The next thing we need to have, if we would get our prayers answered, is—Unity. If we do not love one another we certainly shall not have much power with God in Prayer. One of the saddest things in the present day is the division in God's Church. You notice that when the power of God came upon the early church, it was when they were all of one accord. I believe the blessing of Pentecost never would have been given but for that spirit of unity. If they had been divided and quarreling among themselves, do you think the Holy Ghost would have come, and those thousands been converted? I have noticed in our work, that if we have gone to a town where three churches were united in it, we have had greater blessing than if only/, one church was in sympathy. And if there have been twelve churches united, the blessing has multiplied fourfold; it has always been in proportion to the spirit of unity that has been manifested. Where there are bickerings and divisions, and where the spirit of unity is absent,there is very little blessing and praise.
Dr. Guthrie thus illustrates this fact; he says: "Separate the atoms which make the hammer, and each would fall on the stone as a snowflake; but welded into one, and wielded by the firm arm of the quarry man, it will break the massive rocks asunder. Divide the waters of Niagara into distinct and individual drops, and they would be no more than the falling rain, but in their united body they would quench the fires of Vesuvius, and have some to spare for the volcanoes of other mountains."
History tells us that it was agreed upon by both armies of the Romans and the Albans to put the trial of all to the issue of a battle betwixt six brethren— three on the one side, the sons of Curatius, and three on the other, the sons of Horatius. "While the Curatii were united, though all three sorely wounded, they killed two of the Heratii. The third began to take to his heels, though not hurt at all; and when he saw them follow slowly, one after another, because of wounds and heavy armor, he fell upon them singly, and slew all three. It is the cunning sleight of the devil to divide us that he may destroy us.
We ought to endure much and sacrifice much, rather than permit discord and division to prevail in our hearts. Martin Luther says: "When two goats meet upon a narrow bridge over deep water, how do they behave? Neither of them can turn back again, neither can pass the other, because the bridge is too narrow; if they should thrust one another they might both fall into the water and be drowned. Nature, then, has taught them that if the one lays himself down and permits the other to go over him, both remain unhurt . Even so people should rather endure to be trod upon than to fall into debate and discord one with another."
Cawdray says: "As in music, if the harmony of tones be not complete they are offensive to the cultivated ear; so if Christians disagree among themselves they are unacceptable to God."
There are diversities of gifts—that is clearly taught —but there is one Spirit. If we have all been redeemed with the same blood, we ought to see eye to eye in spiritual things. Paul writes: "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord."
Where there is union I do not believe any power, earthly or infernal, can stand before the work. When the church, the pulpit, and the pew, get united, and God's people are all of one mind, Christianity is like a red-hot ball rolling over the earth, and all the hosts of death and hell cannot stand before it . I believe that men will then come nocking into the Kingdom by hundreds and thousands. "By this," says Christ, "shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." If only we love one another, and pray for one another, there will be success. God will not disappoint us.
There can be no real separation or division in the true Church of Christ; they are redeemed by one price, and indwelt by one Spirit . If I belong to the family of God, I have been bought with the same blood, though I may not belong to the same sect or party as another. What we want to do is to get these miserable sectarian walls taken away. Our weakness has been in our division; and what we need is that there should be no schism or division among those who love the Lord Jesus Christ . In the First Epistle to the Corinthians we read of the first symptoms of sectarianism coming into the early church—
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no division among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"
Notice how one said, "I am of Paul;" and another, "lam of Apollos;" and another, "lam of Cephas." Apollos was a young orator, and the people had been carried away by his eloquence. Some said Cephas, or Peter, was of the regular Apostolic line, because he had been with the Lord, and Paul had not. So they were divided, and Paul wrote this letter in order to settle the question.
Jenkyn, in his commentary on the Epistle of Jude, says: "The partakers of a 'common salvation,' who here agree in one way to heaven, and who expect to be hereafter in one heaven, should be of one heart. It is the Apostle's inference in Ephesians. What an amazing misery is it, that they who agree in common faith should disagree like common foes! That Christians should live as if faith had banished love! This common faith should allay and temper our spirits in all our differences. This should moderate our minds, though there is inequality in earthly relations. What a powerful motive was that of Joseph's brethren to him to forgive their sin, they being both his brethren, and the servants of the God of his fathers! Though our own breath cannot blow out the taper of contention, oh, yet let the blood of Christ extinguish it!"
What a strange state of things Paul, Cephas, and Apollos would find if they would come to the world to-day! The little tree that sprang up at ^Corinth has grown up into a tree like Nebuchadnezzar's, with many of the fowls of heaven gathered into it. Suppose Paul and Cephas were to come down to us now, they would hear at once ^about our Churchmen and Dissenters. "A Dissenter!" says Paul, "what is that?" "We have a Church of England, and there are those who dissent from the Church." "Oh, indeed! Are there two classes of Christians here, then?" "I am sorry to say there are a good many more divisions. The Dissenters themselves are split up. There are Wesleyans, Baptists, Presbyterians, Independents, and so on; even these are all divided up." "Is it possible," says Paul, "that there are so many divisions?" "Yes; the Church of England is pretty well divided itself. There is the Broad Church, the High Church, the Low Church, and the High-Lows. Then there is the Lutheran Church; and away in Russia they have the Greek Church, and so on." I declare I do not know what Paul and Cephas would think if they came back to the world; they would find a strange state of things. It is one of the most humiliating things in the present day to see how God's family is divided up. If we love the Lord Jesus Christ the burden of our hearts will be that God may bring us closer together, so that we may love one another and rise above all party feeling.
In repairing a church in one of the Boston wards, the inscription upon the wall behind the pulpit was covered up. Upon the first Sabbath after repairs, "little five-year-old" whispered to her mother: "I know why God told the paint men to cover that pretty verse up. It was because the people did not love one another." The inscription was; "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another."
A Boston minister says he once preached on "The Recognition of Friends in the Future," and was told after service by a hearer, that it would be more to the point to preach about the recognition of friends here, as he had been in the church twenty years, and did not know any of its members.
I was in a little town some time ago, when one night as I came out of the meeting, I saw another building where the people were coming out. I said to a friend, "Have you got two churches here?" "Oh yes." "How do you get on?" "Oh, we get on very well." "I am glad to hear that. Was your brother minister at the meeting?" "Oh no, we don't have anything to do with each other. AVe find that is the best way." And they called that "getting on very well." Oh, may God make us of one heart and of one mind! Let our hearts be like drops of water flowing together. Unity among the people of God is a sort of foretaste of heaven. There we shall not find any Baptists, or Methodists, or Congregationalists, or Episcopalians; we shall all be one in Christ . We leave all our party names behind us when we leave this earth. Oh that the Spirit of God may speedily sweep away all these miserable walls that we have been building up!
Did you ever notice that the last prayer Jesus Christ made on earth, before they led Him away to Calvary, was that His disciples might all be one? He could look down the stream of time, and see that divisions would come—how Satan would try to divide the flock of God. Nothing will silence infidels so quickly as Christians everywhere being united. Then our testimony will have weight with the ungodly and the careless. But when they see how Christians are divided, they will not believe their testimony. The Holy Spirit is grieved; and there is little power where there is no unity.
If I thought I had one drop of sectarian blood in my veins, I would let it out before I went to bed; if I had one sectarian hair in my head, I would pull it out. Let us get right to the heart of Jesus Christ; then our prayers will be acceptable to God, and showers of blessings will descend.