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CHAP. 14.

GREEK CHURCH.

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more, Georgetown, New-Orleans, and St. Louis. They reside chiefly in Maryland, Louisiana, Florida, and the capital cities.

Though he has millions in his church, the wealth and consequence of the Pope have nearly all passed away. Strangers visit him from curiosity as the remnant of that tremendous power which once ruled the Christian world. The present Pope is the two hundred and fiftieth that has filled the Papal chair. * Many in the Roman church are gladly receiving the Holy Scriptures. The 1260 years, the time of her duration, is rapidly drawing to a close, when, it is believed, she will be merged in that true Church which knows no infalliable guide but the scriptures, and seeks salvation only by faith in a crucified Redeemer.

CHAPTER XIV.

Greek Church. Its history, doctrine, and discipline. Russian Greek

Church. Its establishment and separation from the Greek Church. Sect of Isbranki. Efforts of Peter the Great Doctrines and discipline. Eastern Churches. Ground of their early divisions. .Nestorians. Monophysites. Asiatics Africans. . Copts. Abya sinians. Armenians.

The once happy and flourishing churches of Greece and Asia soon sunk to decay, when they had drunk the poison of Arius, and had consented, with idol Rome, to bow the knee in image worship. By the Saracens they were, from time to time, awfully scourged and rooted up of heaven for their wickedness; but still they flourished in much wealth and splendour while the Byzantine Cæsars held their thrones. This rising power of the Roman pontiff excited their jealousy; and his pride and hanghtiness kindled their rage.

In the middle of the ninth century, Photius, the patriarch of Constantinople, was excommunicated by the Roman Pontiff, for asserting that the Holy Ghost proceeded only from the Father and not from the Son. The act was resented by the Grecian emperor, and the Roman Pontiff was excommunicated in turn. A breach was made between the Eastern and Western churches, which was soon widened by new subjects of contention, and confirmed in irreconcilable enmity. From this period is dated the rise of the Greek church; though that church embraces the primitive churches planted by the Apostles.

In numbers, wealth, and glory, the Grecian Church far exceeded the spiritual dominion of the Roman See. In the tenth century, she received into her connexion the immense Russian dominions which were converted to the christian faith. But she had a fatal enemy in the east, before whom she was rapidly consumed. One after another of her beautiful churches she beheld converted into a Mahometan mosque ; while their worshipers were destroyed by the sword, or converted by terrors and bribes to the religion of the Impostor. From the west, the fanatical crusaders came pouring in torrents to rescue, if possible, her lost territory. She was jealous of their design, and only submitted to what she could not resist; and while she had little cause to thank them for aid, she had reason to bewail, had her eyes been open to it, the inheritance they left ;--a vast deposit of moral corruption.

In 1453, the empire of the Greeks was overthrown by the Mahometan power; and, with it, perished their religious establishment. For a few years, their haughty conquerors permitted something that bore the name of a religious toleration ; but it is part of the religion of a Turk to treat a Christian as a dog, and the toleration was soon exchanged for a rigorous and cruel despotism. For near 400 years, the Greek church has now continued in a most deplorable bondage, until her religion is but little better than a constant succession of idle ceremonies. Why has it been thus? Eternity will unfold the mysteries of time. But let the churches which have the bright light that once shone on Asia and Greece, behold and beware.

By a defection of the Russian church in 1589, the Greek church became considerably limited in its extent. Her people are now found scattered throughout Greece, and Grecian islands, Walachia, Noldavia, Sclavonia, Egypt, Nubia, Lybia, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Cilicia and Palestine. These countries are comprehended within the jurisdiction of the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. There are also branches of the Gþeek church in Circassia, Georgia, and Mongrelia.

The boldest and most artful efforts have been repeatedly made to win the Greek church to the Roman faith, but unisormly in vain. The very youth brought from the east and educated at Rome at the greatest expense in the papal colleges, have, on their return, been the bitterest foes to the papal dominion.

The Greeks, while they pretend to acknowledge the Scriptures as the rule of their faith, have many peculiarities which distinguish them from the Catholic and Protestant churches. They recieve the doctrince of the Trinity, and most of the ar

CHAP. 14.

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ticles of the Nicene and Athanasian creeds, but rest much upon the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father, and not from the Son. They hold in abhorrence the supremacy and infallibility of the pope ; purgatory by fire; graven images; the celibacy of the secular clergy; and prohibition of the sacrament in both kinds :—but yet use pictures in their worship ; invoke saints; have seven sacraments; believe in transubstantiation ; admit prayers and services for the dead; have a fast or festival for almost every day in the year; and know of no regeneration, but baptism.

