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And be not discouraged though ye see not the fruit. The fruit may come when ye are in your grave. Mind Manasseh's conversion when his godly father was dead and gone.
Now, ye young folk, and young ones, for whose cause so much has been said, I will leave this text, with three words to you, and a
1. Christ and the devil are striving about you. Christ is striving for you by his ministers, your parents, and masters, that shew a concern for your soul, and by your own consciences. The devil is striving to hold you, by his temptations, a vain world and wicked, and your own lusts. But the devil is a murderer, the world is false, and your lusts are deceitful, which ye will find if ye trust them. 2. Ye are between the losing and the winning now. If Christ get
. you when ye are young, ye will serve him with life and spirit : if the devil prevail, the elder yo grow, ye will go the farther from God; for youth goes with a great swing, right or wrong.
3. Eternity is at stake with you; eternal well or eternal vo, according to the side ye shall choose.
I offer Christ to you, and declare that he is willing to be yours, and to make you happy for ever, and be a rest to your hearts : Matth. xxii. 4, "Tell them which are bidden, behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.” Prov. viii. 17, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early sball find me," Remember .this, and say, Amen.
EVIL AND DANGER OF SCHISM.
A Sermon preached at Ettrick in the Year 1708.
1 Cor. i. 10, 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 among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together, in the same mind, and in the same judgment.
The church of Corinth was now lying bleeding of her wounds, given her not by open and avowed enemies, but by her own children, some saying they were of Paul, others that they were of Apollos, &c. The apostle applies himself to the curing of this rent and broken church, in the words of the text, which is a most pathetical exhortation to unity. In the words we have three things.
1. The compellation, “ Brethren :" it is a kindly compellation, whereby he insinuates himself into their affections, or endeavours 80 to do; for it is hard for faithful ministers to get peoples' affections kept where once divisions enter. In this compellation there is an argument for unity: he minds them that they are brethren; and it is a shameful thing for brethren to fall out by the ears, Gen. xiii. 8,“ Let there be no strife, I pray thee," says Abraham to Lot, “ betwixt me and thee,” &c., “ for we be brethren;" and Gen. xlv. 24, Joseph says to his brethren, " See that ye fall not out by the way.”
2. There is a most pithy obsecration, “ I beseech you, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul turns a petitioner to them for the church's peace, and begs of them, as he did of the jailor, Acts xvi. 28, that they would do themselves no harm, but lay by the sword of contention; and that it might have the more weight with their consciences, he interposeth the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, “I beseech you,” says he," by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that,” &c. It implies two things, l. It is as much as if he had said, As ye have any regard to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, who hath so often enjoined peace, unity, and brotherly love to his followers,
beware of divisions. It is not I, (as if he had said), but Christ, the Prince of peace, that requires this of you. 2. It is as much as if he had said, As ye love the Lord Jesus, as ye tender his honour and glory, speak the same thing, and let there be no divisions among you; for the name of Christ sadly suffers by your contentions, factions, and divisions. The apostle's beseeching of them notes his gentleness, but withal his vehemency of spirit, entreating with them for the peace and unity of the church ; he handles their wounds tenderly, yet so as they might see he was in good earnest to have them healed. It imports also how heavy their contentions were to him, how grateful it would be to him if they would unite, and how grevious, if they should continue their divisions still; therefore he obtests them, and after a short adjures them by the name of the Lord, that they would all speak the same thing, and let no divisions be among them : If I cannot obtain this of you, says he, for my own sake, yet let me obtain it of you for Christ's sake. This is the manner of his exhortation.
3. We have the matter of his exhortation, which lies in three things.
1st, He exhorts them to unity of principles, “ that ye all speak the same thing;" he beseecheth them, that they would not rent principles contrary to the truth, and to one another; for now, instead of unity, some were crying one thing, some another, like that confused multitude, Acts xxi. 34, there was nothing but contention and contradiction among them, till some of them came at length to deny the resurrection, 1 Cor. xv.
2dly, He dehorts them from divisions; the word in the Greek is schisms, as ye may see in the margins of some of your Bibles : the word properly signifies a cutting or section in a solid body, as in the cleaving of wood, when the parts of it before united are rent asunder. Thus the one church of Corinth was rent asunder into divers parties and factions, some following one minister, some following another; therefore says the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 13, “ Is Christ divided ?” As if he should say, Why, seeing there is but one Christ, are there so many bodies? Where will you get a Christ to head your different and divided party? Through these divisions among them, it would seem, from 1 Cor. xi. 33, they had separate communions, they would not tarry for one another. The apostle also taxeth their divisions, 1 Cor. iii. 3, "For whereas there is among you envying, strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal ?" Where the word translated “divisions” properly signifies separate standing, where one party stand upon one side, and another party on auother side. It denotes such dissension, wherein men separate one from another.
