The history of the development of Dogma does not offer the lofty interest, which attaches to that of its genesis. When we return from the most complicated and elaborate doctrinal formulas, from the mysticism of the Cultus and Christian Neoplatonism, from the worship of saints and ceremonial ritual of the seventh and eighth centuries, back to Origen and the third century, we are astonished to find that all we have mentioned was really in existence at the earlier date. Only it existed. then amid a mass of different material, and its footing was insecure In many respects the whole historical development of Dogma from the fourth century to John of Damascus and Theodore of Studion was simply a vast process of reduction, selection, and definition. In the East we are no longer called upon to deal in any quarter with new and original matter, but always rather with what is traditional, derivative, and, to an increasing extent, superstitious. Yet that to which centuries devoted earnest reflection, holding it to be sacred, will never lose its importance, as long as there still exists among us a remnant of the same conditions which belonged to those times. But who could deny that those conditions--in the Church and in learning --are still powerful among us? Therefore even the religious formulas are still in force which were created in the Byzantine age; nay, they are the dogmas kat' exoche'n in all Churches, so that the popular idiom is nowise wrong which with the word dogma primarily designates the doctrines of the Trinity and the divine humanity of Christ. The inquirer who follows the development of these dogmas after the fourth century, and who, owing to the want of originality and freshness in his material, loses pleasure in his work, is ever and again reanimated, when he considers that he has to deal with matters which have gained, and still exercise, an immense power over the feelings and minds of men. And how much it is still possible for us to learn, as free Evangelical Christians, especially after generations of scholars have dedicated to this history the most devoted industry, so that no one can enter into their labours without becoming their disciples!
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