Endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4.3.
AN EXHORTATION TO PEACE AND UNITY*
A sermon by John Bunyan 1628-1688
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4.3.
In the handling of these words, I shall observe this method:Â— First, I shall open the sense of the text. Second, I shall show wherein this unity and peace consists. Third, I shall show you the fruits and benefits of it, together with nine inconveniences and mischiefs that attend those churches where unity and peace is wanting. Fourth, and lastly, I shall give you twelve directions and motives for the obtaining of it.
1. The sense of the text.
By the unity of the Spirit we are to understand that unity of mind which the Spirit of God calls for, and requires Christians to endeavour after; hence it is that we are exhorted to be of ‘one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel’ (Phil. 1.27).
But farther, the apostle in these words alludes to the state and composition of a natural body; and doth thereby inform us that the mystical body of Christ holds an analogy with the natural body of a man. As,
1. In the natural body there must be a spirit to animate it; for ‘the body without the spirit is dead.’ James 2.26. So it is in the mystical body of Christ; the apostle no sooner tells us of that one body, but he reminds us of that ‘one spirit.’ Eph. 4.4.
2. The body hath ‘joints and bands’ to unite all the parts; so hath the mystical body of Christ. Col. 2.19. This is that bond of peace mentioned in the text, as also in Eph. 4.16, where ‘the whole body’ is said to be ‘fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth.’
3. The natural body receives counsel and nourishment from the head; so doth the mystical body of Christ. He is their counsellor, and Him they must hear; He is their Head, and Him they must hold:
hence it is that the apostle complaineth, Col. 2.19, of some that did ‘not hold the head, from which all the body by joints and bands hath nourishment.’
4. The natural body cannot well subsist, if either the spirit be wounded or the joints broken or dislocated; the body cannot bear a wounded or broken spirit; ‘A broken spirit drieth the bones,’ Pr. 17.22; and ‘a wounded spirit who can bear?’ Pr. 18.14. And on the other hand, how often has the disjointing of the body, and the breakings thereof, occasioned the expiration of the spirit? In like manner it fares with the mystical body of Christ: how do divided spirits break the bonds of peace, which are the joints of this body! And how doth the breakings of the body and church of Christ wound the spirit of Christians, and oftentimes occasion the spirit and life of Christianity to languish, if not to expire! How needful is it, then, that we endeavour ‘to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace’?
2. I now come to show you wherein this unity and peace consists, and this I shall demonstrate in five particulars.
1. This unity and peace may exist in spite of the ignorance of many truths, and in the holding of some errors; or else this duty of peace and unity could not be practicable by any on this side perfection. But we must now endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit, ’till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.’ Eph. 4.13. Because now, as the apostle says, ‘we know in part, and we prophesy in part,’ and ‘now we see through a glass, darkly.’ 1 Co. 13.12. And as this is true in general, so we may find it true if we descend to particular instances: the disciples seemed to be ignorant of that great truth which they had often, and in much plainness, been taught by their Master once and again, that His kingdom was not of this world, and that in the world they should suffer and be persecuted; yet in Acts 1.6, we read, that they asked of Him if He would ‘at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ thereby discovering that Christ’s kingdom, as they thought, should
consist in this temporal jurisdiction over Israel, which they expected should now commence and take place amongst them. Again, our Lord tells them that He had many things to say, and these were many important truths which they could not now bear. John 16.12. And that these were important truths appears by the 10th and 11th verses, where He is discoursing of righteousness and judgment; and then adds, that He had yet many things to say which they could not bear; and thereupon promises the Comforter to lead them into ALL TRUTH; which implies that they were yet ignorant of many truths, and consequently held divers errors; and yet for all this He prays for, and presses them to their great duty of peace and unity. John 14.27, and 17.21. To this may be added that of Heb. 5.11, where the author saith, he had many things to say of the priestly office of Christ, which, by reason of their dulness, they were not capable to receive; as also that in Acts 10, where Peter seems to be ignorant of the truth that the gospel was to be preached to all nations; and contrary hereunto, he erred in thinking it unlawful to preach amongst the Gentiles. I shall add two texts more; one is Acts 19.2, where we read. That those disciples which had been discipled and baptized by John, were yet ignorant of the Holy Ghost, and knew not, as the text tells us, ‘whether there be any Holy Ghost,’ or no;
though John did teach constantly, .that He that should come after him, should baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire. From hence we may easily and plainly infer, that Christians may be ignorant of many truths, by reason of weak and dull capacities, and other such like impediments, even while those truths are with much plainness delivered to them. Again, we read, Heb. 5.13, of some that were ‘unskilful in the word of righteousness,’ who nevertheless are called babes in Christ, and with whom unity and peace is to be inviolably kept and maintained.
