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check its career, even after they had been clearly pointed out, and laid bare to observation :-and thus the long experience which the Christian church has had, of the operation of the causes, which, more than any others, have opposed the triumph of Christianity, has not yet proved a sufficient warning against these sources of mischief. For want of a more fervent and pervading charity, the church has passed through the greater part of two millenniums of comparative languor, feebleness, and slumber, ere she has roused herself, even to prepare for looking forward to the millennium of her glory—the millennium which is to be a reign of love.
The self-will of pride, and error in judgment, have been the chief general causes of schism. The former is clearly evil, and often gires its own complexion to the latter :—for how frequently does opinion follow inclination ! how rarely, in things moral, is judgment allowed to operate free from bias! A fallible mortal, possessing influence in the church of Christ, has become enamoured of an idea ; and has sometimes scarcely been aware that this idea has assumed no small portion of its importance, in his view, simply because it is his own.
This idea must be carried out-other Christians must receive it:-but others are not able to see so much in it that is desirable
nay, they think the idea wrong. This idea may reveal
itself in the idolatry of some favourite, or in partyattachment, as at Corinth; or it may be the idea of some rite or ceremony which all must adopt, with the Judaizing teacher, or with Victor of Rome; or it may be the idea of general uniforinity. Selfish motives, in a gross and palpable form, such as ambition, jealousy, or sordid selfinterest, may ingraft themselves on the errors of the judgment; or may be more gross and palpable still, by displaying themselves as the original cause and spring of the evil.
Thus, ample and lasting sources of schism, have been found, in false and mistaken and narrowminded zeal—in the conceitedness of self-importance—the love of power — and the introduction of worldly principles into the church. Hence the confusion of non-essential with essential truths and errors-the adoption of party names—the magnifying of party distinctions, while grand common principles seem comparatively forgotten :consequently, a party literature; violent party controversies ; a party-training and education of the young; and an adherence to party, so tenacious, as greatly to detach the mind from the sense of union with the universal church :-nor have pecuniary considerations failed to be connected with the rivalries, and jealousies of religious party.-But it will be necessary to descend more particu
larly to the occasions of schism, and to its various illustrations.
As family quarrels are to be distinguished from factions in the state; so schism may exist, either among individuals composing one fraternity of Christians; or more generally in the church at large, and between its different compartments. In other words, schism may be viewed, both in its more private, and its more public relations.
OCCASIONS AND ILLUSTRATIONS OF MORE PRIVATE
LET us first view the schismatic at home, or in his more private capacity, as the member of a particular christian society. One uncharitable spirit may diffuse coldness, suspicion, and distrust, among many brethren, who are united in the closest spiritual relations. One' troubler in Israel,' may cast the brand of strife into the sanctuary, and set the whole in a blaze. One bitter, factious spirit, under the name of Christian '-received into a religious body, may prove the destroyer of its prosperity-as a viper stings to death the
bosom that cherished it.-Such mischief may be the ultimate issue of a selfishness, which prefers the gratification of its own self-will, and its own evil dispositions, to the welfare of the christian church.
Schism may take place in a body of Christians, in the form of A LEVELLING DEMOCRATICAL SPIRIT. Whatever be the constitution of a christian church, insubordination to lawful authority, lawfully exercised, cannot fail to be destructive of peace. The freedom of the church does not consist in a perfect equality of position, or a sameness of office and function, among all who com
In every well-regulated society, there must be certain distinctions: some must be superior-some subordinate. " Order is heaven's first law;' and on earth, the church is, of all places, that in which disorder is most unseemly. He, therefore, who is wilfully negligent of the proprieties of the relations he sustains, as the member of a christian society, may readily incur the guilt of schism. He is a schismatic, who, in the church to which he belongs, refuses duly to obey them that have the rule,' and 'who watch for souls, as they, that give account.'* On the plea of the equality of all in the sight of God, some would perhaps reduce the minister merely to the rank of a 'speaking brother,' with no more authority of * Heb. xii. 17.
function, than a private Christian-or a chairman of a public meeting. Or a zeal 'not according to knowledge,' mingled with vanity and selfimportance, may, in some communities, lead a man to hold private assemblies, without consulting his pastor; which may, through indiscretion, prove the germ of parties injurious to the unity and tranquillity of the body.
The spirit of insubordination may discover its schismatical tendency, by OPPOSITION TO CHURCHDISCIPLINE. Nothing is more clear and definite in the word of God, than the delineation of character which is there given, of those who are his children, and who ought to form the communion of the church. That much discretion is often required, as to the mode in which discipline is to be carried into effect, will be admitted ; but painful as is this part of the administration of Christianity, it is the stronghold of the church, against the irruptions of the world. Awful as is the sentence of exclusion, it is, unquestionably, the duty of every
christian society, to have the means within itself, of separating between the precious and the vile.' He who, by his irreligious conduct and temper, discovers that he is not of the fold,' but that he has "crept in unawares;' or who may have rendered it necessary for the church to exonerate itself from participation in his offences, must, by the christian law, be put away.'