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XIV

INTRODUCTORY ESSAY.

the

eucharist into

a

corporeal

reality; and

in

the

blasphemous

sacri-

fice

of

the

mass

the

sacerdotal

theory

found

its fitting

apotheosis.

The fundamental

error

of

this

theory,

so

early developed, did

not

lie merely

in

the

notion of

apostolic

succession,

or in

conceiving

that

the

powers

and

honours

of

the

apostolate

had been transmitted to

the

rulers

of

the

church,

a

point

on which Barrow

has made

some

pertinent

remarks., (Treatise,

p.

100,

&c.)

The

root lay deeper,

and

may be

found, we

humbly think, in a

fallacious

idea

of

the

authority

vested

in

the

apostles themselves.

That

idea

was,

that

our

blessed

Lord

had

delegated

to the

apostles

his

authority

over the

church.

The

expressions employed

by

some

of

the

earlier

bishops obviously

proceed

on

the

assumption

that

our Lord,

by

giving

a

commission

to

his

apostles,

invested

them

with

a

share of

his

authority

over

the

church,

so

that

they after

his

ascension acted

as

his deputies,

and

"judged

in

his stead."

It

is easy

to

see

how

this

notion,

having

once

taken

possession of

the

minds of

the

clergy,

should have ger-

minated into all

the

arrogant

assumptions of

the Papacy;

for

let

such

a

delegation

once

be granted, and

it

follows

that the

apostles

were,

during their

lifetime,

the

vicars

and vicegerents

of

Christ upon

earth.

And

as

it

seems

hard

that

the

church should be deprived

by death

of

officials

invested with

powers

so

large and influential,

it

was

no

abrupt transition

to

drop

into the

conclusion

that,

in

the

persons

of

certain rulers, distinguished by

local

dignity

from

their

brethren,

or occupying

seats which fond

tradition had

ascribed

to

these venerated men,

we

are to seek

the

successors

of

the

apostles

in

this deputed

jurisdiction. The circumstance

of

the

apostles

having

been

divinely inspired did

not

necessarily

imply

that

their

jurisdic-

tion

might not

descend

to

others, on whom

the

government of

the

church devolved; and

it

was

not

difficult

to

find,

in Christ's

promise

of

the

continuance of his

Spirit with

the

church to

the

end

of

the

world,

something analogous

to inspiration. To

this

some

of

the

bishops

in the

fourth century actually pretended.

But

as clerical

ambition

rose

to its

full

height,

the

lust

of dominion proved too

strong

to be

shared among such

a multitude

of

claimants; and in

course

of time,

aided by

the

adroit interpretation

of

a

single passage of

Scripture,

which speaks

of

Peter

in

connection

with

the

rock on which

Christ

should build his church, and with

the

keys

of

the

kingdom

of

heaven

(Matt.

xvi. 18,

19),

the

see

of Rome,

the

city which

tradition had

vaguely identified with

that

apostle,

and

which

had

now become

the

capital of Christendom, as

it

had

formerly

been

that

of

the

world,

attained, after many

a

struggle,

the

acknowledged supremacy.

The

application

of

the text

can

be

clearly shown

to have been

a

mere