Sermon 377. Public Meeting Of The Various Denominations
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON WEDNESDAY EVENING, APRIL 3, 1861,
FOR THE PURPOSE OF HEARING ADDRESSES ON CHRISTIAN UNITY.
The CHAIR, which was occupied by EDWARD BALL, Esq., M.P., was taken at half-past six o'clock. The proceedings were commencedby singing and prayer.
The REV. C. H. SPURGEON briefly stated the objective of the meeting to be not to collect money, for they were now out of debt,but to testify to the essential union of the Church. On the previous evening a meeting had been held in the same place toafford an opportunity for the public exposition ofthe Doctrines of Baptists, and there were some now present, perhaps, who would recollect how strongly Baptist they all wereon that occasion, and how they all spoke of their own denomination and its progress. Now, he had no doubt, they would provethat they felt themselves to benone the less one with all Believers in striving against error, and upholding the Truth of God. The different Brothers inthe ministry who would address them would take up different points with regard to union. They had not an Episcopalian, becausethe clergyman whom he had invited,though perfectly willing, was unable to come. Nor had they a Presbyterian. He had just received a telegram from the PresbyterianBrother who was to have been there, saying that he was taken ill yesterday. He would now give the meeting to the guidanceof his friend, Edward Ball,Esq., of Cambridgeshire, and as he had often experienced the hospitality of Mr. Ball, he felt a very great pleasure in beinghis host, as it were, and making Mr. Ball the master of the occasion so that he might rule the roost in their midst!
The CHAIRMAN said, if anything in connection with this extraordinary place of worship could be added to the feeling of surprisewith which they had witnessed its progress, and now perceived its perfection and completion, it would have been the statementwhich had just been made by the minister,that not only had they built this house of such surpassing beauty, and such great convenience, and such large accommodationfor all classes, but that they met at the opening of it entirely out of debt! Those who were acquainted with the efforts madeby the Christian world were wellaware of the difficulties that were oftentimes found in raising a sufficient sum of money to commence an edifice, and thatoccasionally, when the edifice had been raised, there was such a heavy debt resting upon it, that it loaded and oppressedthe minds and efforts of thecongregation, frequently discouraging the minister in his public duties, and altogether the occasion of sorrow and regretin the neighborhood in which the chapel was erected. What, then, must they think of the church and congregation of this place?What must have been their untiringefforts, their constant diligence, the exercise of faith in God, to have completed such an undertaking as this, to havewatched its progress, and now to assemble at its completion, when all their desires had been realized, when they had raiseda fabric such as London could notequal, and when they might congregate, as upon this occasion, without soliciting the aid of anybody, and welcome their gueststo a union meeting, where they could have a festival of love unaccompanied with the inconvenience and the distaste which socommonly were associated withsuch meetings as this-without soliciting their charity or asking their aid! It was not only that they must recognize thegreat zeal and the unwearied exertion of the church and congregation under Mr. Spurgeon, but was it not manifest that God'shand was in the work, and God'spower was exhibited? That power which was so constantly implored had watched over, had given guidance to, and had successfullyrealized the wishes of the minister and of the people of this place. Was not all they had seen in the progress of that congregation,under the minister,another evidence that not by might, nor by power, but by God's will, and God's help, and God's assistance, the mightiestprojects, the grandest efforts, and all that a Christian could desire were to be accomplished when they gave continued effortand blended with that continuedeffort an unwavering faith in the promises of God's Immutable and indestructible Word?
