Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

progress. This

and mutual disagreement under that of peace; it becomes us to be aware of his devices, prepared to resist them, and, if it please God, to check their progress. cannot be effectually done, until we have obtained a clear view of that entire system of harmony and love, which our Lord himself intended to establish; that we may distinguish the spurious union, which it becomes every one, in his own place and station, strenuously to combat, from that genuine blessing, which should be the object of our earnest wishes, our continual pursuit.

For this purpose, the following Discourses will be devoted to an inquiry into the essentials of Christian unity ; the causes which have operated to interrupt it; and the circumstances which have hitherto counteracted every project for its restoration. 2. For the more perspicuous and satisfactory conduct of this investigation, it is intended,

1. First, to state the means provided by our Saviour for the maintenance of unity,

[ocr errors]

66

by the institution of the Christian priesthood; to which holy order, as constituted by the Apostles, has the government of the Church been intrusted..."

2. Secondly, it is proposed to inquire, how far an agreement in certain doctrines, and a conformity to particular modes of worship, are to be considered as necessary to the preservation of unity; the former as the way by which Christians are cos builded

together, upon the foundation of the

Apostles and Prophets, for an habitation «. of God through the Spirit;" the latter, as it ensures to every member of the Church that great privilege of his high calling, a participation in the ordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost; and conduces to that order and decency, which ought to characterize ; the devotions of a Christian congregation. . 3. The essentials of Christian unity thus ascertained, the inquiry will be directed, in the third place, to the principal causes of that disunion, so long and so unhappily prevailing among those, who profess to be servants of the same Lord.

Eph. ii, 20, 22.

с

4. The principles and conduct, by which our own Church has been distinguished in times of trouble and discord, will next

pass under consideration ; with a view to shew, that, far from having caused, or perpetuated the offences, which have so long disturbed her tranquillity, their prevention or removal have been the objects of her continual endeavour, her earnest solicitude.

5. The different attempts to heal the breaches of Christian unity, which have been made, either by individuals, or by associations formed for that purpose, will then be traced ; that the injurious consequences, which have resulted from these ineffectual exertions, may be clearly perceived.

6. Lastly. The discouraging reflections, which such a review of former mistakes and disappoiñtments is calculated to awaken, will be best allayed, by turning our thoughts to that great consummation, which the language of Scripture appears to justify us in expecting; when the crooked shall at last be made straight, and the rough places

[ocr errors]

plain; when the truth of Christianity shall prevail over every effort, made by the spirit

t of error and delusion; and the peace of God shall rule in the hearts of his servants, and make them all one in Christ Jesus.

tity or va And as it becomes us, while we console ourselves by looking forward to this joyful period, to endeavour, by every means in our power, to hasten its arrival; some reflections upon the duty of Christians in these days of confusion and disorder; upon the remedies, which they have it in their own power to apply to them, the dispositions, which they should cherish, and the rule by which they should walk in șuch dangerous dimes, will form a proper conclusion to the whole inquiry. The subject, which it is thus proposed to discuss, has been undertaken, with a deep and anxious sense of its difficulties and importance; with no intenza tion of widening breaches, which all, must, wish to close; pr of irritating feelings, already much too sensitive ; but with a sin

1o Shior tart a Col. iii. 15. a arry are seven

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

cere desire of recalling, if possible, the heated and distracted minds of Christians to'a sober consideration of their common interest and duty, and of laying before the younger part of this congregation such a view of that real unity, which our Lord intended to establish, as may guard them against the dangerous errors, by which some perhaps of its most conscientious advocates have been hitherto misled.'

Mány fallacious descriptions of this blessed state are indeed abroad in the world;' descriptions but too well calculated to blind the judgment, while they gain upon the affections; and to make the most benevolent feelings," and the most pious inten

: tions, the instruments of disorganization and confusion. Many projects, plausible and attractive in their appearance, are continually recommended, and 'ardently supported, for the professed" purpose of softening the acrimony of religious dissension, and uniting the affections of Christians. Experience however has fully proved, that while some of these are inefficient, others are more dangerous in their tendency

« AnteriorContinuar »