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intended that all men should think alike on the subject of religion, why did St. Paul say, “ Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind”? On the fundamental doctrines of the gospel all Christians are very nearly agreed, but on minor points of belief every man is left to the exercise of his individual liberty. That, on some subjects, the early Christians differed is simply a matter of history, but, that such difference did not operate as a barrier to Christian fellowship, is just as evident as any fact recorded in the New Testament. The Archetype of the Christian Church is very simply set forth in the writings of the Apostles, and the various modes of Christian worship that exist in the world, are so many modifications of the Archetype. The analogy in Grace is thus coincident with that which exists in Nature, and we have an almost endless variety of churches, whose members in their corporate capacity recognise "One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Each individual believer is given Grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, while there is only “ One Body, and One Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your
. The Apostle evidently recognised the obvious and beautiful principle of unity in variety, when he compared the different administrations of religion to the
* Eph. iv. 4.
"eye,” “the ear,” “ the hand,” and “ the foot.”* And he states the case simply and clearly when he says, “ As the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Each organ has its specific work and function, and all are in harmony with each other and the entire body, which derives its life and vigour from the Headeven Christ. *
Physiologists tell us that the great connecting link between the various organs of the body is the nervous system. It joins these organs together, such as the heart, lungs, liver, brain, &c., and when this connecting link ceases, man dies. Now, in the same way the Apostle uses the metaphor in the Epistle of the Ephesians. The Church, in the language of Allegory, derives its energy and vitality from the Head, and in the head is seated the greatest nervous centre of the body-the brain. So, according to the metaphor of the Apostle, the spiritual life and sustenance of the Church—“the body"-is derived from its “ Head "--even Christ. Thus the harmony is complete. One Head-many members. One Church—many modifications. Instead, therefore, of aiming after “supremacy,” or “ exercising dominion” over each other's faith, we should rather strive for the mastery over ourselves, by bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. “Men's hearts in the words of Mr. Carlyle) ought not to be set against one another, but set with another, and all, against the evil only.”
* Į Cor. xii. Compare with Eph. iv. 15, 16.
UNITY OF PRINCIPLE AMID VARIETY OF ADMINISTRATIONS.
“ United yet divided.”
Cowper (The Task).
From the remarks made in the preceding chapter it may be seen, that as there is an Archetype in the kingdom of Nature, so is it also in the kingdom of Grace. The simple formula of Catholic Truth, is, love to God, and for His sake, love to our fellow-men. To fear God, and in consequence to work righteousness, is the essence of Christian principle. However modified by existing circumstances, all who are bound together by this common tie, of Christian fellowship, are true disciples, whatever be the outward form of their religious denomination. A God-fearing man, whose works bear witness to his faith, is a member of the Catholic Church wherever he
be, or, by whatever name he may choose to call himself. He has become a child of God. Wherever, and whenever this event has really taken place—in the secret chamber,
or, in the cloister, or, in the Church, on the highway, or, in the wilderness, over the pages of the Bible, or, before the Throne of Grace, amid the smiles of childhood, or, the sorrows of maturer age—the great result is substantially the same, viz. :-enlargement of spirit, elevation of character, and correctness of moral feeling. It is no matter what colour the sun may have burnt upon the cheek, or, into what form of corruption our natural depravity has moulded our constitution—the Gospel of the Grace of God, was intended to meet man in every variety of character, and to encounter sin, in all its possible combinations. No man, according to the Bible, ever came into contact with the substance of true religion without a corresponding elevation of character. Saul of Tarsus, the furious persecutor, breathing out threatening and slaughter, became a meek and a long-suffering disciple. The Phillippian jailer—a distracted and terrified sinner, “ rejoiced with all his house.” Matthew the publicana proud and griping tax-gatherer, left all and followed Jesus. And Jacob, the guilty and lonely wanderer in the desert, proclaimed his desolate resting-place to be “the House of God—the Gate of Heaven.” Here are men of various castes, conditions, and creeds, all, as it were, noulded into one spirit (but not all of one denomination), by the simple efficacy of the Divine principle—love to God.