Sayfadaki görseller

them,' was their cry. And why? That they might set themselves up. And what if the rebels had been successful ? Conceive what would certainly have happened then. It would have been a pretty thing --would it not ?-for the Jewish people if Dathan had become king, and Korah priest. If no man is fit to govern who has not learnt to obey—and that is a maxim which cannot be disputed—what would have become of a kingdom in which the heads were rebels and confusion was the basis on which law and order were to be built? This the King of kings knew. He, therefore, vindicated the honour of his own commandment, and taught the world that law is a sacred thing, and that God's ordinances must be respected. The basis of all that is good in social life is reverence for authority. The fifth commandment stands at the head of the second table, because it is the foundation of every other social duty. The powers that be are ordained of God.” They are God's ordinance. God is a God of order and law.

Rebellion against the State, schism from the Church, are not only evils, but sins, distinct violations of the moral law. A man is as much bound to honour the magistrate and keep the law, and to respect ministerial authority and obey the precepts of the Church, as to speak truth and abstain from stealing. In fact, if one commandment can be more sacred and more important than another, the fifth is the greatest commandment in the second table. Bad as it is to kill, to steal, to commit adultery, to bear false witness, it is not less bad, and perhaps it is worse, to dishonour parents; whether those to whom we owe our being as men, or those to whom we owe our standing either as members of the State, which is God's ordinance, or as members of the


Church, which is founded in the blood of Christ. The most sacred principle of religion is obedience. Religion is obedience, obedience to God and obedience to man.

II. Observe next the greatness of the sin of schism. This was especially the sin of Korah and his associates. They rebelled against the civil authority ; but the ground of their rebellion was resistance of the authority of the Church. They disputed the priesthood of Aaron, and because of that they defied Moses. They were rebels because they were schismatics. Schism was their especial sin.

Now, my dear brethren, I know that schism is an evil of which men think lightly in the present day. Men do not sufficiently distinguish between the liberty which loves law and order, and the licence which destroys both peace and truth. It is good to be free, but it is not freedom to follow self-will. To be free is to be one with law. The man who is free indeed is a law to himself. It is supposed, however, that freedom consists in doing as we please ; and hence men think as little about setting up a new Church as about planting a new tree, or building a new house. Ambition in spiritual things is so usual, that in common opinion it is a virtue rather than a sin. Scarcely a day passes but we read of some new schism, and of the founding of what is wrongly, and, I may say, profanely called a new Church. A new Church, forsooth! The Church is essentially an old institution. There is only one Church, and that was founded eighteen hundred years ago. It is true, indeed, that this old Church may be planted in countries which have not yet received the faith, and then the old body is increased by new limbs, and the old tree by new



branches. In this sense, and in no other, there may be new Churches. Men think, however, that every little difference is a lawful ground of separation from the old body, and that the easy remedy for all discord in opinion among those who are already Christians, is a severance from their former 'associates, and an extemporised creation of a Church. But what does this tremendous judgment teach us? I do not think that it bids us to think of schism as a light evil. For my own part, I cannot read about the earth opening, and the fire consuming, and the plague destroying, without feeling that this act of schism was a deadly evil, subversive of religion, hostile to spiritual life, eating out the very heart of love, destructive to unity and peace. I cannot see the hot and angry countenance of Moses,—that meekest man of all saints, that prophet who more than

any other man was like Christ, that favoured person who was taken up into the mount with God, and came down to earth with a face which shone with the radiance of everlasting glory,--I cannot look upon this gentle man, and see that fire of holy indignation with which all his soul was kindled, and hesitate, after all, to believe that the rending of unity is the work of devils, and that men who act in Korah's spirit will find it difficult to answer for their conduct when they stand for judgment before a God of love.

In saying this, my dear brethren, I do not mean to judge others. Let God be judge, and not man. I judge no man. To his own master every man must stand or fall. Many do it ignorantly. Many are guilty of schism, because inheriting the sin of fathers and knowing it not to be sin. May He who pardons ignorance forgive them and teach the love of peace, and unity, and truth. But I do say this, that the story which we have heard to-day is a black and dismal story, and that we should all read it, and meditate upon it, and learn from it to dread schism, and to pray

that God would keep from us a rebellious, upstart, selfasserting temper, and that He would spread throughout the world that spirit of love, which alone, in His time and by His overruling grace, can repair the breaches of the spiritual temple, and bind a world, which now is split into a thousand pieces with the cords of unity and the cement of peace.


peace, labour for peace, pray


peace. III. Finally, learn from this history that respect for the office of the clergy is a great, if not the chief, preservative of peace. In saying this I am aware that I magnify my own office. But I cannot help that, if what I say be truth. And it is the truth. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram took a different view, and war was the consequence. They despised the ministry of Aaron, at the same time that they were jealous and ambitious of the honours which Aaron had. And what did they say ?

66 All the congregation are holy, every one.” They accused Aaron of what in modern times is called priestcraft. They charged him with unlawful assumption of spiritual dignity and power. And at the same time they said that they were quite as good as he, quite as near to God, quite as much entitled to burn incense and offer sacrifice. You see, they were levellers in sacred things. They denied the authority of Aaron, and desired to make all men equal in religious matters, and al equally entitled to take a lead in acts of worship, and to direct the service of God. In short, they denied that there was any distinction between clergy and people, or that a minister of God was in any sense different from other men, except that religion was in a manner his profession, and that his time was wholly to be given to sacred things. You know that this is an opinion which is held—I do not say by any consist

I ent Churchman, but still—by many persons at the present period in the world's history, and it was the opinion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. That the opinion is wrong, thoroughly wrong, that it is even a sinful opinion, I need not say, because the sad judgment which was passed on those who held it sufficiently demonstrates that. But what I wish you

. to observe is, that such an opinion is the mother of almost all schisms, and that the contrary opinion does more than any thing besides to bind the world in one. Respect for the legitimate authority of the clergy is the chief conservator of order, law, and unity within the Church. Now, do not mistake my meaning. I do not say that a minister of Christ is of necessity better than other persons. The priest may be good or bad-Aaron was not faultless; his priesthood will not make him personally better than any other man.

But, let the man be what he may, his office is respectable, his office is high, his office is holy; and a belief in this conduces to unity and peace. The minister of God has functions which none may discharge without profaneness, but he only. He has God's commission, given him by laying on of hands. He has received the Holy Ghost for the work of the ministry. To him it has been said, as we read in to-day's Gospel, “ As my Father hath sent me so send I you.” He has in his hand the keys of the divine kingdom. He speaks with the authority which God gives. And the people ought to think this, and to

[ocr errors]
« ÖncekiDevam »