The Church in Ruins
The Church is the witness to the world of the oneness of the Head with the body, and of the members of the body with one another. As such, in perfect, divine oneness, God set it on the earth. Could a sadder contrast be conceived than between the beautiful vessel launched by Godís hand, and the floating fragments of wreck now tossing far and wide on the waves and currents of this restless world? Instead of all believers meeting round the person of Christ, his name is the only centre which is not known. There is no difference of doctrine too trivial, no variety of discipline too microscopic, that cannot form the rallying point of a separate denomination; no name too insignificant to become the label of a distinct sect. No need to dwell on the humiliating picture, the details of which are familiar to every eye. To gather up the fragments of the wreck, and reconstruct the shattered vessel is impossible. Yet are we on that account to shut our eyes to the fact that under manís pilotage this disastrous shipwreck has occurred, and that the professing church is responsible for the ruin into which it has fallen? Alas! if Christians only recognised this fact, and took their place, like Daniel of old, in confession before God, there would still be blessing, though there could never be restoration.
Indeed man has got so filled with his own thoughts, and so divorced from the thoughts of God, that he has begun to regard these divisions as rather beneficial than injurious. He has ceased to ask, like the apostle, ďIs the Christ divided?Ē, (1 Cor. 1: 13), ceased to regard the least approach to diversity with the jealous apprehension of those who watch for the Lordís glory, and judging everything by the low standard of his own thoughts, scoffs at the divine unity as a cramped and slavish conception, and rejoices in a thousandfold diversity as a proof of his own mental independence. He compares the various sects to the various rays of light refracted from a prism, each one of which is necessary to the light of the perfect beam; forgetting that Godís light is not the light after it has been twisted and scattered by human prisms, but the light as it proceeds direct from His own mind. No doubt it proves that in which man glories: the range and activity of his own mind. What it does not prove is his subjection to the mind of God.