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gation, and brought out results of the most surprising interest. Germany already has a literature upon this subject, which, though just beginning to bear its riper fruits, is one of the most admirable products of German scholarship; and is equally distinguished for the accuracy and diligence of the examination of details, for the comprehensiveness, not to say boldness, of its general principles and results, and for the thoroughness and philosophical character of its processes.
To exhibit the evidence for this position would require a larger space than our present limits will allow. It would be interesting to inquire what is meant by a History of Doctrines; how far the works we have, correspond with the true idea of such a history;' and how such a history stands related to the doctrines themselves, to the immutability of truth, and above all to the divine records of our faith. The latter is a point which perhaps most of all requires a detailed examination ; for it is one which in the German works with which we are acquainted has received the least attention; and yet it is one which wonld have the greatest influence upon the shape which should be given to such a history. Some seem to assume that the Bible is only the beginning, as it were, the seed of a new development, just as the works of Locke, for example, are of a new order of things, in the history of philosophy. With others the Scriptures express only the state of the “ Christian consciousness” at the time of their appearance, even as the body of the present German theological literature expresses the present state of that same “consciousness” in Germany. Few or none seem to look upon the Bible as the source and the law of the whole history of doctrines; as being both the beginning and the end of the whole course of doctrinal discussion and pro. gress. Yet this is the place which we believe this book ought to take, and which, by history itself can be vindicated for it. But we leave all further consideration of this subject, and also any further account of the different German works upon this branch of theological science, in order to give a general statement of some of the leading points which should be embraced in such a history, and a more particular account of the works we have placed at the head of this Article.
It should be the object of a history of doctrines to give in the truest possible manner the order in which divine truth has been unfolded in the history of the church. It must trace down the
Kliefoth's Einleitung in die Daginengeschichte (1839) is designed to answer this inquiry, and ably fulfils this purpose.
True Object of a History of Doctrines.
whole course of doctrinal discussion, give the leading characteristics of each epoch, as distinguished from all the others, and at last show just where the world now stands in the discussion of the problems which Christianity has presented to it. It should be a faithful mirror to the whole doctrinal history of the church. It must interpret each writer according to the sense of the age in which he lived, and not bring in subsequent views and modern notions to explain the meaning which an ancient writer gave to a phrase or dogma. It must show what are the points of difference in the reiterated controversies about the same doctrine. It must carefully distinguish the theological and systematic spirit of the different ages of the church, and not furce a subsequent de. velopment upon an antecedent era. It must bring out into clear relief the influential personages of each age, and, in exhibiting their systems, distinguish between the peculiar notions of the in. dividual and the general spirit of his times. It must show how controversies about one series of doctrines have modified the views held respecting other doctrines; how each doctrine has acquired a new aspect, according to its position in the mind or system of an author, or in its relation to the leading controversies of the age. It must show when a dogma was held strictly and when loosely; when disconnected from a system, and when embraced in a system.
It must carefully guard against the error of supposing that when a doctrine was not carefully discussed by the inquisitive and discriminating intellect, it was not really cherished as a matter of faith. This is an error into which many have fallen. But we might as well suppose that men did not believe they had understanding, until they discussed the operations of this faculty, or did not trust to their senses until they invented a theory of sensation. Such a history must show the influence which councils, confessions and systems have had upon their respective eras, how preceding times led to such expositions of the faith, and subsequent times were affected by them. It must ex. hibit clearly the ruling ideas, the shaping notions in each system; and how each predominant idea has modified the component parts of the whole system. It will not neglect to notice the influ. ence which national habits and modes of thought, which great civil and political changes, which the different philosophical schools, have had upon the formation of doginas; nor, on the other hand, will it fail to notice how the Christian faith has itself acted
upon and influenced these in its turn, if, indeed, the latter be not the point of view which should have the precedency.
Such a history must, finally, present before our eyes a picture of a real historical process, just as it has been going on, and the more faithful it is to all the leading facts of the case, the more philosophical and complete will it be as a history. By such an exhibition, the whole doctrinal progress of the Christian church being set before our eyes, we shall, in comparing its results with our own systems be able to see, wherein we are defective, one-sided and partial; wherein our systems need to be reformed, filled up or chastened; how they may be animated by a new life and gather better nurture; and, by comparing the results with the Seriplure, we shall be able to see, what parts of its sacred truths have been least discussed, what problems yet remain to be solved, what is still to be done in order that our divine system of faith be wholly reproduced in the life of the church; in order that all its truths and doctrines stand out as distinctly and majestically in the history of the race, as they do in that Revelation which was given to control and determine this history.
To produce a work that would in any degree answer to such claims were no easy task. Before it could be brought into any reasonable compass there must have been a series of indepen. dent investigations upon all the leading eras, men, doctrines and general intellectual, moral and rational tendencies, which should in the work itself be presented in the form of concise and preg. nant results. Such a preparatory labor has been going on in Germany for many years, and one of the best results of it is seen in Hagenbach's Text-Book of the History of Doctrines.
