doctrine ecclesiastical events christian time life period sources century view
CHURCH HISTORY. In this article we shall consider (1) The Definition, (2) The Sources, (3) The Method, and (4) The Literature of the subject.
Considered as a department of universal knowledge, church history forms a special section of the religious history of mankind. It is an account of the growth and the transactions of the religions community which is marked out from others by its attachment to Christianity. This definition already excludes from consideration a region of inquiry important in itself, which is sometimes regarded as forming an integral part of the subject. Starting from that idea of the church which is represented etymologically by the undoubtedly false derivations of the word from the German kiiren, to choose, or the Greek ,4tov orKos, the (figurative) house of the Lord, various writers have assumed the church to be that special section of mankind who in any age have enjoyed the true revelation of God as given by himself, and they have in consequence regarded church history as bound to deal first with the Old Testament church and then with the church of the New Dispensation. This, however, involves an amount of dogmatic prepossession to which history, simply as such, cannot commit itself. Surveying the field of mere ob jective fact, history can single out, under the general appellation of the church, a great society whose origin can be distinctly traced up to the personal activity of Christ, who, for this society, forms a definite and wholly new historical commencement. Whatever etymology we assign to the word church under its various modifications of kirche, kirk, heck, cyrkew, zerkow, &c., - whether we follow the derivation suggested by Walafrid Strabo in the 9th century, and extensively held since, from rO KuptaLKOv, the Lord's house, as a term introduced by the Greek missionaries into the language of the heathen tribes whom they converted, or whether we adopt the not less probable conjec tare of Lipsins, and ascribe its origin to '' eire " or " eere" (connevted with the Latin circus), the local name for the temple of Northern paganism, adopted by ancient and medimeval Christianity, in conformity with its principle of accommodating itself as far as possible to the usages of its proselytes - there can be no doubt that the community and the movement, which, under some forum of the name church among the Germanic races, and of the name ecclesia, such as Vise, chiesa, &c., among the Latin nations, succeeded in subjugating the Roman empire, along with extensive regions beyond it on all sides, to a religion whose personal centre is Christ, form a fresh phenomenon in the history of mankind, as distinct and individual in its character as Hellenism, Hinduism, or Mohammedanism. In the view of history proper, therefore, the history of Judaism cannot be taken as forming a part of the history of the church.
For the same reason history cannot take action upon a class of distinctions recognized by many who assume the functions of the church historian. Such writers, adopting some strict and special definition of the church, confine the work of church history to that section of professing Christians whose condition satisfies the terms of their definition, any other so-called division of Christendom coming in for a share of attention only in the narrative of the opposition encountered by the church. History, in the proper sense, cannot undertake to decide questions of this description. To say which among many competing churches is the true church involves a dogmatic deliverance, which is beyond its province. It must do its work in a more rough and general fashion. Under the name church it comprehends all organizations avowedly basing themselves upon Christianity and recognizing Christ as in some sense their head and leader. It undertakes to delineate the story of these in the aggregate ; and with regard to the distinctions between them, and their pretensions to condemn and exclude each other, it confines itself to narrative, without attempting adjudication.
Another limitation has to be introduced into the definition of church history, when regard is had to the exact point of time at which it ought to begin. The church did not come into full-formed existence in a moment. Regarded as a community with more or less of an organization upon a Christian basis, and conscious of itself and of its aim in the history of the world, it was the result of the activity of Christ and his more immediate apostles and followers The history of what they did in giving existence to the church, as such, is a different thing from the history of the church when once existing in that character. The case resembles the difference between embryology and biography in the history of the individual. The precise point of time at which the formative activity of the church founders issues in the actual church is probably to be determined by the emergence of the consciousness of a common Christian life and aim among the separate communities originally established by apostolic labour. By some writers this is placed as low as the destruction of Jerusalem, by others as high as the first rallying of Christ's followers after his own disappearance from the world. In any case church history is relieved of a large amount of work with which it is sometimes burdened, but which does not properly fall to its share.
