« EdellinenJatka »
8. Letter to the moderator of the New Hampshire As. sociation. By Timothy.
A Defence of truth and character against ecclesiastical intolerance. Extracts of some letters occasioned by proceedings of the Hopkinton Association, and of the New Hampshire General Association.
The Stranger's Apology for the General Associ. ations, supposed to have been written by Elias Monitor, author of some anonymous publications, &c.
A Parable, occasioned by a late portentous phenomenon. By the Pilgrim Good-Intent.
A respectful Address to the trinitarian clergy, relating to their manner of treating opponents. Ву
Noah Worcester 4. Geological and Mineralogical papers 5. Sketches of a tour to the western country, through
the states of Ohio and Kentucky; a voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and a trip through the Mississippi Territory, and part of West Florida. Commenced at Philadelphia in the winter of 1807, and concluded in 1809. With notes and an Appendix, containing some interesting facts, together with a notice of an expedition through Louisiana. By F.
Cuming 6. Sermons on particular occasions 7. Sketch of the history of Maryland, during the three
first years after its settlement: To which is prefixed
a copious introduction. By John Leeds Bozman. 8. Psyche, with other poems. By the late Mrs. Henry
183, 391 199, 400
FOR OCTOBER 1812.
NEC TEMERE, NEC TIMIDE.
BIOGRAPHY OF J. S. SEMLER: Translated from the original, in Eichhorn's Allgemeine Biblio
thek der Biblischen LitteraturBand. 5. Theil, 1. Leipzig, 1798.
Concluded from page 65. Semler in all his works upon the history of the church never came down beyond the seventeenth century. The history of the sixteenth century he has treated in his manner very fully; but that of the seventeenth only partially..
In regard to the ancient history of the church to the middle ages
his merits are great; greater than one would suppose possible, since he was preceded by so many men of profound learning. For the peculiar richness of his discoveries he was indebted to the study of such sources as his predecessors had not used, to the independent views with which he examined such as were common, and to the jealous and critical penetras tion by which he separated the certain from the fabulous. He approached the histories that were filled with marvellous things, and, purifying them from fables and legends, he has transmitted them to posterity, who will probably show more gratitude towards him, than many of his contemporaries, In the former historians of the church one cannot fail to discern, according to the spirit and genius of their times, a false taste for the marvellous, a negligence in the use of the 21, thorities that are extant, and a defect of historical criticism and manly independence. Semler entered upon the history of the first five centuries with the purpose of opposing the ruling taste, of giving a more true and faithful delineation of the peculiar state of christianity in this early period, than is to be found in the greater and smaller histories in use, and of publishing to the world, without reserve, what his proofs and documents attested; what perhaps some had already observe ed, but had not been disposed to aeknowledge. Thus he disturbed the common prejudice concerning the superiority of the first times of christianity over the present, and shewed undeniably that our religion was even then corrupted by means of fanatical men, who taught a kind of christianity mixed with Jewish superstition, and, by their extravagance, even in the tolerant times of the Romish government, brought contempt upon the Christians, by creating a belief that they were, or would become the foes of sovereigns, and the authors of dangerous innovations and tumultuous commotions in the state. He censured the increasing ignoranee and fanaticism, the vulgarity and wickedness of the teachers, the cabals and the pride of dominion of those who, from the circumstances of the times, had the most influence; their dissensions and quarrels concerning doctrines, which thrust aside true Christianity; and the love of the great mass of common Christians for relies and fictitious miracles. In partieular he was very skilful and aeute in the history of ancient heresies; and in his judgment concerning them, he was mild and circumspect much more so than his predecessors, Pfaff alone excepted, whom Semler took for his pattern. He could not indeed but speak charitably concerning these heresies, since, through his repeated attention to dogmatic divinity, he had become acquainted with the diversities of opinions, and with the various modes of representing them; and had learned to distinguish Christian doctrines from mutable theories in religion. With what zeal did Semler defend Pelagius, who had been so much slandered and execrated! With what dexterity did he refute the calumnies of Augustin! With what clearness and historical fidelity did he expose the rage, which, at the instigation of the bishops, was direeted against pagans and reputed here. tics—against Arians, Donatists, Pelagians, &c. On the con. trary he commended the Gnostics and the followers of Mar. eion for their exertions in extirpating the Jewish spirit from Christianity; and for being wholly opposed to the abuses which Tertullian and men of his stamp had sanctioned. With great penetration into the spirit of Christianity he determined the true value of many usages among Christians; traced with learning and acuteness the causes of the several changes in the external form of Christianity, and exposed their origin without reserve. All this, and more, he has done better, more thoroughly, and in a manner more consonant to protestant principles, than any of his predecessors. Where his criticism borders upon too great a propensity to doubt, and he has carried his doubts too far, he is sufficiently ready to return and correct himself: but had it not been for his reasonable distrust, we should have been left under the influence of many false and exaggerated representations respecting the ancient periods of Christianity.
The ignorance and slothfulness of the middle ages would seem to mark them out for an unimportant period to the historian, and unworthy of much labour; for whatever was peculiar to them in regard to systematic theology is in the high. est degree meagre, unfruitful, and useless, and remained so, till the time of the reformation approached, when rich materials again present themselves, from which, without much pains, one may draw copiously. But Semler is more full more profound and learned upon the middle ages, than upon this last period. He first broke up the whole wild overgrown field, prepared it for tillage, and, as far as possible for one man, began its eultivation. His labour at the commence. 'ment of this period was difficult; but far more difficult as it extended: and the farther he advanced, the harder was his task. But, instead of shrinking from difficulties, his diligence and courage preserved a due proportion to the obstacles to be overcome,
His manner of treating the history was the same as in the first five hundred years. He furnishes a collection of fragments for a future ample ecclesiastical history of the middle ages; he has collected a mass of materials from the best writers, and thrown them together under certain heads, and thus given a series of valuable authorities, cited for the most part in the words of their authors; and he has made extracts, with reflections, from the acts of councils for the enriching of literature and criticism. In all this he is not so full as in the earlier history of the church ; but this is not his fault. The sources from which he could draw are not so abundant; and he was not able to read every thing; nor could this be exacted of him, as there was so much want of the previous labour of others. It is rather matter of surprise, that he could read so much, and make his extracts from so many writings. Others may now advance from the ground to which he attained, and collect what was not within the compass of his ability: and thus at length all the necessary materials, well examined, and their value known, may be brought together, from which a correct body of ecclesiastical history may be completed.
As well in the first ages of the history of the fathers, as in the middle ages, literary history was a principal object of attention with Semler;-a eircumstance which will make his history of the middle age of the church indispensable to every solid seholar. His attention to literary history commences exactly at a period when it had hitherto been accustomed to sease, and when at most it had been directed to the titles and externals of works, because it was thought no valuable prize was to be obtained from such barbarous writers. But Cave and the Histoire literaire de France operated against this genoral prejudice. Semler did not suffer himself to be infected with the common aversion, with which those writers were regarded, but read them as much as he was able, and studied them as old classic authors. In fine, he attained to a richness of historical and critical observations upon them and their bontents, by which even Cave and the Histoire literaire de France, to say nothing of more defective works, might be cor, rected and improved.