eBooksRead.com books search new books
Karl von Hase.

A history of the Christian church online

. (page 1 of 110)
Online LibraryKarl von HaseA history of the Christian church → online text (page 1 of 110)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


5j{33 06819321 2













i^rauslnteiir from i\t ^clJtntlr an^ mutlr imj^rcljiti German OEMfiou,





N E W Y R K :

346 & 34 3 BROADWAY.


Entebed, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.


This translation was undertaken because its authors knew of no
work in English which precisely corresponded with it. The his-
tories of Milner, Waddington, Milman, Stebbing, Hardwicke
and Robertson, and the translations of Mosheim, Neander, Bol-
linger, Thiersch and Schaft', have severally specific merits with
reference to the objects of their composition ; but many of them
are incomplete as general histories, most of them were written
so as to give undue prominence to some single aspect of the
characters and events of which they treat, and all of them are too
large to be used either as manuals for the scholar, as text-books
for the instructor, or as compendiums for the general reader.
Some attempts t© supply the deficiency by Palmer, Timpson,
Foulkes, Hinds, Goodrich and Enter, have met with no very
general acceptance. A miniature representation of a vast mass
of facts, in Avhich each personage and event shall appear in their
individual freshness and relative proportions, requires for its exe-
cution peculiar talents and rare opportunities. The Germans
appear to possess these in a greater degree than any other people.
Their learned men highly appreciate the value of such manuals,
and their literature abounds in them. One of these, by Dr.
Gieseler, has been translated, and is almost invaluable. But its
text is a mere epitome of results, and bears no proportion to the
vast materials in the notes ; and the narrative awakens no in-
terest. It would be difficult to find a graphic picture, or an ex-

iv translator's preface.

jiression of feeling in the whole work. Even the posthumous
volume which has been promised, will leave the history incomplete.
The delay which has taken place in the appearance of this
work has afforded many opportunities of learning how much this
deficiency was appreciated by competent scholars in England and
America. From the letters we have received, and from public
journals, we might present many testimonies, not only that such
a work was needed, but that nothing in the literature of the
present day waa so likely to supply the deficiency as a transla-
tion of the work we had announced. The style of our author is
especially adapted to the Anglo-Saxon mind ; his astonishing
power of condensed expression, — his eesthetic, if not religious sym-
pathies, with every variety of intellectual and moral greatness, —
his skilful daguerreotypes of characters by means of the trans-
mitted light of contemporary language, — the delicate irony and
genial humor which pervade his descriptions, — the picturesque
liveliness with which a single character or incident brings out
the manners and spirit of an age, — the precision with which
his scientific arrangement is preserved, the critical judgment
with which the minutest results of recent investigations are in-
troduced, — and the graceful proportion and animation with which
the whole stands out before us, render his history attractive to
all kinds of readers. He throws away every name or event which
has no historical utility or organic life ; he appreciates an heroic
spirit wherever it appears, and each period is estimated as nearly
as possible in its own light. His is not merely a histor}'- of the
hierarchy, of the nobility, or of great men, but of the Church.
His descriptions, therefore, embrace especially traits of common
life, the progress of the arts, and indications of advancement in
social freedom. If his theological opinions do not quite coincide
with our own, he seldom, at least in this work, obtrudes them
upon our attention. His object seems to have been to maintain
historical accuracy, rather than to exhibit his own opinions ; and
if sometimes our favorite characters, or views, do not appear in
the light in which we have usually contemplated them, his uni-
form impartiality and intelligence make us suspect our earlier
judgments. None but those who observe the structure rather
than the particular dogmatic expressions of this work, will be


likely to detect the author's peculiar views, and such readers can
afford to give them whatever consideration they deserve. A strik-
ing comparison has been drawn between him and a living English
historian and essayist, but the reference can be only to the live-
liness and brilliancy of his historical scenes, and not to the mi-
nute space in which the picture of more than eighteen centuries
is presented. •

