Sermon 668. Unity In Christ
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JANUARY 7, 1866,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, asYou, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." John 17:20,21.
FOR several years I have thankfully received the text of the first Sabbath in the year from a venerable clergyman of a parishin the suburbs of our city. Spared by a gracious Providence, my good Brother has sent me, with his Christian salutations,these two verses for my subject. As we have enjoyedtogether for several years a true communion of spirit in the things of God, I can only hope, that until one or the otherof us shall be taken up to dwell above, we may walk together in holy service, loving each other fervently with a pure heart.
The most tender and touching prayer of the Master contained in this chapter opens up to us His inmost heart. He was in Gethsemaneand His passion was just commencing. He stood like a victim at the altar where the wood was already laid in order and thefire was kindled to consume the sacrifice.Lifting up His eyes to Heaven, with true filial love gazing upon His Father's Throne, and resting in humble confidence uponHeaven's strength, He looked away for a moment from the strife and resistance unto blood which was going on below. He askedfor that upon which His heart wasmost fully set. He opened His mouth wide that His God might fill it.
This prayer, I take it, was not only the casual expression of the Savior's desire at the last, but is a sort of model of theprayer which is incessantly going up from Him to the Eternal Throne. There is a difference in the mode of its offering. Withsighs and tears He offered up His humble suitbelow-but with authority He now pleads enthroned in Glory! But the plea is the same-that which He desired while still belowis that which His soul pants after now that He is taken up and is glorified above. It is significant, Beloved, that the Saviorshould, in His lastmoments, not only desire the salvation of all His people, but should plead for the unity of the saved ones-that being savedthey might be united.
It was not enough that each sheep should be taken from the jaw of the wolf. He would have all the sheep gathered into onefold under His own care. He was not satisfied that the members of His body should, each of them, be saved as the result ofHis death-He must have those members fashionedinto a glorious body! Unity lying so very near the Savior's heart at such a time of overwhelming trial must have been heldby Him to be priceless beyond all price! It is of this unity that we shall speak this morning-on this wise-first of all, wewill have a little tosay upon the unity desired. Then upon the work necessary-namely, that the chosen be gathered in. Thirdly, upon prayer offered.Fourthly, upon the result anticipated, and fifthly, upon the question suggested.
I. First, then, UPON THE UNITY DESIRED. These words of the Savior have been perverted to the doing of a world of mischief.Ecclesiastics have fallen asleep, which, indeed, is their ordinary condition. And while asleep they have dreamed a dream-adream founded upon the letter of the Savior'swords of which they discern not the spiritual sense. They have proved in their own case, as has been proved in thousandsof others, that the letter kills, and only the spirit gives life.
Falling asleep, I say, these ecclesiastics have dreamed of a great confederation presided over by a number of ministers, theseagain governed by superior officers, and these again by others, and these topped at last by a supreme visible head who mustbe either a person or a council. This greatconfederacy, containing within itself kingdoms and nations, becomes so powerful as to work upon States, to influence politics,to guide councils and even to gather together and to move armies. True, the shadow of the Savior's teaching, "My kingdom isnot of this World," must havecaused an occasional nightmare in the midst of their dream, but they dreamed on!
And what is worse, they turned the dream into a reality, and the time was when the professed followers of Christ were allone. When looking north, south, east, west-from the center at the Vatican-one united body covered all Europe! And what wasthe result? Did the world believe that Godhad sent Christ? The world believed the very opposite! The world was persuaded that God had nothing to do with that greatcrushing, tyrannous, superstitious, ignorant thing which called itself Christianity.
And thinking men became infidels, and it was the hardest possible thing to find a genuine intelligent Believer north, south,east, or west. All professors were one, but the world believed not-the fact being that this was not the unity which Jesushad so much as thought of. It was never Hisintention to set up a great united body to be called a Church which should dominate and lord everywhere over the souls ofmen. He never intended a Church within its ranks, kings, princes and statesmen who might be worldly, ungodly, hateful, sensual,and devilish. It was neverChrist's design to set up a conscience-crushing engine of uniformity.
