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Moses, and at the same time is so far from disclaiming, that he glories in the name of a follower of Christ.
5. There is only one other place in this history in which the word occurs, namely, where the Jews at Rome, (for whom Paul had sent on his arrival,) speaking of the Christian society, address him in these words: "But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest; for as concerning this sect,” περι μεν γαρ της αἱρεσεως ταύτης, we know that it is every-where spoken against," Acts xxviii. 22. There cannot be a question, here, of the propriety of rendering the word aipeous sect; a term of a middle nature, not necessarily implying either good or bad: For, as to the disposition wherein those Jews were at this time, it is plain they did not think themselves qualified to pronounce either for or against it, till they should give Paul, who patronized it, a full hearing. This they were willing to do; and therefore only acquainted him, in general, that they found it to be a party that was universally decried. Thus, in the historical part of the New Testament, we find the word alproic employed to denote sect or party indiscriminately, whether good or bad. It has no necessary reference to opinions, true or false. Certain it is, that sects are commonly, not always, caused by difference in opinion; but the term is expressive of the effect only, not of the cause.
6. In order to prevent mistakes, I shall here further observe, that the word sect, among the Jews, was not, in its application, entirely coincident with the same term as applied by Christians to the subdivisions subsisting among themselves. We, if I mistake not, invariably use it of those who form separate communions, and do not associate with one another in religious worship and ceremonies. Thus we call Papists, Lutherans, Calvinists, different sects, not so much on account of their differences in opinion, as because they have established to themselves different fraternities, to which, in what regards public worship, they confine themselves; the several denominations above-mentioned having no intercommunity with one another in sacred matters. High church and low church we call only parties, because they have not formed separate communions. Great and known differences in opinion, when followed by no external breach in the society, are not considered with us as constituting distinct sects, though their differences in opinion may give rise to mutual aversion. Now, in the Jewish sects (if we except the Samaritans) there were no separate communities erected. The same temple, and the same synagogues, were attended alike by Pharisees and by Sadducees. Nay, there were often of both denominations in the sanhedrim, and even in the priesthood.
Another difference was, that the name of the sect was not applied to all the people who adopted the same opinions, but solely to the men of eminence among them who were considered as the leaders and instructors of the party. The much greater
part of the nation, nay, the whole populace, received implicitly the doctrine of the Pharisees, yet Josephus never styles the common people Pharisees, but only followers and admirers of the Pharisees. Nay, this distinction appears sufficiently from sacred writ: "The Scribes and Pharisees," says our Lord, Matt. xxiii. 2,"sit in Moses' seat." This could not have been said so generally, if any thing further had been meant by Pharisees but the teachers and guides of the party. Again, when the officers, sent by the chief priests to apprehend our Lord, returned without bringing him, and excused themselves by saying, "Never man spake like this man," they were asked, "Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees, believed on him?" John vii. 48. Now, in our way of using words, we should be apt to say that all his adherents were of the Pharisees; for the pharasaical was the only popular doctrine. But it was not to the followers, but to the leaders, that the name of the sect was applied. Here, however, we must except the Essenes, who, as they all, of whatever rank originally, entered into a solemn engagement whereby they confined themselves to a peculiar mode of life, which in a great measure secluded them from the rest of mankind, were considered almost in the same manner as we do the Benedictines or Dominicans, or any order of monks or friars among the Romanists.
Josephus, in the account he has given of the Jewish sects, considers them all as parties who supported different systems of philosophy, and has been not a little censured for this by some critics. But, as things were understood then, this manner of considering them was not unnatural. Theology, morality, and questions regarding the immortality of the soul and a future state, were principal branches of their philosophy. "Philosophia," says Cicero, "nos primum ad deorum cultum, deinde ad jus hominum quod situm est in generis humani societate, tum ad modestiam, magnitudinemque animi erudivit : eademque ab animo tanquam ab oculis, caliginem dispulit, ut omnia supera, infera, prima, ultima, media, videremus." Besides, as it was only men of eminence qualified to guide and instruct the people who were dignified with the title either of Pharisee or of Sadducee, there was nothing so analagous among the Pagans as their different sects of philosophers, the Stoics, the Academics, and the Epicureans, to whom also the general term aipeσic was commonly applied. Epiphanius, a Christian writer of the fourth century, from the same view of things with Josephus, reckons among the alpeσeç, sects, or heresies, if you please to call them so, which arose among the Greeks before the coming of Christ, these classes of philosophers-the Stoics, the Platonists, the Pythagoreans, and the Epicureans. Of this writer it may also be remarked, that in the first part of his work he evidently uses the
* Tuscul. Quæst. lib. 1.
