BLTC Press Titles

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Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

History of the Christian Church. A.D. 1-311

by Philip Schaff


But then, church history also shows, that God is ever stronger than Satan, and that his kingdom of light puts the kingdom of darkness to shame. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has bruised the head of the serpent. With the crucifixion of Christ his resurrection also is repeated ever anew in the history of his church on earth; and there has never yet been a day nor an hour without a witness of his presence and power ordering all things according to his holy will. For he has received all power in heaven and in earth for the good of his people, and from his heavenly throne he rules even his foes. The infallible word of promise, confirmed by all experience, assures us, that all corruptions, heresies, and schisms must, under the guidance of divine wisdom and love, subserve the cause of truth, holiness, and unity; till, at the last judgment, Christ shall make his enemies his footstool, and rule undisputed with the sceptre of righteous

ness and peace, and his church shall realize her idea and destiny as "the fullness of him that filleth all in all."

Then will history itself, in its present form, as a struggling and changeful development, give place to perfection, and the stream of time come to rest in the ocean of eternity.

§ 2. Branches of Church History.

The kingdom of Christ, in its principle and aim, is as comprehensive as humanity. It is truly catholic, designed and adapted for all nations and ages, for all the powers of the soul, and all classes of society. It breathes into the mind, the heart, and the will a higher, supernatural life, and consecrates the family, the state, science, literature, art, and commerce to holy ends, till finally God becomes all in all. Even the body, and the whole visible creation, which groans for redemption from its bondage to vanity and for the glorious liberty of the children of God, shall share in this universal transformation; for we look for the resurrection of the body, and for the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Accordingly church history has various departments, corresponding to the different branches of secular history and of natural life. The principal divisions are:

1. The history of missions, or of the spread of Christianity among unconverted nations, whether barbarous or civilized. This work must continue, till the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in, and Israel shall be saved. Besides foreign missions, there is also an equally important work of domestic missions, or the revival and reformation of lifeless or neglected portions of the church itself.

2. The history of persecution by hostile powers; as by Judaism and Heathenism in the first three centuries, and by Mohammedanism in the middle age. This apparent repression of the church, however, proves a purifying process, brings out the moral heroism of martyrdom, and thus works in the end for the spread and establishment of Christianity. "The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church."

Persecution, like missions, is both foreign and domestic. Besides being assailed from without, the church suffers also from intestine wars and persecutions. Witness the religious wars m France and Holland, the Thirty Years' War in Germany, the Puritan commotions in England; the crusade against the Albigenses under Innocent III., the persecution of the Waldenses, and the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. These form the saddest and darkest chapter in the history of the church. But they show also the gradual progress of the truly Christian spirit of religious toleration and freedom.

3. The history of church government and discipline. The church is not only an invisible communion of saints, but at the same time a visible body, needing organs, laws, and forms, to regulate its activity. Into this department of history fall the various forms of church government; the apostolic, the primitive episcopal, the patriarchal, the papal, the consistorial, the presbyterial, the congregational, &c.; and the history of the law and discipline of the church, and her relation to the state, under all these forms.

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