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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 courfe 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 members," fee how thefe Chriftians love one another," 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 fhall 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 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 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 admission 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 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