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commend it; Icbuld chuse rather to comment thereoa, with, tears, thaa words: it is just matter of lamentation, to think what feeble influences such divine and pathetical exhortations have, upon the minds and hearts of professed Christians. Bat it is not lamentations, but proper counsels, and-convictions obeyed, must do the work.
The primitive, and purest churches of Christ, conGsted of imperfect members, who, notwithstanding they were knit together by the lame internal bond of the Spirit, and the fame external bonds of common profession, and common daDger, and enjoyed extraordinary helps for uniting, in the presence, and doctrine of the apostles among them; yet quickly discovered a schismatical spirit, dividing both in'judgment and affection, to the great injury of religion, and grief of the apostles spirits. To check and heal this growing evil in the church at Corinth, the apostle addresses his pathetical exhortation to them, and to all future churches of Christ, whom it equally concerns, in the words of my text y Now I beseech you, brethren, Sec. Where aote,
1. The duty exhorted to, ,
2. The arguments enforcing the doty.
1' The duty exhorted to, namely, unity; the beaoty, strength, and glory, as well as the duty of a church. This unity he describes two ways, r. As it is exclusive of its opposite, schism, or division: all rents, and rash separations, are contrary to it, and destructive of it; 1 beseech you, brethren, that there be no divisions s_or schisms] among you. 2. As it is inclusive of all that belongs to it, namely the harmony and agreement of their judgments, hearts, and language. (.1 ) That ye all speak the same thing. (2.) That ye be perfectly joined together in one mind. And, (3.) In the same judgment. This threefold unions in judgment, affection-, and language, includes all that belongs to Christian concord, makes the saints Yv(*4,»%oi, men of one heart and foul, the loveliest sight this world affords, Acts ii. 46, 47.
2. The arguments enforcing this duty upon them, come next under consideration. And these are three; (1.) / beseech you. (2.) I beseech you, brethren. (3.) 1 beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. These arguments are not of equal force and efficacy; the first is great, the second greater; the last the most efficacious and irresistible of all the rest: but all together should come with such power, and irresistible efficacy, upon the judgments, consciences, and hearts of Christians, *s should perfectly knit them together, and defeat ail the fa signs of Satan, and his agents without them, or of their own corruptions within them, to rend asunder their affections, or communion.
Argum. 1. And first, he enforces the duty of unity by a solemn, apostolical obsecration, and adjuration, / beseech you, faith he; he had power to command them to this duty, and threaten them for the neglect of it: He had in readiness to revenge all disobedience, and might have shaken that rod over them; but he chuseth rather to intreat, and beseech them: Now I beseech you, brethren; here you have, as it were, the great apostle upon his knees before them, meekly, and pathetically intreating them to be at perfect unity among themselves. It is the intreaty of their spiritual father, that had begotten them to Christ. Now [I] beseech you, brethren: I, who was the instrument in Christ's hands of your conversion to him; I, that have planted you a gospel-church, and assiduously watercd you j I beseech you all, by the spiritual ties, and endearments betwixt you and me, that there be no divisions among you. This is the first argument, wrapt up in a solemn obsecration.
Next, he enforces the duty of unity, by the nearness of their relation ; I beseech you, brethren: Brotherhood is an endearing thing, and naturally draws affection, and unity with it, 1 Pet. iii. 8. "Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of ano"ther; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; ye are the "children of one Father, joint-heirs of one and the fame in"heritance." To fee an Egyptian smiting an Israelite, is no strange fight; but to fee one Israelite quarreling with another, is most unnatural, and uncomely: The nearer the relation, the stronger the affection. "How good, and how pleasant is it "(faith the Psalmist) for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Psal. cxxxiii. 1.
But the greatest argument of all, is the last, viz. In the name ts our Lord Jesus Christ. In this name he beseeches, and intreats them to be at perfect unity among themselves. In the former he sweetly insinuated the duty, by a loving compilation, but here he sets it home by a solemn adjuration; I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: That is to fay, 1. For Christ's fake, or for the love of Christ; by all that Christ hath done, suffered, or purchased far you; and as Christ is dear, and precious to you, let there be no divisions. If you have any love for Christ, do not grieve him, and obstruct his great design in the world, by your scandalous schisms. Mr. John Fox never denied a beggar that asked an alms of him, fa
Christ Jesus fake
1. In she name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, in the authority of Christ; for so his name, also, signifies, 1 Cor. ?. 4. and it is as if he had said, If you reverence the supreme authority, and sovereignty of Christ, which is the fountain out of which so many solemn commands of unity do stow; then fee, as you will answer him at the great day, that ye be perfectly joined together in one mind, and in one judgment. The point will be this.
Dost. Unity amongst believers, especially in particular churchrelation, is as desirable a mercy, as it is a necessary, and indispenfable duty.
How desirable a mercy it is, and how necessary a duty, let the fame apostle, who presseth it upon the Corinthians io my text, be heard again, enforcing the fame duty with the fame warmth, upon the church at Philippi, chap. ii. ver. 1,2." If "there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort
of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels of "mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the "fame love, being of one accord, of one mind." In handling this point, I will shew,
1. What unity among believers is.
t. How the necessity, and desirableness of it, may be evhv ced.