Perhaps, while all of them sympathized and had pleasure in the association of this night, it was not everyone who had so intimateand immediate an appreciation of the Gospel in this place, or so deep a sympathy with the success of the ministry, as he had.As Mr. Spurgeon had stated to them, Mr. S.and he had long known each other, had lived in the same neighborhood, and had associated for public purposes long beforeMr. Spurgeon ever contemplated being a minister in
London. He had witnessed his first efforts, he knew the village in which he first settled, and he could bear testimony tothe good sense and the good judgment of that portion of the Christian world who considered that his services ought not tobe confined to a village, or limited to a smallassociation, but that his sphere was the metropolis and that to London he was to come, to awaken, to excite, and to givean increased effort to the Christian world, showing what might be done when people trusted in God, and when they labored continuallyand unweariedly in theservice of God! Those gentlemen who accomplished the removal of Mr. Spurgeon, provided for him a very convenient and a verynice chapel, but in proportion as they afforded accommodation for the public, did the demand increase. That chapel was renovated,improved, and considerablyenlarged, and no sooner was that accomplished, than it was filled as theretofore to overflowing. Why did he (the Chairman)mention this? To show that the grasp of mind of the congregation was justified-that it was not an aggressive undertaking,the erecting such an edifice asthis-but that it was the continued success, the series of triumphs, the advancing interests, the multitudinous claims alwaysattendant upon the ministry of this gentleman that justified them! The Chairman next commented on the value of Mr. Spurgeon'sministerial labors, which heconsidered ought not to be estimated by the visible effect upon his congregation, but also by the influence which the extendedpublication of his sermons throughout England and the Colonies, and the reprinting of them in America, might be expected tohave upon multitudes of others.
But, to return to the special objective of the present meeting, which he was told by Mr. Spurgeon was "Union," he was sorryto say, he thought the great calamity and error of the Christian Church was need of union. He thought that all Christian peopleshould adopt as their sentiment this-that inessentials, they should have unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in everything, they ought to have charity. If they didobserve and carry out this great maxim, those little bickering and nasty jealousies, and unlovely envying, which were thedisgrace of the Christian Church,would be known no more. What said the Apostle John? There were multitudes of circumstances which showed to us the surpassinglove of God but-"Hereby," he says, "we perceive the love of God, because He laid down His life for us," and the inferencewhich the Apostle drew from thiswas that, "If God so loved the world, as to send His only begotten Son into the world," was it not a motive and an obligationfor those people for whom He loved, and suffered, and died, to love each other? Look, again, were we not all under the samecondemnation, were we not allpartaking of the curse and of the Fall? Had we not also the same hope, and the same expectation of Redemption and deliverancefrom that Fall, and should we not love one another as Brethren? Were we not passing through the wilderness together? Had wenot sorrow enough, and trialenough, and vexation enough, bodily pain and mental distraction enough, that we must increase its bitterness by a lack oflove, and by a narrow jealousy, one towards another? Were we not all aiming at the same Paradise above, banded together underone great Shepherd, and thereforeought we not to love one another as God's people, and as God's servants! Most of his hearers, perhaps, had a recollectionof the circumstances of Ruth. Ruth was a most successful gleaner. She collected a great quantity, and after she had done so,she beat it out, and part shecarried away, and part she left behind. Now what part did they suppose she carried away? Well, everybody would say she carriedaway the corn, and left the chaff. Could not, therefore, we, in our mutual union in our common services-in our common duties-lookupon one another, seewhat was good, receive what was good, lay aside and leave what was distasteful and unpleasant? Could we not take that whichwas in correspondence to our views of the Truth, in harmony with our sentiments and our principles, and if there were anythingdisagreeable, ascribe it to thatcommon infirmity to which they and we were subjected, and bear and forbear as it became Christian people to do one towardsanother? He remembered once a large Missionary meeting was to be held, and it was decided to hold it in the church. Afterthe decision, it was found that therewere no candles, no lamps in the church, and there was a question as to how it should be lighted up. Well, the friends therewere not daunted by a few difficulties! The Episcopalians sent their lamps, the Wesleyans and other religious denominationssent their lamps, and others weresent from the Town Hall. When they assembled, it was beautifully lighted up, but it was said nobody could tell which wasthe light of the Church of England, and which was the light of the Baptists, and which was the light of the Wesleyans; butas one Spirit brought them together inthe service of one Master, so one mind influenced the whole assembly, and they had a beautiful meeting in which they pledgedtheir common faith diligently to preach the everlasting Gospel, and to assist others in doing the same!
