BLTC Press Titles


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Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh


The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley


History of the Reformation of the sixteenth century ... until the days of Calvin. Transl

by Jean Henri Merle d'Aubigné

Excerpt:

Rome advanced with anxiety her requests and her intercessions, and smiled when she saw the people willingly throwing themselves into her arms. She lost no opportunity offered for increasing or extending her power. Praises, flattery, exaggerated compliments, and consultations with the other churches, all became, in tho sight and in the management of Romo, the proofs and the documents of her authority. Such is the character of man when placed upon a throne. Whatever he possesses is readily made the motive, in his own oyes, for urging him on to acquiio still greater means.

Tho doctrine of the church and the necessity of upholding an exterior concord, which, so soon as the era of the third century, had been partially established, favoured the pretensions of Rome. Tho church is bofore all things the assembly of the sanctified, (1 Cor. 1, 2,) the assembly of the first born, whose names are written in heaven, (Heb. xii. 23 ;) nevertheless the church of the Lord is not merely inward and invisible, it must also have an outward manifestation, and it is with regard to this outward manifestation that the Lord has instituted the sacraments of Baptism and tho Lord's Supper. Tho ehurcb, thus invested with exterior qualities, assumes characters different to those which distinguished it as an invisible church. Tho inward church, which is tho body of Christ, is necessarily and perpetually one. The visiblo church has, no doubt, at same time, a share in this unity of tho first; but, considered in herself, multiplicity is a character already attached to the visible church in the Scriptures of the New Testament; for while these Scriptures speak to us of the one church of God,* they mention, when question is made of that church manifested from without, "the churches of Galatia, the churches of Macedonia, the churches of Judea, and all the churches of the saints."t These various churches could, no doubt, boast, to a certain degree, of an exterior union; but although this connexion were not in existence, they would not on that account have failed to possess tho essential qualifications of the church of Christ. The grand alliance which primarily bound together the members of the church was a living faith in the heart, through whose influence all were joined to Christ as their common head. Manifold circumstances very soon gave rise to tho adoption and developement of the idea of the necessity there was to uphold an exterior unity. Some men, accustomed to the properties of political ties and forms recognised among the partisans of the world, infused some of their views and usages into the spiritual and eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ. And persecution striving in vain to destroy or even to shake this new society, she

* 1 Cor. xv. 9—1 Tim. iii. 15.

t 1 Cor. xvi. 1—2 Cor. viii. 1—Gal. i. 22—1 Cor. xiv. 33.

6 FIRST ENCROACHMENTS.

became yet more confident in herself, and felt the desire of rendering her corporation a well-compacted body. To the error thus introduced into the schools of theory or tho sectarian assemblies was opposed the single and universal truth received by the apostles and preserved by the church. Such at least was the case so long as the invisible and spiritual church continued to be one with the outward and visible church. But too soon an unhappy divorce took place: the form and the life of religion become separated. Tho appearance of an identical and exterior organization was by degrees substituted in the place of that inward and spiritual union which forms the essence of tho religion of God. The precious perfume of the true faith was emptied out, and people prostrated themselves before the drained vessel wherein it onoe was found. Tho faith of the heart no longer uniting the members of the church, another cord of union was sought after, and a conjunction was obtained with the aid of bishops, archbishops, popes, mitres, ceremonies, and canons. The living church having gradually retired within the dispersed sanctuary of a few solitary souls, its place was occupied by the exterior church, which wao declared, witli all its forms, to be an institution of Divine appointment. Salvation, proceeding no more from tlie word, henceforth to be hid from view, was ordained to bo communicated by the method of invented forms, and was declared to be unattainable by any one save through the channel of these rites. No person, it was said, could possibly arrive, in tho strength of his own faith, at the possession of eternal life. Christ, it was assumed, has communicated that saving faith to the care of tho apostles, who have conferred upon the bishops the unction of the Holy Spirit; and this spirit is only found to flow in tho ordor now prescribed. Originally, whoever was imbued with the Spirit of Jesus Christ was in reality a member of the church; but now the. meaning of such terms waa inverted, and it was presumed that ho only who was a member of the church had received the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

These notions, at the same time that they were calculated to establish a distinction between the clergy and the people, led to yet deeper error; for the salvation of souls was no longer held to depend entirely upon faith in Jesus Christ, but likewise to rest, in a particular manner, upon a union with the church, the representatives and heads of the church receiving a share of tho trust which is alone due to Jesus Christ, and becoming for the flock real mediators. The salutary idea of a universal priesthood among Christians thus gradually disappeared—the servants of the church of Christ were compared to the priests of the ancient ritual, and those who separated themselves from the bishop wore entered in the same class with Corah. Dathan, and Abiram. From a particular priesthood, like the one now described as adopted by the church, to a sovereign priesthood, similar to that afterwards claimed by Rome, the step is alike easy and natural.


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