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vince the infidel world of the truth of Christianity, and to prove God's special love to his church, and also to accomplish their own perfection. “ Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions (or schisms) among you ; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared to me of you, my brethren,- -that there are contentions among you—-—*." “ For ye are yet carnal : for whereas there is among you envying, (zeal,) and strife, and divisions, (or parties, or factions,) are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnaly?” “ If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any, bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves.” “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions (or parties), and offences (or scandals), contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them a.” Abundance more such texts may be recited.
II. The great benefits of the concord of Christians are these following. 1. It is necessary to the very life of the church and its several members, that they be all one body. As their union with Christ the head and principle of their life is principally necessary, so unity among themselves is secondarily necessary, for the conveyance and reception of that life which floweth to all from Christ. For though the head be the fountain of life, yet the nerves and other parts must convey that life unto the members; and if any member be cut off or separated from the body, it is separated also from the head, and perisheth. Mark well those words of the apostle, Ephes. iv. 3-16. “ Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. x 1 Cor. i. 10, 11.
y 1 Cor. iii. 3, 4. 2 Phil. ii. 1-4.
a Rom. xvi. 17, 18.
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.---And he gave some, apostles ; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ : that --speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by every joint of supply, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love." See here how the church's unity is necessary to its life and increase, and to the due nutrition of all the parts,
2. The unity of the church and the concord of believers, are necessary to its strength and safety; for Christ also strengtheneth as well as quickeneth them by suitable means. Woe to him that is alone: but in the army of the Lord of hosts we may safely march on, when stragglers are catched up or killed by the weakest enemy. A threefold cord is not easily broken. Enemies both spiritual and corporal are deterred from assaulting the church or any of its members, while they see us walk in our military unity and order. In this posture every man is a blessing and defence unto his ' neighbour. As every soldier hath the benefit of all the conduct, wisdom, and valour of the whole army, while he keepeth in his place; so every weak Christian hath the use and benefit of all the learning, the wisdom, and gifts of the church, while he keepeth his station, and walketh orderly in the church. The hand, the eye, the ear, the foot, and every member of the body, is as ready to help or serve the whole, and every other particular member as itself; but if it be cut off, it is neither helpful, nor to be helped. Owhat a mercy is it for every Christian, that is unable to help himself, to have the help of all the church of God! Their directions, their exhortations, their love, their prayers, their libe rality and compassion, according to their several abilities and opportunities! As infants and sick persons have the help of all the rest of the family that are in health.
3. Unity and concord, as they proceed from love, so they greatly cherish and increase love: even as the laying of the wood or coals together is necessary to the making of the fire, which separating of them will put out b. Holy concord cherisheth holy converse and communion ; and holy communion powerfully kindled holy love. When the servants of Christ do see in each other the lustre of his graces, and hear from each other the heavenly language which floweth from a divine and heavenly mind, this potently kindleth their affections to each other, and maketh them close with those as the sons of God, in whom they find so much of God; yea, it causeth them to love God himself in others, with a reverent, admiring, and transcendant love, when others at the best, can love them but as men. Concord is the womb and soil of love, although it be first its progeny. In quietness and peace the voice of peace is most regarded.
4. Unity and concord is the church's beauty : it maketh us amiable even to the eye of nature, and venerable and terrible even to the eye of malice. A concord in sin is no more honour, than it is for conquered men to go together in multitudes to prison or captivity; or for beasts to go by droves unto the slaughter. But to see the churches of Christ with one heart and soul acknowledging their Maker and Redeemer, and singing his praise as with one voice, and living together in love and concord, as those that have one principle, one rule, one nature, one work, one interest, and hope, and end, this is the truly beauteous symmetry, and delectable harmony. Psal. cxxxiii. “ Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went
b Peace containeth infinite blessings; it strengtheneth faith: it kindleth charity. The outward peace of the church distilleth into peace of conscience: and it turneth the writing and reading of controversies, into treatises of mortification and devotion. Against procuring unity by sanguinary persecutions, see Lord Bacon, Essay 3. Surely there is no better way to stop the rising of new sects and schisms, than to reform abuses, to compound the smaller differences, to proceed mildly, and not with sanguinary persecutions, and rather to take off the principal authors by winning and advancing them, than to enrage them by violence and bitterness. Lord Bacon in his Essay 58. Ira hominis non implet justitiam Dei.' And it was a notable observation of a wise father, that those which held and persuaded pressure of consciences, were commonly interested therein themselves for their own ends. Id. Essay 3, p. 19.
