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without stopping to ascertain its scriptural meaning. Unity among Christians, in its original and scriptural sense, implies an unity of sentiment on the great fundamental points of doctrine and worship; it consists in Christians being of the same mind and of the same judgment in their religious communications ; in their acknowledging one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.” It becomes necessary therefore, that this Scriptural unity should be clearly distinguished from that mere unity of action among brethren, for the promotion of even a professedly religious object: which compromises, if it does not set at nought the above important considerations; and which must, in consequence, be attended with effects, the very opposite to those, which true Christian unity was intended to produce. When St. Paul said to the Corinthians : “ Be of one mind,"—he added, “ according to Christ Jesus.”—That is, according to God's holy word.“ Peace,” (says St. Hilary,) " is a goodly word ; and a fair thing Unity ; but who doubts this to be the only right peace of the Church, which is peace after Christ, according to his words.”
“ Therefore,” (concludes the venerable Latimer,) “let us set by Unity ; let us be given to love and charity ; but so that it may stand with godliness ; for peace ought not to be redeemed with loss of truth; that we would seek peace so much, that we should lose the truth of God's word.”
Whilst then I am yet to learn in what way the evils of dissent are likely to be lessened by an association of religionists of every denomination, for the purpose of dispersing the mere letter of the Bible, on the interpretation of which all parties concerned are supposed to retain their different opinions; there exist at the same time strong doubts in my
Latimer's Sermon, on Matt..v. 1--3.
mind, as to the safety of a connection between Churchmen and Dissenters established on such a principle. For should the conclusion drawn by the public mind from an association formed on this liberal principle be, what, it is to be.apprehended, must be the case ; that the professed opinions of religionists of every denomination have the sanction of the same divine authority; and thus religious teachers of every description, so far at least as doctrine is concerned, become placed upon the same scripture level; the consequence will be, that among the higher classes of the community a growing indifference to religious opinions will gradually lead to a diminution of attachment to our Apostolical Church; whilst, among the lower orders, separation from that Church will necessarily increase, in proportion to the exertions of those numerous sectarists, who are in these days indefatigably employed in promoting it. At the same time, that unhappy division among brethren of the same houshold of faith, which the plausible association in question has produced, must tend, in a great degree, to destroy that unity of sentiment and combination of professional energy, which can alone counteract the undermining process now carrying on against our envied establishment. So far then from lessening the religious evils of dissent, to which political evils seldom fail to be in a greater or less degree attached, this boasted scheme of comprehension, the prevailing fashion of the day, appears to my mind, more likely to prove a powerful specific for the multiplication of heresies and schisms; the greatest evils under which Christianity has labored from the æra of its establishment to the present time. The consequence of which must be, that whilst the great mass of the rising community are picking up their religion as it were, by chance; the unhappy division among members of the Church, whereby that collected strength, which might have
been successfully employed against the common enemy of our Sion, is injudiciously diverted to the prosecution of a plausible undertaking; are circumstances which by degrees will produce the effect of superseding the established ministry, and of degrading, so far at least as it may succeed among us, the Church of Christ into a creature of the human imagination, instead of preserving it in its dignified ascendancy, as the Institution of God. Whilst that marked eagerness which has been generally manifested, by Dissenters in particular, for the advancement of an undertak. ing, which evidently promotes their object, at the expence of the Establishment; by allowing them to retain every thing they wish, at the same time that every thing is given up to them which they disapprove; (concession on this occasion being all on one side, and none on the other ;) when coupled with their known, unabated, and, it is to be feared, increasing ill-will to our Church, cannot, it should be thought, to the minds of Churchmen at least, present any very favorable prospect.
prospect. And “if the evil which the circumstances of the present times justify us in apprehending, (to make use of the words of a late Bishop,) be gradually creeping on; it will be palliated from time to time, and not appear to every one in its true colors, till it be difficult or too late to remedy it.” And though numberless persons exalted both by character and station, and to whom we look up with
respect, have distinguished themselves by their zeal in promoting this popular institution; a circumstance which certainly leads to some degree of diffidence on the present subject; still it must be remembered that the voice of numbers constitutes a very fallible standard of judgment; and that no respectability of character or station can alter the essential quality of things, by changing error into truth;
or by converting, what has in itself a natural tendency to evil, into a real and substantial good.
Should the preceding observations appear sufficiently just to be entitled to attention, the question whether Churchmen can safely unite with religionists of all denominations in the cause here referred to, will admit, it is presumed, of no difficult solution.
Am I called upon to produce the authority of Scripture to support me in declining connection with the association in question, I certainly can be at no loss. Considering the Church to be the sacred depository of the Christian faith, “ the ground and pillar of the truth;" St. Paul directed the members of it to mark them which caused divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which they had learned, and to avoid them.” The Apostle, it seems, had no conception that a connection with heretics and schismatics, in any religious concern, could tend to the advancement of genuine Christianity. It has been urged, indeed, but I think with no strength of argument, that as we hesitate not to act with Dissenters in charitable institutions of different kinds, there can be no objection to acting with them in the institution under consideration. The difference between these two cases, it may be considered a waste of words to point out. For admitting the Church of England to be a true branch of the Apostolic Church of Christ, and that its members have not so far lost sight of the original institution, and revealed doctrines of that Church, as to consider heresy and schism to be no sins; and that unity among Christians for which Christ so earnestly prayed, to be a matter of no importance; the same Apostolic direction grounded on the same Apostolic reason, that dividers of the Church “serve not the Lord Jesus ;” appears to be equally entitled to their attention. Whilst I hesitate not to say, that reason undisgraced by sophistry, and revelation undistorted by perversion, will not be found more in favor of the regular systematic plan for promoting Christian knowledge, adopted by that excellent Society to which we belong, than they must prove discouraging to that comprehensive scheme for the promotion of the same professed object, which has of late years received the sanction of so many sanguine supporters.
For the preceding reasons, exclusive of others, which time will not permit me to produce; I have felt niyself justified, as a Minister of Christ, earnestly solicitous for the promotion of genuine Christianity, to point out to consideration the inexpediency of members of the Church being connected, in a professedly religious concern, with
persons of religious principles different from their own; at the same time humbly trusting, that every honest endeavour for the advancement of Christ's gospel in the world, however injudicious the mode adopted for the purpose may be, will not fail to be graciously accepted by that divine Being, who knoweth the heart, and “ seeth not as man seeth.”
There is however one observation which has not unfre. quently been attached to the present subject, to which it may be proper to say a short word.
Much credit has of late years been taken by some who pride themselves on having found out a more general and comprehensive mode of propagating religion in the world, than is compatible with that established system, which has received the sanction of the Apostles, and the test of experience; whilst those who walk in the old paths, because they consider them to be sure paths, hare, in the popular language of the day, been freely given credit for narrowness of wind, bigotry and intolerance ; whereas, I am inclined to think, were the account fairly balanced between the two parties, it would be found that a firm and consci