Sermon 607. True Unity Promoted
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JANUARY 1, 1865,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Endea voring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:3.
YOU will remember that for several years I have received my morning's text for the first Sunday in the year from an esteemedBrother, a clergyman of the Church of England. This year he very kindly sends me this verse, which I hope will be useful tous all, reminding us of our former faults and ofour present duty in the matter of "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." The Pope has latelybeen most lustily cursing us all. According to his nature, of course, must be his utterances. We could not expect a blessingwhere no blessing abides. And if weget a curse we only receive a polluted stream from a polluted fountain. It is an old saying that England never prospersso well as when the Pope curses her. I hope to see a year of great prosperity this year!
Let the poor deluded priest curse as long as he will, our God shall turn it into a blessing. In former days, when some ofthe Churches of Christ began to shake off the yoke of Popedom from their necks, the plea urged against reformation was thenecessity of maintaining unity. "You must bear withthis ceremony and that dogma no matter how antichristian and unholy, you must bear with it, 'endeavoring to keep the unityof the Spirit in the bond of peace.' " So spoke the old serpent in those early days. "The Church is one, woe unto those whoshall create schism! It may be truethat Mary is set up in the place of Christ, that images are worshipped, sticks and rotten rags adored and pardons boughtand sold for crimes of every kind. It may be that the so-called church has become an abomination and a nuisance upon the faceof the earth, but still,'endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,' you must lie down, restrain the testimony of the Spiritof God within you, keep His Truth under a bushel and let the lie prevail."
This was the grand sophistry of the church of Rome. When, however, she could not seduce men by talking of love and union,she took upon herself to use her natural tone of voice and cursed right and left right heartily-and so let her curse tillshe expires! Brethren, there was no reason in theargument of the Papist! If you will look at the text for a moment, you will see the text bids us endeavor to keep the unityof the Spirit-but it does not tell us to endeavor to maintain the unity of evil, the unity of superstition-or the unity ofspiritual tyranny! Theunity of error, of false doctrine, of priestcraft may have in it the spirit of Satan-we do not doubt that-but that it isthe unity of the Spirit of God we do utterly deny!
The unity of evil we are to break down by every weapon which our hands can grasp-the unity of the Spirit which we are to maintainand foster is quite another thing. Remember that we are forbidden to do evil that good may come. And it is evil to restrainthe witness of the Spirit of God withinus! To conceal any Truth of God which we have learned by revelation of God is evil! To hold back from testifying for God'sTruth and Word-against the sin and folly of man's inventions-would be sin of the blackest hue. We dare not commit the sinof quenching the HolySpirit even though it were with the view of promoting unity!
The unity of the Spirit never requires any sinful support-that is maintained not by suppressing the Truth of God, but by publishingit abroad. The unity of the Spirit has for its pillars, among other things, the witnessing of spiritually enlightened saintsto the one faith which God hasrevealed in His Word. That is quite another unity which would gag our mouths and turn us all into dumb driven cattle tobe fed or slaughtered at the will of priestly masters. Dr. McNeil has, very properly, said that a man can scarcely be an earnestChristian in the recent daywithout being a controversialist. We are sent forth today as sheep in the midst of wolves-can there be agreement? We arekindled as lamps in the midst of darkness-can there be concord?
Has not Christ Himself said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword"? Youunderstand how all this is the truest method of endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit, for Christ, the
Man of War, is Jesus the Peacemaker. But in order to the creation of lasting, spiritual peace, the phalanx of evil must bebroken and the unity of darkness dashed to shivers. I pray God evermore to preserve us from a unity in which Truth shall beconsidered valueless! In which principle gives placeto policy! In which the noble and masculine virtues which adorn the Christian hero are to be supplemented by an effeminateaffectation of charity! May the Lord deliver us from indifference to His Word and will! This only creates the cold unity ofmasses of ice frozen into an icebergchilling the air for miles around-the unity of the dead as they sleep in their graves, contending for nothing-because theyhave neither part nor lot in all that belongs to living men.
