« السابقةمتابعة »
refemblance, which is to be traced between him and
his Divine pattern.
When Chriftians, therefore, regard the Church as their common mother, and themselves as brethren, travelling in fellowship through the wilderness of this world to their promifed land; they will not, by petty difputes on the road, expose themselves to the attacks of their furrounding enemies: but, the grand object in view fwallowing up every other confideration, all differences of opinion will give way to the cultivation of that temper, neceffary to qualify them for the enjoyment of the bleffed country towards which their course is directed.
In fuch cafe, the golden age of the primitive church would return upon us; and the proverb, defcriptive of the amiable character of its early memfee how thefe Christians love one another,' bers, would again be realized. Such an event, rather to be wifhed for in thefe days than expected, would bring in the accomplishment of the glorious promifes, which in the spirit of prophecy have been made to the church-" when the wolf fhall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard fhall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child fhall lead them:" when
"Ephraim fhall no longer envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim;" and there shall be no more confuming or devouring in all God's holy mountain.
O thou Prince of Peace, and Friend of fallen man! who purchased the church with thine own blood; heal the breaches of it, we beseech thee, by the communication of thy grace to all its members; prepare them for that more perfect state of thy kingdom, to which they are taught to look forward; by giving them an heart capable of receiving all those impreffions, which thy religion was defigned to make upon it, that those who hold fast the faith of thy Gofpel, may alfo poffefs the fpirit of it: to this end, fix in the mind of every Christian profeffor this important truth, that charity, or a difpofition to peace and unity, is that bond of perfectness, without which no man, be his other pretenfions what they may, can be qualified for admiffion into that holy place, from whence difcord and divifion will be for ever excluded, and where nothing will be heard, but the grateful founds of harmony and love. Even fo, bleffed JESUS, for thy church's fake. Amen.
To those Members of the CHURCH, who occasionally frequent other Places of Public Worship.
CCASIONAL Separation from the church ftands, in point of argument, on the fame ground with occafional conformity to it. If conformity to the church be a fin against the confcience of the party, which was the plea originally set up by those who separated from it in this country, every act of occafional conformity, being a commiffion of that fin, must be subject to condemnation.
If fchifm, or a wilful feparation from the church, bę in itself a fin, as from the authority of scripture and the primitive writers of the church it is adjudged to be; every occafional feparation from it must be feen in a fimilar point of view. It is a commiffion of an acknowledged fin; and the only difference between
the conftant feparatift and the occafional one appears to be, that the one continues in the habitual practice of that fin, which the other occafionally commits.
Now the fin of fchifm confists, as we have already observed, in a wilful and needlefs feparation from the communion of the church. And the church, as we understand the term, is that body or regular fociety of Christians affenbled together under the form of government which has been established by its Divine Founder. What that government is, having been already fhewn, it need only be here obferved, that for fifteen hundred years, the Christian world knew no difference of opinion on this fubject.
To get clear of the fin of fchifm, then, we must deny the existence of the church, confidered as an established society under its regular and appropriate government; and in contradiction to the original and established ufage of the term, apply it in a vague and indifcriminate fenfe to all affemblies of Chriftians, of what denomination or perfuafion foever.
This latudinarian mode of fettling the point, by making the church of CHRIST comprehenfive of all the different fects, into which the Christian world has been divided, does certainly make it a matter of indifference, with what particular affembly of Chriftians
a man is connected. For, upon this principle, he may attend the service of the church in the morning, and that of the meeting-houfe in the afternoon, and ftill preserve a confiftency of character; because, in in this cafe, he equally holds communion with the church in one place as in the other. But this idea being in direct contradiction to the letter of fcripture, and fubverfive of one great end which CHRIST had in view in the establishment of his church, which was that the unity of the fpirit and bond of peace might be preserved among its members, it is not to be fuppofed that those to whom I now address myself are governed by it.
The confideration of their being profeffed members of that branch of the Chriftian church established in this country, added to that of their being serious and fpiritually-minded perfons, obliges me to conclude, that they have some better reason to give for their connection with the church, than what is to be derived from the accidental circumftance of their having been born in its communion. I therefore conclude, as in charity I ought, that it is either from an imperfect knowledge of, or want of due attention to, the nature and defign of the Christian church, as a regular and visible fociety, together with a partial view of