Surely our schisms may be healed if there be a Saviour thus to heal them!
One word in conclusion. Neither the letter nor the spirit of the apostle’s teaching condemn a warm and firm attachment to “our own Church,” but antagonism only to other Churches. A soldier may love, and ought to love his own regiment with peculiar affection, more especially if he has been born in it, and brought up from childhood, as it were, in its ranks. And it should be his honest pride to see that it is one of the best drilled, most orderly, most efficient, and bravest in the whole army. But that is no reason why he should go about with a drum to recruit from, weaken, or break up other regiments; or why he should deny that there are other regiments which equally belong to the grand army, and may be even more efficient than his own, though they do not wear the exact pattern of uniform, or may charge on horseback while his marches on foot, or possess cannon while his own have but small arms. Why should he be jealous of their achievements? Why should he be disposed to fight against them instead of against the common enemy? And, worse than all, why assert and boast that this one regiment of his is the army, while all others are mere unauthorised volunteers, or enemies in disguise? It is full time for sensible men to give up this vain boasting, proud antagonism, and irritating ambitious proselytism.
Instead, therefore, of any man attempting, what is impossible during a lifetime, to understand the distinctive principles of each of the many sections of the Christian Church, so as to “join” that one which seems most “pure” and “scriptural,” he is much better, as a rule, to remain, if it is at all possible for him, in the Church of his fathers, in which he was baptized and reared, and to do all in his power, by his example, his prayers, and his steady, manly, firm attachment, to make “his own Church” more efficient, and to permit others, without interference, to do the same. Thus may a man be a good Presbyterian in Scotland, and also a good Episcopalian in England, or possibly a Nonconformist in both, unless he believes in the Divine origin and authority of some one ecclesiastical system, and the mundane origin of all others. With perfect consistency and sincerity he may dearly love his Church, but yet love Christians more, because he loves Christ best of all.