It was a remarkable circumstance, that while nowthey were continually hearing of some expressions of great bitterness of oneclass towards another class, which bitterness only generated similar bitterness in that class against whom they had spoken,or it only elevated the individuals against whomthey had been denouncing, just in proportion as those things did occur, the church that used them, the minister who encouragedthem, the individual who patronized, as it were, a nasty little bickering, envious spirit, was generally a minister that Godwould not acknowledge, whoseservices were never successful, whose congregation was an indifferent body of Christian people, and not unusually, the veryminister who had been so bitter in his invectives against others who had preached the Gospel of Christ, had himself, by somestrange circumstances, beenforbidden long to occupy that sacred office! And therefore, he (the Chairman) would say that all should endeavor to carryout the principle which their minister had told them they were associated to celebrate, namely, UNION; that whether they wereWesleyans or Presbyterians, orwhether they were Baptists or Independents, they were all under one Shepherd, they were all pledged to the same faith, theyall had the same hope, and they would never advance their cause by repudiating and condemning others; they would never elevatetheir principles by speakingbitterly of those who could not agree with them; but in proportion as they demonstrated a Christian spirit, and showed forththe mind of their Master, God would commonly accept and bless their services. He regretted the absence of any representativeof the Church of England. Hewished all classes, churchmen and dissenters, would lay aside all angry and unkind feeling towards one another. They couldnot disguise from themselves that God had given great honor to the Church of England. They ought not to wish to disguise itthat that Church never put forthsuch energy, and exhibited such anxiety to fulfill its mission as it did now, and they ought to rejoice together as thosehaving the same interest, members of the same commonwealth, embodied in the same regiment, and marching under the same Leader,when any minister among the Churchor among Dissenters was made preeminently useful in preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! If there was one thingthat he (the Chairman) desired above all things in the Christian world, it was unity. He hoped he had always endeavored tocarry that out. If they were God'speople, there must be love in their hearts, one towards another. He only wished he could give utterance to one idea thatwould have the tendency to link together Christian people in attachment to their Master in affectionate union with those withwhom they were fellow travelersthrough the wilderness, in hopeful and joyful expectation of associating with them in another and a better world where theyshould live as Brothers and Sisters in perfect peace and unity! Let them bear with one another's infirmities.
The REV. J. HALL, Independent Minister, next addressed the meeting. He regarded it, and he thought all must do so, as a tokenfor good, an auspicious sign of the times passing over us, that the friends there should attach so much importance to unionamong Christians, that they should give a wholeevening to the discussion of this important subject. Was it possible to over-rate its importance? Why, they could not readtheir Bibles, even with moderate care, without seeing that the practical exemplification of union among Christians was oneof the grand designs of the Christiandispensation! Indeed, they were expressly told that the Savior purposed, by His death, to gather together in one, all thechildren of God who were scattered over the earth, and they knew that for the accomplishment of this design He interceded,almost with His dying breath, inlanguage that gave us to understand that the unity of the Church was one of the grand means of the world's conversion; And,as a matter of fact, while visible unity prevailed among the disciples of the Savior, the cause of Christianity everywheretriumphed. Yes, the poor fishermenof Galilee, without wealth, without learning, without patronage-standing only on God's Truth-were more than a match forall the powers of the world standing together on the devil's lie! Real visible union was the glory of the Church of Christ,and never till that Glory of theLord was seen afresh upon her, would the nations come to her light and kings to the brightness of her rising. What was itthat made it to be a good sign that they should meet together to talk about such a subject? The reason had already been referredto by the Chairman. Alas, theChurch of Christ still presented a scene of strife and division, and contention, and Christians gathered together of alldenominations to talk about this matter might, with Divine blessing, be the means of healing, or helping to heal, the breachesof Zion!
