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The Unity of the Church

Thomas M'Crie

Thomas M'Crie

Table of Contents

Discourse 1
On the Unity of the Church and Its Divisons

Introductory Remarks

The promise of national revival to Israel; the promised restoration of national unity, both civil and religious; the analogy between the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church; the main divisions of this discourse.

The Unity of the Church

The biblical basis of unity: the nature of the Church as a religious society; the Church as a re deemed society; apostolic injunctions to preserve unity; the essential oneness of the Church in the Old and New Testaments; the Church viewed as invisible and visible; the Church considered as catholic or particular; organizational unity in the Church.

The scriptural bonds of unity: Christ, the Head of the Church; the unity of the faith (truth); baptism, and fellowship in the same acts of worship; external government and discipline; mutual charity and peace.

Divisions in the Church

Occasions of disunity: doctrinal discord; factions; apostacy; subversion; corruption of worship; indifference; historic examples; chastisement of the Lord.

Causes of divisions: corrupt human nature; errors in doctrine; sectarianism; vanity; avarice; tyranny and unreasonable impositions; politics, latitudinarianism, insubordination.

Obstacles to healing divisions: resistance from corruptions which caused the division; growing alienation among separate parties; increased errors; further defection from the truth; proselytism; litigation; personal offenses; factiousness; self-interest; faulty schemes of union.

Discourse 2
On the Removal of Church Divisions
and Applications of the Doctrine

Removal of Divisions in the Church

The scriptural promise of reunion: latter-day revival; united leadership; brotherly concord.

The work of God in restoring unity: the promises of God; the mercy of God; the truth of God, the wisdom of God.

The administration of the Son and work of the Spirit: Christ's kingly and priestly offices; the agency of the Spirit in conversion, revival, holiness, and unity.

Reformation and the revival of genuine religion: removal of corruptions in the Church; purification and refinement; scriptural and historic examples.

Removal of occasions of division: offenses; temptations; circumstances.

Afflictions and deliverances: shared suffering; persecution; common deliverance from suffering and danger; scriptural and historic examples.

General Application of the Doctrine

The permanent utility of the Old Testament: its profit; authority; present usefulness.

The evil of schism: mistaken notions about schism; the actual nature of schism; warrantable separation; unlawful separation.

Lamentation over divisions in the Church: distress over dissension; disunity in biblical times; contemporary fragmentation; mourning and humility appropriate; the danger of indifference.

The danger of latitudinarian schemes: the delusive unity of Rome; specious pleas for unity; faulty distinctions between "fundamental" and "non-fundamental" doctrines; the duty to uphold the truth; open communion.

The appropriate temperament to attempt the healing of divisions: love of truth and regard to divine authority; a pacific disposition; Christian candor; the gift of knowledge and wisdom; a public and disinterested spirit.

Dangerous extremes: indifference toward unity; unscriptural means for attaining unity; impatience respecting God's providence; incredulity regarding God's promises.

A Short View of the Plan of Religious Reformation
and Union Adopted Originally by the Secession

The Church's duty to preserve the truth: the propriety of creeds and confessions; declarations against specific errors and corruptions; biblical precedents; incomplete reformation; ecclesiastical decay.

The testimony of the Seceders: misrepresentation of the Seceders; the public cause in the Secession; covenant renewal; the Second Reformation; ecclesiastical reform; civil reform; covenanted reformation; defection from covenant engagements; the Solemn League and Westminster Standards; the Secession Testimony.

The confessional teaching on the civil magistrate: liberty of conscience; unlawful opposition to authority; Erastianism refuted; civil authority and support for religion; the relationship between Church and State; the Secession Testimony; the political and ecclesiastical conditions during the English Civil War.

The Solemn League and Covenant: the sacredness of covenants and oaths; the Protestant leagues in Europe; the civil and religious nature of the Solemn League; the permanent obligation of the National Covenants; defects in the merger of the United Synod.

Correspondence on Ecclesiastical Mergers

George Sinclair's letter to Dr. M'Crie; M'Crie's response to Mr. Sinclair.

Biographical Sketch
of Thomas M'Crie
by Kevin Reed

Electronic edition
Copyright © 1995 by
Presbyterian Heritage Publications
P. O. Box 180922
Dallas, Texas 75218

This reprint is based upon the first edition of the work, originally published under the full title of Two Discourses on the Unity of the Church, Her Divisions, and Their Removal. To Which is Subjoined, a Short View of the Plan of Religious Reformation Originally Adopted in the Secession. (Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1821.)

The original edition included footnotes to identify some of the quotations from Scripture. In the present edition, an attempt has been made to provide more complete references for biblical quotations. When direct citations are used, the references appear in the adjacent margin. When the author is making a paraphrase, the reference is preceded by the abbreviation "cf." ( confer, compare).

The text has been revised grammatically in order to reflect contemporary spelling, punctuation, and usage. Words or phrases in brackets [ ] have been supplied by the present publisher.

Citations from the Westminster Confession have been verified with the definitive edition published in The Westminster Confession of Faith, edited by S. W. Carruthers (Manchester: R. Aikman & Son, 1937).

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