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ward man after the similitude of Christ, is to be spiritually alive. But this life does not spring up and grow without nourishment. Genuine Christian life is no misty sentimentalism which is destitute of nameable antecedents or sources of supply. It has definite causes, and demands substantial food. It needs to be fed with truth; in other words, with dogmas laid hold upon with personal conviction, and armed with authority before the reason and conscience. Life which takes no root in dogma, which is unsustained by a vital apprehension of the great truths of revelation, is likely to be both sickly and transient. Some exception, therefore, must be taken to the language which a sprightly critic has thought fit to use upon this subject. Speaking of a time when the different communions shall be dominated by a spirit of tolerance, he says, “ Dogma will become merely a mysterious ark which they will agree never to open ; and if the ark be empty, of what importance is it?”] Tolerance is indeed to be longed for, so far as it is based upon breadth and enlightenment of mind and heart; but a tolerance which consigns dogma to the place of an empty and unopened ark is more likely to be based upon religious indifference than upon any thing else. In the mind of any man a certain margin of doctrinal views may fitly be held by a slight tenure, but to give over doctrines generally is to leave one's religious life with less than sand for a foundation. In its great doctrinal truths the Church has a perpetual source of inspiration and growth, and it might as well think of burying itself as of burying these truths out of sight. On the other hand, it is not to be overlooked, that doctrines viewed as mere phrases or propositions are of little account. They are of real worth only as they actually serve to keep the image of the spiritual world, the great outlines of the divine kingdom, fresh and distinct before the mind.
1 Renan, The Apostles, Intro.
As respects the outward organism of the Church, it should be noticed that the question of its importance and the question of its kind are quite distinct. Civil government is of very high importance, - is indeed, in a sense, a divine institution; still, no particular form can claim the divine sanction to the exclusion of other forms. So church government may be in general ordained of God, without either episcopacy, presbyterianism, congregationalism, or any specific combination of these being the sole valid form. Indeed, there is no Scriptural evidence whatever that any particular form of church government has, by the divine will, been made obligatory for all times and places, to the exclusion of all other forms. Even if it could be proved that one uniform system prevailed in the apostolic age, it would not follow that the Church would be bound for all time to conform to that pattern. Forms of administration, unlike doctrinal truth, admit of change along with change of circumstances, and are most legitimate when most adapted to the circumstances of the age and the people.
The three grand divisions in the history of the Christian Church, with their subdivisions or periods, are as follows:
I. THE EARLY CHURCH.
1. From Pentecost to Constantine (30–313). 2. From Constantine to Gregory the Great (313-590).
II. THE MEDIÆVAL CHURCH.
1. From Gregory the Great to Gregory VII. (590-1073). 2. From Gregory VII. to Boniface VIII. (1073-1294). 3. From Boniface VIII. to the Reformation (1294–1517).
III. THE MODERN CHURCH.
1. From the Reformation to the Peace of Westphalia (1517-1648).
2. From the Peace of Westphalia to 1720. 3. From 1720 to the present.
It is possible that in one or two instances equal convenience might have been realized by drawing the dividing line at a different point. Still, it will not be difficult to find a reason for each item in the scheme adopted. The decree of toleration published by Constantine in 313 marked such a decisive change in the fortunes of Christianity that the first period is properly made to end at this date. Before the end of the sixth century the repeated incursions of the barbarian tribes had largely overthrown the old civilization in the West. At the same time, moreover, the Church, in the tenor of its worship and life, had advanced far toward the phases which were dominant in the Middle Ages. It is obviously suggested, therefore, that the pontificate of Gregory the Great should be allowed to introduce the history of the Mediæval Church. In passing through the intervening centuries to the Reformation, we naturally make a threefold division, since the mediæval order of things had its formative period, its period of culmination, and its period of decline or incipient disintegration. The Peace of Westphalia was of profound significance as respects the relation of Roman Catholic and Protestant powers upon the Continent. It happened also that England witnessed a great crisis near the date of this famous settlement. The year 1648, therefore, is fixed upon as ending the first period of the Modern Church. A second period of modern history is made to end at 1720, not because that specific year was marked by any event of signal importance, but because about this time an era of criticism, an era of decided tendencies toward new departures, was inaugurated. The interval between 1720 and the present might be subdivided. However, as it will be convenient, in consideration of the complexity of the more recent history, to consider the leading countries by themselves, the divisions may be made for the different nations according to their most noted epochs.
III.- THE ROMAN EMPIRE AS RELATED TO THE INTRO
DUCTION AND SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY.
The history of our Lord's birth is prefaced by the statement that a decree went forth from Cæsar Augustus for the taxing of the whole world (Luke ii. 1). Thus Christianity was born at the mid-day of the imperial greatness of Rome. Evidently this conjunction was no accident. The
of the Advent, because in the decision of God the fulness of time had then come. The Roman Empire was divinely appointed to be the field in which the seed of the gospel should be sown. And this field was for the first time in proper readiness when the honor of Augustus could be celebrated with this inscription : “Safe are now land and sea; the cities flourish in unity and peace.”1 All the aids to Christian evangelism which a hostile heathen world was competent to provide were now at hand.2
1. INTERCOMMUNICATION, AND BREAKING-DOWN OF NATIONAL BARRIERS. - The Roman Empire was in a remarkable sense a world-realm. Its extent was great. It stretched from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, from the Lowlands of Scotland to the African deserts and the cataracts of the Nile. Its population was probably between eighty and a hundred and twenty millions. But it was not mere extent which gave to the Roman Empire its peculiar cast of universality.
Other empires have surpassed it in this respect. The Roman was pre-eminently a world-realm in that it was preeminently representative of the whole world during the centuries of its supremacy. To the apprehension of its citizens and subjects, there was scarcely any thing
1 Found at Halicarnassus.
2 In the outlook upon the Roman Empire which is here attempted, much service has been rendered us by the following authors : Theodor Mommsen, History of Rome, translated by W. P. Dickson; G. Uhlhorn, Der Kampf des Christenthums mit dem Heidenthum, - a very inspiring volume, accessible to the English reader in the translation by Smyth and Ropes ; C. Schmidt, Essai Historique sur la Société Civile dans le Monde Romain et sa Transformation par le Christianisme; L. Friedlaender, Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms (3 vols., 1881); J. J. I. Döllinger, Heidenthum und Judenthum; G. P. Fisher, Beginnings of Christianity.