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The early church, founded by the Apostles, was certainly true and pure. They preached a gospel of deliverance (freedom) from sin, holiness, and purity. Yet, even in the days of the Apostles, there were false prophets and false gospels being preached. These false doctrines spread like gangrene until all the sects became simply evolutional varieties of the Roman Empire's church, both east and west, whose doctrines were dictated by the sainted Emperors Constantine and Justinian the despot, thus eliminating the true gospel by 388 AD. As prophesied in Revelation, the church adulterated (joined in compromise) with the Kings of the earth. The true church went into the wilderness for 1260 years to reappear briefly in 1648 at George Fox's entrance into the Kingdom; only to disappear again by 1880.
First the Roman Catholics, with their masses still locked in sin, and with no understanding as to how to lead them from sin's slavery to freedom, invented purgatory as the hope for the masses of their members. Only the few with massive "good works"* were judged by their sect to have been "saints," who supposedly went directly to heaven; the rest of their membership went to purgatory, to be purged of their sins; while all non-members went to Hell forever. So the promise of purgatory kept the masses of their "non-sainted" dues paying members coming back.
Then the Protestant Reformation began with John Wycliffe, Johannes Hus, and Martin Luther. Martin Luther created an entirely new doctrine, telling everyone they were saints just by believing in Jesus. Luther ignored the books of James, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation to create his theory: that no matter how deep a man was in sin, the new doctrine of grace excused all sins, past and present; Luther took Roman 3:28 and built his doctrine: a man is justified by faith without by deeds of the law.* This doctrine told men locked in the slavery of sin that they were God's sons, saints, kings, and priests. Shortly after, the Peasants War in Germany, led by Luther-inspired religious despots, killed 100,000 of the nobility and Roman Catholics. So the Protestants invented a new way for the masses to be controlled — to tell them sin is acceptable by God, and they are already saints on the way to being priests and kings in the next life.
Of course both the Roman Catholics and the Protestants are wrong. Sin and God, sin and heaven, light and darkness, corruption and incorruption, righteousness and unrighteousness - none can coexist. Christendom ignores the exclusions, the requirements, and the qualifying conditions of salvation. Jesus expelled Satan from heaven because of his sin. Jesus expelled Adam and Eve from paradise because of their sin. Jesus has not changed and does not change; he did not allow sin or sinners in heaven then, and he will not allow sin or sinners in heaven now, or in the future. Sin has to go before you can enter heaven.
Today's Christendom leaders are blind guides, unperfected, uncalled by Christ, untaught by Christ, unauthorized by Christ, and not sent by Christ; they are incapable of performing the purpose of ministry - the perfecting of the saints, to grow up into a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Christendom is Babylon, pretending to be the holy bride of Christ, while wallowing in the slime of sin, stained, corrupted, perishing, on the way to destruction - ignoring almost all of Jesus' teachings and commands, without fear of God, indifferent to God's call to holiness, purity, perfection, righteousness, and the sinless state. The below writing details how this abomination of true Christianity occurred.
The following is a brief history of Christendom,
In the recorded discourses of the Saviour, and especially in that sublime compendium of Christian doctrine, the sermon on the mount, principles are enunciated, which, if carried out in practice, would revolutionize the world; subverting the thrones of superstition and despotism, relieving mankind from the thralldom [slavery] of sin, and introducing them into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
It is worthy of remark that no creed or confession of faith was adopted in the primitive Christian Church. All the disciples acknowledged Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and "messenger of the covenant," who "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," and "who would manifest himself as the ruler of God's kingdom by the communication of a new divine principle of life, which to those who are redeemed and governed by him, imparts the certainty of forgiveness of sins."
"The Life was manifested," says the Apostle John, "and we have seen it and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." In Jesus Christ this divine principle of life was manifested in fullness, "and of his fullness," writes John the evangelist, "have all we received and grace for grace." The great purpose of Christ's ministry was to direct the attention of mankind to this divine power, whose government, as illustrated in his parables, brings forth in the humble and devoted soul, the reign of God, or kingdom of Heaven. Here then, is the fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion; the teaching and government of "the Holy Spirit, through whose redeeming and sanctifying power man may become a partaker of the divine nature."
It may be objected, that some have appeared "in sheep's clothing; but inwardly they were ravening wolves;" and the query may arise - how shall we distinguish the members of Christ's spiritual body from those who merely pretend to his name! He has, himself, given us the criterion: "Ye shall know them by their fruits." " By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit."
Now, "the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance."
The fruits of the spirit have always been manifested by holiness of life and conversation, and the true Christian church, in the apostolic age, was distinguished by the following characteristics, namely :
These testimonies being peculiar to the Christian dispensation, may be regarded as the marks by which the true church of Christ has ever been distinguished, and each will therefore receive a separate consideration.
1. Spiritual Worship in Spirit and Truth
As the fundamental doctrine of Christianity is the revelation of God's will through the immediate teaching of His Spirit, so the worship which this leads into is of a spiritual nature. It is observed by Robert Barclay, that the Author of Christianity has prescribed no set form of worship; enjoining only that it must be in spirit and in truth. “And it is especially to be observed, that in the whole New Testament there is no order' nor command given in this thing, but to follow the revelation of the spirit, save only that general one of meeting together." This view is corroborated by Neander, one of the most approved Ecclesiastical historians. "The kingdom of God," he says, "the temple of the Lord, were to be present, not in this or that place, but in every place where Christ himself is active in the spirit, and where, through him, the worship of God in spirit and in truth is established. Every Christian in particular, and every church in general, was to represent a spiritual temple of the Lord; the true worship of God was to be only in the inward heart; and the whole life proceeding from such inward dispositions sanctified by faith was to be a continual spiritual service: this is the great fundamental idea of the gospel, which prevails throughout the New Testament, by which the whole outward appearance of religion was to assume a different form, and all that was once carnal was to be converted into spiritual, and ennobled."
"Christianity impelled men frequently to seek the stillness of the inward sanctuary, and here to pour forth their heart to God, who dwells in such temples; but then the flames of love were also lighted in their hearts which sought communion in order to strengthen each other mutually, and to unite themselves into one holy flame which pointed towards heaven. The communion of prayer and devotion was thought a source of sanctification, inasmuch 8S men knew that the Lord was present by his spirit among those who were gathered. together in his name; but they were far from ascribing any peculiar sacredness and sanctity to the place of assembly."
