Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

ART. III.-RECENT CHURCH HISTORIES.

A HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH DURING THE FIRST THREE CENTURIES. By the

Rev. J. J. Blunt, B.D., Late Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge. London: John Murray, Albemarle street. 1856.

HISTORY OF LATIN CHRISTIANITY; including that of the Popes to the Pontificate

of Nicolas V. By HENRY Hart Miluan, D.D., Dean of St. Paul's. 6 vols. London: John Murray. 1854, 1856.

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN Church to the Pontificate of Gregory the Great, A.D.

590. Intended for general readers as well for students in theology. By JAMES CRAIGIE ROBERTSON, M.A., Vicar of Bekesbourne, in the Diocese of Canterbury. London: John Murray. 1854.

Another volume by the same author, ontinuing the History. From the Election of Pope Gregory the Great, to the Concordat of Worms, (A.D. 590–1122.) 1856.

A HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. MIDDLE AGE. By CHARLES HARDWICK,

M.A., Fellow of St. Catherine's Hall, and late Cambridge preacher at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall. Cambridge; Macmillan & Co. 1853.

The same continued. “DURING THE REFORMATION.”

1836.

GENERAL HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION AND CHURCH, from the German of

Dr. AUGUSTUS NEANDER. Translated, by JOSEPH TORREY. Volume 1st. Boston: published by Crocker & Brewster. London: Wiley & Putnam. 1848. Continued afterwards to the 5th volume. 1856.

A TEXT-BOOK OF CHURCH History. By Dr. John C. L. GIESLER. Translated from the 4th revised German edition. By SAMUEL Davidson, LL.D. A new American edition, revised and edited by Henry B. Smith, Professor in the Union Theological Seminary, New-York. Vol. 1. A.D. 1-726. New-York : Harper & Brothers. 1857. Vol. 2. A.D. 726–1305. Same publishers, 1857.

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, Comprising the first three centuries from the birth of Christ to the reign of Constantine the Great. A.D. 1-311. By PuILIP SCHAFF, D.D., author of “History of the Apostolic Church." 1 vol. 8vo. New-York: Charles Scribner. 1858.

In the above pretty long catalogue we have the titles of some of the important works on Church History published

within a few years. This branch of history has been specially studied and investigated within the last quarter of a century, the most patient and laborious students being German. It is most extraordinary that so little has been done by English writers in this line of publication. No Church has a deeper interest in ecclesiastical history than that of England. As a question of early usages, English scholars have given a full share of attention to the antiquities of the Christian Church. Bingham's great work on that subject has never been superseded. Its thorough scholarship, impartiality and extensive range, bringing together, with immense industry, a mass of materials of highest value, have commended it to the respect and confidence of students all over Europe and America. It has been translated into Latin for the use of continental scholars, by J. H. Grischovius, and twice printed in Germany, in 1723 and 1751, and has served $o guide the studies of the profoundest inquirers, who, in more recent times, have investigated the same field. But this work is not a history of the Christian Church, even as to those centuries to which its scope is limited. On the topic of Church Polity, so far as it is a question of history, there are abundant stores of materials gathered by English writers. From the days of Hooker, this question has not been neglected by students and writers in the Church of England. Treatises, tracts, catechisms, and volumes on this subject, especially of late years, have been produced in abun. dance through the English press. We doubt, however, whether Hooker's great work can ever be superseded. No writer since his day has even approached him in qualifications for investigating and defending the ecclesiastical polity of England. His transcendent endowments of mind, his impartiality, his elevation above the tricks, shifts, and temper of the mere controversialist, his superiority to prejudice, and his candor and moderation give him a peerless place among the advocates of the institutions of the Protestant Episcopal Church. While his work furnishes some of the best illustrations of important matters helonging to the history of the Christian Church, it is not itself a history even of the special subject to which it is devoted. There are not a few works on the Church from the pens of Englishmen, professedly historical. But with the exception, for the most part, of some published within the range of our own memory, they are histories of only selected portions of the Christian era. Jortin's Remarks on Ecclesiastical History is, neither in its scope nor its temper, a history of the Christian Church. Learned and diligent as was this author, he was wanting in a spirit to sympathize with the mind of the Church and in consequence of this, his remarks are often not much better than scoffs at the errors or failings of men distinguished in ecclesiastical history. Professor Burton has given us“ Lectures upon the Ecclesiastical History of the first Three Centuries," published at Oxford in 2 vols., 1833. The noted John Henry Newman, published before his defection to the Church of Rome, “The Arians of the Fourth Century," in 1833. Bishop Kaye (of Lincoln) has given us what the Germans call monograms or monographies, being histories of individuals and of their writings, for the purpose of illustrating the events and the opinions of particular times. He selected for his subjects, “ The Writings of Tertullian,” (published at Cambridge in 1825,) and“ The Writings and Opinions of Justin Martyr,” (Cambridge, 1829,) “ The Writings and Opinions of Clement of Alexandria." (London, 1835.) These works, though of much value for the illustration of the particular times to which they refer, are of course not church histories. The title of the work of the late Professor Blunt, (published in 1856,) is given at the head of this article. He writes in excellent temper, but his work is hardly a history, even of the times to which it is confined. It is rather an attempt to show that the history of the Church in the first three centuries, sustains his own views of doctrine and ecclesiastical order. Even the history of the Church of England itself has not received due attention from English authors. Strype's works and Burnet's history are confined to the times of the Reformation, except " The History of his Own Times,” by the latter, which is also limited in its scope. Carwither's History of the Church of England is exceedingly well written, and is for the most part impartial, though the author wrote under the influence of

