Des Cartes: Dissertatio de Methodo (English translation published by Sutherland, Edinburgh, 1850). Coleridge: Essays onMethod, Works II. 408-472, Harper's Ed. Whewell: History of Inductive Sciences (Introduction). Agabsiz: Natural History (Essay on Classification).
Before proceeding to investigate the several subjects that belong to a History of Christian Doctrine, it is necessary to make preliminary statements, respecting the general scheme and method, upon which the investigation will proceed. Methodology, or the science of Method, is never more important, and never yields greater fruit, than when applied to historical studies. At* the same time, it possesses an independent value, apart from its uses when applied to any particular subject. Treating, as it does, of the scientific mode of approaching and opening any department of knowledge, it is a species of phUosophia prima, or philosophy of philosophy, such as Plato and Aristotle were in search of. This, in their view, was the very highest kind of science; for the reason that it is not confined to some one portion of truth, as a specific science is, but is an instrument by which truth universally may be reached. It was what they denominated an organon,—an implement whereby the truth of any subject might be discovered. It, thus, resembled the science of logic. Logic does not, bike philosophy or theology, enunciate any particular truths, but teaches those principles of universal reasoning, by which particular truths, in these departments or any other, may be discovered, and defended. If, now, we conceive of a science of investigation, that should stand in the same relation to all particular investigations, that logic does to reasoning generally, we shall have the conception of the science of Methodology; and it is one form of that primary philosophy which Plato and Aristotle were seeking for.
In the judgment of these thinkers, the philosophic/, prima was the most difficult problem that could be presented to the human mind; because, it was the problem for solving all problems. It was like those general formulas which the mathematician seeks, by means of which he may resolve a great number of particular questions. They did not claim to have constructed such a prima philosophia, yet they none the less regarded it as the goal, which should be continually kept in view, by the philosopher. And they would measure the progress of philosophic thought, from age to age, by the approximation that was made towards it. Even if the goal should never be reached, still the department of philosophy would be a gainer, by such a high aim. Lord Bacon himself regrets, that the eye had been taken off from it, and that thinkers had confined themselves to mere parts of truth. "Another error,"—he remarks, in enumerating the u peccant humors" of learning,—" is, that after the distribution of particular arts and sciences, men have abandoned universality, or 'philosophia prima'; which cannot but cease and stop all progression. For no perfect discovery can be made upon a flat or level, neither is it possible to discover the more remote and deeper parts of any science, if you stand but upon the level of the same science, and ascend not to a higher science." 1
The science of Method seeks from this higher level to survey all the sciences, and from an elevated point of view, to discover, in each given instance, the true mode of investigation. It is the science of the sciences, because it furnishes the philosophic clue to all of them, and stands in the same relation to the whole encyclopaedia of human inquiry, that a master-key does to all the locks which it opens. Its uses are evident; for if the method, or plan of investigation, is the avenue by which the human mind makes its entrance into a subject, then, upon its intrinsic adaptation to the case in hand, depends the whole success of the inquiry. If the method be a truly philosophic one, the examination of the topic proceeds with ease, accuracy, and thoroughness. But if it be arbitrary and capricious, the inquirer commences with an error, which, like a mistake in the beginning of an arithmetical calculation, only repeats, and multiplies itself, every step of the way.
'bacon: Advancement of Learning, Works 1.178, 198, Pa. Ed.
Methodology seeks, in each instance, to discover the method of nature, as that specific mode of investigation which is best fitted to elucidate a subject. By the method of nature is meant, that plan which corresponds with the internal structure. Each department of human inquiry contains an interior order, and arrangement, which the investigator must detect, and along which he must move, in order to a thorough and symmetrical apprehension of it. The world of mind is as regular, and architectural, as the world of matter; and hence all branches of intellectual and moral science require for their successful prosecution, the same natural and structural modes of investigation, which a Cuvier applies to the animal kingdom, and a De Candolle to the vegetable. The method of the anatomist is a beautiful example of the method of nature. As in anatomy, the dissection follows the veins, or muscles, or nerves, or limbs, in their branchings off, so the natural method, everywhere, never cuts across, but along the inward structure, following it out into its organic divisions. The science of Method aids in discovering such a mode of investigation, and tends to produce in the investigator, that fine mental tact, "by which he instinctively approaches a subject from the right point, and like he slate quarryman lays it open, along the line of its structure, and its fracture. The power of method is closely allied to the power of genius. A mind inspired by it attacks a subject with great impetuosity, and yet does not mar, or mutilate it, while it penetrates into all its parts. "I have seen Michael Angelo,"—says a cotemporary of that great artist— "at work after he had passed his sixtieth year, and although he was not very robust, he cut away as many scales from a block of very hard marble, in a quarter of an hour, as three young sculptors would have effected in three or four hours,—a thing almost incredible, to one who had not actually witnessed it. Such was the impetuosity, and fire, with which he pursued his labor," that I almost thought the whole work must have gone to pieces; with a single stroke, he brought down fragments three or four fingers thick, and so close upon his mark, that had he passed it, even in the slightest degree, there would have been a danger of ruining the whole; since any such injury, unlike the case of works in plaster or stucco, would have been irreparable."1 Such is the bold, yet safe power, of a mind that works by an idea, and methodically. The importance of a philosophic method is nowhere more apparent than in the department of History. The materials are so abundant and various, that unless they are distributed in a natural order, they accumulate upon each other, and produce inextricable confusion. And yet, in no province is it more difficult to attain to a method at once comprehensive, and exhaustive. For History includes so much, that it is not easy to enclose it all at once; and it is so full of minute details, that many of them escape. And even when we separate some one division of the subject, such as Dogmatic History for example, and treat it by itself, the same difficulty remains. Such questions as the following immediately arise. Shall the whole system of Christian doctrine be described together, in its origin and gradual formation; or shall a single dogma be selected and followed out by itself? If the first mode be adopted, we secure comprehensiveness at the expense of exha'ustiveness. If the latter be chosen, we cannot exhibit the reciprocal influence of doctrine upon doctrine, and lose the advantages of a comparative view of the whole, in securing those of minuteness and thoroughness in a part. A multitude of such questions immediately arises, when the dogmatic historian begins to lay out his plan of procedure, and he finds that almost every advantage is counterbalanced by some disadvantage. It only remains that he should exercise his best judgment, and produce the best method that is possible to him. The grade of its excellence can be known
1 Harford: Life of Angelo.
only by trial. Just so far as it proves itself to be a logical instrument of investigation, and actually divides and distributes the historical materials in a natural order, does it prove its author to be possessed of genuine philosophic talent.
