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ently proved to all who are inclined to learn wisdom from experience, that there can be no real concord among Christians, but that which is built, as the unanimity of the first converts at Jerusalem was, upon a stedfast adherence to the doctrine and fellowship of the Gospel.

Religion is a matter, too nearly and too deeply interesting, to be compatible with indifference. Where every thing which can awaken the feelings or influence the hopes of mankind is at stake, it will be ever difficult to prevent men from contending even about points of little moment; much more so, to temper a laudable zeal for doctrines of real importance with charity towards their opponents. Even where this is most perfectly done, unity must be lost, though charity be preserved. For though our detestation of heretical opinions be joined with pity for those who unfortunately hold them; though we be ready earnestly and sincerely to pray, that such persons may once more be brought home to the flock of Christ; until that desired event be accomplished, we cannot

but regard them as straying from the fold, exposed to enemies whom they may be unable to encounter, and violating the integrity of the Christian Church. But if, unmoved by these considerations, we seek to build up the breaches in the Church with untempered mortar ;" and to make all men, of all persuasions, dwell together as the brethren of the Lord, by teaching, that unity in fundamentals is not necessary; or by inducing the unwary to believe, that no doctrines which have been made the subjects of controversy are in themselves fundamental; open dissensions. may for a time be prevented, and the voice of controversy may be heard no longer; but it is to be feared, that Christianity itself may perish with the contests, by which its truth has hitherto been maintained; and the silence which will follow, may be the silence of death. For they who are once taught that all modes of faith are equally right, will soon persuade themselves that none are necessary; and the useful, though

t Ezek. xiii. 10.

sometimes excessive, and often ill directed zeal, with which men have hitherto "" striven together for the faith of the Gospel," will be succeeded by the dull and heartless apathy of a deistical philosophy.

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The language of our Saviour and his Apostles appears to warrant an opinion, that the latter days will be marked by the prevalence of infidelity. For the many intimations to be found in the New Testament, of a remarkable defection from the saving doctrines of the Gospel, which is to precede the great and terrible day of the Lord; although, in their primary signification, they may have referred to the falling away of the Jews, before the destruction of their city and temple; have been generally expected to receive their final accomplishment in a more extensive apostasy, by which the Church itself would be nearly brought to desolation. Various have been the events, to which these predictions have been supposed to

u Phil. i. 27.

relate. It was natural indeed, that pious and reflecting men, deeply impressed with the importance of those occurrences which they themselves witnessed, should have been led to imagine, that in each of the temporary triumphs of error or infidelity over revealed truth, they could trace the completion of prophecy. As years have rolled away, these several applications have, in their turn, been found in some respects unsatisfactory; and the predictions themselves, as yet unfulfilled, stand as beacons in the sacred pages, to warn us of the trials which await the Church; and to teach us, who ❝ look for such things," to be diligent, that we at least " may be "found of him," whose speedy coming they will signify, "in peace, without spot " and blameless."

The signs of the times have indeed been often misinterpreted, and the minds of some have been shaken and troubled without cause, as if y" the day of Christ" was at hand. But such mistakes affect

x 2 Pet. iii. 14.

y Phil. i. 6.

not the veracity of prophecy. The word of God standeth sure: and though we know not the day nor the hour, which he has appointed for the execution of his purposes; and all our conjectures and researches on the subject may end in disappointment; assuredly, whatever is written shall be accomplished in its season; and they, whose lot may fall to them in the latter days, will probably witness an apostasy, more general and more fatal than any which has yet afflicted the world. To this apostasy, neither the partial falling away of Judaizing Christians, nor the more extended corruptions of Romish superstition, nor even the atheistical frenzy, which was permitted for a season to be the scourge and disgrace of our own times, may be compared. So wide indeed will its influence be spread, that it is even made a question, whether, when "the "Son of Man cometh," he shall z" find faith on the earth!" whether, among the multitudes of every nation and lan

z Luke xviii. 8.

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