2. A Free Gospel Ministry
Divine worship under the Christian dispensation being purely spiritual, needs not the intervention of a priesthood or clerical order to mediate between God and man. The primitive Christians acknowledged Christ Jesus as the bead of their church, and the " High Priest of their profession." In him they were united as one body through which the stream of divine life flowed, imparting health and nourishment to every member; and hence the apostle John says: “The anointing which ye have received of him abides in you, and ye need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him. 1 John 2:27 " But although the teaching of the spirit is the highest privilege accorded to man, it has pleased the great Head of the church to bestow upon its members various spiritual gifts of teaching and government, "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."
It is abundantly evident from the records of the New Testament, that all who were recognized as ministers of the gospel had received a divine call to that service, and were endowed with spiritual gifts to qualify them for its performance. To preach the gospel effectually, is to bring the hearers under the baptizing power of divine Truth, which cannot be effected by mere human effort, however aided by abilities and learning. No stream can rise higher than its source, no human soul can impart healing virtue to another, unless it is itself baptized in the pure fountain of eternal love.*
This spiritual ministry in the primitive Church was not confined to men; for as Peter said on the day of Pentecost, the prophecy of Joel was then fulfilled: "It shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy." Accordingly, we find that women, as well as men, were called to publish the glad tidings of salvation. Ministers were sometimes called prophets; for to prophesy is “to speak to edification, exhortation, or comfort." We are informed in the Acts, that Philip, the Evangelist, "had four daughters, virgins which did prophesy," and Paul writes of certain women who " labored with him in the gospel."
Another remarkable feature in the primitive Church was that ministers received no salaries for preaching. They adhered to the precept of their Master: "Freely ye have received, freely give." After the resurrection of Christ, we find that Peter and others went fishing, for they were fishers by occupation; and Paul, who was a tent-maker, maintained himself by working at his trade while be abode at Corinth, preaching the gospel every Sabbath in the Jewish synagogue. It is true that Paul claimed for himself and others, while traveling in the gospel ministry, the privilege of sojourning at the houses of the brethren, and eating such things as were set before them, agreeably to the instructions of their Lord. This he terms "partaking of their carnal things," and illustrates it by the Mosaic injunction: "thou shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn." But even this privilege he "did not always feel at liberty to accept, for a necessity was laid upon him to preach the gospel, and he did it "without charge."
In reference to this point, it is remarked by Neander in his church history, that "Paul expressly declares that those who traveled about to preach the gospel were justified in suffering themselves to receive the supply of their earthly wants from those for whose spiritual advantage they were laboring; but we have no right from this to draw the same conclusion with regard to the church officers of particular communities. The former could not well unite the business necessary to earn their livelihood with the labors of their spiritual calling, although the self-denial of Paul rendered even this possible; the others on the contrary might perfectly well unite, at first, the continuance of their employments with the execution of their duty in the Church; and the primitive ideas of Christians might find nothing offensive in such an union, as men were persuaded that every earthly employment may be sanctioned by the Christian feeling in which it is carried on, and they knew that even an apostle himself had united the exercise of a trade with the preaching of the gospel."
3. Religious Liberty
Among the many blessings resulting from the doctrines of Christ, when faithfully maintained, is religious liberty; for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." The true Christian will neither invade the liberty of others, nor yield his principles to ecclesiastical domination. When the disciples, James and John, inquired of the Master whether they should call down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans who refused to receive them, he rebuked them, saying: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the Son of Man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
Accordingly, we find in the apostolic age, no instance where freedom of conscience was invaded by Christians. They did not attempt to force their doctrines upon others, but left each man free to follow -his own convictions of duty; and on the other hand, when required by the rulers to desist from their religious duties, the apostles answered: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more "than unto God, judge ye."
"The ministers and elders commissioned to feed the flock of God, took the oversight of it, not for filthy lucre's sake, but of a ready mind; neither did they conduct themselves as lords over God's heritage, but "as examples of the flock,"
They did not assume to be a separate caste from the people, for there was then no distinction of clergy and laity, nor did they accept titles of reverence which the Master himself has expressly forbidden.
The government of the Church was vested in the whole body of its members, among whom, says Mosheim, "there reigned not only an amiable harmony but also a perfect equality." "The people were undoubtedly the first in authority, for the apostles showed by their own example that nothing of moment was to be carried on or determined without the consent of the assembly; and such a method of proceeding was both prudent and necessary in those critical times." It was therefore the assembly of the people which chose rulers and teachers, or received them by a free and authoritative consent, when recommended by others. The same people rejected or confirmed by their suffrages the laws that were proposed by their rulers to the assembly; excommunicated profligate and unworthy members of the Church; restored the penitent to their forfeited privileges; passed judgment upon the different subjects of controversy and discussion that arose in their community; examined and decided the disputes which happened between the elders and deacons, and in a word, exercised all that authority which belongs to such as are invested with sovereign power."
4. A Testimony against Violence
In no respect was the religion of Christ more remarkably distinguished from all others, than by its opposition to violence. The world had for thousands of years been ruled by physical force, and the earth had been steeped with the blood of its inhabitants; but at the birth of the Messiah, the nature of his kingdom was indicated by the angelic anthem, " Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good-will towards men." In the Sermon on the Mount he proclaimed those heavenly principles, which, if they prevailed in the hearts of all mankind, would put an end to war; for the" poor in spirit," the meek, the merciful, and the peacemakers, will neither inflict an injury upon others nor avenge their own wrongs by the destruction of human life. The divine teacher, in order to render his precepts the more emphatic, contrasts them with the Mosaic law which they were intended to supersede: "You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, but I say unto you, That you desist from evil." "Ye have heard that it has been said, Thou shall love thy neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say unto you, Love your enemies." Upon these principles he continually acted, and after his resurrection, his disciples followed his example, evidencing by their successful labors the power of divine truth and Christian love to overcome the world. The triumphs of Christianity have always been effected by love, and often through much sufferings; but never by resistance or violence; for love is the proper antagonist of hatred, and there are few human hearts so implacable but that they may be subdued by long-continued kindness.
Love suffers long and is kind: which seeks not her own, is not easily provoked: hopes all things, endures all things, and never fails."
5. A Testimony Against Oaths
That oaths of all kinds were forbidden under the gospel, needs, for proof only a recurrence to the express language of Christ, who, after adverting to the Mosaic prohibition of perjury, adds this emphatic declaration: "But I say unto you, swear not at all." "Let your communication be, Yea, yea ; Nay, nay·: for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil." This prohibition is confirmed by the apostle James, who says: "But, above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven nor by the earth, neither by any other oath, but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation."