2. As this unity and peace may exist in spite of the ignorance of many truths, and in the holding some errors, so it must consist with, and it cannot consist without, the believing and practising those things which are necessary to salvation and church communion; and they are, (1.) Believing that Christ the Son of God died for the sins of men. (2.) That whoever believeth ought to be baptized. (3.) The third thing essential to this communion is a holy and a blameless conversation.
(1.) That believing that the Son of God dies for the sins of men is necessary to salvation, I prove by these texts, which tell us that he that doth not believe shall be damned. Mark 16.16. John 3.18. 2Th. 2.12. Rom. 10.10.
That it is also necessary to church-communion, appears from Mat. 16.16-18. Peter having confessed that Christ was the Son of the living God, Christ thereupon assures Peter, that upon this rock,
viz., this profession of faith, or this Christ which Peter had confessed, He would build His church, and the gates of hell should not prevail against it. And, 1 Cor. 3.11, the apostle having told the Corinthians they were God’s building, presently adds, that they could not be built upon any foundation but upon that which was laid, which was Jesus Christ. All which proves that Christian society is founded upon the profession of Christ; and not only Scripture, but the laws of right reason, dictate this, that some rules and orders must be observed for the founding of a society, which must be consented to by all that will be of it. Hence it comes to pass, that to own Christ as the Lord and Head of Christians, is essential to the founding of Christian society.
(2.) The Scriptures have declared that this faith gives the professors of it a right to baptism, as in the case of the eunuch, Acts 8, when he demanded why he might not be baptized? Philip answereth, that if he believed with all his heart, he might; the eunuch thereupon confessing Christ, was baptized.
Now, that baptism is essential to church-communion, I prove from 1 Cor. 12, where we shall find the apostle labouring to prevent an evil use that might be made of spiritual gifts, as thereby to be puffed up; and to think that such as wanted them, were not of the body, or to be esteemed members; he thereupon resolves, that whoever did confess Christ, and own Him for his Head, did it by the Spirit, ver. 3, though they might not have such a visible manifestation of it as others had; and therefore they ought to be owned as members, as appears, ver. 23. And not only because they have, by the guidance and direction of the same Spirit, been baptized, ver. 13: ‘For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body,’ &c. I need not go about to confute that notion that some of late have had of this text, viz., that the baptism here spoken of is the baptism of the Spirit, because you have not owned and declared that notion as your judgment; but on the contrary, all of you that I have ever conversed with, have declared it to be understood of baptism with water, by the direction of the Spirit. If so, then it follows, that men and women are declared members of Christ’s body by baptism, and cannot be by Scripture reputed and esteemed so without it;
which farther appears from Rom. 6.5, where men, by baptism, are said to be planted into ‘the likeness of his death.’ And Col. 2.12, we are said to be ‘buried with him by baptism.’ All which, together with the consent of all Christians, (some few in these late times excepted,) do prove that baptism is necessary to the initiating persons into the church of Christ.
(3.) Holiness of life is essential to church-communion, because it seems to be the reason why Christ founded a church in the world, viz., that men might thereby be watched over and kept from falling;
and that if any be overtaken with a fault, he that is spiritual might restore him.