What church history has to do within the limits thus indicated will perhaps be best understood by considering its province as a department of scientific theology, and its relations to the theological disciplines with which it stands most closely connected, those, namely, of dogmatics and the history of doctrine. Strictly speaking, the history of doctrine is part of the history of the church. To exhaust its task, a history of the church must embrace at leastfive departments of inquiry and narrative, - one connected with the external relations of the church to the world at large and its political institutions, the remaining fur treating of developments and relations internal to the church itself. (1) The PROGRESS of the church must be described, either positively, in respect of its advance, or negatively, with reference to its retrogression, at any given period. To exist at all, it must exist under one or other of these conditions; it must be either attaining or missing, approaching or receding from, its rightful influence on the social condition and political organization of mankind. (2) Its CONSTITUTION must be described. The church exists as such, in virtue of its constitution. It is not the church until it is to some extent organized, and the growth and forms of this organization must be recorded. (3) The DOCTRINE of the church at the various points of its development must be set forth. Doctrine is the full and finished expression of conviction, and since the church owes its existence to certain convictions, some religious, some moral, the history of doctrine occupies the very central position of the church's history. (4) Wousmr, under one form or another, is an essential development of church life, as well as one of the modes in which it announces its existence, and calls for historical recognition. (5) LIFE, as exhibited in the number and character of the members of the church, completes the division of the matter of its history. Doctrine and worship are directed to certain practical ends, either of making proselytes to the church, or of perfecting the character of those who already belong to it, and any such results must be collected and presented both in their numerical and their moral aspects.
But while the history of the church, in the strict and comprehensive sense, must treat fully these various classes of activity, there is a narrower, if also a somewhat looser sense in which it may be taken, for ends of practical convenience. We may distinguish between the organization and its life, between the church and Christianity. On this view, doctrine, worship, and life fall to be treated collectively by the history of the Christian religion or in separate histories, while the history of the church becomes a narrative of the successes or defeats experienced in the world by the Christian community and the varying forms of its constitutional framework, with only such allusions to the internal and religious side of its life as are necessary to explain its constitutional changes and external fortunes. By this division it becomes possible to treat both the inner and the outer sides of the subject, each for itself, and therefore more fully and vividly. In this way, since doctrine lies at the foundation of worship and life, and even constitution, the history of doctrine becomes the key to the whole history of the church, and the indispensable preliminary to a scientific comprehension of it. The life and action of the church in the world are simply the expression of the ideas by which it is governed ; and it is the business of the historian of doctrine to record the vicissitudes and developments of these, whether he writes in the interests of mere knowledge and with absolute impartiality, or, as is more common, though less scientific, with a bias in favour of a certain class of ideas, all divergences from which he chronicles as errors. The difference between church history read in the light of the history of doctrine and apart from it is like the difference which the phenomena of health and disease present to minds that possess or that want an acquaintance with the principles of physiology.
Church history, including or co-ordinate with history of doctrine, stands in an important relation to dogmatics. Dogmatics (which also contributes the formal as well as, in part, the material element in Christian ethics) is charged with the scientific statement and proof of whatever is held to be the true doctrine. In the sphere of statement the history of the church is necessary, both as introduction and commentary. Doctrine is a growth, an evolution of part after part, under the influence of special circumstances at special times. The foil meaning of doctrine can therefore often be understood only in the light of its antithesis, and its relative importance as essential or accidental ascertained only from the practical crisis which demanded its declaration, - aids for which recourse must be had to the history of the church and its doctrine. As regards, therefore, the scientific articulation, proportioning, and interpretation of doctrine, church history stands in the position of an essential preliminary to dogmatics.
As regards actual church life, and any new expression of it in worship, constitution, or propagandist effort, that assumes to be based on scientific principle, the history of the church is indispensable, not only for the extended view of present circumstances that may be requisite, but also to enable the church fully to know and judge its own mind. The existing church consciousness is the product of all the past, and cannot be fully understood and criticized except in the light of its history.
Documentary sources may be divided from the point of view of their destination into (1) Public and (2) Private, and from that of their authorship into (3) Direct and (4) Indirect. Under the head of public documents we have all deliverances of an official character, such as decrees of councils, Papal bulls, civil legislation affecting the church, rules of life for monastic institutions, liturgies, confessions of faith, and even sermons, theological treatises, ecc. Private documents, again, consist of personal memoirs and journals, letters, secret correspondence, and papers not originally intended for the public eye. Then by direct documentary sources are meant those in which we have the actual word of a writer or actor in any event testifying to the nature of the opinion or transaction about which information is desired. Indirect documentary sources are those in which we obtain information about the opinions of an author or the actions of any historical character, not from statements of his own, but from the testimony of some one else about him. Thus a letter of Constantine would be a direct document in reference to some purpose or performance of his own, while it might be an indirect document in reference to the history or opinions of Athanasius or Arms, In collecting and sifting these sources so as to place all and only the right materials available before the church historian, recourse must be had to the sciences of antiquities, bibliography, and diplomaties. Antiquities, in its various divisions of numismatics, ecclesiology, heraldry, marshals all the relevant monumental testimony and discriminates the spurious from the genuine ; bibliography, taken in its widest sense, as the science which enumerates, classifies, and values all that has been written upon the various heads of human knowledge, states what documentary material is likely to be available at the different stages of inquiry, and where it is to be found ; while diplomatics, or the science of documents, defines the genuineness, completeness, and general trustworthiness of the material so indicated.
