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sooner will the body of Christians spue the unhallowed effusions of party zeal out of their mouths.
There seems to be a growing aversion to speculative theology, from a belief of its unprofitableness; the learning of the schoolmen is passing into oblivion or disesteem; and the intense anxiety which formerly prevailed to know what men ought to believe, is moderated by the desire of knowing also what they ought to do in order to please God. The whole of religion is assuming a more practical form, and it is no longer believed to be enveloped in all the mystery which the learning and zeal of the disputatious have thrown around it.
2. We have all the advantages which the history of the church is capable of affording to show the uselessness of sects, and their evil effects and tendencies. The experience of two hundred years is thus brought before us, and proves satisfactorily, how futile is the attempt to make a purer church by narrowing the terms of communion and membership, and thus compelling the believer to make a choice between opposing denominations, or to live without any visible communion with his fellow heirs of salvation. The history of two centuries has also furnished us with an ample view of the manifold and grievous evils which have resulted from the violation of the constitutional unity of the church.
3. We have not only the evidence that a portion, and a considerable and very respectable portion of the Christian community, have begun to see the necessity of a union between Christians of different denominations, but we have the strong and encouraging fact that an actual union has been formed for several important and valuable purposes, in the formation of the Boards of Foreign
and Domestic Missions, as well as the Education and Tract Societies, and the Sunday School Union.
4. We have evidence of a most pleasing and satisfactory nature of the harmonious faith of all evangelical Christians in every doctrine and practice that is of essential importance, in the nine volumes of tracts published to the world by the American Tract Society, containing a body of doctrinal and practical divinity of more value than all the human creeds, confessions of faith, and systems of theology which form the standards of any church on earth. The great and many truths embraced in these volumes, most clearly show how much of Christ and his salvation, and the duty of man to God and his fellow men, may be taught and preached without conflicting with the sectarian opinions of any denomination. The existence of these volumes of tracts of such a character is indeed a most remarkable fact; and it is matter of regret that they have not found a place in the library of every clergyman and of every Christian family in the United States.
5. May we not also derive encouragement from the alarm which is manifested by the advocates of sectarian division, and the measures which they have taken and are taking to strengthen the chains of sect? We do not intend to charge them with aiming simply at that object. They are doubtless moved by an honest apprehension that the signs of the times indicate a great revolution in the concerns of the church, which they fear will overturn established opinions and usages, and so open the floodgates of error as to confound truth with falsehood. This has been the ground of justification for the continued. violation of the constitutional unity of the church during
the last two centuries; as though the Bible did not contain within itself the principles necessary to preserve the holy religion it reveals, and as though something of the wisdom of man exercised in contrariety to the wisdom of God, were requisite to guard the purity of the faith once delivered to the saints. The measures now in . operation to fortify the walls of sect, need not be specified in this place, especially as they are distinctly seen by every observer of what is doing in the church. They have been prompted by the fear of disaster, from the very events and operations which we hail as the earnests of approaching deliverance for the church from its unholy distractions, and of gathering into one the whole family of Christ.
6. We derive stronger encouragement from the union of all opposers of religion against whatever deserves the name of Christianity. All the hosts of opposition are fast combining themselves into one army, to wage war against the Lord and his anointed. The church of Rome will soon, unless some sudden change occurs in the course of things, fold in its embrace Unitarians, Universalists, and Infidels. They see, or the malignant spirit that impels them sees, that they are ere long to contend with the united church of Christ, which is the object of their deadly hatred, and the wrath of the foul adversary is evidently great, apprehending that his hitherto undisturbed sway of the world, is short. As the hosts of the grand adversary are mustering and concentrating their strength; it must either be in consequence of indications perceived by him of a formidable union of the army of the Lord Almighty, or it ought to be viewed as the signal and call for such a union.
7. There are evident tokens of a divine, influence
upon the minds of Christians, which will not permit them to rest under the present state of unlawful and unnatural division in the church. One of the offensive forms in which the unchristian character of divisions between the followers of Christ is exhibited, is the exclusion of each other from the table of the Lord, because they are not of the same denomination. Some entire religious communities have acted upon this exclusive practice of close communion for ages, without having been disturbed by any doubts of its accordance with the Holy Scriptures. This state of the conscience was owing entirely to the state of feeling, for it is the want of correct religious feelings which has engendered most of the speculative or practical heresies which have troubled the church of Christ. The language of sect to every one that believes not and walks not with them in all things, is, "Stand by thyself; come not near to me; for I am holier than thou;" and, when addressing her own adherents, says, in reference to all other Christians, "Come ye out from among them, my people, and touch not the unclean thing."
But as soon as a spark of that universal love to mankind, which ought to reign in every heart, began to glow in the bosoms of Christians in England and America, and manifested itself in active efforts to extend the influence of the gospel, an assault was made on the throne of sect. It was accompanied with a conviction of the unscriptural character of the exclusive doctrines that had so long been sanctioned by the strenuous supporters of sectarian divisions. While Doctor Mason of NewYork was writing his plea for open communion, with the view of proving to his own denomination the duty of receiving at their table every Christian of whatever church
he was a member, Robert Hall, of the Baptist Church in England, was preparing his book on the same subject, in order to press the same duty on his brethren. These two giants in literature and theology were moved at the same time toward the same object, each of them being entirely ignorant of what the other was doing or purposing to do. Both of these publications, powerful and conclusive in the principles they advocate, strike a deadly blow at the empire of sect; for although the authors, forcibly impressed with the utter incompatibility with Christian feeling and the constitution of the church, of the practice which excludes believers in Christ from partaking of his supper at the same table with their brethren, aimed only at the establishment of that truth, yet the premises upon which their conclusion is based, lead irresistibly to the further conclusion that the division of the church of Christ into independent sects, is unlawful and unconstitutional. That this was the legitimate conclusion to be drawn from these books was well understood by the discerning of even their own churches, and from that time neither of these two authors, good, wise, and great men as they truly were, was a favourite with his own denomination. The principles established in these publications are now operating in the minds of Christians on both sides of the Atlantic, and if they are, as we verily believe them to be, of the leaven of Christianity, they will sooner or later diffuse themselves through the whole mass of the Christian church. Their progress may for a while be retarded by the opposing influences brought against them, but ultimately, if they are from God, they must become prevalent. He will continue to press upon the minds of his people the truths