3dly, He exhorts them to amend what was amiss already among them in that matter, to be perfectly joined together, in opposition to their contentions and divisions. The word in the original is very emphatic, and signifies two things, 1. To restore disjointed members into their proper places again, Gal. vi. 1, “ Restore such an one." It is a metaphor from chirurgeons setting members or joints again; as if he had said, Set such an one in joint again : so it aims at healing the church of her rents, restoring such as had separated and withdrawn. 2. It signifies to perfect and establish in the state to which a person or thing is restored; and so it denotes a firm union betwist the members of that church; he would have them compacted together as a body, in which all the parts do fitly cleave together, each of them in its proper place; and withal he adds here the bonds of this union, the same mind, that is, the same heart, will, and affections, as the word mind is taken, Rom. vii. 25, and the same judgment or opinion anent matters ; if the last cannot be got, yet the first may. From the words, we draw these following doctrines :
Doct. I. That schism and division is an evil incident to the churches of Christ while in this world.
Doct. II. That professors ought to beware of schism and division, as they tender the authority and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Doct. III. Where schism and division enter into a church, there will be great heats, diversity, yea, contrariety of opinions, people contradicting one another in matters of religion, " That ye all speak the same things," &c.
Doct. IV. That however hard it be, yet it is possible to get a rent church healed.
Doct. V. That it is the duty of all church members to endeavour the unity of the church, and the care of schisms : and particularly, it is the duty of disjointed members to take their own places in the body again.
Lastly, that schisms and divisions, as they are grievous to all the sons of peace, so they are in a special manner beavy and afflicting to faithful ministers of the gospel of peace.
Here is work shapen out for many days, but I design not to insist.
As to the first of these doctrines, to wit, That schism and division is an evil incident to the churches of Christ in this world ; I. I shall illustrate the truth of this doctrine. II. I shall give you some observations, as to the rise and way of carrying on this sad plague in churches. And I challenge your attention, and beseech you by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, without prejudice, ye will hear and consider what I am to say; and if I say any thing contrary to the word of God, reject it; but what I may say, as agreeable to God's word, I require it may have place in, and weight with your consciences. I shall endeavour to hold off personal reflections, but must take liberty freely to handle the cause.
I. Then, I shall illustrate this sad doctrine. Alas! it is written, I may say, in letters of the blood of our mother, who cries out, “ She is wounded in the house of her friends.” This broken, bleeding church, exposed to the laughter of Papists and malignants by her divisions, is a sad instance of it. Now, seeing some are apt to stumble at all religion, by reason of our divisions, and others are apt to pride themselves in them, I shall, for the sake of both, shew, that these things are uncouth, strange, or new things. For which consider,
1. These things are foretold in the scriptures. Our Lord Christ has given us fair warning, Matth. X. 34, 35, 36, “ Think not that I am come to send peace on earth : I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother,” and so forth. Not that this is the kindly and native effect of the gospel of peace, but so it proves, by reason of the corruptions of men. The apostle tells the church of Ephesus, Acts xx. 30, “ Also of your owoselves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” I shall only add another scripture, 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4, “ After their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and they shall turn away their ears from the truth," &c. From all which we may see, that church-renders shall not be wanting, nor shall they want success.
2. Consider the sad experience of the church in several ages; I shall give you two instances out of the Old Testament; the first you have, Num. xvi. ven when the church had a Moses and Aaron in it, there was a violent schism set a-foot in it by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. That this business was not so much a sedition in the state, as a schism in the church, (though I deny not but there was something of sedition in it, for schism and sedition go often together), is clear from the great cause of the quarrel, which was about the priesthood, as is clear from Numb. xvi. 3–9, which
ye may read at your leisure, but consider especially the 10th and 11th verses, where Moses says, “And seek ye the priesthood also ? For which cause both thou, and all thy company are gathered together against the Lord: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?" Compare with this Jude 11, where the seducers, the disturbers of the church, are said to perish in the gainsaying of Core. Many were