Continuing on with my series on the Seven Notes, I would call them tests, which Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman developed for determining whether some aspect of Church teaching is a development of doctrine or a corruption of doctrine. We began with Note Six-Conservative Action Upon Its Past, and I would highly recommend that any one who has not read the first post in the series read it here before reading this post. We then proceeded with an examination of the First Note-Preservation of Type here, the Second Note-Continuity of Principles here and the Third Note-Power of Assimilation here. This post will deal with the Fourth Note-Logical Sequence.
It is possible as an idea develops during the history of mankind, to logically trace its development. Afterwards, however, this logical character which the whole wears becomes a test that the process has been a true development, not a perversion or corruption, from its evident naturalness; and in some cases from the gravity, distinctness, precision, and majesty of its advance, and the harmony of its proportions, like the tall growth, and graceful branching, and rich foliage, of some vegetable production.
Newman notes that in the political history of states, it is often easy to see development of ideas at work. It is illustrated by the words of Jeroboam, “Now shall this kingdom return to the house of David, if this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem … Wherefore the king took counsel and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, Behold thy gods, O Israel.” Idolatry was a duty of kingcraft with the schismatical kingdom.
Newman concludes: A doctrine, then, professed in its mature years by a philosophy or religion, is likely to be a true development, not a corruption, in proportion as it seems to be the logical issue of its original teaching.
Newman on the Fourth Note.
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