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1. If the soul be of unspeakable value, and if it be constantly in danger of passing the limits of salvation, then this subject calls upon CHRISTIANS to make far greater efforts than they are making, for the salvation of their fellow-men. In God's kingdom of grace no results are brought about, except through the intervention of means. And you, PROFESSING CHRISTIANS, are the co-workers, through whose active cooperation, (not mere passive instrumentality,) he designs to accomplish his purposes of grace towards the impenitent. And yet what numbers of unconverted persons are there, in your neighbourhood, in your congregation, yes, in your very families, for the salvation of whose souls you are doing little or nothing; and who, if they are lost forever, next to their own guilty negligence, may well charge their ruin upon you, and leave the blood of their souls upon your heads! I know that some of you may hear this appeal, as though it were a mere matter of course, instead of regarding it as an intended exhortation-as a pointed and solemn warning. Many of you, I fear, will tacitly admit the truth of the charge, while you make no resolutions of amendment-while you even think with yourselves, that for the future you will continue to go on just about as you hitherto have done. If you do, it will but add another to the many existing and fearful evidences of the ease of self-deception. Yes, it is a mournful truth, and I write it with sorrow, that probably many in all our churches are self-deceived-that probably many who profess the name of Christ, are passing to the judgment-seat, with no other hope than that of the hypocrite, which shall perish like the spider's web, when God shall take away the soul. They utterly disregard the tremendous responsibilities which they have taken upon themselves by a profession of religion. Their lives furnish no satisfying evidence of genuine conversion-of sincere piety. They evince not the slightest regard for the souls of others. They are so absorbed with the world, that they would scarcely know they had souls of their own, were they not reminded of the fact by their occasional visits to the sanctuary. They are in awful danger of being cursed on earth for their unfaithfulness, and of receiving their endless portion hereafter, with hypocrites and unbelievers, amid the blackness of darkness forever! PROFESSING CHRISTIANS, let each one of us ask, in the spirit of deep humility, and of faithful self-examination, "Lord, is it I?" By my care for my own soul, and for the souls of others, do I satisfy my own conscience-do I give evidence to all around me, that I am indeed a child of God? O that every professing Christian had far more of what Shaftesbury sneeringly calls, "the heroic passion for saving souls!"--that thus they might be more useful to others, and gain clearer evidence of their own title to heaven. Finally,
2. If the soul be of unspeakable value, and if there be a period, beyond which, there is no hope of its redemption, then the IMPENITENT are warned by this subject to attend instantly to the salvatian of their souls. There is a period, as we have seen, beyond which all efforts for the soul are vain and fruitless. FELLOW-SINNER, it is possible-yes, it is more than possible, that you may have reached that limit-it is more than possible, that already you may have sinned away your day of gracethat you may have passed the utmost boundary of all well-founded hope of heaven. I say not that this is the fact, but that your stupid apathy, and strange indifference to your immortal interests, afford no small reason
for thinking that it may be the case; still, there is a possibility that you may yet be saved. And even the possibility of saving your soul, should rouse you to instant and mighty effort. Yonder is a noble ship-ploughing the billows, under full spread sails. A mariner, unobserved, is swept from her deck into the wide waste of waters. He knows that he is unseen; but still he struggles for his existence. The ship passes on--gradually, but rapidly, it recedes from his sight--the last bit of its canvass is dimly seen in the distance--it is gone! Does yonder drowning man relinquish his efforts, or give way to despair? O no! As the ship fades from his view, and the last ray of hope is quenched in the clouds of gathering death, he struggles on, and struggles on, with all the energy of a dying man, till, from mere exhaustion, he sinks, to rise no more! Before that poor mariner, there was no prospect of rescue-no prospect of life-and yet he struggled on to the last, from the very instinct of his nature. Mariner for eternity! there is yet a possibility that you may be saved! The grave has not yet closed over you-you are yet in a state of probation-you are yet out of hell! Rouse then, to the effort all the energies of your nature; agonize for your immortal existence-for your never-dying soul, if perchance it may yet be saved!
BY REV. EDWIN HOLT, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA.
UNION OF CHRISTIANS ESSENTIAL TO THE
JOHN Xvii. 21. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the WORLD MAY BELIEVE that thou hast sent me.
THE following statement was made by the late ROBERT HALL, not many years since :-" Christian Societies, regarding each other with the jealousies of rival empires, each aiming to raise itself on the ruins of all others, and scarcely deigning to acknowledge the possibility of obtaining salvation out of their pale, is the odious and disgusting spectacle which modern Christianity presents."
So true is it, unhappily, that the followers of Christ are not “one." But is the idea of their cordial union entirely extravagant? Is it weakness and folly to suppose that Christians may be one? Is such a suggestion too absurd to come from any but fond and simple schemers, whose goodness of intention is allowed to apologize for the shallowness of their views?
The Redeemer did not deem union of some kind among his followers ridiculous or unattainable. He actually prayed that his disciples, then living, and all who should believe on him, "through their word, might be one."
To what extent, then, may Christians, in accordance with this prayer, be united? May the denominational barriers, which now fence off the sacramental host into various sections, be taken down? It is perhaps unreasonable to expect, or rather, it requires strong faith to believe, that all these barriers can soon be laid aside, even though it was the Saviour's prayer that his followers might be entirely one.
But if we may not hope that the various sects of Christendom will be soon merged into one body, may they not become "one" to a much greater extent than they now are? And if the conversion of the world to Christianity is to follow the union of Christians, and is to be a result of their oneness, as the prayer of the Redeemer would lead us to expect, the subject, surely, may well deserve the attention of His friends.
If the various sects were like, what they have been fondly said to resemble, the co-operating sections of a complete army, the mounted and unmounted men, the light and heavy armed regiments; the various divisions that retain their own distinguishing flags, while they march under the same national banner; each promoting the objects of the campaign, in perfect concurrence with the others: if this scene were the real state of the Christian army, we might, perhaps, rejoice that the division of sects had taken place. Unfortunately, however, the various detachments of the Christian host are so intent upon sectarian aggrandizement, that they do not co-operate, as sects, in any general plan to further the cause of Christ. The just representation of the sects of Christendom would be, rather, that of various detachments of a great army, each bent so much upon its own enlargement as to lose sight, in a great measure, of the common purpose; each prouder of the flag of its own division than of the common banner of the Cross; each so intent upon its own growth, though at the expense of the next division, as to have neither time nor zeal to give to the common cause; and that, too, when a powerful and active foe presses, on all sides, upon the distracted camp.
While we entertain such views, how can we regard the existence of sectarian establishments as a blessing to the cause of Christ? A blessing they may prove to that cause, but it will be only as pestilence and war prove beneficial to the world.
Two leading inquiries are suggested by the text: I. To what extent may Christians "be one?" II. How will their union advance the conversion of the world?
The first inquiry is, To what extent may Christians “be one ?”
The mariner is known from the landsman by his devotion to the sea; the soldier from the common citizen by devotion to military life; the scholar from the unlettered man by devotion to books, and the Christian from the worldling by devotion to the cause of Christ. Cordial interest in the advancement of the Redeemer's cause is essential to Christian character. Devotion to this object may be a harmonizing characteristic of Christians. Indeed union in this respect is essentially required by the very nature of Christianity. Her banner is the same in every quarter of the globe, and in every detachment of her forces. Her designs and purposes never vary. Devotion to her interests, then, may be a common and uniform feature in her followers. How widely soever they
differ in age, taste, location, and secular pursuits, they may be alike in devotedness to the same great cause-the cause of Christ.
In the varying constituents of a ray of light, the different colors harmonize perfectly. Their differences are maintained in such subordination to the general object, that the diversity of hues is not known until the aid of an optical instrument is procured. May not Christians become so united in devotion to a great common interest, that the existence of any diversities would not be detected without scrutinizing search? Their oneness of aim in advancing the common cause may, surely, be so obvious as to throw entirely into the shade the diversities that now stand out with so much prominence.
