The advent of a new religion, making serious and impressive claims to embody a new revelation from on high, is not a frequent occurrence.
Meanwhile the Church more and more provided for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, by practically chaining His influence to the hierarchy and the sacraments.
The earlier practice of the Church had been more or less to employ in worship under the presidency of the pastor or pastors, the gifts of the congregation.
And in times and places where there was not much persecution, people could become and continue Christians who neither were nor professed to be very devoted persons.
A tendency could not but arise to reconcile with Christian profession a good many modes of life, enjoyments, occupations, social actions and customs, from which the first Christians had recoiled.
The principle that certain sins should not receive the Church's testimony of forgiveness was probably no novelty at all, but had been applied in various churches; perhaps, however, with no strict consistency.
Of course the case of the Christian Church planted among the nations must differ, in various ways, from that of any sect forming in connection with religious awakening in a territory of professing Christianity.
For the standard of Christian life was to be strained to a higher pitch; more fasting was required, and more careful separation from the manners and enjoyments of the world; celibacy and martyrdom had great value set upon them, and second marriages were prohibited.