That by this means men and women might be preserved, without blame, to the coming of Christ; and ‘the grace of God teacheth us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and uprightly in this present evil world.’ Tit. 2.11,12. ‘And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’ 2 Ti. 2.19. And James tells us, speaking of the Christian religion, that ‘pure religion, and undefiled before God … is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.’ James 1.27. From all which, together with many more texts that might be produced, it appears that an unholy and profane life is inconsistent with Christian religion and society, and that holiness is essential to salvation and church-communion; so that these three thingsÂ—faith, baptism, and a holy life, as I said before, all churches must agree and unite in, as those things which, when wanting, will destroy their being. And let not any think, that when I say believing the Son of God died for the sins of men is essential to salvation and church-communion, that I hereby would exclude all other articles of the Christian creed as not necessary, as the belief of the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, &c.; which, for want of time, I omit to speak particularly to, and the rather because I understand this great article, of believing the Son of God died for the sins of men, is comprehensive of all others, and is that from whence all other articles may easily be inferred.
And here I would not be mistaken, as though I held there were nothing else for Christians to practise, when I say this is all that is requisite to church-communion; for I very well know that Christ requires many other things of us after we are members of His body, which, if we knowingly or maliciously refuse, may be the cause, not only of excommunication but damnation. But yet these are such things as relate to the wellbeing, and not to the being, of churches; as laying on of hands, in the primitive times, upon believers, by which they did receive the gifts of the SpiritÂ—this, I say, was for the increase and edifying of the body, and not that thereby they might become of the body of Christ, for that they were before. And do not think that I believe laying on of hands was no apostolic institution, because I say men are not thereby made members of Christ’s body, or because I say that it is not essential to church-communion. Why should I be thought to be against a fire in the chimney, because I say it must not be in the thatch of the house? Consider, then, how pernicious a thing it is to make every doctrine, though true, the round of communion; this is that which destroys unity; and, by this rule, all men must be perfect before they can be in peace. For do we not see daily, that as soon as men come to a clearer understanding of
the mind of God, to say the best of what they hold, that presently all men are excommunicable, if not damnable, that do not agree with them. Do not some believe and see that to be pride and covetousness, which others do not, because, it may be, they have more narrowly and diligently searched into their duty of these things than others have? What then? Must all men that have not so large acquaintance of their duty herein be excommunicated? Indeed, it were to be wished that more moderation in apparel and secular concernments were found among churches; but God forbid, that if they should come short herein, that we should say, as one lately said, that he could not communicate with such a people, because they were proud and superfluous in their apparel.
Let me appeal to such, and demand of them, if there was not a time, since they believed and were baptized, wherein they did not believe laying on of hands a duty; and did they not then believe, and do they not still believe, they were members of the body of Christ? And was not there a time when you did not so well understand the nature and extent of pride and covetousness as now you do? And did you not then believe, and do you not still believe, that you were true members of Christ, though less perfect? Why, then, should you not judge of those that differ from you herein, as you judged of yourselves when you were as they now are? How needful, then, is it for Christians to distinguish, if ever they would be at peace and unity, between those truths which are essential to church-communion, and those that are not!
3. Unity and peace consists in our making one shoulder to practise and put in execution the things we do know. ‘Nevertheless, whereto we have attained, let us walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing.’ Phil. 3.16. How sad is it to see our zeal consume us, and our precious time, in things doubtful and disputable, while we are not concerned nor affected with the practice of those indisputable things we all agree in! We all know charity to be the great command, and yet how few agree to practise it! We all know they that labour in the Word and doctrine are worthy of double honour; and that God hath ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel; these duties, however others have cavilled at them, I know you agree in them, and are persuaded of your duty herein; but where is your zeal to practise? O how well would it be with churches if they were but half as zealous for the great, and plain, and indisputable things, and the more chargeable and costly things of religion, as they are for things doubtful or less necessary, or for things that are no charge to them, and cost them nothing but the breath of contention, though that may be too great a price for the small things they purchase with it.
But further: Do we not all agree, that men that preach the gospel
should do it like workmen that need not be ashamed? and yet how little is this considered by many preachers, who never consider, before they speak, of what they say, or whereof they affirm! How few give themselves to study that they may be approved! How few meditate, and give themselves to these things, that their profiting may appear to all!
For the Lord’s sake, let us unite to practise those things we know;
and if we would have more talents, let us all agree to improve those we have.
