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Dorner, Ullmann, Hundeshagen.
case of so violent, excitable and uncalculating a polemic as Leo, who often falls on his opponents like a bulldog, we must never take single utterances too strictly, as little as with Luther, whose posture also under different circumstances he would make his own.
Finally however there are dogmatic historians, who stand in direct opposition to the new Tübingen school, on decidedly believing and churchly ground, and still have appropriated to themselves all the formal helps that are offered by the Hegelian logic. To this class belong such theologians as TH. KLIEFOTH, G. A. MEIER, but above all Dr. DORNER, formerly of Tübingen, now in Bonn. This last, in his History of the Development of the Doctrine of Christ, a great work which however is not free from scientific pretension and stiffness, has furnished a positive refutation of Baur's work on the Trinity and of his views in regard to primitive Christianity. He is not a whit behind his opponent in learning, acuteness and speculative talent, whilst he excels him far in sound comprehension, and writes in the service not of science merely but also of the Church.
Whilst Leo is a man of the extreme, Kliefoth and Dorner may be styled on the other hand men of the mean or middle, in whom the different elements of modern culture seek to come to a reconciliation. Still more may this be said of RANKE, whose History of the Popes and of the German Reformation entitle him to a place also among theologians, but especially of ULLMANN and HUNDESHAGEN, although with the two last the influence of Schleiermacher carries the ascendency. They belong, beyond doubt, to the most complete and influential historians of our time. The work of Ullmann on the Reformers before the Reformation is a real masterpiece of thorough, mild, and clear historical representation; and Hundeshagen's Review of German Protestantism reveals likewise a heart-sound universal insight into the defects under which it is suffering at this time, while it points with right to the practical path which German theology is called at once to pursue, if that country is to be rescued from the evil consequences of a one-sided literary existence.
Thus then we find mirrored in the latest literature of church and dogmatic history, in Germany, all the manifold elements of modern culture, as they severally repel or attract one another, or seek to come together in a common whole, at one time bound in full or in part by the fetters of a system, at another with free untrammelled spirit taking all according to its own nature and allowing to it its separate right. Unite the pious feeling and tender conscientiousness of a Neander, the sober investigation of a Gieseler, the speculative talent of a Baur and a Dorner, the energetic decision of a Leo, the fine diplomatic wisdom of a Ranke,
the quiet mildness and clear representation of an Ullmann, the spiritual vivacity and comprehensive brevity of a Hase; unite all this, we say, in one person, actuated at the same time with the spirit of genuine faith and love, and wholly devoted to the service of the Church, and we have, so to speak, the true ideal of a church historian in full form before us; an ideal which may never be fully realized in any one individual, but which should at all events float before the mind of those who are content otherwise to sit at the feet of great masters.
Whether finally Germany, after being frightened out of its one-sided literary existence, and excessive scientific productivity, by the revolutionary storms of the world-year 1848, shall go on at once to carry into life her theoretic creations, and thus make them to become first really fruitful; or whether, like Greece of old, after it had produced an Aristotle and an Alexander, or the African church after it had produced an Augustine, it may be destined to die spiritually, and leave the prosecution of its work, and the practical application of its ideas, to other times and other nations this is a question which the future itself must be left to decide.
§ 16. Church Historians out of Germany.
Casting a brief glance in conclusion on the latest performances in church history out of Germany, we are met (not to speak of some works which are only known to us by their titles25), in the French Reformed church, by the name of MERLE D'AUBIGNE, of Geneva, whom we are the more bound to notice, as his History of the Reformation, still incomplete, has obtained in England and America an unexampled celebrity and circulation, reaching to circles also where such reading would not otherwise have come.26 As regards the contents of the work itself, he has depended almost entirely thus far on German industry, by which this whole period especially has been thoroughly explored, in countless publications, on all sides. This use of foreign inquiry was here also wholly in place, and even a duty. He has had skill however to work up the matter handsomely, and to clothe it with a high degree of interest, by his uncommon power of lively and graphic dramatic representation. This, taken in connection with his decided evangelical tone and his polemic zeal against the Papacy, explains
25 Namely, P. HOFSTEEDE DE GROOt, Institutiones hist. eccles. Gronov. 1835; and M. J. MATTER, Histoire du Christianisme et de la societe chretienne, ed. 2. Paris, 1838. 4 Vols. 8vo.
26 He himself informs us in the preface to the fourth volume, that from 150,000 to 200,000 copies of his work had been sold, in the English language alone.
Merle D' Aubigné's History.