There is a unity which is seldom broken-the unity of devils, who, under the service of their great liege master, never disagreeand quarrel! From this terrible unity keep us, O God of Heaven! The unity of locusts have one common object- the gluttingof themselves to the ruin of allaround! The unity of the waves of Tophet's fire, sweeping myriads into deeper misery-from this also, O King of Heaven, saveus forevermore! May God perpetually send some Prophet who shall cry aloud to the world, "Your covenant with death shall bedisannulled and your agreementwith Hell shall not stand." May there ever be found some men, though they are rough as Amos, or stern as Haggai, who shalldenounce again and again all league with error and all compromise with sin and declare that these are the abhorrence of God!
Never dream that holy contention is at all a violation of my text. The destruction of every sort of union which is not basedon the Truth of God is a preliminary to the edification of the unity of the Spirit. We must first sweep away these walls ofuntempered mortar-these tottering fences ofman's building-before there can be room to lay the goodly stones of Jerusalem's walls one upon the other for lasting andenduring prosperity!
In this spirit have I spoken to clear a way to reach my text. It is clear from the text that there is a unity of the Spiritto be kept. Secondly that it needs keeping. And thirdly, that a bond is to be used. When we have enlarged upon these pointswe shall use the text in its practicalapplication-first to Christians in their connection with other churches and then to members of the same Church in theirconnection with each other.
I. First, THERE IS A UNITY OF THE SPIRIT OF WHICH THE TEXT SPEAKS WHICH IS WORTHY TO BE KEPT. You will observe it is not anecclesiastical unity. It is not endeavoring to keep the unity of the denomination, the community, the diocese, the parish-no,it is "endeavoring to keep the unity of theSpirit." Men speak of the Episcopal Church, the Wesleyan Church, or the Presbyterian Church. Now I hesitate not to say thatthere is nothing whatever in Scripture at all parallel to such language, for there I read of the seven Churches in Asia, theChurch in Corinth, Philippi,Antioch, etc.
In England, if I speak according to the Word of God, there are some thousands of churches holding the Episcopal form of government.In Scotland, some thousands of godly churches are ordered according to Presbyterian rule. Among the Wesleyans, there are churchesadhering to the form of governmentfirst carried out by Mr. Wesley. But it is not according to the method of Scripture, but only according to human inventionto speak of a whole cluster of churches as one church.
Although I myself am much inclined to a Presbyterian union among our churches, I cannot but perceive in Holy Scripture thateach church is separate and distinct from every other church. The whole being is connected by those different bonds and ligamentswhich keep all the separate memberstogether-but not so connected as to run into one another to lose their separateness and individuality. There is nothingin Scripture which says, "Endeavoring to keep up your ecclesiastical arrangements for centralization." The exhortation runsthus-"Endeavoring to keepthe unity of the Spirit."
Again, you will observe it does not say, "Endeavoring to keep the uniformity of the Spirit." The Spirit does not recognizeuniformity. The analogy of His work in nature is against it. The flowers are not all tinted with the same hue, nor do theyexhale the same odors. There is variety everywhere inthe work of God. If I glance at Providence, I do not perceive that any two events happen after the same form-the page ofhistory is varied. If, therefore, I look into the Church of God, I do not expect to find that all Christians pronounce thesame shibboleth, or see with thesame eyes.
The same, "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all," we rejoice to recognize. But as to uniformity ofdress, liturgical verbiage, or form of worship, I find nothing of it in Scripture. Men may pray acceptably standing, sitting,kneeling, or lying with their faces upon the earth.They may meet with Jesus by the river's side, in the temple porch, in a prison, or in a private house. And they may be onein the same Spirit although the one regards a day and the other regards it not.
