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Such then is the nature and constitution of the church, as it was originally established by its Supreme Head; from whom the Apostles, and their successors the bishops, have derived their commission; a branch of that commission which Jesus Christ received from his Father; by virtue of which they challenge obedience from every member of the Christian church, as to the stewards or chief officers in that spiritual society, over which they are authorised to preside. And such must be the conclusion upon this subject, unless we suppose, either that the Apostles understood not the nature of the commission with which they were entrusted, or that for the sake of aggrandizing their own characters, they wilfully misrepresented it.
Of the Sin of Schism.
THE circumstance of the church being a fociety of
Christ's forming, for the regular administration of the affairs of his kingdom, “ for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” Eph. iv. 12, points out the nature and quality of the sin of Schism.
The word translated Schism,* which in modern language scarce seems to have an appropriate idea annexed to it, is in the original derived from a verb, which fignifies to cut, divide, or separate; it must, therefore, relate to some body capable of being divided or separated. Upon reference to the first chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, we find that the church is called the body, of which CHRIST is the head. “ The God of our Lord Jesus Christ,” faith the Apostle, “ hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body.”
** The word Schism (according to the learned HAMMOND) comes from the passive verb, oxifovice, which regularly signifies being cut, or divided; but yeț the fin of schism being an action upon himself, not a passion from any other, it was of the nature of those passives which note reciprocal action, or passion; which St. Jude fully expresses by awodoop-SOUTES EAUTYS, the title which he gives the grand Gnostick Schismatics, that they cut off or divide themselves from the church. HAMMOND, therefore, understands the passive verb, in this case, to be of the nature of the Hebrew Hithpael, which denotes reciprocal ac-ion; which he considers to be very useful to set down the true notion of schism, as it differs from all other things that border on it, particularly from excommunication, which is the cutting
The church then, in the figurative language of Scripture, is the body of Christ. Upon further reference to the twelfth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, we find the fame Apostle arguing, from the connection which subsists between the members of the natural body, to the necessity of a similar connection subfisting between the members of the fpiritual body. That no schism, no division or feparation, should take place in one body more than in the other. “ For,” saith the Apostle, * “ as the natural body is one, and hath many members, and all
off others from the church; whereas St. Paul, speaking of the heretical Gnoftics, which were schismatics too, saith that they were avtoxatangilos, such as condemned and excommunicated themselves ; which is as perfect an evidence of the reciprocal action or paffion, as could be.-HAMMOND's Works, vol. ii. Answer to Schism difarmed; p. 69, 70.
* 1 Cor. xü. 12, 13.
the members of that one body, being many, are one body; fo also is CHRIST, (or the church of Christ, considered as that body, of which individual Christians are the members.). For by one fpirit are we all baptized into one body." And the intention of our being thus baptized into this one body, or church of CHRIST, is, as the Apostle* elfewhere informs us, that we should " all come in 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 chil. dren, be toffed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the Neight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to de ceive: 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
* Ephef. iv. 13, 14, &c.