The primitive Christians understood and observed this command in a literal sense, as has been proved by the writings of Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Euscbius, Origen, and others,"
6. Against Vain Fashion, Corrupting Amusements, and Flattering Titles
The primitive Christians were a plain self-denying people, who, in life and conversation, were not con- formed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of their minds. Having their affections fixed upon heavenly things, their minds were raised above those vain desires which prompt the votaries of fashion to seek enjoyment in gay apparel and frivolous amusements. The apostle of the Gentiles recommended to Christian women, that they should adorn themselves in modest apparel, and not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array, but, as becomes women professing godliness, with good works; and Peter, in similar language, cautions them against the use of sumptuous apparel. Tertullian, in addressing the Christians of his day, says : "What cause can you have to go out gaily dressed, for you are far from all where this can be required? For you go not about to the temples, you require no plays, and know nothing of the festivals of the heathen! You have no other than serious matters which require you to appear abroad."
Cyprian, after describing the pure joys of the Christian life, thus alludes to the corruptions of the heathen: " If you cast your eyes upon the towns, you meet with an assembly which is more frightful than solitude. A combat of gladiators is in preparation, in order to gratify the thirst of cruel eyes with blood. A man is put to death for the pleasure of men, murder becomes a profession, and crime not only practiced, but even taught."
But it was not alone the combats of gladiators which Christians then refused to witness; they declined attendance upon all those spectacles exhibited for public entertainments; the pantomimic shows, the tragedies and comedies, the chariot and foot races, in short, all the amusements of the theatre and circus. They carried their principles into all the concerns of their daily life, and refused to engage in any trade or business which could give countenance to idolatry, or minister in any way to the depraved tastes and appetites of the people.
"God has commanded," says Tertullian, "that the Holy Spirit, a spirit essentially tender and kind, should be received with tranquility and gentleness, with peace and stillness, and not be disquieted by passion, rage, anger, and the violence of irritated feelings. How can such a spirit put up with the exhibitions of the playhouse?" Now since with us all immodesty is an object of horror, how can we dare there to listen to things which we dare not speak, while we know that all useless and trifling discourse is condemned by the Lord ?"
The early Christians conferred upon each other no pompous titles, or flattering appellations; they acknowledged but one Lord and Master, even Christ, and all they were brethren. .. In an age of cold selfishness, nothing so much astonished their heathen neighbors as the fraternal affection that prevailed among the Christians, leveling all distinctions of rank or wealth, and obliterating all national prejudices, so that even strangers from distant lands, mingled as one common family,"
Such was the condition of the primitive Christian Church while it retained the vitality of its original constitution. There were doubtless many of its members unfaithful to their high-calling, but the "fruits of the Spirit" were manifest in general purity of life and conversation, and so great was the harmony prevailing among them that the heathen were likely to exclaim: "See how the Christians love one another."
The chief causes which led to the apostasy, were the ambition and covetousness of the bishops, their assumption of privileges pertaining to the Jewish priesthood, and their proneness to adopt the notions of speculative philosophy. The apostle of the gentiles had warned the church, that after his departure, " grievous wolves should enter in among them, not sparing the flock," and that the" man of sin" should be revealed. He therefore cautions them to beware lest any man should spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit." It should be remembered that the heathen philosophy here alluded to, was not like modern science, founded on the observation of natural phenomena and applied to useful purposes; but consisted chiefly in vain speculations and conjectures, which served to amuse and exercise the imagination without promoting the good of mankind.
Near the close of the second century, a sect of philosophers arose in Egypt, spread rapidly through the greatest part of the Roman empire, and was extremely prejudicial to the cause of Christianity. They were called the New Platonists, because they taught some of the views of Plato, which they blended and endeavored to reconcile with the Christian doctrines.
Their system was, indeed, an amalgamation of Christianity and heathenism, set forth in the attractive language of philosophy. They professed to select and combine the truths contained in all other systems, and hence they were sometimes called Eclectics. Many of the Christian ministers embraced these views, and the study of this chimerical philosophy continued to spread among them until they were led away from the simple religion of Christ, which is a life-giving power revealed in the soul, - and were induced to place their reliance upon mere notions and dogmas, - the empty husks of scholastic theology. There were those among the Christian teachers who saw the dangerous tendency of these doctrines, and endeavored to exclude such discussions from the church, but their efforts were ineffectual, the philosophers prevailed, and in most places gained an entire ascendancy.
Those spiritual gifts which in the apostolic age had been considered sufficient qualifications for teaching and government, and had often been conferred by the Head of the Church on persons destitute of learning, were no longer considered sufficient for the Christian ministry.
"Laws were enacted which excluded the ignorant and illiterate from the office of public teachers." The bishops and other ecclesiastics took the name of clergy, implying that they were the lot or portion of the Lord; and all others were called laity or the people. Thus the priesthood was established as a separate caste, supposed to possess peculiar sanctity in virtue of their ordination, and claiming an exclusive right to perform the functions of the Christian ministry.
No sooner was this monopoly established and a sacerdotal order imposed upon the Church, than the clergy began to encroach upon the liberties of the people; assuming the right to settle all difficulties in matters of faith; and the numerous synods and councils they caused to be assembled, composed entirely of ecclesiastics, instead of settling their differences, only tended to disturb the peace of the body and to scandalize their profession. The clergy had the address to persuade the people that the ministers of the Christian Church succeeded to all the rights of the Jewish priesthood, and hence the rise of tithes, first-fruits, splendid garments, and titles of honor, claimed by the priestly order.
The persecution to which the Christians were exposed, had a tendency to preserve the purity of the Church, by withholding from selfish or mercenary minds any inducement to enter its communion, or appear as its ministers. This state of things was entirely changed when, about the year 313, the Emperor Constantine made an open profession of the Christian faith. He was disposed to be a munificent patron of the Church, and lavished wealth and honors upon the clergy, which hastened the progress of corruption. About this time, two errors of a most pernicious tendency began to prevail among the teachers of religion. One was, the maxim, "That it was an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when, by such means, the interests of the Church might be promoted;" the other was: "That errors in religion, when maintained and adhered to, after proper admonition, were punishable with civil penalties and corporal tortures." The first of these horrible doctrines sanctioned the pious frauds and fictions employed by the clergy to establish their dominion; the second served to cloak their persecuting zeal against those they termed heretics.
