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Aaron the priest, forthwith paid the penalty of their attempts. The earth burst its fastenings, and opened the depth of its bosom, and while they stood erect and alive, they were swallowed up by the parting gulph. And not only were the leaders smitten with the anger of an indignant God, but two hundred and fifty besides, who were partakers and associates in the same mad undertaking, and had gathered together with these in the same daring spirit, were with speedly vengeance consumed by the fire that went forth from the Lord : warning men, and proving to them, that whatsoever bad men, by human will, attempt for the overthrow of God's ordinance, is done contrary to God's will. Thus also Azias the king when he took the censer, and violently took upon him to sacrifice, in opposition to the law of God, and on Azarias the priest resisting, refused to be obedient and give way, confounded by the Divine anger, was marked by the spot of leprosy upon his forehead; on that part of his body marked by his offended Lorb, on which they are marked who have found favour in His sight. The sons also of Aaron, who placed strange fire on the altar, which the Lord had not commanded, were at once consumed by an avenging God. Now all these have their sect and followers in them, who despise the tradition of God, and follow after strange doctrines, clothing themselves with the institutions of man's device; these the LORD reproaches and upbraids in His Gospel, saying, “Ye reject the commandment of God,


your own tradition."

that ye may


Schismatising is more heinous than lapsing, and nullifies

confessorship. This crime is worse than that which backsliders appear to i ommit; and these indeed, when they revert to a state of penitence, deprecate God's wrath by the necessary course. In their case the Church is considered and appealed to; in the other it is opposed. In the former instance there may have been a force introduced ; in the latter free-will forms a proportion of the sin in question. The backslider injures only himself; but whoever

attempts the commission of heresy and schism, betrays many by drawing them after him. In the one case, one soul is brought to fall ; in the other very many are in jeopardy. The backslider is undoubtedly aware of his transgression, and laments and mourns it; the other, inflated, though guilty, and finding complacency in his sins, separates sons from their mother, entices the sheep from the shepherd, and disturbs the sacraments of God. Moreover the sin of the backslider is single, wbile the heretic's is reiterated day by day; and lastly, the backslider, if he afterward attain unto martyrdom, may receive the promises of the kingdom; but the other, if put to death beyond the limits of the Church, has no title to the rewards which to the Church belong.

And let no man wonder, my beloved brethren, that certain Confessors also adventure thus far, and thereby draw others into enormities, so unspeakably great. For neither does martyrdom involve a security from the crafts of the Devil, or offer a perpetual immunity to men, while yet they remain in this world, against the world's temptations, dangers, assaults, and attacks. Were it so, we should never witness in confessors those instances of fraud, fornication, and adultery, over which we now groan

and grieve. Be a confessor who he may, he is neither a greater nor a better man than Solomon, nor one more dear to God. As long as Solomon walked in the ways of the Lord, so long he retained that grace which God had given him : when he deserted the way of the Lord, he lost also the grace of God, according to that which is written, " and the Lord raised up Satan against Solomon." Therefore also it is written, “ keep what thou hast, lest another receive thy crown.” Surely God had not threatened that the crown of righteousness should be taken away, unless, when righteousness ceases, the crown must cease also. Confession opens an access to glory, but in itself merits not the crown. It does not perfect praise, but opens the way to a good degree. And since it is written, “ whosoever perseveres unto the end, he shall be saved,” all that occurs before the end, is the step whereby we mount to the height of salvation, not the end of the course, at which the summit of the pinnacle is attained. Is any a confessor ? His danger after a confession is greater, because the


