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CHAPTER II. O� TH E ANTECEDENT ARGUMENT IN BEHALF OF DEVELOPMENTS IN CH RlS'l'IAN DOCTRINE. SECTIO� I. DEVELOPMENTS OF D0(,"'1.'RINE TO TIE EXPECTED. 1. IF Christianity is a fact, and impresses an idea of itself on our minds and is a subject-matter of exercises of the reason, that idea will in course of time expand into a multitude of ideas, and aspects of ideas, connected and harmonious with one another, and in themselves determinate and immutable, as is the objective fact itself which is thus represented. It is a characteristic of our minds, that they cannot take an object in, which is submitted to them simply and integrally. ·we conceive by means of defini­ nition or description ; whole objects do not create in the intellect whole ideas, but are, to use a mathematical phrase, thrown int.o series, into a number of statements, strengthen­ ing, interpreting, correcting each other, and with more or less exactness approximating, as they accumulate, to a perfect image. There is no other way of learning or of teaching. We cannot teach except by aspects or views, which are not identical with the thing itself which we are teaching. Two persons may each convey the same truth to a third, yet by met hods and through representations 56 D l!:VELOPM�NTS OF DOCTHINE (cH. II. altogether different. The same person will treat the same argument differently in an essay or speech, according to the accident of the day of writing, or of the audience, yet it will be substantially the same. And the more claim an idea has to be considered living, the more various will be its aspects ; and the more social and political is its nature, the more complicated and subtle will be its issues, and the longer and more eventful will be its course. And in the number of these special ideas, which from their very depth and richness cannot be fully understood at once, but are more and more clearly expressed and taught the longer they last,-having aspect::; many and bearings many, mutually connected and grow­ ing one out of another, and all parts of a whole, with a sympathy and correspondence keeping pace with the ever-changing necessities of the world, multiform, prolific, and ever resourccful,-among these great doctrines surely we Chri:;tians shall not refuse a foremost place to Chris. tianity. Such previously to the determination of the fact, must be our anticipation concerning it from a contempla­ tion of its initial achievements. 2. It may be objected that its inspired documents at once determine the limits of its mission without further trouble ; but ideas are in the writer and reader of the revelation, not the inspired text itself : and the question is whether those ideas which the letter conveys from writer to reader, reach the reader at once in their completeness and accuracy on his first perception of them, or whether they open out in his intellect and grow to perfection in the course of time. Nor could it surely be maintained without extravagance that the letter of the New Testament, or of any assignable number of books, comprises a delineation of all possible SECT. I.] TO BE li:XPEC'.l'ED. 57 forms which a divine message will assume when submitted to a multitude of minds. Nor is the case altered by supposing that inspiration provided in behalf of the first recipients of the Revelation, what the Divine Fiat effected for herbs and plants in the beginning, which were created in maturity. Still, the time at length came, when its recipients ceased to be inspired ; and on these recipients the revealed truths would fall, as in other cases, at first vaguely and generally, though in spirit and in truth, and would afterwards be completed by developments. Nor can it fairly be made a difficulty that thus to treat of Christianity is to level it in some sort to sects and doctrines of the world, and to impute to it the imperfections which characterize the productions of man. Certainly it is a sort of degradation of a divine work to consider it under an earthly form ; but it is no irreverence, since our Lord Himself, its Author and Guardian, bore one also. Christianity differs from other religions and philosophie..:, in what is supera.. SECT, II.) TO BE EXPECTED, 91 by the sects of England, an interminable division. Ger· many and Geneva began with persecution, and have ended in scepticism. The doctrine...


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