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Of the Șin of SCHISM.
"HE circumstance 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 ministry, for the edifying of the body of CHRIST,” Eph. iv. 12, points out the nature and quality of the sin of Schism.
The word translated Schism,* which in modern language scarce seems to have an appropriate idea. annexed to it, is in the original derived from a verb,
* The word Schism (according to the learned HAMMOND) comes from the passive verb, ox"Sonal, which regularly signifies being cut, or divided; but yet the fin of schism being an action upon himfelf, not a paffion from any other, it was of the nature of those passives which note reciprocal action, or paffion; which St. Jude fully exprefes by αποδιοριζοντες εαυτος, the title which he gives the grand Gnostick Schismatics, that they cut off or divide themselves from the church, HAMMOND, therefore, understands the passive verb, in this case, to be of the nature of the Hebrew Hithpael, which denotes reciprocal action; which he considers to be very useful to set down the true notion of schism, as it differs from all other things that border on it, particularly from excommunication, which is the cutting
which signifies to cut, divide, or separate; it must, therefore, relate to some body capable of being divided or separated. Upon reference to the first chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, 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 Apostle arguing, from the connection which subsists between the mem. bers of the natural body, to the necessity of a similar connection fubfisting between the members of the spiritual body. That no schism, no division or separation, 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 the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is CHRIST, (or the church of Christ, considered as that body, of which individual Christians are the members.). For by one fpirit 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 stature of the fulness of Christ: That we should not, like children, bė tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the Neight of cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to de ceive: but speaking 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."
off others from the church; whereas St. Paul, speaking of the heretical Gnostics, which were schismatics too, saith that they were QUtonatangibos, such as condemned and excommunicated themselves ; which is as perfect an evidence of the reciprocal action or passion, as could be.- HAMMOND's Works, vol. ï. Answer to Schism disarmed; p. 69, 70.
1 Cor. xü. 12, 13.
From whence it appears, that one great object in the establishment of the church upon earth was, that
* Ephef. iv. 13, 14, &c.
it might become one great comprehensive society continually increasing in numbers and in strength; a firm, compact, indissoluble body, so fitly joined together, and connected by the harmony of its
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 exxahev, to call out, from whence Ecclefia is derived, signifies) united to God and themselves 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; occafioned by a want of obedience to the government which 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 same mind, and in the same worship; “ continuing,” according to the primitive pattern, “ in the Apostles , doétrine 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 profesling 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 society esta