And so the great man-devised machine, when it was brought to perfection and set to work with the greatest possible vigor,instead of working out that the world should believe that the Father had sent Christ, worked out just this-that the worlddid not believe anything at all-but becameinfidel, licentious, and rotten at the core! And the system had to be abated as a common nuisance and something better broughtinto the world to restore morality. Yet people dream that dream still-even good people do so!
The Puritans, after they had been hunted and hauled to prison in this country, fled to New England, and no sooner had theyseated themselves upon the shore than they began to say, "We must all be one! There must be no schism!" And the big whip wasbrought out for the Quaker's back, and the manaclesfor the Baptist's bleeding wrists, because these men, somehow or other, would not be one after this kind of fashion, butwould think for themselves and obey God rather than man.
Nowadays Dr. Pusey dreams that the Anglican and the Russian Church may be united, and then perhaps the Romish may chime in-andso once more all may be one. A mere dream! A mere chimera of a kindly but whimsical brain! If it should ever come to be areality it would prove to be an upas tree atthe roots of which every honest man must at once lay his axe. But what did the Savior mean, "That they all may be one, asYou, Father, are in Me"?
We must begin at the beginning. What were the elements of this unity which Christ so anxiously desired? The answer is verydistinctly given us in this chapter. The unity was to be composed of the people who are here called "they." "That they allmay be one." Will you let your eyes run down thechapter to see who they are? Look in the second verse: "That He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him."
The unity, then proposed, is of persons specially given to Jesus by the Father! Not, then, of all men who happen to dwellin any particular province, district, or city-but a unity of persons who have received, not common life as all have-but lifeeternal. Special persons, then, who havebeen quickened by God the Holy Spirit and have been brought into vital union with the Person of the Lord Jesus are to beone.
Further, they are described in the sixth verse as persons to whom God's name has been manifested-people who have seen whatothers never saw-and have beheld what others cannot know. They are men given out of the world, so the verse tells us-chosenmen, taken out from the ordinarymass-not, then, the multitude. Not kingdoms, states, empires-but selected persons. They are persons who have been schooledand have learned unusual lessons-"Now they have known that all things whatever You have given Me are of You." And they havelearned theirlesson well, for we find it written, "They have kept Your Word. They have believed that You did send Me."
They are described in the ninth verse as being prayed for by Christ in a sense in which He never prays for the world at all.They are people, according to the tenth verse, in whom God is glorified-in whom the name of Jesus shines with resplendentluster. Look the whole chapter through and youwill discover that the unity which the Master intended was that of chosen persons who, by the Holy Spirit conferring lifeupon them, are led to believe in Jesus Christ! They are spiritual-minded men who live in the realm of spirit, prize spiritualthings, and form a confederacy anda kingdom which is spiritual and not of this world.
Here is the secret. Carnal minds hear that Jesus is to wear a crown of pearls-they find pearls in shells-they try to jointhe oyster shells together and what strange thing they make! But Jesus will have no union of the shells-the shells must bestruck off as worthless things! Thejewels, and the jewels, only, are to be joined together! It is rumored that the
King is to wear a crown and that pure gold is to form that brilliant circlet. Straightway men bring their huge nuggets andwould fashion the diadem of masses of rock, earth, quartz, and I know not what. But the King wears no such crown as that!He will refine the gold. He will melt away the earth.The crown is to be made of pure gold, not of the material with which that gold happens to be united.
The one Church of God-of what is it composed, then? Is it composed of the Church of England, the Congregational Union, theWesleyan Conference and the Baptist body? No, it is not. Is not, then, the Church of England a part of the Church of Christ,and the Baptist denomination a part? No! Ideny that these bodies, as such unrefined and in the gross, are a part of the great unity for which Jesus prayed. But thereare Believers united with the Church of England who are a part of the body of Christ. And there are Believers in all denominationsof Christians. Yes, and manyin no visible Church at all, who are in Christ Jesus, and consequently in the great unity.
The Church of England is not a part of Christ's true body, nor any other denomination as such. The spiritual unity is madeup of spiritual men, separated, picked out, cleared away from all the mass with which they happen to be united. I have spokenvery boldly perhaps, and may be misunderstood. ButI mean this-that you cannot take out any visible Church, however pure, and say that as it stands it belongs to the spiritualunity for which Jesus prayed. There are in the visible Churches a certain number of God's elect, and these are of the bodyof Jesus Christ. But theirfellow professors, if unconverted, are not in the mystical union. Christ's body is not made up of denominations, nor ofpresbyteries, nor of Christian societies-it is made up of saints chosen of God from before the foundation of the world-redeemedby blood, called by HisSpirit and made one with Jesus.
