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has been in many respects hostile to that peace, which they have extolled. Charity forbids us to believe, that these persons, many of whom were famous in their generation, conspicuous for ardent zeal, and unaffected piety, were insincere in their professions; that they loved the strife which they promoted, or despised the unity which they were the unhappy instruments of destroying. But though it would ill become us to bring such a charge against them yet the too frequent contradiction exhibited between their writings and their actions sufficiently proves, that the real nature of Christian unity has sometimes been grievously mistaken; since those, who have professed themselves to be its warmest advocates, and have been deficient neither in zeal nor ability to promote the cause they undertook to defend, appear in the result to have employed their talents, rather in weakening than in giving strength to the foundations, upon which it must be built. This fact, which an appeal to the ecclesiastical history of our own country will establish upon authority not to be

shaken, will of itself justify the inquiry intended to be pursued in the present Lecture; in which, as introductory to a more enlarged discussion of the important subject of Christian unity, as it affects the character, the conduct, and the interests of our own Church, I shall endeavour to explain generally the nature of that union, by which our blessed Lord prayed that his Disciples might be distinguished; and to shew, that its production and security formed one great purpose of the religion, which he came to establish. m The language of the text carries our ideas upon this subject as high as the human intellect can reach. "Neither pray I for these


alone, but for them also which shall believe "on me through their word; that they all 66 may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, " and I in thee, that they also may be one "in us that the world may believe that "thou hast sent me." The model, then, by which the unity of Christians is to be fashioned, is perfect; they are to be one

m See Note III. Appendix.

with each other, even as Christ is one with the Father. The copy of this model must of necessity bear the character of the material, of which it is composed; and when such an imperfect being as man is taught, in any particular, to imitate his Maker, the precept must be interpreted, with due allowances for the infinite disproportion between God and his creatures.

But although the unity of Christians can→ not be equal in degree, still it should be similar in kind, to that which it is intended to resemble. And the duty of establishing and preserving it, is to be confined within no other limits, than those which the nature of man necessarily imposes on his exertions.

If every Christian would sincerely and constantly regulate his heart and his affections, his opinions and his practice, by the precepts of the Gospel; doubtless a perfection of unity, hitherto existing only in the imaginations of the benevolent and pious, might obtain among us. But while men continue to be actuated by prejudice and passion, rather than by motives of rea

son and duty; while religion itself is but partially obeyed by the best, and wholly disregarded by many, who profess their belief of its truth and obligation; such a state of things must rather be the object of and wishes, than of our expec

our prayers tations it may be desired upon the earth, but it can be enjoyed only in heaven. Our Lord himself n" knew what was in "man :" he did not therefore trust to individual feelings, for the preservation of that bond, by which he intended his disciples to be connected: and if the object of his prayer is ever accomplished, it must be done, not by the mere impulse of benevolent sentiments; but by the association of Christians, upon the plan marked out for them by the Apostles, under his direction.

But since many have taken very erroneous views of this important subject, by confounding Christian unity with the dispositions of mind, which every Christian ought to cultivate; it may be necessary to examine one or two mistaken notions of it,

" John ii. 25.

before we proceed to inquire what are really its essentials.

I. First, then, Christian unity is not merely a tie of mutual affection. 。 That we should love our neighbour as our"selves," is indeed one great distinguishing precept of revealed religion; and where true unity is preserved, the obligations of this precept will doubtless be most strongly felt but the law, which binds us generally to do good to all, even to our enemies, must not be mistaken for that special bond of union, which connects us as Christian brethren. We may cherish sentiments of good-will towards persons, whose opinions

and conduct we are bound in conscience

to oppose: but they who would be one with each other, as Christ Jesus is one with his Father, must p "be perfectly joined to"gether, in the same mind, and in the "same judgment;" nay, more than this, they must 9" walk by the same rule,” and speak the same thing." Christian unity

• Mark xii. 31.

9 Phil. iii. 16. 1 Cor. i. 10.

p 1 Cor. i. 10.

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