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Pauline innovation, in the course of three centuries became the heresy of the Ebionites, the most detestable of any in the eyes of those who, holding to the heresies of the Early Church, had come into the orthodox succession. From time to time there has been a great deal of talk in Christendom about the Primitive Church and of devotion to its ideals. But the ideals actually followed have not been so very primitive. With Roman Catholics and Episcopalians they have been those of the Post-apostolic Church, with a care, even at that, not to go back too far; while those who have gone back to the New Testament have not gone back to the primitive and orthodox party which is there revealed, but to the party obviously and confessedly heretical. Any Jewish church of our own time is nearer to the primitive Christian orthodoxy of Jerusalem than any form of modern Christianity that vaunts its orthodoxy. But, in allowing that there was a primitive Christian orthodoxy, do I not break the force of my general thesis, "There is no orthodoxy"? Not in the sense in which that was declared: There is no standard of belief to which we can appeal as the orthos doxa,— the straight, the right, the correct opinion for all time. There is in the New Testament a party claiming to be orthodox. But the New Testament does not support its claim. It leaves it standing side by side with the way that some called heresy, and it was not the New Testament that decided in the course of three centuries that this way should be called orthodox. And, if the standards of the Jerusalem apostles should be accepted as the final standards of orthodoxy, there would not be an orthodox Christian in the world to-day.


It was a losing game for the Judaizing Christians as soon as Paul's one heart against the flesh of all mankind" had been flung forth with all the imaginative passion of the man; and in the course of some three centuries the game was wholly lost, and Jewish Christianity ceased to be a factor in the onward movement of events. But, even while the first debate went on, others became more prominent, and divided the victorious party into sects and factions, great and small.

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The subject of this new series of debates was the nature of Jesus, called the Christ: Was he God or man, or God and man? and, if God and man, what was the adjustment in his nature of the human and divine? One council after another closed and reopened and then closed again these great debates. And there was nothing in the character of these councils to suggest that special guidance of the Holy Spirit which is claimed for them by the ecclesiastical sentimentalists of the modern world. They involved a great deal of politics, but they were not so well managed as a mid-winter convention by one-half. Harmony there was none. And I am sorry to say that the worst of all the councils was that council of Ephesus in 449 (which has been called the Robber Council with good reason), and which strenuously supported that doctrine of the one nature of Christ which Mr. Beecher and his successor, Dr. Abbott, have defended in our own time. When the Bishop of Seleucia said, "I worship the one Lord Jesus Christ in two persons," the monks from Alexandria cried out: "Burn him alive! Tear him asunder! As he divided, so let him be divided!... Drive out, burn, massacre, all who hold two natures!" The mails were tampered with ;* and a letter from Leo, Bishop of Rome, was quietly suppressed,― the only thing that was done quietly in the council, except the introducing of forged passages into the platform as finally adopted. When the final vote was taken,


a furious multitude of monks and soldiers burst into the church, driving the terrified bishops into the corners and under the tables and seats, from which they were not suffered to emerge till they had promised to sign a blank paper, which afterward was filled out." Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople, whose deposition it secured, was so beaten, kicked, and stamped on by the Patriarch of Alexandria, that he died of his injuries; and those holding Mr. Beecher's and Dr. Abbott's one-nature opinion thought that his heresy of the two natures had perished with him, but it had not. Only

*Here and elsewhere the form of this narration may have been influenced unduly by

current events.

three years later, an emperor less favorable to Alexandria having come to the fore, the council of Chalcedon reversed the action of the council of Ephesus; and the doctrine of Eutyches and Mr. Beecher has been heretical from that day to this. But it must be confessed that the council which managed this business was a mob hardly less savage than that of Ephesus. Nevertheless, it determined the orthodoxy of Christendom from that time to this, so far as orthodoxy can be determined by the majority vote of a general council of the Church, so long as it is unrepealed. And how did it determine it? Very much as if a Republican or a Democratic convention should declare itself at once for free coinage and sound money, for the McKinley bill and a tariff for revenue only. Very much as the committee appointed to report on the revision of the Westminster Confession have advised; namely, that the doctrines of Calvin and Arminius, -election and free will,— doctrines which two centuries and one century ago divided men as light from darkness and as heaven from hell, be arbitrarily joined together. It took the two opposing and repellent propositions, and declared them to be one; and well may an orthodox historian say of the resulting creed, "By its repetition of positive and negative propositions, its perpetual assertion and then denial of its propositions, the mystery of the doctrine is presented, as it were, in hieroglyphics, and as if to confound the understanding."

