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maintain that there can be no such crime as blasphemy. His argument (by substituting defamation for blasphemy, defame for blaspheme, and man for God) serves equally to prove that there is no such crime as defamation, and stands thus;
- Defamation presupposes malice : where there is malice, there is misapprehension. Now the person who, misapprehending another, defames him, does no more than put the man's name" (I use the author's phraseology) “to his own misapprehensions of him. This is so far from speaking evil of the man, that it is not speaking of him at all. It is only speaking evil of a wild idea, of a creature of the imagination, and existiog nowhere but there."* From this clear manner of reasoning, the following corollary, very comfortable to those whom the world has hitherto misnamed slanderers, may fairly be deduced :
- If you have a spite against any man, you may freely indulge your malevolence in saying of him all the evil you can think of. That you cannot be justly charged with defaination is demonstrable. If all that you say be true, he is not injured by you, and therefore you are no detractor. If the whole or part be false, what is false does not reach him : Your abuse in that case is levelled against an ideal being, a chimera to which you only affix his name, (a mere trifle, for a name is but a sound), but with which the man's real character is not concerned. Therefore, when you have said the worst that malice and resentment can suggest, you are not chargeable with defamation, which was the point to be proved.—Thus the argument of that volatile author goes further to emancipate men from all the restraints of reason and conscience, than I believe he himself was aware. He only intended by it, as one would think, to release us from the fear of God; it is equally well calculated for freeing us from all regard to man. Are we from this to form an idea of the liberty, both sacred and civil, of which the author affected to be considered as the patron and friend; and of the deference he professes to entertain for the Scriptures and primitive Christianity? I hope not; for he is far from being at all times consistent with himself. Of the many evidences which might be brought of this charge, one is, that no man is readier than he to throw the imputation of blasphemy on those whose opinions differ from his own.*
* That the reader may be satisfied that I do not wrong this author, I
in his own words, part of his reasoning concerning blasphemy. “As it is a crime that implies malice against God, I am not able to conceive how any man can commit it. A man who knows God, cannot speak evil of him: And a man who knows him not, and reviles him, does therefore revile him, because he knows him not. He therefore puts the name of God to his own misapprehensions of God. This is so far from spenking evil of the Deity, that it is not speaking of the Deity at all: It is only speaking evil of a wild idea, of a creature of the imagination, and existing nowhere but there."
The next term I proposed to examine critically was oxiqua, schism. The Greek word frequently occurs in the New Testament, though it has only once been rendered schism by our translators. However, the frequency of the use among theologians has made it a kind of technical term in relation to ecclesiastical matters; and the way it has been bandied, as a term of ignominy, from sect to sect reciprocally, makes it a matter of some consequence to ascertain, if possible, the genuine meaning it bears in holy writ. In order to this, let us, abstracting alike from the uncandid representations of all zealous party-men, have recourse to the oracles of truth, the source of light and direction.
2. As to the proper acceptation of the word oxioua, when applied to objects merely material, there is no difference of sentinents among interpreters. Every one admits that it ought to be rendered rent, breach, or separation. In this sense it occurs in the Gospels ; as where our Lord
says, “No man putteth a piece of new cloth to an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up, taketh from the garment and the rent is made worse, Matt. 9: 16. Xeigov oxiqua yiverat. The same phrase occurs in the parallel passage in Mark chapter 2:21. From this sense it is transferred by metaphor to things incorporeal. Thus it is used once and again by the evangelist John, to signify a difference in opinion expressed in words. Of the contest among the Jews concerning Jesus, some maintaining that he was, others that he was not the Messiah, the sacred bistorian says, Σχίσμα ούν εν τω όχλω εγένιο δι' αυτόν; «So there was a division among the people because of bim,” John 7: 43. Here, it is plain, the word is used in a sense perfectly indifferent; for it was neither in the true opinion supported by one side, nor in the false opinion supported by the other, that the schism or division lay, but in the opposition of these two opinions. In this sense of the word there would have been no schism, if they had been all of one opinion, whether it had been the true opinion or the false. The word is used precisely in the same signification by this apostle in two other places of his gospel; ch. 9: 16. 10: 19.
* In the dedication of the book to the lower House of Convocation, the author advises them to clear themselves from the imputation of maintaining certain ungodly tenets, by exposing the blasphemies of those of their own body : In No. 23, we are told that false zeal talks blasphemy in the name of the Lord; in No. 24, that persecutors blasphemously pretend to be serving God; and in No. 27, that it is a kind of blasphemy to attempt to persuade people that God takes pleasure in vexing his creatures. More examples of the commission of this impracticable crime might be produced from that author if necessary.
3. But it is not barely to a declared difference in judgment, that even the metaphorical use of the word is confined. As breach or rupture is the literal import of it in our language, wherever these words may be figuratively applied, the term ogloua seems likewise capable of an application. It invariably presupposes, that among those things whereof it is affirmed, there subsisted an union sormerly, and as invariably denotes that the union subsists no longer. In his manner the apostle Paul uses the word, applying it to a particular church or Christian congregation. Thus be adjures the Corinthians, (1 Cor. 1: 10), by the name of the Lord Jesus, that there be no divisions or schisins among them, ίνα μη ή εν υμίν σχίσματα; and in another place of the same epistle (ch. 11: 18), he tells them, “I hear that there are divisions,” or schisms, " among you," uzova σχίσματα εν υμίν υπάρχειν. In order to obtain a proper idea of what is meant by a breach or schism in this application, we must form a just notion of that which constituted the union whereof the schism was a violation. Now the great and powerful cement which united the souls of Christians was their mutual love. " Their hearts,” in the emphatical language of holy writ, “were knit together in love," Col. 2: 2. This had been declared by their Master to be the distinguishing badge of their profession : " By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,” John 13: 35. Their partaking of the same baptism, their professing the same faith, their enjoying the same promises, and their joining in the same religious service, formed a connexion merely external and of little significance, unless, agreeably to the apostle's expression, Eph. 3: 17, it was rooted and grounded in love.