adversary is more provoked. Is he a confessor? He ought for that very reason to stand by the Gospel of the Lord, having through the Gospel attained unto the Lord's glory. For the Lord says, “to whom much is given, of him shall much be required," the proportion of obedience required is measured by the degree of dignity conceded. May none ever perish through the example of a confessor! May no man learn injustice, insolence, or perfidy, from a confessor's conduct ! Is any a confessor ? Let him be humble and peaceful : let him be modest and disciplined in all he does. As one who is entitled a confessor of Christ, let him imitate that Christ, whom he confesses. For whereas He saith, “he who exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he who humbleth himself shal} be exalted ;" and whereas He was himself exalted by the Father, because on earth He humbled Himself, as the Word, the Power, the Wisdom of God the FATHER, how can He show favour to exaltation, who has at once recommended us in His commandment to be humble, and has received from the FATHER, in recompense of His humiliation, a name that is above every name ? Is any a confessor of Christ? it is only if the majesty and dignity of Christ be not evil-spoken of through him. Let not the tongue that confesses Christ speak evil: let it not be found turbulent, or allow the language of reproach and discord to be heard from it. Let it not, after rightly speaking, hurl poison of the serpent against the brethren and priests of God. But if a man afterwards become guilty and hateful, if he betrays his profession by evil conversation, and dishonours his life by baseness and profligacy; if, lastly, after being a confessor he becomes a deserter from the Church, sunders the concord of unity, and exchanges what was faith before for unbelief afterwards, he cannot flatter himself that by confession he is elected to the reward of glory, since from this very cause have penalties more condign ensued; for the Lord elected Judas among His Apostles, and yet Judas afterwards betrayed His LORD.

The faith and firmness of the Apostles did not fail in consequence of the secession from their society of Judas the betrayer ; nor is the sanctity and dignity of the confessors necessarily impaired, because certain of them break the faith. The blessed

Apostle in his Epistle thus speaks: "For what if certain of them fell from the faith, does their faithlessness bring to nought the faithfulness of God? God forbid. God is “ true, though every man be a liar.” The greater and better portion of the confessors stand firm in the strength of its faith, and in the law and teaching of the Lord. Those who feel that God has in the Church thought them worthy to find grace, do not retire from the peace of the Church: but from this very cause the title of their faith becomes more illustrious, because withdrawing from the perfidy of those who had been associated in the fellowship of their profession, they have come out from the contagion of guilt, and being illumined by the true light of the Gospel, and irradiated with pure and spotless lustre from the Lord, their glory is as great in preserving the peace of Christ, as had been their triumph when they fought against Satan.


The duty of withdrawing from Schismatics. It is my desire, most beloved brethren, and likewise I advise and exhort yon, that if it be possible, no brother perish, and that our joyful mother may embrace in her bosom the undivided assemblage of her consenting congregation. But if wholesome counsel is unable to recal to the way of salvation certain leaders of schism and authors of dissension, who stand fast in blind and reckless madness, yet let those others among you, who are either betrayed by simpleness or seduced by error, or deceived by the artifices of some treacherous deception, withdraw from the snares of falsehood, free your wandering steps from error, and recognise the strait path which leads to heaven. These are the words of the Apostle's exhortation : “We command you," saith he, " by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from all brethren that walk inordinately, and not according to that tradition which they have received from us.” And again he no man deceive you by vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

says, “let

Be not ye partakers with them.” We must remove ourselves from them that walk aside; in any event we must avoid them, lest while joining those who walk wrongly, and treading in the paths of error and guilt, any man go aside from the way of truth, and become entangled in their guilt. There is one God, there is one Christ, one Church which is His, one faith, one people, conjoined by the bond of concord in the solid unity of one body, The unity cannot be sundered, the individual body cannot be separated by the dissolution of its joints, or be torn in pieces by the rending of its scattered elements. Whatsoever cometh forth from the womb cannot live and breathe in separate portions : it loses the source of existence. The Holy SPIRIT warns us and says, “ What man is there who wishes to live, and would fain see good days ? Refrain thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile. Eschew evil and do good! seek peace and ensue it.” The son of peace ought to seek and to pursue peace; and to refrain his tongue from the calamity of dissension ; if he has felt and loves the bond of charity. Among His divine mandates and salutary lessons, our Lord when nigh to His passion, added this one :

Peace I leave with you ; my peace I give unto you.” This inheritance Christ to us hath given. All the gifts He outholds and the rewards He promises are involved in the preservation of peace. If we are heirs of Christ, let us continue in Christ's peace. If we are the sons of God, we ought to be peaceable. “Blessed," saith He, " are the peaceable, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Need is that the sons of God should be peaceable, mild in heart, simple in language, united in affection, faithfully attached each to the other by the bonds of unanimity. This unanimity once existed under the Apostles: so that the new assemblage of believers kept the Lord's commandment and maintained its charity. Holy Scripture saith in proof, “ the multitude of them that believed acted with one heart and soul.” And again, "and they all continued with one heart in

“ communion with the women, and with Mary the mother of Christ, and with His brethren.” And therefore they prayed effectually, and were with confidence enabled to obtain whatsoever they required of their Lord's mercy.


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