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THE Circumstance of the Church being a society of Christ's forming, for the regular administration of the affairs of his kingdom, "for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,"* points out the nature and quality of the sin of Schism.

The word translated Schism,† which in modern language scarce seems to have an appropriate idea annexed to it, is in the original derived from a verb, Eph. iv. 12.

The word Schism (according to the learned Hammond) comes from the passive verb oxious, which regularly signifies being cut, or divided; but yet the sin of schism being an action upon himself, not a passion from any other, it was of the nature of those passives which note reciprocal action, or passion; which St. Jude fully expresses by audioportes taures, the title which he gives the grand Gnostick Schismatics, that they cut off or divide themselves from the church. Hammond, therefore, understands the passive verb, in this case, to be of the nature of the Hebrew Hithpael, which denotes reciprocal action; which be considers to be very useful to set down the true notion of schism, as it differs from all other things that border on it, particularly from excommunication, which is the cutting off others from the church; whereas St. Paul, speaking of the heretical Gnostics, which were schismatics too, saith that they were

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which signifies to cut, divide, or separate; it must, therefore, relate to some body capable of being divided or separated. Upon reference to the first chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, we find that the Church is called the body, of which Christ is the head. "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ," saith the Apostle, "hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is his body."

The Church then, in the figurative language of Scripture, is the body of Christ. Upon further reference to the twelfth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, we find the same Apostle arguing, from the connection which subsists between the members of the natural body, to the necessity of a similar connection subsisting between the members of the spiritual body. That no schism, no division or separation, should take place in one body more than in the other. "For," saith the Apostle," "as the (natural) body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ, (or the Church of Christ, considered as that body, of which individual Christians are the members.) For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body.” And the intention of our being thus baptized into this one body, or Church of Christ, is, as the Apostlet elsewhere informs us, that we should "all come in auтoxaтxxgio. such as condemned and excommunicated themselves; which is as perfect an evidence of the reciprocal action or passion, as could be.-Hammond's Works, vol. ii. Answer to Schism disarmed; p. 69, 70.

* 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13.

+ Ephes. iv. 13, 14, et seq.

the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man; unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we should not, like children, be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive: but speaking the truth in love, might grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ; from whom the whole body," of the Church, "fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love."

From whence it appears, that one great object in the establishment of the Church upon earth was, that it might become one great comprehensive society, continually increasing in numbers and in strength; a firm, compact, indissoluble body, so fitly joined together, and connected by the harmony of its component parts, as thereby to be best calculated to produce glory to God, and love among men.

"The Church (says Bishop Grove, in his discourse on Church Communion) is a body of men, separated from the rest of the world, or called out of the world, (as the word exxaλew, to call out, from whence Ecclesia is derived, signifies) united to God and themselves by a divine covenant. The Church is united to God, for it is a religious society instituted for the worship of God; and they are united among themselves, and to each other, because it is body, which requires an union of all its parts. This union with God, and to each other,

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which constitutes a Church, is made by divine covenant. For the Christian Church is nothing else but such a society of men, as is in covenant with God through Christ." Now as no covenant can originally be made for God, but by God himself'; it hence follows, that God only can make or constitute a Church.

From this description of the Church, as the body of Christ, the term schism, in its application to it, denotes a division among the members of which that body is composed; occasioned by a want of obedience to the government which Christ, by his Apostles, settled in the Church; and a consequent separation from its communion, in contradiction to the divine plan of its establishment; the design of which was, that all Christians should be joined together in the same mind, and in the same worship; continuing, according to the primitive pattern, "in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."*

Such is the nature and quality of schism; which sin consists in its being a direct violation of the order and government established in the Church, thereby constituting a species of rebellion against its Divine Founder.

Indeed as the word Church, through the modern confusion of language, is understood to be applicable to all societies of professing Christians, by what authority and under what teachers soever they may be assembled, there can be no such sin as that of schism in the world. For the sin of schism pre-supposes the establishment of a certain society

*Acts ii. 42.

by Divine authority, with which all Christians are obliged to communicate. Now if the Church, instead of being a society established under a particular government, for the purpose of Christians living in communion with it, is any thing, and every thing that men please to make it, a separation from it becomes impracticable; because a society must have acquired some regular and collected form, before a separation from it can take place. But upon the supposition that every society of professing Christians is the Church of Christ; the Church, in that case, consists of as many separate societies under different forms, as there are fanciful men to make them; and, consequently, is no longer in that collected state, in which it is possible to live in communion with it. For before the members of the Church can live in communion with each other, the Church, as a society, must be at unity in itself. To determine upon the legality or illegality of a practice, from man's opinion concerning it, is to set up a standard of judgment which is perpetually varying, and on that account ever liable to deceive. Christians, in religious matters at least, have a more sure word than that of man to depend upon; they are wise, therefore, they will not suffer themselves to be governed by a lesser authority, when they have a greater at hand always to direct them. Custom has, indeed, so far reconciled us to the divisions that have taken place among Christians, that they are no longer seen in the light in which they were seen in the primitive days of the Church; whilst charity, forbidding us to speak harshly of the spiritual condition of our brethren, has in a manner


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