See the spirit that was among the primitive professors, that knowing and believing how much it concerned them, in the propagating of Christianity, to show forth love to one another, so that all might know them to be Christ’s disciples, rather than there should be any complainings among them, they sold all they had. Oh how zealous were these to practise, and, with one shoulder, to do that that was upon their hearts for God! I might further add, how often have we agreed in our judgment, and hath it not been upon our hearts, that this and the other thing is good to be done to enlighten the dark world, and to repair the breaches of churches, and to raise up those churches that now lie gasping, and among whom the soul of religion is expiring? But what do we more than talk of them? Do not most decline these things when they either call for their purses or their persons to help in this and such like works as these? Let us then, in what we know, unite, that we may put it in practice, remembering that, if we know these things, we shall be happy if we do them.
4. This unity and peace consists in our joining and agreeing to pray for, and to press after, those truths we do not know. The disciples in the primitive times were conscious of their imperfections, and, therefore, they, with one accord, continued in prayer and supplications. If we were more in the sense of our own ignorances and imperfections, we should carry it better towards those that differ from us; then we should abound more in the spirit of meekness and forbearance, that thereby we might bring others, or be brought by others, to the knowledge of the truth; this would make us go to God, and say with Elihu, That which we know not, teach thou us. Job 34.32. Brethren, did we but all agree that we were erring in many things, we should soon agree to go to God, and pray for more wisdom and revelation of his mind and will concerning us.
But here is our misery, that we no sooner receive any thing for truth, but we presently ascend the chair of infallibility with it, as though in this we could not err; hence it is we are impatient of contradiction, and become uncharitable to those that are not of the same mind; but now a consciousness that we may mistake, or that if my brother err in one thing I may err in anotherÂ—this will unite us in
affection, and engage us to press after perfection, according to that of the apostle, ‘Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:
but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,’ ‘and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded. God shall reveal even this unto you.’ Phil. 3.13-15. O then, that we could but unite and agree to go to God for one another, in confidence that He will teach us; and that if any one of us want wisdom (and who of us does not?), we might agree to ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth no man. Let us, like those people spoken of in Is. 2, say one to another, Come, let us go to the Lord, for ‘he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’
5. This unity and peace mainly consists in unity of love and affection; this is the great and indispensable duty of all Christians; by this they are declared Christ’s disciples; and hence it is that love is called the great commandment, the old commandment, and the new commandmentÂ—that which was commanded in the beginning, and will remain to the end; yea, and after the end. ‘Charity never faileth: but – whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.’ 1 Cor. 13.8. ‘And now abideth faith, hope, charity – but the greatest of these is charity.’ ver. 13. ‘Above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.’ Col. 3.14. Because charity is ‘the end of the commandment.’ 1 Tim. 1.5. Charity is therefore called the royal law; and though it had a superintendency over other laws, and, doubtless, is a law to which other laws must give place when they come in competition with it. ‘Above all things, [therefore,] have fervent charity among yourselves, for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.’ 1 Pe. 4.8. Let us, therefore, live in unity and peace, and the God of love and peace will be with us.
That you may so do, let me remind you, in the words of a learned man, that the unity of the church is a unity of love and affection, and not a bare uniformity of practice and opinion.
3. Having shown you wherein this unity consists, I now come to the third general thing propounded, and that is, to show you the fruits and benefits of unity and peace; together with the mischiefs and inconveniences that attend those churches where unity and peace are wanting.
1. Unity and peace is a duty well-pleasing to God, who is styled the Author of peace, and not of confusion, in all the churches. God’s Spirit rejoiceth in the unity of our spirits; but, on the other hand, where strife and divisions are, there the Spirit of God is grieved. Hence is it that the apostle no sooner calls upon the Ephesians not to grieve the Spirit of God, but he presently subjoins us a remedy
against that evil: that they put away bitterness and evil speaking, and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.’ Eph. L32.
2. As unity and peace is pleasing to God, and rejoices His Spirit, so it rejoices the hearts and spirits of God’s peopleÂ—unity and peace wings heaven down upon earth among us. Hence it is that the apostle tells us, Rom. 14.17, that ‘the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ Where unity and peace is, there is heaven upon earth; by this we taste the first fruits of that blessed estate we shall one day live in the fruition of, when we shall come ‘to the general assembly and church of the first-born,’ whose names are written in heaven, ‘and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.’ Heb. 12.23.