Addressing ourselves, then, to the task of indicating a scientific method in Dogmatic History, it is evident, that the first step to be taken is, to enunciate the generic idea of History itself. What is History in its own nature? What is the fundamental conception involved in it? And inasmuch as Dogmatic History is a branch of Sacred, in distinction from Secular, or Profane History, it will become necessary to discriminate these two latter species from each other, so that the special subject of our investigations may be narrowed down to its real and distinctive elements. The definition, therefore, of History in its abstract nature, together with its subdivision into Sacred and Secular, must precede, and prepare the way for, the distribution of the dogmatic materials which we are to analyze, and combine.
§ 2. Idea, and definition of History.
History, in its abstract and distinctive nature, we define to be a development} It is a gradual expansion over a wider surface, of that which at the instant of its creation existed in a more visible and metaphysical form. The development of a tree from a rudimental germ, for example, constitutes its historic process. Here the evolution, or expansion, is continuous from the seed, or rather from that invisible principle which contains the whole fabric potentially. For Cowper's lines upon the Yardley Oak are literally true:
1 The reader will find the an- 1856, and also in his Discourses
thor's views exhibited more at and Essays, pp. 118-180, Ando
length, in his Lectures upon the ver, 1856. Philosophy of History, Andover,
"Thou wast a bauble once, a cup and ball
Which babes might play with; and the thievish jay,
Seeking her food, with ease might have purloined
The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down
Thy yet close-folded latitude of boughs,
And all thy embryo vastness, at a gulp."
The idea of an evolution from a potential basis, is identical with that of a history. In thinking of one, we unavoidably think of the other, and this evinces an inward coincidence between the two conceptions. Unceasing motion, from a given point, through several stadia, to a final terminus, is a characteristic belonging as inseparably to the history of Man, or the history of Doctrine, as to that of any physical evolution whatever. In bringing before our minds, for example, the passage of an intellectual or a moral idea, from one degree of energy and efficiency to another, in the career of a nation, or of mankind, we unavoidably construe it as a continuous expanding process. The same law of organic sequence prevails in the sphere of mind, and of freedom, that works in the kingdom of matter and necessity. There is a growth of the mind, as truly and strictly as a growth of the body. The basis from which the one proceeds is, indeed, very different from that which lies at the foundation of the other. The evolution, in the first instance, is that of a spiritual essence, while that in the second is the unfolding of a material germ; but the process in each instance, alike, is an organically connected one. The history of matter, and the history of mind, though totally different from each other in respect to the substance from which the movement proceeds, and the laws that regulate it, are alike in respect to the continuity of the movement.
The essential substance of History, be it that of Nature or of Man, is continually passing through a motive process. The germ is slowly unfolding, as it is the nature of all germs to do. A corn of Egyptian wheat may sleep in the swathes and folding of a mummy, through three thousand springs, but the purpose of its creation cannot be thwarted, except by the grinding destruction of its germinal substance. It was created to grow, and notwithstanding this long interval of slumbering life, the development begins the instant it is taken from the mummy, and cast into the moist earth. In like manner, an idea which inherently belongs to the mind of man may be hindered in its progress, and for ages may seem to be extinct; yet it is none the less in existence, and a reality. It is all the while a factor in the earthly career of mankind, and the historian who should throw it out of the account would misconceive, and misrepresent, the entire historic process. An idea of human reason, like popular liberty, for example, may make no external appearance for whole periods, but its reappearance, with an energy of operation heightened by its long suppression in the consciousness of nations, is the most impressive of all proofs, that it has a necessary existence in human nature, and is destined to be developed. A doctrine of Divine reason, like that of justification by Christ's atonement, is a positive truth which has been lodged in the Christian mind by Divine revelation, and is destined to an universal influence, a historical development, in and through the church; notwithstanding that some branches and ages of the church have lost it out of their religious experience. In brief, whatever has been constitutionally inlaid either in matter or in mind, by the Creator of both, is destined by Him, and under His own superintendence, to be evolved; and of all such germinal substance, be it in the sphere of Nature or of Man, we may say, that not a particle of it will be annihilated; it will pass through the predetermined stages of an expanding process, and obtain a full development. And this its development is its history.
§ 3. Creation discrimmatedfrom Development.
The doctrine of Development has been greatly misconceived, especially in modern speculation, and hence it becomes necessary to discriminate it still more carefully. Theorists have handled it in such a manner as to invalidate the principles of both natural and revealed religion. In the first place, substituting the idea of development for that of creation, they have constructed a pantheistic theory of the origin of the universe; and in the second place, confounding a development with an improvement, they have precluded the necessity of any supernatural and remedial methods for human welfare.
There are no two conceptions more diverse from each other, than those of Creation and Development. The one excludes the other. Development supposes existing materials; creation supposes none at all. Creation is from nothing; 1 development is from something. Creation indeed implies a preexisting Creator, but not as the substance or stuff out of which the creature is made. This would be emanation, or generation. The Creator, when he issues a creative fiat, does not send out a beam or efflux from his own substance, but by a miracle of omnipotence wills an absolutely new entity into being. This creative act is, of necessity, inexplicable, because explanation would imply the possibility of pointing out preexisting materials of which the created product is composed. But by the very definition of creation, there are none. Development, on the contrary, implies the existence of rudimental and germinal matter. It supposes that a creative fiat has been uttered, and cannot be accounted for, except upon such a supposition. It requires a potential base from which to start, and this requires an act of absolute origination de nihilo. For there is nothing more absurd, than the pantheistic notion of an eternal potentiality, or, which is the same thing, that the Infinite is subject to the same limitations with the Finite, and must pass, by the method of development, from less perfect, to more perfect (yet ever imperfect) stages of existence, and in this manner originate the worlds. The idea of an absolute perfection implies, that the Being to whom it belongs, is immutable,—the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. The whole fabric of ancient and modern Pantheism rests upon the petitio principii, that the doctrine of evolution has the same legitimate application within the sphere of the Infinite and Eternal, that it has within that of the Finite and Temporal,—a postulate that annihilates the distinction between the two. The idea of undeveloped being has no rational meaning, except in reference to the Created and the Conditioned. Progressive evolution within the Divine Nature would imply a career for the deity, like that of his creatures, in which he was passing from less to more perfect stages of existence, and would thus bring him within the realm of the relative and imperfect. All latency is necessarily excluded from the Eternal One, by virtue of that absolute perfection, and metaphysical self-completeness, whereby his being is "without variableness or shadow of turning." His uncreated essence is incapable of self-expanding processes, and hence the created universe cannot be an effluent portion of his essence, but must be a secondary substance which is the pure make of his sheer fiat. To the question which still and ever returns: How does the potential basis which lies at the bottom of every finite development, itself come into existence? to what, or to whom, do these germs of future and ceaseless processes owe their origin? the theist gives but one answer. He applies the doctrine of creation out of nothing, to all germinal substance whatsoever. For the doctrine of evolution explains nothing at this point. A development is simply the unfolding of that which has been previously folded up, and not the origination of entity from nonentity. The growth of a germ is not the creation of it, but is merely the expansion of a substance already existing. All attempts to explain the origin of the universe, by the theory of development, or expansion, like the Indian cosmogony, drive the mind back from point to point in a series of secondary evolutions, still leaving the inquiry after the primary origin, and actual beginning of things, unanswered. Mere development cannot account for the origin of a strictly new thing. A germ can only protrude its own latency, and cannot inlay a foreign one. The significant fact in Natural History, not yet invalidated by the most torturing experiments of baffled theorists, that one species never expands into another,
1 See CrDwoRTn,8 statement of chain of antecedents and conse
the senses in which the dictum, quents, is almost irresistibly prone
"ex nihilo nihil fit," may be nn- to ask from what stuff is the cro
derstood, Works III. 90 (Tegg's ated product made. The old ob
Ed.); also Ansei.m's Monologium, jection, "de nihilo nihil fit,"
Caput VTII. (Ed. Migne); also springs out of this proneness.
