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fore us as a portion of the revealed deposit, and what may be reasonably, or probably, or piously believed as an inference from it. But there are also theological inferences, which come to be so clearly ascertained in the course of ages, that they are at length fixed by authoritative decisions, and accepted as part of the original revelation, which, though not explicitly contained in the words of Apostles and Evangelists, is felt to be involved in the general scope of their teaching, and to supply the right key for its harmonious interpretation.
It is natural, then, to prefix to a work occupied with tracing the history of a particular doctrine some observations on this principle of growth and development in Catholic theology, though all that can be attempted within our present limits is to sketch out roughly some main outlines of thought on the subject. And as the method of my Treatise is not controversial but historical, so it will be my aim in this Introductory chapter to speak as little controversially as the subject admits. A statement of principles cannot be made too clear, but it is never less persuasive than when thrown into a polemical shape.. Most earnestly would I desire to take for my motto in all that I may say that noble maxim of Christian antiquity, which, if not verbally stated in the works of St. Augustine, has ever been held to express the mind of that great Saint and Teacher in the Church of God; In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.
The development of doctrine, it can hardly be needful to observe, does not mean that there is a constant succession of fresh revelations in the Church to supplement or to supersede
the revelations of Christmas and Pentecost. Still less does it mean, as others have objected, that Christian doctrine re. ceives, as time goes on, a series of fresh accessions, from the admixture or fusion of heterogeneous elements. Let me illustrate my meaning by an example. Supposing, as has sometimes been maintained, that the invocation of Saints had originally sprung from a gradual adoption of polytheistic practices, as the converted heathen began to multiply and dominate in the Church, instead of being the natural outgrowth of a deeper view of the Incarnation ; or suppose, as others have urged, that the doctrine of the Trinity was imported from Neo-Platonism into the Gospel;that would, in either case, be an accretion, but not a true development. What is meant is simply this—that the Christian revelation once, and once for all, delivered to the Saints,' through the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, and from the lips of His inspired servants, though fully apprehended from the first for all necessary ends, has grown, and was intended to grow, by degrees on the consciousness of the Church, illumined by the abiding presence of the Divine Comforter.
In the process of development, as in Scripture, in sacraments, and in everything which concerns our relations with the unseen world, there must be two factors, an earthly and a divine.* The human element is here supplied by the labours of theologians, the meditations of Saints, and even by the external, perhaps antagonistic, speculations of men of science, men of the world, heretics and unbelievers.* All these last are in truth unconsciously serving a common end, as the Gibeonites of old were 'bewers of wood and drawers of water' to the chosen people, whom they hated or despised. Those opposite tendencies of the Eastern and Western mind, which have made ancient Greece the mistress of speculative philosophy, and Rome the fountain of law even for modern Europe, reappear in the history of Christian theology. To the one it was given to investigate the revealed nature and attributes of God, to the other His purposes and His gifts for man. Thus, again, theology took its rise in the third century at Alexandria, the centre alike of the Neo-Platonist revival and of Gnosticism, and had something to learn from both ; while afterwards, the accidental introduction, as men count accident, of Aristotle's writings into mediæval Europe by the Crusaders, in an Arabian translation, was the immediate origin of scholasticism, which, beginning with St. Anselm, shaped through four centuries the whole theology of Christendom. And thus, to use the words of a high authority, “gradually, and in the course of ages, Catholic inquiry has taken certain
* On the combination of divine and human elements in the Church, see Möbler's Symbolism, Pt. I. ch. V. sect. 36.
* I subjoin all the more readily the following apposite passage from the Commonitorium of St. Vincent of Lerins, as his famous quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, has been frequently, but most incorrectly, quoted, in opposition to the theory of development altogether. "Nullusne ergo in Ecclesia Christi profectus habebitur religionis : Habeatur plane et maximus. Nam quis ille est tam invidus hominibus, tam exosus Deo, qui istud prohibere conetur. Sed ita ut vere profectus sit ille fidei, non permutatio. Siquidem ad profectum pertinet ut in semet ipsum unaquæque res amplificetur; ad permutationem vero ut aliquid ex alio in aliud transvertatur. Crescat igitur oportet, et multo vehementerque proficiat, tam singulorum quam omnium, tam unius hominis quam totius Ecclesiæ, ætatum et sæculorum gradibus, intelligentia, sapientia, scientia : sed in suo duntaxat genere, eodem scilicet dogmate, eodem sensu, eademque sententia."
definite shapes, and has thrown itself into the form of a science, with a method and a phraseology of its own, under the intellectual handling of great minds, such as St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas.” As a matter of fact, there is probably no single case where the process of doctrinal formation has not been more or less directly promoted by the questionings of heresy. Truth is struck out from the clash of conflicting opinions, to be fixed by theological science, and finally ratified by the sentence of the Church.* And this brings us to the second stage in the course of development. So far many would agree with us, who will differ, when we come to the divine or supernatural element in the process, which is supplied in the Church by the continual guidance of the Holy Ghost, and preserves her in the last resort from giving her authoritative sanction to any development not in accordance with the original revelation and the mind of God. Whether that sanction be expressed through the medium of a Council, as in the case of the ouoouolos, or directly ascertained through
* “ There are those indeed who seem as though they would be glad to divest themselves of the advantage of such decisions. They would rather fall back on the unreflecting simplicity of that early faith, which rested only on the single facts of the Gospel. But this is to be ignorant, that the gradual expansion of Christian doctrines was only the growth of the religious mind as, under the moulding power of the Holy Ghost, it compared the individual truths with which it had been entrusted. Those truths must have resolved themselves into wrong combinations if they had not been resolved into right ones. ...... Those who seek to regain it (early simplicity of faith) by throwing away what was earned by the religious impulse then given to the age, do but restore the imbecility of childhood without its innocence."-- Wilberforce's Doctrine of the Incarnation, p. 129. This development during the early ages, as regards the formation of the Canon, is traced by Mr. Westcott in his Bible in the Church (Macmillan, 1864), only he does not seem to recognize the similar operation of the divine instinct' of the later Church,
the sensus fidelium, as with the Athanasian Creed, or by the voice of the Holy See, as with the recent definition of the Immaculate Conception, is immaterial to my present argument; nor need any question be raised here as to the proper organ of its utterance; I am simply concerned with the result. Such, then, is a brief statement of the theory; the chief objections which have been urged against it will be noticed by and by. My present object is rather to explain than to defend it.
First, then, I observe, what is obvious, that the gradual development of Christian doctrine is analogous to the development of Christian history. The grain of mustard seed, which was to grow into a mighty tree, is emblematic alike of the revelation of Christ, and of the Church He established with His Blood. As the one was to expand from a 'hidden sect in the bosom of Judaism,' like an unborn child in its inother's womb, into a world-Church,' a 'world-kingdom, coextensive with the nations of the earth; so too was the original deposit of ‘facts, principles, dogmatic germs, and intimations,’afterwards summarized in the Apostles' Creed, not a mere “lifeless possession ready-made for all times to be taken care of, but a ktsua és åëà destined to expand, through the toil of successive ages, and the corporate consciousness of the faithful enlightened from on high, into all the majestic fulness and coherence of Catholic theology.* There was to be a growth, incessant, but with no break of continuity, continuo non vero per saltum, alike in the Church's intellectual consciousness and her or
* Döllinger's Christenthum und Kirche in der Zeit der Grundlegung, pp. 162-164, 219-221.