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INTRODUCTION.

I

AM not the translator or editor of the present volume, but

I have compared it here and there with previous translations, and can say with confidence, so far as I have been able to form a judgment, that the Preface of the Editor, who has asked me to take the responsibility of commending it to the English reader, does not overstate its claims. The halfmetaphysical, half-theological terms in which Dr. Hagenbach's work abounds are rendered with greater precision; the style is clearer and more flowing. It seems to me altogether a more readable book than any previous translation.

The importance of such a book in its bearing on the work of those who have to enter on the work, not only, or chiefly, of preaching the Gospel to the poor, but of dealing with the intellectual difficulties which in many cases hinder cultivated minds from receiving that Gospel in its fulness, and tracing the underlying unity of the faith of Christendom below the manifold variations which its history presents, can hardly, I imagine, be overrated.

The first impression made on us by the study of the history of dogma in the Christian Church is, it may be freely admitted, disheartening and bewildering. We are almost tempted, as was the Master of Scoffing, of whom Bacon speaks? (Rabelais), to label it, as with a cynical despair, as "The Morris Dance of Heretics,” each sect and party having “a diverse posture or cringe;" and to feel that it is true not only of “atheists and profane persons,” but of many earnest seekers after truth, that “when they hear of so many discordant and contrary opinions in religion, it doth avert them from the Church,”-yes, and not from the Church only,—"and maketh them to sit down in the chair of the scorners." We ask, as

Essay II. of Unity in Religion.

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we read the wild speculations of a Basilides or a Swedenborg, perhaps even as we enter into the more systematic teaching of an Augustine or an Aquinas,-Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge ? It is well if we do not pass on to that other question which came from a jesting or a despairing Pilate, What is truth?

With that scepticism, which we cannot deny to be, in part at least, the result of the study of the history of dogma, there comes, however, a gain which almost counterbalances it. We learn a larger charity and a wider tolerance. If we do not wrap ourselves up in the Lucretian serenity of one who looks out on the wanderings of men in the labyrinth of error, on their strifes and battles in a land of shadows, on their perilous voyages across the stormy sea, driven to and fro by every blast of doctrine, with a supercilious satisfaction, we at least learn to look with pity rather than with horror. We understand each of the contending parties in this or that controversy better than they understand each other. We see the shield both on its gold and its silver side, and discern, not seldom, that men have been disputing about words and names, which they left vague and undefined, or which they defined with an over-sharp preciseness, while they were in reality of one mind and heart in all that is essential. We ask ourselves whether, in these larger and wider thoughts, we are not, at least, drawing a little nearer to the wisdom of the Divine judgment, and the anathemas of passion and of prejudice are hushed as in the calm of the eternal Charity.

And the teaching of the history of the controversies of the past is surely not without its bearing upon those of the present. We learn the limits of our knowledge, and turn back from pushing our inquiries beyond the region of the knowable. What Bacon well calls the “vermiculate questions” that swarm, the "maggots of corrupted texts," in the hot thoughts and distempered imagination of the solitary dreamer, are seen in their right proportions, some of them as belonging to the “infinitely little," which lies below the care of the wise of heart, some to the “infinitely great,” which he cannot hope to fathom so long as he knows only “in part," and sees “ through a glass darkly." We are content to trace the course of men's thoughts in such matters as part of the

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intellectual history of mankind, to connect them in their genesis and development with the movements of religious and philosophical thought of which they form a part, with the temperament and personal experience of those who have been their chief exponents, with the influence of their education, and the subtle differences that distinguish one race or nation from another. We learn that, in the evolution of the forms of faith and speculative thought, there has been something like a law of the “survival of the fittest,” analogous to that which students of nature recognize in the evolutions of the forms of organized and animated structures, and we see how step by step the thoughts of men have widened with the years, and have become indefinitely nearer approximations to what it is given to man to know of the Being, the attributes, the mind and will of the Eternal. One by one the voices that were loud and clamorous in the strife of tongues, and made sad the hearts of the righteous, whom God had not made sad, have ceased to echo in our ears. The Papal theories of Infallibility and Transubstantiation, of Purgatory and Indulgences, are seen to form no parts of the "faith once delivered to the saints,” to have no claims to the character even of developments of that faith, but to have sprung from the early admixture of germs of error, and the half-truths which are the most perilous fornis of error, with the truth of God, and which it is our work to distinguish and reject. The dogmatic systems of the Fathers and the Schoolmen, and even of the Reformers, are seen to include the traditions of men as well as the truths of the divine Word, and we are learning slowly but surely to separate the chaff from the wheat. And in that separating and sifting process the history of the dogmas, their rise, development, and in many cases their decay, is a help with which we cannot afford to dispense. In the words which have been chosen as a motto for this volume, words not the less true because they come from the lips of one whose criticisms ended in negation, Die vahre Kritik des Dogma ist seine Geschichte.

Nor need the student who is earnestly seeking to know) the truth which shall make him free, fear lest the result of the study of that history should only throw him back upon an attitude of sceptical indifference. Rather will he recognize,

in the very multiplicity and variety of opinions which have from time to time crystallised round the nucleus of the words and facts in which Christendom recognizes that it has received a revelation from God, a proof of the power of those words and facts over the thoughts and feelings of mankind. A new element was thus introduced into the world's history mightier than any that had gone before or have followed it. There will surely follow upon this thought the conviction that the words and facts themselves must be a worthier object of study than any comments or after-thoughts or inferences from them. The study of any one exhaustive system of theology—such, for instance, as the Summa Theologica of Aquinas, or the Institutes of Calvin—may narrow a man's thoughts, and lead him to substitute the traditions or speculations of men for the living oracles of God. The study of many such systems in their successive developments will throw him back upon that of the divine Word. A revived and purified Exegesis is the natural outcome of the history of dogmas.

The value of Dr. Hagenbach's History of Doctrines has been amply attested by the demand, which from 1841 to the present time has been met by five successive editions. In English theological literature we have, indeed, scarcely any work that can even be compared with it. Dictionaries of religions, sects, and doctrines have, indeed, appeared from time to time in varying degrees of completeness, in which the student might find an account of this or that school of opinions. In works like Newman's Arians, or Oxenham's Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement, we have had elaborate monographs on single districts of the vast region that lies before us; but a survey of the whole country, tracing, as it were, its physical geography, and the successive changes by which its features have been moulded and fashioned into their present form, we may well note as still among the desiderata of our theology.

The excellence of Dr. Hagenbach's work may, indeed, in some degree be measured by its defects. A single glance will show the English student that it is not a volume in which he may look to find light or pleasant reading. It is essentially German in its method and its form, in its exhaustive fulness, its philosophical terminology, its disregard of the graces of composition. The references under every paragraph are almost

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