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CH.APTER X. .APPLICATION OF THE FIFTH NOTE OF A. TRUE DEVELOPMENT. ANTIClPATION OF ITS FUTURE. IT has been set down above as a fifth argument in favour of the fidelity of developments, ethical or political, if the doctrine from which they have proceeded has, in any early stage of its history, given indications of those opinions and practices in which it has ended. Supposing then the so-called Catholic doctrines and practices are true and legitimate development1', and not corruptions, we may expect from the force of logic to find instances of them in the first centuries. And this I conceive to be the case : the records indeed of those times are scanty, and we have little means of determining what daily Christian life then was : we know little of the thoughts, and the prayers, and the meditations, and the discourses of the early disciples of Christ, at a time when these professed developments were not recognized and duly located in the theological system ; yet it appears, even from what remains, that the atmo­ i;phere of the Church was, as it were, charged with them from the first, and delivered itself of them from time to time, in this way or that, in various places and persons, as occasion elicited them, testifying the presence of a vast body of thought within it, which one day would take shape and position. SECT. I. § 1.] RESURRECTCON AND RELICS. 401§ 1. Resurrection and Relics. As a chief specimen of what I am pointing out, I will direct attention to a characteristic principle of Christianity, whether in the East or in the West, which is at present both a special stumbling-block and a subject of scoffing with Protestants and free-thinkers of every shade and colour : I meanthe devotions which both Greeks and Latins show towards bones, blood, the heart, the hair, bits of clothes, scapulars, cords, medals, beads, and the like, and the miraculouspowers which they often ascribe to them. Now, the principle from which these beliefs and usages proceed is the doctrine that Matter is susceptible of grace, or capa­ ble of a union with a Divine Presence and influence. This principle, as we shall see, was in the first age both ener­ getically manifested and variously developed ; and that chiefly in consequence of the diametrically opposite doctrine of the schools and the religions of the day. And thus its exhibition in that primitive age becomes also an instance of a statement often made in controversy, that the profession and the developments of a doctrine are occording to the emergency of the time, and that silence at a certain period implies, not that it was not then held, but that it was not questioned. 2. Christianity began by considering Matter as a creature of God, and in itself " very good." It taught that Matter, as well as Spirit, had become corrupt, in the instance of Adam ; and it contemplated its recovery. It taught that the Highest had taken a portion ofthat corrupt mass upon Himself, in order to the sanctification of the whole ; that, as a firstfruits of His purpose, He had purified from all sin that very portion of it which He took into His Eternal Person, and thereunto had taken it from a Virgin Womb, which 402 APPLICATION OP THE FIFTH NOTE. (CH. X, He had filled with the abundance of His Spirit. More­ over, it taught that during His earthly sojourn He had been subject to the natural infirmities of man, and had suffered from t.hose ills to which flesh is heir. It taught that the Highest had in that flesh died on the Cross, and that His blood had an expiatory power ; moreover, that He had risen again in that flesh, and had carried that flesh with Him into heaven, and that from that flesh, glorified and deified in Him, He never would be divided. As a first consequence of these awiul doctrines comes that of the resurrection .of the bodies of His Saints, and of their future glorification with Him ; next, that of the sanctity of their relics ; further, that of the merit of Virginity ; and, lastly, that ofthe prerogatives of Mary, Mother of God. All these doctrines are more or less developed in the Ante­ nicene period, though in very various degrees, from the nature of the case. 3. And they were all objects of offence or of scorn to phi­ losophers, priests, or populace of the day. With varieties of opinions...

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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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