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A. D. 590-1517.

THE dominant Characteristic of Mediæval Church History, in its four periods, consists in the fact that the Church no longer receives its form and impress from the ancient GræcoRoman empire, but from the Germanic races and the new modern Rome. Hence, the third period in the general history of the Church (590-814) describes the conversion of the German populations to Christianity; the fourth period (8141073) shows how Rome took occasion, from the formation of the German Church, to build up its hierarchy, and how the contest between the Italian and German Churches became the central point of the history; the fifth period (1073-1294) exhibits the Romish hierarchy at its height of power and influence; and the sixth period (1294–1517) presents it in its decline, preparatory to the Reformation and prophetic of it. Meanwhile, the Greek Church, forced into narrower limits by Mohammedanism, internally corrupted by the Image Controversy, and petrified into formalism by its connection with the Byzantine court, loses more and more its importance in Ecclesiastical History. Although the Middle Age in Church History properly begins with the seventh century, yet it does not acquire, until the ninth cen

tury, the distinct character of a period of transition, from the Ancient Christianity shaped by the culture of the classic world, to the Medieval Christianity moulded by the traits of those new Gothic races which were brought upon the theatre of action by the migration of nations. The substance of Medieval Church History, consequently, consists in the conflict of an old and finished with a new and forming civilization, as it is seen, through all the mediæval centuries, in mighty waves of action and reaction, in fermenting and turbid elements, until, in the sixteenth century, the reformatory spirit and tendency penetrates and pervades the entire mass, and the Middle Ages are at an end.

THIRD PERIOD: A. D. 590-814.


The Spread and Limitation of Christianity.



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Abulfeda De vita et rebus gestis Mohammedis (Mohammedan). Prideaux La vie de Mahomet. Gagnier La vie de Mohammed. Giger Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthum aufgenommen? Von HammerPurgstall Mohammed der Prophet. Dollinger Muhammed's Religion. Weil Mohammed der prophet. Forster Mohammedanism Unveiled. Bush Life of Mohammed. Irving Life of Mohammed. Gibbon Decline and Fall, Chap. L. Arnold Natural History of Islamism.

SEVERE persecution of the Church marked the opening of the Mediæval Centuries. Great distress, though only temporary and local, befell the Christians of the East, at the beginning of the seventh century, through the enmity of Chosroes II., King of Persia; but a far more lasting and widely extended persecution arose, soon after, from a new and false religious system.

When the Persian king, Chosroes II., took the city of Jerusalem, in June, 614, and soon after wrested from the Roman empire several other provinces, the Christian institutions of these countries were broken up, and the Christians themselves met with bloody persecution, or, in some few

instances, were forced to adopt the Nestorian heresy. Many thousands in Jerusalem, particularly clergymen, monks, and consecrated virgins, were slain at the capture of the city, the splendid church edifices were thrown down, and the patriarch Zacharias with others was carried away to Persia. But this was only a transient persecution. The emperor Heraclius, in several successful battles between the years 622 and 628, wholly overcame Chosroes, and the Church was restored to its old position. The Christian prisoners were freed; and Heraclius carried back into Jerusalem, upon his own shoulders, the "true cross," which had been captured with the patriarch Zacharias. But soon after these events a much more terrible enemy arose against the Church.

It was an evident token, not only for particular portions of the Church but for all Christendom, of the punitive justice and the chastising love of God, that Christianity for a time lost its sway, and a new and false religion was established throughout a large part of its dominions. The spirit of the world had found entrance into the Church; the professors of Christianity, occupied with idle musings or frivolous dialectical disputes, had lost sight of the true nature of their religion; Christian societies had ceased to be the salt of the earth; and the originally simple worship of the church had become sensuous and idolatrous. This declension was greatest at the East, and in this part of Christendom now arose the Mohammedan Religion, claiming to be the primitive patriarchal monotheism, the only genuine theism, purified from the foreign elements that had come into it from Judaism and Christianity; but which, in fact was, at best, nothing

1 What particular positive purpose in the Divine plan, Islamism is to subserve, besides its negative function as a punitive judgment upon the degenerate Eastern Church, is a difficult problem in the philosophy of history. Perhaps, by means of its rigid and fanatical monotheism, and its local position midway between the fetichism and cannibalism of Africa and the pantheism of Asia, it is destined to prepare the way for Christianity. [The features in Mohammedanism most hostile to the Christian religion, are, its exclusion of the doctrine of the trinity, by its unitarian idea of the Deity; of the doctrine of Christ's divinity, by its elevation of Mohammed; of the doctrine of sin, by its. doctrine of faith; and of the doctrine of redemption, by its doctrine of paradise. — TRANSLATOR].

but Judaism, or Judaistic Christianity, degraded to the level of natural religion, and emptied of all its distinctive characteristics as a revealed system.1

Abul Kasem Mohammed was born in 569, or 570, at Mecca in Arabia, of the race of Ishmael, of the tribe of Koreishites, and of the family of Hashem, to which belonged by inheritance the care of the Kaaba, the common Arabic sanctuary at Mecca. Stirred, in the midst of Sabaeism and other forms of idolatry, by the reminiscences and relics of the old primitive monotheism, he became acquainted with the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and, at first, his passionate mind and nature seem to have been somewhat influenced by them. He was content, in the beginning of his career, with being regarded as the teacher and prophet of the polytheistic Arabic tribes, whose idol-worship he opposed. Elated by his success, and the enthusiasm he had awakened, he soon enlarged his pretensions, and commenced a violent opposition to both Jews and Christians. Denuding the

truths which he had borrowed from both Judaism and Christianity, of their distinguishing characteristics, and aided, perhaps, by demoniacal arts,2 in convincing his followers of his supernatural office and mission, he shrank not from adopting the great idea of Christianity, that all nations are to become one flock, under one shepherd. And since spiritual weapons were wanting for the realization of his plan, he substituted those of the flesh, and became the founder of the only religion in the world that has been extended by such instrumentalities.

In the year 611 he began, at first secretly, and then publicly, to promulgate his new religion, at Mecca. On July 15th, 622, he was forced to flee before the sword of his ene

1 Mohammedanism conceded to Judaism and Christianity a historical significance, as earlier but falsified revelations from God, preparatory to itself. Abraham, Moses, and Christ, were worthy of honor, but greater honor was due to Mohammed. Jerusalem and its temple were sacred, but yet more sacred were Mecca and Medina.

2 Respecting the miracles of Mohammed, see Tholuck Die Wunder Mohammeds. Vermischte Schriften Thl. I.

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