THERE are words whose history it is peculiarly interesting to watch, as they obtain a deeper meaning, and receive a new consecration, in the Christian Church; words which the Church did not invent, but has assumed into its service, and employed in a far loftier sense than any to which the world has ever put them before. The very word by which the Church is named is itself an example—a more illustrious one could scarcely be found—of this progressive ennobling of a word. For we have ἐκκλησία in three distinct stages of meaning—the heathen, the Jewish, and the Christian.