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"saints, for the work of the ministry, for "the edifying of the body of Christ "."
In the true spirit of these scriptural representations of the Christian Church, the early converts to the Gospel appear, for a time at least, to have exhibited a heavenly pattern of brotherly love and religious unity, to which we shall vainly seek to find a parallel in any succeeding age. "They "continued stedfastly in the Apostles' "doctrine and fellowship"." "They had "all things in common, and sold their pos"sessions and goods, and parted them to "all men, as every man had need ";" " and the multitude of them that believed "were of one heart, and of one soul."
But when, at length, the restless passions of our corrupt nature began to operate even among the followers of the lowly Jesus, when dissensions interrupted their hitherto harmonious association, and threatened the unity of the Church, how did the Apostles conduct themselves in this new emergency? In what light did St.
n Eph. iv. 11, 12. P Acts ii. 44, 45.
。 Acts ii. 42.
Paul, of whose proceedings we have the most information, view the growing mischief;-St. Paul, the popular, the accommodating Apostle, who, on some occasions, could become "all things to all men";" and who, so far from possessing a disposition to be peremptory on minor points, declared that he would not "eat flesh so "long as the world stood," if he thereby caused his brother to offend "?" Is this, with him, a point of minor importance ? So far from it, that there is, perhaps, nothing on which he expresses himself with greater decision, not a practice which draws from him more thorough reprobation.
When addressing himself to his Corinthian converts, to a people even notorious for the vices commonly attendant on wealth and luxury, and whom he had to reprove for flagrant violations of morality, what constitutes his leading charge, what is evidently uppermost in his thoughts? not their immoralities, but their divisions. His ordinary form of salutation ended, he thus immediately commences, "Now I beseech r 1 Cor. ix. 22. s 1 Cor. viii. 13.
t 1 Cor. i. 10.
you, brethren, by the name of our Lord "Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions (oxioμara) among you, but that ye be
perfectly joined together in the same "mind and in the same judgment." With this introduction the whole Epistle corresponds; the main, the pervading object of which appears to have been, to reprove their strifes and dissensions; to warn them against an undue " preference for particular teachers; to furnish them with rules for the orderly * celebration of Divine worship, a point on which some had wantonly offended; to urge them to preserve their appointed stations in the ministry, "that "there might be no schism in the body;" and to guard them against presuming on their spiritual gifts, to the introduction of disorder, and the violation of that "charity," without which, a to speak with the
u 1 Cor. ch. i. ii. iii. ¡v.
y Ibid. ch. xii.
* Ibid. ch. xi.
z Ibid. ch. xiii. xiv.
a 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3. For remarks on the true scope of this celebrated chapter, as addressed to the schismatical Corinthians, in order to recommend to them that charity" which "beareth and endureth all things,"
"tongues of men and of angels, and un"derstand all mysteries and all knowledge, "would profit them nothing."
His Epistles indeed to all the Churches which he had planted, abound with the plainest precepts to the same effect. He exhorts his converts to "obey those that "have the rule over them";" to "walk by "the same rule;" to "stand fast in one Spirit, with one mind and one mouth glorifying Godd;" to "mark them who cause divisions;" to "keep the unity of "the Spirit in the bond of peace f." On some of these occasions, the high importance of his subject warms him to more than even his wonted animation and earnestness of manner. "Is Christ divided ?” says he; "was Paul crucified for you? or "were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" "If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of
rather than break the peace and unity of the Church, see Archdeacon Daubeny's Guide to the Church, Appendix, p. 297-299. second edit.
b Heb. xiii. 7.
d Phil. i. 27.
c Phil. iii. 16.
g 1 Cor. i. 13.
"the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, ful"fil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one ac"cord, of one mind."
Such a paramount importance does he attach to the peace and unity of the Church, that he allows no ordinary differences of opinion to afford the slightest pretext for divisions. Thus he is peculiarly earnest in his exhortations to accommodate our conduct to the prejudices of the weaker brother: and his advice to the Philippians breathes the same Christian spirit of conci
liation and peace. "If in any thing ye
"be otherwise minded, God shall reveal ❝even this unto you; nevertheless, where"to we have already attained, let us walk "by the same rule, let us mind the same thingi."
Of the unhallowed source and heinous guilt of schism he suffers not a doubt to remain. "Whereas," says he, "there is among
you envying, and strife, and divisions, are
Philip. ii. 1, 2.
i Phil. iii. 15, 16.
h 1 Cor. viii. 9-13.