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Christians always exercise towards each other, as missionaries to the new planet, "Le Verrier.” Without instructions, in regard to their future operations, with no books but their Bibles, yet each remembering the creed adopted by the Alliance, they arrive at their destination. They find the planet peopled by sinners, without churches, and with no knowledge of the divers sects in this world; and are commissioned by Jehovah to preach the gospel, and scatter the bible among. them. Suppose that under their instructions, and the influence of the Bible, a revival commences, and suddenly a thousand souls are indulging hope. A meeting is called to organize a church, and great multitudes flock together, of various characters, with various designs, and present themselves as candidates for admission to the church. One of the twelve, say, Dr. Cox, is appointed to lead in the examinations, and others are to assist. The examination has not proceeded far before it is ascertained that some of the candidates differ in their views of doctrine and Christian practice. One, in the fulness of his rejoicing, has expressed the confident assurance that all the truly converted will meet ere long in heaven; and speaks of the elect of God, chosen from all eternity, and ordained unto salvation; in short, he is a thorough Calvinist. Another seems somewhat surprised at some of these expressions, and entertains a fear that some of the truly converted may yet be lost. He thinks the Bible teaches that some have been, and evidently represents that there is great danger of it; he feels more like urging to constant watchfulness and prayer, than rejoicing in view of a prospect so doubtful. And about this election he does not see as his brother does; he talks on the whole like a Methodist. Dr. Cox here interrupts to enlighten his mind a little. He quotes passages of scripture, which the candidate in his ignorance, is unable to answer, but which still fail to convince him. Before the Doctor has proceeded far, one of his colleagues intere poses,
that he has been accustomed to entertain views similar to those expressed by the brother under examination, and volunteers his aid in the argument. The conversation proceeds to some length, with considerable interest and warmth, yet in love and forbearance. Both the candidates give the best evidence of piety, and in the discussion evince no such want of candor, or such bitterness of spirit, as is inconsistent with true virtue. Their names are both set down as true converts, but in different columns, according to their peculiar views. The examination proceeds; other subjects are intro duced, and other views expressed. One rejoices in the prospect of bringing all, his family to the baptismal font. “Another, never supposed that infants, or any but believers, were proper subjects of baptism. Another, thought they should see a partial fulfillment of the prophecy, “So shall he sprinkle many nations.” Another could not divine why John should have called the multitudes to the river Jordan to be sprinkled. One has had a great struggle to overcome his pride, but now he feels that there is no ordinance in which he should more delight than that of feet-washing; he thinks it a most wise and useful institution. Another, never dreamed that Christ designed to establish an ordinance, when he washed his disciples' feet. Thus they proceed till all are examined. A hymn is then sung, and they unite in prayer. Some rise, some kneel, some sit, and a few fall prostrate on the floor; each according to the inclinations of his own heart. While one leads, some occasionally respond, others sob, and others in solemn silence shed the sympathizing tear. It seems in brief, as if Christians of all sorts had met in a common prayer meeting.
There is an intermission. The twelve retire together and review their records. It appears that of those having given satisfactory evidence of piety, a long list do not believe in the doctrine of saints' perseverance; and in other respects are like the Methodists in this world, only not so exceedingly tenacious, having never combatted those of different views. A large number are Calvinists, and these are subdivided into sprinklers and immersionists, Pædo-baptists, and Anti-pædobaptists, Hyper-Calvinists and Latitudinarians, &c., &c. Others have forms of prayer which they have carefully written, or others have written for them; and a few, like the Moravians, think feet-washing may be useful. A number of Universalists had come in, and sat near the door; but when they heard the interesting relations of conversion, and deep confessions of sin, and witnessed the ardent emotions exhibited, and especially the fervent prayers offered for the impenitent, one after another, they left the house, except one or lwo who were examined, and with a few moralists, and formalists, set down as doubtful cases, to receive further instruction.
To dispose of these doubtful cases, or the cases of those who profess to believe the Bible, yet from evident dislike to them, reject some of its plainest and most essential doctrines is no very difficult task. But what do with these materials, all breathing the same spirit, but holding views so dis
cordant, and yet so concordant is a question which summons, all their wisdom to decide. They are fully acquainted with the common disposal of such cases in this world, and the practical workings of the system, and resolve to make the best use of their experience in the organization about to be consummated.
Three plans only are suggested as possible.
Ist. A definite creed may be adopted on all points of faith and practice, and all required to subscribe it, or remain out of the church.
2d. Different creeds may be made to accommodate all the various views entertained by the heterogeneous multitude, and as many different churches formed. Or, ,
3d. A creed may be adopted embracing all those doctrines about which there can be no candid dispute among intelligent Christians, and omitting all not essential to the existence of piety and growth in grace.
