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how often, instead of enlisting good soldiers” for Jesus Christ, is it to be seen, that the sect is first, and Christ next. To hear of conversions, and revivals, gives little pleasure to many, unless they happen to be in their ecclesiastical connexion! This is a most baleful spirit. It is reprobatcd of God; and they who indulge and act according to it, do indeed oppose, but do not co-operate with Him. He brings sinners to himself, here and there, wherever the truth is preached, regardless of ecclesiastical organization. They who co-operate with Him, should be willing, and bless Him that he does it. Let the grand aim be to convert sinners, to bring souls to Jesus, and not to marshal the forces of a sect. It is certainly a matter of comparative unimportance, provided the sinner is truly converted, in what ecclesiastical connexion he may erentually be found. For we know that he is dear to the heart of the Redeemer, and that as He has given himself for him, so his Spirit will be given to redeem him from all iniquity and purify (him) to himself (as one of His) peculiar people, zealous of good works. "I
It is true, that the fellowship of one society, may conduce more to holiness, than that of another, and that therefore, some degree of consideration may be given to this subject. But who will pretend to say, what is that society in every particular place? In one place, Presbyterians may be the most warm hearted, zealous, and intelligent sect of christians whose fellowship may be most desirable and salutary;-in another it may be Episcopalians;-in a third Methodists. In other places, the fellowship of each may be exceedingly injurious to the interests of vital piety. Shall we then exalt the mere ecclesiastical organization, which is unquestionably a thing of human device in many o its formal rites and usages
1. Tit. ii. 14.
above the fellowship of God's dear saints, and show more devotion to the interests of a sect, than to those of the precious "flock” of God “which He hath purchased with His own blood?" If we do, we are not co-operating with Him, and are exalting our plan and aim above His. Beside we do necessarily restrict the sphere of our influence,-circumscribe the field of our labors,--and actually render our ministerial services less extensively available than they might be. Yea, and we do, by acting in the spirit of sectarism, virtually and formally contribute to perpetuate, and justify the infidel reproach of Christianity, that it is a schismatic and litigious thing, -and worse still, to frustrate our Redeemer's prayers, -and to deprive the world of the grand convincing argument of the divine authority of His mission, and of our own too! He prayed for his people, not only for the apostles, but "for them also which should believe on Him through their word,” “that they may be one, even as (He and His Father) are one: I in them,” says He, "and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
??? Never till the spirit of sectarism, and schism, and strise, is banished from among the prosessed friends and followers, and ministers of Jesus Christ, can the world have this proof of the divinity of His religion, or the ministry have its full efficiency and success.
If we shall be censured for so saying, and our sentíments be distorted and misrepresented, as proofs of' hostility to “creeds” and “confessions of faith," and of alienation from, or disaffection towards, our own ecclesiastical sect, we shall regret, but cannot help it. We cannot keep back what appears to us, to be the truth, and so high1. Acts xx. 28.
2. Join xvii. 20—23.
ly important to extensive ministerial success. We shall be traduced and slandered, if men will propagate such inferences, from our remarks. They are not legitimate, and we disavow them. But the very fact of such allega. tions, being whispered, and circulated to the injury of their ministerial reputation, and consequently the success of their ministerial labors, who look beyond the boundaries of sect, and aim at the conversion of the world to Christ, is sufficient proof to us, that one cause of the comparative inefficiency of ministerial labor, in many cases, is to be found in the narrow and restricted aim which directs the efforts of some, and, their not coming up directly, and fully, “to the help of the Lord,” in His design to subjugate the whole earth. We are not the ministers of a sect. Nor do our commissions carry us within the range exclusively of a particular church, or denomination. We are ambassadors for God to a guilty world, and the terms of our commission direct us to "go into all the world, and preach (the) gospel to every crea ture." Till we act in the spirit of that commission, and with the design of Him who gave it, we must expect but partial success.