But now, passing on, what is the bond which keeps these united ones together? Among others, there is the bond of the sameorigin. Every person who is a partaker of the life of God has sprung from the same Divine Father. The Spirit of God has quickenedall the faithful alike. No matter that Luthermay be very dissimilar from Calvin-Luther is made and created a new creature in Christ Jesus by that same fiat which createdCalvin. No matter that Juan de Valdes, in the same age, may hide himself in the Court of Spain and scarcely be recognizedas a Believer, yet when weturn over his volume today we find in his, "One Hundred Considerations," the very same spirit of Divine Grace which breathesin Calvin's "Institutes," or in Luther's "Bondage of the Human Will."
And we discover there the same life in each-they have been quickened by the same Spirit and made to live by the same energy!And though they knew it not, they were still one. No, more-all true Believers are supported by the same strength! The lifewhich makes vital the prayer of aBeliever today is the same life which quickened the cry of a Believer two thousand years ago. And if this world shall lastso long as another thousand years, the same Spirit which made the tear trickle from the eyes of a penitent then is that whichthis day makes us bows before GodMost High.
Moreover, all Believers have the same aim and object. Every true saint is shot from the same bow and is speeding towards thesame target. There may be, there will be much that is not of God about the man, much of human infirmity, defilement and corruption-butstill the inward spirit withinhim which God has put there is forcing its way to the same perfection of holiness, and is, meanwhile, seeking to glorifyGod!
Above all, the Holy Spirit, who indwells in every Believer, is the true fount of oneness. Some of the Christians in this landof ours two hundred years ago were strangely different in outward manners from their Brethren of 1866. But when we talk withthem through their old folios and octavos, wefind, if we are the Lord's people, that we are quite at home with them. Though the manifestation may vary, yet the sameSpirit of God works the same Graces, the same virtues, the same excellencies-and thus helps all saints to prove themselvesto be of one tribe.
I meet an Englishman anywhere in the wide world over and I recognize in him some likeness to myself. There is some characteristicor other about him by which his nationality is betrayed. And so I meet a Christian five hundred years back in the midst ofRomanism and darkness, but his speech betrayshim. If my soul shall traverse space in one hundred years to come, although Christianity may have assumed another outwardgarb and fashion, I shall still recognize the Christian! I shall still detect the Galilean brogue. There will be somethingwhich will show to me that if I am anheir of Heaven I am one with the past and one with the future-yes, one with all the saints of the living God.
This is a very different bond from that which men try to impose upon each other in order to create union. They put strapsround the outside. They tie us together with many knots and we feel uneasy. But God puts a Divine life inside of us and thenwe wear the sacred bonds of love with ease. If youget the limbs of a dead man you can tie them together and then if you send the body on a journey and the carriage jolts,a leg will slip out of its place and an arm may be dislocated. But get a living man and you may send him where you will andthe ligatures of life will prevent hisdropping asunder. In all the truly elect children of God who are called, and chosen, and faithful, there is a bond of Divinemysterious love running right through the whole. And they are one and must be one-the Holy Spirit being the life which unitesthem.
There are tokens which evidence this union and prove that the people of God are one. We hear much moaning over our divisions.There may be some that are to be deplored among ecclesiastical confederacies, but in the spiritual Church of the living GodI am really at a loss to discover the divisionswhich are so loudly proclaimed. It strikes me that the tokens of union are much more prominent than the tokens of division.
But what are they? First there is a union in judgment upon all vital matters. I converse with a spiritual man and no matterwhat he calls himself, when we talk of sin, pardon, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and such like themes, we are agreed. We speakof our blessed Lord. My Friend says that Jesus isfair and lovely: so do I. He says that he has nothing else to trust to but the precious blood: nor have I anything else.I tell him that I find myself a poor, weak creature: he laments the same. I live in his house a little while: we pray togetherat the family altar-you couldnot tell which it was that prayed- Calvinist or Arminian. We pray so exactly alike and when we open the hymn book, verylikely if he happens to be a Wesleyan he chooses to sing, "Jesus, lover of my soul." I will sing it, and then next morninghe will sing with me, "Rock ofAges, cleft for me."
