“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
“The unity of the Spirit” signifies that secret bond of divine union which knits together all the living members of Christ’s mystical body, not only to Him as their risen Head, but to each other also by virtue of the same indwelling Spirit.
It is, therefore, not a mere unity of opinion, of church membership, of outward profession, or any mere external bond; for all these may subsist in the highest degree, and yet there be no spiritual union.
The word translated “unity” means literally “oneness,” and therefore implies that oneness of faith, hope and love which pervades every member of the mystical body. It is, therefore, called “the oneness of the Spirit,” that is, that oneness of heart and soul, love and affection, of which the Holy Ghost is the sole and immediate Author.
This oneness of Spirit is, so to speak, kept together and maintained in its place by “the bond of peace,” which is wrapped round it. All strife and contention tend to break this oneness of Spirit; but when “the bond of peace” is twined round it, it is not only preserved from outward assaults, but like the blood within the artery, or like the marrow within the spine, is free to move and act.
As therefore this “oneness of spirit” can only be maintained in living exercise as surrounded by “the bond of peace,” the apostle bids us to endeavour “to keep” it within this bond.
It is in itself a thing so tender, and yet so essential to the comfort of the church, that we should never, so to speak, take that bond off which preserves it uninjured.
By “peace,” therefore, we may understand not only peace of conscience, peace with God through the atoning blood of the Lamb, but peace also with the brethren.
In other words, a quiet, peaceable, affectionate and loving spirit manifested to the people of God, and especially to those with whom we are brought into church fellowship, is indispensable to the lively maintenance of spiritual union. It is true that spiritual union, once felt, can never be utterly lost, but it may be sadly weakened.
Next then to our own soul’s peace and establishment in the truths of the gospel, next to our own union with Christ as sensibly realised and spiritually maintained, should we seek to keep up oneness of spirit with the saints of God; and so far as we aim at this by showing a quiet, peaceable and affectionate spirit, do we fulfil the apostolic injunction, and “endeavour,” for we cannot always or often succeed, “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
By J.C. Philpot