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 preservation of type, we have a first Note of the fidelity of the existing developments of Christianity. Let us now proceed to a second.

§ 1. The Principles of Christianity

When developments in Christianity are spoken of, it is {324} sometimes supposed that they are deductions and diversions made at random, according to accident or the caprice of individuals; 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 under which 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 consequence of its scarcity of principles, a fanatical spiritualism and an intense secularity, types simply contrary to each other, being alike consistent with its main principle, "Forms of worship are Antichristian." Christianity, 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.

Comment