A COMMON PLATFORM.
One of the results spoken of by Christ in His prayer, and brought about by sanctification, is Christian unity—“that they all may be one.” There is but one remedy for sectism and bigotry, and it is found in the answer to Christ’s petition. When Pentecost comes to us we are all lifted upon one grand common platform and shake hands and shout and weep and laugh and get so mixed up that a Presbyterian can not be distinguished from a Methodist, nor a Friend from an Episcopalian vestryman.
We have heard much about the organic union of churches. Many great and good men have looked forward with sanguine hopes to the day when we should do away with denominations. In a few cases two churches of different sects have united and worshipped in one congregation. But the causes of such unity are frequently far from gratifying. In D——the Methodists and Primitive Methodists clasp hands and join forces because they can thus make one preacher do the work which two formerly performed. In K——the Baptists and Presbyterians unite because the thirteen members of one church and the seven of the other feel lonely in their great refrigerators and are inclined to make friends and preserve life. The cold is most intense. In the far North the weather is sometimes so severe that wild beasts, ordinarily hostile both toward each other and man, crowd close together near the campfire of the explorer.
With many churches it is “unite or die!” The mallet of the auctioneer threatens the steeple-house, the young folks are off “golfing” or “hiking,” and the gray-beards, lonely and terror-stricken as they see church extinction approaching, favor “a union of forces with some other church.” In the church magazines of the next month appear sundry articles on “the broad and liberal spirit of the nineteenth century church.” “A large catholicity is taking the place of the old fogyism of former days,” scribbles the hack-writer.
The “MILKSOP’S” Theory.
In a few cases large congregations have united. When we behold it our hopes rise, but they are doomed to early blight by a careful study of the situation. The cause of denominationalism is the tenacious clinging to faith and doctrines. Whether or no we ought to all believe precisely alike about non-essentials, one thing is sure, the man who does not cleave to some faith, heart and head and brain and blood, is worthless in Christ’s army. Milksops may be ornamental, they are certainly not militant, and God wants soldiers. The man who does not know what he believes, and the man who says “it does not matter what one believes if one is only sincere,” are more despicable than the Yankees who burned witches in Salem. Better that a man be “narrow” than that he be so “broad” as to take in “the devil and all his angels.” Out upon our folly when we barter away the truth of God for a flimsy, tissue-paper bond of so-called “fellowship”!