So what is this unity of the Spirit? I trust, dear Brothers and Sisters, that we know it by having it in possession. It ismost certain that we cannot keep the unity of the Spirit if we don't already have it! Let us ask ourselves the question, "Havewe the unity of the Spirit?" None can have it butthose who have the Spirit and the Spirit dwells only in new-born believing souls. By virtue of his having the Spirit, theBeliever is in union with every other spiritual man and this is the unity which he is to endeavor to keep.
This unity of the Spirit is manifested in love. A husband and wife may be, through Providence, cast hundreds of miles fromone another-but there is a unity of spirit in them because their hearts are one. We, Brethren, are divided many thousandsof miles from the saints in Australia, Americaand the South Seas-but loving as Brethren-we feel the unity of the Spirit. I was never a member of a Church meeting in thebackwoods of America. I never worshipped God with the Samoans, or with my Brethren in New Zealand-but notwithstanding allthis, I feel theunity of the Spirit in my soul with them and everything which concerns their spiritual welfare is interesting to me.
This unity of the Spirit is caused by a similarity of nature. Find a drop of water glittering in the rainbow, leaping in thewaterfall, rippling in the rivulet, lying silent in the stagnant pool or dashing in spray against the vessel's side-that waterclaims kinship with every drop of waterthe wide world over because it is the same in its elements. And even so there is a unity of the Spirit which we cannot imitatewhich consists in our being "begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
We bear in us the Holy Spirit as our daily Quickener and walk in the path of faith in the living God. Here is the unity ofspirit, a unity of life working itself out in love. This is sustained daily by the Spirit of God. He who makes us one, keepsus one. Every member of my body must have acommunion with every other member of my body. I say must. The question never arises, that I know of, between the membersof my body whether they will do so or not. As long as there is life in my frame, every separate portion of my body must havecommunion with every other portion ofit.
Here is my finger-I may discolor it with some noxious drug. My head may not approve of the staining of my finger-it may suggesta thousand ways by which that finger ought to be put through a purgation and this may be all right and proper-but my headnever says, "I will cut offthat finger from communion." My tongue speaks loudly against the noxious fluid which has done my finger mischief and hasblistered it so as to cause pain to the whole body, yet the head cannot say, "I will have that finger cut off," unless thebody is willing to be forever mutilatedand incomplete.
Now, it is not possible to mutilate the body of Christ. Christ does not lose His members or cast off parts of His mysticalbody. And therefore it never ought to enter the head of any Christian whether or not he shall have communion in spirit withany other Christian, for he cannot do withoutit-as long as he lives he must have it. This does not stop him in boldly denouncing the error into which his Brother mayhave fallen, or in avoiding his intimate acquaintance while he continues to sin. But it does forbid the thought that we canever really sever any trueBeliever from Christ, or even from us, if we are in Christ Jesus.
The unity of the Spirit is preserved, then, by the Holy Spirit infusing daily life-floods into the one mystical body. Andin proportion as the life-floods become more strong, that union becomes more manifest. Let a spirit of prayer be poured outon all our churches and conventionalities will bedashed down-divisions will be forgotten and locked in each others arms-the people of God will show to the world that theyare one in Christ Jesus! There are some points in which this unity of the Spirit is certain to discover itself. In prayer,how truly does Montgomeryput it-
"The saints in prayer appear as one In word and deed and mind, While with the Father and the Son, Sweet fellowship they find."
There is a unity of praise, too. Our hymn books differ, after all, very little. We still sing the same songs and praise thesame Savior. This unity will soon discover itself in co-working-they have a union in their conflict with the common foe andin their contention for the common Truth ofGod. This will lead to communion-I do not mean sitting down to the same table to eat bread and drink wine-that is only theoutward union-but I mean that communion which consists in heart beating true to heart and in the feeling that they are onein Christ Jesus. Itwas a motto with Bucer, "To love all in whom he could see anything of Christ Jesus."
