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207 CH.APTER VI. APPLICATION OF THE SEVEN NOTES TO THE EXISTING DEVELOPMENTS OF CHRISTIAN DOC TRINE. APPLICATION OF THE FIRST NOTE OF A TRUE DEVELOPMENT, PRESERVATION OF TYPE . Now let me attempt to apply the foregoing seven Notes of fidelity in intellectual developments to the instance of Christian Doctrine. And first as to the Note of identity o f type. I have said above, that, whereas all great ideas are found, as time goes on, to involve much which was not seen at first to belong to them, and have developments, that is enlargements, applications, uses and fortunes, very various, one securityagainst error and perversion in theprocess is the maintenance of the original type, which the idea presented to the world at its origin, amid and through all its apparent changes and vicissitudes from first to last. How does thisapply to Christianity ? What is its original type ? and has that type been preserved in the develop­ ments commonly called Catholic, which have followed, and in the Church which embodies and teaches them ? Let us take it as the world now views it in its age ; and let us take it as the world once viewed it in its youth ; and let us see whether there be any great difference between the early and the later description of it. The following statement will show my meaning :- 208 TIIE CHURCH OF' lcH. VI. There is a religious communion claiming a divine com· mission, and holding all other religious bodies around it heretical or infidel ; it is a well-organized, well-disciplined body ; it is a sort of secret society, binding together its members by influences and by engagements which it is difficult for strangers to ascertain. It is spread over the known world ; it may be weak or insignificant locally, but it is strong on the whole from its continuity ; it may be smaller than all other religious bodies together, but is larger than each separately. It is a natural enemy to governments external to itself ; it is intolerant and en­ grossing, and tends to a new modelling of society ; it breaks laws, it divides families. It is a gross superstition ; it is charged with the foulest crimes ; it is despised by the intellect of the day ; it is frightful to the imagination 0£ the many. And there is but one communion such. Place this description before Pliny or Julian ; place it before Frederick the Second or Guizot.1 " Apparent diroo facies." Each knows at once, without asking a question, who is meant by it. One object, and only one, absorbs each item 0£ the detail of the delineation. SECTION I. THE CHURCH OF THE FIRST CENTURIES. The primafacie view of early Christianity, in the eyes of witnesses external to it, is presented to us in the brief but vivid descriptions given by Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny, the only heathen writers who distinctly mention it for the first hundred and fifty years. Tacitus is led to speak of the Religion, on occasion of I [This juxtaposition of names bas been strangely distorted by critic•. In the intention of the author, Guiz11t matched with Pliny, not with Frederick.] SECT. I.] THE FJRST CENTURIES. 209 the conflagration of Rome, which was popularly imputed to Nero. " To put an end to the report," he says, " he laid the guilt on others, and visited them with the most exquisite punishment, those, namely, who, held in abhor­ rence for their crimes (per flagitia invisos), were popularly called Christians. The author of that profession (nominis) was Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, was capitally punished by the Procurator, Pontius Pilate. The deadly superstition (exdiabilis superstitiv), though checked for a while, broke out afresh ; and that, not only throughout Judrea, the original seat of the evil, but through the City also, whither all things atrocious or shocking (atrocia ant pudenda) flow together from every quarter and thrive. At first, certain were seized who avowed it ; then, on their report, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much offiring the City, as of hatred of mankind (odio liurnani generi's)." After describing their tortures, he continues " In conse­ quence, though they were guilty, and deserved most signal punishment, they began to be pitied, as if destroyed not for any public object, but from the barbarity of one man." Suetonius relates the same transactions thus : " Capital punishments were inflicted on the Christiana, a class of men of a new and magical superstition (sitperstitionis novaJ et maleficre) ." What gives additional...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780268158088
Related ISBN
9780268009212
MARC Record
OCLC
1017613061
Pages
480
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Language
English
Open Access
No
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