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The little jealousies and rivalships of private life, are one great source of discord among christian men and women-the times we live in will not admit of one part of the practice of primitive christians, as it is described, “ Neither was there
any among them that lacked : for as many as
were possessors of lands or houses sold them, “ and brought the prices of the things that were “ sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: " and distribution was made unto every man ac
cording as he had need*.” The usual distinctions of providence in the distribution of external things must now affect christians in common with other men; christianity now does its work, not by levelling the fortunes, but the tempers of men. When the great and affluent are taught by it to be humble and condescending, and ready to communicate—and the poor to be content, and patient, and acquiescing, the equality of mankind is preserved more effectually, than if the whole goods of the community were thrown into a common stock, and an equal distribution made among the individuals; but the mischief is, the spirit of the gospel in this matter is too little felt and understood by many of its professors; they enter too much into the spirit of the world, and, what is worst of all, introduce it into the house of God, and mingle it with their very devotion. One may have seen an insignificant article of dress' or equipage fill one breast with insolence and pride, and another with jealousy and envy; and, strange to tell, the temple is not seldom chosen as the field for exercising these unworthy, contemptible, antichristian passions.
* Acts iv. 34, 35.
Violent attachments to particular men another cause of dissension in christian society. This began very early in the church, and gave occasion of severe reproof and useful admonition to the over-zealous partizans, “ For ye are yet - carnal; for whereas there is among you envy
ing, and strife, and divisions, 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 “ carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apol“ los, but ministers by whom ye believed, even “ as the Lord gave to every man* ?” « For it “ hath been declared unto me of you, my bre
thren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, “ that there are contentions among you. Now “ this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of
Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I “ of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul cru« cified for you? or were ye baptized in the “ name of Paul* ? It is natural, nay commendable, to be attached to one who has been eminently beneficial to us, but we are not thereby warranted, surely, to erect a standard for him, and to quarrel with every one who refuses to run to it—if we value the enjoyment of our liberty, we must leave others also in the full possession of theirs. And if it be duly considered, that the most usefui minister is, at best, a mere instrument in the hand of God, to differ with passion on this head will be found not only idle but sinful.
* I Cor. iii. 3, 4, 5.
A turn for argument and disputation is frequently a great disturber of concord—one man who possesses this unhappy disposition has often been the means of setting a numerous community at variance. And it happens very unfortunately, that this is not seldom the fault of intelligent, useful, respectable men; they are not aware, however, that though this may be perhaps the way of obtaining the fame of knowledge and sagacity, it is very far from being the way to preserve their respectability, or extend their usefulness—for the disputer generally makes as many real enemies, as he irritates or overcomes persons in argument, and if we compare the numbers of
the provoked, with those of the convinced upon such occasions, it will be found that with all his powers of reason and eloquence, the odds are more than ninety-nine out of one hundred against him. I say nothing here of those pests to society, the disputatious fools in every branch of science, with which the world abounds; but Iwould advise every person I wish well, as he values his ears, his understanding, and his temper, when such an one enters, immediately to take leave of the company,
The considerations which recommend peace are so plain and so striking, that they need but to be mentioned. If likeness be a reason of union, who should be so united as persons, whose features so affectingly resenible each other what in nature so like as one miserable, mortal, guilty creature to another, one weak, capriçious, perverse human being to another? Would to God, we could discover in each other more pleasing lines of resemblance, and were more disposed to look for them--are we not called in " one hope of our calling ? Have we not one
Lord, one faith, one baptism? Is there not
one God and father of all, who is above all, "and through all, and in us all ?"-" Do we not "together hope to come at length, in the unity “ of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son
" of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure “ of the stature of the fulness of Christ*?" I cannot conclude this part of my address to the people, without offering the just tribute of praise to you, my friends, of this congregation, for your wise and christian conduct in the observance of this gospel precept—you have kept together in a critical situation, and God has been pleased to reward your harmony with increase you have united in the choice of a pastor; you have in him another common object of attention and bond of affection; you worship your common Lord in the same place you are accustomed to see one anothers faces every returning Lord's day-these, it is confessed, are inferior considerations; but they often strike the mind and attract the heart, when those of a higher nature are out of sight.—“ If “ it be possible then, as much as lieth in you, “ live peaceably with all menf."-"Walk honestly to them that are without
and be at peace among yourselves.”
II. I now proceed briefly to consider the hints suggested by Paul to Christian Ministers, respecting their station and conduct in the church of Christ; and here, as before, I shall endeavour to follow the order of the text, again imploring
* Eph. iv. 13. f Rom. xii, 18.