Besides these more immediate sources there are collateral sources on which church history must draw in fulfilling its task. These are mainly ecclesiastical philology, the general history of Christendom, with ecclesiastical geography, statistics, and chronology. Ecclesiastical philology points to acquaintance with those languages, more particularly Greek and Latin, in which the chief part of the historical materials is expressed, whether as original or translation. The necessity of this is obvious. Besides this, some knowledge of the general history of Christendom is indispensable to an understanding of the history of the church, just as the special history of the church is essential to a comprehension of general history. The events of the church and of the world are so inextricably bound up together that the one are intelligible only in the light of the other. Hence the history of policy, law, philosophy, literature, and art must be laid under contribution in constructing a full history of the church. Clear treatment further requires acquaintance with ecclesiastical geography and statistics, the distribution of the world into Christian and non-Christian sections, divisions by patriarchates, dioceses, parishes, &c., and the physical characteristics and social habits of different localities. And along with this, ecclesiastical chronology, the correct arrangement of persons and events, both in their contemporaneous appearance and in their succession to others, is requisite to complete the list of auxiliaries to church history.
untruth. In using his sources the historian must be able to judge exactly how far they are in these respects to be relied on. Then supposing he has decided that they may be relied on in a given degree, he must next be able to take from them precisely the testimony as to past fact which they convey, neither more nor less. That is to say, he must be impartial, - capable of holding the scales of fairness evenly, of controlling his mind so as to prevent any preferences of his own from weakening or distorting the statement of fact derivable from his authorities, in favour of his own opinions. The historic insight, which, in addition to the judicial faculty, is essential to the thorough criticism of the materials, is the power of fully comprehending the significance and connection of the facts yielded by the sources, by realizing the point of view of the actors or writers to whom the facts dealt with are due, and determining their import as related to a general philosophy of history, and embraces three forms of insight, which may be called philosophic, psychologic, and Christian. Philosophic insight implies, first of all, ability to enter into the various forms of speculative thought, metaphysical, ethical, or whatever else, that have appeared within the church's history, and have in greater or less degree influenced its movements. It implies further an ability to see the whole recorded facts and their connection under the light of the philosophy of history ; but as this obviously cannot take place until the facts in themselves have been completely understood, this aspect of philosophic insight will conic into play only when the others have discharged their function. By psychologie insight is meant knowledge of human nature affected by scientific observation of mind and its operations. The facts of history are created by individuals, and each of them may be interpreted as an exhibition of the will and intellect, of the general subjective state of some one man or body of men. This subjective state, again, may be accounted for, in part at least, by the action of certain preceding facts upon the mind of the man or men in question, which facts again are to be explained as a manifestation of the mind of some preceding man or men, and so on. In short, history is the product of human nature, affected by and dealing with certain external data, natural or supernatural, furnished by God ; so that, to understand it, there is needed the ability to place before the imagination what human nature is at any point in or between the moral extremes of goodness and wickedness, and the intellectual extremes of wisdom and folly. By Christian insight is meant special capacity for sympathizing with the spirit and ideas of Christianity. What we have in the history of the church is centrally the mind and motive of Christ organizing itself in a living institution that it may enter into conflict with the evil of the world, and by persuasion subdue it to willing submission. To comprehend the development of facts produced during the activity of such an institution, there would seem to be requisite at the very outset an understanding of the thought and feeling that constitute its inner life ; that is to say, there must be an intelligent sympathy with the spirit of the New Testament, which, as the primitive record of the action of Christ's spirit and career, is, were it on no other ground, the authoritative exposition and medium of the mind of Christ. And not only must there be this acquaintance with the ideas and spiritual impulses of the New Testament, but there would appear to be also necessary some experience of their power. If Christianity be not merely a series of intellectual propositions, but a spiritual force penetrating to the motives of the soul, it can scarcely he adequately comprehended by any one who has not known what it is to yield in his innermost being to Christian influences. For while many of the greatest occurrences in Vie history of the church have sprung from the spirit of evil, and are fully intelligible to the historian only in virtue of his own experience of at least germinal evil, a vast number of other events are clue to men who were in their degree reproductions of Christ, animated by the single desire to bring about what they believed he would have sought had he been in their circumstances, and ready to submit to any sacrifices that might be demanded as the price of success. To understand fully the genesis of transactions arising out of such a spirit would seem possible only to those who possess the key to their explanation in what is essentially Christian experience.