Be this your motto, Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Make not your love an excuse for not offering stern rebuke, but rebukebecause you love! Some persons think that unless you smooth your tongue and cover your words with sugar, no matter thoughit may be sugar of lead-unless you cringe andcompliment and conceal-there is no love in your heart. But I trust it will be our privilege to show in our own persons,some of us, how sternly we can dissent and yet love. How truly be Nonconformists to our Brethren's error and yet in our verynonconformity prove ouraffection to them and to our common Master.
It is said of some men that they appear to have been born upon the mountains of Bether, for they do nothing but cause division.And baptized in the waters of Meribah, for they delight in causing strife. This is not the case with the genuine Christian-hecares only for the Truth, for hisMaster, for the love of souls-and when these things are not imperiled, his own private likes or dislikes never affect him.He loves as much to see another Church prosper as his own-so long as he can know that Christ is glorified, it is a matterof comparativeindifference to him by what minister God's arm is made bare, in what place souls are converted, or to what particular formof worship men addict themselves.
Yet ever does he hold to this-that there is no unity of the Spirit where there is a lie in the teaching-that where the soulsof men are concerned he would be a traitor to God if he did not bear witness against the error which damns, and testify tothe Truth which saves. And where thecrown jewels of his Master's kingdom are concerned he dares not traitorously hold his tongue. And though his fellow subjectscast his name out as evil, he counts it all joy so long as he is faithful to his Master and discharges his conscience as beforethe Judge of the quick and thedead.
II. Secondly, THIS UNITY NEEDS KEEPING. It is a very difficult thing to maintain and that for several reasons. Our sins would,very naturally, break it. If we were all angels we should keep the unity of the Spirit and not need even the exhortation todo so. But, alas, we are proud, and pride is themother of division! Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence, is very sure to head a faction.
Envy, too, how that separates friends! When I cannot be satisfied with anything which is not hammered on my anvil or run inmy mold. When another man's candle grieves me because it gives more light than mine. And when another man troubles me becausehe has more Divine Grace than I have-oh,there is no unity in this case! Anger-what a deadly foe is that to unity! When we cannot take the smallest disrespect-whenthe slightest thing brings the blood into our face- when we speak unadvisedly with our lips-but surely I need not read thelong list ofsins which spoil this unity of the Spirit, for they are legion! O, may God cast them out from us, for only so can we keepthe unity of the Spirit!
But, Beloved, our very virtues may make it difficult for us to keep this unity. Luther is brave and bold, hot and impetuous.He is just the man to lead the van and clear the way for the Reformation. Calvin is logical, clear, cool, precise- he seldomspeaks rashly. It is not in the order ofthings that Luther and Calvin should always agree. Their very virtues cause them to fall out and, consequently, Luther,in a bad temper, calls Calvin a pig and a devil. And, albeit, Calvin once replied, "Luther may call me what he will, but Iwill always call him a dear servant ofChrist."
Yet John Calvin knew how to pierce Luther under the fifth rib when he was in humor. In those days the courtesies of Christiansto one another were generally of the iron-gauntlet order rather than the naked hand. All were so much called to war for thesake of the Truth of God that even their fellowsoldiers were treated with suspicion. And it may be with us that the very watchfulness of Truth, which is so valuable, maymake us suspect where there is no need for suspicion and our courage may take us as sometimes a fiery horse has carried ayoung warrior beyond where he intendedto have rid-den-where he may be taken prisoner to his own damage.
We must watch-the best of us must watch-lest we fight the Lord's battles with Satan's weapons and so even from love to Godand His Truth violate the unity of the Spirit. The unity of the Spirit ought to be kept, dear Friends, because Satan is sobusy to mar it. He knows that thegreatest Glory of Christ will spring from the unity of His Church. "That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Meand I in You. That they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that You have sent Me."
