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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 but one body, which requires an union of all its parts. This union with God, and to each other,
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; if 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
tended to efface the sin of schism from our minds. But though we presume to judge no man, leaving all judgment to that Being who is alone qualified to make allowance for the ignorance, invincible, prejudice, imperfect reasonings, and mistaken, judg ments of his frail creatures; yet must it not from hence be concluded, that it is a matter of indifference, whether Christians communicate with the Church or not; or that there is a doubt upon the subject of schism, whether it be a sin or not.
"There is one plain rule to direct all men in this enquiry; that wherever there is a Church established by public authority, if there be nothing sinful in its constitution and worship, we are bound to communicate with that Church, and to reject the communion of all other parties and sects of Christians. For the advantage always lies on the side of authority. No public establishment can justify sinful communion; but if there be nothing sinful in the communion of the national Church, which is established by public authority; to separate from such a Church, is both disobedience to the supreme authority in the state, and a schism from the Church." "Now (proceeds the Bishop, in another part of his discourse) if schism be an innocent thing, and the true Catholic spirit, (as from the present too prevailing practice among Christians we might be induced to think it was) I have no more to say, but that the whole Christian Church, ever since the Apostles' times, has been in a very great mistake. But if schism be a very great sin, and that which will, according to the judgment of the primitive Church, damn us as soon
as 'adultery and 'murder, then it must be a dangerous thing to communicate with schismatics." 永 油
Indeed, with respect to the reality and heinous quality of this sin of schism, it scarcely seems possible for Christians, who enter sufficiently deep into the subject, to entertain two opinions.
Looking into the writings of St. Paul, "I see schism spoken of as a carnal sin; and that this sin consists in a separation from the communion, and a setting up of teachers independent of the government, and destructive of the unity of the Christian Church. A sin, which, besides its being the p parent of confusion and disorder in the Church, is moreover destructive of that charity or brotherly love, by which it was designed that Christians should be joined together.
London Cases, No. 1.
In the Epistle of St. Jude, mention is made of those who "perished in the gainsaying of Core," even those who separated themselves, being sensual, having not the Spirit. From whence it is to be concluded, that there is a sin in the Christian Church, answering to that of Korah in the Jewish; some resemblance, consequently, there must be between the two Churches, to justify, in this case, the Apostle's application: for if there were not, the method adopted by the Apostles and primitive writers, of making the law minister to the explana-" tion of the Gospel, by considering the former as the intended type of the latter, (a complete specimen of which we are presented with in the Epistle to *Discourse of Church Communion, by Bishop Grove. See