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Christian Unity, Essentials of Christianity, Samuel Davies

>"A Christian! a Christian! let that be your highest distinction"

>“What an endless variety of denominations, taken from some men of character, or from some little peculiarities, has prevailed in the Christian world, and crumbled it to pieces, while the Christian name is hardly regarded?…what party-names have been adopted by the Protestant churches, whose religion is substantially the same common Christianity, and who agree in much more important articles than in those they differ. To be a Christian is not enough now-a-days, but a man must also be something more and better; that is, he must be a strenuous bigot to this or that particular church…

“Every man will find that he agrees more fully in lesser as well as more important articles with some particular church than others; and thereupon it is his duty to join in stated communion with that church; and he may, if he pleases, assume the name which that church wears, by way of distinction from others: this is not what I condemn. But for me to glory in the denomination of any particular church, as my highest character; to lay more stress upon the name of a presbyterian or a churchman than on the sacred name of Christian; to make a punctilious agreement with my sentiments in the little peculiarities of a party the test of all religion; to make it the object of my zeal to gain proselytes to some other than the Christian name; to connive at the faults of those of my own party and to be blind to the good qualities of others, or invidiously to represent or diminish them: these are the things which deserve universal condemnation from God and man; the generous catholic spirit of Christianity, and subversive of it. This attention of men from the great concerns of eternity, and the essentials of Christianity, to vain jangling and contest about circumstantials and trifles. Thus the Christian is swallowed up in the partisan, and fundamentals lost in extra-essentials…

“Endeavour to find out the truth, even in these circumstantials, at least so far as is necessary for the direction of your own conduct. But do not make these the whole or the principal part of your religion: do not be excessively zealous about them, nor break the peace of the church by magisterially imposing them upon others. ‘Hast thou faith in these little disputables,’ it is well; ‘but have it to thyself before God,’ and do not disturb others with it. You may, if you please, call yourselves presbyterians and dissenters, and you shall bear without shame or resentment all the names of reproach and contempt which the world may brand you with. But as you should not be mortified on the one side, so neither should you glory on the other. A Christian! a Christian! let that be your highest distinction, let that be the name which you labour to deserve. God forbid that my ministry should be the occasion of diverting your attention to anything else.”

Samuel Davies, Sermons on Important Subjects (London, 1824), vol. I, pp. 298-300 as quoted by Iain H. Murray, Revival & Revivalism (Carlisle PA, 1994), pp. 28-29.

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