As soon as we had determined to translate the work, the
author was informed of our intention, and we publish his reply
to our communication. Unforeseen difficulties, however, delayed
the publication of our work, and when more than a hundred
pages had been stereotyped, we received a copy of the seventh
edition, with numerous corrections and additions. We have cer-
tainly no reason to regret such an occurrence, although it im-
posed on us the necessity of recalling and rewriting a large
portion of our manuscript. We submitted, however, with cheer-
fulness to the necessity, since we are now able to present an
edition in which some errors have been corrected, the results of
recent research, especially with respect to the second and third
centuries, have been incorporated, and the eventful history of the
last seven years has been added. In an Appendix, we present
every thing of importance added by the author in the part which
had been already struck off. But as we were obliged in this first
part to retain the numbers of the sections used in the sixth
edition, and subsequently to adopt those used in the seventh,
some confusion has necessarily been created. Should a new
edition be called for, we hope not only to remove this defect, but
to adapt the work to an American position. The section on
America (§ 462) has been already, with the author's concur-
rence, rewritten and enlarged. Considerable pains have also
been taken to adapt the references and authorities to the present
state of English literature, and some references to German trans-
lations of English and French works have been omitted, but
every addition is indicated by brackets. We are well aware that
our work has many faults after all our revisions and efforts to
correct them, but, like the author, we see no end to the labor
which might be bestowed on that which is, by its nature, neces-
sarily imperfect. Dr. llase has given a large part of his atten-


tion to the original history for more than twenty years. He was
born in the year 1800 at Steinbach. In 1823, he was a private
instructor in Theology at Tubingen ; in 1829, he was elected a
Professor of Philosophy in Leipsic ; and in 1830. he became a
Professor of Theology in Jena, where he still continues. His
other works are : The Old Pastor's Testament, Tub. 1824 ; The
Murder of Justfce, a Vow of the Church, Lps. 1826 ; A Manual
of Evang. Dogmatik, Lps. 1826, 4th and much enlarged edit.,
Lps. 1850 ; Gnosis, Lps. 1827-29, 3 vols. ; Hutterus Eedivivus,
or Dogmatik of the Evang. Luth. Church, Lps. 1829, 7 ed. in
1848 (a work whose purely historical account involved him in
a controversy with Kohr, the great champion of Eationalism,
and led to a series of polemical works on that subject) ; The
Life of Christ, Lps. 1829, 4th imp. edit. 1854 ; Libri Symbolici
Ecclesiae Evangelicae sive Concordia, of which the 3d ed. ap-
peared in Lps. 1846 ; The Two Archbishops, (referring to the
difficulties in the dioceses of Cologne and Posen,) Lps. 1839 ;
The Good Old Law of the Church, two academical discourses,
2d ed. Lps. 1847 ; The Evang. Prot. Church of the German
Empire, on Ecclesiastical Law, 2d ed. Lps. 1852 ; The Modern
Prophets, three Lectures on the Maid of Orleans, Savonarola,
and the Kingdom of the Anabaptists, Lps. 1851. He has also
recently been engaged in the publication of Didot's new edition
of Stephanus' Thesaurus Grecae Linguae, of which the seventh
part has just appeared.


To Prof. C. E. Bliimenthal and Rev. C. P. Wing: —

Dear Sirs : — Between him who incorporates in a book the results
of his most serious and profound mental labors, and those who from a
cordial preference endeavor to introduce and interpret it to a foreign
nation, must naturally spring up such an intimate intellectual sympathy,
that it would seem surprising for them, if contemporaries, to remain
strangers to each other. I, therefore, hail with grateful feelings the
kind letter you have sent me across the ocean, and in imagination grasp
the hand of fraternal fellowship extended to me from the land of
William Penn.