If the Spirit of God is in us we are all agreed upon great points. Let me say that among true saints the points of union,even in matters of judgment, are ninety-nine, and the points of difference are only as one. In experimental points, as faceanswers to face, so does the heart of man to man.Only get upon experimental topics concerning soul-dealings with God-leave the letter and get to the spirit, crack the shellsand eat the kernel of spiritual truth-and you will find that the points of agreement between genuine Christians are somethingmarvelous!
But this union is to be seen most plainly in union of heart. I am told that Christians do not love each other. I am very sorryif that is true, but I rather doubt it, for I suspect that those who do not love each other are not Christians. Where theSpirit of God is there must be love, and if I haveonce known and recognized any man to be my Brother in Christ Jesus, the love of Christ constrains me no more to think ofhim as a stranger or foreigner, but a fellow citizen with the saints.
Now I hate High Churchism as my soul hates Satan. But I love George Herbert, although George Herbert is a desperately HighChurchman. I hate his High Churchism, but I love George Herbert from my very soul and I have a warm corner in my heart forevery man who is like he is. Let me find a man wholoves my Lord Jesus Christ as George Herbert did and I do not ask myself whether I shall love him or not! There is no roomfor question, for I cannot help myself-unless I can leave off loving Jesus Christ, I cannot cease loving those who love Him!
Here is George Fox, the Quaker-a strange sort of body it is true-going about the world making much noise and stir. But I lovethe man with all my soul because he had an awful respect for the Presence of God and an intense love for everything spiritual.How is it that I cannot helploving George Herbert and George Fox who are, in some things, complete opposites? Because they both loved the Master! Iwill defy you, if you have any love to Jesus Christ, to pick or choose among His people. You may hate as much as you willthe shells in which the pearls lie, andthe dross with which the gold is mixed, but the true, the precious blood-bought gold, the true pearl, Heaven-dyed, you mustesteem! You must love a spiritual man wherever you may find him.
Such love exists among the people of God, and if anybody says it does not I can only fear that the speaker is unfit to judge.If I come across a man in whom there is the Spirit of Christ, I must love him. If I did not I should prove I was not in theunion. Oneness in judgment, in experience, and inheart are some of the evidences of this union. But if you want more plain and palpable union, which even carnal eyes cansee, note the unity of Christian prayer. Oh, how slight the difference there! Well-taught Believers address the Throne ofGrace in the same style, whatever may bethe particular form which their Church organization may have assumed.
So is it with praise. There, indeed, we are as one, and our music goes up with sweet accord to the Throne of the heavenlyGrace. Beloved, we are one in action-true Christians anywhere are all doing the same work. Here is a Brother preaching. Ido not care about that white thing he has on, butif he is a genuine Christian, he is preaching Christ Crucified. And here am I, and he may not like me because I have notthat white rag on, but still I delight to preach Christ
Crucified. When you come to the real lifework of the Christian, it is the same in every case, it is holding up the Cross ofChrist.
"Oh," you say, "but there are many Christians in the world preaching this and that and the other." I am saying nothing ofthem or about them. I am saying nothing about their ecclesiastical belongings. I am saying nothing about those who merelycling to the Church. I am speaking of the elect, theprecious ones, the simpleminded Christ-taught men and women. Their motive of action is the same and there is among thema true union which is the answer to our Lord's prayer. He did not plead in vain-what He sought He has obtained-and the trulyquickened are this dayone, and shall evermore remain so.
I think I hear someone saying, "But I cannot see this unity." My answer is, "One reason may be because of your lack of information."I saw a large building the other day being erected. I do not know that it was any business of mine, but I did puzzle myselfto make out how that would make a completestructure. It seemed to me that the gables would come in so very awkwardly. But I dare say if I had seen a plan, there mighthave been some central tower or some combination by which the wings, one of which appeared to be rather longer than the other,might have been brought intoharmony. The architect, doubtless, had a unity in his mind which I had not in mine.
