A friend recently asked me for some thoughts on evangelical unity. A big subject! Jonathan Edwards, as usual, is a good place to start. He was distressed by the fallings out among believers over the revivials of his day in America. His answer to fallings out - meekness and repentance. Here are a few (admitedly selective) comments from Edwards on how to remove stumbling blocks to the work to the work of God:
...there must be a great deal done at confessing of faults on both sides...There is hardly any more duty more contrary to our corrupt dispositions, and mortifying to the pride of man; but it must be done. Repentance of faults is, in a peculiar manner, a proper duty when the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, or when we especially expect or desire that it should come.
Our business at such a time should be at home, searching and condemning ourselves, and taking heed of our own behaviour. If there be glorious prosperity to the church of God approaching, those that are the most meek will have the largest share in it.
Those therefore that have been zealous for this work, and have erred greatly and been injurious with their zeal, ought not to be treated with bitterness. There is abundant reason to think that most of them are dear children of God for whom Christ died; and therefore that they will see their error...Their errors should not be used to excite indignation against them, but should influence all who hope we are children of God, to humble ourselves, and become more entirely dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ, when we see those who are God's own people so ready to go astray.
And those ministers who have been judged, and injuriously dealt with, will do the part of Christ's disciples, not to judge and revile again [ie in return], but to receive such injuries with meekness and forebearance, and making a good improvement of them, more strictly examining their own hearts and ways, and committing themselves to God.
Contrary to this mutual meekness, is each party's stigmatizing each other with odious names, as is done in many parts of New England; which tends to greatly perpetuate the breach. Such distinguishing names of reproach do as it were divide us into two armies, seperated and drawn up in battle-array; which greatly hinders the work of God.