also his popularity just noticed particularly in the Puritanic section of Protestantism. His perfection here however runs by excess, on the other side, into a fault. Merle d' Aubigné presents, like Macaulay in his celebrated History of England, a series of brilliant pictures, without being able at the same time to rise to philosophical, universal views. Aiming, moreover, to make all the fortunes and deeds of his hero as interesting as possible, and to secure in this way a constant gratification to the reader, he often wrongs the history itself, and forgets the task of the historian in that of the romance writer. Marheinecke's History of the Reformation is of much less pretension, but far more correct and true. A sound simple sense for truth never seeks to make more out of history than it actually is, and takes little or no thought for effect. In the end, however, the quiet passionless objectivity and artless simplicity of the evangelists make a more enduring impression, than all rhetorical ornament and all dramatic parade. Then again that hot polemic zeal, that finds vent with Merle d' Aubigné, almost on every page, in exclamations and apostrophes against the hated Papists, is not such as becomes the dignity of a historian, who should argue indirectly only, though in this way precisely with most effect, by the representation of facts. As it is, the authority of this spirited and gifted writer in the sphere of history, is likely to wane, in proportion as with the farther progress of his work, his other peculiar sympathies and antipathies, may come probably to mix themselves with the narration, along with the anti-Roman tendency, so as to touch many of his past admirers on their own sensitive side. We cannot say, at least, that he has increased his reputation by his late work on Cromwell; where, carried away by the fresh impression of Carlyle's book, swallowed without digestion, he makes himself the unqualified panegyrist of a military and political genius, who sought to advance the cause of religion by war and bloodshed, the decapitation of a king, the dissolution of parliament, the exercise of dictatorial power, etc.; the direct opposite thus, in this respect, of Martin Luther, in whom notwithstanding, the same historian, inconsistently enough, praises as truly Christian and apostolic an aversion to all tumult and violence, while on the other hand most undue censure, in the fourth volume, is heaped on the good Zuingli, for becoming in the end a sort of general and appearing on the battle field at Cappel. We cannot therefore forbear remarking, that the immoderate praise bestowed upon the Genevan Doctor (whom we also hold in high honor, only within proper bounds), by the English and American religious press, reflects a very doubtful credit to say the least on its own character.
In England and America thus far it has been held sufficient genVOL. VII. No. 25. 8
erally to follow Mosheim, taking along with him perhaps as a complement to his learning the more pious work of Milner. The thoroughly learned and highly valuable monographies of the Scotch theologian, THOMAS M'CRIE, on the Life of John Knox and the Reformation in Spain and Italy, have called forth unfortunately no imitation; and even the Puseyitic controversy has led to nothing more than party illustrations of particular doctrines and usages in Patristic and EnglishEpiscopal church history.27 On the other hand, however, we meet at times in English and American Reviews, with very thorough and interesting essays in the sphere of church history; and the excellent translations of Gieseler by DAVIDSON, and Neander by TORREY, show plainly enough that the later literature of Germany in this department is beginning to be prized, and that it may be expected in due time to lead also to independent productions. England has her MACAULAY, America has her PRESCOTT, and why then should they not be capable of producing also a great church historian? True, our system of sects and denominations, with the narrow spirit of party which it seems to nourish, stands greatly in the way of any impartial study and representation of universal church history, for this supposes a wide and Catholic mind; but it is to be hoped, that an increasing interest in historical theology will counteract the force of this bigotry, and be itself still farther advanced by its decline. Which result may God hasten, in his own time.
§17. THE USES OF CHURCH HISTORY.
We conclude this sketch with a few remarks on the value and use of church history, as it results from a proper treatment of it.
1. The knowledge of church history is the self-consciousness the church has of her own development, which as such carries its unconditional value and use first in itself. This we must lay stress upon over against the one-sided utilitarian view, by which it is cultivated for certain party and private interests only, and so degraded into a mere tool for transient ends. The present is the result of the past, and cannot possibly be comprehended in full without the knowledge of this in
27 The work of WILLIAM PALMER: A Compendious Ecclesiastical History, from the earliest to the present time, can make no pretension to scientific worth. The well known convert, Newman, before his transition, passed a most unfavorable, no doubt too unfavorable, judgment on his countrymen, in regard to their acquaintance with church history, where he wrote among other things, "It is melancholy to say it; but the chief, perhaps the only English writer, who has any claim to be considered an ecclesiastical historian, is the infidel Gibbon." Essay on the Dev. of Chr. Doct. Appleton's edition, p. 14.
Uses of Church History.
a thorough way. The church consequently also, to understand herself, must know her origin and her genesis. Her past deeds, sufferings and fortunes, belong to the substance of her life, are integral elements of her being, that require the succession of time for their evolution. We need no outward impulse first to engage our interest in the history of the kingdom of God; the nature of the Christian faith itself is sufficient for this with every one, according to inward vocation and outward opportunity. Faith seeks always a clearer apprehension of its object, and thus takes the deepest interest in the ways of God, the words and deeds of his servants, the cloud of witnesses looking forth without and from the past. In the same way that man, as man, according to the old saying: homo sum, nihil humani a me alienum puto, is prompted and bound to take an interest in all that is strictly human, it becomes the Christian also, as a Christian, to have the most active sympathy with the doings and fortunes of all his brethren in the faith, with whom he is joined in one body. Theology altogether, apprehended and pursued in the right spirit, is not simply a theoretic process, but divine worship. Church history then deserves to be studied for its own sake; it is an essential part of the knowledge of the being and work of the Triune God, in which consists eternal life.28
Out of this higher internal worth of church history, flows its practical use and necessity for certain ends and callings, especially for the teachers and leaders of the Christian congregation. Our science, like all human knowledge and activity, should be employed to the honor of God, to glorify his name and build up his kingdom.
2. Thus the knowledge of church history is farther one of the most powerful helps for successful action in the service of the kingdom of God. The present is not only the product of the past, but the motherly soil also of the future, which he that cultivates must understand, and which no one can understand thoroughly except by intimate acquaintance with the past. No one, for example, is prepared to govern a State well and to advance its prosperity, who has not made himself familiar with its wants and its history. Ignorance can produce only a bungling work, that must soon go again to wreck. History is next to the word of God the richest source of wisdom and experience. Her treasures are inexhaustible. Why is it that so much is wrought in church and State, that after a few years is again forgotten? Because the authors had no knowledge of history and no respect for it. That tree only defies the storm, whose roots strike far into the earth. So that work only can stand, whose foundation rests in the solid ground of history.
2 Comp. John 17: 3.