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1 COR. iii. 3.
Whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men ?
Of all the principles of our holy religion, there are perhaps none which the world is at present so prone to overlook, as the obligations to Christian unity. We retain indeed the name and the form of a church, but we are very generally ignorant of her nature and pretensions: we pray to be delivered from heresy and schism, without any adequate impression of the importance of our petition; and the sins to which St. Paul assigns so conspicuous a rank among those "works of the flesh," which would exclude men from "the kingdom of God," the very sins which some of the primitive
a Gal. v. 19-21.
Fathers considered to be even inexpiable
by the blood of martyrdom, are those perhaps which in these days are practised with the least compunction, and witnessed with the most complacency.
Now this preposterous insensibility to offences of such magnitude, is not only to be found where we should expect to find it, in the professed separatist, and in the irreligious and profane, but in even those who have neither forsaken the communion of the Church, nor discarded from their minds a general and lively sense of the value of religion.
The separatist may readily be conceived to have succeeded in closing his eyes to the true character of that devious course, which
b ̓Ανὴρ δέ τις ἅγιος εἶπε τι δοκοῦν εἶναι τολμηρὸν πλὴν ἀλλ ̓ ὅμως ἐφθέγξατο. Τί δή τοῦτό ἐστιν ; οὐδὲ μαρτυρίου αἷμα ταύτην δύνασθαι ἐξαλειφεῖν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἔφησεν. Chrysostom. in Epist. ad Ephes. cap. iv. hom. 11. edit. Benedict. vol. xi. p. 86.
Tales etiamsi occisi in confessione nominis fuerint, macula ista nec sanguine abluitur. Inexpiabilis et gravis culpa discordiæ nec passione purgatur. Esse martyr non potest, qui in Ecclesia non est.-Exhibere se non potest martyrem, qui fraternam non tenuit caritatem. Cyprian. de Unit. Eccles. edit. Baluzii, p. 198.
he professes even on principle to have adopted; and the profane and profligate can scarcely be supposed to entertain any profound respect for what they probably deem the mere circumstantials of a religion, to whose pure precepts and awful sanctions. they are alike indifferent. Here however it would be natural to expect that we might close the account; but far otherwise unfortunately is the case; I have yet named but "the beginning of sorrows "our foes are even they of our own house66 hold "."
There notoriously exists in the very bosom of our Church, a party not inconsiderable in point of numbers or activity, who, in their inordinate zeal for the propagation of their own peculiar notions, league together in the true spirit of a sect; decry the opinions, and undervalue the exertions of their more sober brethren; neglect, as comparatively insignificant, the wholesome restraints of ecclesiastical order; and forgetting the precept, to "avoid them which cause "divisions "," on some occasions unite in d Rom. xvi. 174
c Matt. x. 36.
the promotion of common religious objects even with the avowed enemies of that Establishment, of which they profess themselves members, and whose institutions they are bound to support; thus, as much as in them lies, removing from the sight and observation of the unreflecting multitude all practical distinction between unity and schism, to which they were already more than sufficiently insensible.
Besides all this, a very large proportion even of the sincerest friends to the Establishment manifestly entertain the most vague and indeterminate ideas of Church communion, and are most inadequately formed respecting the true principles of that Christian unity, which by the blessing of God, rather than from their own settled conviction of its necessity, they have not hitherto been induced to violate.
I. The sources of schism are deeply seated in the natural heart of man. headstrong obstinacy, his impatience of control, his overweening conceit of superior discernment or superior holiness; in a word, his pride must be effectually
subdued by kindly influences of the Spirit of God, ere we can hope for the final extinction of those unhappy dissensions, which have never yet ceased to disgrace our holy faith, and afford a malicious triumph to the sceptical and the profane. But neither reason, I apprehend, nor experience will lead us to conclude, that the ordinary and unassisted operation of these passions, formidable as they are, could ever, in defiance of some of the plainest precepts of holy writ, occasion religious divisions to such an extent, as to threaten the overthrow of religious establishments, or shake the foundations of the faith.
Whenever therefore schism has become thus formidable, wherever, as is now too evidently the case amongst ourselves, it has attained to such a numerical consequence, as to give a just cause of apprehension to the friends of pure religion and social order, it may fairly be supposed that some adventitious causes have been combined with those already suggested; that perhaps some unhappy deviation from sound policy, some defect in the vigilance of the author