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Testament as the rule of their faith-as that
St. Paul thus pathetically exhorts the Corinthians to avoid the first tendency towards a diversity of judgment in the church; Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divi sions ainong you ; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment : for it hath been declared unto inė, of you, my brethren, that there pre contentions among you.-DIVISIONS and CONTENTIONS!-How far had they proceeded; and what effect had they produced ? Had they gone beyond what is deemed, in our age, the lawful exercise of private judgment?
Let us hear :--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. The ministers here mentioned, Paul, Apollos, and Cephas, were all dulya appointed, sound teachers, 'equally autho rised to instruct the church. It might, therefore, be thought-and were Christianity å scheme of human device, and subject to the controul of variable opinion, it might be thought with truth-that a predilection in favour of either of these ministers must have been the most innocent exertion of private judgment : but how does the apostle argue upon the case? --- Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you ; 'or were'ye baptized in the name of Paul? (1. Cor. x. 12.) Which is as much as if he had said—“ It is required of Christians to hear the Gospel with simplicity and singleness of heart; not to enrol themselves under the names of their favourite teachers, and to set up the ministry of the one in opposition to that of the other."
For this partiality he censures as evil, and as leading to an evil still greater, the disunit. ing of the body of Christ. In another place, therefore, he expresses himself on this subject more fully and emphatically :- I hear that there be divisions among you, and I partly believe' it ; for there must also be HERESIES among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you, (1 Cor. xi. 18, 19.)
Surely, a partiality, however undue, to the ministry of some one of those apostolical teachers who were earnestly striving together for the uncorrupted faith of the Gospel, was far from amounting to the crime of heresy. But the apostle justly regards the indulgence of this partiality as taking the first step in the road to heresy; as following the unsteady light of a separate judgment, that abomination of desolation, which, through the thorny path of fruitless dispute, and uncharitable contention, leads the unsteady mind, from the narrow way of salvation, into the wilderness of heresy and delusion. This was, then, one of those offences, or stumbling-blocks, of which our Lord had forewarned his disciples, declaring to them-It is impossible but that offences will come ; but woe to him through whom they come. (Luke, xvii. 1.)
Of the pernicious tendency of such predilections we have many examples in the modern history of Christianity. Thus Wesley and Whitfield were pious ministers
of our apostolical church. By uniting in a common cause with their brethren, they might have been useful to the edification of that church. But an intemperate, though honest, zeal, led them into some irregularities in the work of their ministry. Their exertions made them popular; and that popularity produced a sect. Abandoning the unerring rule of the Gospel, for the guidance of private judgment, they disagreed upon certain points of doctrine. Each was followed by his party, and the sect was again divided. This wild vine, planted in the soil of self-conceit, has, in the space of four-score years, become luxuriant and spreading. How many separate branches it may have put forth, before the present day, it would be tedious to enquire. But some of them exhibit a total alienation from the parent church; and there are those amongst its cultivators who avow the design of overshadowing its growth and supplanting it altogether.
Against those who proceed thus far in the road to heresy, and cause actual separation from the mystical body, the same apostle warns the elders of the church :-Take heed
to yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers hath visibly invested you with the sacred charge-to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know that, after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, OF YOURSELVES SHALL MEN ARISE, speaking perverse things, TỪ
AWAY DISCIPLES AFTER THEM. (Acts, xx. 30.)
And, as the disciples of these perverse teachers are drawn away after them, and therefore separated from the unity of the ehurch ; so, on the other hand, the discipline of the church would not admit of fellowship with them. For it is an apostolical injunction-Mark them which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have received, and avoid them. (Rom. xvi. 17.) 1. And to the church of the Thessalonians this charge is given :-We command you; brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition that ye received of