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the course of development which has preceded it, is no true development but a corruption. This subject, however, will come before us by and bye.
Blackstone supplies us with an instance in another subject matter, when he observes that “when society is once formed, government results of course, as necessary to preserve and to keep that society in order.” 1
When the Long Parliament proceeded to usurp the executive, they impaired the popular liberties which they seemed to be advancing; for the security of those liberties depends on the separation of the executive and legislative powers, or on the enactors being subjects, not executors of the laws.
And in the history of ancient Rome, from the time that the privileges gained by the tribunes in behalf of the people became an object of ambition to themselves, the development had changed into a corruption. Thus, too, the Greek demagogue became the tyrant.
And thus a sixth test of a true development is its being an addition which is conservative of what has gone before it.
The Seventh Test; Chronic Continuance.
Since the corruption of an idea, as far as the appearance goes, is a sort of accident or affection of its development, being the end of a course, and a transition-state leading to a crisis, it is, as has been observed, a brief and rapid process. While ideas live in men's minds, they are ever enlarging into fuller development; they will not be stationary in their corruption any more than before it; and dissolution is that further state to which corruption tends. Corruption cannot, therefore, be of long standing; and thus duration is another test of a faithful development.
1 Vol. i. p. 118.
Si gravis, brevis; si longus, levis; is the Stoical topic of consolation under pain; and of a number of disorders it can even be said, The worse, the shorter.
Sober men are indisposed to change in civil matters, and fear reforms and innovations, lest, if they go a little too far, they should at once run to some great calamities before a remedy can be applied. The chance of a slow corruption does not strike them. Revolutions are generally violent and swift; now, in fact, they are the course of a corruption.
The course of heresies is always short: it is an intermediate state between life and death, or what is like death; or, if it does not result in death, it is resolved into some new, perhaps opposite, course of error, which lays no claim to be connected with it. And in this way indeed an heretical principle will continue in life many years, first running one way, then another.
The abounding of iniquity is the token of the end approaching; the faithful in consequence cry out, How long ? as if delay opposed reason as well as patience. Three years and a half are to complete the reign of Antichrist.
Nor is it any real objection that the world is ever corrupt, and yet, in spite of this, evil does not fill up its measure and overflow; for this arises from the external counteractions of truth and virtue, which bear it back; let the Church be removed, and the world will soon come to its end.
And so again, if the chosen people age after age became worse and worse, till there was no recovery, still their course of evil was continually broken by reformations, and was thrown back upon a less advanced stage of declension
It is true that decay, which is one form of corruption, is slow; but decay is a state in which there
is no violent or vigorous action at all, whether of a conservative or a destructive character, the hostile influence being powerful enough to enfeeble the functions of life, but not to quicken its own process. And thus we see opinions, usages, and systems, which are of venerable and imposing aspect, but which have no soundness within them, and keep together from a habit of consistence, or from dependence on political institutions; or they become almost peculiarities of a country, or the habits of a race, or the fashions of society. And then, at length, perhaps, they go off suddenly and die out under the first rough influence from without. Such are the superstitions which pervade a population, like some ingrained die or inveterate odour, and which at length come to an end, because nothing lasts for ever, but which run no course, and have no history; such was the established paganism of classical times, which was the fit subject of persecution, for its first breath made it crumble and disappear. Such apparently is the state of the Nestorian and Monophysite communions; such might have been the condition of Christianity had it been absorbed by the feudalism of the middle ages; such too is that Protestantism, or (as it sometimes calls itself) attachment to the Establishment, which is not unfrequently the boast of the respectable and wealthy among ourselves.
Whether Mahometanism external to Christendom, and the Greek Church within it, fall under this description is yet to be seen. Circumstances can be imagined which would even now rouse the fanaticism of the Moslem; and the Russian despotism does not venture upon the usages, though it may domineer over the priesthood, of the national religion.
Thus, while a corruption is distinguished from decay by its energetic action, it is distinguished from a development by its transitory character.
And thus we have a seventh and final test of a development.
This is all that need here be said on the criteria between a development and a corruption. We shall have occasion for them hereafter. Meanwhile it is plain that they are only of a practical character, and not determined on any logical principle of division; and the instances which have been arranged under one head might in some cases have been referred to another.
ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIAN IDEAS
ON THE PROBABILITY OF DEVELOPMENTS IN
1. IF Christianity is a fact, and can be made subject matter of exercises of the reason, and impresses an idea of itself on our minds, 'that idea will in course of time develope in a series of ideas connected and harmonious with one another, and unchangeable and complete, as is the external fact itself which is thus represented. It is the peculiarity of the human mind, that it cannot take an object in, which is submitted to it, simply and integrally. It conceives by means of definition or description; whole objects do not create in the intellect whole ideas, but are, to use a mathematical phrase, thrown into series, into a number of statements, strengthening, 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 will convey the same truth to another, yet by methods and through representations altogether different. The same person will treat the same argument differently in an essay or