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NO wise man makes the practice of the world a rule for his government in religious matters; being satisfied that no practice, however general, can make that right, which the word of God has determined to be wrong. Custom may, indeed, reconcile us to any thing. But custom is not the law of the wise man; because, being at times no less an advocate for error than for truth, it can furnish no reasonable satisfaction to the party governed by it. Men, as men, are liable to error. Nevertheless error and truth are two things essentially different from each other; and it will always constitute the best employment of the reasoning faculty, properly to discriminate be

tween them.

To enable the thinking man so to do, that he may thereby become proof against the various delusions upon the subject of Religion, which have at different periods prevailed in the world, his

appeal must be made to the standard of judg tuent set up in the word of God.

Time was when Schism, or the sin of dividing the Church by a separation from it, was considered to be a sin of the most heinous nature; “so great, that some of the ancients have thought it is not to be expiated by the blood of martyrdom."* It cannot be, because opinions on this subject have changed with the times, that the nature of this sin is also changed. For so long as the Church continues to be, what it originally was, a society of Christ's forming, a wilful separation from it must be at all times equally sinful; it being not less an opposition to a Divine institution in one age of the Church than in another. Consequently, what was said upon this subject in the first days of Christianity, must apply to it with the same force and propriety in the times in which we live.

Upon the authority of an inspired Apostle we are informed, that those who "cause divisions in the Church" are to be avoided as persons "who serve not the Lord Jesus.” "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them; for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus."+ If they serve not the Lord Jesus, it requires no great sagacity to determine whom they serve, for there are but two masters in this case that can be served; either

* Persuasive to Communion with the Church of England, by Bishop Grove. See London Cases.

+ Rom. xvi. 17, 18.

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that Divine Master, who, in love to man, set up his kingdom in opposition to the prince of this world, that he might thereby counteract his evil work; or that Evil Worker himself, whose constant employment it is, so far as in him lies, to divide and destroy that kingdom.

Now no greater advantage can be given to the common enemy in any cause, than by a division among the parties professedly engaged in its support. A consideration, which accounts for that stress, so repeatedly laid, in the Apostolic writings, upon the preservation of union and harmony among Christians; as essential to the well-being of the Church, considered as a society formed by God, for the purpose of carrying into effect a regular design for the benefit of its members. It having pleased Divine Providence to place me in a situation, which has given me an opportunity of seeing some of those many evils, consequent upon a deviation from God's plan in the establishment of his Church upon earth; I should do less than my duty did I not take occasion to speak plainly on this subject; trusting that what, from a motive of pure charity to all, may be said upon it, will be received charitably by all; without, if it be possible, any mixture of that prejudice, which is able in a manner, to convert truth into error, when the mind of the party to whom it is addressed feels indisposed to receive it. The object in view on this occasion is two-fold; to qualify, in the first place, the members of the Church to give a reason for their communion with it, and thereby prevent their being carried

about from one place of public worship to another; upon the mistaken idea, that it is a matter of indifference where the word of God is preached, or by whom; and in the second place, to open the eyes of those, who, with perhaps the best intention, may, through ignorance, have separated from the Church; and who, were they better informed, might not scruple to prefer its sober and edifying worship, to that in which they are at present engaged.


He must be little acquainted with the world who does not know, that religious prejudices leave the most powerful impression upon the human mind; and that, till these are removed, it is impossible to form a fair judgment upon a subject of this nature. Those who have taken their religion upon trust, or have received it as a sort of hereditary possession from their forefathers, seldom give themselves the trouble to form any judgment upon it. Whilst others, who, in the choice of their religion, consult the gratification of passion, interest, or the promotion of some particular object, are, for the most part, not in a condition to bring this matter to a fair discussion. The only hope of success, therefore, in this case must be, from an appeal to the honest and well-disposed; those who seek the truth in sincerity, and are resolved to follow wherever it may lead.

Such are doubtless to be found in all congregations of Christian people; some of whom, in consequence only of their never having had the truth properly laid before them, have taken up

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