Mosiieim's Dissertation on crea- Nothing comes from nothing, by
tion out of nothing, in Cud- the method of development, it is
woB-rn's Intellectual System, III. true; but not by the method of
HO sq. (Tegg's Ed.). The clause creation. The early fathers, ow
"de nihilo" is vital in defining a ing to the prevalence of the Gnos
creative act. For the human tic theory of world-making, were
mind, involved in the unbroken very careful to mark the difference between creation, and composition or formation. Theophivna (Ad Autolycum, II. 4) remarks: "Ei 6 3for uyivvryros Ka\ Vxtj nytwrjTos, oiiK frt 6 Sf op irotrjTrjs ruv SKav foTt." Ieenaeus (Adversus Haereses, II. x. 4) says: "Homines qnidem de nihilo hon possunt aliqnid facere, sed de materia snbjacenti; Deus autem materiam fabrications ipse adinvenit." AuGusTcra: (Oonfessiones, XII. vii), in the same strain remarks: "Fecisticoelumetterram non de te, nam esset aequale unigenito tuo; et aliad praeter te non erat, unde faceres ea, et ideo de nihilo fecisti coelum et terrain." Ambrose (Hexaemeron, IL 2) teaches the same truth in a
terse and lively manner. "Audi verba Dei, Fiat dicit. Jubentis est, non aestimantis. Imperat naturae, non possibilitati obtemperat, non mensuras colligit, non pondus exanimat. Voluntas ejus mensura rerum est. Sermo ejus finis est operis." Aquwas's definition (Summa I. Quaest. Ixv. 8) exhibits his usual exhaustiveness. "Oreatio est productiofclicujus rei secundum suam totam substantiam, nullo praesupposito, quod sit vel increatum, vel ab aliquo creatum."—" Creation," remarks Fuseli (Lecture III), "is an idea of pure astonishment, and admissible only when we mention Omnipotence."
proves that though a process of development can be accounted for out of the latent potentiality at the base, the latter can be accounted for, only by recurring to the creative power of God. The expansion of a vegetable seed, even if carried on through all the cycles upon cycles of the geological system, never transmutes it into the egg of animal life; and this only verifies the self-evident proposition, that nothing can come forth, that has never been put in.
§ 4. Development discriminated from Improvement.
Of equal importance is it, to discriminate the idea of a Development from that of an Improvement. The abstract definition of history merely describes it as an evolution, or movement from some germinal point, but does not determine whether the movement be upward, or downward; from good to better, or from bad to worse. This depends upon the nature of the potential base from which the expanding process issues. Within the sphere of material nature, the germ, being a pure creation of God, can exhibit only a healthy and normal development. But within the sphere of free-will, the original foundation, laid in creation, for a legitimate growth and progress, may be displaced, and a secondary one laid by the abuse of freedom. This has occurred in the apostacy of a part of the angelic host, and of the entire human race. By this revolutionary act, the first potential basis of human history, which provided for a purer progress, and a grander evolution than man can now conceive of, was displaced by a second basis, which likewise provided for a false development, and an awful history, if not supernaturally hindered, all along through the same endless duration. It must, however, be carefully observed, that the secondary foundation did not issue out of the primary one, by the method of development. Original righteousness was not unfolded into original sin. Sin was a new thing, originated de nihilo, by the finite will. It had no evil antecedents, and was in the strictest sense a creation of the creature. As it is impossible that the creature should originate any good thing de nihilo, since this is solely the Creator's prerogative, so it is impossible that the Creator should originate evil de nihilo, since this implies a mutable excellence, and a possibility of Belf-ruin. Under and within the permissive decree of God, sin is maris creation; he makes it out of nothing. For the origin of moral evil cannot be accounted for, by the expansion of something already in existence, any more than the origin of matter itself can be. Original righteousness unfolded never so long, and intensely, will never be developed into original sin. The passage from one to the other must be by an absolutely originant act of self-will; which act, subject only to the limitations and condition abovementioned, of the permission of the Supreme Being, is strictly creative from nothing. The origin of sin is, thus, the origination of a new historic germ, and not the unfolding or modification of an old one; and hence the necessity of postulating a creating, in distinction from a merely developing energy,'—such as is denoted by the possibiMtas peccandi attributed by the theologian to the will of the unfallen Adam. The origination of a corrupt nature by the selfwill of the first man, and the subsequent development of it in the secular life and history of the human generations, bring to view another aspect of the idea of development, and a different application of the doctrine of continuous evolution. This stubborn fact of apostacy compels the theorist to acknowledge what he is prone to lose sight of, viz.; that so far as the abstract definition is concerned, development may be synonymous with corruption and decline, as well as with improvement; that the organic sequences of history may be those of decay and death, as well as those of bloom and life. For there is no more reason for regarding evolution as synonymous with improvement alone, than with degeneracy alone. Scientific terms are wide and impartial. No particular truth is told, when it is asserted that there is a process of development going on in the world. This is granted upon all sides. On coming into the sphere of free agency, it is necessary, in order to any definite and valuable statement, to determine by actual observation, what it is that is being expanded; whether it is a primitive potentiality originated by the Creator, or a secondary one originated by the creature, to either of which, the abstract conception of development is equally applicable.
§ 5. Distinction between Sacred and Secuoar History.
