The sixt Dividing Practice,* the giving Characterizing names to men, names of Division.
THis is an old continued practice of the Devill, he hath gain∣ed much by it, and therefore is loath to leave it: The Or∣thodox of old were called Cornelians, Cyrillians, by the followers of Novatus and Nestorius,* in time of Reformation Luthe∣rans, Zuinglians, Hussites, Calvinists, Hugonots. Tertullian sayes in his Apology for the Christians of his time, their crime that they are persecuted for, hath no name, that for which they are hated and persecuted is the crime of their name; such men are cryed out of under such a name, but when things come to be examined, their name is all their crime.
And among other that of Schismaticke is not onely a chara∣ctising, but a stigmatizing name, whereby of old and lately many have had a brand of reproach upon them, which upon examination will be found to be as it is applyed by many, no∣thing but a scaring word, taken up by such who understand lit∣tle what Schisme is; I shall therefore endeavour to open this briefly. The word Schisme comes of the Greeke 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to rend, from thence 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Scisura, a rent; It is amongst Divines a Tecnologicall terme. Schisme in the Church, is much like to what Sedition is in the State: When the Church grew up to the state and outward glory of an earthly Kingdome, much use was made of this terme, as a brand upon those who would not subject to the yoakes of them who loved preheminence in the Church.
But the true nature of Schisme is this, An uncharitable, un∣just, rash, violent breaking from union with the Church, or the Members of it.
Page 172 The Church is that from which the rent is: Heresie divides from the head, Schisme from the body, Apostacy from both. This rent is either from the whole Church, or some part, if from the whole, it is Donatisme: Donatus denyed any to be of the body of Christ, to be beleevers, to be such as could be saved, except that company that joyned with him, and with those in his way. This is clear from the whole discourse of Augustine against him, in that Tract De unitate Ecclesiae. Wherefore those who censure such as deny communion with some particular Congregations, as Donatists, discover either ignorance or malice, if not both. Yet Schisme may be, though the rent be but from some part of the Church, but this must needs suppose union with that part: now there may be a twofold union with the severall parts of the Church, either that which all who are to be accounted Christians have with them as they are of the same body Catho∣lick; or that which is by agreement to grow up together into a speciall fellowship. The rending from any of these unions in such a way as before was mentioned, is Schisme. If we seperate from, or refuse that communion with such as are to be accounted Christians, that is due to all Christians, this is the more grosse Schisme. Or if we thus breake off that communion which is by speciall agreement, which may be either when Christians joyne together in a private way for mutuall edification and comfort: or when they so joyn together as to make up a distinct spirituall corporation, to set up the publick ordinances of Christ, which the Scripture calls a Church: Now though there may be Schisme in the breaking the former, yet the censure of Schisme is especi∣ally applyed to the undue breaking off communion in the latter.
Now this implyes an union by a Church agreement; where there never was such an agreement, there cannot be the guilt of this Schisme. Although they who dwell within such a perambu∣lation, such a compasse of ground, should not joyne in some or∣dinances with some within that compasse, whatsoever offence there may be against some civill constitution, yet the guilt of Schisme they doe not contract upon themselves, for that union they never had cannot be broke.
But you will say, Yes, they are Schismaticks, though they were never so united, because they were bound to unite thus, and they have not.
Page 173 It must be granted that CHRIST by what he ordered the Apostles to doe,* would have all Christians dwelling together, so far as they can, to unite into a body, but there is no such order of Christ, that all that dwell on the one side of the street should be of one body, and all on the other of another bo∣dy: if they be more then can joyn into one spirituall corporation, they are bound to joyne into severall, so as they may best, to their own and other Churches edification, and if they should fail in this, not joyning in the best way that possible might be, their sin is against that edification that Christ requires, but not there∣fore the sin of Schisme. Who ever they were that bounded Pari∣shes, surely they did not so bound them to the greatest edificati∣on of the Church that possible might be, and yet who will say they were therefore Schismaticks? But suppose you have joyned with any company of Saints in a spirituall corporation, if you now shall uncharitably, unjustly, rashly, and violently break from communion with them, then you contract the guilt of Schisme upon you.
First, the separtion must be from want of charity. By faith especially we are united to Christ our head, and by charity to one another. If a man appeares departing from any fundamentall Article of our faith which joyned him to his Head, he is to bee judged an Heretick. So by his appearing to depart from that love by which he was joyned in communion with the members,* he is to be judged a Schismatick. If his departure proceeds from his love of God, his love to his Saints, and his owne soule, yea his love to that very Church from whence he departs, as sometimes it may, witnessing in a gratious way against evill in it, he is farre from the guilt of Schisme.*
If you say, love is a secret thing, we cannot judge of what is in the heart.
