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CHAPTER XIV.

THIRD DAY.

The prin

The discussions of this day were too unedifying to be recorded. The subject was, the exciting theme of doctrinal and ecclesiastical distinction among evangelical Christians. There were those present who belonged to that party in every religious body, who are bigotted in their opinions, and restricted in their charities - who favour Christianity when connected with the advancement of their own sect; but seldom lend an effort to promote it in any other association. cipal part of the day was occupied by this class of speakers. The reason they severally assigned for not supporting foreign missions with energy, corresponding to the magnitude of the enterprise was, the paramount necessity of rightly directed labours at home. Each discovered so much error in some form or other among professed Christians, that neither knew how the world could possibly be converted, until the churches were purified. To those who had never visited Christendom, the whole discussion was a confounding paradox. It was impossible to reconcile what they witnessed with their preconceived opinions. It was equally impossible to repress the alternate surprise and grief with which their minds were overpowered.

After hours of unprofitable reasoning, in which each one laboured to erect his own theory upon the ruins of all others, a converted Brahmin, who had mingled with different sects of Christians, requested liberty to express a few recollections which the previous discussion had called up. When I first became acquainted, said he, with tua diversity of opposing sects, and listened to the arguments by which they sought to establish their respective clinions, and saw the unconquerable zeal which animated each party, I found myself distracted, and knew not what course to pursue. There must be a right, thought I; who possesses it ? Truth is simple, and homogeneous. What is truth?

I was assured by one, that I did not belong to the apostolic church, and consequently had no claim to the covenanted blessings of God. A second affirmed that my system of faith was unscriptural as my teachers were heterodox. A tird suspected that my religion was made up of cold inoperative orthodoxy. A fourth declared that I was still a heathen, because the discriminating ordinance of Christianity had never been administered to me.

I was called one thing by one party, and another by another. A variety of men's names, not Paul and Apollos and Cephas; but others of whom I had never before heard, were alternately applied to me, while each sect endeavoured to convince me of the exclusive propriety of their own tenets, as well as of the advantages of assuming the name which distinguished them.

What could I do? I was afflicted, tempesttossed, almost destroyed. It seemed impossible to resist the currents which rushed upon me from every quarter ; or to keep from sinking in the whirlpool which their tremendous conflict produced.

In a paroxysm of feeling, I flew to my Bible, and humbled myself before God for direction. I did not seek in vain. From the Acts of the Apostles, and their inspired Epistles, I learned that there was great diversity of opinion and practice among the early converts to Christianity; and that as far as was consistent with the essential doctrines of grace of the Apostles, “became all things to all men." What assisted greatly in restoring the equilibrium of my troubled soul, was the discovery that the spirit of sectarianism is contrary to the spirit of the gospel.

A kingdom divided against itself — the dearest relations at open and exterminating hostility - the very body of Christ dismembered -nay, his own Spirit disunited, self-opposing—how repugnant to every principle of the gospel !

Another argument which impressed my mind with great power, was gathered from the effusion of God's Spirit upon the churches. I perceived that the Holy Spirit instead of confining his influence to any particular body of evangelical Christians, operated the most extensively in that part of each denomination, where there was the most zeal with the least intolerance. In scenes of revival, it was evident not only that no partiality was shown to sects; but that those who had been opposing and devouring each other for ages, would on these blessed occasions often forget their petty differences, and harmonize and co-operate as though they had always been united. These considerations wrought a total change in my feelings. The more I dwelt upon the subject of denominational distinction, the more was I disposed to transfer all my anxiety from my own personal condition to that of the church and the world. I clearly saw that the sectarianism of the present day, was incompatible with the spirit of the gospel, and opposed to its extension.

The strife it produces and the false zeal it awakens, (probably more than all other causes) prevent the diffusion of Christianity in the world.

Sectarianism provokes the most deadly of all feuds -- an internal and perpetual warfare against the admitted friends of the Saviour. Its elementary principle is its condemnation. With all its concessions, it proclaims by its primary rule of action, that it is more important to build churches, and expend resources, and exhaust talents, where the gospel is preached by all other denominations, than to employ the same system of instrumentality where the most stupifying and corrupting idolatry reigns. While it professes that all other evangelical bodies of Christians hold enough of the truth to be saved, it practically assumes the shocking position, that those places, where the gospel is extensively proclaimed by all these other denominations, are in a worse condition than the whole Pagan and Mahometan world.

Is this the religion of our common Saviour? Is it not mere party which they are so anxious to extend? Oh how often my heart has been agonized at the confusion created, and the waste produced, and the animosity engendered, and the souls destroyed, by this unyielding, merciless, self-aggrandizing spirit !

Overlooking the vast field of heathen desolation, they will plant themselves where there is no room for them - they will create division where unity prevailed — they will expend vast sums merely to

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