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through their word, that “they all might be “ one with Him and the Father, as He was “ in the Father and the Father in Hime ;' an union, than which nothing can be imagined more entire and indissoluble. The Apostles also in the writings they have left for the instruction of the Church, abound in representations to the same effect. Their expositions of doctrine and their injunctions of practical duty are seldom unaccompanied with exhortations to unity and concord ; not only inculcating in general terms the unbounded exercise of mutual love, forbearance, peace, and good-will; but more especially, unanimity in faith, in worship, in every thing that concerns the Church of God as a visible community, bound together by common ties and obligations. So faithfully did these preachers of the word enforce the injunctions of their Lord, and endeavour to infuse into all his professed disciples some portion of that spirit by which they themselves were actuated in the discharge of their high and sacred calling!

The effect of these admonitions on the first converts to Christianity appears to have been very conspicuous, notwithstanding those exceptions which occasionally called forth

John xvii. 21.

strong animadversions from the Apostles, and led to a reiteration of their injunctions. So great indeed was the change wrought in this respect among those who thoroughly embraced the Gospel, as strikingly to verify our Lord's prophetic saying, “ By this shall all “ men know that ye are my disciples, if ye 6 have love one to another f.”

But to what later period of Christian history may the same observation be faithfully applied ? Does not every succeeding age furnish but too abundant proof that the profession of the Gospel has been made the instrument, or the pretext, of strife and confusion ? Has it not brought in divisions and offences of various kinds, “ giving occasion to the ene“ mies of the Lord to blaspheme,” and making the Gospel itself a subject of reproach and contumely to the libertine and the scoffer? _That the records of the Christian Church in early times, and still more those of later ages, have called forth such representations, is not to be denied.—What shall we say then ? Does this holy, this pure, this blameless system contain within itself the seeds of disunion and disorder ? Has it, from any inherent defect or imperfection, failed of its intended purpose, or disappointed the expectation of

f John xii. 35.

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its heavenly Founder, and its divinely-gifted teachers ?

Assuredly not.—This consequence was foreseen, was foretold, by our Lord and his Apostles ; and the causes that would operate to produce it were no less distinctly declared. With reference to these feuds and animosities, our Lord says, “ Suppose ye that I am come “ to give peace on earth ? I tell you, nay; but “ rather divisions ;6”—and again, “ It is im

possible but that offences will come; but

woe unto him through whom they come"." The same subject is further illustrated in his exquisite parable of the Tares. St. Paul in like manner affirms, “ There must be heresies among you, that they which are approved may

be made manifesti.” He foretells that the time should come, when men would not 6 endure sound doctrine, but would turn away

their ears from the truth k;” and that " in “ the latter times some would depart from “ the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits !.” He moreover speaks of “ the man of sin” to “ be revealed,” and of “ the mystery of ini

quitym” which even then had begun to work. St. Peter prophesies of “ false teachers “ who should privily bring in damnable here

8 Luke xii. 51. k 2 Tim. iv. 3.

h Luke xvii. 1. 11 Tim. iv. 1.

i 1 Cor. xi. 19. m 2 Thess. ii. 3, 7. n 2 Peter ii. 1, 2.

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66 because many

“ sies, even denying the Lord who bought “ them;" that “ many also should follow their

pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way “ of truth should be evil spoken of "." St. Jude emphatically warns the faithful by similar predictions. St. John admonishes them to “ try the spirits whether they be of God,

false prophets had gone out “ into the world o.” He speaks also of deceivers and antichrists springing up in the bosom of the Church ; and in the Apocalypse prophetically details a series of corruptions and persecutions by which the adherents to the pure

Christian faith should suffer in afterages.

Such representations, not only predicting the evil but pointing out its source, prove that neither is our religion itself answerable for these consequences, nor are its Author and its first preachers chargeable with any deception or delusion in this respect. The Gospel tends to promote unity and concord ; but the machinations of the perverse and evilminded introduce disunion and discord. The householder “ soweth good seed in his field ;" but “ the enemy cometh and soweth tares." Hence the distractions and divisions of the Christian world. And these evils, be it ob

0 1 John iv. 1.

served, are not unfrequently occasioned by Christians themselves. Their hand too often inflicts the wound by which the Gospel suffers, and its adversaries triumph. A disorganizing spirit within the citadel effects that mischief which otherwise the external assailant might never be able to compass. Even the warmest friends of Christianity may unwittingly be accessory to the injury. Mistaken views of unity, charity, and peace, lead many to foster those divisions which they most earnestly deprecate, and to perpetuate errors which they would fain persuade themselves they are labouring to remove. So necessary is it to form correct notions on a subject, which, however lightly regarded by inconsiderate observers, is intimately connected with the vital interests of religion. Let us hear, then, by what reasoning the Apostle enforces the duty pressed upon the Ephesians, that of “ endeavouring “ to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond

“ of peace.”

The argument is thus comprehensively stated in the verses immediately following the text :-" There is one body and one Spirit,

even as ye are called in one hope of your “ calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, “ one God and Father of all, who is above all, “ and through all, and in you all.” Let us

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