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gence; and it was then also that I became sensible of the necessity of adding, suppressing, changing, and correcting several things in the small work (already mentioned) which I formerly published. In the execution of this necessary task, I can affirm with truth, that I have not been deficient in perseverance, industry, or attention; and yet, with all these, it is exceedingly difficult to avoid mistakes of every kind, as those who are acquainted with the nature of historical researches abundantly know. How far I have approached to that inaccessible degree of exactness, which is chargeable with no error, must be left to the decision of those whose extensive knowledge of the Christian history entitles them to pronounce judgment in this matter. That such may judge with the greater facility, I have mentioned the authors who have been my guides; and, if I have in any respect misrepresented their accounts or their sentiments, I must confess that I am much more inexcusable than some other historians, who have met with and deserved the same reproach, since I have attentively perused and compared the various authors to whose testimony I appeal, having formed resolution of trusting to no authority inferior to that of the original sources of historical truth. In order to execute, with some degree of success, the design I formed of rendering my abridgement more perfect, and of giving the history of the church as it stands in the most authentic records, and in the writings of those whose authority is most respectable, I found myself obliged to make many changes and additions. These will be visible through the whole of the following work, but more especially in the third book, which comprehends the history of the Christian, and particularly of the Latin or western church, from Charlemagne to the rise of Luther and the commencement of the Reformation. Th s period of history, though it abound with shining examples, though it be unspeakably useful as a key to the knowledge of the political as well as religious state of Europe, though it be singularly adapted to unfold the origin and explain the reasons of many modern transactions, has nevertheless been hitherto treated with less perspicuity, solidity, and elegance, than any other branch of the history of the church. Many writers have attempted to throw light upon this interesting period; but the barbarous style of one part of the number, the profound ignorance of some, and the partial and factious spirit of others, are such as render them by no means inviting; and the enormous bulk and excessive price of the productions of some of the best of these writers must necessarily make them scarce. It is farther to be observed, that some of the most valuable records that belong to the period now under consideration, remain yet in manuscript in the collections of the curious (or the opulent, who are willing to pass for such,) and are thus concealed from public view. Those who consider these circumstances will no longer be surprised, that, in this part of the subject, the most learned and laborious writers have omitted many things of consequence, and treated others without success. Amongst these, the analists and other historians, so highly celebrated by the church of Rome, such as Baronius, Raynaldus, Bzovius, Manriques, and Wadding, though they were amply furnished with ancient manuscripts and records, have nevertheless committed more faults, and fallen into errors of greater consequence, than other writers, who were far inferior to them in learning and credit, and had much less access to original records than they were favoured with.
These considerations induce me to hope, that the work which I now pre sent to the public will neither appear superfluous nor be found useless. For as I have employed many years in the most laborious researches, in order to acquire a thorough acquaintance with the history of Christianity from the eighth century downwards, and as I flatter myself that, by the aid both of printed works and manuscripts too little consulted, I have arrived at a more certain and satisfactory knowledge of that period than is to be found in the
generality of writers, I cannot but think that it will be doing real service to this branch of history to produce some of these discoveries, as this may encourage the learned and industrious to pursue the plan that I have thus begun, and to complete the history of the Latin church, by dispelling the darkness of what is called the Middle Age. And indeed I may venture to affirm, that I have brought to light several things hitherto unknown; corrected from records of undoubted authority accounts of other things imperfectly knowi, and expressed with perplexity and confusion; and exposed the fabulous nature of many pretended events that deform the annals of sacred history. I here perhaps carry too far that self-praise, which the candour and indulgence of the public are disposed either to overlook as the infirmity, or to regard as the privilege of old age. Those, however, who are curious to know how far this self-applause is just and well grounded, have only to cast an eye on the illustrations I have given on the subject of Constantine's donation, as also with respect to the Cathari and Albigenses, thé Beghards and Beguines, the Brethren and Sisters of the Free Spirit (whose pestilential fanaticism was a public nuisance to many countries in Europe during a period of four hundred years,) the Fratricelli or Little Brethren, the controversies between the Franciscans and the Roman pontiffs, the history of Berenger and the Lollards, and other matters. When my illustrations of these subjects and points of history are compared with what we find concerning them in other writers, it will perhaps appear, that my pretensions to the merit of some interesting discoveries are not entirely without foundation.
