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sacrifice, meekness, and love. Oh that we might all sit more at the feet of Jesus, learn of him who was meek and lowly in heart, and seek only his exaltation !"pp. 136, 137.
Dr. Leifchild, in reference to the general object, has clearly defined the limits beyond which it is impracticable to advance, as follows :
“It is not proposed to bring about an amalgamation of sects. There is intended no breaking up of the partitions into which the church is divided : no interference with the predilections or conscientious preferences of Christians for their own modes of discipline, forms of worship, and external rites. Discussion upon these points is to be left to other provinces; yet, with the full recognition that their existence is compatible with genuine piety, though without any expressed or implied judgment upon any of them, much less of the arguments by which they are severally supported or defended. It meddles not with the framework of the several evangelical churches already in existence; it leaves each in the fullest possession of its private judgment on these points ; but directs attention solely to something which all admit to be far greater and of higher importance. Instead of calling for one community, one discipline, one name, one form of worship, it calls only for one spirit, and that a spirit of esteem and affection among all parties of different names and orders, as disciples of the same great Master; and for appropriate means and occasions to give this spirit development. It asks only for such a manifestation of this spirit as would at seasons and for a while prevent these distinctions from appearing, without effacing them, for the sake of bringing more prominently into view the grand Divine principles which all admit to be essential to salvation, and sufficient for its attainment. It is only asking that the bond of Christian brotherhood shall be acknowledged to its just extent, that the recognition should be no longer secret, silent, and personal, but open, public, and reciprocal. The diversities are important to each. They are the characteristics of his church, the church of his choice. But he feels that there is something more important, which he holds in common with his brethren, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which he rejoices to think they have and believe as well and as truly as himself. The characteristics of humanity stand higher than those of nationality. No good man can be contented with loving his nation; he loves man as man, and seeks to benefit the world as well as his country. What, then, is the nature of the union we seek, and how is it to be exhibited ? We answer-In the meeting together of the members of different evangelical churches, in their several localities, with their pastors, elders, and deacons, or other officers, regularly or occasionally, at a convenient time and place, for the purpose of engaging in Christian worship, and in exhortations and addresses on fundamental and momentous points in which there is an avowed agreement; and thus to exhibit to themselves and others their oneness in the faith and Gospel of Christ. To this object let the attention be confined, without associating with it any other objects which might, by dividing attention, prevent the importance of union in fundamentals from being duly acknowledged. Union for union's sake, we are aware, is thought by many too trivial an object to engage universal attention ; but it seems to the writer, that, in the first instance, it might be pursued for its own sake, and will not be effected at present in any other way; but when once effected, it will be readily made subservient to many valuable ends; and even for its own sake, it will be found a blessed thing, and will, we conceive, amply repay our utmost efforts for its attainment."
Dr. Chalmers has crowned all his services to the cause of religion, and has added a glory to his great talents and his splendid powers of oratory, by heading the noble movement by which the Church of Scotland has freed herself from the enormity of selling souls to a patron for the price of a living. On the subject of union, the Doctor thus speaks for himself :
“ The question, which in the name of charity and of our common faith, I have to put in the hearing of this assembly, is, whether such a unity of spirit, along with such a unity of substantial doctrine, should not suffice for a bond of peace ? For myself, I can see no obstacle in the way of our being fellow-workers, and that to a great extent, for the objects of our common Christianity. And I rejoice to observe the growing prevalence and popularity of this sentiment—a sentiment which, I can perceive, has formed itself into a sort of watchword, brief and memorable, and having in it a certain cadence or alliteration, which recommends it all the more to the ear of the public, and is fitted to give it a larger currency and reception throughout the churches of our land; I advert to the well-known and oft-repeated aphorism of co-operation without incorporation.' I am aware that by many this goodly and well-sounding aphorism has been fathered upon myself, (loud cheers,) and yet it is not just the motto that I would inscribe upon an escutcheon wherewith to signalise my family. I have no quarrel with the co-operation, and whenever aught which is good is expedited thereby, the more of it the better. But I except to the negative, as being by far too absolute, that is laid by this maxim on the incorporation. The truth is, that whenever incorporation can be effected with advantage, and without violence to the consciences of the parties, it is in itself a most desirable object, and therefore, with. out saying roundly and universally, 'co-operation without incorporation,' I would, though at the hazard of marring somewhat the euphony of the saying, and of laying an arrest on its way towards the rank and celebrity of a proverb, I would substitute for these words, co-operation now, and this with the view, as soon as may be, to incorporation afterwards.' (Loud and continued cheers.)
