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name of schism is ‘legion ;' for it is possessed by many unclean spirits :-selfishness—alienation of heart — pride-jealousy-envy-wrath-strife -mutual recrimination-false accusation-censoriousness-clamour-the demon of anarchy-the lust of power—the spirit of excommunication, anathema, and condemnation. Schism is, in every case, a sin against the christian obligation to unity and love; though, as we have already seen, narrow and unscriptural views may be entertained, respecting the true basis of this unity, and the ways in which sin may be committed by its riolation. Wherever there is a breach of charity, tending to dissension, among the professed disci. ples of the Saviour, whether meeting for worship under the same roof, or belonging to the same denomination, or not,-there are the unchristian tempers, which are the baneful principle and element of all schism. That among the various forms of evil which a schismatical spirit may assume, one is a refusal to submit to christian order and discipline, and to faithful pastors,' as the chosen guides and organs of the churches, cannot be denied: for this conduct is clearly a breach of charity, as inculcated in the apostolical exhortation, to esteem' ministers very highly in love for their work's sake.' ? Into thiserror the Corinthians fell, in the time of Clement of Rome;' when they un1 Heb. xiii. 17. '1 Thess. v. 13. See
justly ejected some of their Presbyters from office. But the schisms mentioned in the epistle of St. Paul, are condemned, not as disobedience to constituted authority in the church, (much as this authority must have been disregarded,) but rather, as outrages against charity, decency, and unity in general.
It follows that SCHISM MAY EXIST WHERE THERE IS NO SEPARATION. This was the precise case of the Corinthians. United, as to doctrine and worship, under one and the same government and discipline; associated in communion; externally, so organized, and in the judgment of charity, so morally changed from what they once had been, as to be addressed by an apostle, as a 'church of God, they furnish the only example, in which the term 'Schism' is applied, by the writers of the New Testament, to disorders in a christian society. This circumstance not only shows that schism, in the apostolic sense, does not necessarily involve separation ; but that it had not, originally, a meaning essentially different from what is signified, in various shades and degrees, by 'variance,' 'emulations,' strife,' or 'contention,' 'seditions,' heresies,'' disputings,' or 'confusion,'' in a christian church. For, as the schisms of the Corinthians were not actual divisions of the
See page 214, note.
society and its communion, into separate congregations, they were evidently mischiefs of exactly the same kind, as are described in other
passages of scripture, by some of the above terms: so that schisms, and all the other uncharitable tempers which are signified by these terms, may be regarded as belonging to one and the same climax of evils.* It is probable, therefore, that schism would not have been the name for an ecclesiastical sin, more than ‘ variance,'' strife,' seditions,' (dissensions, or factions,) or the like,-had not the literal signification of external division, superseded the figurative and apostolical meaning, in proportion as the claim to high spiritual authority advanced; till unity became almost identified with passive obedience to ecclesiastical superiors, and schism with separation from their sphere of power, for almost any cause.
Without the withdrawment, however, or the ejection, just or unjust, of any part of the christian society, from the communion; there may, evidently, be disorders which, for the time being, are seriously destructive of unity :-as a disease which rages in some limb of the body, may keep the whole in a feverish and unhealthy state;
* « The word oxloua here, (1 Cor. xi. 18.) and in i. 10, denotes, not separation from the Church, but dissensions in it, and is synonymous with åupérers, just after, and tpis Kal diyootagiai, at iii. 3.' Bloomfield's Recensio, in loc.
WHERE THERE IS
compared with which, even amputation might be a good. Or schism may prove fatal to the vital piety of a whole church, while the 'name to live' still exists, in forms and ordinances: and, under the disastrous influence of selfish, factious, and party feeling, the spiritual body may resemble a mangled carcase, the hewn and lacerated parts of which, remain, indeed, in apposition with each other, but have no union, and are in a state of disorganization, and decomposition.
It is also evident, that THERE MAY BE MUCH OF
As all moral evils have their be. ginnings, as well as their maturity ; it is probable that the schisms at Corinth were some time before they reached the alarming height, which rendered them matter of public report, and apostolic rebuke. They would pass through intermediate stages, before they proceeded to that extent, which has made them the subject of history, and a blot on the memory of the Corinthian church, to all times. Hence, where there may be less of manifest variance, and of vulgar disorder, than there was at Corinth, the essence of schism may exist, in considerable force, and produce great present injury to a christian church, even if it be not the precursor of violent broils. There may, from a variety of causes, be such a want of cordiality, such a
feeling of distance, or even of repugnance, between the professed members of Christ, as to resemble an armed neutrality ; and the elements of discord may rankle within minds, though there be no open war. Where no adverse parties are formed, engaging in actual strife, there may still be separation of spirit, more or less, among those who are nominally one, and who ought to be really one, in Christ. There may be heart-burnings unallayedthe reserved demeanour-the averted look-the cold carriage—the avoidance of contact, either among those who do, or do not belong to the same society, or to the same denominational church. All this may exist, with no public rupture, or outward collision. The flame of brotherly love may have sunk, and dwindled on the altar; and in the absence of this purifying fire, the evil spirit of schism may be lurking secretly in the sanctuary, though its voice be not heard aloud. A community of professing Christians may be pervaded by such a spirit-mutual charity may be so dead—and there
be such a want of union-or even such an alienation, between those, whose hearts should be knit together in love,' * that a comparatively trivial occasion may suffice to produce a direct breach: as a building, in the walls of which, crevices have been formed by a settlement, might be ill-prepared for resisting
. Col. ii. 2.