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sistently better than their principles. But certain it is, that, in some christian communities, nothing has proved a more fruitful ‘ root of bitterness'-a more energetic element of discord, than the spirit of a Calvinism, from which Calvin himself would have indignantly recoiled.
Many congregations have also suffered, more or less, from the schisms which have taken place through a WANT OF MUTUAL CONCESSION, IN REFERENCE TO THE APPOINTMENT OF MINISTERS. The evil in question has not been confined to any one denomination, or mode of government. Parish churches, and dissenting chapels, have been known, on these occasions, to be equally converted into scenes of strife and clamour, which few debating societies would tolerate; and which are more appropriate to the hustings of a contested election-the turbulent arena of party feeling, than to the christian church. A few schismatical spirits, each determined to have his own will, reckless of the general good-saying, with the Corinthians, “I am of Paul'—' I am of Apollos '—may sow seeds of dissension, which may speedily grow up and overrun the garden of the Lord, where charity and harmony have flourished for generations. Contests have attended the filling of a vacant pulpit, which have produced distraction, division, and separation, without end. It would be unfair, however, to charge such disorders
on the elective system, existing as it does, partially, in the Establishment; and very extensively among Dissenters. These disorders often result from the abuse of a practice, the principle of which is clearly recognised by apostolic precedent;* and which seems perfectly accordant with the sober, dignified, and reflective character, which appropriately belongs to the christian assembly, as distinguished from the promiscuous masses, of which political electors are often composed.
But while the privileges of the christian fraternity may be perverted, like political freedom, to anarchy and confusion-it should not be forgotten that MINISTERIAL FAULTS AND DELINQUENCIES, may also be sources of schism. Imprudence in word or deed—the want of a nice tact, as to all the proprieties of his office and station-over-sensitiveness and warmth of tempera proud, self-sufficient, dictatorial spirit, determined to carry every point -fondness for meddling with politics, where duty does not call-worldly-mindedness—the love of money-indolence-and immorality are the more to be bewailed, and are the more criminal, in a minister, because found in one who is especially charged to be an “ensample to the flock. If, in any way, he fail of being so, he lays himself open to severe animadversion. But while some condemn
• See Acts vi. 3—5. Also Mosheim, Neander, and Waddington, pp. 158. 164. 165. 167, above.
him, others may attempt to screen or vindicate him. Thus parties may be formed; and strong personal feelings excited, leading to angry discussions : and he who ought to have been the peace-maker, and chief ornament of the society, may become the cause of its contentions, and the author of its disgrace.
Strange as it may seem, the case is by no means unknown, that a divided and party state of feeling has sometimes arisen in a congregation, in consequence of different doctrines being taught in the same pulpit by different ministers. One has .contended earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints;' while the other, has failed to preach what he has solemnly declared, before God, that he believes !—nay, he has perhaps treated some of the essential doctrines of the gospel, to which he has subscribed his ' assent and consent,'—as "fanaticism;' and those who faithfully preach them as ' fanatics. In any variance, or separation, which may take place, on this account, in the churchit is easy to perceive where must lie the weight of the responsibility.
Unfaithfulness to the truth, moreover, has not unfrequently exhibited itself, in what may be termed a kind of schism between the desk and the pulpit. The doctrines read in the one, have been either tacitly or openly set aside, by those which have been advanced in the other; and the devout and
reverend spirit of ancient piety which breathes forth from the liturgy, has been lamentably neutralised in the sermon, by a‘vain and delusive philosophy,* after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.' Not only when Paul has served a text,
a text,' has 'Epictetus, Plato, or Tully preached':-the pagan morality of the christian teacher, has even been blended with elaborate argumentation against some of the leading truths which distinguish Christianity from mere natural religion; and with avowed hostility to those who are zealous in enforcing them.
But were we to attempt an enumeration of the various forms which the schismatical spirit may assume, and the causes which may originate or perpetuate schism, within a particular society, the task would be endless : since this evil spirit may trouble the house of God, in every part, and throughout the whole range of its services, and its functionaries, from the altar to the choir, and from the pulpit to the pew. In the latter, may be sometimes found the DISSATISFIED HEARER; who complains that the minister does not preach to his
experience;' when perhaps his experience may be more in fault than the minister ; or he fancies himself, in some way, neglected or slighted;—and instead of following the law of Christ respecting
Διά της φιλοσοφίας και κενής απάτης. Col. ii. 8.
the private explanation of offences, real or imaginary—he prefers at once to excite prejudice and disaffection against a blameless pastor. Such a man; or one of A RESTLESS, UNSETTLED SPIRIT ; or of A MEDDLESOME TEMPER, which is ever sowing discord among brethren; or a man who is unWILLING TO HEAR FAITHFUL PREACHING ;-confers a benefit on a christian society by separating himself from it.
In a word—the schismatical spirit may arise from the indulgence of any of those unchristian dispositions, which tend to impair brotherly affection:—from pride and selfishness—from error in doctrine, or corruption of practice—from everything, in short, which is contrary to the mind of Christ.' No christian society is impregnable to its assaults—no individual Christian should fail to watch and pray, lest he come under its power.
OCCASIONS AND ILLUSTRATIONS OF MORE PUBLIC
Schism may not only destroy the fruits of charity in a particular society of Christians, but may also grievously desolate the church at large. The schismatic may be found abroad, as well as at home.