There is no Church happiness where there is not Church unity. Let a Church be disaffected and divided, the schism in the bodyis death to all hallowed fellowship. We cannot enjoy communion with each other unless our hearts are one. Our work for God-howfeebly it is done when we are notagreed! The enemy cannot desire a better ally than strife in the midst of our camp. "Can you not agree," said a warriorof old, "when your enemy is in sight?" Christians, can you not agree to keep the unity of the Spirit when a destroying Satanis ever on the watch seeking to dragimmortal souls down to perdition?
We must be more diligent in this matter! We must seek to purge out from ourselves everything which would divide and to havein our hearts every holy thought which would tend to unite us with our Brethren. I am not, when I join a Christian Church,to say, "I am quite certain I shall never break itsunity." I am to suspect myself of a liability to that evil and I am to watch with all diligence that I keep the unity ofthe Spirit.
III. In the third place, in order to the keeping of this, THERE IS A BOND PROVIDED, THE BOND OF PEACE. Beloved, there shouldbe much peace, perfect peace, unbounded peace between the people of God. We are not aliens. We are "fellow citizens with thesaints and of the household of God." Realize yourfellow citizenship! Treat not Christian people as foreigners and this bond of fellow citizenship will be one bond of peace.You are not enemies. Men may be fellow citizens and yet hate one another, but you are friends, you are all friends to Christand in Him you are all friends toone another. Let that be another bond.
But you go farther-you are not mere friends, you are Brethren born of the same parent-filled with the same life. And shallnot this be a bond? See that you fall not out by the way. Strive not one with another, for you are Brethren. This is not all.You are closer than this-you aremembers of the same body. Shall this mysterious union fail to be a bond of peace to you? Will you, being the foot, contendwith the eye? Or will you, being the eye, contend with the hand and say, "I have no need of you"?
If it is, indeed, the Truth of God and not a fiction that we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones- becausethe joints and bones in other men's bodies may not agree-let it never be said of the mystical body of our blessed Lord thatthere was such a monstrous thing init! Let it never be said that the various parts would not co-work but fell to battling with another! I believe I have broughtout the meaning of the text. There is a unity of the Spirit which is worthy to be kept-we ought to keep it-we must try tokeep it in the bond ofpeace.
To come to the practical conclusion of the subject. First, in the connection of one Church with another. And secondly, inthe connection of one Church member with another. It is not a desirable thing that all churches should melt into one anotherand become one. The complete fusion of all churchesinto one ecclesiastical corporation would inevitably produce another form of Popery since history teaches us that largeecclesiastical bodies grow more or less corrupt as a matter of course.
Huge spiritual corporations are, as a whole, the strongholds of tyranny and the refuges of abuse. And it is only a matterof time when they shall break to pieces. Disruption and secession must occur and will occur where a unity is attempted whichis not meant in God's Word. But it will be a blessedthing when all the churches walk together in the unity of the Spirit! When this Church, although it has been baptized intothe Lord Jesus Christ and laments the neglect of that ordinance by others, yet feels that the unity of the Spirit is not tobe broken and holds out its righthand to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.
When yonder Church, governed by its elders, feels a unity with another Church which is presided over by its bishop. When acertain Church, which holds with mutual edification and no ministry, is yet not quarrelsome towards those who love the ministryof the Word! When, in fact, we have agreed inthis one thing-that we will search the Word independently and act out according to our light what we find to be true-buthaving so done we will keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I say this is most desirable and this, it is, thatwe are to seekafter-not the fusion of all into one denomination! But the keeping of each Church in its own distinct independent testimonyin love with every other Church that is doing the same.
Now, in order to this, I have a few suggestions to offer. It is quite certain we shall never keep the unity of the Spiritif this Church shall declare that it is superior to every other. If there is a Church which says, "We are the Church and allothers are mere sects. We are established and othersare only tolerated," then it is a troubler in Israel and must hide its head when the unity of the Spirit is so much as hintedat! Any Church which lifts up its head on high and boasts over other churches has violated the unity of the Spirit. If otherchurches reply, "One is ourMaster and all we are Brethren," they do not violate the unity of the Spirit, for they simply claim their rights and speakthe Truth of God.