We cannot judge of it while it is in the heart, but when it ap∣peares we may. You may know whether this or other principles act men or no by their behaviour in their breaking off commu∣nion. Where this is not, bitcernesse, pride selfe-ends, will soone appear, and carry them beyond those principles themselves pro∣fesse they goe upon.*
Secondly, If the cause of leaving communion be just, then those Page 174 who give this cause are the Schismaticks, not those who with∣draw upon it. Thus the Governours of the Church may be the Schismaticks, and a private member withdrawing may be free. Suarez a great Jesuite, in his disputation De Schismate, sayes in some cases the Pope may be a Schismatick.
If Governours shall enjoyne any thing upon the Church, or any member, that is sinne, or if they shall mingle evill in the publick worship, so that there can be no joyning with their worship, but there must be likewise a joyning with sinne, in this case if any withdraw from them,* they are the Schismaticks, not those who withdraw, they are fugati, not fugitivi. The blame of Schisme, sayes learned Vo•tius, must not be upon those who forsake such as have forsaken Christ and the ancient faith; but upon those who have thus forsaken Christ and his truth.
When the second Councell of Nice set up Image-worship, many thousands could not yeeld to it, but were forced to with∣draw, who was the Schismaticall party there, but the Synod and those who joyned with it?
Yea further, if they impose that which is not necessary, (though in it selfe not sinful) and will not beare with the weaknesses of such as thinke it to be evill; if upon that they be forced to withdraw; in this the Governours are the Schisma∣ticks also; the cause of the rent is in them, they ought in such things to beare the weaknesses of their Brethren, and not impe∣riously to require of them those things that there is no necessity of. If such things be sinne to their Brethrens consciences, if they will stand upon it to enjoyne them, they lay a necessity up∣on them to withdraw from them. God will not lay the In∣dictment of Schisme thus, Such a one departed from the com∣munion of such a Church, because he would not doe what was lawfull to be done; but thus, You imposed that upon your Bro∣ther which there was no necessity of, and would not forbeare him in what I would have you forbeare him, but caused him by your imperiousnesse and stiffenesse, to depart from communion with you. It is true, sayes God, the thing might have been done, but it was not necessary, it was out of conscience to me that they forbore, the weaknesse is theirs, but the Schisme is yours.*
This hath beene generally received (though it be very false) Page 175 that if a man departs from a Church because he refuseth to joyn with it in that which is not in it selfe evill, that this mans de∣parture is Schismaticall: Certainly no; Grant there is a weak∣nesse in his conscience, and so a sinne, he should informe his conscience better, but cannot; and this inability is not without sinne, yet this arises not to that height of sinne, as to make that (which (supposing him to be in this condition) is better for him to doe then not to doe) to become Schisme; especially if he be willing to hold communion with that Church still in all acts of worship, wherein he can joyne without sinning against his conscience, and continues brotherly love to them as Saints in all the expressions thereof, as he is able.
The first great Schisme in the Church, that was caused by the Governours of it, was that which Victor Bishop of Rome, and those who joyned with him caused, by that imperious way of enjoyning Easter to be kept at such a time which you have men∣tioned, pag. 15, 16, 17. The story of which you have in Eusebius, lib. 5. cap. 23. Those who denyed not the lawfulnesse of keeping Easter, yet have generally accused Victor, and such who so violently urged this upon the Churches as the cause of the Schisme, not such who did not conforme to what was en∣joyned them, because the thing was not necessary, and there should have beene a forbearance in it: No Governour ought to urge such unnecessary things which are but under suspition by tender consciences, if they do, the Schisme is justly charged up∣on them.
Thirdly, where a man cannot have his soule edified in some [ 3] Ordinances and truths of great moment, which that Church whereof he now is shall deny, and is in great danger of being seduced to evill, he may depart from that Church to another, if he does it orderly, and not be guilty at all of Schisme, love to God and his owne soule is the cause of this, not want of love to his Brethren.
It is a good speech I finde Chillingworth hath, what the good∣nesse of the man was I know not, but in that Treatise of his, The Religion of Protestants a safe way, Cap. 5. Part. 1. Sect. 61. an∣swering that plea of his adversary against Protestants, that com∣munion with a Church not erring in fundamentals, upon pre∣tence of erring in other matters, must not be forsaken, he hath Page 176 this excellent saying: If I did not finde in my selfe a love and de∣sire of all profitable truth; if I did not put away idlenesse, and pre∣judice, and worldly affections, and so examine to the bottome all my opinions of divine matters, being prepared in minde to follow God, and God onely which way soever he shall lead me; if I did not hope that I either doe or endeavour to doe these things, certainely I should have little hope of obtaining salvation.
