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alone that state can be restored. The time and the method of its restoration must be left to him, who alone can a 66 or “ der the unruly wills and affections of “ sinful men :" but the preparation for it we can, and we ought to make; by forming a clear idea of the essentials of that unity, which it is our duty to recommend; and by inculcating, each in our proper sphere and station, those arguments best calculated to enforce their observance.
The whole Church at this period consisted of little more than three thousand persons :ll of these, a small number had been companions of our Lord during the whole of his ministry; they had witnessed his exemplary holiness and his divine miracles, and been the attentive hearers of his heavenly doctrines: but the majority were recently converted; they were a por: tion of those b« devout Jews from every “ nation under heaven," who, being assembled in Jerusalem at the day, of Pentecost, had been so far affected by the mi
b Acts il. 5.
raculous descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, and its wonderful effects, as to be induced by St. Peter's sermón on that occasion to embrace the faith of a crucified Redeemer: - These, we are told, were baptized; and being thus made members of the Church, they proved the sincerity of their profession, and their due sense of the obligations which it entailed upon them, by adhering stedfastly to the one true doctrine taught by the Apostles ; by continuing in their fellowship, or society; submitting to the discipline and government established by them; and by partaking in the same religious ordinances and modes of worship, in “breaking of bread, and in prayers. tí* A due provision for the maintenance of Christian unity thus appears to have been coeval with the establishment of the Church itself. As the Apostles permitted no other system of association to prevail among their converts, we may consider this to be a strong proof of their conviction, that the brethren in Christ could never dwell together as brethren ought, on any other terms: and we may coticeive it to have been not unintentional, on the part of the inspired historian, that the very first mention, whieli occurs in his narrative, of Christians as a connected body, should be accompanied by a clear indication of the principles of their union. Thus did the original Church become a model for all which succeeded it; and the steady continuance of its memo bers in the doctrine and discipline of the Apostles, in the sacraments which their divine Master had ordained, and in a common form of devotion, stands upon record in the sacred volume, as if designed to teaches us, that the disciples of Jesus Christ were to be separated from the world of the unbelievers ; and that by these cha racteristic practices, each a pledge of mus tual good offices, they were ever after to bei united, as by an inviolable bond of affection wi Persities in od
In prosecution of the plan originally laid down, I have already considered Christian unity, as it should be exemplified in sub. mission to the form of Church government established by the Apostles; and in the
maintenance of the one true faith, which they were commissioned to teach. I am now to examine, how far agreement in modes of worship is essential to its preser, vation and holineste ,om s07e17 to, It was to be expected, that he, who prayed so earnestly, that his disciples might be one, would ordain some external rites or ceremonies, significant of their profesi sion, their expectations, their high calling, and their solemn obligations; constituting a bond of union to themselves, as well as an outward sign of that union to others. For what can operate more strongly to preserve a religious association, than a common participation in some simple and affecting offices of devotion; which, unalters able in their signification, may remind the individuals of whom this association is composed, that they are all sharers in the same hopes and privileges, bound to the performance of the same duties, and thus distinguished from those around them? These, i as ordinances of universal obligation, in every age and every country, were
fe See Note LVII. Appendix.zinkt: 1,3 necessarily few and siniple; but they were sufficient to instruct the household of faith, that all its members, however dispersed throughout the world, were travelling in the same road, and equipped in the same man ner for their journey ; that they must meet hereafter before one tribunal, and might live together in the eternal enjoyment of bliss and glory. These great objects thus secured, 'the daily wants and duties of each, the 'mode of keeping up in the minds of all a due sense of their holy profession, and of rendering the continual sacrifice of associated praise to him, who had dis called them in one body,” were left to be provided for by particular churches, as the circumstances of their members might seem to require. Thus, to the ordinances immediately of divine institution, by partaking in which every Christian was awakened to a sense of his fellowship with the whole society of believers, were added also others of human appointment; and these, as well as the fornier, were binding upon the conscience, because