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let him be honoured by his brethren according to the good which he has done unto them!
I would not have this language misinterpreted into a spurious and indiscriminate easiness. No. If a word be spoken, or even a thought conceived, which may tend to dispense with personal religious obligation but to a single Christian, such thought must be conceived in ignorance, and such word is spoken to be repented of! But an uniformity of spiritual advancement, or a fixed and forced equality of devotion to thoughts and things purely religious, neither seems compatible with the diversity of powers which make up the sum of social happiness, nor does it appear that Scripture itself either supposes or enjoins it. Yet (as was said) there are, who would condemn too hastily very many useful vocations ; it may be, some of the“ sciences” or “ arts," (let us take these for an
example,) by which life is so much benefited. Cf. Isaiah Now, woe to those, whoever shall set“ science”
in opposition to “ truth,” or make “ knowledge” minister to “ evil!" It needs no proof, how they break through their bond of fellowship, and their allegiance to their Lord. But it is a shame to piety, that “ knowledge” and “ true religion”
should ever be described as necessarily at vaLect. iv.p. riance! The temptation of “ knowledge” has
been considered, and admitted to be very great; yet is etery gift of divine goodness worthy to be
esteemed in its right use, on every ground of reason and of gratitude. I think, a practical sense of Christian “ brotherhood” may give us this rule; that “ he best answers the purpose of “his calling, (even though his calling be a subora “ dinate one,) who, in the great community of “ life, most diligently cultivates his own talent, in “ the faith and fear of God; and subscribes “ cheerfully among his brethren the best amount “ of that." And to exercise ourselves in this manner according to the gifts vouchsafed to each, and not to measure or despise a brother's lawful occupation, is the best way to keep the unity of social spirit in the bond of peace.
I. g. 4. I cannot forbear adverting to one healing effect more of this same spiritual estimate of life ; where the evil to be deprecated arises either from premature and too positive conclusions, or from want of charitable interpretations.
It concerns a question upon which I would thankfully forbear speaking, if silence on such a point were honestly consistent with the proposition now maintained: but to pass unnoticed what is perhaps the very greatest of all social perplexities, would not be honest : and I cannot think that there is any point in which a master principle is so much needed, in the intercourse of life, to fix a right judgment; not any point, which must so painfully distract the conscien
tious member of a sound, yet not infallible, :
A double “unity” is broken here. What, then, will be the operation of this principle of “ real brotherhood,” first,“ in affording relief 6 under such harrassing perplexity to the sincere “conformist himself ?” and next, “ in dis“posing him to judge fairly and charitably con“ cerning those, his fellow-heirs in the same spi“ ritual promises, who have chosen to remove “ their tents, and dwell apart from him?"
Suspending, then, for the present; all other claims of obedience to Church authority; foregoing all the rights and influence of possession and of power; and speaking only in popular terms, and on terms, in other respects, of equality ; is it unreasonable to affirm, (where the Gospel is received and acknowledged,) that “ an “ established communion - of a constitution “ agreeable to Scripture, saving in doctrine, " and neither corrupted by vain traditions nor os overloaded with cumbrous ceremonies, has a
“ title to adherence, simply from the fact that it Cf. Note b. “ is established, of sufficient strength to set it
« above all lesser objections?"
If this be not unreasonable, then certainly the first and clearest counsel of a sense of real brotherhood (at least, to all as yet happily abid. ing in the courts of their proper temple) will
Lect. i. p.
beto reconcile them to a fixed spirit of dutiful conformity.
For let the offence of “schism” be put to trial, as a question of Christian fairness, by a very simple and familiar test. Is not he (in any case) the person guilty of offence, who, being set to travel on a common journey, first gives a brother needless (and not unreasonable) cause of sorrow, where that brother has given none to him?
Without apology, then, I presume to call it a thing quite unreasonable that adherence to the outward bond of our own excellent communion should, by itself, give cause of pain to the feelings of any considerate person acknowledging the mediation of Jesus Christ. Pain of the sort I mean can only be caused justly by an apprehension of the soul's danger. “False doctrine,” in a visible church, is a legitimate cause of separation: perhaps " that entire looseness and inde“ finiteness of interpretation which would follow « from the want of all prescribed forms of devo« tion, or articles of peace,” may be another: but I hardly know what else can be, unless it be “a “ form of government palpably and positively “ unscriptural.” There are, however, many who think otherwise. Yet surely it is not imaginable—that any reflecting Christian can be really disquieted for that brother's everlasting condi
tion, whomsoever he shall see walking faithfully according to our creed and ordinances! The disciple of such a church, therefore, who essentially regulates his life according to its terms, gives no just offence, or cause of pain, to any man, by his religious conduct.
But how fares it in the other case? I believe it not to be possible for the dutiful and conscientious Conformist to help feeling pain and sorrow for every single separation from it; even though he regard the seceder, personally, with all respect and candour, and know his life
to be excellent and holy. If, withdrawing him2 Cor. xi. 4. self, he still can preach no other Jesus, whom
we have not preached ; if he have received no other Spirit, which we have not received ; no other Gospel, which we have not accepted ;there is a pang produced by the very act itself of separation ; a blight fixed upon the heart's affection, in consequence, which charitable thought, indeed, may prevent from drying up the fountain of love, but nothing less than a re-union can remove, as it ought to be removed. The separatist, then, does cause grief to his brother; he does inflict a wound.
To the conscientious spirit, therefore, of the conformist, almost bewildered by conflicting tumults of religious opinion, and more humbly conscious of the real imperfections of his own com