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salvation He was not wise enough to make one that would save all who should accept it; therefore, we mortals must change it and add to it by our superior wisdom, or God's plan will prove a failure. God's plan of salvation is a unity. There are no divisions or sub-divisions in it. It is His plan, and no man or set of men, however wise, powerful or good, have the right to add to it or take from it. Remember the everlasting doom of which St. John writes, in the conclusion of the inspired Word, to him who “adds or takes away" from the words of the sacred book. (Rev. xxii., 18-19.)
If our human creeds and dogmas were like God's Word they would not contradict one another, as God is in harmony with Himself in all His works. If any of them are taught as the oracles of God they are positively wrong in their tests of fellowship, for the Bible should be our standard. Every man has a right to his own creed, written or unwritten, but he has no right, under Christ, to refuse fellowship to those who do not see altogether as he does, nor to retain or uphold such creed when he finds it is opposed to the plain teachings of Christ. Denominationalism discriminates in giving that love which is due to all men. It engenders strife between friends and neighbors and hinders mutual edification. “I am a Methodist, he is a Presbyterian; what do I care? Let him suffer,” or "let his own denomination take care of him." How mean the narrowness and bigotry of intolerable sectarianism! Such a feeling practically severs the tender relationship of the
Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man, which Christ had inspired and indellibly stamped on the hearts of His disciples. “As I have loved you, so also love one another.” Does this commandment give boundaries or discriminations, or does it mean that Christ loved the Methodist and rejected the Presbyterian? We all say no; yet how natural for denominationalism to foster such bitter feelings.
The question arises often in my mind: If Christ should revisit the earth, which one of these denominations would he join? If he would unite with one of them, what a shock would seize the rest, who uniformly claim Him as the supreme head of their church! I do not suppose Christ either would or could encourage sectarianism-He who so ardently prayed His Father that His disciples "may be one." His Word ever teaches, “be of the same mind.” How could He practice diversity and division? One thing I am sure Christ would do. He would demolish all our denominational lines and confirm the reunion of the primitive faith. Then let us who are "ambassadors of Christ" be actuated by the same principle of unity and peace, and may it be our firm conviction to put into operation the organic forces of a united church.
It is said that one of our Armenian poets had a vision, in which he found himself confronting St. Peter at the portals of heaven. After stating from whence he came, the following conversation ensued. Said our good friend:
“While on earth I was an earnest member of an
Armenian National church; tell me, O Saint, are there any of my Illuminiterians* here?”
“I know of none," answered St. Peter.
“None!" echoed the questioner with much surprise; then recovering himself, “there are Baptists here?"
“Pray, great father," said the pilgrim, much bewildered, “if there are no Illuminiterians, no Baptists, no Congregationalists, no Methodists, no Presbyterians, nor Catholics, what people may enter your beautiful city?"
“Ignorant one, listen! Countless thousands from your world stand before the throne singing praises to God and the Lamb. Hark! you can faintly hear their voices now. Soon shall you stand with that blessed multitude. But know thou that neither Methodist, nor Baptist, nor any other such enter the kingdom of heaven; we bear but one name hear, significant and glorious; henceforth thou shall be known as “Christian," for of such are all the Celestial City.”
*This name is used by the Armenians for the Armenian Church.
With these words St. Peter ceased speaking and the vision departed.
This story, though simple, brings us face to face with truth. Christ is the center of union, “Christian" must be the converging lines. No ray emenating from the Son of Righteousness can be called by any other name than that which is derived from its source. This is the one word uniting all denominations, and it is the watchword for all future attempts at final unity. It points at once to the foundation of our hope. It is significant of the greatest and dearest name ever known by mortals. It is an appellation hallowed by the associations of centuries. The name “Christian” suggests to us the fagot, the gibbet and the sword. It brings with it the echoes of heroic defense, the single voice distinguished above all the controversies of the multitude. It seems to waft to our ears from inland Africa, from India and from China, the pleading prayers and earnest words of self-sacrificing ones, whom to call by any other title would be to dishonor.
The Lord's redeemed have not yet learned their universal language, and there is much misunderstanding as a result. Let the name “Christian” ever remain in the simple Godlanguage, and may its associations of blessings and of hope increase throughout all the years of conquest over wrong.
St. Paul directs a letter “unto the Church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ." His first epistle is addressed to “All in Rome, beloved of God, called saints." The second and third “To the Church of God at Corinth," the fourth to the “Churches of Galatia," the fifth to the "Saints at Ephesus and Faithful in Christ Jesus," the sixth to the "Saints at Phillippi with the Bishops and Deacons." We learn from all this : First, that in the days of the apostles, the assemblies of Christians in a given region were the Church of that religion as the Churches of Galatia and Asia; sometimes Churches of God, sometimes Churches of Christ (Rom. xvi., 16); sometimes Churches of the Saints (I. Cor. xiv., 33). Second, That the Christians in every city constituted the Church of that city (as the Church of Corinth and Ephesus), with no denominational divisions as now; simply Churches of God, Churches of Christ.
It is very plain, therefore, that the church, in the New Testament sense, is a divine institution, resting upon divine authority, and having divine claims upon us. It is a church “In God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." It follows, then, that the spiritual ties that bind such a body together are a common faith, hope, love and submission to the same divine will.
What folly to name such a church after a man, an ordinance or a human system! No man or company of men, however wise, good or great, have the right to dictate the terms of membership in a church of God. It is purely and only a divine right. Then let us cast aside those non essential things which separate us, and aim towards a final reunion of God's people on God's ground. We cannot