The accessions to ecclesiastical history could not be exhibited with the same brevity that I have observed in treating other subjects, which had been amply enlarged upon by others; for this would have been incompatible with the information of the curious, who would have received imperfect and confused notions of these subjects, and would have made me, perhaps, pass for a fabulous writer, who advanced novelties, without mentioning either my guides or my authorities. I have, therefore, not only explained all those points of history which carry with them an air of novelty or recede considerably from the notions commonly received, but have also confirmed them by a sufficient number of observations and testimonies, so as to establish their credibility on a solid foundation. The illustrations and enlargements, which, generally speaking, have an appearance of disproportion and superfluity in an historical abridgement, were absolutely necessary in the present case.
These reasons engaged me to change the plan laid down in my former work, and one peculiar consideration induced me to render the present history more ample and voluminous. The elements before mentioned, were principally intended for the use of those who are appointed to instruct the studious youth in the history and vicissitudes of the Christian Church, and who stand in need of a compendious text to give a certain order and method to their prelections. In this view I treated each subject with the utmost brevity, and left
, as was natural and fitting, much to the learning and abilities of those who might think proper to make use of these elements in their course of instruction. But, in reviewing this compendious work with an intention of presenting it anew to the public, I imagined it might be rendered more acceptable to many, by such improvements and enlargements as might adapt it not only to the use of those who teach others, but also of those who are desirous of acquiring, by their own application, a general knowledge of ecclesiastical history. It was with this view that I made considerable additions to my former work, illustrated many things that had been there obscurely expressed for the sake of brevity, and reduced to a regular and perspicuous order a variety of facts, the recital of which had been more or less attended with perplexity and confusion. Hence it is, that, in the following work, the history of the calamities, in which the Christians of the first ages were in
volved, and the origin and progress of the sects and heresies which troubled the church are exhibited with an uncommon degree of accuracy and precision.
Hence the various forms of religion, which have sprung from the excessive love of novelty, are represented without prejudice or partiality, and with all possible perspicuity and truth. It is also in consequence of this change of my original design, that I have taken the utmost pains to state more clearly religious controversies, to estimate their respective moment and importance, and to exhibit the arguments alleged on both sides; nor must I omit mentioning the care and labour I have employed in giving an exact narration of the transactions, wars, and enterprising measures, of the Roman pontiffs, from the reign of Charlemagne to the present time.
Those, therefore, who are prevented from applying themselves to a regular study of ecclesiastical history through want of leisure, or by not having at hand the sources of instruction, and are nevertheless desirous of acquiring a distinct knowledge of certain events, doctrines, or ceremonies, may consult the following work, in which they will find the information they want; and those who are inclined to push their inquiries still farther, will see the course they must pursue, and find the authors mentioned whom it will be proper for them to consult.
It would betray an unpardonable presumption in me to imagine, that in a work, whose plan is so extensive, and whose contents are so various, I have never fallen into any mistakes. But, as I am conscious to myself of having conducted this undertaking with the most upright intentions, and of having employed all those means which are generally looked upon as the best preservavites against the seductions of error, I would hope that the mistakes I may have committed are neither so frequent nor so momentous as to be productive of any pernicious effects.
I might add more; but nothing more is necessary to enable those to judge of this work, who judge with knowledge, impartiality, and candour. I therefore conclude, by offering the just tribute of my gratitude to Almighty God, wh', amidst the infirmities of my advanced years and other
pressures under which I have laboured, has supplied me with strength to bring this difficul work to a conclusion.
Gottingen, Jarch 23, 1755.
I. The Ecclesiastical History of the New Testament is a clear and faithful narration of the transactions, revolutions, and events, that relate to that large community, which bears the nams. of Jesus Christ, and is commonly known under the denomination of the Church. It com. prehends both the external and internal condition of this community, and so connects cach, event with the causes from which it proceeds, and the instruments which have been concerne? in its production, that the attentive reader may be led to observe the displays of providential wisdom and goodness in the preservation of the church, and thus find his piety improved, : , well as his knowledge.