This discrimination of the idea of development, from that of improvement, prepares the way for the distinction between Sacred and Secular History. Had the course of human history proceeded from the original basis, laid by the Creator, in the holiness and happiness of an unfallen humanity, human development would have been identical with human improvement. The evolution of the primitive historic germ would have exhibited a normal and perfect career, like that of the unfallen angels, and like that of the beautiful and perfect growths in the natural world. But we know, as matter of fact, that the unfolding of humanity does not now proceed from this first and proper point of departure. The creative idea, by the Creator's permission, is not realized by the free agent. The law of man's being is not obeyed, and his true end and destination is not attained. The original historic germ was crowded out by a second false one, from which the actual career of man now proceeds. But this illegitimate career, or development of a secondary and corrupted nature, exhibits all the characteristics of a continuous evolution. The depravation of humanity has been as organic a sequence from a common centre, as is to be found either in the realm of matter or of mind. The history of apostate man is as truly a development of moral evil, as the history of the angelic world is a development of moral good. And this species of history, by one of those spontaneous epithets which oftentimes contain a wonderful depth of truth, for the very reason that they are the invention of the common and universal mind, and not of a particular philosophical school, is well denominated profane. The secular career of man is a violation of sacred obligations, and of a divinely-established order. In reference to the Divine idea and intent, in the creation of man, it is a sacrilege. It displays downward tendencies, connected with each other, and acting and reacting upon each other, by the same law that governs any and every evolution. The acknowledged deterioration of languages, literatures, religions, arts, sciences, and civilizations; the slow and certain decay of national vigor, and return to barbarism; the unvarying decline from public virtue to public voluptuousness: in short, the entire history of man, so far as he is outside of the recuperating influences of Christianity, and unaffected by the supernatural intervention of his Creator, though it is a self-willed and guilty process, is, yet, in every part and particle of it, as organically connected, and as strict an evolution from a potential base, as is that other upward tendency, started in the Christian Church, and ended in the eternal state, by which humanity is being restored to the heights whence it fell.
For Sacred History is a process that results from the replacement of the original righteousness, and the original germ. It can no more be an evolution from the corrupted human nature, than this corruption itself can be a development of the pure and holy humanity. As we have seen, that the origin of the second, and false foundation for man's career upon the globe, can be accounted for, only by postulating an absolutely originating activity upon the part of the creature; so the origin of that new foundation which is laid for the upward and recuperative career of man, in the Christian Church, can be accounted for, only by postulating a creative energy and influence upon the part of God. This energy is found in Revelation, considered in its twofold direction, as a manifestation of truth, and a dispensation of spiritual influence. This supernatural energy, seizing upon the corrupt and helpless man, reinstates him in his original relations, and in the new birth of a principle of holiness, lays again the foundation for an upward career, which ends finally in the perfection with which he was originally created and endowed. Sacred History is thus differentiated from Secular, or Profane, by its underlying supernaturalism. In passing from Secular to Sacred History, we pass from the domain of merely human and sinful, to that of divine and holy agenciea For we do not find in the history of the world, as the opposite and antagonist of the church—of the natural, as distinguished from the renewed man,—any evidence of a special and direct intercommunication, between man and God. We find only the ordinary workings of the human mind, and such products as are confessedly within its competence to originate, evil included, and tinging all the elements with its dark stain. We can, indeed, perceive the hand of an overruling Providence throughout this realm, employed chiefly in restraining the wrath of man, but through the whole long course of false development, we see no signs, or products, of a supernatural and special interference in the affairs of men. Empires rise and fall; arts and sciences bloom and decay; the poet dreams his dream of the ideal, and the philosopher elicits and tasks the utmost possibility of the finite reason; and still, so far as its highest interests and destiny are concerned, the condition and histoiy of the race remains substantially the same. It is not until a communication is established between the mind of man, and the mind of God; it is not until the Creator comes down to earth, by miracle and by revelation, by incarnation and by the Holy Ghost, that a new order of ages, and a new species of history begins.
This new and higher history, this new and higher evolution of a regenerated humanity, is the theme of the Church Historian. The subject matter becomes extraordinary. The basis of fact, in the career of the Church, is supernatural, in both senses of the term. In the first place, from the expulsion from Eden down to the close of the apostolic age, a positively miraculous intervention of Divine power lies under the series of events, momentarily withdrawn, and momentarily reappearing, throughout the long line of Patriarchal, Jewish, and Apostolic history,—the very intermittency of the action indicating, like an Icelandic geyser, the reality and proximity of the power. And if, in the second place, we pass from external events, to that inward change that was constantly being wrought in human character, by which the Church was called out from the mass of men, and made to live and grow in the midst of an ignorant, or a cultivated heathenism; if we pass from the miraculous to the simply spiritual manifestation of the divine agency, as it is seen in the renewal of the individual heart, and in the inward life of the Church, we find that we are in a totally different sphere from that of Secular History, and in a far higher one. There is now a positive intercommunication, between the human and the Divine, and the development that results constitutes a history far profounder, far purer, far more hopeful and beautiful, than that of the natural man, and the secular world.
§ 6. Uses of these definitions and distinctions.
In these definitions and discriminations, we find a proper introduction to Dogmatic History. For this portion of the general subject of Ecclesiastical History presents a very transparent and beautiful specimen of a historic evolution. The germ, or base of the process, is the dogmatic material given in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. In the gift of revelation, the entire sum, and rudimental substance, of Christian theology was given. But this body of dogma was by no means fully apprehended, by the ecclesiastical mind, in the outset. Its scientific and systematic comprehension is a gradual process; the fuller creed bursts out of the narrower; the expanded treatise swells forth growth-like from the more slender; the work of each generation of the Church joins on upon that of the preceding; so that the history of Christian Doctrine is the account of the expansion which revealed truth has obtained, through the endeavor of the Church universal to understand its meaning, and to evince its self-consistence, in opposition to the attacks and objections of scepticism.
The idea and definition of History, which we have thus enunciated, gives to this branch of inquiry all the advantages that flow from the dynamic theory, or the theory of organic connections, and at the same time protects it from the naturalism and pantheism which have too often invaded the province of history, in connection with the doctrine of development. The distinction between a creation and an evolution, carefully observed by the historian, preserves in his investigations, both the Supernatural and the Natural,—both the supernatural fiat or creative energy, from which everything takes its beginning of existence, and the natural process of development, that commences and advances gradually from that point. And the distinction between Secular and Sacred History, if firmly grasped, likewise yields to the historical investigator all the advantages of the theory of connected and gradual processes, while, at the same time, it protects him from the error of those who overlook the fact of human apostasy, and who, consequently, see but one species of historical development in the world,—that, namely, of improvement and steady approximation to the ideal and the perfect. The distinction, in question, discriminates between normal and abnormal developments, and directs attention to the fact, that the total history of man upon the globe is not now a single current; that the stream of human histoiy, originally one, was parted in the garden of Eden, and became two fountainheads, which have flowed on, each in its own channel and direction, and will continue to do so forevermore; and that there are now two kingdoms, two courses of development, two histories, in the universal history of man on the globe,—viz.: the Sacred and the Secular, the Church and the World.1
§ 7. Relation of doctrinal to external history.
