Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

can be accomplished, no power upheld, but by unity of effort. iEvery kingdom - divided against itself is brought to deso "lation ; and every city or house divided

against itself shall not stand : and if Sa. « tan cast out Satan, he is divided against 6 himself; how shall then his kingdom $ stand ?'.:

und PEU Still further to shew the natural conse, quence of divisions, he reminds his hearers of an aphorism of their own, against the force of which they could take no exception. 66 He that is not with me is against "me; and he that gathereth not with me

scattereth abroad;" leaving them to draw from it the following unavoidable infer: ence; that the conduct which they admitted to be in general so injurious, was not likely to have been adopted on that particular occasion; that if nothing less than the steady, and uniform direction of its power towards its own preservation can effectually promote the welfare of any government, Satan could not, without absurdity, be supposed to be so grossly, negligent of his own interests, as to divide

against himself, by providing his avowed adversary with weapons to overthrow his kingdom. (2011 bsAssuming then that the proverbial saying thus objected by our Saviour to these Jewish cavillers, may be accommodated without impropriety to the subject before us, it will perhaps admit of being thus paraphrased. He that is not with me," that is, he who does not act under my direction and authority, ** is against me;" his labours, though apparently directed to the same end, are in fact opposed to mine; he divides those whom I would have collected in one, even while he seeks to gather them; and, by breaking down the fences of that one fold, which it is my design to form, he scatters the sheep, seducing them from my pastures, depriving them of my protection.

If we may be callowed thus to employ the language of the text, it will powerfully illustrate the fatal effects of those « labours « for peace,” which are conducted under

[ocr errors]

the irregular impulse of private imaginations, rather than according to the dictates of Jesus Christ and his Apostles. til!!!

The event of many arduous contests, and of many a plausible, buti unsuccessfub plan for preventing their recurrence, has proved that the ministers of Christ can never properly discharge their sacred function, as the watchmen of Israel, the shepherds of Christ's, flock, the stewards of his mysteries, unless they be convinced, that, however desirous they may feel to provide for " the things which make for peace,

" it is their first duty to maintain the truth;and that every project for uniting Chris tians upon any other terms has hitherto increased the evil which it was intended to remedy.

The historical evidence by which this position is supported may be arranged under three separate heads.

I. The first will include a cursory view of those projects, which have had for their object the reunion of Protestants and Pa. pists.

II. Under the second may be ranked the

1

attempts to restore unity among the different classes of Protestants in foreign countries.

III. The thirdımay comprise the various plans which have been proposed for the reconciliation of the Church of England and her dissenting brethren. <3

This general view of the subject, while it enables us to ascertain the common principle upon which all these undertakings have been conducted, may perhaps suggest, in that principle, the cause of their failure, by ranking them under that species of gathering, which tends to scatter, rather than unite.

I. Of the efforts made by the Church of Rome to promote Christian unity little can be said, and that little must be unfavourable. To the repeated and earnest declarations of the Reformers, that they were anxious to prevent divisions, and to preserve the unity of the Church by any sacrifice which they could conscientiously make; she answered only by an haughty avowal of her determination to maintain the doctrines, which they disclaimed as umiscriptural ; and to abide by the praetices, against which they protested as superstitious and idolatrous. »

mitu IOM ..To their appeals in favour of primitive truth and discipline, she obstinately refused to listen; and their "arguments she attempted to silence by the exertion of authority. She d wished indeed that Christians should be all of one mind:” but it was an unanimous submission to her usurped supremacy, rather than to the faith of the Gospel, which she endeavoured to enforce.

The days of primitive suffering might have taught her the vanity of labouring to subdue the mind by torturing the body; and from the lives of those martyrs whom she affected to venerate, she miglit have learned to despise the folly, as well as to detest the cruelty, of religious persecutions. In the arrogance however of assumed infallibility, she refused to receive instruction from the experience of former ages; and the breach which prudent concession

d See Note CXXX. Appendix.

« PoprzedniaDalej »