The principal subject of dispute in the fourth century was, "The doctrine of three persons in the Godhead; a subject which, in the three preceding centuries, had happily "escaped the vain curiosity of human researches, and been left undefined and undetermined by any particular set of ideas."
"Nothing was dictated on this head to the faith of Christians, nor were there any modes of expression prescribed as requisite to be used in speaking of this mystery. Hence it happened that the Christian doctors entertained different sentiments on this subject without giving the least offence, and discoursed variously concerning the distinctions in the Godhead, each following his respective opinion with the utmost liberty."
The controversy between the Trinitarians and Arians, which began in Egypt, having spread and occasioned warm disputes in other parts of the empire, Constantine convoked, in the year 325, a general council at Nice in Bithynia. In this council, after many keen debates between the two parties, the doctrine of Arius was condemned, he was banished among the Illyrians, and his followers were compelled to give their assent to the creed adopted. An edict was issued by the emperor, commanding that the writings of Arius should be destroyed, and that any person convicted of concealing them should suffer death.
The creed adopted by this council of contentious bishops, and enforced by the sword of a Roman emperor, was far from healing the dissensions of the Church; for, on the death of Constantine, his empire was divided among his three sons, one of whom supported the Arians, while the others adhered to the established creed. Each party assembled its bishops and presbyters; so that council was arrayed against council, brother against brother, and scenes of violence ensued, in which all the principles of Christianity were set at naught.
The ascendancy obtained by the bishop of Rome, and the fraudulent means used to sustain his authority, contributed greatly to accelerate the general apostasy.
The claim of the Roman Pontiff to universal supremacy is founded upon the assumption that he is the successor of St. Peter - the Rock on which it is absurdly alleged that Christ declared he would build his church. There is no proof that Peter was bishop of Rome, nor that he delegated his authority to any successor; but independently of these considerations, it cannot be supposed that the church was founded on a fallible man. The Rock referred to in the text is that" Spiritual Rock," of which the Israelites drank in the wilderness, and "that Rock was Christ." It was this Eternal Word which revealed to Peter that Jesus was the son of God, and on the revelation, of this word, the true Church has always been established; for “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. He is that stone which the builders rejected, whom God has made the head of the corner."
Syricius, who was called to the see of Rome in the year 384 and reigned till A. D. 398, is the first of whom any act exists wherein he styles himself Papa or Pope, a title signifying father; which, prior to this period, was given through respect to all bishops indiscriminately; but which those of Rome subsequently appropriated to themselves. It is evident that about the close of the fourth century, the apostasy was so far advanced that the true Church of Christ was no longer visible;- she had "fled into the wilderness to a place prepared of God," there to be nourished during the 1260 years, that the witnesses should "prophesy in sackcloth," while the outer-court was given up to the Gentiles."
In Mosheim's account of the fourth century, he says, "An enormous train of different superstitions, were gradually substituted for true religion and genuine piety."..."The reins being once let loose to superstition which knows no bounds, absurd notions and idle ceremonies multiplied almost every day. Quantities of dust and earth brought from Palestine and other places remarkable for their supposed sanctity, were handed about as the most powerful remedies against the violence of wicked spirits; and were sold and bought every where at enormous prices. The public processions and supplications by which the Pagans endeavored to appease their gods were adopted into the Christian worship, and celebrated in many places with great pomp and magnificence. The virtues which had formerly been ascribed to the heathen temples, to their glorification, to the statues of their gods and heroes, were now attributed to Christian churches, to water consecrated by certain forms of prayer and to images of holy men." "In these times the religion of the Greeks and Romans differed very little in its external appearance from that of the Christians. They had both a most pompous and splendid ritual. Gorgeous robes, miters, tiaras, wax-tapers, crosiers, processions, images, gold and silver vases, and many such circumstances of pageantry, were equally to be seen in the heathen temples and in the Christian churches."
Near the end of the 4th century, the emperor Theodosius I decreed the abolition of paganism and prohibited under pain of death the celebration of its rites, as treason to the state; but he was probably not aware that paganism in its most essential features was already adopted into the Church. In the early part of the 5th century, Theodosius II issued an edict proclaiming the bishop of Rome "ruler of the whole church."
That church which was once the temple of God had become the temple of Antichrist; for this title is not limited in its application to an individual or a dynasty, nor is it confined to one locality; it is applicable to that proud self-sufficient spirit in man which exalts itself above the Spirit of Christ, [the worst] presuming in his name to command and enforce obedience to its decrees by making war on the saints. But although it was manifest in its bitter fruits throughout nearly the whole of the visible Church, it was at Rome and Constantinople that the most conspicuous evidences of its power were exhibited. Between the Pope and the Patriarch there was a fierce contest for pre-eminence, attended with bitter animosity, which continued for centuries and finally resulted in an entire separation between the Greek and Latin Churches.
In the year 606, the title of Universal Bishop was conferred on the Pope by the emperor Phocas, one of the most detestable tyrants that ever usurped a throne. The power of the Roman see was greatly increased in the year 754, by the donation of Pepin king of France, who conferred upon Pope Stephen part of the territory in Italy recently conquered from the Lombards. Charlemagne, the successor of Pepin, confirmed and augmented this grant to the Pope, who thus became a temporal sovereign and held the sword of the magistrate as well as the crosier of the priest. It has been the uniform policy of the Popes to extend the authority of the Roman see, by every means in their power; and their ambition has often involved them in desolating wars.
During the greater part of the 10th century, the Roman Pontiffs were engaged in scenes of violence and fraud almost unparalleled; six popes were deposed, two murdered, and one mutilated; frequently two and even three competitors were contending for the chair, and by turns driving each other from the city. "The history of the popes who lived in this century," says Mosheim, "is a history of so many monsters, and not of men, and exhibits a horrible series of the most flagitious, tremendous and complicated crimes, as all writers, even those of the Roman communion, unanimously confess."
In pushing forward their schemes of universal dominion, the popes did not confine themselves to their spiritual weapons; but like other potentates had their armies, mostly composed of mercenary troops and frequently commanded by ecclesiastics.
In the crusades for the recovery of the "holy sepulcher," instigated by the Roman hierarchy, the clergy took an active part, and while the monarchs of Europe were weakened and impoverished by those disastrous expeditions, the Roman Pontiffs continued to increase in power. During the greater part of that period of ten centuries called the middle ages, while superstition brooded over the civilized world and Europe was convulsed with desolating wars; the Popes, true to the instinct of priestly ambition, took advantage of every turn in political affairs to build up the vast fabric of their power. Their emissaries were found in every city, and their ambassadors at every court; by the arts of diplomacy they circumvented the strong, and by the terrors of excommunication they alarmed the timid, until they were enabled to give the law to empires, to put their feet upon the necks of kings.
