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Henke, Schmidt, Gieseler.
was early indebted for a considerable amount of dislike to orthodoxy and partiality for heretics, to Bayle's Dictionary for all sorts of doubts, and to his preceptor Baumgarten for the conviction, that, the church doctrine as it then stood "had by no means carried always the same form." His own studies showed him more and more, that all is flow and motion, all in transition or past, that every time has its particular veins and modes of thought, a consciousness of its own, into which a man must set himself beforehand in order to understand it. He was endowed with a rare inventive quickness, but without system or method, tasteless in style, unsteady and impulsive, the very embodiment indeed of his own favorite notion of change. With gigantic diligence and insatiable curiosity, he traversed the most retired works of history, particularly too the Middle Ages, everywhere trying to see if things might not be different from the common previous acceptation. Everywhere he made new discoveries, and roused the spirit of inquiry, without however bringing anything solid and enduring to pass. 16 "His whole activity is merely preparatory, laying the ground, an agitation of all possibilities, a perpetual raising of doubts and suspicions, conjectures and combinations, a vast working up of material. His writings on dogmatic history resemble an unbroken field that is yet to be tilled, a building place where, amid rubbish and ruins, the materials for a new edifice lie still in endless confusion." 17
The most characteristic and energetic work from Semler's school, is HENKE'S " General History of the Christian Church," in eight parts (1788. ff.) He aims mainly to show the mischief, which religious despotism and doctrinal constraint, as he supposes, have produced everywhere through all ages, and presents a flaring, keenly sarcastic picture of enthusiasm, superstition, stupidity and wickedness. VATER, in his continuation and fifth edition of the work, has softened considerably its sharp features, and breathed into it a more kindly spirit.
After Henke and others had thus let out their hatred towards the ecclesiastical past, in full measure, there succeeded a complete indifference to the religious import of church history. In such spirit SCHMIDT of Giessen compiled his instructive work, continued by RETTBERG, purely from original sources. DANZ pursued a similar course. They were all surpassed, however, by GIESELER, in the skill of his
16 Of his 171 works, hardly one is now read, except by historians of profession. They comprise, among much else, treatises also on the habit of snails in winter, and on making gold, his interest in which however was owing not simply to his literary errantry, but as Tholuck at least suspects, (Vermischte Schriften, Th. II. S. 82.) to his devotion to the god Pluto.
17 Thus is he described very characteristically by Dr. F. C. BAUR, who himself greatly resembles him in many things, (Lehrb. d. Christl. Dogmengesch. 1847. S. 40.) VOL. VII. No. 25. 7
extracts and his judicious criticism. In his indispensable, though yet unfinished Church History, Rationalism appears still more cool, and falls into the background behind the interest of learned inquiry and purely objective narration.
§ 12. (5) The Scientific Period.
As different causes, the English Deism, the French Materialism, the Popular Philosophy of Wolff, Kant's Criticism, etc. conspired to raise the vulgar Rationalism, towards the close of the last century, into general power, so men like Herder, Hamann, Jacobi, the Romantic School, and still more Schleiermacher, Schelling, and Hegel, contributed each his part to overcome it scientifically, and to make room for a theology full of spirit and faith. Thus begins the fifth and last period of Protestant church historiography, in which we ourselves still stand. This has done vastly more than any other for the advancement of the science, both materially and formally. In Germany, during the last thirty years, an active emulation has displayed itself in this sphere, as in science generally; whose results will yet long be felt, and redound to the benefit also of other nations.18 Here we must distinguish, 1. Works embracing the whole range of church history, as besides that of GEISELER already named, those of NEANDER, ENGELHARDT, HASE, SCHLEIERMACHER, (published after his death, from manuscript sketches,) GUERICKE, NIEDNER, GFrörer; 2. Such as relate to dogmatic history, as those of BAUMGARTEN-CRUSIUS, ENGELHARDT, HAGENBACH, Baur; and finally, 3. The almost countless monographies, devoted to a single dogma, or to some one branch of church polity, or worship, or Christian life, or to an important individual, or to a particular period, or to a national church. The relation of the general works to the special is that of reciprocal completion. The first, as Dr. Kliefoth strikingly observes,19 have a double task: "first to go before the monographies and show the chasms that still need to be filled by such special labor; and then again to come after the monographies, and incorporate their results properly into the living organism of history."
18 WINER, in the first supplement to his Manual of theological literature, mentions not less than five hundred works pertaining to the sphere of church history, which appeared in two years only (between 1839 and 41). In addition to this, the theological journals of Germany, such as Ilgen's "Zeitschrift für historische Theologie," Ullmann's and Umbreit's " Studien und Kritiken," contain a multitude of historical tracts; while almost all the later exegetical and dogmatic works are interwoven with rich historical material throughout. More on this point may be found in the first section of the author's tract: "What is Church History ?"
19 In Reuter's Repertorium for 1845, p. 106, where the reader will find several instructive and spirited essays from the pen of Kliefoth, on " the later ecclesiastical historiography of the German Evangelical Church."
Character of the Scientific School.