Christians may become "one," under the influence of devotion to a common interest, just as patriots, who differ in all the circumstances of life, are formed into a predominating oneness of character by engaging upon the same battle-field, from attachment to the same country. Armed to support a common cause, they cannot listen to the weak jealousies of the evil-minded. They are one in heart, for they jeopard life and consecrate their blood for the same country. Christians, surely, may be thus united by devotion to the Redeemer's cause. They may thus be "one."
A ruling passion, like the devotedness of the Christian, pure and ennobling, has no disuniting tendency. Whatever it is that separates the Redeemer's friends into various sects, we may be sure it is not devotion to His service. This only binds together congenial spirits. Indeed, it is matter of astonishment that hearts, professedly swayed by supreme love to the Saviour, have ever indulged towards each other a single prejudice. Surely, it must be only when this principle is weak and defective, that jealousies can disunite the friends of Christ.
Devotedness to the common Saviour may gain such an ascendency in the hearts of Christians, as utterly to subdue all those unworthy influences, that lead to rivalry and discord. It may fill the soul with its hallowed influences, and may pour into the stream of life such a current of holy energy, as will bear down in its resistless course every rising jealousy, every selfish scheme, every disorganizing suggestion.
2. Christians may "be one" in affection to each other and to the general church.
If the separating walls of denominational peculiarities must continue, cordial fellowship may still cement the hearts of Christians. Different sects may "love one another with a pure heart, fervently." The calamities of one may be deplored as the calamities of all; the success of one may be welcomed as the success of all; the assailants of one may be treated as the assailants of all. Such may be the degree of sacred fellowship, that when one member of the general body suffers, all the members will suffer with it. All Christians may regard each other as members of the same holy brotherhood, "endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." They may "be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus." They may "with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." They may "all speak the same thing," "be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." "Having compassion one of another," they may "love as brethren." Thus may they have true "fellowship, one with another," as well as with Christ.
3. Christians may "be one" in their efforts for the conversion of men. Their exertions may be directed, as we have seen, to the same end, the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom. To this object may their exertions be directed in common modes of operation. If the hand cannot perform the duties of the foot, it may yet perform its own functions in harmony with the foot. Every member of the Christian body may be employed in its sphere; and the united exertions of all may be made to bear with great power upon the general advancement of religion in the world.
They may be so intent upon this great object, that they cannot fall out by the way in their modes of operation. They may labour without rivalry, without wasting in discussion the time that should be spent in action, without expending on each other the energies that are needed for conflict with the world and the common enemy. Solemnly impressed with the nearness and the awfulness of eternity, animated by the glories in prospect, burning with zeal for God, they may co-operate, side by side, in the noble work, each willing to be the servant of all, each ready to emulate, admire, and rejoice in the well-doing of all. Thus united, the church may look forth, "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."
Did not the Redeemer believe that his followers might work together in his service? Did the union, for which he prayed, contemplate no concert of action? Was it to be union in principle, but not in exertion? Was it to be union that could consist with contentious struggles for sectarian objects?
May not Christians, then, be one, so far as to co-operate in plans of religious enterprise? and may not modes of operation be adopted with special reference to this point? Did the Redeemer ever suppose that plans of action, intended to secure the cordial union of all who love Him, were impracticable?
4. Christians may "be one" in prayer.
The petition, "Thy kingdom come," may, without a dissenting feeling, go up in one harmonious aspiration from the whole church. Upon all the efforts to distribute the word of God, upon the labours of all missionaries of the cross, the blessing of heaven may be implored by the whole body of Christians. The evils that afflict or impede the cause of Christ, the want of labourers in the vineyard, the mighty obstacles that oppose the progress of truth, may be urged with one voice, before the throne of infinite grace and power. Christians may thus exert the omnipotence of united prayer.
If the friends of the Redeemer may not be united in the forementioned particulars, how can they "be one" in any sense? And if, in these respects, they were cordially united, minute differences of doctrine and of organization, conscientiously maintained by various sects, would not destroy the peace of the church at large; the evils of sectarianism would actually cease.
II. We are next to show how such union may commend and rapidly advance the cause of true religion.
1. When Christians are thus one, they will waste no portion of their efforts on each other. Then, if denominational differences must continue, they will not be suffered to diminish the general amount of Chris