It is high time for every Christian to consider well his relation to the church, and the duties which it involves. No covenant is more sacred or binding, than that which unites a member to this body.
The matrimonial covenant has upon it the seal of God; to prove faithless to it, is a sin of deep die. But this is, in some respects, even more solemn and sacred. It is a union to Christ, publicly solemnized; a union of imperishable minds in interests of infinite moment. The matrimonial relation is dissolved at death; this endures forever.
In this age of numerous and imposing associations, making strong and bold claims upon us, we need to be doubly guarded lest any of them be suffered to divide our affections with the church. Better, a thousand times, that all other associations should be scattered to the winds, than that they should be allowed to divide churches and alienate its members, secularize and profane religion, and scatter the seeds of iniquity in the very garden of the Lord.
–John Angell James, in The Church Member’s Guide (1838), pp. xv-xvi.