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UNITY IN ERROR.
“Oh! hateful error, melancholy's child !
It should be borne in mind that there is such a thing as Unity in Error, as well as Unity in Truth. In the days of Elijah, the false Prophets were at unity among themselves. So were the Scribes and Pharisees, who consented to our Saviour's Crucifixion. We also infer from our Lord's words, that Satan is not divided against himself. It is not then, merely unity, as such, that is a mark of the true Church, unless there be unity in the true faith. Nor is unity the mark of a pure Church, unless the members of the Church be bound together upon terms of obedience to Christ as their Great Head, of charity towards each other, of keeping the Faith unmixed with errors, and innovations, and the public worship of God free from manifest defects and forbidden practices. Moreover, it is also quite possible that more truth may be professed even where there are discords, than where
there are none. This is true of the various Churches of the Reformation. They labour under minor differences, principally of discipline, and yet, they maintain the purity of the faith once delivered to the saints.
The unreformed Church of Rome has superadded new and false doctrines, and perverted some of the true doctrines bequeathed to the Church by the Holy Ghost. And yet, she outwardly presents the appearance of unity, though in reality, she is rent asunder by intestine discord. On the one side, there may be an over-valuing of questions of no great moment-a greater stress laid upon opinions, and practices, than is absolutely necessary-and an undue importance attached to certain rules of discipline, any, or all of which might be sufficient to interrupt Christian communion. On the other hand, gross errors may be maintained with one consent, while comparatively unimportant differences may be so overruled by authority and force, or, by the sensible interests of the world, that notwithstanding those differences, communion shall not be hindered. But, nothing would be more unreasonable, than to admit the truth of a doctrine, merely by the mark of unity, among those who profess to believe it.
The duty devolving upon all Christians in the present distracted state of Christendom, is, to do all that in them lies, to set aside all mere technical distinctions, and to
merge their minor differences into the practical unity of the Church in all essential points. All Christians should stand fast in “the faith which was once delivered to the saints." That faith is contained within the narrow limits of the New Testament. Any departure from that common creed of Christians, involves separation from the body—the Church. This being the faith which Christ came down from Heaven to establish in the world, and which the Holy Ghost inspired the Apostles to speak and write for our instruction, there can be no doubt whatever, that we should value it as the greatest treasure which the Church possesses.
We should proclaim our esteem and love for it, count everything but loss for the excellency of it, and acknowledge all who hold it to be of the One Body with us, regardless of mere outward ceremonies, or, forms of worship.
Let us endeavour, above all things, to maintain Unity in Charity. To those who are misled, as we think, let us try to evince good-will and courtesy, as opportunity may offer, that we may convince them that practical Christianity is a Divine, and Holy thing, not dependent upon reciprocity of benefits, such as doing good to those who do good to us, or, saluting our brethren only—a politeness in which the most worldly persons are capable of great perfection—but proving by absolute, and unaffected kindness, and love unfeigned, that the Religion
of Jesus Christ has uprooted the maxims of the world, and planted a nobler disposition in their room. Let this Light shine, and they who see it will be impressed. And, although they may not worship in our denomination, yet, they cannot resist the evidence of their senses. It is not, by what we say, but, by what they see, that men recognise the peculiar features of Christ's Religion, and form their own opinions as to the honesty, and integrity of our motives. This, after all, is the main point. A spirit of charity and sincerity, of humility and teachableness, love of truth, forbearing one another in love, will do more to overcome prejudice, and enable us to preserve " the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” than all the arguments, and persuasions, and penal disabilities that, Church and State combined have ever been able to produce.
It is by the exhibition of an unearthly, and unselfish spirit, that we can ever hope to bind together, in one, those who differ from us in reality, or,
in appearance. Heaping “coals of fire" upon the heads of those whom we are inclined, from any cause, to regard as schismatics, or, heretics, is a surer way to mould and melt their hearts, than by standing aloof, or, it may be, passing by on the other side.”
"So, artists melt the sullen ore of lead
ANALOGY BETWEEN THE COURSE OF NATURE AND
“ Thus, if we Nature's works exhume,
Or o'er past history range,
BISHOP BUTLER's oft quoted aphorism, as to the corresponding difficulties in the Word and the Works of God, receive confirmation when we compare some well known fact in Natural Science, with an equally well known fact in Revealed Truth. How frequently do we find that men of insufficient, or, inaccurate information, regard the difficulties of Scripture as if the Bible alone were the only production of Almighty God, in which unsolved problems existed. Now, we think it is quite evident, as we hope to prove presently, that there are difficulties in Natural Science quite as perplexing as any that are to be found in Holy Writ. Suppose we take, as an example, the fossil remains of Mollusca, found in the chalk formation.