This outward peace of the church, as a learned man observes, distils into peace of conscience, and turns writings and readings of controversy into treatises of mortification and devotion.
And the psalmist tells us, that it is not only good, but pleasant ‘for brethren to dwell together in unity,’ Ps. 133, but where unity and peace is wanting, there are storms and troubles; ‘where envy and .strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.’ James 3.16. It is the outward peace of the church that increases our inward joy, and the peace of God’s house gives us occasion to eat our meat with gladness in our own houses. Acts 2.46.
3. The unity and peace of the church makes communion of saints desirable. What is it that embitters church-communion, and makes it burdensome, but divisions? Have you not heard many complain that they are weary of church-communion, because of church contention? But now, where unity and peace is, there Christians long for communion.
David saith that he was glad when they said unto him, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’Ps. 122.1. Why was this, but because, as the third verse tells us, Jerusalem was a city compact together, where the tribes went up, the tribes of the Lord, to give thanks to His name. And David, speaking of the man that was once his friend, doth hereby let us know the benefit of peace and unity; Ps. 55.14:
‘We,’ saith he, ‘took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.’ Where unity is strongest, communion is sweetest and most desirable. You see, then, that peace and union fill the people of God with desires after communion; but, on the other hand, hear how David complains, Ps. 120.5, ‘Woe is me that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!’ The psalmist here is thought to allude to a sort of men that dwelt in the deserts of Arabia, that got their livings by contention; and, therefore, he adds,
ver. 6, that his soul had long dwelt with them that hated peace: this was that which made him long for the courts of God, and esteem one day in His house better than a thousand. This made his soul even faint for the house of God, because of the peace of it; ‘Blessed are they,’ saith he, ‘that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee.’ Ps. 84.4. There is a certain note of concord, as appears, Acts 2, where we read of primitive Christians, meeting with one accord, praising God.
4. Where unity and peace is, there many mischiefs and inconveniences are prevented which attend those people where peace and unity are wanting; and of those many that might be mentioned, I shall briefly insist upon these nine:Â—
(1.) Where unity and peace are wanting, there is much precious time spent to no purpose. How many days are spent, and how many fruitless journeys made to no profit, where the people are not in peace! How often have many redeemed time, even in seed-time and harvest, when they could scarce afford it to go to church, and by reason of their divisions, come home worse than they went, repenting they have spent so much precious time to so little benefit! How sad is it to see men spend their precious time, in which they should work out their salvation, by labouring, as in the fire, to prove an uncertain and doubtful proposition, and to trifle away their time, in which they should make their calling and election sure, to make sure of an opinion which, when they have done all, they are not infallibly sure whether it be true or no; because all things necessary to salvation and church-communion are plainly laid down in Scripture, in which we may be infallibly sure of the truth of them; but for other things that we have no plain texts for, but the truth of them depends upon our interpretations, here we must be cautioned that we do not spend much time in imposing those upon others, or venting those among others, unless we can assume infallibilityÂ—otherwise, we spend time upon uncertainty; and whoever casts their eyes abroad, and doth open their ears to intelligence, shall both see, and, to their sorrow, hear that many churches spend most of their time in jangling and contending about those things which are neither essential to salvation or church-communion, and that which is worse, about such doubtful questions which they are never able to give an infallible solution of; but now, where unity and peace is, there our time is spent in praising God, and in those great questionsÂ—what we should do to be saved? and how we may be more holy and more humble towards God, and more charitable and more serviceable to one another?
(2.) Where unity and peace is wanting, there is evil surmising and evil speaking, to the damage and disgrace, if not to the ruining of one another; Ga. 14.15: ‘The whole law is fulfilled in one word. Thou
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; but if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.’ No sooner the bond of charity is broken, which is as a wall about Christians, but soon they begin to make havoc and spoil of one another; then there is raising evil reports, and taking up evil reports against each other. Hence it is that whispering and backbiting proceeds, and going from house to house to blazon the faults and infirmities of others: hence it is that we watch for the haltings of one another, and do inwardly rejoice at the miscarriages of others, saying in our hearts. Ah, ah, so we would have it; but now, where unity and peace is, there is charity; and where charity is, there we are willing to hide the faults, and cover the nakedness of our brethren. ‘Charity thinketh no evil,’ 1 Cor. 13.5; and, therefore, it cannot surmise, neither will it speak evil.
