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you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another: but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” And before he concludes the epistle, he adds, “I would they were even cut off who trouble you.” The beloved and benevolent apostle John, after all his pathetic exhortations to brotherly love, expressly forbids Christians to receive, or even countenance the teachers of false doctrine. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." In these instances, the apos
. tles appear to follow the example of their divine Master who solemnly warned his friends to avoid and reject false doctrines and false teachers. Whilst he was upon earth, he said, “Beware of false prophets. Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducecs.” And since his ascension to heaven, he highly censured the churches in Asia, for not censuring and rejecting those, who had crept in among them, and propagated gross and fatal errors. It is, therefore, extremely difficult to conceive how it is possible for those, who are united in the belief of the truth, to obey these divine directions and admonitions, without disapproving and condemning, and, in some cases, totally excluding from their communion, such as openly deny the es. sential doctrines of Christianity.
4. If there be a propriety in God's requiring Christians to be united in the belief of the truth, then there appears to be no propriety, in attempting to unite them in affection without uniting them in sentiment. Many seem to be much engaged to promote Christian union and harmony in this way. They warmly urge us, to overlook the vast variety of religious errors in the Christian world, and to unite in affection, with all who bear the Christian name. They would have us give up the groundless hope of ever becoming united in sentiment, and to use all our efforts, to bring about mutual Jove and peace among all the professors of Christianity. But is this either a proper, or lawful method, to obtain the desirable end proposed? It seems the apostle did not deem this a proper method, to remove the divisions and disputes in the church of Corinth. Instead of urging them to overlook each other's errors, and agree to differ in sentiments, he exhorted them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment, that then they might love as brethren, speak the same thing, and live in perfect peace. And this is the only proper way, to promote brotherly love, among any, or all denominations of Christians, upon a 'solid and permanent foundation. For, the brotherly love, which the gospel requires, is very different from gen eral benevolence. We ought to feel benevolently towards all mankind, and wish well to the bitterest enemies of Christianity. But it is hard to conceive how the true believers of the gospel, can exercise brotherly love to those, who appear to disbelieve and despise the precious truths, upon which they found their hopes of heaven, and in the contemplation of which they expect the happiness of heaven will chiefly consist. They can no more exercise brotherly love to such as disbelieve and deny the essential doctrines of the SOS pel, than they can exercise brotherly love to such as deny the gospel itself. Unity of faith is the only proper basis of unity of spirit. Christians may be and inust be united in affection, so far as they are eni
ted in sentiment: but so far as they are disunited in sentiment, they are and must be disunited in affection. There is, therefore, no propriety, nor prospect of success in attempting to unite the professed friends of Christ in brotherly love, without first uniting them in the belief of the same essential doctrines of the gospel.
But supposing that the whole Christian world could be brought to unite in affection, while they retain all their different and inconsistent opinions, it would be utterly wrong to attempt it. For, if Christians should form such a coalition, it would be criminal in itself, and highly injurious to the cause of religion. They would disobey the divine injunction, “to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”. They would become an unchristian combination, to countenance and support each other in all their errors and delusions. They would, in practice, justify all the errors and delusions of Deists, Atheists, and Skeptics. And they would actually exercise that same kind of catholicism, which heretics and infidels have so long been pleading for, and by which they have done more mischief to Christianity, than by any other weapon, which they have ever employed against it. Under the pretext of promoting universal toleration, they have taught multitudes and multitudes, to extend their catholicism to disbelievers, deniers and opposers of the gospel. This unlimited catholicism naturally tends to subvert the gospel, and to involve the whole world in error and infidelity. Let none, therefore, cherish this spirit, and strengthen the hearts and hands of the enemies of truth, by attempting to unite Christians in affection, without uniting them in the belief of the great and essential doctrines of Christianity.
It now appears from the whole tenor of this discourse, that it seriously concerns all who acknowledge the truth and divinity of the gospel, to use every proper method to become entirely united in sentiment. The apostle enjoins this duty upon the Corinthians, with peculiar solemnity and pathos: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." He addresses the Ephesians on the same subject, with equal ardor and zeal. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you, that ye would walk worthy of the vocation wherewith yc are called_endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the hond of peace. The propriety and importance of this, he proceeds to show, by observing 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, through all, and in you all.” And be inculcates this sentimental union upon the Pilippians, with still warner and tenderer feelings. -If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." If these divine precepts ever bound Christians, they bind them still. I Christians were ever able to obey these divine precepts, they are still able to obey them. And is Christians were ever un
if der obligation, they are still under obligation, to use every proper method to become united in their religious sentiments.
For this purpose, therefore, let them freely examine the various points, in which they mutually differ
This is, undoubtedly, too much neglected on all sides, through indolence or aversion. One side are very apt to imagine, that those who differ from them, have no scripture, nor reason on their side, but are altogether governed by an improper spirit, in forming their opinions upon religious subjects. But if they would freely examine each other's peculiar sentiments, they would probably find, that those who differ from them, have sometimes been as laborious,impartial, and judicious, in searching after truth as they have been; and have approached nearer to it in some points, than they have done. There is no ground to suppose, that any one de. nomination of Christians, nor any individuals in any one denomination, have engrossed all truth and renounced all error. If Christians in general, therefore, would more freely examine each other's sentiments, they would think much more nearly alike upon disputed subjects.
It would bave the same happy tendency, if they would examine the points of difference between them, candidly as well as freely. Candor would dispose every one to lay aside prejudice and partiality, and make him willing to discover whatever is erroneous in his own sentiments, and whatever is true in the opinions of others. It is much more owing to a de. ficiency in candor, than to a deficiency in discernment, that so many disputes arise, and remain unsetiled among the various denominations of Christians, If they would put on candor, it would cure them of bigotry, and open the eyes of their understanding, to discover truth and error wherever they exist. And they must imbibe this amiable and conciliating spirit, before they can have the least ground to expect, that they shall approach any nearer to the unity of the faith.