Such are the essential elements of Roman Catholicism. There is much else that might be mentioned, but what has been said denotes the leading points.
We pass to the last question: What modifications has the Gospel here undergone, and how much of it is left? Well—this is not a matter that needs many words—the whole outward and visible institution of a Church claiming divine dignity has no foundation whatever in the Gospel. It is a case, not of distortion, but of total perversion. Religion has here strayed away in a direction that is not its own.
As Eastern Catholicism may in many respects be more appropriately regarded as part of the history of Greek religion than of the history of the Gospel, so Roman Catholicism must be regarded as part of the history of the Roman World-Empire. To contend, as it does, that Christ founded a kingdom; that this kingdom is the Roman Church; that he equipped it with a sword, nay, with two swords, a spiritual and a temporal, is to secularise the Gospel; nor can this contention be sustained by appealing to the idea that Christ’s spirit ought certainly to bear rule amongst mankind. The Gospel says, “Christ’s kingdom is not of this world,” but the Church has set up an earthly kingdom; Christ demands that his ministers shall not rule but serve, but here the priests govern the world; Christ leads his disciples away from political and ceremonious religion and places every man face to face with God —God and the soul, the soul and its God, but here, on the contrary, man is bound to an earthly institution with chains that cannot be broken, and he must obey; it is only when he obeys that he approaches God. There was a time when Roman Christians shed their blood because they refused to do worship to Caesar, and rejected religion of the political kind; to-day they do not, indeed, actually pray to an earthly ruler, but they have subjected their souls to the despotic orders of the Roman papal King.