“ There are some Episcopalians in Scotland who are evangelical, and so are all the Independents in Scotland, (cheers,) at least as far as I know them. Between them and us, therefore, there is not the difference of a straw in point of theology; and this surely forms a good and solid basis for co-operation, though for some time I fear we shall not, and just because of the difference in our respective governments, find our way to the incorporation. I regret that either (party) should lay so great a stress on the mere point of government, when on the point of doctrine, the great capita fidei,—the terms of salvation,—there should be such a cordial and entire agreement. Doubtless they (Episcopalians and Independents,) are just as much entitled to express the same regret, at the stress we lay upon our Presbyterianism. (cheers.) Both parties, I am afraid, that is, our Episcopalian friends on the one hand, and our Congregational friends on the other, would think we were arrogating too much, if we claimed any advantage over them in respect of principle. But I do hope, that neither of them will be offended, if we do felicitate ourselves, on the advantage we have over them, in respect of position; I mean, the midway position of our tenets or views on the subject in question; and, in virtue of which, I think we stand at a far better rallying-point, for, at length, a great and extensive re-union among these three denominations,—far better, I do think, than if we stood at either of the extremes. (cheers.) The Congregationalists among us can tell whether they are very sanguine of ever bringing down even the best and holiest men, of the Episcopalians, to the level of their own platform; and the Episcopalians can, in like manner, tell whether they ever cherish the fond imagination, that in opposition to a bias, strong as that of gravitation itself, they will be able to draw up Congregationalism to the towering heights of Episcopacy. We, on the other hand, are sanguine enough to believe it not impossible, that we
should both bring down the one, and draw up the other, to the intermediate place which we ourselves occupy. (great cheering.) And we can descry something like a stepping-stone constructed by each of these parties, and which, though not designed by either for an approximation to us, may, we hope, eventually lead to it. We can see, on the one hand, amongst the Episcopalians, a demand for their ancient convocations, and for assessors to their bishops, and for a subordinate government in their rural deaneries. On the other hand, there is nothing more frequent among Independents, than Congregational Unions, and associated bodies. Let us hope, that this might ultimately carry them forward, both from the right and the left, to a coalescence with ourselves; and, meanwhile, let us rejoice in the oneness of our theology, which, like the rod of Aaron, I trust, will, at length, swallow up all our differences ; and, meanwhile, whereunto we have attained, let us walk by the same rule,–let us mind the same thing.
“ Between the Free Church of Scotland and the Presbyterian Dissenters of this country, there is no difference of government, and no difference of theology which I ain aware of; or, in other words, no inseparable bar, I will not say in the way of an immediate, but in the way of an eventual, and, I do hope, of a speedy incorporation. At all events, in their case, the maxim of co-operation without incorporation,' would admit of being greatly modified.”
“ In the days of the apostles, (says Mr. Newman Hall,) when their authority was supported by gifts of the Holy Ghost, those who refused to yield obedience were evidently resisting God; and well might all true Christians avoid such transgressions ; but is it candidis it charitable, to think that those who differ from me are wilfully opposing the ordinance of God? All to me are Dissenters who dissent from what I think scriptural. Every church has as much reason to call all other churches dissenting churches, because they do not conform to it, as any one church; because every church believes itself to be more scriptural than any other. Can it be right, then-can it be the mind of the Spirit--that I, an Independent, should keep aloof from Episcopalians, and Methodists, and all other communities, because they dissent from me in matters of ceremonies and discipline? Can it be right for an Episcopalian to do the same for a Wesleyan to do the same? for all, in fact, to do the same, denouncing all besides as wilfully refusing to conform to God's ordinances, and therefore guilty of schism ? To what a state would the church be brought were such a principle acted out !"
The remaining two pamphlets strike notes that are dissonant to the prevailing concord which pervades all the rest ; though these two discordant tones are by no means in harmony with each other. Mr. Overbury is the esteemed pastor of the Baptist church in Eagle Street, which has long been known as a centre of exclusive sentiments with regard to the Lord's supper, the principle of strict communion being here rigidly, we believe, adhered to. The author of this tract is anxious to clear himself from the charge of inconsistency, and informs his readers that his name was printed without his knowledge in the list of those who approved of the attempt to promote union. He objects that “The proposed union does not, and in the nature of things, cannot, render visible that real union, which subsists among all the children of God ;” and that "it does not tend to terminate, but only to keep in abeyance, those differences of opinion and practice among Christians, which are a hinderance to the progress of the Redeemer's cause.' The author thinks “ that the Christian character itself is sufficient for the impression of the world as to the truth of the Gospel."
