Spiritual Despotism

Cover of book Spiritual Despotism
Categories: Nonfiction

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CH OF ANCIENT HIERARCHIES, AND THAT OF THE JEWS. The general subject of sacerdotal power, and the abuses to which it is liable, cannot be treated with reference merely to modern institutions, modern notions, and immediate interests. Neither-the guiding principles which we have to seek for in the New Testament, nor the real import of the allusions made therein to the constitutions of the primitive Church, can be understood without some knowledge of the notions and usages of the times ; and these involve, not merely Jewish but heathen opinions and practices. One cannot read a page of the ecclesiastical controversies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries without feeling that the reasoning, on both sides, is very often vitiated, either by the want of this sort of information, or by the misuse of it. A just conception of the Jewish church polity is, we say, indispensable to an understanding of the polity of the Christian Church; and the former demands at least a hasty glance at the contemporary pagan systems. Our modern European institutions, civil as well as sacred, combine heterogeneous materials, of various accidental origin, and often not so much composed, as jumbled together by the revolutions of ages. On the contrary, the ancient oriental politics suggest the idea of homogeneous abstract conceptions, the products of single minds, or of a few minds in concert. The former are accumulations, in the rearing of which the hand of time is more apparent than themind or purpose of man : but the latter are, or seem to be, digested schemes, whereof the several components stand rationally related one to the other. Might it be said that the freedom of Europe has sprung, in part at least, from the accidental construction of our social systems ; while the despo...

Spiritual Despotism
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