SCHISM. Greek, a fissure, or rent. In an ecclesiastical sense it means a breaking off from communion with the Church, on account of some disagreement in matters of faith or discipline. Those who do so are called Schismatics. To separate wilfully from the Church of God is a sin; (1 Cor. i. 10; iii. 3; xi. 18;) and we are directed to avoid those who cause divisions. (Rom. xvi. 17.) In the Litany we pray, "From heresy and schism, good Lord deliver us."

History brings before our notice many considerable schisms, in which whole bodies of men separated from the communion of the Catholic Church. Such were, in the fourth century, the schisms of the Donatists, and of the numerous heretics which sprung up in the Church, as the Arians, Photinians, Apollinarians, &c., the schism in the Church of Antioch; in the fifth century, the schism in the Church of Rome, between Laurentius and Symmachus; the schism of the rival popes at Rome and Avignon, in the fourteenth century.

In England the chief schisms have been by the Romanists, the
Independents, and the Wesleyans.