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that “ Just and Holy One, there is an immeassurable gulf between them and real Christians. They have no part in our heavenly “David," nor any inheritance in our “son of Jesse.” However painful the necessity, it is still necessity which compels us to exclaim,“ O my soul, come not thou into their secret! unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united!"
Such was the judgment and practice of the primitive church. The basis of her communion was laid, as we have already seen, in the substantial doctrines of the gospel, as summed up in her creed. This she required to be adopted and professed by all who offered themselves to her fellowship. It contained, then, her TERMS OF COMUNION. Consequently, agreement in opinions about which Christians might differ without impugning any of these doctrines, made no part of those terms. In other words, she did not consider such differences as violating her unity. And how numerous they were, no one needs be told who has looked into her history.
Having seen what the primitive church did not view as inconsistent with her visible unity, let us now inquire,
By what, in her judgment, it was liable to be broken. This effect might be produced three Ways
By schisms within her bosom ;
1st. Schisms within her bosom, in the rupture of brotherly harmony, she always accounted scandalous violations of her unity, even though the bonds of external fellowship were not thereby dissolved. Let the expostulation of CLEMENS Romanus with the church of Corinth, be both example and proof. The professing Christians in that city had given early indications of such a disorderly temper, as to call for the authoritative interposition of the apostle Paul. When the fire of contention has once seized upon a community, and been fostered by personal antipathies, its extinction is one of the most rare and difficult of human things. It may subside for a while, and even appear to go out; yet if any new brand of controversy be thrown among the public passions, the smothered flame will be rekindled, will seek its wonted channels, and burst forth and rage with increased violence. The same individuals, or their descendants, will be regularly arrayed against each other. Let there be only a dispute, and a person of sense acquainted with previous facts, shall be able, almost infallibly, to foretell how the parties will be arranged. If two or three conspicuous individuals who formerly acted together, should declare themselves, the die is
cast. Their old opponents take the other side as a matter of course. Thus social conflicts become hereditary; and revive under varied shapes, long after the original disagreement is buried and forgotten. Should they, however, be diverted from this their natural direction, and even be happily terminated, they leave in the social body a predisposition to the same evil disease. This was probably the state of the church of Corinth. It had been split up into parties who attached themselves to particular ministers, and were more passionately devoted, as is usual, to the glory of their respective chiefs, than to those great interests in which they were equally concerned. Paul had quelled their foolish tumults: but he is no sooner gone to his crown of righteousness, than they embark in a new strife. A number of those who had quarrelled with each other about their favourite teachers, now turn round, and make common cause against the teachers themselves. Such is the consistency of human passions! Such the stability of popular affection!
We learn the fact from CLEMENS ROMANUS, a contemporary of the Apostles,* and perhaps the next to the Apostles in worth and dignity. We also learn from him, the light in which the litigi
* EUSEB. E. H. Lib. V. c. 6. p. 217.
ous spirit of the Corinthians was viewed by their fellow christians. In his first, which is his genuine, epistle to their church, he thus pathetically remonstrates with them on the subject of their feuds :
“Let us cleave to the innocent and the just : for these are the elect of God. Why are there strifes, and angry tempers, and dissentions, and schisms, and fightings, among you ? Have we not one God, and one Christ, and one Spirit poured out upon us; and one calling in Christ ? Why do we rend asunder the members of Christ, and factiously strive against our own body, and proceed to such a height of madness as to forget that we are members one of another ? Remember the words of our Lord Jesus : For he said, Wo to that man! It had been better for him not to have been born than to lay a stumbling-block before one of my elect; it had been better for him to be bound to a mill-stone, and be plunged into the sea, than to stumble one of my
“You schism has perverted many; has thrown many into despondence; many into wavering ; all of us into sorrow-and your factions continue !"*
Κολληθωμεν ουν τοις αθωόις και δικαιοις· εισιν δε ουιοι εκλεκτοι του θεου. “Ινα τι εχεις, και θυμοι, και διχοστασιαι, και σχισματα, πολεμος τε εν υμιν, η ουχι ενα θεον εχομεν ; και ένα Χριστον, και εν Πνευμα της χάριτος το εκ
Again: “Let him who has love in Christ, keep the commandments of Christ. The bond of the love of God, who can set forth? the magnificence of his beauty who is sufficient to express as he ought? The height to which love conducts is beyond all utterance. Love permits no schism; love cherishes no factions ; love does every thing in harmony; by love all the elect of God are perfected—without love, nothing is acceptable to
The dissentions against which Clemens, after the example of Paul, so divinely pleads, were within the church. With all their strifes and seditions among themselves, there was one bond
χυθεν εφ' ημας και και μια κλησις εν Χριστα και ένα τι διελκομεν και διασπωμεν τα μέλη του
Χριστου, και τασιαζομεν προς το σωμα το ιδιον και και εις τοσαυτην απονολαν ερχομεθα, ώςε επιλαθεσθαι ημας ότι μελη εσμεν αλλήλων και Mγησ. θητε των λόγων Ιησου του κυρίου ημων. Ειτε γαρ Ουαι των ανθρωπω εκεινο καλον ην αυτω ει ουκ εγεννηθη, και ένα ων εκλεκτων
μου σκανδαλισαι: κρείττον ην αύλω περίλεθηγαι μυλον, και καταποντισθηναι εις την θάλασσαν, και ένα των μικρών μου σκανδαλισαι. Το σχισμα υμων πολλους διεσσεψεν, πολλους εις αθυμιαν εβαλεν, πολλους εις διαγμoν, τους απανίας ημας εις λυώην και επιμονος υμων εςιν η. σασις.
Clem. Rom. Ep. I. ad. Cor. c. 46. ap:
P.P. App. Τom. Ι. p. 174, 5. * Ο εχων αγα@ην εν Χρισω της ησατω τα του Χριςου παραγγελματα. Τον δεσμον της αγάπης του Θεου τις δυναται εξηγησασθαι; το μεγαλειον της καλλονης αντου, τις αρκεί, ώς εδει, εισειν και το ύψος εις και αναγει η αγαΦη, ανεκδιήγητον εςιν. Αγαπη ΣΧΙΣΜΑ ουκ εχει αγαπη ου ΣTAΣIA. ΖΕΙ. αγαπη παντα ποιει εν ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑι. Εν αγαπη ετελειωθησαν πανίες οι εκλεκτοι του Θεου· διχα αγαπης ουδεν ευαρεσον εςι τω Θεώ.
Id. Ib. C. 48. p. 176.