On Church Communion - Part Iii. Poem by John Byrom

On Church Communion - Part Iii.

A Local union, on the other hand,
Though crowded numbers should together stand,
Joining in one same Form of pray'r and praise,
Or Creed express'd in regulated phrase;
Or ought beside - though it assume the name
Of Christian-Church, may want to real claim.

For if it want the spirit and the sign,
That constitute all worship as divine,
The love within, the test of it without,
In vain the union passes for devout:
Heartless, and takenless if it remain,
It ought to pass, in strictness, for profane.

At first, an unity of heart and soul,
A distribution of an outward dole,
And ev'ry member of the body fed,
As equally belonging to the head,
With what it wanted, was, without suspense,
True Church-Communion in the Christian sense.

Whether averse the many, or the few,
To hold communion in this right'ous view,
Their thought commences heresy, their deed
Schismatical, though they profess the Creed;
Ways of distributing, if new, should still
Maintain the old communicative will.

Broken by ev'ry loveless, thankless thought,
And not behaving as a Christian ought;
By want of meekness, or a show of pride,
Tow'rds any soul for whom our Saviour died;
While this continues, men may pray and preach,
In all their forms, but none will heal the breach.

Whatever helps an outward form may bring,
To Church-communion, it is not the thing;
Nor a Society, as such, nor place,
Nor any thing besides uniting grace:
They are but accessaries at the most,
To true communion of the Holy Ghost.

This is th' essential fellowship, the tie,
Which all true Christians are united by:
No other union does them any good,
But that which Christ cemented with his blood,
As God and Man; that having lost it, men
Might live in unity with God again.

What he came down to bring us from above,
Was grace, and peace, and law-fulfilling love;
True spirit-worship which his Father sought,
Was the sole end of what he did and taught:
That God's own Church and Kingdom might begin,
Which Moses and the Prophets usher'd in.

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