word aipeous in all the latitude in which it had been employed by the sacred writers, as signifying sect or party of any kind, and without any note of censure; otherwise he would never have numbered Judaism, whose origin he derives from the command which God gave to Abraham to circumcise all the males of his family, among the original heresies. Thus, in laying down the plan of his work, he says, Εν τῳ ουν πρωτῳ βιβλιῳ πρωτου τομου αίρεσεις εικοσιν, αἱ εισιν αἱδε βαρβαρισμός, σκυθισμος, ἑλληνισμος, ιουδαϊσμος, κ. τ. ε. * This only by the way.
7. But it may be asked, is not the acceptation of the word in the epistles different from what it has been observed to be in the historical books of the New Testament? Is it not in the former invariably used in a bad sense, as denoting something wrong and blamable? That in those indeed it always denotes something faulty, or even criminal, I am far from disputing; nevertheless, the acceptation is not materially different from that in which it always occurs in the Acts of the Apostles. In order to remove the apparent inconsistency in what has been now advanced, let it be observed, that the word sect has always something relative in it; and therefore, in different applications, though the general import of the term be the same, it will convey a favourable idea or an unfavourable, according to the particular relation it bears. I explain myself by examples. The word sect may be used along with the proper name, purely by way of distinction from another party of a different name; in which case the word is not understood to convey either praise or blame. Of this we have examples in the phrases above quoted-the sect of the Pharisees, the sect of the Sadducees, the sect of the Nazarenes. In this way we may speak of a strict sect or a lax sect, or even of a good sect or a bad sect. If any thing reprehensible or commendable be suggested, it is not suggested by the term sect, aipeσiç, but by the words construed with it. Again, it may be applied to a formed party in a community, considered in reference to the whole. If the community, of which the sect is a part, be of such a nature as not to admit this subdivision without impairing and corrupting its constitution, to charge them with splitting into sects, or forming parties, is to charge them with corruption in what is most essential to them as a society. Hence arises all the difference there is in the word, as used in the history, and as used in the epistles of Peter and Paul; for these are the only apostles who employ it. In the history, the reference is always of the first kind; in the epistles, always of the second. In these, the apostles address themselves only to Christians, and are not speaking of sects without the church, but either reprehending them
The import of the word heresy in Epiphanius has not escaped the observation of the author of Dictionnaire Historique des Auteurs Ecclesiastiques, who says, "Par le mot d'hérésies, St. Epiphane entend une secte ou une societé d'hommes, qui ont, sur la religion, des sentimens particuliers."
for, or warning them against, forming sects among themselves, to the prejudice of charity, to the production of much mischief within their community, and of great scandal to the unconverted world without. So Paul's words to the Corinthians were understood by Chrysostom and other ancient expositors. In both applications, however, the radical import of the word is the same.
8. But even here it has no necessary reference to the doctrine, true or false. Let us attend to the first passage in which it occurs in the Epistles, and we shall be fully satisfied of the truth of this remark. It follows one quoted in Part III. of this Dissertation. "For there must be also heresies among you," 1 Cor. xi. 19, Aɛ γαρ και αἱρεσεις εν ύμιν ειναι. Ye must also have sects amongst you. It is plain, that what he reproves under the name oxioμara in the former verse, is in effect the same with what he here denominates αἱρέσεις. Now, the term σχισμα I have shown already to have there no relation to any erroneous tenet, but solely to undue regards to some individual teachers, to the prejudice of others, and of the common cause. In another passage of this Epistle, (chap. iii. 3,) where, speaking of the very same reprehensible conduct, he uses the words strife and factions, eρiç Kaι Sixоoтaσiai, words nearly coincident with σχισματα και αἱρέσεις, his whole aim in these reprehensions is well expressed in these words, "that ye might learn in us," (that is, in himself and Apollos, whom he had named for example's sake,) "not to think of men above that which is written," above what Scripture warrants, "that no one of you be puffed up for one," make your boast of one against another," chap. iv. 6.
