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the object of attention to worldly minds, and declined from that purity and internal peace which had been, hitherto, its greatest ornament and strength. The jealousies, which naturally arose between the modern and ancient capital, became, in their progress, as injurious to the peace of the church, as they were fatal to the perpetuity of the empire.
In the first ages of Christianity all of its ministers possessed an equality of office. The terms, Bishop, Elder, Minister, are used in the New Testament, interchangeably, referring to the same office, with the same rights and duties in the church. A number of churches, within certain convenient limits, usually united together, for their mutual benefit, for additional strength, and for the proper maintenance of gospel order, which would naturally become an established ecclesiastical body. For the sake of convenience and due order of proceeding, the pastor of the church in the principal town gradually became the standing moderator and presiding officer of the body. By degrees this distinction was claimed as a matter of right, and, with more or less reluctance, was acceded to by the other pastors and churches. This led to the establishment of bishops as a superior order of clergy in the Christian church.
Upon the same principle that the clergy of the provincial towns acquired a superiority over their brethren in the vicinity, the bishops of the great cities claimed a precedence above all others of the episcopal order. This led to a distinct denomination in the clerical office, and introduced the titles of metroplitan bishops and archbishops. An additional authority and supremacy were given by the Christian emperors to the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria, who exercised a certain controul over all other bishops and churches, and were dignified by the title of Patriarchs. As the declining purity and increasing opulence of the church afforded additional motives to aspiring ambition, the patriarch of Constantinople, with the countenance of the imperial city, gradually acquired a superiority over those of Antioch and Alexandria, while the patriarch of Rome, through a variety of concurring causes, was rapidly increasing his dominion over all the churches of the West. These two ambitious prelates bad been too successful in their progress to wealth and power to endure with patience the sight of a rival. One presiding in the metropolis, and the other in the most august city of the empire, each claimed the supremacy, and, in vindication of their claims, involved the respective portions of the church in perpetual contentions. While good meu exceedingly regretted these events, which brought so great a reproach upon the Christian c?use, all attempts to reconcile the contending parties seemed inflectual. At times the contest would abate for a season, but various causes were constantly increasing the alienation.
In the beginning of the seventh century, one of the gloomiest periods of the church, about the time of the rise of Mahomettanism, Phocas, an inhuman tyrant, who had obtained the imperial crown at Constantinople by the murder of the reigning emperor, knowing in what a light his character must be viewed in that city, and desirious to obtain support in the distant provinces, proclaimed Boniface, the patriarch of Rome, universal bishop of the Christian church. All others were directed to acknowledge his supremacy. As a violent death soon depriv. ed the tyrant of power to enforce his command, and as his reign was considered a usurpation, the edict of Phocas was generally treated with contempt. The Roman pontiff, however, has never ceased to assert his supremacy, from that time, and has condemned as schismatics all Christians who do not acquiesce in his arrogant pretensions.
In the next age the breach between the Eastern and the Western churches was widened by violent contentions respecting the worship of images. This practice was advocated by the Latins, and violently opposed by the Greeks. The latter, however, after the long controversy had subsided, gradually fel] into the practice, and adopted the error of the churches of the West. But “ the great schism,” as it has generally been called by ecclesiastical writers, may be considered as established, from the time of the claim of the title of Universal Bishop by the Roman Pontiff. And, from that time to the present, there has been an alienation between the Greek and Latin Churches which no efforts have been able to reconcile. The separation, however, was not considered as confirmed, till about the middle of the ninth century.
The Eastern, or Greek Church, may be considered as divided into two distinct communities. The first, that of the Greek Christians, properly so called, who agree in all points of doctrine and worship with the Patriarch residing at Constantinople, and are subject to his jurisdiction.
The second comprehends those Christians who are not subject to the Patriarch of Constantinople, and who differ in some respects, from him in doctrine and forms of worship.
SECTION 1. Of the Greek Church subject to the Patriarch of Constantinople.
The Oriental or Greek church is the most ancient of all Christian churches ; for, though it may be granted that the Roman pontiff had acquired a spiritual, or rather a temporal jurisdice tion, before the patriarch of Constantinople, and perhaps before any other Oriental patriarch, yet it cannot be doubted that the first Christian church or society was established at Jerusalem.
The next churches were, doubtless, those of Syria and Greece ; and if ever St. Peter was at Rome, which has not yet been fully ascertained, it was not till after he had been bjshop of Antioch ; so that the Latin church is unquestionably the daughter of the Greek, and is indebted to her for all the bles.
. sings of the gospel : a truth which one of our own bishops acknowledged in the Council of Trent. s. The taw went out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” This city was the mother of all churches ; the original emporium of the Christian faith ; tbe centre from which the bealing rays of Christianity diverged and spread over the. world. om the history of the Greek Church, from the fatal separation in the ninth century, little occurs, that is interesting, excepting the Crusades, or holy wars, and the vast accession that was made to it by the conversion of the Russian dominions, in the 10th century, till about the middle of the fifteenth (1453,) wheu Mahomet the II. took Constantinople, and overthrew the_Grecian Empire, under Constantine Palæologus, the last of the Byzantine Cæsars. With the empire of the Greeks, their religious establishment was overthrown ; and though a partial toleration was at first permitted, the religious despotism of their conquerors soon contracted it within more confined limits, and reduced the Chris. tian religion and its professors to the miserable state in which they now exist under the yoke of the Ottomdns. The Greek church still subsists under the sceptre of Mahomet. But how does it subsist ? Like the tree (says the venerable Bishop Horne) that had suffered excision, in the dream of the Chaldean inonarch ; its root indeed remains in the earth, with a band of iron and brass, and it is wet with the dew of heaven, until seven times shall have passed over it; at the expiration of which, it may come into remembrance before God, and again bud, and put forth its branches, and bear fruit, for t'ie shadow and sup. port of nations yet unknown. But at present its condition is not to be envied or coveted. The Mahometan power has been raised up to be the Pharaoh, the Nebuchadnezzar, and the Antiocbus Epiphanes of these last days, to the Eastern churches. Let those therefore that now stand," be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die,” lest they also fall. The promise of divine protection, and indefectible subsistence is not made to any particular church or churches, but to the church of Christ in general; and as the Seven Churches of Asia hare, of a long time, almost wholly disappeared, and the glory of the Greek Church has for ages been wretchedly obscured, so may any church or churches, however flourishing now, be one day equally obscured: and, sooner or later, even wholly extinguished and forgotten. moms
DISTINGUISHING DOCTRINES.--The Greek church agrees in most things with either the church of Romc, or the Reformed church ; wherein it differs from the one, it for the most part, agrees with the other. Many of the corruptions of the church of Rome arose before the fmal separation took place between it and the Greek church ; and, as many of these had their origin in the East, they continued in both churches after the division, so that, in the Greek church, may be found inany of what we consider as' errors in the Latin