You have doubtless already discovered that no ordinary obstacles
were to be surmounted before a good translation of my Church History
could be made, as my object was to compress the most perfect picture
of the religious life developed in the Church into the smallest frame;
and hence I was compelled to be very parsimonious in the use of words,
and to refer to the original authorities for many things plain to the
learned, but obscure to the learner. A French translation, once at-
tempted, split upon this rock. I hope, however, that in a sister lan-
guage, so essentially Germanic as the English, these difficulties may be
more easily overcome, and such a confidence is encouraged by tlie fact,
that in a Danish translation they have been completely vanquished.

If I remember correctly, an attempt to translate my work was once
made in England, but was abandoned on account of its supposed incon-
sistency with the views of the Established Church. You have doubtless
considered how far this objection should prevail with reference to the
Church of your country, if the numerous and varied communities which
have pitched their tents under the banner of the stars and stripes may

viii author's letter to the translators.

be truly spoken of as a single Church. I trust, however, that among
those who study history from a higher position than that of a party, an
assimilation of views will gradually prevail respecting the silent opin-
ions and facts which lie behind us in the past. I have at least honestly
aimed to recognize in its proper light every clement in any way drawn
around our common Lord. I have thus endeavored to approach as
nearly as possible that exalted position from which the history of his
Church will be regarded by Christ himself, not merely as the Judge of
quick and dead, but as the faithful Shepherd seeking the lost lamb.

May my poor book, therefore, be dressed once more in a language
spoken on every ocean and coast, and so come back to me from a world
to which, as to another holy land, hosts of peaceful crusaders are an-
nually pouring to plant anew their hopes, and to realize their long-
cherished ideals in subsequent generations. The brief notice of the
Church in the United States you propose to substitute for my section
on that subject, will doubtless better adapt the work to your country.
Whenever the universal interest of the Church was the topic, I have
myself given more space to the Church of my fathers. I have no
doubt that the alliance commenced between G-erman and American the-
ology will prove a blessing to both. Both nations have certainly a
great mission assigned them in ecclesiastical history, which each must
accomplish in its own peculiar manner.

The sixth edition made its appearance just before the storm which
has since broken over central Europe. Pius IX., having been driven
from his beautiful Babylon by an insurrection which he could not allay
by kindness, has been restored by republican France, to substitute a
government of priests and Jesuits for a Roman Republic. The French
clergy have also hastily concluded to send up the petition " Domine,
salvam fac rempublicam," as long as a democratic republic can be main-
tained in France. In G-ermany, our national Assembly at Frankfort
not only proclaimed the gospel of liberty for the Church, and the fun-
damental rights of the Grerman nation, but going beyond the people
whom they professed to regard as their model, they threatened to di-
vest the state of all Christian or religious character. The more con-
siderate of our nation sent forth their warnings against such a rupture
with all historical traditions, and painful political events have since
shown that the immediate object of the Protestant German Church
should be much more cautious and consonant with the national spirit
This object unquestionably is, to give to the Church the administration
of its own affairs, in alliance with a state under which the right of
citizenship shall depend upon no ci-eed, and the gospel of Christ shall
be proclaimed as the highest principle of right.

author's letter to the translators. ix

In the Catholic Church, the independence of the state secured to
the hierarchy by the revolution, was made subservient to such an enor-
mous increase of it^ powers, that the freedom of the inferior clergy and
of the congregations is seriously endangered. What was called Ger-
man Catholicism, has shown, as the more sagacious perceived from the
commencement, that it lacked the religious energy necessary to effect a
reform in the Christian Church. Since it has ceased to be harassed by
political obstructions it has dwindled into an insignificant sect. But in
the contest between a merely prescriptive Christianity, and the pro-
gressive spirit of modern improvement, many a severe conflict must
doubtless yet take place, before Christ in this respect also will manifest
himself as the Mediator.

Karl Hase.

Jena, May 7th^ 1850.