The historical materials having been subjected to criticism of the kind indicated, the way is open for the actual construction of the history. Construction embraces arrangement, proportion, and style. Under the head of arrangement there falls to be considered how the material of history is to be divided so as to give the most complete and just conception of what has occurred within the time to be dealt with. It is obvious that we cannot take in all the events of so great a narrative at one view. We must break it up into a succession of parts, and study each by itself ; and the question is on what principle should this partition of time be made. In history the element of time has to be considered in two phases - succession and contemporaneousness. Biography properly records succession alone. An individual can do only one thing at once ; whereas a society like the church, consisting of a number of individuals, can be doing a number of different things at one and the same time. Proselytism, worship, the development of sacred art, the formation of doctrine, the activities of Christian life, may all be in progress simultaneously. Biography is a thread; history is a web, in which time is broad as well as long. In dividing the breadth or contemporaneous movement of the church, no other classification is possible than that natural one, which has already been mentioned, into some such categories as progress, constitution, doctrine, worship, and life. But in dividing history lengthwise, there may be a choice of grin ciples, unless indeed it be denied that events hang together by a causal nexus. The time was when such a denial would have been maintained, when the history of the church was regarded as determined by a series of special interpositions of the Divine will, resulting in a succession of events among which it was not given to human reason to trace the sway of law. That view of things, however, has passed away, and for the modern mind, whatever may be thought of the origin of the church, its history is a sequence of cause and effect, in which the moving forces and tendencies can be accounted for, and their operation traced as the evolution of internal ideas dominating the events of distinct periods, and shaping them into orderly processes. Hence arises the possibility of a natural and an artificial division of history. Arbitrary periods such as centuries or half centuries may be chosen, and an acquaintance with the events of one of such sections acquired before proceeding to those of its successor. This is the artificial mode of division. It has no reference to the nature of the progress made by the church as a growth which is determined by an inner formative thought. But a division in harmony with this latter view of things is possible. There are for instance in the history of the church greater or smaller crises continually occurring, for which the intermediate events are preparations ; or there is a certain character stamped upon one era different from that which belongs to another. The conversion of Constantine, or the sitting of the Councils of Nice, Trent, or the Vatican, is an instance of the one ; the prevalence of the ancient and patristic, the medieval and scholastic, the modern and scientific mode of thought is an instance of the other. Divisions of the matter of church history according to such events or characteristics are natural divisions ; they correspond with the nature of the thing, and rise out of the subject itself, instead of being imposed upon it from without, like the division into centuries and half-centuries, which in many cases may lead to a misconception of the meaning of history, cutting into the very middle of a development before it has reached its climax, so rendering both parts unintelligible, or at all events misrepresenting both. The natural division is thus much better adapted than the artificial to impart a view of the subject as it exists in its real parts. If a framework is to be taken to pieces, with a view to understand its structure, it ought to be separated at the joints, not broken, as it were, across the bones. At the same time, within the great natural periods, once their limits and determining conditions are clearly understood, the subdivision into more or less artificial periods of years facilitates the taking up of all the requisite information as we go along, very much as in a long journey, when once we know the direction or destination of travel, it is necessary to divide the intervening space into such arbitrary stages as are suitable to our footsteps or other modes of progress.