down to the skirts of his garment. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” The translators well put this as the contents of this Psalm,“ The benefit of the communion of saints.”
5. The concord of believers doth greatly conduce to the successes of the ministry, and propagation of the Gospel, and the conviction of unbelievers, and the conversion and salvation of ungodly souls. When Christ prayeth for the unity of his disciples, he redoubleth this argument from the effect or end,“ that the world may believe that thou hast sent me:” and “ that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them.” Would this make the world believe that Christ was sent of God? Yes, undoubtedly if all Christians were reduced to a holy concord, it would do more to win the heathen world, than all other means can do without it. It is the divisions and the wickedness of professed Christians, that maketh Christianity so contemned by the Mahometans, and other infidels of the world : and it is the holy concord of Christians that would convince and draw them home to Christ. Love, and peace, and concord are such virtues, as all the world is forced to applaud, notwithstanding nature's enmity to good. When the first Christian church “ were all with one accord in one place, and continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house partook of food with gladness and singleness of heart, and when the multitude of believers were of one heart and of one sould; then did God send upon them the Holy Ghost, and then were three thousand converted at a sermon; and with “great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them alle.”
Our concord in religion hath all these advantages for the converting of unbelievers and ungodly men. 1. It is a sign that there is a constraining evidence of truth in that Gospel which doth convince so many; a concurrent satisfaction and yielding to the truth, is a powerful testimony for it. 2. They see then that religion is not a matter of worldly policy and design, when so many men of contrary interests do embrace it. 3. And they see it is not the fruit of melancholy : e John xvii. 21. 23. d Acts ii. 1. 46. iv. 32. e Acts ii, 41. iv. 33.
constitutions, when so many men of various temperatures entertain it. 4. They may see that the Gospel hath power to conquer that self-love and self-interest which is the most potent thing in vitiated nature: otherwise it could never make so many unite in God as their common interest and end. 5. They may see that the Gospel and Spirit of Christ, are stronger than the devil and all the allurements of the flesh and world, when they can make so many agree in the renouncing of all earthly vanities, for the hopes of everlasting life. 6. They will see that the design and doctrine of Christianity are good and excellent, beseeming God, and desirable to man; when they see that they produce so good effects, as the love, and unity, and concord of mankind. 7. And it is an exceeding great and powerful help to the conversion of the world in this respect, because it is a thing so conspicuous in their sight, and so intelligible to them, and so approved by them. They are little wrought on by the doctrine of Christ alone, because it is visible or audible but to few, and understood by fewer, and containeth many things which nature doth distaste: but the holy concord of believers is a thing that they are more able to discern and judge of, and do more generally approve. The holy concord of Christians, must be the conversion of the unbelieving world, if God have so great a mercy for the world : which is a consideration that should not only deter us from divisions, but make us zealously study and labour with all our interest and might, for the healing of the lamentable divisions among Christians, if we have the hearts of Christians, and any sense of the interest of Christ.
6. The concord of Christians doth greatly conduce to the ease and peace of particular believers. The very exercise of love to one another doth sweeten all our lives and duties : we sail towards heaven in a pleasant calm, with wind and tide, when we live in love and peace together; how easy doth it make the work of godliness! How light a a burden doth religion seem, when we are all as of one heart and soul!
7. Lastly, consider whether this be not the likest state to heaven, and therefore have not in it the most of Christian excellency and perfection? In heaven there is no discord, but a perfect consort of glorified spirits, harmoniously