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If, among those who are equally faithful and sincere, some are able to trace the obscurer forms of truth more minutely than others;-either from possessing a mind more acute or laborious, or from having greater opportunity of examination, or being more free from the cleaving infirmity of prejudice :-yet are there not certain great truths plain to all ?-truths so vast and impressive, that, like the nearer mountains in the Alpine landscape, they obtrude themselves on every eye, and cannot but fill the greater part of the sphere of vision ? Though, to the landsman, the horizon is a blank, when the sailor can perceive a distant sail-yet do not all recognise the omnipresence of the ocean and the sky? And cannot he who discerns not, with his unaided vision, the asteroids, or the satellites of the planet Jupiter,— feel an elevation of soul, when he beholds the glories of the starry firmament, and the astronomy of the universe ? Surely the grand objects of our common faith are so broadly defined, and so momentous, that they may well be allowed to absorb the greater share of attention, in every christian mind ! Yet how often do they appear to be lost sight of, and forgotten, in the mere external distinctions, and the uncharitable jealousies of party!
This is especially likely to be the case with those, who cannot see any redeeming circumstances in the existence of denominations among
Christians; and whose desires would appear to fix more immediately on bringing the church at once to external uniformity– than on promoting real unity of heart, by making some sacrifices of private feeling, and party prejudice, at the shrine of charity. That there are such redeeming circumstances, however, must be evident to all minds which are not labouring under the illusion—that uniformity is essential to unity.
It is an apostolic injunction, that all things are to be done decently and in order.' If, therefore, Christians must differ, as to modes of worship and government; and if they have no right from Christ to decide these points for each other ;-it becomes necessary that those who concur in believing certain practices to be most agreeable to the will of God, should be at liberty to adopt them, without imposing them on their fellowChristians : for, since different rites and forms cannot co-exist, it is thus, alone, that order, and edification, and christian freedom, can be maintained.
If it be an evil that the churches of Christ are no longer distinguished by merely local names, as in the apostolic age; and that instead of such phraseology as the churches of Galatia,' the churches of Judea,' the churches of Macedonia, -appellations are now used which mark differences of opinion—and that this is an evil, we admit :) yet it is a far less evil, than the actual
existence of the very same differences, together with the compromise of conscience, or the perpetual conflict of ill-assorted sentiments, each striring for ascendency in the christian assembly. That such a state of things would be entirely fatal to edification and to unity, is too evident to require illustration. On the contrary, we know, happily, from fact, that there may be the most cordial harmony—the most fraternal charity- the most genuine unity, between Christians of different denominations.
Before one body of Christians can be justly charged with being schismatical in relation to another, it must be shown that they have been guilty of a breach of charity, which, it should never be forgotten, is schism. But a breach of charity cannot consist in Christians peaceably declining to adopt the opinions of men fallible as themselves, against their solemn convictions--the result of devout examination of the word of God, and of any evidence of its meaning that is within their reach.
That mere denominational varieties, however undesirable in some respects, cannot with propriety be called schisms, we may safely conclude, not only from the scripture-account of the schisms at Corinth—but also from the nature of the unity of the church, in the first age- from the diversities of observance, which, in concession to human
infirmity, were permitted by apostolic authority, as not inconsistent with the bond of universal love, and which may be regarded as exemplifsing the first tendency to separate worship-from the tenderness which was always manifested by the apostles, towards conscientious scruples and minor differences, even though they might arise from weakness of faith ; more anxiety being ever shown by these inspired servants of Jesus, that different opinions on external points, might be held with mutual charity, than that uniformity should reign :-finally, from the fact, that, in the New Testament, the spirit in which the discipline, government, and worship of the church, are to be conducted, is strongly and repeatedly insisted on, while the mere letter-the formal details-are but incidentally, and slightly brought forward.
CAUSES AND ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCHISM.
THE GENERAL SOURCES of schism lie as deep in the heart of man, as his corruption : and since even the best Christians are but imperfectly renewed, none are exempt from the danger of being brought under the influence of these causes. Man, as a frail and fallen creature, may be said to reverse the fable of Midas, whose touch turned everything into gold:-man changes the noblest objects with which he comes in contact, even the pure gold of truth itself, more or less, into dross. Self, and error, are continually obtruding themselves, even into his "holy things;' and when they prevail, he needs no other guides to lead him into all uncharitableness.
Bacon perceived that the causes which had, up to his time, obstructed the progress of the sciences, were so interwoven with the infirmity of the human intellect, that they would be ever tending to