When I consider of these causes of departing from a particular Church, that speech of Tertullian concerning a Martyr comes into my minde, Non poena sed causa facit Martyrem, Not the punishment but the cause makes a Martyr. So, Non dec•ssio sed causa facit Schismaticum, Not the departing, but the cause makes a Schismatick. Aquinas shewing that wherein the vitiousnesse of Schisme lyes,*sayes, As in naturall things that which is by ac∣cident does not constitute the species, so in morall, not that which is beside the intention for that is accidentall: therefore, sayes he, the sin of Schisme is in that it intends to separate from that unity which charity makes, and therefore Schismaticks are properly those who of their own accord and intention doe separate themselves from the uni∣ty of the Church.
The next thing considerable in the description of Schisme; is the rashnesse of the separation: though the cause of separating be just, yet the manner of it may be schismaticall, if done rashly or violently. Those who are joyned in communion with others, when they differ from those with whom they have communion, they are bound to examine, try, to make use of all meanes they can to satisfie their consciences in things they scruple: and if they cannot, yet before they breake off communion they are bound to seek by all means they can for a redress of those things which after most serious examination appeare evill to them, they are bound to wait with much forbearance, and longsuffer∣ing. And at last if there be a necessity of departing, they must not rend away with violence, but shew themselves willing and ready in the spirit of love and meeknesse to open their cause, to shew their reasons to the Church why they cannot continue in Page 177 that communion with them they formerly had, and desire that they may peaceably and lovingly depart, seeing they cannot with peace of their conscience and love to their soules continue with them, and that they may joyne with some other Church, where they may enjoy peace and further edification.
Surely here is no Schisme, this is no rending away, here is no violence used, here is onely a loving and peaceable secessi∣on; notwithstanding this, were it not the pride, envy and frowardnesse of mens spirits, much love and peace might con∣tinue amongst Christians and Churches: True indeed, if men can beare no contradiction, no kinde of blame of their wayes, there must needs be trouble; but then those who doe contradict or blame, though they be in the wrong, yet if it be through weaknesse, and carryed with meeknesse, they are not so much the cause of the trouble, as those who cannot beare this weaknesse of their Brethren without frowardnesse and con∣tention.
There are other names of division; the name of Puritan, what a divider hath it been? but that seeing it self ready to dye, divided it self into two, Round head and Independent; these are now the opprobrious, discriminating, scornfull names of division amongst us: For the first, there is so much folly and absurdity in it, that surely it will soone vanish of it selfe if you contemne it; it is too low and contemptible for a Pulpit, or a Pen to meddle with: But the other carries in the face of it an open defiance to all kind of government, a monstrous kind of liberty for men to live as they list, and to be accountable to none, whatsoever they hold or doe: Certainly such kinde of people as these, are not to be suffered; shall I say in any Christian society? no not in any humane society; if there be any such people as these, they are one of the most monstrous kinde of people that ever lived upon the face of the earth: How many runne away with the word, and cry out of men and their wayes under this name which they know not? How farre those who are for the Congrega∣tionable way, are from such an uncontroulable liberty, hath beene shewne, Chap. 7. Pag. 41. I shall adde this one thing, of all kinde of governments in the Church, that which hath this name fastened upon it is most opposite to the name of any in that sense it is ordinarily taken, for there is no Church-government Page 178 that holds forth more means to reduce from errour, or any miscarriage, then this doth; examine it with the Prelaticall or Presbyteriall Government, and you shall find it; for first, in the Prelaticall Government, if once the Prelates de∣termine any case, you must there rest, there is no Church helpe for you, except you will say it is in a Convocation, where we know they ruled both in the choyce of members, and ordering all things as they list. In the Presbyteriall way, if so many as∣sociated Elders determine any case, it must in them receive the finall determination, you must rest in it, although the greater part of the Churches, and the greater number of Elders in a Kingdome should be of another minde; for if you rise to a Nationall Assembly, there are not the twentieth part of Elders of the Kingdome in it: But those who men call Independents say, that if any thing be done by them that is offensive, not only those associated Elders, but all or any Elders or Churches whatsoever may require account, may in the name of Christ doe all in effect, for the reducing of them, that those associ∣ated Elders can doe, still remembring that Church-power in one or the other, goes no further then mens consciences; if men wil not conscientiously regard what is done to reduce them from evill, there is no help within the Church, but to appeale to CHRIST; as for the externall helpe by the Magistrate, that concernes not the controversie about Church-government, and yet for subjection to that Ordinance of God, the principles and profession of those you call Independents leave as much to the Magistrate, as the principle or profession of those who are Pres∣byteriall doe, if not more. Tolle •am nominis crimen & nihil re∣stat nisi criminis nomen; Now take away the crime of the name, and there remaines nothing but the name of a crime.