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contributed to its downfall were at work already in the fourth century, and even the crying abuses that precipitated the Reformation of the sixteenth century were established in principle a thousand years before they aroused the righteous indignation of a Luther.

The development of the papacy is sometimes accused of being the chief cause of the downfall of the Christian church; but rightly understood the papacy itself must be regarded as a symptom rather than as a cause. The growth of that remarkable institution may be traced in the various steps by which the Bishop of Rome attained the chief place among the bishops; but it had its beginning in the false conception of the church which calls for a visible head.

As long as the advent hope was cherished in every Christian heart, as long as it was considered apostasy not to sigh for the return of the Lord, such a thing as a papacy was inconceivable. The primacy of Christ leaves no room for the primacy of Peter. But when the church comes to be regarded as a human organization, one which may fitly succeed to the powers and privileges of the great seven-hilled city, and rule over the world, then it no doubt requires a human head, and then it can also use any number of ambitious, designing underheads. Once grant the validity of the conception held forth in Augustine's memorable work, and all the rest follows as a matter of course.

Yet the medieval church was not wholly bad; it was a mixture of good and evil. Had it not retained in some measure its original power to satisfy the longings of the human heart, it Iwould have ceased to be. Men arose now and then from the bosom of a corrupt church who showed a rare degree of spirituality and of devotion to the highest ends. But the very powerlessness of these men to achieve lasting reforms grew out of the fact that the fundamentals were wrong. In fact, their efforts to do good resulted in some cases in aggravating the evil.

The origin of the friars is an interesting one. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Brothers Minor, later known as Franciscans, was undoubtedly a man of high aims and noble character. His immediate followers partook largely of his spirit; they supported themselves by working with their hands, they ministered to the needs of the poor, waited on the sick, including the despised and forsaken lepers, and they carried the gospel message to heathen lands. But even before the death of Francis changes had been effected in government and discipline which led the way to rapid deterioration. Another century, and the Franciscan friars had become the curse of Europe. Domi

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"I shall not die, but live, and again declare the evil deeds of the friars."

nic, the founder of the other order, started out with the intention of supplying preachers for the untaught masses; but his followers in time became chiefly known as the founders and supporters of that most cruel and oppressive of all persecuting agencies, the Inquisition.

The stream could not rise higher than its source. As long as the church stood for doctrines and ideals largely of pagan origin, and emphasized outward conformity to ritual and creed to the neglect of personal holiness, it mattered not how many of its children sought to reform it, or to hold up a higher standard of living for its professed members. Real reform had to come from a return to the Holy Scriptures as the one perfect guide to faith and morals, and it could mean nothing less than the utter overthrow of an apostate church.

Section III - Luther and His Forerunners

THE Reformation of the sixteenth century was a movement of large dimensions, including a number of more or less diverse elements; but it was at heart a reaffirming of the fundamental truths of Christianity, primarily the doctrine of righteousness by faith. It took issue with the medieval church on the great question, "How shall a man be just before God?" For centuries the answer had been: "Man must earn his salvation by his good works." Luther announced in trumpet tones, "The just shall live by his faith.'

The Reformation, moreover, was not only a restatement of the fundamental Christian doctrines, but it was a restatement of those doctrines based on the teaching of Scripture. Moved by the new impulse, men turned away from the Fathers, the councils, the church, and the pope, and acknowledged adherence alone to the inspired Word.

These general characteristics belonged not only to the Reformation of the sixteenth century, but also to the movements of less widespread power and influence which may be called its forerunners. Among the most remarkable of these was the Celtic church. This had its home in Ireland, one of the earliest countries of Northern Europe to come under the influence of Christianity; but it had a very full development also in Scotland, and we know most of its doctrines and organization as seen in the little isle of Iona under the leadership of the saintly Columba. This Celtic church, in part, at least, as we find in

later times, observed the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath; it reckoned the time for Easter according to the method of the primitive church, and not as ordained by Rome; and it claimed for itself the spiritual independence that belongs to every Christian church, and the right to send out its missionaries everywhere, regardless of papal authority.

The leaders of the Celtic church did not lord it over the people, nor assume the rights and prerogatives claimed by the members of the Roman priesthood. The whole spirit of the early British Christianity was contrary to the spirit of Roman Catholicism. History tells us that the ministers of the Celtic church in Britain were surprised and amazed at the domineering spirit manifested by Augustine and his associates when they came over from Rome near the close of the sixth century, and began their work on the island.

Premature Protestants, these Celtic Christians have been called; but as a writer in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia observes, it would be nearer the truth to connect them directly with the primitive church, and say that "as the twilight lasts. so much longer in these northern regions, so also the afterglow of the primitive day was lengthened out there, when darkness was coming on apace elsewhere." The teachers of the Celtic church, the same writer continues, "retained a singularly living hold of the central doctrines of the gospel, and above all, of the evangelistic commission given by the Great Head to His church." -Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Vol. II, art. "Keltic Church," p. 1236, edition 1891. Indeed, the missionaries sent out by these. early Britons penetrated to many parts of Europe, and were everywhere distinguished alike by the purity of their doctrines and the warmth of their apostolic zeal.

It is, however, to the English Lollards of the fourteenth century, under the leadership of Wycliffe, that we are to look for complete and far-reaching reforms in the doctrines and polity of the church previous to the Reformation of the sixteenth century. John Wycliffe was master of Balliol College, Oxford, and rector of Lutterworth. He came into prominence first as the defender of the rights of England against the attempted encroachments of the papacy. He was then about forty years of age, and had spent a quarter of a century as student and teacher at Oxford University. His learning was varied and profound, and included a thorough knowledge of Roman law as well as of English jurisprudence, and in dialectical skill he was second to

The forceful way in which he argued against the papal encroachments won him the hearty support of the king and

Parliament, and increased his already great prestige at the university.

Had Wycliffe rested content with opposing the payment of tribute money to Rome, he might have retained the almost unanimous support of Englishmen of that day; but a larger work lay before him. God was leading him onward by a path he himself knew not. As he studied more deeply into the character of the papacy and its claims to universal rule, he was led to see how far it had departed in spirit and methods from the apostolic church, and he began to speak out boldly against the cor

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ruption that was everywhere manifest. The greed and avarice of the clergy he unsparingly denounced, as well as the idle, useless lives of the friars.

The doctrines of the Roman Church he also came to see were largely of human origin. He utterly rejected the papal teaching concerning the way to become righteous. He pointed out the needlessness of invoking the aid of the saints. "Christ," said he, "ever lives near the Father, and is the most ready to intercede for us." The doctrine known as transubstantiation, the teaching that the priest has the power to change the bread and wine of the communion into the real body and blood of the Lord, -he opposed with all the power of his keen intellect. His bold stand against this fundamental error lost him some of his friends among the nobility and in the university, and brought on him

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