We talked about the wonders of the age we live in. Well, it was certainly an age of progress. The inventions of science hadcome almost within the bounds of the supernatural, and natural marvels reached well nigh to miracles. The impossibilitiesof our forefathers had become to us a baffle and apastime-we ride upon the wings of vapor, we bind the winds of Heaven to our car, we navigate the ocean against contrarywinds and tempestuous waves, we lay hold of the lightnings of Heaven, and make them the world's errand boy, and we make thelight our portrait painter andyet-it brought the blush to our faces-union among Christians was still in open question! And Christians, the intended peacemakersof the world, were not able to settle the preliminaries of a truce among themselves. Still, Christians who were commandedto love their own enemies,had not, many of them, enough religion to love one another; Christians who were required to pray for their persecutors wereyet to be found who would not pray with their Brethren of other denominations! The question which he (Mr. Hall) had to considerwas, "What do the Scripturesteach us concerning union among Christians?" Now it was evident from the whole Word of God, as well as from Christian experience,that there was an essential oneness among all the disciples of the Lord, whatever might be their party names or their sectariandivisions. By virtue oftheir common relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, they were allied, one to the other, in the bond of a common fellowshipand in the hope of a glorious destiny. Wherever real Christians might be, whatever the color of their skin, whether they werewhite or black, barbarian,Scythian, bond or free-whether they burned at the equator, or shivered at the poles-they were all one in Christ Jesus! Theywere willing, too, to relinquish the world's wealth, and the world's fame, and the world's honor for the glory of His name,and the blessings of His Cross.If they went round the whole world and just asked every Christian this question, "What do you think of Christ?" they wouldget but one answer from every one of them, "He is the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." If they were tobring together into one roomEpiscopalian, Presbyterian, and Wesleyan, and Baptist, and Independent, what would take place? If they named the prayerbook, and found fault with it, he was afraid the Churchman would jump up. If they dared to call in question the confessionof faith, he was afraid the Presbyterianwould be annoyed. The same with the Wesleyan if they impugned the acts of the conference; and if they dared to say a wordagainst the Baptist, he did not know how the Baptist Brother would feel; and then if they presumed to call in question, fora moment, the Divine origin ofIndependency, he did not know what the Independent would say. Well, now, these were the little things that would divideeven good men, and perhaps, for a time, set them by the ears! But just ask them to pray together, and they would all bow theknee in the name of Christ; ask themto sing together, and they would shout in harmony, "God forbid that we should glory save in the Cross of our Lord JesusChrist." Ask them to work together, and there might be many forms of work, and some in which they might not be able to unite;but put before them God's Holy Word,without note or comment, and ask them to lend their efforts and their sympathies to give the Word of Life to the nations,and with one heart, and with one hand, they would find Wesleyan and Baptist, and Episcopalian and Presbyterian putting forththeir energies to do this commonwork of all who love the Redeemer!
Unity was the great thing which the Word of God demanded-that there should be an outward manifestation before the world ofthis internal oneness among all Christians. What was lacking, was that union among Christians should be a visible reality-thatthere should be a public, palpablemanifestation of that reality before the eyes of the world in offices of brotherly kindness, and in efforts of Christianphilanthropy. It was very delightful to know that all Christians were members of one body, of which Christ is the glorifiedHead-but then that unity was knownonly to the Church in Heaven, and understood only by the Church on earth! The worlddid not understand that-the world didnot seethat. What, therefore, was lacking, was what Christ prayed for-and prayed for as indispensable to the world's conversion-thatthe real spiritualunity of the Church should become a visible fact before the eyes of the world. Well, then, what did this unity mean? Ofcourse it did not mean compromise. No. Mr. Spurgeon had told them that last evening when they had a meeting of their own,to hear the exposition of their ownpeculiar views. Well, he (Mr. Hall) honored them for that, because the union which the Bible inculcated was one which allowedthe Baptist to remain a Baptist, the Episcopalian to remain an Episcopalian, the Presbyterian to remain a Presbyterian, andthe Wesleyan still true toWesley, and the Independent still an Independent. It aimed at combining them together on earth, on the same principle uponwhich it united them together in Heaven, not as Denominationalists but as Christians!