That other Church which forgets its true position as one in the family and begins to set itself up as mistress and claim pre-eminenceover its fellow servants has put it out of its own power to keep the unity of the Spirit, for it has violated it once andfor all. A Church that would keep the unityof the Spirit, again, must not consider itself to be so infallible that not to belong to its membership is sin. What righthas any one Church to set itself up as the standard, so that those who do not join it are necessarily Dissenters?
It is true my Episcopal brother is a Dissenter-he dissents from me! It is true he is a Nonconformist, for he does not conformto me-I would not, however, call him by such names lest I should arrogate to my own Church to be the one true church and soshould break the unity of the Spirit.If I turn to history I may believe that my Church can claim a long line of ancestors descending from the Apostles, withoutever running through the Church of Rome. But shall I therefore call a Brother who does not quite see this succession, a schismaticand denominate his assemblyillegal? If he is a schismatic because he does not come to my place, why am I not a schismatic because I do not go to his?
Well, but he divides the church! He ought to come and worship with me. Ought I not to go and worship with him? Ah, but weare the larger number! Are Divine things to be ruled by the majority? Where would the Church of God be any day if it cameto polling? I am afraid the devil would always be atthe head of the poll. We wish to keep the unity of the Spirit and if we have a little sister, we will treat her all themore kindly, owing to the fewness of her members. If I want to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," I mustnever call in the magistrate to force myBrother to pay for washing my surplice, ringing my bell and winding up my clock.
I must not tell my Brother that he is bound to pay for the support of my worship. "Oh," he says, "my dear Friend, I pay forthe maintenance of the worship which I believe to be correct and I am quite willing that you should do the same for yours."I would voluntarily assist you if you were poor.But you tell me you will put me in prison if I do not pay and yet tell me to keep the unity of the Spirit? My dear Friend,it is not keeping the unity of the Spirit to take away my stool and my table and my candlestick, and say you will put me in"limbo," or hail me before anecclesiastical court. You send the constable after me. And then if I say a word about it, you say, "Charity hopes all things."
Yes, among the rest it hopes that you will give up your sin in this matter. If we should stand possessed of a piece of groundwhere we bury our dead, and if there should happen to come a member of another Christian Church who would wish to lay hispoor dead baby in our ground, there being no otherconvenient spot anywhere and he asks the favor, I think we can hardly be thought to keep the unity of the Spirit if we tellhim, "No, nothing of the kind! You had your child sprinkled, therefore it cannot be buried with us Christians! We will nothave your sprinkled baby lyingalongside our baptized dead."
I do not think that is keeping the unity of the Spirit. And I do not think when some churches have turned from their graveyardgate the mourners who have brought an unbaptized infant-and the mourners have gone back weeping to their homes-I do not thinksuch churches have beenendeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Again, if churches are to agree one with another they must not make rules that ministers who are not of their own denominationshall not occupy their pulpits. I should be ashamed of you, if you passed a resolution that no one dissenting from us shouldstand in my pulpit. But we know a church whichsays, "No matter how good a man may be. He may be a man as venerated as John Angell James, or he may have all the excellenciesof a William Jay-we would not, perhaps, mind hearing him in a Town Hall-but into the sacredness of our particular rostrumthese interlopers mustnot intrude."
For, says this church, "Ours are ministers, yours are only lay teachers. Ours are sacraments-the cup of blessing which webless is the blood of Christ and the bread which we break is the body of Christ-you have no sacramental efficacy with you.In fact, you are not a church, but only abody of schismatics meeting together to carry out what you think to be right. We tolerate you, but that is all we can do."Where is the unity of the Spirit there?
