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is sure to be very unpopular in his own connexion, where he might exert a beneficial influence, were not his attempts at improvement resisted and baffled by the power of sectarian bigotry, pride, and prejudice.
6. It gives courage and strength to opposers.
The enemies to true religion are close observers of the movements of the church, and especially do they notice its divisions. The history of sects, not only the more public, but even the secret movements of the contending parties are subject to the cognizance of their keen penetration; and where is the wonder that they should discover much to the reproach of Christians, as well as to the confirmation of their own unbelief and hatred of religion? The various differences and contentions among the advocates of Christianity, their divisions into sects almost innumerable, with the rage of party strife between them, and even their persecutions of each other, come most powerfully to the aid of the depraved heart, in rejecting the holy truths of the Bible, which they do not relish, and which they are conscious they do not obey. If Christianity were exhibited in its native light by those who believe it, it would go far towards conquering the power of the infidel to disbelieve; while now as the exhibition of the Christian character appears to his eye, instead of removing, it corroborates his infidelity.
Were it not for the deplorable divisions among Christians, the fatal heresies which from time to time are broached, would receive no countenance in the world. The heretic would find no place where to set his foot in the church; for he would be cut off as a rotten member, and there would be no sect to receive him. The harmonious worship, faith, and Christian practice of the united church would keep the wolves out of the sheepfold, and
they would then have to wander alone in the wilderness; or if they should attempt to collect a few followers, and assume the name of a church, the deception would, in most instances, be too apparent to deceive even the unwary. But now, amidst the multitude of denominations, all claiming to be the fold of Christ, and at least some of them exhibiting a character very different from that of peaceable and harmless sheep, is it matter of wonder that the Unitarian, the Universalist, the Roman Catholic, and the Mormonite, should confidently claim to be Christian churches, and be enabled, under the guise of religion, to do the work of their Master to more effect than could be done by their open opposition?
These enemies of religion would not be able to sustain their courage, did they see the friends of Christ acting in unison to extend the interests of his kingdom. All their efforts would be confined to deeds of darkness, as they would fail to find a place of safety in the light of day; and should they presume to present an open front of opposition, the moral power of the united church would speedily subdue them.
7. It retards the latter day of glory.
The sooner the church is reunited, the sooner may we expect the commencement of that happy period to which the friends of Christ are looking with joyful anticipations, when all shall know the Lord, from the greatest to the least; when righteousness and peace shall every where abound, and the Saviour's reign be established upon the earth. The victory over Satan might long since have been won, had not the soldiers of the cross made war upon each other, instead of uniting in a vigorous and persevering warfare against the common enemy.
The spirit of sect is at variance with the progress of holiness. Piety will not grow in the midst of envy, prejudice, party pride, hatred, strife and contention, narrow mindedness, bigotry, opposition to the progress of truth and reformation, under whose influence the light of Christianity is hidden under a bushel, and the salt has lost its savour. The degree of Christian perfection which the Scriptures teach us to be attainable, will not be exhibited by believers under all the demoralizing influences of sect; and in consequence, there will not be that exhibition of Christian character, which must ultimately be the great means under the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, to convert a world lying in wicked
Independently of these considerations, there is a tendency in the prevalence of sectarian divisions, to cripple all the other means for evangelizing the world, and bringing nominal Christians more fully under the influence of the gospel. The sectarian cannot admit the thought that the happy day of the church will arrive until the world is prepared to receive the doctrines, government, and rites of his own church. He is therefore reluctant, yea, and opposed to aid those general associations of Christians whose object is to extend the kingdom of Christ without regard to sect. To send the gospel to the heathen he may admit to be the duty of every Christian, but he has no heart to aid the board of foreign missions, unless he can be assured that they will propagate his own creed among the heathen. He cannot open his purse to the home missionary society, because he has no security that they will employ missionaries of his own party. He will not support the Sabbath School Union, because its conductors will not
promise to have his own catechism taught to the children; nor can he contribute to the funds of the American Education Society, because they may bring some men into the ministry who will not advance the interests of his own sect. The cause of seamen and prisons has no charms for him, not having any peculiar tendency to strengthen his own denomination. We are sorry to add that judging from the actions of multitudes of sectarians, there is reason to fear they would rather see the present state of things in the world continued, than to have the kingdom of Christ extended by associations of Christians who do not enter into their peculiar views and partialities. When can the world become evangelized under the prevalence of this narrow minded policy? Each sect is withholding its aid, until itself shall have acquired the power to accomplish the great work of converting the world. But none of them will ever possess this power. The only hope of effecting this great and glorious work, is the decline and ultimate fall of the empire of sect. It requires the united hearts, hands, purses, and prayers of protestant Christians to evangelize the heathen, convert the Jew to the faith of Christ, to purge the Greek and Latin churches from their corruptions, to bring sinners at home to repentance, and bring Christians under the full influence of the gospel.
The work to be done is great, almost beyond comprehension. The opposition and difficulties in the way are numerous and appalling. Were every Christian in the world employed in accomplishing it, yet how arduous would be the work, and how much time must it consume, what calamities must first be endured by the church, and what millions drop into the everlasting
abodes of the damned! How exceedingly lamentable, then, that those who are to perform the work, should voluntarily or ignorantly diminish the amount and efficiency of their resources, by jealousies, feuds, and divisions!
But upon the supposition that notwithstanding the retarding influence of sect, the cause of foreign missions should progress, and that the missionary establishments of the different denominations should extend the bounds of their present stations, until they shall come in contiguity to each other, what will be the result? Will each occupy his ground in peace, and assign territorial limits to the location of Episcopacy, Methodism, Baptism, Presbyterianism, and Congregationalism? Or will the parties, as they come into contact, act over again the same scene of contention, persecution, and malevolence, in every form which has been acted in Europe and the United States? Or rather, instead of deferring the commencement of hostilities until the bounds of their missionary stations shall meet, will not the spirit of proselytism goad on the different sects to establish missions in places already occupied by others, and so commence the war of sect without much longer delay?
In any event, how long can it be, before christianized heathens will hear of our divisions and strifes? And what will be the effect of this information upon the converts? What upon the unconverted? What will be the feelings of our missionaries, when their disciples inquire of them the meaning of our fierce disputings and schisms? It may, upon the whole, be a happy providence for the heathen that they know so little of the church in Christian lands. Should the spirit of brotherly love now descend upon us,
and reunite the church, the