[I. The church, founded by the ministry and death of Christ, cannot be represented wil: greater perspicuity and propriety than under the notion of a society subjected to a lawful de minion, and governed by certain laws and institutions, mostly of a moral and spiritual ten dency. To such a society many external events must happen, which will advance or oppos , its interests, and accelerate or retard its progress toward perfection, in consequence of its un avoidable connexion with the course and revolutions of human affairs. Moreover, as nothing is stable and uniform where the imperfections of humanity take place, this religious society, besides the vicissitudes to which it must be exposed from the influence of external events, mus be liable to various changes in its internal constitution. In this view of things, then, it ap pears, that the history of the church, like that of the state, may be divided with propriety inte two general branches, which we may call its External and Internal History.
III. The Escternal History of the Church comprehends all the changes, vicissitudes, are events, that have diversified the external state and condition of this sacred community. And as all public societies have their periods of lustre and decay, and are exposed to revolutions both of a happy and calamitous nature, so this first branch of Ecclesiastical History muy ly subdivided into two, comprehending, respectively, the prosperous and calamitous events the have happened to the church.
IV. The prosperous events that have contributed to extend the limits, or to augment the in fluence, of the Christian church, have proceeded either from its rulers and leaders, or from the subordinate members of this great community. Under the former class, we rank its public rulers, such as princes, magistrates, and pontiffs, who, by their authority and laws, their liberality, and even their arms, have maintained its cause and extended its borders; as also, its more private leaders, its learned and pious doctors, whose wise counsels, pious exploits, emi. nent examples, and distinguished abilities, have contributed most to promote its true prosperity and lustre. Under the latter class, we may comprehend the advantages which the cause uf Christianity has derived from the active faith, the invincible constancy, the fervent piety, and extensive charity, of its genuine professors, who, by the attractive lustre of these amiable virtues, have led many into the way of truth, and engaged them to submit themselves to the empire of the Messiah.
V. Under the calamitous events that have happened to the church, may be comprehended the injuries it has received from the vices and passions of its friends, and the bitter opposition and insidious stratagems of its enemies. The professors of Christianity, and more especially the doctors and rulers of the church, have done unspeakable detriment to the cause of religion, by their ignorance and sloth, their luxury and ambition, their uncharitable zeal, animosities and contentions, of which many shocking examples will be exhibited in the course of this history. Christianity had public enemies to encounter, even princes and magistrates, who opposed its progress by penal laws, and blood-thirsty persecution; it had also private and inveterate adversaries in a certain set of philosophers, or rather sophists, who, enslaved by superstition, or abandoned to atheism, endeavoured to blast the rising church by their perfidious accusa tions, and their virulent writings.
VI. Such then are the events that are exhibited to our view in the external history of the church. Its Internal History comprehends the changes and vicissitudes that have happened in its inward constitution, in that system of discipline and doctrine by which it stands distinguished from all other religious societies. This branch may be properly termed the History of the Christian Religion. The causes of these internal changes are to be sought principally in the conduct and measures of those who have presided and borne rule in the church. It has been too frequently their practice to interpret the truths and precepts of religion in a manner accommodated to their particular systems, or even to their private interests; and, while they have found, in some, implicit obedience, they have met with warm opposition from others. Hence liave proceeded theological broils and civil commotions, in which the cause of religion has uften been defended at the expense both of justice and humanity. All these things must loo observed with the strictest attention by an ecclesiastical historian.
