David Welsh on Reformed Christians embracing popery’s exclusive spirit

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
From this [popish] bondage we were delivered at the Reformation; but though the Fathers of Protestantism escaped the worst errors of the Church of Rome, they were tempted into an imitation of the exclusive spirit of Popery. Luther himself, when he refused to give the right hand of Christian fellowship to the Fathers of the Swiss Church, upon a point which he had not at first regarded as essential, laid the foundaton of the division between the Lutheran and the Reformed Churches.

The example has been followed in breaking down Churches into minor subdivisions throughout Europe and in the New World; and a want of zeal for external as well as internal unity has hitherto been the weakness and the reproach of Protestantism. It has exhibited itself both in the active and passive forms above referred to; the former being chiefly manifest in powerful communities (especially, though not exclusively, in connection with the State), in laying down conditions of communion upon topics which they own to be indifferent, but which are viewed as sinful by others who are thus thrust forth in segregation.

While the passive form has naturally been resorted to by smaller and less influential sects, in erecting, as they have sometimes silently done, partitions of proud or sullen seclusion. And in this way the Reformed Churches, not only in different countries, but even in the same land, present themselves to the eye, rather as separate and independent kingdoms, than as constituting merely different cantons and dependencies of one confederate commonwealth, the united members of one compact body politic.

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