This enunciation of the idea of History brings us to the subject matter itself,—to the materials and elements of Dogmatic History. Our methodizing must now mark off the divisions of the doctrinal history of the Christian Church, in accordance "with the actual structure of the subject, and arrange them in their natural order. These divisions will yield the topics that are to be investigated.
But, before proceeding to our analysis, it is worthy of notice, that although the external and doctrinal history of the Church can be distinguished from each other, they cannot be divided or separated from each other. The religious experience, the dogmatic thinking, and .all the workings of the Christian mind and heart, exert a direct influence upon the outward aspects of Christianity, and show themselves in them. Improvement in one sphere leads to improvement in the other; and deterioration in the one leads to deterioration in the other. The construction of a creed oftentimes shapes the whole external history of a people. The scientific expansion of a single doctrine results in the formation of a particular type of Christian morality, or piety; which, again, shows itself in active missionary enterprises, and the spread of Christianity through great masses of heathen population. In these instances, the symbol and the dogma become the most practical and effective of agencies, and tend immediately to modify the whole structure of a Church, or a people,—nay of entire Christendom. In this way, the doctrinal history is organically connected with the external, and in the last result, with the whole secular history of man. ' Still, it is plain that we must distinguish parts of a subject, in order to discuss it with succesa He who should attempt to grasp such a great theme as Ecclesiastical History, all at once, and to treat it in the entire comprehensiveness and universality with which it is acted out, and going on, would attempt a task too great for human powers. History occurs simultaneously, in all its parts and elements. Like Wordsworth's cloud, "it moveth all together, if it move at all." But although the history of an age is going on all
1 The assertion, "that God is As the indwelling author of up
in History," is sometimes made right purposes and righteous de
in such a manner and connection, signs, God is not in the history
as to obliterate the distinction he- of Babylon, or of Rome, or of any
tween sacred and secular history, portion of unregenerate liuman
the church and the world. God ity. Only where he works "to
is in secular history by his provi- will and to do of his good pleas
dence only; but he is in sacred ure," can it be said that God is in
history by an inward efficiency, the process; and no one, surely,
the supernatural agency of his can find such an inward agency
Spirit. In the first instance, he as this, in the sensual civilization
is the controller of the move- of Babylon, or the ambitious civ
ment; in the latter, he is its in- ilization of Rome, spiring life, and actuating energy.
at once, it cannot be written all at once. Missionaries are proceeding on their errands of love, theologians are constructing their doctrinal systems, persecutors are slaying the believer, prelates are seeking for supremacy, kings are checking the advance of the churchman,—all this, and an infinitude of detail, is going on in one and the very same period of time; but what historian can represent this whole simultaneous movement, with perfect success? He who would sketch an outline of such vast proportions, as to include all that has been thought, felt, and done, by the Christian Church, would make a sketch which no single human mind can fill up.1
, The great whole, therefore, will be most completely exhibited, if the work is divided among many laborers, and each portion is made a special, and perhaps life-long object of attention, by a single mind. And it is for this reason, that the student must not rest satisfied with perusing a general history of the Christian religion and Church, however excellently composed. He must also study special histories,—the history of Doctrine, both general and special; the history of Creeds; the history of Polities; the history of Heresies; the history of Christian Philosophy, and of Christian Art; the history of Missions; Monographs, or sketches of historic individuals. By thus examining one portion of the great subject, at a time and by itself, the mind obtains a more complete and symmetrical understanding of it, than is possible, in case only manuals and general treatises are read. Year after year, such a careful and discriminating study of special parts of the subject builds up the mind, in very much the same gradual mode and style, in which it has pleased the Head of the Church to spread his religion, and establish his kingdom upon the earth. The individual repeats in his own culture, the great historic process, and the result is a deep and clear apprehension of Christianity, as a kingdom and a power among men.
1 Niedner has attempted to do last part of his great work is not
this, in his manual. We can see equal, in thoroughness, to the
the embarrassing effect of a uni- first, particularly in the dogmat
yersal outline, in Neander. The ico-historical section.
§ 8. Specification of the Meilwd adopted.
The Doctrinal History of the Church, in the method which we shall adopt, divides into the following topics:
I. The first division discusses the Influence of Philosophical Systems, upon the construction of Christian Doctrine.
We naturally begin the account of the internal history of Christianity, with the exhibition of philosophical opinions, because they have always exerted a powerful influence upon the modes and systems of theological speculation. We are obliged to take this influence into account, because we find it at
work in the history itself. We have no concern with the question, whether philosophy ought to exert any influence upon the theological mind, in unfolding revealed truth. The settlement of this question belongs to the theologian, and not to the historian. But however the question he answered, it is a fact, that human speculation has exerted a very marked influence upon the interpretation of Scripture, and particularly, upon the construction of doctrines and symbols; and actual fact is the legitimate material, the true stuff and staple of history.
Moreover, we begin with considering the influence of Philosophy upon Christianity, because this influence shows itself at the very beginning. The human mind is already in a certain philosophical condition, before it receives Christianity, and even before Christianity is offered to it by the Divine Mind. In the history of man, that which is human precedes, chronologically, that which is divine. "That was not first which is spiritual: but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual" (1 Cor. xv. 46). Men are sinners before they are made saints; and they are philosophers before they become theologians. When Christianity was revealed, in its last and fullest form, by the incarnation of the Eternal Word, it found the human mind already occupied with a human philosophy. Educated men were Platonists, or Stoics, or Epicureans. And if we go back to the time of the Patriarchal and Jewish revelations of the Old Testament, we find that there was in the minds of men, an existing system of natural religion and ethics, which was for that elder secular world what those Grecian philosophies were for the cultivated heathen intellect at the advent of Christ. A natural method in Dogmatic History must therefore commence with the influence of human philosophy, because this influence is actually existing and apparent at the beginning of the process. Christianity comes down from heaven by a supernatural revelation, but it finds an existing state of human culture, into which it enters, and begins to exert its transforming power. Usually it overmasters that culture, but in some instances it is temporarily overmastered by it. But the existing culture of a people is more the product of philosophy than of any other department of human knowledge; and hence the necessity of commencing the account of the doctrinal development of Christianity, with the exhibition of the influence of Philosophical Systems.
II. The second division, in the method we have adopted, comprises the History of Apologies, or Defences of Christianity.
We are naturally led to consider the manner in which the Christian relioion has been maintained against attacks by the speculative understanding of man, after having first discussed the general influence of philosophy upon its interpretation and stateraent. For this second division is supplementary to the first. The defence of Christianity upon rational grounds, completes the philosophical enunciation of it. As matter of fact, we find that, so soon as the theologian has done his utmost to make a logical and systematic representation of revealed religion, he is immediately called upon by the skeptic to defend his representation. - And having done this, his work is at an end.