In contemplating the superstition, misery and crime that overspread Christendom during the long night of the apostasy, the inquiry arises: were there none to keep alive the sacred flame of pure religion? Yes, there were witnesses for the Truth, but they prophesied in sackcloth. In various parts of Europe there were large numbers of devoted Christians, who, for many centuries, had separated from the Greek and Roman churches in order to escape the domination of the clergy. Through their faithfulness a succession of devoted witnesses was preserved until the time of the Reformation.* They were chiefly of two classes, having sprung from two different stocks. One of these was the Paulicians, who in the seventh century originated in the East, and after enduring much cruel persecution from the emperors of Constantinople, a portion of them withdrew into Thrace and Bulgaria, whence they passed into Italy and France. They were known by the names of the Cathari, Bulgarians and Albigenses.
In the 13th century, a crusade was preached against the Albigenses in the south of France, and the soldiers who engaged in this "holy war," were promised not only the plunder of their innocent victims, but a plenary indulgence for all their sins and a certain passport to heaven. The armies employed in this service by Pope Innocent Ill destroyed above two hundred thousand Albigenses in the short space of a few months; and, during a period of twenty years, it was estimated that a million were put to death. The fires of the Inquisition, as well as the sword of the warrior, were called into requisition to put down heresy. During many centuries, that horrid tribunal invented and conducted by priests, was employed in its work of persecution and destruction. Throughout southern Europe, the sanctuaries of domestic life were invaded by its secret emissaries, and the unsuspecting victims, snatched away from their homes, were subjected to the agonies of torture to extort confession, after which they were immured in dungeons or consumed at the stake.
Hallam, in his History of the Middle Ages, after alluding to the persecution of the Albigenses in Languedoc, says, "the Catharists, a fraternity of the same Paulician origin, more dispersed than the genses, had previously sustained a similar trial." He attributes to them" qualities of a far superior luster to orthodoxy, a sincerity, a piety, a self-devotion, that almost purified the age in which they lived." The same historian ascribes a very extensive effect to the preaching of these people, who, he says, "appeared in various countries during the same period, in Spain, Lombardy, Germany, Flanders, and England."
These reputed heretics, says Mosheim, "rejected all rites and ceremonies; and even the Christian sacraments, as destitute of any, even the least spiritual efficacy or virtue; " yet he informs us that" even their enemies acknowledged the sincerity of their piety, although they blackened them with accusations which were evidently false."
The other class of Christian "witnesses" was the church of the Waldenses, which, in the valleys of Piedmont, had subsisted from a very early period, probably from the age of Constantine, - and previous to the Reformation, had spread its affiliated societies in the north of Europe. Among the branches which sprang from this stock were the Bohemian Brethren and the Moravians.
The Waldenses asserted that they had never acknowledged the supremacy of the Roman pontiffs, but had from the earliest ages preserved the doctrines and testimonies of the primitive church. An old inquisitor of the Catholic church, Rienerus Sacco, reports the following language as coming from the Waldenses: - "The doctors of the Roman church are pompous both in their habits and manners; they love the uppermost rooms and the chief seats in the synagogues, to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi. For our part, we desire no such Rabbis." "They fight and encourage wars, and command the poor to be killed and burnt, in defiance of the saying, 'He that takes the sword shall perish by the sword.' For our part, they persecute us for righteousness' sake. They do nothing but eat the bread of idleness. We work with our hands. 'They monopolize the giving of instruction, and ‘woe be to them that take away the key of knowledge.' - But among us, women teach as well as men, and one disciple, as soon as he is informed, teaches another. Among them you can hardly find a doctor who can repeat three chapters of the New Testament by heart; but of us there is scarcely man or woman who doth not retain the whole."
According to Mosheim, "they adopted as the model of their moral discipline the Sermon of Christ on the Mount, which they interpreted and explained in the most rigorous and literal manner; and consequently prohibited and condemned in their society all wars and suits at law, all attempts toward the acquisition of wealth, the infliction of capital punishment, self-defense against unjust violence, and oaths of all kinds."
Milton, in a tract entitled "Considerations touching the likeliest means to remove hirelings out of the Church," says, "Those most ancient Reformed Churches, the Waldenses, if they rather continued not pure since the apostles' days, denied that tithes were to be given, or that they were ever given in the primitive church, as appears by an ancient tractate inserted in the Bohemian history. The poor Waldenses, the ancient stock of our Reformation, without the help [of tithes,] bred up themselves in trades, and especially in physic and surgery, as well as the study of scripture, which is the only true theology, that they might be no burden to the church, and after the example of Christ might cure both soul and body; through industry adding that to their ministry, which He joined to his by the gift of the spirit. So Peter Giles relates in his history of the Waldenses of Piedmont. "The Waldenses were dreadfully harassed by the agents of the Inquisition. Many of them were put to death, and others being driven from their country, spread their principles in foreign lands. In the latter part of the fifteenth century, Pope Innocent VIII issued a bull [official ruling] against them, in which he directed the archdeacon of Oremona to extirpate them, and to "tread them under foot as venomous adders." He accordingly raised an army for this purpose, and the harmless victims of papal intolerance were subjected to the most shocking barbarities. They fled at his approach, and concealed themselves in their mountain caves. He placed quantities of wood at the entrances of the caves, which, being set on fire, four hundred children were suffocated with their mothers, and multitudes were dashed off the rocks below, or butchered by the soldiery. The work of destruction was arrested by the duke of Savoy, who took the remnant of the Waldenses under his protection.
THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION
At the beginning of the 16th century, the Roman Pontiff was in undisturbed possession of that vast ecclesiastical authority which had been acquired by the sagacity and perseverance of his predecessors. There was however throughout Europe a deep-seated and increasing disaffection to the papal power, produced by the usurpations, the extortions, the profligacy and arrogance of the Roman hierarchy.