Proportion has to be considered in the construction of church history for two reasons, - one depending on the relative prominence of different phases of church life at different times, the other on the relation of church life to its territorial or sectarian distribution. As regards the first of these reasons, while the categories of progress, constitution, doctrine, worship, and life furnish, in the order of interdependence, a summary of headings under which the movement of the church at any time may be exhaustively described, it is obvious that whichever of these categories represents the main feature of the ecclesiastical condition during any particular period should receive a corresponding prominence and fulness of treatment in the history of the period, At one time the progress of the church in the conquest of adverse religions may be the most striking thing about it, at another it may be the formation of doctrine, at another development of ritual, and so on. To be a faithful reflex of the facts, history must proportion its treatment to the case, assigning the principal place to the principal thing, and grouping the rest around. it. The other reason for observing proportion in historical treatment lies in the territorial and sectarian distribution of the church's life. National almost necessarily imply ecclesiastical distinctions. The German, Swiss, French, English, Scottish churches, &c., have all separate domestic histories, so that while one has been growing in one direction, another may have been growing in a direction entirely different. Controversial differences have had the same result. The Eastern and Western churches for example, ever since the period of the final schism, have had in each case a self-contained development. The same remark applies also to Protestantism and Catholicism, in regard to that vast extent of thought and action in which they are separated from one another. This state of things compels many to specialize their work, and to pursue one national or sectional stream of ecclesiastical movement to the end, before exploring another ; but wherever church history on anything like the universal scale is attempted, the writer must determine where and how the vitality and force of the church are for the time evolving themselves most characteristically and influentially, and give to such localities or forms the central position in his delineations. Thus in the earlier centuries, the East, the conquest of paganism and the rise of theology may claim his chief attention ; in the Middle Ages, Rome and the Papacy, or scholasticism ; in the Reformation period Germany may seem the centre of Christendom; in the modern period the disintegrating influence of philosophy and historical criticism may be regarded as the leading phenomenon, &c.
With respect to style, apart from the general canons on the matter derivable from the science of rhetoric, there are one or two special conditions dictated to the church historian by the nature of his subject. He is engaged on a description of what is a lively and varied panorama of events - his model, therefore, should be the picture, not the inventory. He is dealing with the progress of a divine idea through the ages - he is bound to leave a certain impression of majesty on the mind of his reader. He is handling matters that concern all men, and that have moved the profoundest and the most passionate natures to the very depth of their being - Ids pages should be alive wth genuine biographical interest and every relevant form of human sympathy.
The Unscientific period of church history is marked by the absence of impartiality, of thorough criticism, of natural arrangement, and of what, since the clays of Polybius, has been called the pragmatic method, i.e., the treatment of historical phenomena with reference to their causes. The idea of the subjection of history to law had not yet emerged. The church especially was governed by arbitrary divine interpositions, whose effects could not, in any degree, be calculated beforehand; and as the conception of general councils as the organs of the Holy Spirit gained ground, that of ecclesiastical events, and particularly doctrine, as developments in the sequence of ordinary cause and effect vanished more completely if that were possible. History was simply a collection of incidents, often incredibly marvellous, threaded by no connection except that of appearing to intimate the favour of God for the Catholic Church, and with no other arrangement than the arbitrary one of years, or decades of years, or of the reigns of emperors or popes. This was simply the period of the collection of materials for subsequent scientific history to sift and work into proper form. During the six first centuries the Greek Church furnished almost all that was valuable in church history, but after that it ceased to be productive, and Latin writers took possession of the field. At the head of the Greek School stands Eusebius, bishop of Ciesarea, in the earlier part of the 4th century, usually called the father of church history, although that title strictly belongs to Hegesippus, who about the middle of the 2d century wrote certain ecclesiastical memorials, all of which have perished, with the exception of a few fragments mostly preserved by Eusebius himself. The history or chronicle of Ease-bins, coming clown to 321 A.D., although impaired in value by the writer's avowed resolution to record only what would reflect honour on the church, is rich in material, the archives of the empire having been placed at his command by Constantine, who held him in peculiar esteem. The other Greek historians were simply continuators of Eusebins. Socrates and Sozomen brought down the narrative to 439, and Theodoret to 42S. Of these Socrates writes the best style, while Theodoret gives most new documents and information, especially as to the East. Eva-grins treated of affaira from 431 to 594, while Philostorgins, most of whose work is lost, wrote, in the Arian interest, a history from the rise of Arianism to 4b3. The only other Greek historians of any note are Eutychius of Alexandria, about 910, who is chiefly valuable on the relations of Mohammedanism and Christianity, and Nicephurus Callisti of Constantinople, about 1350, who, with the assistance of the documents in the library of St Sophia, wrote a church history to the end of the 6th century. To these may be added, as completing the Greek sources, the ecclesiastical allusions in the long line of Byzantine civil historians from 500 to 1500.