But this is not the whole truth. For the relation between these two divisions is also that of action and reaction. The endeavor to defend Christianity very often elicits a more profoundly philosophic statement of it. The defence of the doctrine of the Trinity against Sabellian and Arian objections, resulted in a deeper view of the subject than had heretofore prevailed. The subtle objections, and dangerous half-truths of the Tridentine divines, were the occasion of a more accurate statement of the doctrine of justification by faith without works, than is to be found in the Ancient Church. Indeed, a clear, coherent, and fundamental presentation is one of the strongest arguments. Power of statement is power of argument. It precludes misrepresentations. It corrects misstatements. Hence, we find that the Defences of Christianity embody a great amount of philosophical expansion of Scripture doctrine; so that the history of Apologies is oftentimes, to a great extent, the history of the influence of Philosophy upon Christianity. In this, as we shall frequently have occasion to observe, we have an incidental, and therefore strong proof of the position, that history is organic in the connection and interaction of its divisions and elements.
Again, we see the propriety of discussing the History of Defences immediately after that of Philosophical Influences, from the fact, that both divisions alike involve the relation of reason to revelation. In the first division, reason receives and states the revealed truth; in the second, it maintains and defends it. But neither of these two functions can be discharged, without either expressly, or by implication, determining what is the true relation of the finite to the infinite reason, and coming to some conclusion respecting the distinctive offices of each.
III. The third division, in our general method of investigation, comprises the History of individual Doctrines.
Comparing the parts of the plan with each other, this is the most interesting and important of all. It is the account of the interpretation and systematic construction of Scripture truth, by the oecumenical Christian Mind. It is the Bible itself, as intellectually explored and apprehended by the Church universal.1 It is the result of the scientific reflection of representative and leading theologians, of every age, upon the meaning and contents of revelation. Such is the general nature of this branch of the internal history of the church; but it is necessary to analyze it more particularly.
'By the church universal is doctrine; not in polity, or in any meant, all in every age who agree, merely secondary matter. This in finding in the Scriptures the was the ground taken by the Redoctrines of grace and redemp- formers. They denied that the tion. For the test of ecclesiasti- Papal Church was a true church, cal oatholicity is an agreement in and a part, consequently, of the universal catholic church, because church, which requires not only
The History of Doctrines contains two subdivisions: 1. General Dogmatic History • 2. Special Dogmatic History.
The first treats of the general tenor and direction of dogmatic investigation; and is, in reality, an introduction to the second part of the subject. It serves to characterize the several stadia in the historic march and movement, and to periodize the time in which they occur. It is found for illustration, that one age, or one church, had a particular work to perform, in constructing the Christian system out of the contents of revelation, and that this imparted a particular tendency to the theological mind of that age or church. The Greek Church, during the first four centuries, was principally engaged with the doctrine of the Trinity, and, consequently, the general drift of its speculation was trinitarian, or theological, in the narrower sense of the term. The Latin Church, in the fifth and sixth centuries, was occupied with the subject of sin, in the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian controversies, and its main tendency was anthropological. The doctrine of justification by faith was the absorbing theme for the Reformers, and the general tenor of Protestant speculation was soteriological. The specification, and exhibition of this particular function and work, in each instance, makes up the matter of General Dogmatic History.
Rome had falsified the truth, and a communion in the sacraments,
doctrine of God. Thus, Calvin which are the signs of a Christian
remarks (Instit. IV. ii. 12), "While profession, but above all, an agree
we refuse therefore to allow the ment in doctrine. Daniel and
Papists the title of the church, Paul had predicted, that Anti
without any qualification or re- Christ would sit in the temple of
strlction, we do not deny that God. The head of that accursed
there are churches among them, and abominable kingdom, in the
We only contend for the true Western Church, we affirm to be
and legitimate constitution of the the Pope."
Special Dogmatic History takes the doctrines one by one, and shows how they were formed, and fixed, by the controversies in the church and out of it, or by the private study of theologians without reference to any particular controversy. The doctrines of Christianity, as we now find them stated in scientific and technical terms, were constructed out of the Scripture phraseology very gradually. Sixteen hundred years must roll by, before the doctrine of the atonement could be analytically stated, and worded, as we now have it. Other doctrines received an expansion, and a systematic construction, sooner than this; but each and all of them were a slow and gradual formation. The account of this formative process, in each particular instance, constitutes Special Dogmatic History.
We cannot better exhibit the nature and characteristics of these two branches of Dogmatic History, which we have thus briefly discriminated, than by presenting examples of some of the methods that have been employed by dogmatic historians.
Hagenbach finds five tendencies in doctrinal history; and, consequently, five periods, in the scientific development of revealed truth. They are as follows:
1. The Age of Apologies / when it was the main endeavor of the theological mind, to defend Christianity against infidelity from without the church. It extends from the end of the Apostolic Age, to the death of Origen: A. D. 70—A. D. 254.
2. The Age of Polemics or Controversies; when it was the main endeavor of the theological mind, to maintain Christianity against heresy from within the church. It extends from the death of Origen, to John of Damascus: A. D. 254—A. D. 730.
3. The Age of Systematizing past results, or of Scholasticism, in the widest signification of the word. It extends from John Damascene, to the Reformation: A. D. 730—A D. 1517.
4. The Age of Creed Controversy in Germany. It extends from the Reformation, to the time of the Leibnitz-Wolfian Philosophy: A. D. 1517—A D. 1720.
5. The Age of Philosophizing upon Christianity. This period is characterized by criticism, speculation, the reconciliation of faith with science, philosophy with Christianity, reason with revelation. It extends from A. D. 1720, to the present time.1
Baumgarten-crusius finds three general tendencies in doctrinal history; but each one involves two special tendencies, so that the entire course of development presents six periods. The first general tendency is that of construction; the second is that of establishment / the third is that of purification. These three conceptions of constructing, establishing as authoritative, and purifying, the system of Christian doctrine, determine and rule the three principal stages which Baumgarten-Crusius finds in dogmatic history.
Subdividing each tendency, we have the following six periods:
1. First Period: Construction of the system of Christian doctrine, by pure thinking, and the influence of individual opinions. It extends to the Nicene council: A. D. 325.
2. Second Period: Construction of the system of Christian doctrine, through the influence of the church represented in general councils. It extends, from the council of Nice, to the council of Chalcedon: A. D. 325—A. D. 451.