We must confess that we do not at all sympathise with the respected writer in his views of the union of Christians. We think that a visible, open recognition of Christians among each other is likely in an emjnent degree to convey to the world the impression that their visible differences are not fundamental. They are openly distinguished by denominational not to say party names, and they are chiefly known to the world at large by these distinctions ; how desirable, then, that they should visibly and openly demonstrate their essential unity! Mr. Overbury says that the proposed union does not tend to terminate but only to keep in abeyance the diversities among Christians, and be admits that these diversities are a “hinderance to the progress of the Redeemer's cause.” Now we are not at all sure that the promotion of mutual intercourse in devotion, and the endeavour to bring about as much union as present circumstances will allow, is not likely to tend at all towards terminating differences. At all events, such union is likely to divest controversy of all bitterness, all party taunt and triumph, elements in controversy which have disgraced the Christian church, and impeded the progress of truth. More than this, there have been instances even of Christians previously divided into denominations, coalescing into one body, under one name ; witness some of the old seceders in Scotland. And if any such instances are ever likely to take place in future, we ask whether they are likely to begin in mutual distance, ignorance of each other, and indifference, if not alienation! Is it not far more likely that if there is even to be a greater approximation of opinions as to minor points, this will take place as the result of a growing disposition to unite, and a determination to do so as far as can be done, notwithstanding present diversities ? Mr. Overbury deprecates an union in which no allusion is to be made to differences of opinion, and he perverts the apostle's language in a manner that would be almost ludicrous, if the subject were not so grave and momentous, by asking what right have we to reverse the principle -“we cannot but speak of the things that we hare heard and seen;" as though the grand facts of the Christian religion were to be put on a par with those minuter points in which the most conscientious men have not thought alike, notwithstanding their unquestioned sincerity, and their earnest search after truth! But in our brother's pamphlet, as we read on, we found some ominous hints about differences of “practice," as being such as necessarily to prevent union.
“ And now we are on the subject, may we also be permitted to direct the watchfulness of our readers against a species of uniformity of which we seem to be in danger in the present day? Let all those who regard the authority of our blessed Lord beware of a uniformity which is to be attained by omitting any of the com
mands and ordinances of Jesus Christ. Let them beware of a uniformity for which it is sought to prepare the minds of the people of God, by crying up one portion of Divine truth at the expense of another, by observing one institution and neglecting another, by representing some of our most noble and generous efforts for the diffusion of scriptural principles and practices as ' petty contests,' and by throwing into the shade all but what persons are pleased to call fundamental truths of religion.”
Our author is not satisfied, therefore, with the principle laid down in one of the resolutions as the basis of union among Christians, namely, that there is a foundation for union in the reception of the doctrines of the Trinity, the atonement, justification by faith, and regeneration, as necessary to a Christian life and character. We anticipated what was coming, and we found ourselves at the point :
“We must not reject transubstantiation and cling to the Popish rite of infant sprinkling. We must not keep the Lord's supper and throw baptism overboard."
In fact, we get at once, if not into hot water, yet into the water controversy.
“Are we quite sure," asks Mr. Overbury, “ that the terms of membership in Pædobaptist communities are scriptural ? In our view, the practice of infant sprinkling is one of the most anti-scriptural and pernicious errors that has ever infested the church of the living God."
We came at length, as we strongly suspected for many pages, to the position, that it is only through a good deal of water that we can scripturally get into the church. Mr. Overbury asks
"In sober seriousness, whether any church, which does not require a personal profession of faith by immersion, can be said to hold scriptural terms of communion ?"
Here we are at once in the midst of the controversy. “Any schoolboy," we are told, “may satisfy himself that Barriţw is to dip, plunge, immerse.” In fact, it would seem that the only way in which our friend Mr. Overbury thinks union ought to be promoted, is by all the Christian world becoming Baptists! He will admit a Pædobaptist brother into his pulpit, but he will not sit down with him at the Lord's supper at Surrey Chapel! He is fit to feed the church of God, fit to lead the devotions of the sanctuary, but after all, he is not fit to communicate! There is something here we do not understand. However, there is no cure for the consequences of strict communion that we know of. If our brethren really cannot conscientiously unite with Christians who have not been immersed, all we can do is to regret it, and to rejoice that the strict Baptist brethren are the only evangelical men emancipated from the trammels of an establishment who cannot shake hands with their brethren, nor meet them in communion but at the water-side. It is clear that their procedure in this instance results from their own conviction that their own judgment is superior to that of Robert Hall, Joseph Hughes, Isaac Watts, Philip Doddridge,