On the Pressing Priority of Church Unity


“Pray I for these… that they all may be one.”

John 17:20,21

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”

1 Cor. 12:12

“They said unto me, ‘The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.’  And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven…”

Nehemiah 1:3-4




Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty


“Let there be no strife between us and you, for we be brethren: and is not the Canaanite and the Perizzite yet in the land?  O let it not be told in Gath, nor published in the streets of Ashkelon!  Let it not be said that there can be no unity in the Church…

It shall be no grief of heart to you afterward, that you have pleased others as well as yourselves, and have stretched your principles for an accommodation in Church government, as well as in worship, and that for the Church’s peace and edification; and that the ears of our common enemies may tingle (Act. 9:31) when it shall be said, ‘The Churches of Christ… have rest, and are edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the joy of the Holy Ghost are multiplied.’  

Alas, how shall our divisions and contentions hinder the preaching and learning of Christ, and the edifying one another in love!  Is Christ divided? says the apostle.  There is but one Christ, yea the Head and the Body makes one Christ, so that you cannot divide the Body without dividing Christ.  

Is there so much as a seam in all Christ’s garment?  Is it not woven throughout from the top to the bottom?  Will you have one half of Israel to follow Tibni, and another half to follow Omri?  O brethren, we shall be one in heaven, let us pack up differences in this place of our pilgrimage the best way we can.  

Nay, we will not despair of unity in this world.  Has not God promised to give us ‘one heart and one way’? (Jer. 32:39; Eze. 11:19)  And that Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim, but they shall flee upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the East, they shall spoil them of the East together?  Isa. 11:13,14  Has not the Mediator (whom the Father hears always) prayed that all his may be one? (John 17:21)  

Brethren, it is not impossible, pray for it, endeavor it, press hard toward the mark of accommodation.  How much better is it that you be one with the other Reformed Churches, though somewhat straitened and bound up, than to be divided though at full liberty and elbow-room?”




How to Work Towards Unity


Sell Everything but the Truth.



Alexander Shields

An Enquiry into Church-Communion, 1706


“Softness of heart in the sense of bygone sin would silence many things among us, that all disputings, writings and printings will not be able to do.  Pray for this to the land, as the most effectual mean and way of curing our divisions, and of uniting us in the Lord. It joins Israel and Judah together, whose breach was much greater and of far longer continuance than ours.”


Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty


“There is also a great difference between toleration and accommodation. By accommodation I understand an agreement of dissenters with the rest of the Church in practical conclusions, so that if any difference be, it is in their principles, not in their practices, and so not obvious, apparent and scandalous to people.  

I had rather go two miles in an accommodation (yea as many as the word of God will suffer me) than one mile in toleration.  For in that way there is no schism, no rent in Israel, but ‘the Lord one, and his name one.’  

In this way [of toleration] there is temple against temple, and altar against altar, Manasseh against Ephraim, and Ephraim against Manasseh, and they both against Judah: a misery from which the Lord deliver us.  

I do not deny, but if a safe and happy accommodation is impossible, such a toleration as I have formerly spoken of, is not to be disallowed.  But the accommodation is a more excellent way, and that which is to be rather embraced, yea endeavored for and followed after, according to the apostle’s rule (which Isidorua Pelusiota did long since observe to be the best and happiest way of putting an end to divisions and dissensions in the Church).  

Let us therefore as many as be perfect be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.  Nevertheless whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing (Phil 3:15-16).”



John MacPherson
of the Free Church of Scotland

The Unity of the Church: the Sin of Schism, 1901


“Rutherford, Brown, Gillespie, Durham, and generally all the best men of that school seek to multiply reasons against separation, and show themselves willing to bear the heaviest burdens and submit to the severest strain rather than take what to them is the most painful step in separation from communion with any body with which they had previously held church fellowship.”





“Why hast Thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.  Return, we beseech Thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;  And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted…  So we will not go back from Thee: quicken us, and we will call upon Thy name. Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”

Psalm 80:12-19

“And I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them.”

“Take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah… then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph… And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.”

Eze. 34:23; 37:16-17

“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.”

Eze. 11:19




Related Pages

The Unity of the Church 


Against Separatism

Against Pride