As this, therefore, is the great criterion of the Christian character, and the foundation of the Christian unity, whatever alienates the affections of Christians from one another, is manifestly subversive of both, and may consequently, with the greatest truth and energy, be denominated schism. It is not so much what makes an outward distinction or separation, (though this also may in a lower degree be so denominated), as what produces an alienation of the heart, which constitutes schism in the sense of the apostle ; for this strikes directly at the vitals of Christianity. Indeed both the evil and the danger of the former, that is, an external separation, is principally to be estimated from its influence upon the latter, that is, in producing an alienation of heart; for it is in the union of affection among Christians, that the spirit, the life, and the power of religion are principally placed. Vol. 1.
4. It may be said, Does it not rather appear, from the passage first quoted, to denote such a breach of that visible unity in the outward order settled in their assemblies, as results from some jarring in their religious opinions, and by cousequence in the expressions they adopted? This, I own, is what the words in immediate connexion, considered by themselves, would naturally suggest : “I beseech you, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions (schisms) among you; and that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment,” i Cor. 1: 10. It cannot be denied that a certain unanimity, or a declared assent to the great articles of the Christian profession, was necessary in every one, in order to his being admitted to, and kept in the communion of the church. But then it must be allowed, on the other hand, that those were at that time few, simple, and perspicuous. It is one of the many unhappy consequences of the disputes that have arisen in the church, and of the manner in which these have been managed, that such terms of communion liave since been multiplied in every part of the Christian world, and not a liitle perplexed with metaphysical subtleties and scholastic quibbles. Whether this evil consequence was in its nature avoidabie, or, if it was, in what manner it might have been avoided, are questions, though important, foreign to the present purpose. Certain it is, however, that several phrases used by the apostles in relation to this subject, such as ouoq poves, to aŭró q povouries, and some others, commonly understood to mean unanimous in opinion, denote, more properly, coinciding in affection, concurring in love, desire, hatred, and aversion, agreeably to the common import of the verb qooviv, both in sacred authors and in profane, which is more strictly rendered to savor, to relish, ihan to be of opinion.
5. Further, let it be observed, that in matters whereby the essentials of the faith are not affected, much greater indulgence to diversity of opinion was given, in those pure and primitive times, than has been allowed since, when the externals, or the form of religion, came to be raised on the ruins of the essentials, or the power, and a supposed correctness of judgment made of greater account than purity of heart. In the apostolic age, which may be styled the reign of charity, their mutual forbearance in regard to such differences, was at once an evidence and an exercise of this divine principle. “ Him that is weak in the faith,” says our apostle, “receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things; another who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth, despise bim that eateth not; and let not him who eateth not, judge hiin that eateth,” Rom. 14: 1-3. “ One man esteemeth one day above another ; another esteemeth every day alike.” As to these disputable points, “ let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind," (ch. 14: 5), and as far as he himself is concerned, act according to his persuasion. But he does not permit even him who is in the right, to disturb his brother's peace by such unimportant inquiries. “ Hast thou faith?” says he ; the knowledge and conviction of the truth on the point in question ? “ Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he who condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth,” ch. 14: 22. And in another place, “Let us, therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing, Philip. 3: 15: 16. We are to remember, that " as the kingdom of God is not meat and drink,” so neither is it logical acuteness in distinction, or grammatical accuracy of expression ; but it is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in ihe Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God and approved of men," Rom. 14: 17, 18.
6. Now, if we inquire, by an examination of the context, into the nature of those differences among the Corinthians to which Paul affixes the name oziquara, nothing is more certain than that no cause of difference is suggested, which has any the least relation to the doctrines of religion, or to any opinions that might be formed concerning them. The fault which be stigmatized with that odious appellation, consisted then, solely in an undue attachment to particular persons, under whom, as chiefs or leaders, the people severally ranked themselves; and thus, without making separate communions, formed distinctions among themselves, to the manifest prejudice of the common bond of charity, classing themselves under different heads. “ Now this I say,” adds the apostle, “that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ, 1 Cor. 1: 12. It deserves to be remarked, that of the differences among the Roman converts, concerning the observance of days and the distinction of meats, which we should think more material, as they more nearly affect the justness of religious sentiments and the purity of religious practice, the apostle makes so little account, that he will not permit them to harass one another with such questions ; but enjoins them to allow every one to follow his own judgmentat the same time that he is greatly alarmed at differences among the Corinthians, in which, as they result solely from particular attachments and personal esteem, neither the faith nor the practice of a Christian appears to have an immediate concern.
But it was not without reason that he made this distinction. The hurt threatened by the latter was directly against that extensive love commanded by the Christian law, but not less truly, though more indirectly, against the Christian doctrine and manners. By attaching themselves strongly to human, and consequently fallible teachers and guides, they weakened the tie which bound them to the only