V1.. The first thing, therefore, that should be naturally treated in the Internat History of the church, is the history of its ministers, rulers, and form of government. When we look back to the commencement of the Christian church, we find its government administered jointly by the pastors and the people. But, in process of time, the scene changes, and we see these pastors affecting an air of pre-eminence and superiority, trampling upon the rights and privileges of the community, and assuming to themselves a supreme authority, both in civil and religious matters. This invasion of the rights of the people was at length carried to such a height, that a single man administered, or at least claimed a right to administer, the affairs of the whole church with an unlimited sway. Among the doctors of these early times, there were some wlio acquired, by their learned labours, a shining reputation and an universal inAuence; they were regarded as oracles; their decisions were handed down to posterity as sacred rules of faith and practice; and they thus deserve to be mentioned, with particular distinction, among the governors of the church, though no part of its public administration was actually in their hands.*
VIII. After giving an account of the rulers and doctors of the church, the ecclesiastical historian proceeds to exhibit a view of the laws that are peculiar to this sacred community, which form, as it were, its centre of union, and distinguish it from all other religious societies. These laws are of two kinds. The first are properly called divine, because they are immediately enacted by God himself, and are contained in those sacred books, which carry the most striking marks of a divine origin. They consist of those doctrines that are the objects of faith and reason, and those precepts which are addressed to the heart and the affections. To the second kind belong those laws which are merely of human institution, and derive their alt Chority only from the injunctions of the rulers of the church.
IX. In that part of tħe sacred history which relates to the doctrines of Christianity, it is necessary, above all things, to inquire particularly into the degree of authority that has been attributed to the sacred writings in the different periods of the church, and also into the manner in which the divine doctrines they contain, have been explained and illustrated. For tho true state of religion in every age can only be learned from the point of view in which there celestial oracles were considered, and from the manner in which they were expounded to the people. As long as they were the only rule of faith, religion preserved its native purity; and, in proportion as their decisions were either neglected or postponed to the inventions of meu, it degenerated from its primitive and divine simplicity. It is farther necessary to show, under this head, what was the fate of the pure laws and doctrines of Christianity-how they were interpreted and explained-how they were defended against the enemies of the Gospel-how they were corrupted and adulterated by the ignorance and licentiousness of men. And, finally, it will be proper to inquire here, how far the lives and manners of Christians have been conformable to the dictates of these sacred laws, and to the influence that these sublime doctrines ought to have upon the hearts of men; as also to examine the rules of discipline prescribed by the spiritual governors of the church, in order to correct and restrain the vices and irregularities of its members.
X. The Human Laws, that constitute a part of ecclesiastical government, consist in precepts concerning the external worship of the Deity, and in certain rites, either confirmed by custom, or introduced by positive and express authority. Rites and ceremonies regard religion either directly or indirectly; by the former, we understand those which are used in the immedjate worship of the Supreme Being, whether in public or in private; by the latter, such pious and decent institutions as, beside direct acts of worship, have prevailed in the church. This part of sacred history is of a vast extent, both on account of the great diversity of these ceremonies, and the frequent changes and modifications through which they have passed. This consideration will justify our treating them with brevity, in a work which is only intended for a compendious view of ecclesiastical history.
XI. As bodies politic are sometimes distracted with wars and seditions, so has the Christian church, though designed to be the mansion of charity and concord, been unhappily perplexed by intestine divisions, occasioned sometimes by-points of doctrine, at others by a variety of sentiments about certain rites and ceremonies. The principal authors of these divisions have been stigmatized with the title of Heretics, and their peculiar opinions of consequence distinquished by the appellation of Heresies. The nature therefore and progress of these intestine divisions or heresies are to be carefully unfolded; and, if this be done with judgment and impartiality, it must prove useful and interesting in the highest degree, though at the same time it must be observed, that no branch of ecclesiastical history is so painful and difficult, on acount of the sagacity, candour, and application that it requires, in order to its being treated in a Batisfactory manner. The difficulty of arriving at the truth, in researches of this nature, is extreme, on account of the injurious treatment that has been shown to the heads of religious sects, and the unfair representations that have been made of their tenets and opinions; and this difficulty has been considerably augmented by this particular circumstance, that the greatest part of the writings of those who were branded with the name of heretics have not reached
* By these our author means the Fathers, whose writings form still a rule of faith in the Romish church, while, in the Protestant churches, their authority diminishes from day to day.
A term innocent in its primitive signification, though become odious by the enormity of some errors, to which t has been applied, and also by the use that has been made of it, to give vent to the malignity of enthusiasta ested