In composing the following work, my intention' was to present a text-
book to the public, and to accomplish this, I resolved to devote to it all
the severe labor and concentration of effort which such an object requires.
But I was aware that however the general outline might be condensed, the
living freshness which we find in the original monuments and documents
of each historical period, should be preserved unimpaired. Instead,
therefore, of endeavoring, like most of those who have prepared such
works, to present only that which is general and indefinite, I have con-
tinually aimed to hold up that which in each age possessed most of in-
dividual and distinct character ; and when it became indispensable that
some general grand features should be rendered prominent, I have
sought to make these so suggestive of the particular facts, that recollec-
tions of the most minute circumstances should throng the mind of the
instructor. In this way, the attention will be aroused while in the pro-
cess of preparation, and the memory will be strengthened in its recollec-
tions, since whatever is characteristic awakens sympathy, and fastens
itself in the memory. In this respect, it may be said that what belongs
to a good text-book, is also an essential part of every historical repre-
sentation. In every century many noble spirits have found their prin-
cipal delight, and expended all their energies, in investigating subjects
connected with ecclesiastical history. And yet for a long time the com-
position of ecclesiastical history seems by no means to have retained the
eminent relative position which it held in former days. Without refer-
ring to historians of an earlier period, where have we any works upon
Church History whose excellence as historical compositions can be com-
pared with those of Machiavel, Hume, and John Miiller ? Even
among the most recent ecclesiastical histories, that of Spittler is the
only work which can stand the test of a critical examination by the con-
temporary literary world ; but its Christian character is so obviously
one-sided, that every one perceives that in this respect it is far inferior


to that of Neander. In thus expressing my general design, < my object
is to show what has been my aim, however far I have come short of at-
taining it. In these remarks, however, I have had very little reference
to the mere literary style ; for, with respect to this, we in Germany
generally need, and actually receive, much allowance for the dry form
of a compendium. I rather refer to such a careful study of original
authorities that the objects and events assume the living freshness of
realit}', and to a complete intellectual apprehension of the facts. I have
also bestowed some attention upon a peculiar department of. history,
which, though it has in former times been noticed by all genuine eccle-
siastical historians, never became prominent until the appearance of the
venerable Neander's History of the Christian Religion. I do not, how-
ever, by any means expect that my present work will receive very de-
cided favor from those who, in a peculiar sense, belong to the school of
Neander, since it was certainly not so much my special object to search
out what was spiritual and devotional among the people, as it was al-
ways to seize upon what was characteristic of the popular religion. In
the greatness and completeness of such a representation, there must of
course always be much adapted to inspire devotional feelings, and, ac-
cordingly, I have constantly felt that I was writing the history of the
actual kingdom of God on earth. But as men have often turned
that which was really sublime into a caricature, many individual points
must necessarily be far enough from edifying.

There are some subjects not usually introduced into an ecclesiastical
history, to which I have awarded a right to a position there, because
they had their origin in tlie Church. Indeed, in most of the larger
Church Histories, nearly all of them have had a certain kind of con-
Bideration already bestowed upon them. Such is, e. g., the treatment
which Schroeckh has given to the subject of Christian art, although the
style in which he has written must be confessed to have been singularly
awkward. In his Encyclopedia, Rosenkranz has also assigned a due
degree of importance to the subject of ecclesiastical architecture. On
the other hand, I have omitted many things ordinarily mentioned even
in the smallest compeudiums. I have, however, so little disposition to
offer an apology for this, that I am rather inclined to reproach myself
that, especially on the subject of Patristics, I so far yielded to usage
that I allowed many topics to retain their ordinary position, which
certainly have no right to a place in history. On various occasions it
has recently been asserted that ecclesiastical history ought, at least in
a course of academical instruction, to throw out a portion of its ballast.
And yet we can hardly think that a proper remedy for our difficulties
would be found in the plan proposed by Tittmann, according to which