My dear Friends, I received this text from one of the most holy men in the Church of England-if I expound it slightly forher benefit, he will, I trust, excuse me, for I do so in all honesty, desiring to aid him and many others in revision andreform. If this Church were in the same conditionas the Church of England I would pray to be as plain in my remarks. I say it is an anachronism! It is a thing out of datefor the nineteenth century for any one church in this land and that church the only one which defiles her hand by taking Statepay, to stand up and say, "We arethe church! Our ministers are the ministers! Our people are the people! And now, dear Brethren, shake hands and endeavorto keep the unity of the Spirit of God."
Why, it is preposterous! Let us meet on equal ground! Let us lay aside all pretences to superiority! Let us really aid andnot oppress each other! Let us mingle in prayer. Let us unite in confession of sin. Let us join heartily in reforming ourerrors and a true Evangelical Alliance will cover ourland! If any church will take the Bible as its standard and in the power of the Spirit of God preach the name of Jesus,there are thousands of us who will rejoice to give the right hand of fellowship with a hearty greeting to all such! We arestriving every day to get other churchesand ourselves more and more into that condition in which, while holding our own, we can yet keep the unity of the Spiritin the bond of peace!
Now, a few words to you in regard to your relationship to one another as members of the same church. If we are to endeavorto keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in the same church, then we must avoid everything that would mar it.Gossip-gossip is a very ready means ofseparating friends from one another. Let us endeavor to talk of something better than each other's characters. Dionysiuswent down to the Academy to Plato. Plato asked what he came for. "Why," said Dionysius, "I thought that you, Plato, wouldbe talking against me to your students."
Plato made this answer-"Do you think, Dionysius, we are so destitute of matter to converse upon that we talk of you?" Trulywe must be very short of subjects when we begin to talk of one another. It is better far that we magnify Christ than detractfrom the honor of His members. We must layaside all envy. Multitudes of good people liked the Reformation, but they said they did not like the idea of its being doneby a poor miserable monk like Martin Luther. And so there are many who like to see good things done and good works carriedon, but do not care to see it doneby that upstart young Brother, or that poor man, or that woman who has no particular rank or state.
As a Church let us shake off envy! Let us all rejoice in God's light. And as for pride-if any of you have grown vaingloriousof late, shake it off. I hope to exercise a ministry in this place which will drive out those of you who will not acknowledgeyour Brethren when they are poorer or ofless education than yourselves. What if the man does mar the Queen's English when he talks-what does that matter, so longas his heart is right? As long as you can feel he loves the Master, surely you can put up with his faults of language-if hecan put up with yourfaults of action. Then let us cultivate everything that would tend to unity.
Are any sick? Let us care for them. Are any suffering? Let us weep with them. Do we know one who has less love than others?Then let us have more, so as to make up the deficiency. Do we perceive faults in a Brother? Let us admonish him in love andaffection. I pray you be peacemakers, every one ofyou! Let this Church go on as it has done for the last eleven years in holy concord and blessed unity. Let us remember thatwe cannot keep the unity of the Spirit unless we all believe the Truth of God. Let us search our Bibles, therefore, and conformour views and sentiments to theteaching of God's Word.
I have already told you that unity in error is unity in ruin. We want unity in the Truth of God through the Spirit of God.This let us seek after it! Let us live near to Christ, for this is the best way of promoting unity. Divisions in churchesnever begin with those full of love to the Savior.Cold hearts, unholy lives, inconsistent actions, neglected closets-these are the seeds which sow schisms in the body! Buthe who lives near to Jesus-wears His likeness and copies His example-will be, wherever he goes, a sacred bond, a holy linkto bind the Churchtogether more closely than ever.
May God give us this and from now on let us endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I commend the textto all Believers to be practiced through the coming year. And to those who are not Believers, what can I say but that I trusttheir unity and their peace may be brokenforever and that they may be led to Christ Jesus to find peace in His death! May faith be given and then love and everyDivine Grace will follow, so that they may be one with us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.