(3.) Where unity and peace is wanting, there can be no great matters enterprised; we cannot do much for God nor much for one another. When the devil would hinder the bringing to pass of good in nations and churches, he divides their councils; and, as one well observes, he divides their heads, that he may divide their hands;
when Jacob had prophesied of the cruelty of Simeon and Levi, who were brethren, he threatens them with the consequence of it; Gen. 49.7: ‘I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.’ The devil is not to learn that maxim he hath taught the Machiavellians of the world, divide et imperaÂ—divide and rule; it is a united force that is formidable: hence the spouse, in the Canticles, is said to be ‘but me,’ ‘and the only one of her mother.’ Ca. 6.9. Hereupon it is said of her, ver. 10, that she is ‘terrible as an army with banners.’ What can a divided army do, or a disordered army, that have lost their banners, or, for fear or shame, thrown them away? In like manner, what can Christians do for Christ, and the enlarging His dominions in the world, in bringing men from darkness to light, while themselves are divided and disordered? Peace is, to Christians, as great rivers are to some cities, which, besides other benefits and commodities, are natural fortifications, by reason whereof those places are made impregnable; but when, by the subtilty of an adversary or the folly of the citizens, these waters come to be divided into little petty rivulets, how soon are they assailed and taken! Thus it fares with churches; when once the devil, or their own folly divides them, they will be so far from resisting of him, that they will be soon subjected by him.
If Christians were all of one pieceÂ—if they were all but one lump, or but one sheaf or bundle, how great are the things they might do for Christ and His people in the world, whereas, otherwise, they can do little but dishonour Him, and offend His.
It is reported of the leviathan, that his strength is in his scales; Job
41.15-17: ‘His scales are his pride, shut up together, as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.’ If the church of God were united like the scales of leviathan, it would not be every brain-sick notion, nor angry speculation, that would cause their separation.
Solomon saith, Two are better than one, because if one fail, the other may raise him; then surely twenty are better than two, and an hundred are better than twenty, for the same reasonÂ—because they are more capable to help one another. If ever Christians would do anything to raise up the fallen tabernacles of Jacob, and to strengthen the weak, and comfort the feeble, and to fetch back those that have gone astray, it must be by unity.
(4.) Where unity and peace is wanting, there the weak are wounded, and the wicked are hardened. Unity may well be compared to precious oil. Ps. 133.2. It is the nature of oil to heal that which is wounded, and to soften that which is hard. Those men that have hardened themselves against God and His people, when they shall behold unity and peace among them, will say, God is in them indeed; and, on the other hand, are they not ready to say, when they see you divided, that the devil is in you, that you cannot agree?
(5.) Divisions, and want of peace, keep those out of the church that would come in; and cause many to go out that are in.
‘The divisions of Christians (as a learned man observes) are a scandal to the Jews, an opprobrium to the Gentiles, and an inlet to atheism and infidelity.’ Insomuch that our controversies about religion, especially as they have been of late managed, have made religion itself become a controversy. O, then, how good and pleasant a thing is it for brethren to dwell together in unity! The peace and unity that was among the primitive Christians drew others to them. What hinders the conversion of the Jews, but the divisions of Christians? Must I be a Christian, says the Jew? What Christian must I be; of what sect must I be? The Jews, as one observes, glossing upon that text in Is. 11.6, where it is prophesied, that the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and that there shall be none left to hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain;
they interpreting these sayings to signify the concord and peace that shall be among the people that shall own the Messiah, do from hence conclude that the Messiah is not yet come, because of the contentions and divisions that are among those that profess him; and the apostle saith, 1 Cor. 14.23, that if an unbeliever should see their disorders, he would say they were mad; but where unity and peace is, there the churches are multiplied. We read. Acts 9.31, that when