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THE RIGHT REVEREND
JOHN BRINKLEY, D.D. F. R. S.
M. R. I. A., &c.
LORD BISHOP OF CLOYNE;
THIS HISTORICAL OUTLINE
GENERAL COUNCILS OF THE CHURCH,
WITH SENTIMENTS OF DUTIFUL RESPECT,
BY HIS LORDSHIP'S
FAITHFUL, HUMBLE SERVANT,
JUN 26 1961
Among the interesting features of these extraordinary times is to be ranked the
growing spirit of inquiry, which has sprung up, and the anxious desire for professional improvement, which has manifested itself in the different walks of literature; more especially among those designed for the sacred ministry. With a zeal highly creditable to themselves, and most serviceable to the cause of Christianity, they have, of late, enlarged the sphere of their inquiries by investigating the Archives of the primitive Church ; sensible, that the subject of doctrinal and practical Religion, however important in itself, was of too limited a range, for either the employment of their time, or the gratification of their studious propensities. Under such circumstances, the utility of a Production like the present, first suggested itself to the Author's mind, as a mean, promotive of such laudable views, and as calculated to facilitate the attainment of the desired object.
The Councils of the early ages of Christianity, commencing with the Apostolic era, and ending somewhat about the close of the Fifth century, have excited that degree of attention, to which they are so richly entitled. But among them, the * First Four General Councils stand eminently conspicuous, as faithful conservatories of Apostolic Tradition, and safe guides in the interpretation of Holy Writ; their Acts being almost exclusively employed on the fundamental Doctrines of Christianity:—the Divinity, Incarnation, and Atonement of Christ, and the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead. Although, for this reason, these Councils form a prominent object of theological research; yet the Councils of the succeeding ages also possess an inte rest, that entitles them to consideration : because through them may be traced the Romish departure from the primitive Faith, and the gradual encroachment of a Power, which though weak, and lowly in its first aspirations,
* For the degree of authority, which these Councils possess with the CHURCH OF ENGLAND, See APPENDIX, page 327.