He remembered reading one of Mr. Spurgeon's sermons in which he was indulging in some bright visions of the future, of thegood times coming when morn should come after the world's long night, and Sabbath after the world's long toil; and one ofthe visions was this-that they should certainly allbe Baptists. Well, he verily believed that if there should be a Metropolitan Tabernacle, it might be ornamented as thistonight, with the marble baptistery, and he believed that all Episcopalians and Presbyterians who did not believe in it, wouldhave their own way of doing it, andyet the Baptist Brother and the Paedo-Baptist Brother would have more love. He did not know that it would be all the betterin the Millennium that they should all be Baptists; he did not know that it would not be better for the extension of the Kingdomof Christ, that there shouldstill be some little difference in these little matters! Of course, the unity they had been speaking of did not mean uniformity.They knew that the Church of Rome, when she had the power of coercion, had repressed all religious opinion, and produced avery exact conformity to onesystem of doctrine and one formula of worship, and she called that "unity." Why, it reminded one of the unity of a Dutchgarden, where the trees were all clipped to the same size and shape. Unity? Why, it was the unity of the graveyard-where theprince and subject exhibited thesame rottenness, and molded to the same dust! Diversity in unity, unity in diversity-that was the characteristic of alllife. The Dutch gardener, to whom he had just referred, must at times have trouble to keep his trees all of the same sizeand shape. Life was a very vigorousthing, and depend upon it, he had to be very busy about these trees to keep up any appearance of visible uniformity. Therewas a wonderful struggling in all life for individual manifestation. It would not be regarded as a very great compliment tohis hearers if for a moment heimagined that they were all stone statues-and he saw a Christian Brother in the assembly who had just brought this thoughtto his mind-that they were all stone statues. They might exhibit the most perfect uniformity; they might sit in the same attitude,with the same gestureand, in every respect, be all alike. Well, but suppose, just in the midst of this paradise of uniformity, they should beendued with the principle of life. The moment they began to live, the uniformity ended-they would alter their attitude; onewould be looking this way, andanother would be looking that way; one would have a pensive look, and the other a joyful look; and there would be, all thewhile, the play of the various emotions and passions of the human soul depicted in their various countenances. And just wherethere was real life, there wouldbe this diversity amid the underlying principle of unity. Why, the tastes and the temperaments of Christian people wereas varied as their faces and their voices.
The natural temperament, doubtless, had a great deal to do in the growth of Christian Graces. The temperament of a man beforeconversion remained with him after conversion, only with this difference-that now it was baptized with the Holy Spirit, andwith fire, and consecrated to the service ofGod. For example, it was Divine Grace operating upon a disposition naturally amiable, which produced a Barnabas, a son ofconsolation. It was that working upon an energetic disposition which had fired a soul with great boldness in the faith andproduced a Boanerges, a son ofthunder. Look at Melancthon and Luther, Melancthon said the Scriptures imparted to the soul a holy and marvelous delight,it was the heavenly ambrosia. Now, Luther said, the Word of the Lord was a sword, it was a war, it was a destruction, andit leaped upon the children of Ephraimlike lions of the forest! These men were equally pious, yet the gentle Melancthon saw in the Word of God little else thana fount of life, and a river of God's pleasure-while the impetuous and earnest Luther saw and heard only the thunder and theflame of an angry God! They mightlook at the history of Whitefield and of Edwards. Why, the ministry of Jonathan Edwards burst upon the people as alarmingas the trumpet of doom, terrible as the kindling of the last fires, while the preaching of Whitefield came down upon the earsof the people like rain upon thenew-mown grass. Depend upon it, Whitefield could never have preached that sermon, "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God."He would have been compelled to stop a hundred times in the course of the sermon to preach the love of Christ to sinners,and to shed tears over souls in peril ofthe wrath to come! Just for a moment look at it in the case of Peter and John, and the same difference might be discovered.
