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blessed Lord hath given us in this matter a proper caution, where he saith: "He that is not with me, is against me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." Again he hath said: "I and my Father are one," and it is written of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that "these three are one."* And can any one imagine, that a unity settled upon so firm a basis, and cemented by such sacred and awful bonds, shall allowably be broken in the church, through the jarring inclinations and affections of its different members? He, in short, who shall presume to break it, who shall not with all his might endeavour to preserve it, will undergo the censure of breaking the law of God, and of having no regard to that holy faith which is the joint and equal care of the Father and of the Son.
6. This representation of their unity, this inseparable connection of one with the other, is well exhibited to us in that passage of the gospel, where we are told that the coat of Christ was not rent nor divided, but the entire garment was
• The authority of this text has been often disputed. The silence of the Greek MSS. and especially of the Alexandrian, is doubtless a great prejudice against it, the weight of which must have sunk its credit, had not Tertullian in his book against Praxeas, chap. 25, alluded to it, and our author here more directly quoted it: Cyprian would not say expressly, as here he does, it is written of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that these three are one; if there had been in his time no copy extant to bear him out in such a citation. Whether therefore we can, or cannot, account for the silence of the Greek MSS. we should not depart from one positive testimony, in a case of this nature, for the sake of one hundred negative ones.
delivered out whole upon the casting of lots who should have it. For thus the holy scripture speaks upon that occasion: "The coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout; the soldiers said among themselves, let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be." Its being without seam was a fit emblem of that undivided unity which cometh from above, from heaven, and from God who dwelleth there. Quite otherwise however we read of the division of the kingdom of Solomon. Ahijah the prophet, meeting King Jeroboam in the field, rent his garment in twelve pieces, and said: "Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hands of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: but he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel." So we see, that when the twelve tribes of Israel were to be divided, the prophet Ahijah rent his garment. But now, as the followers of Christ are not to be divided, his coat, we have been told, was without seam, woven throughout, and accordingly was never to be rent, but to continue a very lively emblem, to us, of that inseparable union which ought to be maintained among his followers, who are emphatically said to have " put on the Lord Jesus."
7. Who is there then amongst us so profligate and abandoned, so false to the trust reposed in him, or so desperately in love with discord and dissention, as to imagine that the unity, which we have been taught is maintained in heaven, may be broken upon earth? that the coat of Christ, which we have been told is seamless, will endure to be rent? or that the church of Christ, which is always described to us as one only, can be split into more? To believe that this is possible is gross absurdity; but to make any attempt towards it, is flagrant wickedness. Our Lord himself, one would suppose, had guarded sufficiently against any attempts or apprehensions of this nature, by expressly telling us, as he hath done in the gospel, that there should be "one fold and one shepherd." St. Paul hath inculcated our present doctrine, where he beseeches and exhorts the Corinthians, "by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye speak all 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." And again he hath recommended to the Ephesians, "forbearing one another in love, and endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." In the house of God then, and in the church of Christ, none can continue who are not of one mind, who are not well disposed to a unity of affections, and to a simplicity of manners.
8. Let no one imagine that a truly good man will ever quit the church of Christ. The wind is not used to carry off the good wheat along with it; nor will a storm tear up a tree, which is deeply and strongly rooted in the earth. It is the light and empty chaff which the wind scattereth; and the trees, whose root is weak and unsettled are most commonly torn up by the fury of a storm. Of men like these, the apostle St. John hath pronounced, with a just severity, that "they went out from, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us." This hath been heretofore, and still is, the grand source of heresy, that men of perverse minds have no regard to peace, are false to their trust, and no lovers of unity. These are things which our Lord permits and suffers, leaving to free agents the use and exercise of their proper liberty, that so the fidelity and perseverance of the righteous may be brought to their proper test, be set in a clear, advantageous light, and come off from the scrutiny with honour and approbation. This is the apostle's account of the matter, and he hath plainly acquainted us with the reason of this permission: "There must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." The fidelity of some is hence approved; and the insincerity of others is by the same touchstone discovered. Thus even before the day of judgment, the souls of the just and of the unjust are separated from each other, and the chaff and the wheat are already divided.
9. These are they whom the Spirit of God hath before-hand marked out in the Book of Psalms, as sitting in the seat of the scornful; being indeed the very pest and bane of our religion, cunning in the art of deceitful words, very successful in their endeavours to corrupt the truth, spreading far and near the poison of their venomous tongues, whose "words will eat as doth a canker." Against the men of this complection our Lord heretofore warned his people, and endeavoured to reclaim them from following such erroneous guides, saying, "Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise me, the Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings."
10. Let no one deceive himself with that saying of our Saviour, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them:" For these false interpreters, these corrupters of the gospel of Christ, set down the latter part, which they think for their turn, and