9. It may be said, Does not this explanation represent the two words schism and heresy as synonymous? That there is a great affinity in their signification is manifest; but they are not convertible terms. I do not find that the word oxioua is ever applied in holy writ to a formed party, to which the word aipeots is commonly applied. I understand them in the Epistles of this apostle, as expressive of different degrees of the same evil. An undue attachment to one part, and a consequent alienation of affection from another part of the Christian community, comes under the denomination of oxioua. When this disposition has proceeded so far as to produce an actual party or faction among them, this effect is termed aipɛois. And it has been remarked, that even this term was at that time currently applied, when matters had not come to an open rupture and separation in point of communion. There was no appearance of this at the time referred to among the Corinthians. And even in Judaism, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the two principal sects, nay, the only sects mentioned in the Gospel, and (which is still more extraordinary) more widely different in their religious sentiments than any two Christian sects, still joined together, as was but just now observed, in all the offices of religious service, and had neither different
priests and ministers, nor separate places for social worship, the reading of the law, or the observance of the ordinances.
10. It will perhaps be said, that, in the use at least which the apostle Peter has made of this word, it must be understood to include some gross errors, subversive of the very foundations of the faith. The words in the common version are, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction," 2 Pet. ii. 1. That the apostle in this passage foretels that there will arise such aipeσuç, sects or factions, as will be artfully and surreptitiously formed by teachers who will entertain such pernicious doctrines, is most certain; but there is not the least appearance that this last character was meant to be implied in the word aipeσuç: So far from it, that this character is subjoined as additional information concerning, not the people seduced, or the party, but the seducing teachers; for it is of them only (though one would judge differently from our version) that what is contained in the latter part of the verse is affirmed. The words in the original are, Ev ὑμιν εσονται ψευδοδιδασκαλοι, οἱτινες παρεισαξουσιν αἱρέσεις απωλειας, και τον αγορασαντα αυτους δεσποτην αρνούμενοι, επαγοντες ἑαυτοις ταχινην απώλειαν. Observe it is αρνουμενοι and επαγοντες,
in the masculine gender and nominative case, agreeing with feudodδασκαλοι; not αρνούμενας and επαγουσας, in the feminine gender and accusative case, agreeing with aipeous. Again, if the word aipɛσaç did not imply the effect produced, sects or factions, but the opinions taught, whether true or false, which are often, not always, the secret spring of division, he would probably have expressed himself in this manner, ψευδοδιδασκαλοι οἵτινες διδαξουσι αἱρέσεις arwλeas, who will teach damnable, or rather destructive heresies: for doctrine of every kind, sound and unsound, true and false, is properly said to be taught; but neither here, nor any-where else in Scripture, I may safely add, nor in any of the writings of the two first centuries, do we ever find the word aiptais construed with Sidaσkw, knovσow, or any word of like import; or an opinion, true or false, denominated aiptolç. There are, therefore, two distinct and separate evils in those false teachers, of which the apostle here gives warning. One is, their making division, by forming to themselves sects or parties of adherents; the other is, the destructive principles they will entertain, and doubtless, as they find occasion, disseminate among their votaries.
11. The only other passage in which the word aiperis occurs in the New Testament, is where Paul numbers aipɛσeç, sects, among the works of the flesh, Gal. v. 20, and very properly subjoins them to dixooraoiai, factions, as the word ought to be rendered, according to the sense in which the apostle always uses it. Such distinctions and divisions among themselves, he well knew, could