1 The fourth and fifth of these to his national feeling, in contendencies are not sufficiently strncting modern history, both general to constitute historic pe- secular and sacred, too exclusively riods. They are limited very in its relations to the Teutonic much to the German Ohnrch, race. His periodizing, however, and do not comprehend the spirit for the Ancient and Mediaeval of universal Christendom since Church is excellent, and we have the Reformation. Hagenbach, like adopted it to some extent. his countrymen generally, yields
3. Third Period: Establishment of the system of Christian doctrine, as authoritative, through the hierarchy. It extends, from the council of Chalcedon, to Gregory VII: A. D. 451—A. D. 1073.
4. Fourth Period: Establishment of the system of Christian doctrine, through the church philosophy and scholasticism. It extends, from Gregory VII to the Reformation: A. D. 1073—A D. 1517.
5. Fifth Period: Purification of the system of Christian doctrine, through the influence of ecclesiastical parties and controversies. It extends, from A D. 1517—A. D. 1700.
6. Sixth Period: Purification of the system of Christian doctrine, through the influence of science and speculation. It extends, from A. D. 1700 to the present.
The method of Rosenkranz makes three periods, divided vrith reference to philosophical categories. The first period is that of analysis, and is represented by the Greek Church. The second period is that of synthesis, and is represented by the Latin Church. The third period is that of systematizing, and is represented by the Protestant Church.
Engelhabdt's method finds the first period, to be that of analytic talent, engaged in the construction of individual doctrines, and extending from the Apostles to Scotus Erigena: AD. 50—A. D. 850; the second period, that of synthetic talent, employed in constructing Christianity as a universal system, marked by two tendencies, the scholastic and mystic, and extending from Scotus Erigena to the Reformation: A. D. 850—A. D. 1517; and the third period occupied with completing the three doctrinal systems of the Western Church,—the Lutheran, Papal, and Reformed,—and returning to the Biblical ideas, and elements, which had been neglected in the second period.
The method of Kliefoth is a combination of several. His first period is characterized by the construction of individual doctrines, by the Greek mind, in the analytic method, and with a prevailing theological (trinitarian) tendency. His second period is characterized by the construction of symbols by the Roman mind, in the synthetic method, and with a prevailing anthropological tendency. His third period is marked by the perfecting of doctrines and symbols, by the Protestant mind, in the systematizing method, and with a prevailing soteriological tendency. His fourth period is characterized by the dissolution of doctrines and symbols, confined to no particular church, and in no special method, but with a prevailing ecclesiastical tendency. The following table presents his scheme, at a glance.
1. Construction of single doctrines :Greek :Anlaytic :Theloogy.
2. Const ruction of symbols :Roman :Synthetic :Anthropology. S. Perfecting of doctrines and symbols :Protestant : Systematic :Boteriology.
4. Dissolution of doctrines and symbols: I :t :Church.
It will readily be seen, that in following these main tendencies, which appear in the principal aeras and periods, General Dogmatic History finds a very rich amount of material. It exhibits the genius and spirit of particular ages, or leading churches; so that that monotony, which is complained of in some histories of the Christian Church, is entirely banished, and the inquirer finds himself in a region of great varied currents, and streams of tendency. One age is analytic; another is synthetic; another combines analysis and synthesis. Or, one age defends; another defines and authorizes; another eliminates and purifies; another is destructive and critical. In this way, the history presents a variety upon a grand scale; and the student who follows these courses and movements of the Ecclesiastical Mind feels an influence from the great whole, like that experienced by the voyager over the whole globe,—at one time, floating down the Amazon; at another opposing the mystic currents of the Nile; at another, "borne by equinoctial winds, stemming nightly toward the pole."
In respect to Special Dogmatic History, there is less variety in the methods employed. During each of these periods in General Dogmatic History, —viz.: the Apologetic, the Polemic, the Systematizing, etc.,—the theological mind also traverses the circle of individual doctrines; commonly, however, giving most attention to some one of them, or to some one kindred group of them. Take, for illustration, the Polemic period, in Hagenbach's method, extending from the death of Origen, to the time of John of Damascus,—the principal theologian of the Greek Church, after the division between the Eastern and Western Churches. The general tendency of this period was polemic; yet most of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity were more or less didactically investigated, and systematically constructed, during this controversial age, which included nearly five centuries (A. D. 254—A. D. 730). The various topics in Theology and Christology: viz., the evidences of the Divine existence, the unity and trinity of God, the two natures in the one person of Christ; in Anthropology: viz., the doctrines of sin, freedom, grace, and predestination; in Soteriology: viz., atonement, and justification; and in Eschutology, together with the doctrines of the Church and the Sacraments,—all these various, and varied, single topics were subjects of reflection and positive construction, during this controversial period. Yet not all to an equal degree, and extent. The two divisions of Theology and Anthropology were by far the most prominent; that of Soteriology being least considered. Thus we find special tendencies, in the midst of the great general one; single smaller but strong currents, in the one great polemic stream that was pouring onward. In the Greek Church, the polemic mind Was most engaged with Theology. The doctrine of the trinity, together with the person of Christ, owes its systematic form to the subtle profundity of the Greek theologians. In the Latin Church, Anthropology excited most attention. The doctrines of sin, free will, and grace, awakened in the Occidental mind a preeminent interest, so that this anthropological cast characterizes its thinking.
These examples will suffice, to indicate the contents of the third, and most important division, in the internal history of the church.
IV. The fourth division in the method adopted comprises the History of Symbols.
The ultimate result of all this construction, authorization, and purification of doctrines, is their combination into a Creed, to constitute the doctrinal basis of a particular church. It is not enough to eliminate these doctrines, one by one, out of scripture, defend them against infidelity, define and establish them against heresy, and expand them into their widest form, and then leave them to stand, each for, and by itself. This whole process of doctrinal development, though it has its origin partly in a scientific temper, and satisfies an intellectual want, is nevertheless intended to subserve practical purposes, in the end. The church is not scientific, merely for the sake of science. It is not speculative merely for the sake of speculation. It runs through these stadia of Apologetics and Polemics, in order that it may reach the goal of universal influence, and triumph, over human error and sin. This controversy, and toilsome investigation of revealed truth, is undergone, in order that the church may obtain a system of belief, a creed, or confession of faith, that shall withstand the attacks of infidelity, preclude the errors of heresy, and above all furnish a form of sound doctrine which shall be employed in moulding the religious experience of the individual believer. Personal Christian character is the object ultimately in view, in the formation of doctrinal statements, and the construction of symbols of faith.