So you and I have not the necessary information as to what the Church is to be. The unity of the Church is not to be seenby you today-do not even think it-the plan is not worked out yet. God is building over yonder and you only see the foundation.In another part the top stone is allbut ready but you cannot comprehend it. Shall the Master show you His plan? Is the Divine Architect bound to take you intoHis studio to show you all His secret motives and designs? Not so! Wait awhile and you will find that all these diversitiesand differences amongspiritually-minded men, when the master plan comes to be worked out, are different parts of the grand whole! And you, withthe astonished world, will then know that God has sent the Lord Jesus!
I go into a great factory. There is a wheel spinning a way in which it is perfectly indifferent and careless of every otherwheel. There is another wheel going in an opposite direction! All sorts of motions concentric and eccentric-and I say, "Whatan extraordinary muddle this all seems!"Just so-I do not understand the machinery. So when I go into the great visible Church of God, if I look with the eyes ofmy spirit I can see the inner harmony. But if with these eyes I look upon the great outward Church, I cannot see it, nor willit ever be seen till thehidden Church shall be made manifest at the appearing of the Lord.
The reason why you do not see the unity of the Church may be because of the present roughness of the material. See yondera number of stones-here, a number of trees. I cannot see the unity. Of course not. When these trees are all cut into planks-whenthese stones are allsquared-then you may begin to see them as a whole. The various stones of the Divine building of the Church are all out ofshape at present-they are not polished. We shall never be one till we are sanctified. The unity of Christ is a unity of holy,not unholy beings. Andas we, each of us, grow more and more prepared by the work of Christ for our own place, we shall discover more and morethe unity of the Church.
Perhaps, too, let me say, we cannot see the unity of the Church because we ourselves cannot see anything. Is that a hard saying?Who can bear it? There are thousands of professors who cannot see anything. Do not suppose, dear Friends, that the unity ofthe Church is a thing that is to be seen bythese eyes of ours. Never! Everything spiritual is spiritually discerned. You must get spiritual eyes before you can seeit. Many people say there is no unity. I should be astonished if there were any which they could see or feel! They are notin Christ themselves. Their hearts havenever felt what spiritual life means-how should they be able to understand that into which they have never entered?
See what carnal-mindedness does with Christ's teaching. Christ teaches His people that they must eat His flesh and drink Hisblood. Carnal-Mind Says, "I know what that means." And straightway he runs to the pantry and brings out a loaf of bread anda cup of wine. Spiritual men weep at suchignorance. Jesus says, "That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me." "I know what that means," says Carnal-Mind-"Theyare all to worship after the same fashion, and use the same ritual." That is all poor Carnal-Mind knows about it! He confusesthe outward with theinward and misses the Lord's meaning.
But, Beloved, you know better than this! You do know, I trust, and feel this very day in your soul that the true saints ofthe living God are one with each other at this very moment. You understand that they recognize and discover this unity inproportion as they become like their Lord and Master,and are conformed to His image, and made fit for the place which they are to occupy. Just as Professor Owen can take upa bone, and from that one bone can discover the whole structure of the entire animal, I do not doubt but what there is a mutualdependence and consistency betweenevery Christian and his fellows. And it is such that if we understood the science of spiritual comparative anatomy, as wemay do in Heaven, we should be able to form from any one Christian the fashion of the entire Church of God from the mutualdependence of one upon the other!
But it would not be according to the fashion of the beast that was, and now is, and is yet to come, which calls itself theChurch of Christ, and is nothing better than Antichrist. It would take the fashion of the Lord from Heaven, of whose bodywe are members.
II. I have talked too long upon this matter of unity to spare much time for the other points, and therefore only a hint atthem. The second head was to be, THE WORK THAT IS TO BE DONE BEFORE THIS UNITY CAN BE COMPLETE. There are many chosen oneswho have not yet believed in Jesus Christ and theChurch cannot be one till these are saved. Here is work to be done-work to be done by instruments. These chosen ones areto believe-that is a work of Divine Grace, but they are to believe through our work. Brethren, if you would promote the unityof Christ's Church, lookafter His lost sheep-seek out wandering souls.