But the main thing for you to notice in all this is that, even allowing the council of Chalcedon to have determined the orthodox doctrine of Christ, with its Hegelian union of contradictories,

"Chip, chop, chain,

Give a thing, and take it back again,"

there had been no orthodoxy in this particular until then. For more than two centuries after the death of Jesus it remained doubtful whether he was to be regarded as a human or a divine being; and for another century how he

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was at once God and man was still undecided. Thousands since then have quietly lapsed into the heretical vein, and have been none the worse for it. Some, proud of their orthodoxy, have been convicted of the heresy of Eutyches, anathematized at Chalcedon. It was so with Frederick, now Bishop, Huntington when he left our communion for the Episcopalian. He thought he was all right, and the general ignorance of the clergy did not enlighten him. But Dr. Hedge, who knew whereof he spoke, quietly informed him that he was an heretical Monophysite of the school of Eutyches, and that his Trinity was a Quaternity. When the same charge was brought against Mr. Beecher, he knew not "the school of Eutyches," but protested that he was educated at Litchfield Academy and Amherst College.

Meantime there had been much discussion as to whether Mary was theotokos, the mother of God, and entitled to be so called; and the decision was in the affirmative. Of all these great controversies, the Eastern Church was the centre, though the excitement of them ramified to every quarter of the Christian world as it was then defined. In a general way, it was characteristic of the East to take things by the far end and of the West to take them by the near end, and so it was to be expected that the characteristic controversy of the West would have Man and not God for its subject, would be on human nature; and it was so. Augustine and Pelagius were the champions of the ring, and Augustine triumphed gloriously. Or shall we say ingloriously? He did not triumph without imperial aid; and the doctrine which he formulated and which has been nominally orthodox from then till now was the most frightful incubus that ever sat upon the breast of Christendom, making it breathe a heavy, troubled breath. It was a doctrine at which even the fierce Tertullian two centuries before would have drawn back in hate and fear, a doctrine which, so far from being orthodox, had been almost non-existent from the time of Paul to that of Augustine,― nearly four centuries. It was a doctrine which, for one reason and another, the Church found it so

hard to hold total depravity, the universal imputation of Adam's sin that it fell into general disuse; and, when revived by Luther outside and by Pascal inside the Church, it appeared as a new thing and monstrously heretical. The late Father Hecker of the Roman Catholic Paulists in New York used to gird at it as if the Roman Catholic Church had never taken any stock in it, as if it were a purely Protestant affair; and he contended that it was a miserable basis for self-government, that self-government presupposes the general healthiness of human nature. And it does; though sometimes, I must confess, it looks as if the presupposition were not justified by the facts, our politics are so bad. But that is because the people generally are so innocent and unsuspicious, and allow themselves to be led like sheep to the slaughter by the demagogues who promise them whatever they desire.

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Well, here was the fifth century well advanced, and still there was much unsettled; and what seemed settled forever would keep on getting unsettled. And out of this state of things arose the Catholic Church. It was a natural evolution from the Church of the Apostles. The basis of their fellowship was repentance and renewal of the moral life. But very soon the importance of belief came to be more than the importance of a holy life. And, if there must be uniformity of belief, there must be one church to declare and to enforce that uniformity. It came in answer to the call; and, characteristically, its first great triumph was over the moral sense of a great body of believers who demanded moral purity of the bishop and the priest, and declared that without it their functions were made void. This would never do. The function must be independent of the man, and it was so ordained; and Dante, eight centuries later, furnished interesting illustrations of the working of the principle in his several popes in hell,- officially immaculate, but personally corrupt and damned. But, once the Catholic Church had been established, orthodoxy became at least a practical reality. It was the teaching of the Church; and what the Church did

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