In conclusion he would say that the three elements of Christian unity were unity of faithin relation to Christ, unity of affectioninrelation to one another, and unity of effortin relation to the world. With the visible practical union resulting from a commonfaith in Christ-brotherly kindnessand confederated effort, the Church once more as of old would, "look forth clear as the moon, bright as the sun, and terribleas a bannered host."
EDWARD CORDEROY, Esq., said a more fitting theme could hardly be chosen in a house of prayer, erected by contributions frommembers of various Protestant Churches, than that which had been announced this evening. To many it would be a subject ofsarcasm-for it was not onlyby Papists that we werecharged with lack of unity. It would be useless to attempt to conceal our diversities, indeed it would be unwise if we could.Certainly the aspect of the churches of this land justified to the full, the statement that we had embraced as Protestantsmost heartily one grand principledrawn from Scripture, and put forth at the Reformation-the right of private judgment. But there was a real, substantial,living unity among the disciples of Christ nevertheless. Except for the weakness and infirmity of men, or the obstinacy andthe ignorance of men whichoccasionally magnified apparent into real differences, there was nothing in any Church organization, nothing in the formulariesof religion, nothing even in Doctrine among what were called the Orthodox Churches of this land-there was nothing if we butbelieved that there was onlyone name given to men under Heaven, whereby we might be saved-to prevent a real, substantial, effective union among allthe disciples of Christ! The doctrine of true essential union among the disciples of Christ should, he took leave to say,be more fully explained, set forth, andgenerally received than it was at present. Oh, if they could imagine a spirit of the just made perfect, enabled to piercethat thin veil which screens an unseen world from our mortal view, with this topic to discourse upon, how he would tell themthat union with Christ the Head,must mean union of the members of His body, one with another! How he would tell them, as they had already been reminded,that it was written, "Beloved, if God so loved us, ought we not also to love one another?" How he would tell them that theyfought for shadows if they fought foranything which bore not on the glorious hereafter! How he would tell them, with tones deepened from an intense realizationof the things belonging to eternity, of the folly, the utter, miserable folly of those pettinesses which disfigure many ChristianChurches because they comefrom weak, though in God's mercy, good men! How he would tell them of our Savior's word, "A new commandment I give untoyou, that you love one another as I have loved you." How he would tell them that some of the very last utterances of Scripture,possibly the very last, the Epistleof John, breathed fully this Doctrine, and the aged saint and Apostle seemed to concentrate all the spirit of the Gospelin his exhortation, "Little children love one another!" Union merely in name would be thoroughly useless. Lip profession,unaccompanied by kindly acts, was littleto be relied upon. Only a real spiritual, prayerful, brotherly union of the Church of Christ would increase the tone ofthe Church's piety, quicken the Church's zeal, and bless the world.
The subject committed to him by Mr. Spurgeon was the influence of such a union upon the Church itself. If this spirit of realunion were cultivated, there would be a prayerful cultivation of those characteristics which made this union desirable, andthereby there would be the growth in Grace of thewhole Church. One of the first results would be an anxiety for the honor of Christ-
"A jealous, just concern For His immortal praise! A pure desire that all might learn, And glorify His Grace."