In the year 1513, John de Medici succeeded to the pontificate under the title of Leo X. He was addicted to luxurious living, and so fond of magnificence, that the expenses of his court and the adorning of his capital impoverished the papal treasury. Hence he was led to employ all the expedients for raising money which priestly cunning had invented, and among these the most lucrative was the sale of indulgences. It had been asserted in a bull [official decree] of Clement VI that "one drop of Christ's blood would have sufficed to redeem the world," but he shed his blood abundantly that be might supply his Church with a treasury of merits that could never be exhausted. In addition to this, all the good works of the saints, beyond what was needful for their own salvation, - and hence called works of Supererogation, were laid up in the same treasury to be dispensed by the Church to those who would purchase them by services or money. On this doctrine was founded the sale of Indulgences, and Alexander VI, "the Nero of the papal throne," was the first to declare officially 'that they released sinners from purgatory.'
The traffic in these fraudulent credentials was carried by Leo X and his agents to an enormous extent; the prices being rated according to the wealth of the purchasers, and the nature of the crimes committed or in contemplation. Tetzel, a Dominican monk, was appointed the agent for this traffic in Germany, and he executed his commission in a manner that was revolting to reason and decency.
At this propitious period, when the extortions of the Roman hierarchy had destroyed the confidence of the people, when the revival of letters had increased the intelligence of the educated class, when the invention of printing had furnished the means of disseminating knowledge, and when the seeds of a purer doctrine had been sown throughout Europe by the various dissenting sects; a humble instrument was raised up by divine Providence to begin the work of reformation so long desired and so often frustrated. Martin Luther was a native of Saxony, a monk of the order called "the Hermits of St. Augustine," and professor of Divinity in the university of Wittenberg. He was possessed of great talents and extensive learning, his heart was deeply imbued with piety and his mind enriched with scriptural knowledge.* When he heard Tetzel proclaiming the all-saving efficacy of indulgences and saw the demoralizing consequences that ensued, his zeal was kindled, and he publicly denounced the shameful traffic which deluded the people and put in jeopardy the souls of men.
At first, he had no intention to call in question the Pope's supremacy, for at that time he was a devoted adherent of the Roman Church, but the violent opposition and abuse he encountered from Tetzel and others of the Dominican order, as well as the arrogance of Cajatan the pope's legate, induced him to examine more closely the foundation of papal supremacy. He was gradually led to the conviction that the Roman hierarchy was actuated by the spirit of Antichrist, that the pope's assumption of universal supremacy was a flagrant usurpation, and that the doctrine of salvation by works performed by the unsanctified will of man, was a dangerous delusion. " The Head of the Church militant," he says, "is Christ himself, and not a mortal man." "All Christians belong to the spiritual state, and there is no difference between them, except that of the functions they discharge." "I declare that neither Pope, nor bishop, nor any other man-living, has authority to impose the least thing upon a Christian without his own consent."
Such were the enlightened sentiments that animated the heart of the Christian reformer. Happy had it been for him and his co-laborers in that glorious work, if they had always acted upon principles so pure and noble; but the light was just beginning to dawn upon the world, after a long dark night of apostasy; it could not be expected that the Reformers should at once see all things clearly, and if in some points of doctrine and discipline they erred, we should attribute their mistakes, not to want of sincerity, but to the darkness of the age in which they lived.
The views of Luther, were published in numerous works, and maintained in public discussions with energetic eloquence; but, above all, being seconded by the divine witness for truth in the hearts of mankind, spread rapidly through Germany, and penetrated into other countries, producing throughout Europe a profound sensation. Among the bigoted adherents of the papacy, they were received with alarm and indignation; but to pious and reflecting minds, they appeared like the first rays of the rising sun reflected from the mountain-tops, the harbingers of a glorious day.
Leo X, being of an easy temper, and busied with schemes of luxury and ambition, at first disregarded the efforts of the reformer; but, at length, stimulated by the complaints of his legates and counselors, he tried negotiation in order to induce Luther to retract his opinions. Finding him firm in maintaining them, a Bull of excommunication was issued in 1520, in which the writings of Luther were condemned to be burnt; and the reformer himself, if he should not recant within sixty days, was pronounced a contumacious heretic, who should be seized and brought to Rome. If this sentence could have been executed, Luther and his friends would have suffered in the dungeons of the Inquisition, or at the stake, the dreadful doom that always awaited the advocates of Christian liberty.
Happily for the cause of the Reformation, Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony, protected Luther and enabled him to pursue his religious labors. About the same time Charles V, being elected emperor of Germany, summoned the reformer to appear before him in the Diet assembled at Worms. There in the presence of the emperor, the princes of Germany, and the dignitaries of the church, Luther was required to renounce his alleged heresies. It was a sublime spectacle of moral courage and Christian faith, to see a humble monk, under sentence of excommunication, and in peril of his life, standing before that august assembly, maintaining the truth with unwavering constancy; and when threatened with the doom of an obstinate heretic, exclaiming with pious fervor, "May God be my helper, for I can retract nothing! "
Having been furnished by the emperor with a safe-conduct, Luther was allowed to depart for his home; but the Diet condemned his doctrines, and ordered his books to be burnt, and his person imprisoned to await his punishment. His friend and patron, the Elector of Saxony, caused him to be arrested on his homeward journey, and conveyed to the castle of Wartburg, in order to shield him from his enemies. There he employed himself in translating the New Testament into the German language, a work that greatly accelerated the progress of the Reformation. When the object of his detention had been answered, he was released, and continued to promulgate his doctrines with remarkable success, being assisted in his labors by Philip Melanchthon and other eminent reformers.
It is remarkable that, in several of the States of Europe, the religious impulse which produced the Reformation was almost simultaneous, although at first without any concert or co-operation among those who were called to the work. The results, however, were very different; for, while in Northern Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, and Great Britain, the religion of Rome was in a great measure supplanted by the doctrines of the Reformers; the struggle which took place in France, Belgium, Southern Germany, Hungary, and Poland, terminated in favor of the Papacy.
Even in Spain and Italy the new doctrines were received with favor by many, but the terrors of the Inquisition were sufficient to put them down without delay. In France the contest was long, arduous, and bloody. The most violent and sanguinary measures were pursued by the Papists; the warrior's sword, the inquisitor's rack, the dismal dungeon, and the slow consuming fire, were applied without mercy to persons of every rank affected with the alleged heresy, who refused to abjure their faith. A few were induced to recant, many fled to Switzerland, Germany, and England, while great numbers suffered martyrdom with unshaken constance.
At the beginning of the Reformation, Luther did not rely upon the aid of princes to promote his work. He said to the Elector of Saxony: "No secular arm can advance this cause. God must do all without the aid or co-operation of man." And to the Duke of Savoy he wrote, disclaiming the use of the sword in the cause of religion, and maintaining that "It is by the breath of his mouth that Jesus will destroy Antichrist; so that as Daniel describes, he may be broken without hand."
