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our personal defects and failings do not set our flocks at liberty to treat with neglect or contempt the office which we bear". And as in deserting your regular minister you would be guilty of disobedience to Christ, whose authority he bears, so also would you be guilty of the sin of SCHISM.
The nature of the sin of Schism is, I fear, in these days of laxity of principle, but
* The 26th Article of our Charch says, “ Al“ though in the visible Church the evil be ever “ mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil “ have chief authority in the ministration of the “ word and sacraments; yet forasmuch as they do " not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, “and do minister by his commission and authority, " we may use their ministry, both in hearing the “ word of God, and in receiving of the sacraments. “ Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken “ away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's “ gifts diminished from such as by faith and “rightly do receive the sacraments ministered unto “ them; which be effectual, because of Christ's “ institution and promise, although they be minis“tered by evil men. Nevertheless it appertaineth " to the discipline of the Church, that enquiry be “ made of evil ministers, and that they be accused “ by those that have knowledge of their offences; “and finally being found guilty, by just judgment “ be deposed.”
little considered or understood. We pray indeed in the Litany, to be delivered “ from * heresy and schism,” but the spirit of the times we live in seems disposed to regard them as no sins, no evils at all. Schism however is represented in a very different light in the holy Scriptures. The word schism means division- a division, a separation in the Church of Christ; a breach of that unity, that oneness, which our Lord and his Apostles so earnestly inculcate. In the affectionate and pathetic prayer of his Church, our Lord says, “Holy Father, keep “ through thine own name those whom " thou hast given me, that they may be one, " as we are. -Neither pray I for these 66. alone, but for them also which shall beso lieve on me through their word; that " they all may be one ; as thou Father, art “in me, and I in thee, that they also may 6 be one in us ; that the world may believe 66 that thou hast sent me.”
Such was the earnest supplication, which our Lord offered up to God the Father for the peace and unity of his Church. The Church, we know, is repeatedly styled the
i John xvii. 11, 20, 21. ^ .' body of Christ, and in the passage just quoted you see how anxious he was that his mystical body should not be rent, and divided, and torn asunder by schisms, or divisions. The Apostles earnestly laboured to promote this object of the prayers and wishes of their divine Master. They endeavoured to impress upon their converts the necessity of harmony and peace and unity; and to prevent those divisions and dissensions in religion, which human pas sions and prejudices were likely to occasion. Such divisions appear to have prevailed to a great degree in the Church of Corinth, where the people ranged themselves some under one teacher, some under another, as their fancy led them. St. Paul anxiously warns them, that such divisions were di: rectly contrary to the spirit of true religion, and were the result of human passions, and of a worldly frame of mind. 66 Ye are yet - carnal,” says he, “ for whereas there is " among you envying, and strife, and divi66 sions,” (or schisms,) “are ye not carnal, " and walk as men,” (as mere sinful men, rather than as real Christians ?) “ For while “one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I
“ am of Apollos, are ye not carnal m?” In the same spirit he had addressed them a little before, “Now I beseech you, brethren, “by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, 56 that ye all speak the same thing, and that is there be no divisions among you; but " that ye be perfectly joined together, in “ the same mind and in the same judg5 ment.” So anxious was he to prevent such divisions, that those who occasioned them were to be marked by their fellow Christians as disturbers of the public peace of the Church, and their company and society to be avoided. . “ Now I be66 seech you, brethren, mark them which “ cause divisions and offences contrary to “ the doctrine which ye have learned, and « avoid themo.” It is, I trust, unnecessary to lay before you the many other passages to the same purport which occur in the Epistles of the Apostles ; I must however be permitted to direct your attention to part of the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, where, after exhorting them to s6 endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit “ in the bond of peace," St. Paul goes on in 1 Cor. iii. 3, 4. 1 Cor. i. 10. • ° Rom. xvi. 17.
to enforce this exhortation by saying, “ There is one body, and one spirit, even as " ye are called in one hope of your calling; , “ one Lord, one faith, one baptism, oné “ God and Father of all, who is above all, " and through all, and in you allp.” “ How many ones are here,” says an old writer, “ to move the people of God to be “ one! how unnatural is it for members of “ the same body to be divided one from the “ other ! All the members of the Church, “ the mystical body of Christ, have one and " the same spirit. Why then should they 6 not have one heart and one way, when. " they are taught and led by one Spirit?. 6. There is one Lord, and that is the Lord :“ Christ, whom we all worship and serve. “ And shall fellow servants differ, that have 66. the same Lord ?. If there be but one 6 faith, why should we not be united therein « in one judgment? There is one baptism, " and shall we, by our discords and divi. “sions, unbaptize ourselves, as it were, by 66 dividing from that body, into which we 66 were baptized ? Shall not we be one " that have one God? Shall he be over
Ephes. iv. 3, &c.