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writers of the present age, the late Robert Hall. This extract contains almost an anticipation of the Evangelical Alliance. It so completely breathes the spirit which lies at the foundation of that institution, that we cannot doubt, had it been proposed in his day, he would have been one of its warmest supporters.
«« That union among Christians, which it is so desirable to recover, must, we are persuaded, be the result of something more heavenly and divine, than legal restraints, and angry controversies. Unless an angel were to descend for that purpose, the spirit of disunion is a disease which will never be healed by troubling the waters. We must expect the cure from the increasing prevalence of religion, and from a copious communication of the spirit to produce that event. A more extensive diffusion of piety aniong all sects and parties, will be the best, and only preparation for a cordial union. Christians will then be disposed to appreciate their differences more equitably, to turn their chief attention to points on which they agree, and in consequence of loving each other more, to make every concession consistent with a good conscience. Instead of wishing to varquish others, every one will wish to be vanquished by the truth. An awful fear of God, and an exclusive desire of discovering his mind, will hold a torch before them in their inquiries, and will strongly illuminate the path in which they are to tread. Instead of being repelled by mutual antipathy, they will be insensibly drawn nearer to each other by the ties of
mutual attachment. A larger measure of the Spirit of Christ would prevent them from converting every incidental variation into an impassable boundary, or from condemning the most innocent and laudable usages, for fear of symbolizing with another class of Christians. The
general prevalence of piety in different communities would inspire that mutual respect, that heartfelt homage for the virtues conspicuous in the characters of their respective members, which would urge us to ask with astonishment and regret, Why cannot we be one ? What is it that obstructs our union?. Instead of maintaining the barrier that separates us from each other, and employing ourselves in fortifying the frontiers of hostile communities, we should be anxiously devising the means of narrowing the grounds of dispute, by drawing the attention of all parties to tliose fundamental and catholic principles in which they concur.
“ To this we may add, that a more perfect subjection to the authority of the great Head of the Church, would restrain men from inventing new terms of communion, from lording it over conscience, or from exacting a scrupulous compliance with things which the word of God has left indifferent. That sense of imperfection we ought“ ever to cherish, would incline us to be looking up for superior light, and make us think it not improbable, that in the long night that has befallen us, we have all, more or less, mis. taken our way, and have much to learn, and much to correct. The very idea of identifying a particular party with the church would be exploded, the foolish clamour about schism hushed, and no one, however mean and inconsiderable, be expected to surrender his conscience to the claims of ecclesiastical dominion.”
We have reason to bless God for the liberty of the press we now enjoy, and thus have every encouragement, by the unconstrained interchange of opinion, in the language of the poet “to continue seeking,” and thus continue to do our obsequies to “the torn body of our martyred saint.” It is in the spirit of this eloquent passage, and in the prosecution of this object that these "Hints" are published. I write not as a dogmatist or as a controversialist
, but as an enquirer. Let us unitedly endeavour to form just conceptions of every portion of Divine Truth, and if any one shall show me that I have mistaken any part of it, I think I can conscientiously say I will thank him for the discovery, and for his showing me excellent way.”
70 81 88 89 94 95 99
101 107 112
per connexions in life,
rial success or discouragements,
between Neighbouring Churches, and
what seems necessary to maintain it, Sympathy with the Distressed, calculated to
remove Prejudices against our Christian
Christians a Spirit of Mutual Forbearance,