Page images

on the nature and sin of Schism, may not be uninteresting and herein it will be best to apply immediately, and only to the word of God.

The original meaning of the Greek word (oxiopa) from whence we have the term schism, is that of rent, or division; and, in itself, bears no moral signification whatever :- as in Mat. ix 16. by putting new cloth into an old garment, the rent (xua) is made worse. The same expression also is used by Mark and Luke; also, in a similar sense, the verb (xi) is used, in Mat. xxvii. 51, respecting the rocks and the veil of the temple, which were rent in twain. In the parallel passages of Mark and Luke, and in John xix 24, it is used in the like sense, in speaking of the not dividing, or rending, the seamless coat of our Lord: so, in the same evangelist, notwithstanding the miraculous draught of fishes, "the net was not broken," nor rent. From these different quotations, we find the word innocent in itself.

As we consider the expression in a metaphorical point of view, or as an action of the mind, we find it varies, as differently applied. In John ix. 16, it is said, "There was a dicision (x) among the people respecting Christ;". so also in John x. 19. Likewise in the Acts of the Apostles we read, "The multitude of the city was divided; and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles;"-and again, when there was a dissention among the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the multitude was divided (Eoxen *);-so that here we understand by it, a mere difference of opinion. We are next to consider where this expression is used in a bad sense; and thereby we shall best discover where the evil of schism truly lies.

St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says, "Now, I beseech you, brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that there be no divisions (oxoμa) or schisms among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment." He next blames them for the contentious spirit which had arisen among them, on account of the different gifts and abilities of their ministers. "For it hath been declared unto me, of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you, Now, this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ." And this bad spirit he thus rebukes:-"Is Christ divided? - was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul" As though he had said, "Am I to take the place of my Lord and Master, as though I were the crucified Saviour of my followers, and as though they were baptized in my unworthy name?" Thus, instead of being pleased with their flattery, as though no preacher were equal to him, or as



See Acts xiv. 4. and xxiii. 7.

+ 1 Cor. i. 10, &c.


though he alone appeared worthy of his followers or admirers, he rebukes them sharply; and abhorred the thoughts of hav ing his exclusive followers - a set of mere Paulités. He wished that others of his Master's servants might be held in equal estimation with himself; and that all might be admired and received, as being not less commissioned by the Great Shepherd and Bishop of Souls than be was. Nor does he less blame the bad spirit which appeared in the followers of Cephas (or Peter) and Apollos. Though Peter might have his peculiar gift from God, as being of a remarkably plain heroic turn of mind, and might have delivered himself with a power and energy which rendered his discourses impressive to the hearts and consciences of thousands; and though Apollos might have super-eminent ability, as a man of eloquence and strength of mind, insomuch, that, by his public preaching,

he mightily convinced the Jews f;" yet this qualified neither him, nor Peter, to have their separate followers, — that each of them should have a party to himself, to the destruction of that uniting spirit, which ought to be found among all those who are one in our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is upon this principle he farther reproves them, and shews them the bitter fountain from whence this bad schismatical spirit arose; testifying against them, that such partizans of the outward gifts of different preachers, merely having "mens' persons in admiration," were to be registered among carnal or fleshly hearers,being captivated by sounds and outward gifts, while the truths delivered by their different ministers were precisely the same. For, taking up the subject again, in the third chapter of the same epistle, the apostle says, "For ye are carnal; - for whereas there is among you envying, strife, and divisions. Are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" As men, not under the influences of the Holy Spirit, which would have directed them to have attended to the spiritual truths, and not to the mere outward abilities of their preachers; for while one saith, "I am of Paul;" another, "I am of Apollos," are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul? or who is Apollos? But ministers (axoro) deacons, or, more properly, servants, "by whom ye believed: nothing in themselves, but the mere servants of God," even as the Lord gives to every man." "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase: so then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth, and he that watereth, are one ; therefore, they should be received as one. God sent them both to work in the same vineyard, and to maintain the same cause: not that each should obtain a set of separate followers for themselves; but to colTect believers into one body, through a living union with

Acts xviii. 24—28,

[ocr errors]

Christ. Therefore, they could assert it, that the "preached not themselves," not that they might set themselves off among their hearers, for the vile purpose of robbing the Lord of his glory; but Christ Jesus the Lord, and themselves, no otherwise than their servants (dova) mere slaves, for Jesus' sake." The admirable conclusion drawn, therefore, amounts to this:Let no man glory in man; for all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all things are yours;

and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

[ocr errors]

