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needs is truth that is simple and energetic, infinitely nobler than truth ceremonial and sectarian. Christianity is that truth, the sublime ideal that Christ conceived and nurtured in the profundity of his breast, to be breathed abroad freely on the aching brows and sorrowing hearts of all mankind.

Coleman, in his “ Primitive Church,” sums up this matter as follows:

“ Thus, as we have seen, ecclesiastical history introduces first to our notice single independent churches; then, churches having several dependent branches; then, diocesan churches; then, metropolitan or provincial churches; and then, national churches attempered to the civil power. In the end, we behold two great divisions of ecclesiastical empire, the Eastern and the Western, now darkly intriguing, now fearfully struggling with each other for the mastery, until at last the doctrine of the unity of the church is consummated in the sovereignty of the pope of Rome, who alone sits enthroned in power, claiming to be the head of the church on earth. The government of the church was at first a democracy, allowing to all its constituents the most enlarged freedom of a voluntary religious association. It became an absolute and iron despotism. The gradations of ecclesiastical organization through which it passed were, from congregational to parochial - parochial to diocesan - diocesan to metropolitan -metropolitan to patriarchal - patriarchal to papal.

“ The corruptions and abominations of the church, through that long night of darkness which succeeded the triumph of the pope of Rome, were inexpressibly horrible. The record of them may more fitly lie shrouded in a dead language, than be disclosed to the light in the living speech of men. The successors of St. Peter, as they call themselves, were frequently nominated to the chair of his holiness' by women of infamous and abondoned lives. Not a few of them were shame. fully immoral; and some, monsters of wickedness. Several were heretics, and others were deposed as usurpers. And yet this church of Rome, with such ministers, and so ap

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pointed, - a church corrupt in every part and every particular, individually and collectively, in doctrine, in discipline, in practice,' - this church, prelacy recognizes as the only representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the period now under consid. eration, invested with all his authority, and exercising divine powers on earth! She boasts her ordinances, her sacraments, transmitted, for a thousand years, unimpaired and uncontami. nated, through such hands! High church Episcopacy proudly draws her own apostolical succession through this pit of pollution, and then the followers of Christ, who care not to receive such grace from such hands, she calmly delivers over to God's Suncovenanted mercies'! Nay, more, multitudes of that communion are now engaged in the strange work of unprotestantizing the churches' which have washed themselves from these defilements. The strife is with a proud array of talents, of learning, and of episcopal power, to bury all spiritual religion again in the grave of forms, to shroud the light of truth in the gloom of Popish tradition, and to sink the church of God once more into that abyss of deep and dreadful darkness from which she emerged at the dawn of the reformation. In the beautiful and expressive language of Milton, their strife is to reinvolve us in that pitchy cloud of infernal darkness where we shall never more see the sun of truth again, never hope for the cheerful dawn, never more hear the bird of morning sing.' - pp. 312, 313.

Yes, humanity shall behold a fairer mórn, a clearer sun, and listen to more enrapturing melody, than has yet been enjoyed. The minions of power and the slaves of religion may move and combine, according to their fantasy, the grains of their glitter ing but worthless sand on the bank where truth and progress roll their billows along; but the hour of flood tide comes, and nothing can retard or avert its overwhelming power. Nothing can arrest popular thought now in full revolt against spiritual as well as political despotism, and marching to certain victory over every form of wrong. To demand liberty as a Christian is to demand liberty as a man. Luther, whether he designed it or

