By Herbert Butterfield
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Additional resources for Christianity and History
This beautiful paradox, however, only serves to prove more clearly that society must provide the kind o f inducement that operates effectively. Society caters for human cupidity i n all o f us and secures its ends by making a skilful use o f this side o f human nature; so that when all things are nicely balanced men may be doing their duty w i t h o u t realising that their self-interest has come into the matter at i l l — t h e y may hardly be conscious o f the neat dove-tailing o f public service and private interests.
O n this whole question there are t w o further things which I have i t on m y m i n d to say, though perhaps I have no right to say them; and i f they are displeasing at any rate I dó not pretend to put them forward as more than a personal feeling, so that you may regard them as hurdles which I have failed to get over, or as the unfortunate effects o f the habit o f historical study. Once we have noted that human nature limps inadequately i n the w o r l d , after the manner that I have described, then I am not sure that on this question the historian can justifiably go any further.
B y having a rule o f the road we reduce the manifestation o f human wilfulness, not that men inherendy have any less o f i t i n their composition, but we reduce the number o f the occasions that bring i t out. There has come d o w n i n the Christian tradition a profound but paradoxical system o f teaching on the subject o f the origin o f government. O n the one hand government is regarded as being due to the Fall o f M a n , a consequence o f human sin, while at the same time i t is looked upon as being o f Divine institution, the creation o f Providence.
Christianity and History by Herbert Butterfield