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The Word was God.
A deep Christian feeling must naturally be inclined to do this. It is easy, indeed, to speculate as philologists and philosophers, on any and every part of John's writings, with great coolness, or even with icy indifference. In the midst of the literary and intellectual, it is easy, and even natural, to become exclusively intent on the pursuit of what belongs to these respective domains. But let him, who is descending toward the grave, and has renounced the expectation of returning to the active pursuits of life, or let any one under a deep conviction of sin, of his accountability, and of the frailty of human life, once urge on himself the questions: What am I? And whither am I going? and conscience will press upon him inquiries of awful moment. That will tell him that he is a sinner; a sinner against light and love. It will tell him, that although, through divine mercy, he may have shunned the vices that bring on him who commits them the reproaches of men, yet that every passing day and hour of conscious action has been adding to the number of his sins; yea, that even his most holy acts and desires have been attended with much imperfection, since they have fallen short of that measure of intensity and entireness which both the law and the gospel demand. Where then, and to whom, is he to look? How is he to meet in judgment that God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, before whom the heavens are not clean, and who has said that the soul which sinneth shall die? He cannot atone for one sin. He cannot avert the sentence of condemnation. If there be any deliverance for him, it must be through him who came down from that throne where he had glory with the Father before the world was, who became flesh and dwelt amongst us, who died that we might live, and who purchased eternal redemption for us.
And that Glorious Being, full of grace and truth, who has done all this, and will do all that we can ask or need-in what light shall the dying sinner view him, that he may obtain the peace which he needs? Will he not feel constrained to say, as did an eminently devoted minister of Christ: "Whatever others may think or feel in regard to their sins and their need of a Saviour, I am fully persuaded, that nothing less than an almighty Saviour will do for me."
At such an hour, and in such a condition as has now been described, I cannot well conceive how a Christian conscience can refrain from grasping with a strong hand, on those precious truths which John has so often and so strikingly set forth, and specially in the introduction to his Gospel. Here the trembling sinner may see the almighty, the everlasting Saviour that he needs. Here he may learn, that when looking to Christ as his only and all-sufficient Saviour, he may confidently direct his humble supplications to him. He may come even with
boldness to the throne of grace on which he is seated, and lift up his voice before him, while pleading for mercy, and say: "O thou, who wast from everlasting with God, and wast God; thou, who art God manifest in the flesh; who art the great God and only Saviour; who art the true God and eternal life; who art the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who hast all power in heaven and on earth; who art God over all and blessed forever; who art therefore able to save, even to the uttermost, all who come to thee; thou Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me!" And in a dying hour, what shall he do and say as his last decisive act, before he appears in the presence of his Maker? If he be full of the Holy Ghost as the dying Stephen was, he will look up to heaven, and see Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and like that martyr with his latest breath exclaim: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"
Let me be one of those truly righteous, who thus feel and thus pray; and let my last end be like theirs!
[The remaining verses, 2-18, will be commented on in a much more brief and summary manner, in the next No. of this Miscellany, in case a kind Providence should permit the writer to continue his labors.]
THE PROGRESS OF CHURCH HISTORY AS A SCIENCE.
By Professor Philip Schaff, Mercersburg, Pa.
CHURCH HISTORY, like every other branch of learning, has its own history, serving to bring its true object and proper method gradually more and more into view. It may throw some light on the nature of the science, and at the same time assist our sense of the necessary qualifications of a church historian, to trace its progress from the beginning down to the present time. In this sketch we shall pay particular attention to the Protestant historians.
I. HISTORIANS BEFORE THE REFORMATION.
§ 1. The Fathers.
Here, as in all other departments of theology, the Greek church. leads the way. Leaving out of view the Acts of the Apostles by
Eusebius, Sozomen, Theodoret.
LUKE, and the five lost books of Ecclesiastical Memoirs by HEGESIPPUS, a Jewish Christian writer of the second century, the title 'father of church history' belongs undoubtedly to EUSEBIUS († 340), the learned and truth-loving bishop of Caesarea. In his church history, which reaches in ten books to the year 324, he has made faithful use of the libraries of his friend Pamphilus of Caesarea and Alexander bishop of Jerusalem, the canonical and apocryphal writings, the works of the disciples, of the apostles, the apologists and oldest church fathers, including many valuable documents which have since perished." Less worthy of confidence is his biography of Constantine the Great; he was too much blinded by the favors which this emperor had shown towards the church, not to sacrifice the character of the historian frequently to that of the panegyrist. He was followed and continued in the fifth century, first by two jurists of Constantinople; SOCRATES, who carried forward the history of the church, in seven books, from the beginning of Constantine's reign (306) to the year 439, in unpretending, often careless style, but without prejudice and with more critical tact than Eusebius; and HERMIAS SOZOMENUS, of Palestine, whose nine books embrace the same period (323-423), but have more respect to monasticism, of which he was an enthusiastic admirer. Then comes THEODORET, bishop of Cyrus, who wrote his work, in five books (from 325-429), about the year 450, and excels both the last named in style and richness of matter. In his Lives of Thirty Hermits however (pilóvɛos iorogía), he relates in part the most marvellous events of his heroes, without leaving the least room for doubt. While all these writers belonged to the Catholic church, PHILOSTORGIUS On the other hand wrote in the interest of Arianism; of his twelve books, however (from 300—425), we have only extracts, in the Bibliotheca of Photius. From the sixth century are to be named, THEODORUS of Constantinople, who continued the history to the year 518, and the Syrian lawyer, EVAGRIUS of Antioch, who brought it down to 594. Photius boasts of him, that he was more orthodox than all his predecessors.2 The later Greek church, whose life altogether since. its separation from the Latin may be styled a progressive stagnation, has accomplished but little for our science. In the fourteenth century NICEPHORUS CALLISTI, a monk of Constantinople (about 1333), compiled out of two older historians a new church history in twenty-three
1 A detailed account of his sources, sixty in number, is given by Flügge, Versuch einer Geschichte der theolog. Wissenschaften, Halle. 1797. Part II. P. 321 ff.
