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Just discipline, when scripturally and prudently enforced, cannot be resisted, even by relatives and friends, without resistance to the authority of Christ himself. In such cases, the purity and unity of the church must be maintained, as paramount to all human ties. Opposition, here, has sometimes been the cause of much variance and strife; while it has been forgotten, that as human justice recognises no partiality, so the laws of the spiritual kingdom 'know no man after the flesh.' Even an apostle has withstood an apostle, when 'he was to be blamed.'*
A schismatical state of feeling may exist, through the WANT OF CHARITY BETWEEN DIFFERENT CLASSES OF SOCIETY IN A CHRISTIAN CHURCH. The poor may act unbecomingly towards the rich, by not paying due ' honor' to those whom God has been pleased to place in a superior condition. Servants may despise their masters, because they are brethren.' The rich, on the other hand, may not condescend to men of low estate;' and may maintain too much distance and reserve, perhaps apparent haughtiness, towards their poorer fellow-members of the mystical body of Christ; not sufficiently remembering that Christ was poor; that these earthly distinctions must soon for ever cease; and that while the brother of low degree' is ' exalted,' as a Christian, to an equality of
• Gal. ii. 11.
privileges with the rich-the rich is exhorted to ‘ rejoice in that he is made low.'-Can it be doubted that he, who, by demanding a respect to be paid, in the church, to his wealth or rank, which is not due to his piety, or his usefulness, wounds the feelings of bis brethren-is acting schismatically?
Such a spirit may easily assume the form of a LOVE OF DOMINATION, another occasion of schism. He who, on any account, desires to exercise an undue influence over the will of his brethren, and thus to render them subservient to his wishes; or to silence those, who, by the usages of the particular society, may have an equal right with himself to express an opinion, is almost sure to create dissension. How many christian societies have been thrown into confusion by such men; who, like Diotrephes, ' love in all things to have the pre-eminence;' seeking to rule alike over the shepherd and the flock! Is not this the character of a schismatic?
Schism may also manifest itself, in PERSONAL OR FAMILY QUARRELS. Disputes in the church, have sometimes originated in some misunderstanding between two individuals; and, instead of a private adjustment being attempted, • between themselves alone,' agreeably to the law of Christ, * others have, at once, been made parties to the
* Matt. xviii. 15.
quarrel ; and the seeds of strife have been quickly multiplied. Or a jealousy of influence, may exist between families, each of which may desire to exercise too much control over the affairs of the christian assembly. Thus is produced a schism of rivalry, which has not unfrequently embroiled the church, and proved a source of lasting evil.
A LITIGIOUS SPIRIT among some of the members of a christian society, has also caused grievous disorders— brother going to law with brother, and not before the saints,' in cases of disputed right—when, perhaps, the affair was of such a nature, that it might have been amicably settled by arbitration of the brethren; or by other known Christians. Though the apostle Paul's remarks to the Corinthians, on lawsuits, had immediate reference to their situation among heathens, it is evident that the distinction which ought, as far as possible, to be maintained between the church and the world, renders his counsels still applicable, in spirit, to the whole church of Christ. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Is it so that there is not a wise man among you ? no, not one who shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers ?
• 1 Cor. vi.
Again : BACKBITING AND SCANDAL, have proved fertile causes of schism. What evil has been produced among Christians, by this base love of idle-talking on the faults of others; and the proneness to be a 'busybody in other men's matters!' This is the weakness of an empty mind; and the vice of a mean spirit. Such a disposition is totally unworthy the christian character. By not being slow to speak' what may have been thought respecting the character of others, reports have been originated and circulated, which have been as injurious as unjust. Small faults have been magnified. A talking, tale-bearing disposition, has been indulged, beneath the guise of affected surprise-regret-concern for religion-or even regard for the very character made free with perhaps under the mask of pretended disbelief of discreditable rumours-false, or exaggerated; and which might have died away in oblivion, had they not been thus industriously propagated. What lasting mischiefs have, in this way, been caused to christian societies ! He who creates variance and broils, by a shameful propensity to disparage and degrade his brother's character, is a genuine schismatic. His tongue is as a firebrand, and he may become the incendiary of a whole community. * Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth ! The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity ; it defil
eth the whole body; and setteth on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire of hell.
It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.'
There are schisms arising out of FALSE DOCTRINE, especially from Antinomianism. Few things have been more injurious to religion, than distorted views of the ' doctrines of grace.' Other errors carry with them their own condemnation, by wearing the more unequivocal aspect of heresy: but speculative Antinomianism claims a more plausible relation to doctrinal truth. Its spirit, however, is pre-eminently uncharitable — cavilling - acrimonious-presumptuous; and he who partakes of it, cannot fail of being schismatical. To a mind thus affected, all argument is 'carnal reasoning,' and all search for truth, 'fleshly wisdom. If the pastor speak of duty, he is charged with 'putting works in the place of Christ :' nor does he preach the gospel, unless he is always discoursing on the privileges of the people of God; to whom the high-flying schismatic is scarcely willing to allow that any belong, who do not soar so high in doctrine as himself. All others are said to be legalists'-'Pharisees'-' in the dark'- blind as a bat.' We do not assert that ultra-Calvinists are always lax in practice—the contrary is undoubted :--for it is the redeeming mystery of some men's minds, that they are incon* James iii. 5.