The first of these plans finds no advocates among them; for neither of them is willing to assent to a creed which contradicts views long and conscientiously cherished, nor impose conditions upon his brethren to which he would not himself assent. Nor can such a course ever be adopted till a pope can be found, to become the ultimate authority in points of faith and practice, and adherents whose consciences will allow them to say, black is white, and white is black, as often as he requires.
Two courses only remain. It is found that by dividing the number into five or six divisions, there will be a tolerable degree of harmony among the members of each division. Whether this course shall prevail, or all be united together, is the question. In favor of each of these systems, the strongest arguments are advanced.
In favor of division, it is argued that it is the only way to preserve 6 the unity of the Spirit in the hond of peace. Two cannot walk together except they be agreed. Bring those discordant elements into one church, and there will be constant disputing about their peculiar views. In every conference meeting, each member will exalt his own peculiarities to the great grief of others; hard things will be said in private about each other, which will be reported, and settled animosities will soon exist. When some present their children for baptism, others will ridicule it; and when some fail to do it others will blame them. When some are immersed others will sneer; and when some are sprinkled, others will
call them proud. The result will be that in three months, or at the most in six, the church will be violently sundered and broken to fragments.
To all this it is replied, if these were carnal, selfish men, differing in these respects and agrceing in none, this result might be anticipated. But these brethren, in heart, are one, they have consecrated their lives to the same great end; they call on the same Father, through the same Savior, and are baptizedwith the same Spirit. They pray for the same blessings, and sing the same praises; the theme of their conversation is the same, and in respect to every truth which any of us believe essential to the existence of piety and growth in grace, they are all agreed; and above all they have mutual confidence in each other. Now shall it be said that such persons cannot walk together because they are not agreed? Shall we say that persons whose fondest hopes are that they shall in a few days meet in the same glorious heaven, cannot spend these few days in the same church! The apostle Paul believed they could, and accordingly directed, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” He believed that these unkind disputations could be avoided, and gave particular directions how it was to be done. If one regards one day above another, and another regards every day alike, each is to practice according to his own opinion, without molestation; for both are conscientious, and both are aiming to glorify God. One believes he may eat all things, another conscientiously eats only herbs; each is to respect the others feelings, and not to judge or set at nought his brother. When the Corinthians began to divide into parties, and say, “I am of Paul, I of Apollos, I of Cephas, and I of Christ," as Christians now do, I am of Wesley, I of Calvin, I of Luther, and I of Christ, did Paul say, “ Very well, this is the only way to promote the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?". You cannot walk in the same church with these different views?" Nay, verily. But in the language of stern rebuke, he asks, “IsChrist divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were ye baptized in the name of Paul? Are ye not carnal and walk as men?” With this example before us, shall we give countenance to this spirit of disputation, and mutual denunciation for honest differences of opinion, and forever put it out of our power to rebuke it, as we certainly shall if we assure them that they cannot walk together in peace, and therefore must be separated? We ought rather to maintain that true
Christians can walk together in peace, and love, whatever conscientious differences of opinion and practice may exist
But it is said, on the other hand, we must take Christians as they are, and not as they should be. "If they were perfectly holy, it is admitted that they might be expected to walk to gether in harmony; but there is much of selfishness remaining in them, and it will be developed.
True, indeed, we should take Christians as they are, and it should not for a moment be allowed that they are so filled with selfishness that they cannot walk in harmony with those who they admit are the chosen of God, the recipients of his pardoning mercy, and temples of the Holy Ghost. And if any are so obstinate in their selfishness that they will disturb the peace of Zion, and strive to sunder hearts united by the cords of Christian love, they should be subjected to faithful discipline, and if not reformed, accounted as heathen men and publicans.
But allowing that unpleasant feelings and discussions will to some extent unavoidably exist, if all are united in one church, is it probable that the difficulty would be avoided by a division into sects? Let this assembly of converts be informed to day that they are to be divided into sects according to their various predilections, and what will follow? After the first general and violent expression of grief is past, and time has been allowed for the collection of their thoughts, the few whose minds are made up, will divide off, while two thirds, or more, will wait to decide which party they shall join. Then will commence a general scene of proselyting. Sentiments that have been represented to be so important that they ought to separate Christian brethren, will for the first time be made the prominent theme of public discourse and private talk. Undecided minds will be plied with arguments, on the right hand and on the left, till they are almost distracted. Each party will mis-represent because they will mis-understand the views and arguments of others; unkind feelings and mutual recriminations will follow; the unconverted will be disgusted, the Spirit of God will be grieved, and thus will terminate, as ten thousand others have, this glorious revival. And what then? Why we shall have five or six handfuls of selfish jealous, discouraged Christians. In each party there will be a good degree of harmony in sentiment and practice, but it will not be perfect, for there are still other differences not provided for, and if Christians are to