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even these two parties united in one body under Jesus Chrift, and the main controverfy of them all was only with Pagans and idola. ters.

But when Chriftians became less apprehenfive of the common enemy than of one another; when they began (which was too early indeed) to adulterate the pure religion of Jefus with additions and inventions of their own, on which they laid more stress than on his words, and to turn the gofpel into abftrufe and barren speculation, instead of regarding it as a plain, affecting, and edifying rule of life; when the churches were no longer known by their mutual love, but by loud clamours about heresy and orthodoxy; when, from perfecuted Christians, the world began to fee those monstrous things called Chriftian perfecutors; when human force and violence fuca ceeded to reason and argument, in the propagation and defence of the truth, and were exerted by Chriftians, not only against infidels, but against their fellow Christians; when

were to be convinced by heavy forfeitures, and by bodily pains and tortures, inftead of meek perfuafion and friendly debate; to conclude, when Christians would no longer allow their brethren and fellow-fervants to be subject to the authority of Christ, the common Lord of them all ; but would moreover compel them, by the terrors of this world, to be fubject also to their authority in the things of seligion;- From that time, my brethren, and

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by these means, the body of Christ being no longer one, but rent in a thousand pieces, his religion declined every day. Its glory was debafed, its force enervated, its very light al. most extinguifhed. Ignorance, hypocrisy, and trifling ceremonies of human contrivance, came to take place of honesty and understand. ing, of solid piety and undifsembled love * Scarce any vestige of Christianity remained in the world, at least in that noble fimplicity which is natural to it, except in the books of sacred scripture, which were preserved indeed, but prohibited from common use. We are, by God's blessing, delivered from that deplorable darkness and servitude ; but are still, it is to be feared, a great way from Christian perfection.

These things, however, may serve, in fome measure, to convince us of how much importance it is, that the profeffed followers of Christ be one, in order that the world

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perfuaded of his divine miffion, and engaged to embrace his religion. And we may now perceive how neceffary a connection there is betwixt these two great events.

What remains, then, Chriftians, but that, in order to obtain the inestimable benefit which Jesus Christ here prays for to us; and that we may not counteract his blessed intercession in our behalf, and deprive ourselves of all the

Sec Dr Lardner's obfervations on the first council of Nice, in bis credibility of the Gospel History.

fruits of his mediation, that we may not be the occafion of causing him to be regarded by the world as an impoftor, and his religion as a fiction of human device ; what remains, I fay, but that we strive to be like minded, and join our best endeavours to promote all Chriftian holiness in ourfelves and others, especially union and love ? It is not in our power indeed to unite all men, or to reconcile them to one another, any more than to the truth; but let us lament the disorders which we cannot cure, and commend the cure of them to the wifdom and goodnefs of our heavenly Tather. Who knows how far the united prayers and tears of a single church, animated by the Spirit of Christ, may go towards the benefit of the whole Chriftian world? Above all, let us be examples of that holy it nion and peace which ought to reign among all Christians; ever preserving and cherishing a generous, disinterested, catholic fpirit, and abounding in love one towards another, and to all men.

If others differ in opinion from us, let us not judge or defpife them merely on that account ; but whilst they walk by the same rule that we do, and their lives appear to be Chriftian, let us say,

66 Peace be on “ them, and on all the Israel of God." If they judge or condemn us, merely because we dif. fer from them, let us regard them rather as objects of our pity than of our resentment: they and we both must appear one day before the judgement-seat of Chrift,

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We are now going to celebrate that ordinance which Jesus Christ hath instituted for the remembrance of himself; and which he intended, among other excellent purposes, to be an external token of the inward cordial union and fellowship of all his disciples : " For

we being many," says the apoftle, "are one " bread, and one body; for we are all pare takers of that one bread." Let us perform this service with Christian difpofitions; and then, though we may appear outwardly to be feparated from many who are called Chriftians, we shall be truly one with all those in every, communion whom Jesus Christ will acknowledge for his disciples. For whatever 'multitude of separate churches and communions there may be in the Christian world, it is not to be doubted but Jesus hath “his Theep” in every fold ; that is, men of a truly Christian temper and behaviour, who, though they may be at a great diftance from one another with regard to place, and often are unknown to each other, are nevertheless well known to him ; and who, in fact, all think the same things in the main, and are all united in promoting the great design of the gospel ; which is, the knowledge of truth, and the practice of righteousness, from the hope of immortality, without regard to world: ly interests. All these, where-ever they are scattered upon the face of the earth, and how , ever different they may seem in their outward forms and modes of worship, belong to “ the

“ general “ general assembly and church of the first « born, whose names are written in heaven;" and they will all be brought together into one blefied society, in that " day when Jesus Christ « shall come to be glorified in his faints, and so to be admired of all them that believe.” With these men, my brethren, and like these men, let us communicate, at the same time that we communicate with one another; and thus truly our fellowship thall be with the Fa. ther, and with his Son Jesus Christ. To whom be blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, for ever and ever. Amen.

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