This line of conduct, so consistent with the doctrines and example of Christ, was blessed with the happiest results, and the Reformation spread with astonishing rapidity; but, unhappily, the Reformers soon began to rely upon the secular arm, and even Luther gave his sanction to an alliance between the Church and the State in Saxony. The Elector assumed the supremacy in ecclesiastical affairs,* and Luther regarding him as the guardian of the people, thought he " should compel the inhabitants, who desire neither pastors nor schools, to receive the "mean of grace, so they are compelled to work on the roads, on bridges, and such like services." In Sweden and Denmark, after the Reformation, the form of ecclesiastical government was similar to that of Saxony, the sovereign being the head of the Church. In Switzerland, the sovereignty in ecclesiastical affairs was entrusted to the council of two hundred, a political body.
A war between the Catholic and Protestant cantons, caused by religious dissensions, retarded the progress of the Reformation; but it was afterwards accelerated by the labors of John Calvin, a refugee from France, "who became the master-spirit in the ranks of the Reformers. He was distinguished by talents, learning, and religious zeal, but, unhappily, he was not redeemed from that intolerant spirit which characterized the age. The burning of Servetus for his alleged heresies in relation to the Trinity, has left an indelible stain upon the character of Calvin; but it should be remembered that the dreadful deed was approved by many of the most distinguished Reformers." They had brought with them from the Church of Rome some of her most pernicious maxims; one of which led to the union of Church and State; another, to the maintenance of the clergy by tithes; and a third, to persecution for alleged heresies in doctrine.
In England, a vigorous effort towards 'a reformation of the church had been made by the celebrated John Wickliffe, about 150 years before the time of Luther.' He translated the New Testament into English, and wrote many religious works in which he denied the infallibility and supremacy of the Pope and the doctrine of transubstantiation. He also asserted that children may be saved without baptism, and that the baptism of water profits not without the baptism of the Spirit. His enlightened views were condemned by the pope, and by a convocation of bishops, held at London, in the year 1382; but owing to a schism in the church, and a war between the two anti-popes at Rome and Avignon, the English reformer was allowed to live out his days and propagate his doctrines.
The principles of Wickliffe were widely diffused in England, and even spread to the continent, where many embraced his views, thus preparing the way for a more decided movement.
While on the continent, the Reformation was begun by pious men actuated by religious zeal, it is remarkable that in England the first step towards a rupture with Rome was taken by a capricious and despotic monarch, actuated by depraved passions. Henry VIII was at first a devoted adherent of the papacy; and on the appearance of Luther's writings in England, the king took up his pen in defense of the church of Rome, for which he was rewarded by Leo X, with the title of "Defender of the Faith." Luther's answer was severe and discourteous, which produced in the mind of the English monarch an antipathy that was never removed. Henry was married to Catherine of Arragon, the widow of his brother Arthur; but becoming enamored of the beautiful Anne Boleyn, he professed to feel scruples about the validity of his marriage, and applied to the Pope Clement VI for a divorce, which, after much delay and prevarication, was refused.
The king being a man of violent passions and almost absolute power in his kingdom, determined to pursue his own course in defiance of the pope. The universities being consulted, declared his marriage invalid; he then called a convocation of the clergy, and a meeting of the parliament, both of which acknowledged him as "The protector and supreme head of the church and clergy of England." Having thus freed himself from the papal yoke, he married Anne Boleyn, and soon after received from Archbishop Cranmer, a divorce from Catherine, which ought to have preceded his second marriage. The pope's bull of excommunication against Henry, fell harmless at his feet; and the rupture between Rome and England was final; but the people of England soon found that the head of their church was no less despotic and arrogant than the Roman pontiffs. Although separated from the Catholic church, he still maintained most of its dogmas, and enforced his own opinions upon others with inflexible severity. The Parliament and higher clergy being subservient to his will, the most intolerant laws were passed against all who denied the king's supremacy, or professed the doctrines of the reformers. Hence it happened that Catholics and Protestants were alike involved in a severe persecution.
It is said that in this reign 72,000 persons were executed. The Church property and Abbey lands confiscated by the crown amounted to more than one-third of the real estate of the kingdom; but it was not merely the property of the Church; it was also considered the patrimony of the poor, for a part of the tithes and other ecclesiastical revenues had always been applied to the relief of the indigent. The Church of England and the partisans of Henry having appropriated these immense revenues, it became necessary in after times to tax the people for the support of the poor.
On the death of Henry, his son Edward VI a boy under 10 years of age, succeeded to the throne and became head of the English Church. Although a majority of the bishops and the inferior clergy were on the side of popery, the king's council, appointed by the will of his father, were mostly in favor of the reformation; and thus the new doctrines, being promoted by court favor and legal statutes, gained the ascendancy.
Edward's reign continued but seven years, and after his death, the throne was occupied by his sister Mary, a bigoted Catholic, who arrested the reformation, restored the old forms, and condemned to the flames nearly 300 persons who had embraced Protestant doctrines. The Parliament with the most abject submission passed an act expressive of sincere repentance for their former course, and humble acknowledgment of the pope's supremacy; they begged to be restored to the Catholic Church; but they took care not to restore the Abbey lands and Church revenues which had been distributed among the aristocracy.
Mary reigned but five years, and was succeeded by her sister Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn. She was a Protestant and proved to be an able sovereign. A new Parliament being assembled, declared the Queen to be the "governess" of the Church, and by one Act swept away all that had been done for Romanism in the preceding reign, taking care also to secure the confiscated church property to those who were in possession of it. The aristocracy and gentry in Parliament, were ever ready to change their religion at the will of the sovereign; they could renounce everything but the spoils; the clergy manifested an equal degree of subservience, for notwithstanding these sudden and violent changes in the church, they nearly all retained their places. Out of 9400 parochial benefices, only 243 clergymen resigned.
Elizabeth, being fond of a pompous ceremonial, retained in the church service some relics of Romanism, which gave offence to those among the clergy who were zealous Reformers. They contended for a purer form of worship, and being strict in their morals, and rigid in their opinions, obtained the name of Puritans. They were generally Calvinists in their doctrines. The new bishops appointed by the queen, claimed authority by apostolic succession, through the Church of Rome, and, therefore, thought they were bound to admit she was a true Church, though corrupt in doctrine and discipline. The Puritans affirmed that the pope was Antichrist, and the Church of Rome apostate; therefore, they disclaimed the validity of ordination by succession. The penal laws against heresy, and the severity of the bishops, drove from the Church all who could not conform to the established ritual, and hence the Puritan ministers were forced to take a stand in opposition to the hierarchy.