Their officers are many; their convents numerous, and their monks are all priests, who lead a very austere life. Their nunneries are few. Their patriarchs reside at Constantinople, Damascus, Cario, and Jerusalem. The patriarch of Constantinople is at the head of the church, and is chosen by twelve bishops, and confirmed by the Turkish emperor. The office, however, is generally purchased by an immense sum of the Grand Vizier. It is a post honourable and lucrative. Its possessor has a vast jurisdiction and dominion. He not only decides controversies in the church, but administers civil justice among the members of his communion. He has the power ofexcommunicating any member of the Greek church; and of commanding bis death, exile, or imprisonment for life. He is, in fact the governor

of the Greeks, under the Turkish emperor, and is sustained by his authority. The other patriarchs are poor and debased, as is the whole church. Without schools, without Bibles, without religious teachers, groaning for near 400 years under an iron bondage, they have sunk into the most deplorable ignorance and moral corruption. With a crowd of bishops and metropolitans, they are almost as ignorant of the true Gospel of Christ as the benighted savage. The recent deliverance of Greece from the Mahometan yoke and the establishment of civ. il and christian liberty cannot fail to operate most favourably upon their religion and morals. Let Christians pray for those once great and distinguished churches, now in ruins; and send them back the light of life.

RUSSIAN GREEK CHURCH.

The immense wilds of Russia continued covered with moral darkness long after the rest of Europe had enjoyed the precious light of the Gospel. About the year 900, Methodius and Cyril, the philosopher,travelled from Greece into Moravia, where they translated some of the church service into the Sclavonian lan

guage, and converted the grand dutchess Olga to the Christian faith. Christianity soon spread, and Russia became subject to the patriarch of Constantinople. Of any thing farther we know but little until 1531, when we find the Muscovites publishing the Bible in their own language. In 1589 Russia separated from the government, though not from the communion of the Greek church, and an independent patriarch was established at Moscow.

About the year 1666, a sect called the Isbraniki, or multitude of the elect, pretending to uncommon piety and devotion, separated from the Russian church, and excited great disturbances throughout the empire. They were treated with severity, but increased, and do still remain, bound up in impenetrable secreey.

Peter the Great resolved to be the reformer of his church, as, well as of his empire. Happy had it been for Russia, had the light of the reformation dawned upon that noble mind. But he knew no other system than that in which he had been educated, and made, therefore, no change in the doctrines of the Greek church. These, however, he was resolved his people should understand ; and he waged war with the ignorance of the clergy, and the gross superstition, which brooded over the whole nation. He quenched the fires of persecution, and established a universal toleration of all sects and denominations, excepting the Catholics. He abolished the office of patriarch, putting himself at the head of the church ; which, under him, was to be governed by a synod: diminished the revenues of the clergy; and was once resolved to abolish the monasteries as unfriendly to population. But it was only an age of twilight; and he was induced to continue them, and to eréct a magnificent monastery in honour of Alexander Newsky ; whom the Russians number among their distinguished heroes and saints. He caused the Bible to be translated, printed, and circulated in the Sclavonian language; and had he lived in the age of Alexander, he would have placed a Bible in every family,

The Russian church has increased with the amazing increase of the nation. Happy for her had she grown in knowledge and holiness. But alas ! mer clergy are ignorant, and her people are without the Bible. The noble Russian Bible Society, under the excellent prince Galitzin, promised to raise her from her deplorable degradation, but it has been suppressed by her tyrants, jealous for their thrones.

In her doctrine, she agrees with the Greek church; like her, receives the seven sacraments or mysteris; allows no statues or graven images, but admits pictures and invocation of saints ;

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EASTERN CHURCHES.

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and is, therefore, like her and like Rome, whom she abhors, idolatrous. Her service consists of a vast number of idle ceremonies and absurd superstitions; and it is to be feared, that she is but very little elevated above the Roman Catholics in acquaintance with evangelical piety. Every person is obliged, by the civil law, to partake of the sacrament once a year An unparalled union exists throughout the empire, in doctrine and in practice. Her clergy are very numerous, and of different orders. , Her monks and nuns are about 6000 each.

Many efforts have been made by the Roman Pontiff and Jesuits, to effect an union between the Catholic and Russian churches, but always in vain. The Russians are very jealous of their religious independence and religious system.

The friends of truth, encouraged by the promises of God's word, are looking for some moral change throughout those immense regions. A single reign of one pious and liberal monarch may, under God, effect it. Let us rejoice that the hearts of kings are in his hands.

EASTERN CHURCIIES.

It is wonderful how great results proceed from little causes, and how the human mind once turned into a particular channel, proceeds on through successive ages. In the fifth century, we saw Nestorius, a Syrian bishop of Consnantinople, advancing the sentiment, that, in Christ there were two distinct natures and persons, the human and divine, and that Mary was to be called the mother of the man Jesus, and not of God. 'In opposition to him, Eutyches, an abbot at Constantinople, declared that these natures were so united in Christ, as to form but one nature, that of the Incarnate Word. It was an age when men were fast loosing sight of the Gospel, and contending about modes and forms; and these opposite opinions threw the whole Eastern world into bitter contention, and gave rise to that great division, which continues to this day among the miserable remnant of Eastern churches. The followers of the former, are called Nestorians; the latter, Monophysites.

The Nestorians early became the chief propagators of the Gospel in the East. They enjoyed the patronage of the Persian monarch Pherazes, by whom their opponents were expelled from his kingdom, and their patriarch was established at Selucia. They established a school at Nisibis under Barsumas, a disciple of Nestorius, from whence proceeded in the fifth and sixth centuries, a band of missionaries, who spread abroad their

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