But we know something of a Church founded by an apostle, presided over for a time by an apostle, which was full of schisms. This was the Church of Corinth. (See First Epistle to the Corinthians, first three chapters.)
These schisms were marked by differences of mind and judgment; and by “envying, strife, and divisions.” Its “Protestantism” may, no doubt, have occasioned this.
But along with these divisions, and partly their cause, partly their effect, there was not only a warm attachment to particular ministers, but positive antagonism to others professing the same faith, and doing the same work. From the sameness of human nature in every age, we can quite understand how each party would defend their sectarianism. “We are of Apollos,” some might have thus said. “We do not admire Peter. He is too much of a Jew for us; besides, he denied his Lord, and dissembled along with Barnabas at Antioch. We prefer our own minister even to Paul. He is a much more eloquent man; of a much more commanding figure and appearance; and how profound he is in his knowledge of the Scriptures!” “We are of Paul,” others might have cried; “for he was chosen specially by Christ; and he has been honoured by Him more than all; and does not the Church of Corinth, moreover, owe its very existence to his preaching and labours? It is a shame to belong to any other!” “We cling to Peter,” a third party might have said; “he lived with Christ when He was on earth, saw His miracles, heard His words, was treated after the resurrection with special love, and received from Him a special commission to feed His sheep. Apollos is no apostle; and as for Paul, he persecuted the Church, and confesses himself that he is not meet to be called an apostle. Apollos is good, Paul better, but Peter is best!” “We belong to neither,” others could have boasted: “your divisions are so many, your differences so great, that we have retired from all your meetings in weariness; and each of us are of Christ only, and call no man master but Him; you should all join us, the Christians:”—thus making use of the very name of Christ to characterise a sect. Such were some of the schisms; and to the schismatics St Paul said, “Ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”
The apostle desired to heal those schisms, and to bring the members of the Church into one mind. How did he endeavour to effect this?
Had he been a Papist, he might have said—“Why thus divided? Because you are not building on the one true foundation, which is Peter! Do you not understand the meaning of the name, Cephas, or the Rock, given to him, and intended to teach all Christians that the temple of the Church was to be built upon this rock, and this only; against which the gates of hell cannot prevail? Therefore,