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not, led the way direct to Munser. This point did not escape Bossuet. Said he, “ Luther, in affirming that the Christian was not subject to any man, nourished the spirit of independence in the people, and gave to their leaders dangerous views.” Luther, however, was a very imperfect reformer, since he admitted in religion, but rejected in civil policy, the right to resist tyranny. He fought against the pope for a point of doctrine, but left in the hands of kings and sub-pontiffs the power to strangle all belief. What would ecclesiastical domination have accomplished long before this, had it not been for the principles of brotherhood and spiritual freedom contended and bled for, not by Catholics, Lutherans, nor the self-styled Protestants, but by Waldenses, Hussites, Anabaptists, Moravians, and other great defenders of the rights of conscience in recent times ? But a more glorious advancement is before us, and it must speedily come; “another and greater reformation, the more complete for its delay. Not even the church can render itself permanently invulnerable to public opinion. The strength which it resists grows yet more formidable by that resistance. At last the voice of truth must be heard, and the light of knowledge must be admitted. At noonday, in the height of summer, it is silent, cold, and dark, in the cloisters of a cathedral. But the thunder resounds along its vaulted roofs, teaching them strange echoes; and, in the glare of the lightning that flashes through its aisles, the very stones seem to move, and the monumental dead to be stirred, like a slumbering world aroused to the necessity of change, revival, and reformation. The stroke of heaven's lightning spares neither tower, nor spire, nor gilded ball, nor the very cross itself. It unroofs the church, and lets in the free air and sight of the blue sky. Institutions no more than buildings are made for eternity. They only prolong themselves by improvement and renovation; nature alone is everlasting. Truth, justice, right, imbodied in opinion, are nature's thunder and lightning; and, when they shatter institutions, as elemental powers the material building, it is that from the ruins humanity may raise a purer and nobler shrine, worthier of that great Spirit whose temple is the universe, whose altar the human heart, his best worship the activity of beneficence, and the only uniformity he requires the oneness of brotherhood in all mankind.”

If we are to have freedom of conscience in full extent, and a religion emanating from Christ and harmonious with the republican institutions projected eighteen centuries ago, and, by a merciful Providence, now begun to be realized in the world, then must the hierarchical element be discarded by all, that the enfranchised nations may joyfully verify to themselves that, under God, the best security of freedom, civil and religious, is a church without a bishop, not less than a state without a king.

CHAPTER IV.

THE CHURCH WITHOUT A PRIEST.

PRIESTCRAFT is the product of every age, the defender of every bigoted creed, the chief foe to Christianity, and greatest curse to mankind. These are the general points which, in this discussion, it will be our purpose to elucidate.

In the first place, priestcraft is the product of every age. The makers and patrons of consecrated silver shrines have ever deprecated the innovation of free principles, such as Paul diffused, summoning local prejudice and partisan bigotry to the defence of their established prerogatives, with the mercenary plea that by this craft they have their wealth. This is peculiar to no clime, limited to no sect, but is indigenous to our fallen nature in every place and association. As before Menes the Egyptians precipitated a young virgin into the Nile, in sacrifice to a superstitious creed, so, under the emperors and kings of later times, and in league with civil power of every degree, priestly domination, under all varieties of artificial forms,

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pagan ceremonies, and unscriptural rites, has been sanguinary without exception, and inimical to all the best interests of mankind. The sacerdotal corporations who thus tyrannize over the masses betray their intrinsic infamy by the fact that, while they willingly lend a mercenary support to political oppression, they do not seem to regard as a divine thing the worship they impose, and by which they most of all desire to aggrandize themselves. Hence the greatest evils have been inflicted upon humanity in the name of religion. The auto da fe has taken the place of human sacrifices, and a new monopoly, embracing almost every source of knowledge and enjoyment, has, for many centuries, plunged the nations in ignorance and despair. Because priestly oppression is oftener made the rule than the exception, the attempt to break this accursed yoke demands the greatest efforts, and involves the most formidable perils ; but the auspicious hour has at length arrived when, in the popular estimation, no treasure of gold or blood can exceed the value of that boon Heaven designed for all freedom to worship God.

Any system that places human intermediaries between the individual believer and his Creator, is in direct conflict with man's rights and the law of Christ. Such obstructions, rather than aids, to the welfare of our race do exist, and it is easy to trace their origin and detect their motives. Says Ranke,

Among the heathens, sacerdotal offices were conferred in like manner with those of civil life. The Jews set apart a particular tribe for the duties of the priesthood ; but Christianity was distinguished from both these by the fact that a certain class of men, freely choosing the sacred profession, consecrated by the imposition of hands, and withdrawn from worldly cares and pursuits, is solemnly devoted “ to things spiritual and divine.” The church was at first governed in accordance with republican forms; but these disappeared as the new belief rose in preëminence, and the clergy gradually assumed a position entirely distinct from that of the laity.” After truth, emanating from the manger and the rural simplicity of Judea, strug

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