VOL. VI.-25

a theological school. Bishop Short's history is distinguished for candor and impartiality, but it is lacking in perspicuity and other qualities of style. Both these histories close with the revolution in 1688. Collier's large work, though of much value, can not be received as the proper history of the English Church. His adherence to the principles of the party of the Non-Jurors stands in the way of his entire success as a historian. His work is commended by diligence, industry, and sincerity. Thomas Fuller's history is not full as to details and connection of events, yet is it the work of a great mind, elevated by placidity of temper, above the most partial influences and only ruffled agreeably at times by an irrepressible bent for humor. This history does not reach beyond 1648, and Collier's not beyond 1685. Rev. John A. Baxter has published (second edition, London, 1849) “ The Church History of England, from the introduction of Christianity into Britain to the Present Time.” This is a useful work and can be read with advantage, though it does not stand in the way of further investigation and the higher qualities of a standard work.

Among the first who, of the English, undertook a general history of the Church, was Rev. Joseph Milner, A.M., with additions and corrections by his brother, Rev. Isaac Milner, D.D., F.R.S., Dean of Carlisle, and President of Queen's College, Cambridge. This work is not, as we usually understand the title, a history of the Church, but rather a history of evangelical piety. It is made up, in good part, of the lives and faith of men of distinction in the Church. It has been classed by some writers among what they call mystic works of history. As the word mystic is generally understood, it is here wholly out of place. The doctrinal views of the brothers Milner, as given in this work, are no more mystic than are the doctrines of Protestantism is set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles, or to speak more properly, the doctrines given by inspiration and specially developed in St. Paul's Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians. Mr. Milner's history has been spoken of, by some writers, in terms of disrespect, and his qualifications for author: ship in this line been much slighted. His work was not projected as a History of the Church in the ordinary sense of the phrase. He professedly passes over the long list of corruptions in the visible Church, the contests and quarrels of ambitious and selfish men, and aims to give a narrative of the affairs of what Hooker calls the “ Church mystical," (not mystic,) which is composed of those “to whom belong God's everlasting promises of love, mercy, and blessedness.” In point of acquaintance with the original sources of Church history, he is far behind the great scholars who, since his day, and especially in Germany, have studied the subject. His whole aim and method differ entirely from theirs, and it is in this peculiarity that the value of his work appears. The work is not to be read, for the purpose for which we generally read Church History, that is, to obtain an acquaintance with the affairs of the visible body of Christians, or the Church in its historical sense. He avowedly disclaims, as we have said, the purpose of giving such a history. He is to be read for increase of faith and devotion, a purpose for which, we are sorry to say, a great deal of what is called Church History is of no service. Indeed, a great writer remarks, that unless one's faith is well fixed beforehand, the reading of Church History, as commonly presented, will be a trial which that faith may not endure. We know instances of singular profit from the reading of Milner's History, the profit, we mean, of distinctness of apprehension as to the great doctrines of the Gospel, of building up in the faith and of being quickened anew in the life in Christ. There are persons who, as long as they continue on earth, will own their obligations in this regard, to this truly valuable work. While we know that it is not what is commonly understood to be Church History and never can be a proper text-book on such a subject, we can not but commend it as one of the most edifying, and strengthening, and comforting works on the history of evangelical piety to which we have access. We only wish it had been more comprehensive in range and had embraced a larger amount than it does, of the material which extensive pursuit would have put within the author's reach. Milner's work has been abridged and continued to the end of the first quarter of the present century, by Rev. John Fry, in one octavo volume, (published,

« ElőzőTovább »