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was always with it, and would keep it from greatly erring. Now I do not dare to say that the men whom we are used to regard as so pious and holy, and to call martyrs, were in God's sight unpardonable sinners; but if they rebelled against the church, it was a sort of high-treason, such as the church was obliged to punish. And so, while we charitably hope that their souls were saved, we are not at liberty to speak evil of the power that delivered over their bodies to be executed. You may shake your head, Frank, as much as you please; but either you must own that there has always been a visible, Catholic church, acknowledged as such by all the nations of Christendom; or else you must admit that the Catholic church, in which these nations professed to believe, did not exist; or, at least, it was a thing that nobody ever saw, or heard of, or knew a word about, for hundreds of years together.'
'You are wrong, Robert, very wrong,' said his mother. There has always been a church—a true, witnessing, apostolic church,-holding the faith, teaching the doctrines of salvation, taught and led by the Holy Spirit, supported by the arm of an everpresent Saviour; Catholic in its character, evermore assailed by the gates of hell, yet never extinguished, never overthrown, never shaken from its sure foundation. This is the church that real believers
in all ages have acknowledged, and to which they have belonged.'
Then, Mamma, I will ask you one question: where was the visibility of the church during the eight hundred years spoken of in the homily? How do you trace it?
By the stain of its martyrs' blood; by the light of its martyrs' fires;' answered Mrs. Willis; while Frank clasped his hands exclaiming, Ah! that is just what I thought, though I could not express my meaning clearly.'
Robert, meanwhile, was turning over the leaves of a book, in which he had placed markers, and from which he read the following passages :
Christianity was never to be reduced at any time to obscurity; or to be a secret profession, held by a few scattered individuals." "The church was to be eminently conspicuous and visible."
'Yes,' replied Mrs. Willis, eminently conspicuous-as any object, however small, must be, that reflects the light of the sun where all around is gross darkness: but for the rest we must consult Scripture. However, I see you have more to read; go on.'
Robert read: 6.66 If the church of Christ, once exalted on the top of the mountains, and spreading herself from India to the ends of the earth, could have so far fallen away as to become the kingdom of
Antichrist, wherein some few souls alone retained their Christianity in obscurity, it would seem impossible to deny that the gates of hell must have prevailed against her." One more extract, Mamma, and I have done: pray notice it well, Frank: "It has been proved that there must always be a visible and a universal church of Christ on earth it is therefore, in vain to allege that some individuals may have held the truth in secret, in the midst of an apostate and Antichristian church. This would not be any answer to the question where the visible church of Christ existed. It would be equally vain to attempt to trace the visible church in the various sects of Albigenses, Waldenses, Wickliffites, Hussites, &c." Now, dear Mamma, do not suppose that I can ever set up any man's opinions in opposition to the Bible; but as you see the question is, whether a positive promise given by our blessed Lord has been fulfilled or not, I feel it my duty to go along with those who contend that it has been fulfilled.'
My dear children,' said Mrs. Willis, there can scarcely be a more important subject than this, or a more interesting one. In examining it, I shall have to tell you some beautiful stories, which the youngest of you will easily understand; but I want to know whether you, Thomas, and my little Fanny, quite
I. A VISIBLE CHURCH
II. WHAT THE CHURCH WAS TO BE
III. AN APOSTATE CHURCH
IV. A WITNESSING CHURCH-THE PAULICIANS
VI. A WITNESSING CHURCH-THE PUBLICANS
IX. AN APOSTOLIC CHURCH
X. THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH