« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
An acquaintance with history in general is considered an essential part of a liberal education; and to no branch of study does the student commonly apply himself with more pleasure or profit, than to this. Even the uneducated man finds a rich reward in perusing the records of older times; and few, it is believed, can be found, at least in our own country, who have not had sufficient curiosity to read a half score or more volumes of civil history.
Yet that branch of history, called ecclesiastical, has been, it is believed, comparatively neglected, -neglected, not by the general student only, but even by the great body of the professed friends of Christianity.
Among the causes of this neglect, especially on the part of those who have no personal interest in religion, this is probably one, viz. the natural repugnance or the human heart to dwell upon that " kingdom which is not of this world," and which, in its principles, is at utter variance with those by which they are governed. But, in respect to professed Christians, this must not be admitted. Other reasons may be assigned; and among them, the following is most prominent, viz. the voluminous character of writers on ecclesiastical history, such as Mosheim, Milner, Neal — but more especially the tediously minute and repulsive form, in which their works are written.
But neither inordinate length nor dry detail are essential to a faithful ecclesiastical history. The great outlines of it are comparatively few; and incidents sufficiently interesting and important exist, by which to enliven and enrich it.
Under this conviction, the present volume has been attempted, and is now presented to the public. The author has not the vanity to believe that the work is perfect; yet he indulges the hope, that he will be found to have improved somewhat upon those who have gone before him in the leading object in view, viz. to present the subject in an attractive form. At this he has sedulously aimed Whether, in his efforts, he has been successful, a candid public will judge.
In respect to the writers principally consulted for the materials which form this volume, it will perhaps be necessary only 10 say, that he has derived assistance from every work adapted to his purpose, within his reach ; and which he supposed would render his work more useful and acceptable. To all, it has been his intention to give the credit due ; yet, in respect to some, he may have unintentionally failed. It would be in vain to supply deficiencies here.
It may be appropriately added, that the work has been prepared with special reference to the younger classes of society. To them it is presented, as the history of a kingdom which is gloriously advancing in our own times, and of which they particularly are invited, by its Divine Founder, to become members.
Of the young, and indeed of all, it may be inquired, what more interesting and important field of knowledge can you enter, than that of ecclesiastical history? Where exist more striking instances of virtue, benevolence and patriotism? Where are to be found more useful lessons on the subject of degraded human nature ? Would we wish an example of benevolence? We have it in the voluntary death of the Son of God. Would we witness what zeal can do, in a good cause? We have presented to us the apostles of our Lord. Or, ask we for instances of meekness, constancy and fortitude? We have hundreds of such in the martyrs of Christianity. Besides, no portion of history so signally displays the dealings of God with mankind. Here we see most emphatically the operations of his hand, putting to nought the “wisdom of this world," and urging forward a kingdom, in opposition to the combined powers of earth and hell.
The kingdoms of this world are destined in succession to pass away. The proud empires of antiquity are dissolved. Rome, with her splendid appendages, has crumbled to ruins. Carthage has fallen. And the kingdoms which now exist, and which have been consolidated by political cunning and sagacity, may live at no distant era only in the records of history. But the kingdom of Jesus will endure, and continue to gather strength and glory in all time to come
1. Resurrection of Christ.–2. Ascension.–3. Descent of the Spirit.-4. First Christian
Second persecution under Domitian.-5. Nerva.-6. Third persecution under Trajan.-7.
1. Rise of the papal power.—2. Circumstances contributing to its increase and establish-
$234. Causes which set a limit to the usurpations of the Roman pontiffs.—35. Great
Pacification of Passau.-62. Peace of religion, which established the Reformation.—Distin-
of prosessing Christians into different communities. 4. Depression of the Roman Church