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CHAPTER VII. A.PPLIC.A.TION OF THE SECOND NO'rE OF .A. TRUE DEVELOPMENT. CONTINUITY OF PRINCIPLES. IT appears then that there has been a certain general type of Christianity in every age, by which it is known at first sight, differing from itself only as what is young differs from what is mature, or as found in Europe or in America, so that it is named at once and without hesitation, as forms of nature are recognized by experts in physical science ; or as some work of literature or art is assigned to its right author by the critic, difficult as may be the analysis of that specific impression by which he is enabled to do so. And it appears that this type has remained entire from first to last, in spite of that process of development which seems to be attributed by all parties, for good or bad, to the doctrines, rites, and usages in which Christianity consists ; or, in other words, that the changes which have taken place in Christianity have not been such as to destroy that type,-that is, that they are not corruptions, because they are consistent with that type. Here then, in the preser­ g;ation of type, we have a first Note of the fidelity of the existing developments of Christianity. Let us now pro­ ceed to a second.§ l. The Principles of Christianity. When developments in Christianity are spoken of, it is 324 APPLICATfON OF THE SECOND NOTE. (CH. VII. sometimes supposed that they are deduction.'! and diversions made at random, according to accident or the caprice of fodividuals ; whereas it is because they have been conducted all along on definite and continuous principles that the type of the Religion has remained from first to last unalterable. "'What then are the principles underwhich the developments have been made ? I will enumerate some obvious ones. 2. They must be many and positive, as well as obvious, if they are to be effective ; thus the Society of Friends seems in the course of years to have changed its type in con­ sequence of its scarcity of principles, a fanatical spiri­ tualism and an intense secularity, types simply contrary to each other, being alike consistent with its main principle, " Forms of worship are Antichristian." Chris­ tianity, on the other hand, has principles so distinctive, numerous, various, and operative, as to be unlike any other religious, ethical, or political system that the world has ever seen, unlike, not only in character, but in persistence in that character. I cannot attempt here to enumerate more than a few by way of illustration. 3. For the convenience of arrangement, I will consider the Incarnation the central truth of the gospel, and the source whence we are to . draw out its principles. This great doctrine is unequivocally announced in numberless passages of the New Testament, especially by St. John and St. Paul ; as is familiar to us all : " The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." " That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life, that declare we to you." " For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus SECT. I. § 1 .J THE PRINCIPLES Ol!' CHRISTIANITY. 325 Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.'' "Not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." 4. In such passages as these we have 1. The principle of dogma, that is, supernatural truths irrevocably committed to human language, imperfect because it is human, but definitive and necessary because given :from above. 2. The principal of faith, which is the correlative of dogma, being the absolute acceptance of the divine Word with an internal assent, in opposition to the informations, if such, of sight and reason. 3. Faith, being an act of the intellect, opens a. way for inquiry, comparison and inference, that is, for science in rnligion, in subservience to itself; this is the principle of tlteology. 4. 'rhe doctrine of the Incarnation is the announcement of a divine gift conveyed in a material and visible medium, it being thus that heaven and earth are in the Incarnation united. That...

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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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