Among the earlier Latin writers, Rufinus translated Eusebius and added an indifferent continuation of his own to the end of the 4th century. Sulpicius Severus, a terse writer, sometimes called the Christian Sallust, wrote a history from the creation to the year 400. Cassiodorus, in the middle of the 4th century, first a Government official of the Ostro-Gothic empire, and latterly prior of a monastery, caused a condensed translation of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret to be made, which continued to be authoritative until the revival of letters. From this time to the Reformation, a great amount of historical material was produced both in the form of chronicles and of special and general history. Among the chroniclers may be mentioned the venerable Bede, Regin o, Otto of Freisingen, Hermannus Contractus, Lambert of Aschaffenburg, Siegbert of Gemblour, with such anonymous chronicles as that of Monte Casino, the Great Belgian, the Saxon, &c., to which may be added, although it forms perhaps more of a general history, the Liber Pontificalis, or lives of the popes to 885, of uncertain authorship. Of the writers of special histories are worthy of mention - Gregory of Tours, the historian of the French Church during the 5th and 6th centuries, and the father of French church history ; the venerable Bede, the father of English church history, and its narrator to the middle of the 8th century ; Paul the deacon, who did the same office for the same period in the case of the Lombards ; Adam of Bremen, the authority fur Scandinavian church history from the 9th to the 111h century ; and Kranz, who died the year that witnessed the outbreak of the Reformation, and who furnished sources for the ecclesiastical history of Saxony and Westphalia. Of histories of the universal church during this period may be mentioned those of Haymo of Halberstadt in 840, embracing the four first centuries ; of Odericus Vitalis, from the Christian era to the 12th century ; and of Bartholomew of Lucca, to the 14th ; while the greatest work of pre-Reformation times on the subject is the Summa Historialis of Antoninus of Florence, narrating events from the creation of the world to 1459. All these works, it must be remembered, are full of legends and fables, and exhibit a credulous spirit.
The Transition period in church history may be taken as beginning with the Reformation. It was rnarked on all sides by a more searching and comprehensive survey of the sources, and on some sides by an absence of the credulity, which accepted tradition as genuine, and every act and utterance of the dominant church as divinely guided. It was, however, still for the most part devoid of the spirit of impartiality and of the idea of law as traceable in the succession of events, and consequently recognized no great and gradually evolved crises in history, naturally dividing it into periods. It was an approach to the scientific, without actually reaching it. It was stimulated and aided by the same causes which assisted the Reformation itself. The spirit of inquiry was abroad. Already, in the field of the history of the church, Laurentius Yana had led the way in the direction of true criticism by discrediting the legend of the donation of Constantine, in which he had been followed to a certain extent even by Antoninus. The rise of humanism, consequent on the fall of Constantinople and migration of Greek scholars to the West, had unlocked the store-house of material contained in that language, while the invention of printing, by bringing the sources under the eye of an immensely enlarged and practically unlimited circle of observers, increased proportionally the chances of unpledged criticism. It was the shock of the Reformation itself, however, which gave the impetus to the new movement in the construction of church history. As Protestantism had everywhere broken more or less completely with tradition, it was for its interest to show that Catholicism had departed from primitive purity, and that the history of the church had been a steady course of declension, while Catholicism was equally- interested in proving the contrary. This polemical animus, if it was prejudicial to impartiality of investigation, added to its keenness and thoroughness ; and as the spirit of sectarianism developed, within Catholicism, between Ultramontanism and Gallicanism, Jesuitism and Jansenism, and, within Protestantism, between Lutheranism and Philippism, Calvinism and Arminianism, Presbyterianism and Episcopacy, the zeal of each party to vindicate for itself an exclusive apostolical pedigree, led to an unflinching, if one-sided, sifting of history, especially of primitive antiquity. The way was led iu this direction by the Haucteburg Centuries, so called from the place