THE DIVISION OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST,
INTO SEVERAL BODIES, AND ITS
INTO ONE GENERAL BODY.
by Rev. John Wesley
I will take for my text this sentiment from the New Testament: "I will
draw all men unto me, and there shall be one church and one people."
The church which was organized by our Lord[A] Jesus Christ was designed
to establish a feeling of brotherhood between separate and distinct
classes of people, and to abolish the system of castes, which was the
prevailing sin of the eastern nations.
[Footnote A: The word "Lord" is used in the sense of an earthly lord who
cares for his people.]
Christ made no distinction between the Sadducee and the Pharisee, the
publican and the saint, the high priest of the temple and the lowliest of
his followers. He placed the affections above the intellect, truth and
sincerity above wealth and worldly position.
The church which he originated for many years followed in his footsteps.
But as it increased in numbers it accumulated wealth, and with wealth
came power, and from that power issued discord and separation.
Thus, the church divided and subdivided, and split into a thousand
pieces, formed new interests, created new beliefs, and sowed dissension
and envy with a free hand.
Such has been the condition of the church for the past ten or twelve
centuries. Meanwhile, in the Heaven of Heavens, has arisen a powerful
movement directed towards restoring it to its original state of purity
and simplicity. This great movement, like a mighty river seeking its
outlet, has rushed on, diverging at several points, and at length found
the reservoir it sought in what is termed Spiritualism.
The spiritualistic movement opened the gates for the expression of
skepticism, which the formalism, the tyranny, bigotry, and externalism of
the Church awakened in the minds of the people of every enlightened
Christian nation; and the result has been a criticism so pungent, and an
examination so thorough and direct, into the deformities of the Church,
that she has been obliged to contemplate her own condition and the
rottenness of her position, until she fairly trembles at the view of her
On every hand now, at the present moment, efforts are being made to
consolidate to rejoin. On one side you behold the Protestant Episcopal
Church offering to unite with the Methodists, from whom, since my day,
they have stood aloof, as an illegal and fanatical people whom they could
On the other side, you see them stretching to the Roman Church, forming a
brotherly compact of forms and ceremonies with Papacy.
One branch of the Presbyterian Church wears the robes of the Roman
Church, and thus that is linked to Catholicism.
All these denominations which have stood apart so long, whose theology
has been so antagonistic, are now merging into one Church.
In the face of the great danger which Spiritualism or Liberalism has
brought to their sight, they endeavor to return to their first estate,
but in returning they lose their identity.
This result is sure, though unperceived by them.
One by one, they will give up this point of difference and that point of
difference, this creed and that creed, for the sake of harmony. This
vestment they lay aside, and that form, until they will all be swallowed
up, and neither Methodists nor Calvinists, Baptists nor Lutherans,
Armenians, Jews, nor Gentiles, will remain. Then the primitive Church of
Christ will be revived again upon earth, simple and unostentatious; its
creed will be the creed of Jesus Christ:
"The brotherhood of man, and the love of God for his children."
This creed, you perceive, embraces the whole of the spiritualistic faith,
which is causing these great changes throughout the Church of Christ on
* * * * *
At this point it will not be inappropriate to make some allusion to the
mysterious sounds which occurred in my house in Lincolnshire, England, at
intervals within the space of three or more years during my earthly
These mysterious sounds, even in that day, were supposed to have been
caused by spirit agency. I have ascertained that that supposition was
correct; and my attention has since been directed to the fact in Church
history, that every separation from the Church body which has originated
in a desire to return to the simplicity and purity of the primitive
followers of Jesus, has been attended by similar mysterious
Luther and Mclancthon, Knox and Calvin, and the earnest dissenters and
reformers of every age, have been haunted in like manner. I say haunted,
for they generally have misunderstood the aim of these spiritual
visitants.[A] It has devolved upon the scientific researches and the
skeptical but investigating mind of the nineteenth century to form a
process by which the spirit of the departed can communicate with the
dwellers in Time.
[Footnote A: The spirit of Rev. Dr. John M. Krebbs, of New York, states
through this clairvoyant that the cause of his mental aberration while on
earth was a misinterpretation by him of a spiritual vision which he was
permitted to receive. Thus misunderstanding the aim of his spiritual
visitants, he became haunted with a fallacy which ultimated in his death.
To me this science was unknown. Had I been acquainted with the facts with
which I am now familiar, I might have established a more liberal Church,
but as it was, this daily association with an unseen spiritual presence
enlarged my views of the condition attending the soul after death, and
caused me to give utterance to thoughts which happily have aided in
preparing the world for the Universal Church which ere long will lift its
towering dome toward Heaven.