our future histories must be confined to an account of the promulgation
of Christianity, and of the internal constitution of the Church. For, it
must readily be perceived, that no true representation of the actual
condition of the Church could ever be made by one who confined him-
self to such arbitrary restrictions. If, indeed, an ecclesiastical history
should attempt merely to present a connected account of all theological
literature, it would go beyond its peculiar province, and become an en-
cyclopedia of theological knowledge. No particular event connected
with theological science ever needs to be noticed, except when it becomes
important as a prominent circumstance belonging to the age, and may
properly be regarded as characteristic of the times. We cannot, how-
ever, entirely dispense with some account of the received doctrines of
the Church. Although a separate history of these is of the highest im-
portance to the interests of theological science, the ecclesiastical his-
torian cannot on that account omit all reference to the subject; for how
could the ecclesiastical movements of the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries
be adequately described without noticing the various forms and processes
through which the doctrinal views of the Church, and its different sects,
then passed, and by which the character of those great movements was
determined? Indeed, how could a clear representation be given of any
period of the Church, unless it included some account of the system of
faith which animates and sustains the whole. There is, in reality, only
a formal distinction between the history of doctrines as a special science,
and as an element in the general history of the Church ; for, aside from
the difference in the outward extent with which the subject is necessarily
treated, they only refer to the different poles of the same axis, — the
former presenting the doctrine rather as an idea unfolding its own self,
and the latter exhibiting it in its relation to surrounding events. But
the principal method by which ecclesiastical history was to be simplified,
was by discarding a mass of useless material. Nothing is a part of
^ history which has not at some period possessed actual life, and con-
/ sequently become immortal, by exhibiting in itself a true refraction of
the Christian spirit ; for, as God is only the God of the living, so history
is not a record of that which is lifeless and dead, but of that which has
a perpetual life. We have, however, hitherto dragged along a vast
multitude of these still-born trifles. Of what benefit can it be, at least
for students, to have it in their power to repeat the names of all those
persons who have been only remotely connected with the different events
mentioned in history, — of Synods which decided upon nothing, of popes
who never governed, and of authors who wrote nothing of importance.
A veneration for the names of these silent personages, of whom nothing
is recorded but the year of their death, has induced many even of our


greatest ecclesiastical historians to fill whole pages of their works with
the useless catalogue. Should any one think that it is the business of
the instructor to quicken these dry bones by giving an account of their
works, he certainly has very little idea of the range of topics embraced
in the academic lecture ; and I appeal to the experience of any one who
has ever gone through with the text-book of Staudlin or of Muenscher,
and inquire whether he has found it possible to animate the masses
found in them ; or if he has been successful in this, whether he has
found any advantages worth the trouble? I have endeavored, as far as
possible, to avoid such useless verbiage in the text, for, although a man-
ual should be expected to require much explanation from the living
teacher, it should also possess some character of its own. By adopting
this plan, opportunity has been acquired for a more extensive notice of
those matters which were really important, and it will sometimes be
found that I have given to such topics as much space as they ordinarily
receive in larger works. It is possible, indeed, that a degree of dispro-
portion may be discovered between the attention bestowed upon different
individual subjects; but it was never intended that the most diffuse por-
tions should take the place of the oral lecture, but rather excite the
reader to examine more thoroughly into the minutest particulars. The
principle on which this has been done may be found expressed in the
third section of the work. The academic instruction will at least assist
the student in gaining a complete view of an age, if it only presents that
age most thoroughly in the lives of its individual men ; and it is pre-
cisely by such a concrete representation of exalted particular agents
that the most distinct impression is produced upon the memory.
Shakspeare says, in one of his prologues, " I pray you, look upon the
broil of a few players as if it were a real battle ! " In like manner, the
historian may request his readers to regard the intellectual chiefs and

Online LibraryKarl von HaseA history of the Christian church → online text (page 1 of 110)
Using the text of ebook A history of the Christian church by Karl von Hase active link like:
read the ebook A history of the Christian church is obligatory.

Leave us your feedback | Links exchange | RSS feed 

Online library ebooksread.com © 2007-2014