No one can doubt that, if the Christian Church were one in spirit, and one in organization for work, she would fulfil her appointed mission better than she does. Indeed, since the establishment of brotherly love is a chief part of that mission, so long as that love is wanting, so long she fails in her mission. It may be safely said that no single cause so effectually obstructs Christianity within the Church, and none so prevents its acceptance outside, as the schisms and enmities whereby she is divided against herself. While she thus offers a ready text to her critics, detractors, and opponents, how can she hope to conquer the world for brotherly love?
Whatever weighty reasons there may have been in days gone by for rending to pieces the Christian body; whatever advantages may have seemed likely to spring therefrom, that rending, being an absolute belying of the Christian spirit, was, in itself, an unmixed evil. The Church that had so far lost the spirit of Christian love, as not to be ready to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things, rather than fall to pieces, was not the Church of Christ. No corruption or abuse, however glaring, could ever constitute a sufficient excuse for schism or revolt. Schism may be allowable in every other institution: in the Church of Christ it is forever forbidden; for the reason that her very essence is the unity of brotherly love, and where that fails, she fails. As St. Ignatius says: “If any one followeth one that maketh a schism, he doth not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Philad., iii.)