Where the grand and immediate business of the ministry is lost sight of, and men begin to contend about forms of expression, and phrases, and subordinate matters, carnal contentions, and strife and schisms will prevail,-and though they may attempt to apologize for these things by alleging that they do but contend "earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and that it is of consequence to maintain "orthodoxy," against error, yet is it found to be the fact, that they who are perpetually testifying against error, and build their ramparts, and walls of defence, high around them to keep it out, and who
1. Mark xvi. 15.
fulminate their excommunicating anathemas, against those who differ from them, are neither the sects, nor the men, whom God, in His providence, at this day, is leading for- 出 ward in grand and successful plannings and labours for the spread of the gospel and the conversion of the world."
But there are other modes of co-operating with God, beside the adoption, and prosecution of His catholic design in the preaching of the gospel. There must also be a participation of His Spirit, i. e. the exhibition of those affections, which He represents as characterizing Him, more especially in this work. He is fraught with compassion for the souls of men. He is intently, and incessantly occupied in His endeavours for their conversion “rising up early," as He says, and sending His prophets, pleading and expostulating with them,--now with tenderness and pity, and now with authority and power—now with love and grace, and now with solemn fore-warnings
1. It would be well for ministers and christians generally at this day, to read the discourses of Dr. John Howe, on the carnality of religious contention, and of union among protestants. We give the reader one or two extracts.
“All are for the truth, and they are all for peace and union. By which some indeed, more gently, mean, they hope all will quit their former mistaken opinions and ways, (as in great kindness to themselves, they take for granted, all men's are but their own,) and come wholly over to them. Others that have not breasts capable of even so much charity as this, not, only are as much lovers and admirers of themselves, but so vehement haters of all that presume to differ from them, that they think them not fit to live in the world, that durst not adventure to do so. The meaning therefore, of their being for peace, is that they would have destroyed them that are not of their minds: and then, (as the Roman Historian speaks,) quando solitudinem, fecere appellant pacem. When they have made a desolation, so that they themselves, are left alone in the world, that they will call peace.”-Howe's works, v. ii. p. 217.
“Our famous Davenant, speaking of the noted controversy between Stephen, bishop of Rome, (who he says, much as in him lay, did with a schis. matical spirit, tear the church; and Cyprian who, with great lenity and christian charily, professes, that he ?could not break the Lord's peace, for diversity
and threatening denunciations, &c. It would be well for us to study the example and spirit of our blessed master, and address ourselves to the work of preaching His göspel as He did. No toil, no fatigue, no privation, no opposition, no reproach, no fear of ecclesiastical censures or of criminal prosecution, diverted Him from His work. His whole heart was in it. He delighted to do His father's will; and so must we. Days spent in preaching, must be followed by nights spent in prayer. We must be careful to "let (the same) mind he in (us) that was also in Christ Jesus," and to put on bowels of mercics, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another, and above all these things, charity, which is the bond of persectness."? To preach Christ in any other spirit,-out of envy or of strife, is not to co-operate with God. He calls us not to draw the sword, sare it is the sword of the Spirit, and if we will, like Peter make use of carnal weapons, we shall, like Peter, be presently left to deny our Lord and master. The holy God can hare no
of opinion, nor temore any from the right of communion,) concudes that erring Cyprian, deserved better of the church of Christ, than Oriko laz Stephen. He thought him the sc hisnatic, whom he thought in the right, and that his Orthodoxy, (as it was accompanied,) was more mischierous to the church, than the other's error, nor can a man do that hurt to others without suffering it more principally; the distemper of his own spirit, what can recompense! And how apt is it to grow in him, and while it grows in himself, to propagate itseif among others! Whereupon, if the want of love, linders the nourishment of the body, much more do the things which when it is wanting, are went to fill up its place. For 25 na. turally as love begets love, so do wrath, enry, malice, caluniny, begct one another, and spread a poison and virulency, through the body whichnecessa. rily wastes, and tends to destroy. How soon did the christian church cease to be itself, and the early vigor of primitive christianity degenerate into in. sipid spiritless formality, when once it became contentious! It broke into parties, sects multiplied, animosities grew hig!', and the grieved spirit of love, retired from it."—Howe's works, vol. il. p. 232, 233.
1. Phil. i. 5.
2. Col. 1. 12-14.