If you ask what is to be your work, the answer is in the text-it is to be concerning Christ. They are to believe in Him. Everysoul that believes in Christ is built into the great Gospel unity in its measure, and you will never see the Church as a wholewhile there is one soul left unsavedfor whom the Savior shed His precious blood. Go out and teach His Word! Tell of the doctrines of Grace as He has given youability. Hold up Christ before the eyes of men and you will be the means in God's hand of bringing them to believe in Him-andso the Church shall be builtup and made one.
Here is work for the beginning of the year! Here is work till the end of the year! Do not sit down and scheme and plot andplan how this denomination may melt into the other-you leave that alone. Your business is to go and-
"Tell to sinners round What a Savior you have found," for that is God's way of using you to complete the unity of His Church.Unless these are saved the Church is not perfect. That is a wonderful text that, "They without us cannot be made perfect."That is to say, saints in Heaven cannot be perfectunless we get there. What? The blessed saints in Heaven not perfect except the rest of Believers come there? So the Scripturetells us, for they would be a part of the body and not a whole body-they cannot be perfect as a flock unless the rest of thesheep come there.
They beckon us from the battlement of Heaven and say to us, "Come up here, for without you we cannot be one as Jesus Christis one with His Father. We are an imperfect body till you come." And we, from our position of Grace, turn round to the sinfulworld and we say to the chosen of God from amongthat sinful world, "Come to Jesus! Trust Jesus! Believe in Him! For without you we cannot be perfect, nor can the heavenlyones themselves be, for there must be one complete Church! The city must be walled all round-if there is one gap in the wallthe city will not be one.Come, then, put your trust in Jesus, that His Church may be one."
III. The third point was to be, HERE IS PRAYER OFFERED. Beloved, Christ prays for the unity of His Church that all saintswho have gone to Heaven in days gone by-that all saints who live now-that all who ever live may be brought into the unityof the one life in Himself. I fear We donot attach enough importance to the power of Christ's prayer. We think of Joshua fighting in the valley, but we forget ourMoses with hands outstretched upon the hill.
We are looking at the wheels of the machine-go back to our old figure-and we are thinking that this wheel, and that, and theother, is wanting more oil, or not working exactly to its point. Ah, but let us never forget the engine, that mysterious motiveforce which is hidden andconcealed, upon which the action of the whole depends! Christ's prayer for His people is the great motive force by whichthe Spirit of God is sent to us and the whole Church is kept filled with life! And the whole of that force is tending to thisone thing-unity! It isremoving everything which keeps us from being one. It is working with all its Divine Omnipotence to bring us into a visibleunity when Christ shall stand in the latter days upon the earth.
Beloved, let us have hope for sinners yet unconverted! Christ is praying for them! Let us have hope for the entire body ofthe faithful! Christ is praying for their unity, and what He prays for must be effected! He never pleads in vain! He praysthat the Church may be one, and it is one! He praysthat they may be perfect and complete, and it shall be amidst eternal hallelujahs!
IV. Then, there was THE RESULT ANTICIPATED FROM THE WHOLE. "That the world may believe that You have sent Me." The effectof sight of the complete Church upon human minds will be overwhelming. Angels and principalities will look at Christ's perfectChurch with awe. They will all exclaim, "What amarvel! What a wonder! What a masterpiece of Divine power and wisdom!" When they saw the foundation laid in the preciousblood of Christ, they gazed long and wistfully-but when they see the whole Church complete, every spire and pinnacle, andthe great top-stone brought outwith shouting, all built of precious jewels and pearls, fashioned like the similitude of a palace- why they will make Heavenring again and again!
When the world was made they sang for joy. But how shall the vaults of Heaven echo when the Church is all complete and thenew creation shall have been perfected? What will be the effect upon men? Astonishment will be the effect upon angels, butwhat upon men? Why the world, that wicked world whichrejected Christ, that wicked crucifying world which would have none of Him and which now will have none of His people-thatwicked world which hates His saints and has strived with all its might to pluck down the walls of His Church will BELIEVE!They will be compelled tobelieve that God has sent His Son!
They will bite their tongues with rage! They will gnash their teeth with horror! But there will be no doubt about it. Do notsuppose that the world will ever be convinced so as to believe in Christ and to be saved by the unity of the Church. It isnot anticipated in this chapter that the world everwill be saved! That is not dreamed of the whole chapter through-the world is spoken of as something for which Christ doesnot pray-whose enlightenment is not anticipated. But that world, though it weeps, and wails, and curses, and abhors, shallbe made distinctly torecognize the divinity of Christ's mission when it shall see the entire unity of the Church!