3. And then lay down the motives, and directions about it, (1.) What unity amongst believers is, and more particularly such believers as stand in particular church-relation to each other.
There is a twofold union, one mystical, betwixt Christ and believers; another moral, betwixt believers themselves: faith kDits them all to, Christ, and then love knits them one to another. Their common relation to Christ, their head, endears them to each other, as fellow members in the fame body r hence they become sanguine Christi cenglutinati, glued together by the blood of Christ. Union with Christ is fundamental to all union among the saints. Perfect union would flow from this their common union with Christ, their head, were they not here in an imperfect state, .where their corruptions disturb and hinder It; and as soon as they shall attain unto complete fanctification, they shall'also attain unto perfect unity. How their unity with Odc another comes, by way of necessary refultancy, from their union with Christ, and how this unity among themselves shall at last arise to its just perfection, that one text plainly discovers, John xvii. 23. " I in them, and thou in me; that they "may be made perfect in one," ire.
Unity amongst those that hold not the head, is rather a con* spiracy, than a gospel-unity. Believers, and unbelievers, may have a political, or civil unipo; but there's no spiritual unity, but what flows from joint-membership in Christ. I will not deny, but, in particular churches, there may be, and still are some hypocrites, who hold communion with the faints, and pretend to belong unto Christ, the fame head with them; but as they have no real union with Christ, so neither have they any sincere affection to the faints; and these, for the most part, are they that raise tumults aud divisions in the church, as disloyal subjects do in the commonwealth. Of these the apostle speaks, 1 John ii. 19. '.' They went out from us, but they were not of "us; for it they had been of us, they would, no doubt, have "continued with us; but they went out, that it might be "made manifest they were not all of us."
Sincere Christianity holds fast the loul by a firm bond of life to the Uuly Christian community, wherein they reap those spiritual pleasures and advantages, which assure their continuance therein to a great degree: but thole that join with the church, upon carnal, and external inducements, make little conscience of rending from it; and God permits their schismatical spirits thus to act, for the discovering of their hypocrisy, or (as the text speaks) " that it might be made manifest they were not of "us;" as also, that they which are approved, may, by their constancy, be also made manifest, 1 Cor. xi. 1 o.
It hath, indeed, been said, that it is never better with the church, than when there are most hypocrites in it; but then you must understand it only with respect to theexternal tranquillity, and prosperity of the church: For as to its real spiritual advantage, they add nothing. And therefore it behoves church-officers, and members, to be exceeding careful (especially in times of liberty, and prosperity) how they admit members, as the Jews in Solomon's time were of admitting proselytes. 'Tis said, Amos iii. 3. " How can two walk together, except "they be agreed I" I deny not, but persons that differ in some lesser points, as to their judgment, may, and ought to be one 10 affection; but of this I am sure, that when sanctified persons, agreed in judgments and principles, do walk together under pious and judicious church-officers, in tender affection, and the exercise of all duties tending to mutual edification, glorifying God with one mouth, Rom. xv. 6. and cleaving together with Weness of heart, Acts ii. 42. This is such, a church-Unity, as answers Christ's end in the institution of particular churches, 1 and greatly tends to their own comfort, and the propagation of I Christianity in the world. Tongue-unity flows from heartunity; heart-unity, in a great measure, from head-unity; and all three from union with the Lord Jesus Christ. The divisions of our tongues come mostly from the divisions of our hearts; \ were hearts agreed, tongues would quickly be agreed; and then what blessed times might be expected? And so much briefly for the nature of unity. Next,
(2.) Let us evince, both the necessity and desirableness of this unity among believers, and this will appear in a threefold I respect; viz.
1. With respect to the glory of God.
2. The comfort and benefit of our own souls.
3. The conversion and salvation of the world.
(1.) With respect to the glory of God. The manisestative glory of God (which is all the glory we are capable of giving him, is the very end of our being, and should be dearer to us than our lives) is exceedingly advanced by the unity of his people. Hence is the apostle's prayer, Rom. xv. 5, 6. " Now "the God of patience, and consolation, grant you to be like "minded one towards another, according to Christ Jesns, that ** you may with one mind, and one mouth glorify God." Tis highly remarkable, that the apostle, in this petition for the unity of the saints, doth not only describe that unity he prays for, one mouth» and one mind, and shews how much God would be glorified by such an union; but he also addresses himself to God for it, under these two remarkable titles, the God of patience nnd consolation,- thereby intimating two things, (1.) How great need, and exercise, there is of patience in maintaining unitj among the saints: They must bear one another's buthens; thej must give allowance for mutual infirmities, for the church here is not an assembly of spirits of just men made perfect.' The nnity of the saints therefore1 greatly depends upon the exercise of patience one toward another; and this he begs the God of patience to give them. And to endear this grace of patience to them, He (z.) joins with it another title of God, viz. the CsJ of consolation, wherein he points them to that abundant comfort which would result unto themselves from such a blessed unity, continued and maintained, by the mutual exercises of patience and forbearance, one towards another. And to set home all, he lays before them the pattern and example of Christ: 7bt God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded, accordin&to Cbnjl. How many thousand infirmities and failures