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Such then is the nature and conftitution of the church, as it was originally established by its Supreme Head; from whom the Apostles, and their fucceffors the bishops, have derived their commiffion; a branch of that commiffion which JESUS CHRIST received from his FATHER; by virtue of which they challenge obedience from every member of the Christian church, as to the stewards or chief officers in that fpiritual fociety, over which they are authorised to prefide. And fuch must be the conclufion upon this fubject, unless we fuppofe, either that the Apostles understood not the nature of the commiffion with which they were entrusted, or that for the fake of aggrandizing their own characters, they wilfully mifrepresented it.
Of the Sin of SCHISM.
HE circumftance of the church being a fociety of CHRIST's forming, for the regular administration of the affairs of his kingdom, "for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the miniftry, for the edifying of the body of CHRIST," Eph. iv. 12, points out the nature and quality of the fin of SCHISM.
The word translated Schism,* which in modern language fcarce feems to have an appropriate idea annexed to it, is in the original derived from a verb,
*The word Schifm (according to the learned HAMMOND) comes from the paffive verb, oxiμa, which regularly fignifies being cut, or divided; but yet the fin of schism being an action upon himself, not a passion from any other, it was of the nature of those paffives which note reciprocal action, or paffion; which ST. JUDE fully expreffes by awodipiCortes eaures, the title which he gives the grand Gnoftick Schifmatics, that they cut off or divide themselves from the church. HAMMOND, therefore, understands the paffive verb, in this cafe, to be of the nature of the Hebrew Hithpael, which denotes reciprocal action; which he confiders to be very useful to fet down the true notion of fchifm, as it differs from all other things that border on it, particularly from excommunication, which is the cutting
which fignifies to cut, divide, or feparate; it must, therefore, relate to fome body capable of being divided or feparated. Upon reference to the first chapter of ST. PAUL's Epiftle to the Ephefians, we find that the church is called the body, of which CHRIST is the head. "The GOD of our LORD JESUS CHRIST," faith the Apostle, " hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body."
The church then, in the figurative language of Scripture, is the body of CHRIST. Upon further reference to the twelfth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, we find the fame Apoftle arguing, from the connection which fubfifts between the members of the natural body, to the neceffity of a fimilar connection fubfifting between the members of the fpiritual body. That no fchifm, no divifion or feparation, should take place in one body more than in the other. "For," faith the Apostle,* " as the natural body is one, and hath many members, and all
off others from the church; whereas ST. PAUL, fpeaking of the heretical Gnoftics, which were fchifmatics too, faith that they were avronaTangilo., fuch as condemned and excommunicated themselves; which is as perfect an evidence of the reciprocal action or paffion, as could be.-HAMMOND's Works, vol. ii. Answer to Schifm difarmed ; p. 69, 70.
* I Cor. xii. 12, 13.
the members of that one body, being many, are one body; fo alfo is CHRIST, (or the church of CHRIST, confidered as that body, of which individual Christians are the members.) For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body." And the intention of our being thus baptized into this one body, or church of CHRIST, is, as the Apostle* elsewhere informs us, that we fhould" all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man; unto the measure of the ftature of the fulness of CHRIST: That we fhould not, like children, be toffed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the fleight of men, and cunning craftinefs, whereby they lie in wait to de ceive: but fpeaking the truth in love, might grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even CHRIST; from whom the whole body," of the church, "fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love."
From whence it appears, that one great object in the establishment of the church upon earth was, that
* Ephef. iv. 13, 14, &c.