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resemblance, which is to be traced between him and his Divine pattern.
When Christians, therefore, regard the Church as. their common mother, and themselves as brethren, travelling in fellowship through the wilderness of this world to their promised land; they will not, by petty disputes on the road, expose themselves to the attacks of their surrounding enemies: but, the grand object in view swallowing up every other consideration, all differences of opinion will give way to the cultivation of that temper, necessary to qualify them for the enjoyment of the blessed country towards which their course is directed. . In such case, the golden age of the primitive church would return upon us; and the proverb, descriptive of the amiable character of its early members, “ see how these Christians love one another,' would again be realized. Such an event, rather to be wished for in these days than expected, would bring in the accomplishment of the glorious promises, which in the spirit of prophecy have been made to the church when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them:" when Ephraim fhall no longer envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim;" and there shall be no more consuming 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 bload; 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 impressions, which thy religion was designed to make upon it, that those who hold fast the faith of thy Gospel, may
also possess the spirit of it: to this end, fix in the mind of every Christian profeffor this important truth, that charity, or a disposition to peace and unity, is that bond of perfectness, without which no man, be his other pretensions what they may, can be qualified for admission into that holy place, from whence discord and division will be for ever excluded, and where nothing will be heard, but the grateful sounds of harmony and love. Even fo, blessed Jesus, for thy church's fake. Amen.
To those Members of the CHURCH, who occasion.
ally frequent other Places of Public Worship.
CCASIONAL Separation from the church
stands, in point of argument, on the same ground with occasional conformity to it. If conformity to the church be a sin against the conscience of the party, which was the plea originally set up by those who separated from it in this country, every act of occasional conformity, being a commission of that fin, must be subject to condemnation.
Schism, or a wilful separation from the church, be in itself a sin, as from the authority of scripture and the primitive writers of the church it is adjudged to be; every occasional separation from it must be seen in a similar point of view. It is a commiffion of an acknowledged fin; and the only difference between
the constant separatist and the occasional one appears to be, that the one continues in the habitual practice of that fin, which the other occasionally commits.
Now the sin of schism consists, as we have already observed, in a wilful and needless feparation from the communion of the church. And the church, as we understand the term, is that body or regular society of Christians affeinbled together under the form of government which has been established by its Divine Founder. What that government is, having been already shewn, it need only be here observed, that for fifteen hundred years, the Christian world knew no difference of opinion on this subject.
To get clear of the fin of schism, then, we must deny the existence of the church, considered as an established society under its regular and appropriate government; and in contradiction to the original and established usage of the term, apply it in a vague and indiscriminate sense to all assemblies of Christians, of what denomination or persuasion soever.
This latudinarian mode of settling the point, by making the church of Christ comprehensive of all the different sects, into which the Christian world has been divided, does certainly make it a matter of indifference, with what particular assembly of Christians
a man is connected. For, upon tliis principle, he may attend the service of the church in the morning, and that of the meeting-house in the afternoon, and still preserve a consistency of character; because, in in this case, 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 scripture, and subversive of one great end which Christ had in view in the establishment of his church, which was that the unity of the spirit and bond of peace might be preserved among its members, it is not to be supposed that those to whom I now address myself are governed by it.
The confideration of their being professed members of that branch of the Christian church established in this country, added to that of their being serious and spiritually-minded persons, obliges me to conclude, that they have some better reason to give for their connection with the church, than what is to be de. rived from the accidental circumstance of their having been born in its communion. I therefore conclude, as in charity I ought, that it is either from an impera fect knowledge of, or want of due attention to, the nature and design of the Christian church, as a regular and visible society, together with a partial view of