of first publication in 1559. This was a work written by a staff of Lutheran scholars, in the interest of their phase of Protestantism, under the superintendence of Matthias Flacius, and was, from its own point of view, a performance of great ability and learning, continuing for a century to be the store-house of general Protestant polemics. As its name implies, it adopts the artificial division into centuries, discussing the doctrine, heresies, councils, ceremonies, church rulers, &c., in each. The published portion stops with the 13th century. The Centuries evoked on the Catholic side, in 1588, the Ecclesiastical Annctls of Cmsar Baronius, afterwards cardinal, bringing the history clown to the end of the 12th century; and this, with the continuations of Baynaldus and others, and the critical commentary of Pagi, forms, from its richness in documents that would otherwise have remained inaccessible, a very valuable contribution to general church history, although written avowedly to present Catholicism in the most favourable light. These great polemical histories led the way for a train of successors on both sides. Kortholt, Spanheim, Casaubon, and Basnage criticized with learning and vigour the one-sidedness of Baronius. On the Catholic side, a brilliant French school of church history arose, whose chief ornaments were - Alexander Natalis (Noel), whose history (1676), valuable for its learned excursuses, though placed in the Index on account of its Gallicanism, continues under the corrective commentaries of Noncaglia and Mansi to hold a deservedly high place even in Catholic esteem ; Bossuet, whose History of the Variations of Protestantism (168S) exhibits the dexterous controversialist not less than his Discourse on, Universal History, displays the philosophical historian; Fleury, who narrates, with a tinge of Gallicanism, the story of fourteen Christian centuries in a style as popular and flowing as Natalis, is crowded with erudite discussion ; and Tillemont, the Jansenist, who in his History of tics Emperors (to Anastasius) (1690), and his Memoirs for the Church, History of the six .first centuries (1603), has ransacked the whole field of available materials, and presented, with much skill and fidelity, his narrative in the exact words of his authorities. In the meantime a school of history had developed itself in England, also in answer to controversial wants, of which Jewel (Apology, 1562), Pearson, (rindicite, 1672), Beveridge (Symodicon, 1672), Cave (Primitive Christianity, Lives of the Apostles and Fathers, 1672-77), and Bingham (Antiquities,1708-22) may be mentioned as leaders in the defence, on historical grounds, of the position of the Anglican Church both against Catholicism and Puritanism.
The Scientific period of church history may be said to commence with the great work of Mosheim in 1755, based on an earlier but inferior performance. Isolated attempts had indeed been made before his time to rise above the heated polemical atmosphere of the Reformation struggle and its results, into a region of calmer contemplation. The celebrated Calixtus of Helmstiidt had, during the earlier part of the 17th century, laboured hard to show that the tendency to the multiplication of dogma characteristic of his time is foreign to the genius of Christianity, whose essence, in his view, may be reduced to a very few points of faith ; and Gottfried Arnold, sometime professor at Giessen, had, in 1699, published his Impartial History of the Church, and the Heretics, the practical issue of which was to show that the heretics were quite as often in the right as the church ; but the only immediate result of their efforts was to raise a violent storm of opposition and abuse against themselves, proving that the time was not ripe for applying the maxim of au di alterctm partenc to ecclesiastical questions. But by the middle of the 18th century, a different state of things had arisen. The living fire had died out of theological and ecclesiastical controversy, leaving behind only confused piles of dogma, charred and cold, to which none thought of repairing for heat. The speculations of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Wolf, itc., had given the world something deeper to think about than the disputes of ecclesiastics, and had engendered that spirit of thorough inquiry after reality, which in the theological sphere came to be called rationalism, and in physics the inductive or Baconian method. In the latter form it had exploded the conception of continued arbitrary supernatural interference in the course of events, and established the belief in the reign of law, the statutes against witchcraft having been abolished even in England by 1736, a few years after the last execution there for that imaginary crime.
