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uni:10.1.13 Battis Lab . mi SERMON VIL. Vil's TOTSI a 1011 ***

BTW, itin 27 106 12921V9: Jun 0,1 08 191.1970 MÁTT. xii. 30.

SPODénesis 0,990npris. Visu ved one He that is not with me is against me ; and he.

that gathereth, not with me scattereth_abroad. IT has been strongly, though somewhat coarsely observed by an eminent nonconformist divine, that there is no part of “ religion that Satan does not endeavour “ to destroy, under pretence of promoting

it.” Those who have most attentively considered the bistory of the Church, may perhaps be inclined to admit the truth of the position to its full extent; as that history will suggest to them many reasons for believing that the cause of Christianity has suffered more injury from the labours of its pretended advocates, than from the persecutions of its avowed enemies. The opposition of the latter has generally tended to

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a Baxter. Cure of Church Divisions, p. 270.

confirm and strengthen that faith, which they designed to destroys while the former, by insidiously mixing themselves with the friends of religion, by misleading their judgment, misdirecting their zeal, and misapplying their exertions, have seldom failed to' perplex its doctrines, and counteract its salutary operation on the human heart. s!

In no instance perhaps has this been more strikingly exemplified, than by the áttempts which have been made, from time to time, to weaken or destroy the very foundations of Christian faith, under pretence of restoring unity among its professors.

Every well informed disciple of the blessed Jesus is persuaded, that b« envying and

strife” are unbecoming his holy calling, and is anxious to promote a better spirit among his brethren. Upon this predisposition therefore in favour of unity, the enemy has presumed; and, well aware that its real nature is in general but imperfectly understood, and that its most zealous advocates are not always fully instructed in

J

b i Cor, üi. 3.

the proper means of securing it, he has too often made it a prétext for engaging them in labours, more likely to terminate in the overthrow of religion itself, than in the accomplishment of their favourite object. It was the design of a former discourse to shew, that it Church of England, forming her idea of real Christian unity from the language of those Scriptures, to which she has steadily adhered, as the guide of her conduct, and the rule of her opinions, has employed every legitimate means in her power for its preservation. But the same wisdom which taught her how Christians should be one, enabled her also to discover, that, beyond a certain limit, it was neither safe nor right to seek their union; lest the substance itself should be lost in the pursuit of the shadow, and mutual peace

should be promoted, not for the sake, but by the sacrifice, of truth, 1. The contests of which Christianity has been at least the pretext, if not the cause, may be ranked among the most furious and destructive which have visited the world; and, from its first promulgation to

the present hour, the folly of somę, the pride and obstinacy of others, and the uncontrolled passions of the many, have presented insuperable impediments to the preservation of that unity, which it was our blessed Lord's desire to establish among his disciples. But ought we therefore to listen to any rash projector, who would persuade us to put Christianity itself to hazard, for the sake of ending the content tions by which it has been disgraced? Or should we conceive his scheme to be wise, or his motives to be

who would urge the propriety of conceding even one fundamental article of our creed, that the offence of those, who have presumed to question, or deny it, might be speedily and effectually removed ?

The answer to such questions may be safely anticipated. None will consent to renounce doctrines which they consider to be fundamental, in order to conciliate the errors or the prejudices of others; and all will probably determine to maintain what they conceive to be the common faith, as a possession far too precious to be relin

pure,

quished, because its perfect work among us has hitherto been impeded by the blindnešs and perversity of human nature.

It may then be assumed, that there is a price, at which even Christian unity, desirable and lovely as it is, would be too dearly purchased : 'that it is not the only thing, nor the chief thing, which we have to seek and provide; and that those who so esteem it, and risk even truth itself to procure it, are neither to be followed nor commended.

The language of our Saviour in the text may perhaps be not improperly applied to warn us against such projectors; as it declares, that there is a mode of gathering, which tends to scatter, rather than to unite; and that, whatever may be the motive of those who do not act with him, the effect of their conduct will be injurious to the work, which he came into the world to perform.

He had exposed the perverse misrepresentations, which attributed his miracles to demoniacal influence, by stating this simple and undeniable truth; that no plan

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