And whatever would magnify the Savior, add luster to His many crowns, and bring the world to His feet-that would be the objectof the Church's prayerful and devout effort. There would then be an earnest desire to grow more and more like the Savior,and as far as possible to follow in His steps;and as the Church, by its individual members, sought to act in the Spirit of the Savior, more and more of His Spirit wouldbe imbibed, and as they sought to grow more and more like the Head, they would more readily recognize His likeness in anyof His members wherever they were, andunder whatever circumstances. There would also be an honor placed upon the poor, humble and afflicted members of Christ'sflock which they sometimes did not now obtain. The charity which gives the cup of cold water to the disciple would no longerbe dashed by the expectation ofhuman applause, but it would be given to the disciple in the name of the disciple for the sake of the Master. There wouldbe an increase of the spirit of charity. We would have large eyes for each other's excellencies, and small vision for eachother's defects. Oh, for more of thecharity that forgives, the charity that covers the fault! Another effect would be the ability to rejoice in each other'ssuccess. What a hard matter that is to some of us! Again, there would be a disposition to work together where practicable,or still, if not practicable, together,yet in such a spirit that Judah should not envy Ephraim, nor Ephraim vex Judah. There would be, too, the quickening of ourzeal, and faith, and love. We would rejoice to help each other, to bear one another's burdens. We would learn to speak lovingly,and kindly, and honorably, andrespectfully of each other, and not detractingly and as though we were glad to hear a whisper of any delinquency
The REV. ROBERT BUSHNELL, Free Methodist, next addressed the meeting in a very humorous speech. After some preliminary observations,he said he very much rejoiced in the erection of the building in which they were assembled for one or two important reasons.The first was, he believed it would bethe birth place of immortal souls. There was a spot in old England-he knew it quite well, the likeness of it was gratefullyembalmed in his memory-he did not mean to say that it was a bit better than any other spot, but it was better to him. He couldremember the shape of thewindows and the doors; he knew the look of that old building altogether, and there was not such a house in old England asthat house was to him. He would tell them why. He was born there, and he was born-again there. A short time ago he visitedthat spot-he went to follow his poormother to the grave. He looked at the house, and could have wept over it, and if the people there would not have thoughthim superstitious, he would not have minded giving a shilling to go to the very room and kneel upon the very spot where hewas when God converted him. It was thesecond birth which made it glorious. And so he had no doubt at all that this house of prayer would be dear to thousandsof souls, because they would be there born to God! But then, that was not all. He believed it would also be a place of spiritualrefreshment for saints. He quitethought, notwithstanding all that people said to the contrary, that if they wanted a bit of good substantial food, theymight get it there. He came on Good Friday morning, and he confessed that he felt it was God's house. He did not mean to saythat they would get very many flowersthere, they did not need them. Food was the sort of thing that they needed. Flowers looked very well upon the tables, butthey would not like the flowers if there was not food as well. There were two men on a road one day, and they had had a verylong journey, and were awfullyhungry. At length, one of them saw what he conceived to be an inn. "This is it, Brother," he said, "come on." So in theywent, and the waiter came with an apron, just as they do, and he looked very natty, and there was a table very beautifullyspread, and the dishes and silverware,and all there. So these men said to the waiter, "What have you got?" "Well"-he hardly knew. "Have you got any ducks?" theyasked. "No." "Chickens?" "No." "Beef steaks?" "No." "Why, what in the world do you keep, then?" they said. "Well," he said,"we keep a tavern." Now, therewere some buildings in which there were all the things necessary except the one thing necessary. He believed that in thishouse of prayer there would be meat for men, milk for babies, and spiritual nourishment for the fainting and the dying! Tocome to the subject of unity, they allknew that unity was strength. A little drop of water might fall upon the face of a delicate lady, and she would hardly knowit, but put a mass of drops together, and you have got the ocean big enough to bear or bury the Leviathan! Mr. Bushnell thengave several illustrations of themanifestations of unity, concluding with that afforded by the erection of the Tabernacle itself.