The latest style of history may be designated formally scientific, inasmuch as its leading representatives at least, in distinction from the mode before prevalent, propose always to comprehend truly the events, ruling ideas and actions of a period, and to unfold them before the eyes of their readers just as they have had place. The object is not merely to know what has been and come to pass, but also how it has come to pass. To be a historian, it is no longer enough to collect learned material, however faithfully, in an outward and aggregate way, nor yet, in the pragmatic style, to investigate psychologically the simply subjective causes and motives of events; but he is bound now to apprehend history as spirit and life, and this as rational spirit, the manifestation of eternal, divine ideas, and so to reproduce it also in a spiritual and living way. Only thus can the study or the exhibition of church history have a deep and abiding interest. For it is spirit only that can speak to spirit, and life only that can produce life. But all life is essentially process, development, which runs through different stages, ascends always to a higher position, and yet remains identical with itself, so that the end is only the full evolution of the beginning. Church history thus becomes also an organism, springing from the person of Jesus Christ, as the author and progenitor of the new humanity, extending itself outwardly and inwardly always more widely, engaged in perpetual conflict with sin and error from without and from within, moving forward through all sorts of difficulty and hindrance, and still surely tending always towards a definite end. This idea of organic development unites what is true in the Orthodox notion of something constant and unchangeable in church history, with what is true also in the Rationalistic notion of a perpetual movement and flow, and is the only view that makes room for any deep apprehension of the life of Christianity in time. It is a rich gain, never to be given up, which we owe to the later German Philosophy since Schelling, and which the most opposite schools of our time, those of Neander and Baur, though under different modification, alike appropriate to their use. With this view of church history, as an inwardly correct whole, pervaded with a common blood and reaching towards a common end, is intimately associated as a farther characteristic of the works in general now noticed, the spirit of genuine catholicity and impartiality. They show a like interest in almost all the portions of this vast organism, the fulness of whose inward life is thus unfolded in the flow of time; though with due subordination, of course, of the less essential and important, always, to what is of main significance and weight. Christianity is not shaped on the last of a fixed human formula; its own inward boundless and inexhaustible fulness is acknowledged. A Neander
kisses the footprints of the Lord, and bows before his Spirit, wherever he finds him, and he finds him of right in all ages and among all nations, though it be with widely different displays of his glory. Church history is now more regarded from a central and universal position, and is exhibited sine ira et studio, for its own sake, and just as God has allowed it to come to pass. A onesided apologetic and polemic interest is no longer suffered to prevail, allowing only a troubled view of the Saviour's majestic person through the colored spectacles of a particular sect or party, but the spirit of truth is followed without bias, under the conviction that the boundless life of the Church can be fully represented only through the collective Christianity of all periods, nations and persons, and with the persuasion that the truth finds its best justification in the simple dispassionate exhibition of its own historical course. In this respect, in general, the spirit of the later evangelical theology of Germany is already raised, principally, above the existing divisions of Christendom, and occupies the position of a union, which carries in itself the pledge of its own full accomplishment in time to The later church history in fact, as is already shown by many works of the popular sort, among which BÖHRINGER'S Biographies are the most thorough, will win thus a practical influence on life, and from the old foundations of the Church sketch forth the plan for its
These merits do not hold indeed of all later works, and still less of all in the same degree. In a theological view especially the difference among them is considerable. Looking away from those theologians who present no distinct theological character,20 or who belong still in substance to a former period,21 we meet mainly two schools, which are related to each other partly in the way of complement, but still more in the way of antagonism, with equal claims to spirit and learning; that namely of SCHLEIERMACHEr and Neander, to which belong in a wide sense such men as HOSSBACH, RHEINWald, Liebner, Vogt, SEMISCH, HENRY, PIPER, JACOBI, BINDEMANN, and others; and that
20 As for instance ENGELHARDT, who in his thoroughly learned historical investigations makes it his business simply to report, with scrupulous exactness and monotony, from the sources, withholding all judgment of his own. NIEDNER'S 'Geschichte d. Christl. Kirche" too, (1846), with its strange terminology, offers us no clear theory. Its value consists mainly in the richness of its single views.
21 AS GUERICKE, where he is independent, falls back to the polemic method of the 17th century. GFRÖRER is in the commencement of his work rather rationalizing, afterwards catholicizing. The manuals of HASE and HAGENBACH, full of spirit and taste, remind us often of Herder's humanism, the tinge of which is more aesthetical with the first, more practical with the other.
Characteristics of Neander.
of HEGEL, which however falls again into two essentially different branches, the one unchurchly and destructive, with BAUR at its head, the other churchly and conservative, of which DORNER may be taken as the most learned representative. In attempting briefly to characterize these tendencies, we will not forget the personal respect and gratitude we owe to their leaders, Neander, Dorner, and even Baur himself, who were all formerly our teachers, the first at the close, the other two at the commencement of our university studies.
§ 13. Neander and his School.
NEANDER has himself admirably described his immortal work, when, on his first presentation of it to the public,22 he declared it to be the grand aim of his life to exhibit the history of the Church, “as a speaking argument of the divine power of Christianity, as a school for Christian experience, a voice of edification, doctrine and warning, sounding through all centuries for all who are willing to hear." Like Spener and Franke, he looks upon theology as a business of the heart, and has chosen for his motto accordingly the words: Pectus est quod theologum facit. This causes the treatment of history of itself to assume a practical and edifying character, and to turn with preference to the revelations of the interior religious life, the actings of Christ's Spirit in his genuine followers, whilst those relations in which theChurch touches the world and its politics are less, and often indeed quite too little, regarded. Neander has served thus by his writings to bring thousands of youth to Christ, and has contributed largely to the revival of religious life in Germany. His religion however is by no means of the narrow pietistic sort, but possesses rather a broad and liberal character, which owns sympathy with the most different forms of the Christian spirit, shows great leniency of judgment, often perhaps too great, even towards heretical aberrations, while however it finds most delight in contemplative inward tendencies like that of John. As little is he opposed in any way to science, being distinguished rather for profound inquiry, and a great talent for the organic exposition of different theological systems. Hence dogmatic history fills a very considerable space in his work, especially in the patristic period, where he feels most at home and has been most extensive in his studies. His scientific position in theology may be characterized as that of subjectivity, which belongs to the Schleiermacherian system in general, making it just the contrary pole to Catholicism, in which the individual is
32 In the Preface to the first volume, 1st ed. in 1825.