Why, before my astonished gaze this morning there seems to me to rise up as from a great sea of confusion a wondrous building!I see the first stone sunk into the depths of that sea dyed with blood. I see the top of it just emerging above lofty wavesof strife and confusion. Now I see other stonesbuilt on that, all of them dyed with blood-the first Apostles-all of them martyrs. I see stone rising upon stone as agesucceeds age. At first nearly all the foundations are laid in the fair vermilion of martyrdom, but the structure rises! Thestones are verydifferent-they come from Asia, Africa, America, Europe-they are taken from among princes and from among peasants.
These stones are very diverse. Perhaps while they were here they scarcely recognized that they belonged to the same building,but there they are-and for 1860 years that building goes on, and on, and on-building-every stone being made ready! We knownot how many more years thatmasterly edifice will take, but at the last, despite all the frowns of Hell and all the power of devils, that edifice willbe completed-not a single stone being lost, not one elect child of God being absent-and not one of those stones having sufferedany injury nor beenput out of its place! And the whole so fair, so matchless, such a display of power and wisdom and love, that even the hatefulones whose hearts are hard as adamant against the Most High will be compelled to say God must have sent Christ! They cannotrestrain that confession when allthe Church shall be one as the Father is one with Christ. O happy day!
V. The concluding suggestion was to be this-ARE WE PARTS OF THAT GREAT UNITY? There is the question! It is not this morning,Are you members of a Christian Church? "I know how you get at it," you say, "Well, a certain number of Churches are evangelicaland orthodox. They make up orthodoxProtestantism. Now, I am a Baptist. Very well. I am a Baptist, and the Baptist churches are orthodox, therefore I am a Christian.I am an Episcopalian, and Episcopacy is one branch of Protestantism. Very well, I am a Protestant, I am a Christian."
Ah, that is your carnal way of talking! You may be very grievously mistaken if that is your argument. But if you can go anotherway to work and say, "I have received eternal life for I have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and I am given of the Fatherunto Him." Why then, Beloved, you come at itdirectly! Being one with Christ you are one with His people! But do not, when you are looking for this unity, look for anoutward but for an inward thing. Do not look for a matter that is to be written on sheets of paper, on rolls and books-lookfor a bond written on hearts,and consciences, and souls!
Do not be looking for all saints in one room, but in Christ! All living upon heavenly bread, and drinking of the wines onthe lees well refined that come from Christ Jesus. Look for a spiritual union and you will find it! If you look for the otherthing you will not find it, and if you did find it,it would be a great and awful thing from which you might pray God to deliver His Church. As spiritual men, look for spiritualunity-but first begin by asking whether you are spiritual yourselves. Have you been born into the family? Have you been washedwith the blood? Have youpassed from death unto life? If not, even if you could be in the body you would be as a dead substance in the body workinga fester, a gangrene-necessitating pain and suffering-you would be a thing accursed to be cast away.
But are you alive by the life of Christ? Does God dwell in you, and do you dwell in Him? Then, my dear Brother, give me yourhand! Never mind about a thousand differences if you are in Christ and I am in Christ! We cannot be two, we must be one. Letus love each other fervently with a pure heart.Let us live on earth as those who are to live together a long eternity in Heaven. Let us help each other's spiritual growth.Let us aid each other as far as possible in every holy, spiritual enterprise which is for the promotion of the kingdom ofthe Lord.
And let us chase out of our hearts everything which would break the unity which God has established. Let us cast from us everyfalse doctrine, every false thought of pride, enmity, envy, bitterness that we, whom God has made one, may be one before menas well as before the eyes of theheart-searching God.
May the Lord bless us, dear Friends, as a Church. May He make us one, and keep us so. It will be the dead stuff among us thatwill make the divisions. It is the living children of God that make the unity! It is the living ones that are bound together.There will be no fear about that-Christ'sprayer takes care of us-that we shall be one. As for those of you who are joined with us in visible fellowship and are notone with Christ, may the Lord save you with His great salvation, and His shall be the praise. Amen and Amen.