The REV. W. G. LEWIS, of Bayswater, said the subject entrusted to him was one so vast in its extent, and so weighty in itsconsequences, that he almost felt guilty of temerity in attempting to handle it. It was, "What are the limits of practicalunion?" There could be no union without a creed. Letit be distinctly understood that beautiful and fair, and celestial as charity was, Truth was her lifeblood. Without it,she could not exist. All associations of men of whatever kind existed upon sympathy of belief. Moral, political, scientificor religious associations all had onecommon center, one basis of belief. So long, however, as men were built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,Jesus Christ, Himself, being the chief Cornerstone, all their differences were cast into the shade. The old axiom of the Reformerswas, "In essentials, unity; indoubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity." For his own part, he hesitated not plainly to announce that he couldhave no practical union with a man unless he believed the Inspiration of God's Holy Word, though he might feel charity towardshim. He was not speaking of thelimits of love, or attempting to put boundaries to the exercise of brotherhood and regard for the welfare of his fellowmen, but for all purposes of concerted usefulness, and cooperation, he could have no Christian fellowship with the man whodid not firmly hold the Inspiration ofGod's Word. They would have no platform upon which to stand; no standard to which to appeal in their differences. Such aman would go beneath the foundation of his (Mr. Lewis's) belief, and in these days the great enemy of our souls was very busyin deluding and impelling men tomake attacks upon the sacred Word. He had no fear for the safety of the Ark of God. It had already survived darker stormsthan those which seemed at this day to impend upon it. It was only 70 years ago that Voltaire, the high priest of infidelity,published that blasphemous threat,"In 60 years there shall be no Bible." And tonight, where was the priming press that was employed in publishing the threat-inthe city of Geneva, printing Bibles! All that infidelity had at present accomplished in regard to the Bible had been to provethe bitterness of its malice,and utter impotency of its own attacks! He could have no practical communion with a man who did not believe in the utterdegeneracy of the entire human race in consequences of sin. He would not reiterate the statements of the Word of God to theeffect that all have sinned and comeshort of the Glory of God. He need not point to the lives of men to illustrate it from their personal or individual history-itstood impressed upon every conscience that was not utterly seared, and dead! It was written on every page that recorded humanlife-whether that pagewere sacred or profane-and his own experience led him to the firm belief that no man ever yet did embrace the Gospel ofJesus Christ until he had a deep conviction of his condition as a lost sinner in the sight of God. Neither could he have fellowshipwith a man who did not holdthe Doctrine of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Doctrine of the Trinity, to his mind, was essential to the verystructure of the Sacred Oracles. The man who impugned the Doctrine of the Trinity, to his (Mr. Lewis's) mind, impugned theveracity of God! Nor could he hold unionand co-operate with any man who did not stand fast by the Doctrine of the Atonement. Catholicity was not compromise. Catholicityand Christian unity must imply "No surrender of vital Doctrines."
The REV. C. H. SPURGEON, who was introduced as the representative of the Primitive Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, madea few remarks upon the subject. It was among the Primitive Methodists that he first found the Savior. It was by one of theirlocal preachers that he learned to look untoJesus and be saved, and now he was really a Primitive Methodist, for he practiced Baptism after the most primitive form!But next he claimed to represent the Presbyterians because their Church was based on the Presbyterian model, and maintainedthe Eldership. The union of which theyspoke was a union of the Church; and as the limit of union, the Church had no spiritual union with the world, with worldlyprofessors, nor with carnal men, although they might be in the Church. The Church might sometimes be compelled to use worldlymen, but any union with them woulddeceive and beguile her. The Church might have to use men for her purpose, that she might achieve her temporal and politicalliberties; but her real fellowship never extended beyond herself. It was an awful Truth, perverted and therefore forgotten,that there was no salvation out ofthe pale of the Church. But what was the Church? Those who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ-this was their visible character;those who were filled with the Holy Spirit-that was their secret character. It was utterly impossible to narrow the limitsof Christian fellowship. Heconcluded by expressing his satisfaction at the meeting, and said it was a sweet and refreshing season.
A vote of thanks was then unanimously accorded to the Chairman, which was acknowledged by him, and the meeting separated.