Another expression, which shews the bad tendency of schism, or division, is found in the following passage: "Now, this I declare unto you: I praise you not; that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse; for, first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be dizisions (xua) among you; and partly believe it, for there must be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest." From this passage it appears, that the words heresy and schism are synonimous, or nearly so. The one means to rend, or divide; the other, to take away, or separate and the Devil's motto is justly said to be Divide and separate. But, for the present, we confine our thoughts to the word schism. In the above cited passage, the apostle evidently enters his protest against the abuses which had entered into, and polluted even the primitive church, at their feasts of charity, or rather love, when they had all things common, and lived together as in one common-hall; and this the apostle also calls, The Lord's Supper: not what is elsewhere called The Communion; but a previous supper (commonly called yarn, the feast of love) at which the primitive Christians assembled for their meal, as in a common-hall; and it was after this supper, which in those days was the principal meal, they had their religious exercises; for it was after supper the Lord took the cup; and, probably, it was after such a repast as this, that Paul, when at Troas, continued all the night preaching and exhorting till the break of day*:-and, on these occasions, their excesses were very offensive and grievous indeed; for "in eating, every one taketh before another his own supper; and one is hungry, and another is drunken;"—so that you have the idea of a very disgustful and indecent scramble; and yet it appears, that even after this was administered, the commemoration of the love of our blessed Lord was administered. All this, I think, will appear evident to any attentive reader of the chapter at large; but more so, if he takes into consideration the contents of the epistle of Jude, which pro duces an awful proof of what corruption defiled the Christian church, even in the purest ages of her existence. There were

See Acts XX. 7—13.

certain men who crept in unawares (holy discipline was probably too much neglected) who were before ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, even our Lord Jesus Christ." He next mentions, that even bad people "escaped out of Egypt, and were afterwards destroyed; and that Heaven itself, even angels, apostatized and fell." No wonder, therefore, that such sinners might also be found, even in the new-born church of Christ itself, for even such were the "spots in their feasts of charity, while they feasted with them, feeding themselves without fear; clouds, without water, carried about of winds; trees, whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."


The like rebuke, and in very similar language, is found in e Pet. ii. 17; and from the above, it is easy to observe, that wherever the word schism, in a moral point of view, is taken into consideration, it relates to such defective Christians as disgraced the sacred cause by a contentious spirit; or, as it relates to some of the most vicious and abominable, who had crept in unawares, who might probably be allured by miracles, but were utterly unacquainted with that power which converts the soul to God. Thus have I traced, I believe, every passage in the New Testament where the word schism is to be found. My next paper will be upon the word Heresy. Afterwards, these will be followed with some practical observations on the whole. R. H.

Surry Chapel.


"E'en crosses from his sov'reign hand
"Are blessings in disguise."


THE present is a state of suffering. Afflictions, crosses, and trials, stand inseparably connected with the crown. There is a crook in every lot; -a canker worm at the root of -every gourd of creature-comfort.

Every believer is led to think his own cross the heaviest; but our merciful Father has kindly suited it to every case: he gives strength equal to our day, and supports us under every difficulty. While in this vale of tears, we must expect trouble and disappointment. Happy for us, if these tend to keep us near to God!

When success attends us through life, when every thing runs smooth, when basking in the beans of prosperity, how apt

are we to forget that God, from whom our mercies flow! How frequently are we led to attribute our prosperity to our own foresight and sagacity, to some scheme which we had con certed, or to some circumstance which had occurred in our favour, not keeping in view the kind dispensations of Providence towards us! Afflictions, in this case, are needful and necessary. They prevent our reliance on earthly objects. A state of entire dependence on God, and trials sanctified to our souls, bring honour to the Deity, and raise in our minds a love to God and a zeal for his glory!

Future prospects often prove a source of much anxiety to some of God's dear people; but this is when they lose sight of the conduct of their heavenly Father towards them; they forget to look back on the way in which he has led them the time past, and to rely on his promises for the future; and this is the cause of all their misery. It is also the same in spiritual things. Many express their fears, that they shall not hold out to the end, that they shall fall a prey to some temptation; but they forget that Christ is engaged to carry on and complete the good work he has begun*; that his sheep shall never perish that he loves his people with an everlasting love,—a love that never changes, that knows no end! Believers would enjoy more peace and comfort if they could be brought to coininit their way to the Lord, and resign every thing into his hands. And why should you not, believer? God hath committed all things into the hands of Christ. Is he not full of tenderness and love? Does he not possess all fulness, all power in Heaven and on earth?



Afflictions prove the truth of our sincerity and love to Christ. Believers only are willing to suffer for Christ; - they are enabled to rejoice in their sufferings, to think it an honour they are called to this work. It is observable in Bunyan's Pilgrim, that when Christian and Pliable came to the Slough of Despond, the latter got out on the side next his own house. Worldly professors, in all ages, are charmed with the idea of a crown, but dislike the cross; and give up all profession at the least appearance of difficulty; while the true believer is enabled, by the grace of God, to go forward; though "faint, yet pursuing."

This thought will afford us much consolation: That af flictions come from God; - that the rod is in our heavenly Father's hand. "ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" Various are the means by which our heavenly Father chastises his children: some by temptation; and others, by persecution from friends; but the subject is always suited to the cross. His grace is rendered sufficient for them, by John x. 28.

1 Phil. i. 6.

« PreviousContinue »