2 All these seven historians have been published together, in Greek and Latin, with notes, by VALESIUS, in three volumes folio (Par. 1659-1677, also Amstelod. 1695, and Cantabr. 1720).
books, of which, however, only eighteen (to A. D. 610) are preserved in a single manuscript of the Vienna library. From the close connection of church and State in the Byzantine empire, however, the so called SCRIPTORES BYZANTINI may also be reckoned in part to the literature of church history.
The Latin church historians were wholly dependent on Greek models. RUFINUS, presbyter of Aquileia († 410), translated the work of Eusebius, and added two books, carrying it on to the death of Theodosius the Great (395). SULPICIUS SEVERUS († about 420) wrote a Historia sacra from the creation of the world to the year 400, which however hardly deserves the name of a history. CASSIODORUS, consul and monk († about 562), towards the end of his life, from the works of Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret, which he had translated for him into Latin by his friend Epiphanius Scholasticus, composed his Historia tripartita, in twelve books; and this extract served the Latin church as a manual through the whole period of the Middle Ages.
§ 2. The Middle Ages.
This period furnished no independent exhibitions of general church history. For the Historiae ecclesiasticae of HAYMO, bishop of Halberstadt († 853), in ten books, are a mere extract of the translation of Eusebius by Rufinus; and the Historia ecclesiastica, or Chronographia tripartita, of the Roman presbyter and librarian ANASTASIUS († about 886), is partly a translation of the Chronography of Nicephorus, and in part an extract from the works of Syncellus and Theophanes. On the other hand, we have from this time a multitude of chronicles, biographies of saints, histories of single convents and monastic orders, which are mostly indeed simple, often uncritical narrations, but full of valuable material; and then, works on single national churches, as the church history of the Franks by GREGORY OF TOURS († 595), the old British and Anglo-Saxon church history by VENERABLE BEDE († 735), to the year 731, the four books of the canon, ADAM OF BREMEN, on the period from Charlemagne to the year 1076, which is important for the spread of Christianity among the Saxons and in Scandinavia, in particular for the archbishopric of Hamburg-Bremen. The revival of classical studies roused here and there the spirit of critical inquiry; of which we have an example in the Roman canon, LauRENTIUS VALLA († 1457), who ventured to prove the utter groundlessness of Constantine's donation to Pope Sylvester, and combated also the traditional opinion that the apostles had each composed a part of the Apostle's Creed.
Roman Catholic Historians.
In all these works from the time before the Reformation, invaluable as they are in their way, we have church history in its infancy or childhood. The church was not brought yet to reflect on her own existence, the power of tradition was unshaken. For this reason, the spirit of free inquiry and genuine scientific method, were almost entirely wanting. The whole apprehension of what history is was onesided, as it embraced properly only facts, or the activity of the spirit in its outward direction. No real history of dogma had place at all, as implying the idea that the doctrine of the church itself goes through a living process of development. The only form in which this most important branch of historical theology existed, and made its first appearance, was the history of heresies, as may be seen in the principal works of ecclesiastical antiquity on this subject by EPIPHANIUS and THEODORET.
II. ROMAN CATHOLIC HISTORIANS SINCE THE REFORMATION.
§3. General Character of Roman Catholic Historiography.
From the old Catholic church historians, we pass forward directly to the Roman Catholic since the Reformation, as most nearly related to them in spirit and tendency. With these two the idea of development is wanting, and along with it all free and unbiassed criticism. Their position is settled for them beforehand; it is the position of fixed orthodoxy and exclusive churchdom. Their doctrine of the infallible authority of the papacy cramps inquiry on all sides, and since the conception of the church is for them that of the Roman church, they look upon all variations from this of course as apostasy and corruption, as damnable heresy and schism. Hence no justice is to be expected from them towards non-Catholic movements, and this exclusiveness stands out most harshly in the treatment of the last three centuries, which it is plain have been ruled predominantly by the spirit of the Reformation. The pure historical character is here troubled and disturbed by apologetic interest for the papacy, and polemic zeal against all that is anti-Roman. The endeavor is everywhere to carry up the Roman doctrines and institutions into the most gray antiquity, and to vindicate for them if possible apostolical authority, which of necessity involves the greatest violence in many cases to history. Still the Roman Catholic historians are not wanting in extensive learning. On the field of their own church they have gone into the most searching and profound investigations, moved to them mainly by the antagonistic force of Protestantism itself, and altogether deserve well, in many