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it might become one great comprehensive society continually increasing in numbers and in strength; a firm, compact, indiffoluble body, so fitly joined together, and connected by the harmony of its component parts, as thereby to be best calculated to produce glory to God, and love among men.

“ The church (says Bishop Grove, in his discourse on Church Communion) is a body of men, separated from the rest of the world, or called out of the world, (as the word gxcałev, to call out, from whence Ecclefia is derived, signifies) united to God and them.. felves by a divine covenant.

The church is united to God, for it is a religious society instituted for the worship of God; and they are united among

them. selves, and to each other, because it is but one body, which requires an union of all its parts. This union with God, and to each other, which constitutes a church, is made by divine covenant. For the Christian church is nothing else but such a society of men, as is in covenant with God through CHRIST.” Now as no covenant can originally be made for Gov, but by God himself; it hence follows, that God only can make or constitute a church.

From this description of the church, as the body of CHRIST, the term schism, in its application to it,

denotes a division among the members of which that body is composed; occasioned by a want of obedience to the government wbich CHRIST, by his Apostles, fettled in the church; and a consequent separation from its communion, in contradiction to the divine plan of its establishment; the design of which was, that all Christians should be joined together in the fame mind, and in the same worship; “ continuing,” according to the primitive pattern, “ in the Apostles, doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts ii. 42.

Such is the nature and quality of schism; which fin consists in its being a direct violation of the order and government established in the church, thereby constituting a species of rebellion against its Divine Founder.

Indeed as the word church, through the modern confusion of language, is understood to be applicable to all societies of professing Christians, by what authority and under what teachers foever they may be assembled, there can be no such fin as that of schism in the world. For the fin of schism pre-supposes the establishment of a certain society by Divine authority, with which all Christians are obliged to communicate. Now if the church, instead of being a fociety eftablished under a particular government, for the purpose of Christians living in communion with it, is any thing, and every thing that men please to make it, a separation from it becomes impracticable; because a society must have acquired some regular and collected form, before a separation from it can take place. But upon the supposition that every society of professing Christians is the church of Christ; the church, in that case, consists of as many separate societies under differrent forms, as there are fanciful men to make them; and, consequently, is no longer in that collected state, in which it is possible to live in communion with it. For before the members of the church can live in 'communion with each other, the church, as a society, must be at unity in itself.

To determine upon the legality or illegality of a practice, from man's opinion concerning it, is to set up a standard of judgment which is perpetually varying, and on that account ever liable to deceive. Christians, in religious matters at least, have a more sure word than that of man to depend upon; if they are wise, therefore, they will not suffer themselves to be governed by a lesser authority, when they have a greater at hand always to direct them. Custom has, indeed, fo far reconciled us to the divisions that have taken place among Christians, that they are no longer seen in the light in which they were seen in the primitive days of the church; whilst charity, forbidding us to speak harshly of the spiritual condition of our brethren, has in a manner tended to efface the sin of schism from our minds. But though we presume to judge no man, leaving all judgment to that Being who is alone qualified to make allowance for the ignorance, invincible prejudice, imperfect reasonings, and miftaken judgments of his frail creatures; yet must it not from hence be concluded, that it is a matter of indifference, whether Christians communicate with the church or not; or that there is a doubt upon the subject of schism, whether it be a sin or not.

" There is one plain rule to direct all men in this enquiry; that wherever there is a church established by public authority, if there be nothing sinful in its constitution and worship, we are bound to communicate with that church, and to reject the communion of all other parties and sects of Christians. For the advantage always lies on the side of authority. No publick establishment can justify sinful communion; but if there be nothing sinful in the communion of the national church, which is established by publick authority, to separate from such a church, is both diso

very great mistake.

bedience to the supreme authority in the state, and a schism from the church.” “ Now (proceeds the Bishop, in another part of his discourse) if schism be an innocent thing, and the true Catholic spirit, (as from the present too prevailing practice among Christians we might be induced to think it was) I have no more to say, but that the whole Christian church, ever since the Apostles' times, has been in a

But if schism be a very great fin, and that which will, according to the judgment of the primitive church, damn us as soon as adultery and murder, then it must be a dangerous thing to communicate with schismatics."*

Indeed, with respect to the reality and heinous quality of this sin of schism, it fcarcely seems possible for Christians, who enter fufficiently deep into the subject, to entertain two opinions.

Looking into the writings of St. Paul, I see schism. spoken of as a carnal fin; and that this sin consists. in a separation from the communion, and a setting up of teachers independent of the government, and destructive of the unity of the Christian church. A fin, which, besides its being the parent of confusion

* Discourse of Church Communion, by Bishop Grove. See London Cafes, No. I.

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