Mosheim may be called the first fruits of this spirit in the region of church history. His Institutes of Ecclesiastical History is constructed avowedly in the interests of science and not of party, with the sole view of stating the facts, fully and exactly as they occurred - ascertaining and declaring the objective reality, independently of subjective partialities or wishes, His fidelity to his principle is conspicuous, and his success in overturning many previous misrepresentations arising from the neglect of it is undoubted. His conception of Christian history as a growth under the law of cause and effect is also unmistakable, although he leaves it to be inferred, not so much from the presence of any avowed pragmatic treatment in his pages, as from the absence of everything else. Although he retains the artificial division into centuries out of deference to custom, he acknowledges its objectionableness, and combines with it a natural division " bounded by great revolutions and changes in the state of the church." Mosheim has had a train of successors on his own line of investigation, whose name is legion, and in whose hands the scientific method has been steadily developed, and has yielded an increasing harvest of results. Only a few can be mentioned. Sehrockh, an ornament of the Gottingen school of history, second only to Mosheim himself, whose pupil he was, laboured for forty-one years (1768-1809) at a Universal History of the Church, and brought it down well through the period of the Reformation, two supplementary volumes by Tzschirner, not unworthy of their place, completing the period. This work, in 45 volumes, a huge monument of erudition, clearness, and fairness, is still the quarry of compilers. Gieseler, improving on the method of Tillemont, which had already been partially followed by Schmidt and Danz, in 1824 began his Universal History of the Church on the plan of exhibiting in his text merely such an outline of the results of his researches as should, without discussion, present a rapid and succinct view of the march and evolution of events, giving in ample notes the evidence from the sources on which the statements in the text are based. As a means by which a careful student may rapidly test the value of historical conclusions, Gieseler's work has no superior. A year afterwards, Neander, inspired by Schleiermacher, afterwards epitomized by Guericke, and popularized by Hagenbach, issued the first instalment of his General _History of the Christian Religion and Church. The distinguishing characteristic of this great work is its emphatic recognition of the function of history to explain events from their causes, as well as to state them in their objective reality. Neander treats ecclesiastical institutions and events as the necessary outgrowth and embodiment of the peculiar con• dition of Christian ideas and aims at the given time, and his undoubted and profound sympathy with the essential spirit and conception of Christianity, and capacity for tracing these under various forms of manifestation, enable him to throw a light upon the facts of the church's history, and to account for them in ways that are always interesting, sometimes even fascinatingly so, whatever opinion may be ultimately taken of their critical accuracy. Ranke, although his work has been confined to special histories, has exercised a great influence on the course of scientific church history. In his History of the Popes (1834-6), and especially in his German History of the Reformation Period (1839-17), he has furnished a brilliant example of the method in which ecclesiastical facts in all their relations are to be investigated, arranged, and explained. But probably no writer of the century has left a deeper impress on the method of studying and constructing church history than F. C. Baur, who, from 1835 to his death in 1860, gave to the world a series of works bearing on this subject, and culminating in his great Church History, which, for wealth of erudition and variety of genius, give him a unique position even in the land of great scholars that claims his fame. Whatever may be thought of his special conclusions, it is certain that since his labours, the study of the history of Christianity, especially during the earlier centuries, must be a far more thorough and profound thing than ever it was before. Ile may, as has been said of him, be too unwilling to admit the possibility of an entirely new germ of spiritual force in the inception of Christianity, he may be too much warped by a. Hegelian tendency to resolve all historical movements into an alternation of antagonisms and conciliation, but his vast mastery of details and marvellous power of marshalling far-scattered facts in support of a startling and unexpected theory have necessitated a new and more penetrating scrutiny of early sources, which is far from being completed at this hour. Some of his results will probably be found of permanent value, and it is certain that in his conception and working out of the history of dogma he has explained the formation of general ideas in theology, and their power in shaping the course of the church's history, in a way that was needed to counterbalance and supplement at once the objectivity of Gieseler, and the sentimentality of Neander.
In the Roman Catholic Church, of course, scientific church history in the true sense is not to be expected ; but there have been movements towards it, and painstaking contributions have been made, which may prove useful in the hands of an unfettered writer. The great collectors of the Acts of Councils, Labbe, TIardouin, and above all, Mansi, we owe to the Catholic Church. Stolberg, hater-camp, Ritter, and Locherer have written the. history of their church from separate points of view that are full of interest, while the names of Mohler, D611inger, and Montalembert do not need to be further characterized. The manuals of Alzog and Kranz are of great value. Hefele's History of Councils is a mine of thoroughly sifted information.
Besides the powerful but one-sided ecclesiastical chapters of Gibbon, the original researches of Routh and Burton, and the splendid works of Milman on Christianity and Latin Christianity, replete with critical sagacity, graphic power, and philosophic insight, Great Britain has not produced anything that deserves to be set beside the Continental masterpieces. Much valuable material in the form of historical monographs, biographies, and archeological issues by individuals and societies has been produced both in England and Scotland, but nothing that deserves the name of a great church history, whether special or universal. The tractarian movement has stimulated a certain amount of antiquarian research, and Canon Robertson of Canterbury has compiled a useful history of the church to the period of the reformation.
For the full bibliography of the subject, reference may be made to such manuals as those of Ease and Kurtz, which have been translated, and more particularly to the latest edition of Ilagen. bach's Encyk/opadie u. Alethodologie cicr Thcologischen Wisscnschaftcn, as also to the same author's article " liirchengeschichte," in llerzog's Pecti-Encyldopadic, and Ilefele's in Wetzel. and •elte's Lexicon. (R. 'V.)
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