, and to love each other as themselves ? How could men have despised those, whom they knew to be partakers in the same spiritual privileges in which they gloried, to be walking by the same rule, bound by the same duties, animated by the same hopes, worshipping the same God? How could any Christian have' vexed or persecuted those, for whose sakes, as well as for his own, he acknowledged that his Saviour had died; those whom he expected hereafter to meet at the tribunal' of an impartial judge; and with whom, if they both adhered with equal' steadiness to their common engagements, he hoped to live for ever in heaven?
To the mind of a reflecting person, who has' embraced Christianity, not as a nomia nal distinction only, or'as'a mere speculative system of doctrine, but as his religion; as the rule by which he is to walk in this life, and be judged in the next; any one of these considerations would appear sufficient to induce him to cultivate that 16 peace of God," which the external ties of Christian' unity were intended to pred serve, and which is indeed the very spirit of unity itself. Still, though the obligation to maintain this unity of the Spirit in “the bond of peace” is thus undoubted, all those inducements have not yet proved strong enough to effect its accomplishmenti - Where the Lord of the vineyard has sowed wheat, the enemy has contrived to scatter tares; and so artfully has the work of disorders and destruction been carried on, that every motive to charity has been made an oecasion of dissension; the gracious plan, which was intended to secure the interchange of brotherly love and kindness þetween every individual, and every cons gregation of Christians throughout the world, has become itself the subject of controversy, and the cause of division; and the fiercest contentions have arisen out of the discussion of those very essentials of unity, which were ordained to be the ties of mutual harmony and peace. So far has the b Phil, iv. 7.
evil proceeded, t that the true nature of Christian unity has been lost sight of; men have disputed about the different companent parts of the common bond of Chris. tians, till its character, as a whole, has been forgotten; and the subject itself has been deemed rather matter of speculation, than of practical utility. The golden chain, by which the great Author and Finisher of our faith intended to connect every individual who bore his name with each other, and with himself, has been removed, link by link, until what remains of it is wholly incompetent to the purpose, for which it was framed; while the very persons, who, with fretful impatience, have cast away the bonds of their Master and Lord, as if cons scious of the necessity andi importance of the union thuso rashly dissolved, have endeavoured ineffectually to supply its place by inventions of their own. tin, no
- The miserable inefficiency of these efs forts fully proves the vanity and the dans ger of interfering with the ordinances of God; they have hitherto produced noe. thing, but a mixture without concord; a
combination, without harmonya seeming agreement, without a single point of real union. The utmost which has been effected, has amounted only to a short-lived dissimulation, of cherished antipathies; a cloak of friendship, assumed to conceal opinions, views, and interests never to be reconciled; which those, whom some tem- ' - porary object induces to suppress for the moment, appear to, compromise, only that they may be able ultimately to enforce them, with increased authority. If this be Christian unity, how shall the earnest prayer of. Christ be accomplished by its establishment? or wherein will bis Church have attained to that singleness, of views and interests, of principles and affections, of nature and of essence, which must have been the object of its Divine founder, when he intreated, that, as he was one with his Father, and his Father with him, even so all his disciples might be one also. The question may be left to answer itself. But since the great adversary of our holy religion has so far prevailed, as to introduce dissension under the semblance of unity,