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must errors of the like portentous magnitude, ever be. In some of them, we see the earliest systematic Antinomianism. In others, it is easy to trace the first forın of a class of opinions which, to this day, unfairly claim the name of Christianity; and of which a prominent feature is the doctrine, that Christ was merely a human person; that his mission was limited to the design of instructing mankind; and consequently that his death was not an expiatory sacrifice. It is obvious that these opinions, accompanied as they are with others equally at variance with the New Testament, amount to a nullification of the scheme of Christianity. They constitute another religion, which produces a totally different state of mind. On this system, the religion of the mass of professing Christians, is deeply corrupted with idolatry ;-on theirs, the religion alluded to, is little else than deism, borrowing from the moral precepts of Christianity. The adherents of two systems so utterly at variance with each other, can have no true sympathy of religious feeling. Between the faith once delivered to the saints,' and opinions which exclude almost every thing which is peculiar to Christianity, there is an impassable gulf. Here, unity ceases; and union is no longer a duty. The common intercourse of mankind may still subsist: of neighbourly kindness, there should continue to be a reciprocation; and there ought to be no denial of all the rights due to peaceable citi


zens :but religious separation is to be hailed, as due to honesty; for how, in such a case, can there be the communion of brethren,' who love one another' "in the truth, and for the truth's sake?'

St. John says of the existing anti-christian professors : ' They went out from us; but they were not of us.'? Hence, in the primitive ages, the unity of the faith remained, for the most part, entire. Irenæus, who flourished towards the close of the second century, speaking of fundamental truths, remarks: The church having received this testimony and faith, diligently preserves it, as though she inhabited one and the same house, though actually dispersed over the whole world ; and she believes these things exactly as though she had but one soul, and one and the same heart; and she preaches, teaches, and delivers these things, with one consent, as though she had but one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are different, still the signification of the testimony is one and the same: so that the churches that have been founded in Germany, Spain, Gaul, the East, Egypt, and Libya, or in the central parts of the world, do not differ in faith and doctrine,13 That such a unity as is here described, cannot 2 John 1. 2.

2 1 John ii. 19. 3 Irenæus contra Hæres. Lib. i. cap. 3.



be effected by mere outward uniformity, is amply illustrated by the ecclesiastical history of Protestant Europe. Many who have been committed to orthodox creeds and confessions, and have thus been associated together in nominal union, have been found holding and preaching doctrines the most opposed to each other, and to those of the bulk of the Reformed churches : and the highest Supra-lapsarianism; Semi-pelagianism; Rationalism in all its shades, from its more sober, to its wilder forms; a Romanizing Protestantism;' and other incongruous elements; have existed, in various connexion, with the

evangelical' faith, under the name of the church. On the contrary, it is evident from wellknown facts, that vast bodies of Christians may exhibit a remarkable coincidence of sentiment within themselves, on all the points of faith and practice which are mutually held to be essential; though this unity be not provided for by any laws of uniformity. Moreover, Christians of different denominations, often manifest more real visible unity and union with each other, than is found prevailing in churches constituted by the civil magistrate.' : Such is the difference between the

? See a passage headed · Evils of omitting the rite of Exorcism,' in the Tracts for the Times,' for 1834–5. Notes on Tracts 67. 68.

2 See page 100, above.

unity of uniformity, and the unity of the heart.

The latter was the unity of the primitive church, before superstition and ambition had changed its character. Hence a strong reciprocal affection* -an identity of feeling, of interest, and of aimcommon joys, sorrows, dangers, hopes, and fearsand, amidst all diversities of natural disposition, or acquired habit, a likeness in the elements of character, such as no mere human agency could effect. It was not necessary to know each other personally; -to know of each others existence was enough. Christian love could waft its benevolent desires, from the churches of Asia to the church of Corinth; and could transmit its sympathies from Macedonia to Judea. Those who had never seen each others faces, all met in spirit at the throne of that grace which had made them

which had made them one; and mutual intercessions ascended to heaven, from those who would never know one another on earth. They who loved an unseen Saviour, not only loved his image when it stood before their eyes; but even when it was ideal: and the prayer that reached heaven, rose from hearts large enough to embrace the whole brotherhood of Christ, from Mount

• Tertullian speaks of Christians as ' ready to die for each other.' Pro alterutro mori sunt parati. Apolog. cap. 39.

Imaus to the Atlantic, and from the Rhine to the Nile.

Unjust and cruel as were the persecutions endured by the primitive Christians, they tended, no doubt, to preserve the simplicity of the gospel, and the purity of the church. Those who felt that their property, liberties, and lives, were insecure, because they were Christians, would be less tempted to make their own external peculiarities a condition of unity. The furnace of persecution, as often as it was kindled, would not only separate, in every church, the dross of mere profession from the pure gold of faith ; but would, at the same time, tend greatly to reveal the sameness of all that was genuine, and to cause it to run, were, mass. Particular forms, modes, and customs, which might vary with time and place, would be likely to be little thought of, in comparison with the unchanging truths on which the unity of the whole church is built: what was merely of human origin, would be lost in the overwhelming magnitude and importance of what was divine; and, in the hour of impending trial, the spirits of the faithful would cleave, tenaciously, to what was essential in Christianity; and would find their sympathies for each other all centring there.

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