The Contest For Supremacy Between The Papacy And The Empire In The Middle Ages -- By: B. Sears

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 002:8 (Nov 1845)
Article: The Contest For Supremacy Between The Papacy And The Empire In The Middle Ages
Author: B. Sears


The Contest For Supremacy Between The Papacy And The Empire In The Middle Ages1

B. Sears, D. D.

Protestant Christians are beginning to perceive that there are in the Papacy, elements of moral power which deserve to be more carefully studied. The theological errors of the papal church were profoundly investigated and elaborately refuted

by the writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The ethical principles inherent in the system, principles not only necessary to its aims practically, but growing out of it logically, are yet to be more perfectly analyzed. Reuchlin, in Pascal’s Leben, has given some valuable hints on this subject. He has made it quite apparent that Jesuitism, as it is set forth by the early ethical writers of that order, is not, as many have supposed, a new scion, engrafted upon the old stock of Romanism, but a natural off-shoot, putting forth from its very root. Jesuitism was but the residuum of moral principles which was left in the Catholic church, when the Protestant elements were withdrawn. Herein lies the chief ground of the failure of the Jansenists in their controversy with the Jesuits. They were not in the old church where there had, for centuries, been a very respectable reforming and protesting party, but in the new church where that party no longer existed. They consequently found no sympathy; but, on the contrary, were accused, not without reason, of having Protestant tendencies. The spirit of Jesuitism has been the ruling spirit of the Catholic church from the time of the council of Trent to the present day. Hence, when it has been put down by political power, it has acted like a scrofulous humor when scattered from the point where it had been concentrated, retiring within and gather-

ing new strength to make its appearance only the more formidably at another point.

The adaptedness of the papal forms of religion to the common mind, on aesthetic principles, was not a subject of much inquiry with the old Protestant writers. They labored rather to show that those forms were unscriptural and pagan. Others, at a later period, when the philosophy of these subjects began to be studied, discovered not only in the worship, but in the entire religious system of the church of Borne, a theocratic religion, a false Judaism, rendering the kingdom of Christ one of outward observation. Not a few of those who have speculated upon the subject, have believed, that inasmuch as the character of the people in the middle ages was no longer that of the primitive Christians, but one which was formed under the influence of a darkness as gross as that which hung o...

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