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"and there shall be one fold, and one "shepherd." May we not be allowed to paraphrase this passage thus? I have disciples whom ye yet know not: they belong not indeed to the Jewish Church or nation, but their hearts are prepared for my doctrine; and when they are called by the ministry of my Apostles and their successors, they also shall hear my voice, f" receiving the word" with gladness and "readiness of mind," and submitting themselves, in all sincerity of faithful obedience, to my directions. "Them also "must I bring;" they shall be added to g my Church and when this great work is completed, and these Gentiles are wholly brought in; then shall the influence of my Gospel be fully manifested in the harmony of its professors; and all being perfectly joined together in the profession of the same faith, and in obedience to the same form of external polity, there shall be henceforth but "one fold," as there is but "one shepherd."

f Acts xvii. 11. g See Note CLII. Appendix.

Viewing then the text in this light, to what period in the annals of Christianity shall we look for its accomplishment? We know that when the h" blindness" which

had " happened in part to Israel," and

had closed the minds of God's

chosen people against the doctrine of salvation, obliged the Apostles to "turn to the "Gentiles," they traversed every region of the then civilized world, proclaiming the glad tidings of the Gospel; making converts, founding churches, and thus extending the spiritual dominion of the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls. We know also, how rapid was the growth of that seed which they planted; that, even under the most discouraging circumstances, it flourished and spread; until, like the * grain of mustard in the parable, it became a great tree, and nations reposed under its shadow. Still, however, this influence, so soon obtained, so widely extended, though wonderful in itself, and strongly attesting the overruling provi

h Romans xi. 25.

k Matthew xiii. 32.

i Acts xiii. 46.

dence of him, who giveth the hearing ear and the understanding heart, fills not up the idea which the language of the text suggests. For though other sheep were brought in, and the "redeemed of the "Lord were gathered out of all lands, "from the east and from the west, from “the north and from the south;" though all agreed in acknowledging one common shepherd, even Jesus Christ, in whose name they had believed; yet when can it be said that the fold has been one? Can we trace the unity which such a declaration would induce us to expect in the contests of the first Christians, when the Jewish convert was arrayed against his Gentile brother; the one, insisting upon the burdensome ceremonies of his own abrogated ritual; the other, not only rejecting these m beggarly elements," as they were styled by St. Paul, but uncharitably despising those, by whose inherited prejudices they were upheld?


Or shall we seek this unity in any par

1 Psalm cvii. 2, 3.

m Galatians iv. 9.


n 66

ticular church, which the Apostles founded? " ce Envying, strife, and divisions" banished it from Corinth. Of the Galatians, many, even under the great Apostle's inspection, were ready to "bite and devour "one another.” To the Ephesians, he was obliged strongly to urge the duty of p" keeping the unity of the Spirit in the "bond of peace;" and his monitory exhortations to the 9 Philippians and TM Colossians, as well as the anxiety which he expressed for the spiritual confirmation of the Thessalonians, all tend to prove, that the sons of confusion had already commenced their disorganizing labours.

As we descend, the prospect darkens before us; and the last testimony borne by the sacred records to the state of Christianity, prepares us but too well for the discord, which marks the later periods of ecclesiastical history. Of the 'seven churches addressed in the Apocalypse, two only are exempted from the censure of having in

n 1 Cor. iii. 3.
9 Phil. iii. 2.
s 1 Thess. iii.

• Gal. v. 15.
r Col. ii. 4. et seq.
Apoc. ii. iii.

P Eph iv. 3.

some degree departed from the purity and unity of the faith. Heresies had deformed the doctrine, and idolatries polluted the worship, of the remaining five.

From that period to the present, where shall we discover such an uniform adoption of the same doctrine, such mutual charity, such tranquil submission to one system of discipline, as seem requisite to the full accomplishment of our Saviour's prediction? Many indeed have been the temporal benefits conferred upon the world by Christianity; and however the vices or the passions of mankind may have counteracted its influence, these benefits are still perceptible wherever its knowledge has been extended. But its full effect has, perhaps, never yet been witnessed: and while it continues to be in itself a source of bitterness and envy, of contests and divisions; while its professors are separated from each other, by almost every possible modification of belief, and agree in little else, besides a nominal acknowledgment of one common Saviour; we must either be induced by past experience to conclude,

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