This work is probably the best compendium which we have upon that subject. The author belongs to that school of German theologians, already large and constantly increasing in numbers and influence, which is giving a new direction to historical investigations iv theology. To Neander undoubtedly belongs the high praise of being the “father” of this school. Though it sounds very like an anachronism to call him, as he has been called, the “ father of church history," that title having been already conserred upon one who lived some fifteen hundred years before him, yet he has au unquestionable right to the honor of having given the most decided impulse to the profound and extensive researches of the modern German school of historical theology., The secret of the power and influence of that school lies in sev.
I Since this Article was written we have noticed an advertise inent of a new edition of the first voluine of Hagenbach's book. Mr. Buch's translation was made from the first edition, which is also the only edition we have seen,
1847.] Characteristics of German Church History. 563 eral causes. It is thoroughly critical; not a phrase nor a fact is suffered to escape its notice; not a document can be found which is not examined and reëxanıined. Step by step it is pursuing its toilsome course backward into the history of the past, illuminating its records and making its men to live and speak and act again, and giving to all its controversies and speculations an air alnost of present reality. It is also a school which is more deeply imbued with the Christian spirit than was that Rationalism which preceded it. It is not content with holding a negative, much less a hostile position, to the great facts and doctrines of the Christian revelation. While it has not yet attained to the height of the former German and our present orthodoxy, while it is averse to the precision both of the Lutheran and Reformed Confessions; it is also still more opposed to the reduction of all articles of faith to their lowest possible terms, to the emasculation of Christianity into a mere republication of what some men are pleased to call natural religion, to the confounding of theology with moralily, and of the person and offices of Christ with the mission and duties of a moral teacher. Schleiermacher, with all his serious defects, did yet recall the men of his times from such an empty faith, to a higher appreciation of the reality, and the experienced reality, of the leading points in Christianity, consider. ed as a redemptive system; and with the views of this great and generous theologian all this school are deeply imbued. The consciousness of sin, and the conscious experience of redemption through Christ; these are the two poles of his theological system. And although he gives it too subjective a character, and measures doctrines too much by experience, yet it is a subjective character wholly different from that of the antecedent rationalisın. In him it is the heart, the Christian heart, which speaks, raiher than the cold and lifeless understanding. And so his system has life, and his followers find that life expressed in the history of the church, in its doctrines and controversies, ils usages and changes. This school, again, is animated by a truly philosophical, as well as by a general Christian spirit. While it is one of its distin. guishing characteristics that it keeps the provinces of theology and philosophy strictly separate-for this was one of the leading distinctions, always carried out, in the system of Schleiermacher; yet it has not disdained to learn something even from the wise men of this world, even from the speculations of the modern German philosophy. Its attitude in respect to the results of the philosophies of Germany is hostile; but while it is exposing the in
sufficiency of these systems to solve the problems of the Christian faith and firmly opposing their pernicious and pantheistic results; it does this with far other weapons than those which are at the control of many, the severity of whose denunciations is equalled only by the extent of their ignorance, and who neither know nor care anything about that whereof they affirm; and who are only careful to make their affirmations of repugnance su in. discriminate that they really become unmeaning; who are as when one beateth the air, and is eager only to strike a heavy blow, not knowing nor caring whether he hits anything or every. thing
But the German evangelical theologians are placed in a different position, and adopt a wiser course. Planted upon the fundamental truths of the Christian faith, as contained in the sacred Scriptures, and tracing the course of its doctrines down through the long series of its centuries, and finding in their own souls at. testation and confirmation of the great leading features of the Christian redemption, they reject any philosophy which is at war with a faith whose origin is so divine, whose history is so wonderful, whose effects are so beneficent and unceasing. But even their philosophy has taught them better to understand the profundity of the Christian revelation, more thoroughly to investigate the cause of its history, more skilfully to trace out the connection of the different elements of the Christian faith and the sequence of its protracted controversies. It has forced upon them the necessity of so bringing out the fair and wondrous proportions of our divine religion, in contrast with the pretensions of a philosophy which claims to be universal and absolute, as to make it man. ifest that it is superior to the wisest and profoundest schemes which man has ever fashioned; and in doing this they have been obliged to study its doctrines and write its history in a more philosophical and comprehensive spirit. In doing this the modes of investigation, both analytical and synthetic, which these philosophers have applied to the human consciousness, have been also made serviceable to the defence and confirmation of their faith.
The same use which Anierican theologians make of the philosophy of Scotland, do the German divines make of the systenis which their own land has brought into being. The same tendency to universality, to minute analysis, and to bringing all phenomena under the influence of all.comprehending laws and proces. ses, which is seen in the German philosophy, their theologians have carried with them from their schools of philosophy into their