The Reformation had already been established in Scotland, where the Presbyterian form of church government was adopted, and when, after the death of Elizabeth, the Scottish monarch succeeded to the throne of England, under the title of James I, the Puritans hoped to enjoy protection under a king educated in principles similar to their own. They were, however, disappointed, for the weak and pedantic king was soon gained over by the bishops, whose doctrine of passive obedience to the regal power, flattered his vanity, and secured his favor. The nonconformists being zealous and active, continued to increase in numbers, and they gained favor with the people by their opposition to the despotic maxims in relation to government, put forth by the king, and sanctioned by the bishops.
When, on the death of James, his son, Charles I, ascended the throne, the Puritans had grown to be a formidable party, devoted to the cause of civil liberty, and strong in the affections of the people. They were ridiculed by the courtiers for the austerity of their manners, their affectation of Scriptural phrases, and their sanctimonious pretensions. They possessed, however, beneath this forbidding exterior, a strength of character, and determination of purpose, that insured their triumph in the day of trial. They were firm believers in unconditional election and reprobation, and, of course, considered themselves to be of that small number called the elect, for whom alone Christ died, to purchase for them an eternal inheritance. Their adversaries they regarded as the enemies of Christ, and they did not hesitate to apply to them the strong language in which the Hebrew prophets denounced heathen idolatry. "Cursed be he that does the work of the Lord deceitfully, and keeps back his sword from blood," was their favorite text on the eve of battle.
The despotic maxims, the vacillating course, and the treacherous policy of Charles, having roused the indignation of the people, the celebrated Long Parliament, in which the Puritans had the ascendancy, unfurled the standard of revolution, and called the nation to arms. In the fearful contest that ensued, the superiority of the Parliamentary forces became apparent. The army commanded by Cromwell was distinguished by strict discipline, indomitable courage, and fanatic zeal. Psalms and hymns resounded through the camp, and the officers, assuming the functions of the ministry, encouraged their troops by citing the examples of the Judges and avengers of Israel.
In Scotland, the attempt of the king to force upon the people the Episcopal form of church government, drove them into rebellion, and having entered into a covenant for the preservation of their liberties, they defeated the king's troops, and maintained their position. In the year 1643, the English Parliament entered into a "solemn league and covenant" with the Scots, the object of which was to promote the Protestant religion, and to abolish the hierarchy. An assembly of divines*, convoked by Parliament, having met at Westminster, adopted a confession of faith and form of church government, which, being submitted to Parliament, was confirmed under the title of "A directory for public worship, passed January 3d, 1644-5." The Church of England having been subverted by the covenant, and the Directory not being generally carried into practice, the people were left at liberty in most places to pursue their own course, and the various dissenting sects came forward more openly to advocate their principles.
In the Westminster Assembly, the Presbyterians, (Calvinists, whose ministers were chosen by the clergy), were predominant, and during their short ascendancy, they employed coercive means to establish their form of worship. The Independents, (Calvinist Congregationalists who chose their own ministers), being then in the minority, were more liberal in their professions; but when they attained to political power, they fell into the common error: leaning upon the secular arm for support, insisting upon uniformity in faith and worship, and persecuting all who would not conform to their views.
It has justly been remarked by William Penn, that "The children of the reformers, if not the reformers themselves, betook themselves very early to earthly policy and power to uphold and carry on their reformation that had been begun with spiritual weapons," and to this he attributes their lack of progress in the spiritual life.
A distinguished theologian of our country has truly asserted, that "The great and most fatal defect of Luther's reformation was, that he left the reign of dogma or speculative theology untouched. He did not restore the ministration of the Spirit. Opinions were left to rule the church, with just as much of consequence as they did before. He delivered us from the Pope and the councils, but that which made both Pope and Councils he saved, namely, the authority of human opinions and of mere speculative theology. The man of sin was removed, but the mystery of iniquity, out of which he was born, was kept. Opinions, speculations, and theological formulas, were still regarded as the lights of religion. All judgments of men, as Christian or unchristian, continued as before, to be determined by their opinions, and not, in any degree, by their fruits or their character. Love, mercy, faith, a pure and holy life, was still left a subordinate thing-important, of course, but not the chief thing. Christianity remained in the hands of schools and doctors, and that was called the faith, here and there, which, here and there, was reasoned out as the veritable theological dogma."
In accordance with this view, it may be safely asserted, that, as the ministration of the Spirit was not restored, so the fruits of the Spirit were not generally manifested. Although there were perhaps [pure speculation by Janney] individuals who had attained to purity of life, there was no visible church that came up to the standard of primitive Christianity.
Instead of that pure spiritual worship, and free gospel ministry instituted by the Messiah, a pompous ceremonial, and a ministry deriving its call, qualification, and reward from man, too generally prevailed. Religious liberty was scarcely known, even among the Reformers, for all parties who attained to power evinced a disposition to enforce their own opinions upon others, and mostly proceeded to the infliction of fines, imprisonment, and death.
So far from bearing, like the primitive church, a testimony against war, the sword was unsheathed throughout Christendom, and many who professed to be ministers of the gospel were actors or abettors in the deadly conflict.
Swearing, though forbidden by Christ, was almost universally practiced, and amid all the fluctuations in church and state, oaths were imposed upon the people at every change of government, which, being inconsistent with each other, often involved the crime of perjury.
And lastly, there was, throughout Christendom, a general declension from that purity of life and simplicity of manners which characterized the primitive Christians.
Notwithstanding these deficiencies, it must be acknowledged that the Protestant reformers were eminent instruments of Divine Goodness, in promoting the cause of truth, by throwing off the chains of the Roman hierarchy, and introducing greater freedom of thought and expression. There were many pious and enlightened persons who lamented that the Reformation had not been perfected, and who looked forward to the dawning of a brighter day. Among these was William Dell, Master of Gonvil and Caius College, Cambridge, who lived during the protectorate of Cromwell. In the Preface to a discourse showing the spirituality of Christian baptism, he writes as follows:
"I appeal to the next generation, which will be further removed from those evils, and will be brought nearer to the word ; but especially to that people whom God has and shall form by his spirit, for himself; for these only will be able to make just and righteous judgment in this matter, seeing they have the Anointing to be their teacher and the Lamb to be their light."
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