BLTC Press Titles

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My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Of the church, five books

by Richard Field


THE society of this new and blessed people began in the apostles, whom Christ the anointed Saviour of the world did choose to be His followers, and to be witnesses of all the things He did and suffered among sinful men. To these our Saviour Christ, after His resurrection, gave most ample commission, to teach the nations and people of the world, and to preach repentance and remission of sins in His name, opening their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures, that so it behoved Him to suffer, and to rise again the third day, whereof they were witnesses2. Yet commanded He them to tarry in Jerusalem, till they were indued with power from above, which was performed unto them in the feast of Pentecost, when all they that looked for the redemption of Israel by this anointed Saviour, and had been his followers, after His departure from them and returning from the heavens, were assembled into one place, and suddenly heard as it were the noise of a mighty and rushing wind, and there appeared unto them cloven tongues like fire, and sat upon every [one] of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance; so that though there were dwelling at Jerusalem, men that feared God of every nation under heaven, yet they all heard them speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God3. Here was the beginning of that blessed

1 John iv. 23.

2 Luke xxiv. 45—48; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.

3 Acts i. 4, ii. 1.

company, which for distinction's sake we call the Christian Church, as consisting of them that believe in Christ now already come in the flesh.

And though the Church of the Old and New Testament be in essence the same, yet for that the state of the Church of the New Testament is in many respects far more glorious and excellent, the fathers and ecclesiastical writers for the most part appropriate the name of the Church to the multitude of believers since the coming of Christ, and call the faithful people that were before by the name of the synagogue. If this difference of names be retained only for distinction sake (that men may know when we speak of that moiety of the people of God that was before, and when of that other that is and hath been since the coming of Christ), we dislike it not,

The Greek words which we turn Church and synagogue, the one originally and properly signifieth a multitude called out, or called together, which is proper to men; the other a multitude congregated and gathered together, which is common to men with brute beasts. If any man, having an eye to the different original significations of these words, do thereupon infer, that the people of God, before the coming of Christ, did seek nothing but earthly, outward, and transitory things, and so were gathered together like brute beasts, and like oxen fatted to the day of slaughter, we detest and accurse so wicked and damnable a construction. And herein surely the Catechism of Trent cannot well be excused, which, abusing the authority of St Augustine upon the Psalm lxxvii.1 and Ixxxi.2, affirmeth that "the name of synagogue is therefore

1 "Quamvis enim proprie dicatur synagoga Judseorum, ecclesia vero Christianorum, quia congregatio magis pecorum, convocatio [vero] magis hominum intelligi solet; tamen et illam dictam invenimus ecclesiam, et nobis fortasse magis convenit dicere: Salva nos Domine noster, et congrega nos de nationibus, ut conflteamur nomini sancto tuo. Ncque dedignari nos oportet, immo gratias ineffabiles agere, quod sumus oves manuum ejus, quas prsevidebat cum diceret, habeo alias oves." August. in Psal. xxvii. 3.]

2 "In synagoga populum Israel accipimus.—Quando utique quamvis uni vero Deo mancipatus videretur, pro magnis tamen ac summis bonis ab illo carnalia, terrena et temporalia requirebant." Aug. in Psal. 1xxxi. 1.] Sed in Psal. lxxii. 6.] ostendit, utcunque multi animadvertentes quae promiserit Dous populo illi, [nempe] abundanapplied to the people that were under the law, because, like brute beasts, which most properly are said to be congregated or gathered together, they respected, intended, and sought nothing, but only outward, sensible, earthly, and transitory things1." Which unadvised speech, how much it advantageth the anabaptists, who think the faithful people before Christ did only taste of the sweetness of God's temporal blessings, -without any hope of eternal happiness, any man of mean understanding may easily discern2. It is, therefore, not to be doubted, but that the faithful, before the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, were so instructed of the Lord, that they assured themselves there was a better life for them elsewhere; and that, neglecting this earthly, momentary, and wretched life, they principally sought the other, which is divine and heavenly3. Notwithstanding, some difference there was between their estate and ours, in that, though the Lord raised their minds from base and earthly things, to know, seek, and desire the heavenly inheritance and life of the world to come; yet that they might the better be strengthened, in the hope and expectation thereof, He made them take a view of it, and taste the sweetness of it in those temporal and earthly blessings and benefits, which most abundantly He bestowed upon them; whereas, now, the grace of the life that is to come being more clearly revealed by the Gospel (omitting all that out of Anselm calleth them, that is, the professions of monks and friars; so all the ordinary sort, when they heard the name of the Church, understood nothing else thereby, but either the material place where men met to serve and worship God, or the clergy, jurisdictions, and temporalities belonging to them; as the same Gerson showeth, affirming that the state of the Church in his time was mere brutish, so that men judged him a good bishop and governor of the Church, that looked well to the edifices, mansions, lands, rents, and revenues pertaining to the clergy, not much respecting what care he took of the spiritual welfare of them that were committed to his charge1. When this error in the conceit and apprehension of men was removed, the former name of Church was more ordinarily used again. Wherefore leaving this contention about words, wherein our adversaries most delight, let us come to the thing itself2.

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