The account of these Confessions, therefore, properly follows that of the single doctrines of which they are composed. Symbolics, as it is termed, is coordinate with the history of individual dogmas, and constitutes a general summary of the total results of theological speculation. It describes the origin and formation of those principal creeds which have been constructed, at different periods, by the universal church represented in a general council, or by the church of a particular country, to serve as the expression of its faith, and the theoretic foundation of its life and practice. It exhibits the history of such symbols, as the (so-called) Apostles' Creed, the Augsburg Confession, the Helvetic Confession, the Thirty-Nine Articles, the creeds of Dort and Westminster, the Boston Confession of 1688, the Cambridge and Saybrook Platforms.
If now we take in, at one glance, the whole field of investigation, opened before us in the third and
fourth divisions of the general method we have adopted, we see that they are of themselves worthy of the undivided study of a lifetime. To trace the rise and growth of each of the great tendencies in dogmatic history; the elaborate formation of each and every one of the particular Christian doctrines, under the influence and pressure of the ruling spirit of the period; and then, the organization of all these general and special results, into creeds and confessions of faith, in order to strengthen and consolidate the individual and the general religious character: to do all this with profundity, and comprehensiveness, is a work worthy of the best scholarship, the deepest reflection, and the most living enthusiasm of the human mind.
V. The fifth and last division, in the method adopted, includes Biographic History as related to the History of Doctrines.
This presents sketches of those historic individuals, who, like Athanasius, Anselm, and Calvin, have contributed greatly by their intellectual influence, to shape either the single doctrines, or the symbols of the church, and who are, consequently, representatives of its philosophical and theological tendencies. A historic personage is one in whom the spirit of an age, or a church, is more concentrated and powerful than in the average of individuals. He is therefore history in the concrete; history in a single mighty and passionate personality.
This division, it is easy to perceive, contains a greater variety of features, and more of popular and immediately impressive qualities, than either of the others. Indeed, if one were to choose a single portion of the wide field of Ecclesiastical History, as that in which he could labour with most ease, and exert the greatest popular influence, it would be that of biography. The lights and shadows play more strikingly and variedly, and there is far more opportunity for vivid sketching, brilliant description, and rapid narration, than in those more central parts of the subject which we have been describing. Biographic history, also, permits the writer to pay more regard to those secular characteristics, which throw a grace, and impart a charm. The influence of poetry, of art, and of science, in moulding and colouring religious character, can be exhibited far more easily while sketching the life of an individual, than when mining in the depths of doctrinal development. Biography invites and induces more flexibility and gracefulness in the style, than is possible in the slow but mighty movement of Christian science.
There is also an inexpressible charm in the biographic Monograph, especially when passing to it from the severer and graver portions of dogmatic history. We have been following the impersonal spirit of the age, the great tendency of the period, and now we come to a single living man, and a single beating heart. The forces of the period play through him, and that which had begun to appear somewhat rigid, though ever impressive and weighty, is now felt to have an intensely human interest, and a vivid vitality. Pass for illustration, from the contemplation of the deep central movement of Scholasticism, to the study of the life and character of its noblest and best representative Anselm, and observe the agreeable relief the grateful change. All this science, this dialectic subtlety and exhaustive analysis, which, contemplated, in the abstract, had begun to oppress the mind, while it astonished it, is now found in alliance with a piety as rapt and contemplative as that of a seraph, a simplicity as meek as that of a child, an individuality as marked and natural as that of a character in Shakspeare.
The biographic Monograph as related to the history of Opinions, constitutes, therefore, a very appropriate conclusion to the doctrinal history of the Christian Church.1 It serves to connect the whole department with those active and practical aspects of Christianity, which are the immediate object of attention for the preacher and pastor. Beginning with the more speculative foundations of historical theology, and going along with its scientific development, the investigator concludes with its concrete and practical workings in the mind and heart of those great men who have been raised up by Providence, each in his own time and place, to do a needed work in the church. And while he is not to set up any one of them as the model without imperfection, and beyond which no man can go, he will find in each and all of those who are worthy to be called historic men, something to be revered, and to be imitated; something that serves to remind him of that only perfect model, the great Head of the Church, who made them what they were, and who reflects something of His own eternal wisdom and infinite excellence, in their finite, but renovated natures.
1 Such thoroughly wrought selm, and Henry's Calvin, conmonographs, for example, as tain rich veins of information Rsdipeitntng's Origen, Moh- for the student in dogmatic hisLkr's Athanasius, Hasse's An- tory.
Such men were Athanasius and Augustine of the Ancient Church; Anselm and Aquinas of the Mediaeval Church; Luther and Calvin of the Modern Church. Each pair is a dual man. The six are three representatives, of the three great general tendencies in ecclesiastical history,—those of construction, authorization, and purification. But we have seen that there are tendencies within tendencies, subordinate movements in the great general movement, the river Rhone in Lake Geneva. These, also, have their representatives, whose career and influence belong to biographic history. Such are Tertullian and Origen of the Apologetic period; Basil, the two Gregories, and Chrysostom, of the Polemic period; Scotus Erigena the lonely theologian of one of the darkest ages in church history, Abelard, Bernard, and the two interesting mystics
Richard and Hugh St. Victor, of the Scholastic period ; Melanchthon and Zuingle of the Reformatory period.
Such, it is conceived, is a natural Method for the investigation of the internal or dogmatic history of the Christian Church. And in closing this statement of the Methodology of the subject, it may be remarked, that this plan for a written volume is also a plan for a life-long course of private study and investigation. Upon examination, it will be perceived, that it allows of indefinite expansion as a whole, and in each of its parts. The entire history in its general aspects may be investigated wider and wider, and deeper and deeper, or a single section may be made the subject of study for years. The history of an individual doctrine may be selected, and the student find matter enough in it to occupy him a lifetime. What an interest would be thrown around the clerical life of one, who in the providence of God is separated from educated men and large libraries, by collecting about him the principal works upon the doctrine of the atonement, e. g., from the patristic, scholastic, reformed, and present periods, and making them his study for a few hours every week. "What a varied, yet substantially identical soteriology would pass slowly, but impressively, before his continually expanding and strengthening mind. Carrying him back continually, as such investigation naturally and spontaneously would, to an examination of the scripture matter, out of which this body of dogmatic literature has been expanded, what a determined strength, and broad comprehensiveness of theological character would be gradually and solidly built up, like a coral isle, in that man's mind.
In closing this statement of the general method, therefore, may it not be recommended as the basis of one important part of that life-long course of study, which every clergyman is solemnly bound to begin and carry along? No man, in any department of literature, or in any profession or calling, ever regrets subjecting himself to the history of his department. It is a safe and generous influence that comes off upon the mind from History; and there is no way so certain to secure an impression ever deeper and purer from this great intellectual domain, as to lay down in the outset a method that is natural, organically connected, and self-expanding. Then, the inquirer may begin in any section; work backwards, or forwards; contemplate the whole, or only a part. He will find connections all along the line, and be in communication with the great whole, at each and every point of his investigation.