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And thus, in this struggle belween the old household deities of the
established faith, and the half domiciliated gods of the stranger,
undermined by philosophy, supplanted by still darker superstition,
Polytheism seemed, as it were, to await its death-blow; and to be
ready to surrender its ancient honours to the conqueror, whom
Divine Providence should endow with sufficient authority over the
human mind to seize upon the abdicated supremacy.

Such is the slate in which the ancient world leaves the mind of lioneffect.

man. On a sudden a new era commences; a rapid yet gradual reChristi- volution takes place in the opinions, sentiments, and principles of anity.

mankind; the void is filled; the connection between religion and
morals re-established with an intimacy of union yet unknown. The
unity of the Deity becomes, not the high and mysterious creed of
a privileged sacerdotal or intellectual oligarchy, but the common
property of all whose minds are filled to receive it: all religious
distinctions are annihilaled; the jurisdictions of all local deities
abolished; and imperceptibly the empire of Rome becomes one
great Christian commonwealth, which even sends out, as it were, its
peaceful colonies into regions beyond the limits of the Imperial
power. The characteristic distinction of the general revolution is
this, that the physical agency of the Deity seems to recede from the
view, while the spiritual character is more distinclly unfolded ; or
rather, the notion of the Divine Power is merged in the more pre-
vailing sentiment of his moral Goodness. The remarkable passage
in the Jewish history, in which God is described as revealing him-
self to Elijah," neither in the strong wind, nor in the earthquake,
nor in the fire, but in the still small voice," may be considered, we
will not say prophetic, but singularly significant of the sensations
to be excited in the human mind by the successive revelations of
the Deity.

The doctrine of the immortality of the soul partook in the same ily of the change wilh the notion of the Deity; it became at once popular,

simple, and spiritual. It was disseminated throughout all orders
of society : it admitted no aristocratic elysium of heroes and demi-
gods, like that of the early Greeks (1); it separated itself from that
earlier and widely prevalent form, which it assumed in the theo-
gonies of the Nature-worship, where the soul emanating from the
source of Being, after one or many transmigrations, was re-

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Propertius may be considered in one sense the mapuva, the inglorious vulgar, from the seats most religious poet of this period : his verses of bliss, where Achilles and Diomed pursued teem with mythological allusion, but it is poeti- their warlike amusements. It was not proper to cal ornament rather than the natural language appear poor before Odin; and it is very doubtsul of piety; it has much of the artificial school of whether a poor man was thought worthy of any the Alexandrian Callimachus, his avowed model, place in his dwellings, unless he came from the nothing of the simplicity of faith which breathed field of battle in the bloody train of some great in Pindar and Sophocles.

chieftain. Slaves at least were distinctly ex. (1) It is curious to see, in another mythology, cluded, and after deathe turned away from the the same martial aristocratic spirit which, in doors of Valhalla. Geijer, Hist. of Sweden, Gerin, the earlier religions, excluded the pevnya Transl. i. 103,

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absorbed into the Divine Essence. It announced the resurrection
of all mankind to judgment, and the re-union of the spirit to a
body, which, preserving the principle of identity, nevertheless
should be of a purer and more imperishable nature. Such are the
great primary principles, which became incorporated with the
mind of man; and, operating on all human institutions, on the
common sentiments of the whole race, form the great distinctive
difference between the ancient and the modern, the European and
the Asiatic world. During the dark ages there was a strong reac-
tion of barbarism : in its outward form Christianity might appear to
recede towards the polytheism of older times; and, as has been
shown, not in a philosophic, but in a narrow polemic spirit of
hostility to the Church of Rome, many of the rites and usages of
heathenism were admitted into the Christian system; yet the inde-
lible difference between the two periods remained. A higher sense
and meaning was infused into these forms; God was considered in
his moral ralher than his physical attributes-as the Lord of the
fulure as much or even more than of the present world. The saints
and angels, who have been compared to the intermediate deities of
the older superstitions, had, nevertheless, besides their lutelar
power against immediate accidents and temporal calamities, an
important influence over the slale of the soul in the world to come;
they assumed the higher office of ministering the hopes of the
future, in a still greater degree than the blessings of the present

To the more complete development of this fact we shall descend Design in the course of our history, which will endeavour to trace all the

History. modifications of Christianity, by which it accommodated itself to the spirit of successive ages; and by this apparently almost skilful, but in fact necessary condescension to the predominant state of moral culture, of which itself formed a constituent element, maintained its uninterrupted dominion. It is the author's object, the difficulty of which he himself fully appreciates, to portray the genius of the Christianity of each successive age, in connection with that of the age itself; entirely lo discard all polemic views; to mark the origin and progress of all the subordinate diversities of belief; their origin in the circumstances of the place or time at which they appeared; their progress from their adaptation to the prevailing state of opinion or sentiment : rather than directly to confute error or to establish truth; in short, to exhibit the reciprocal influence of civilisation on Christianity, of Christianity on civilisation. To the accomplishment of such a scheme he is well aware, that besides the usual high qualifications of a faithful historian, is requisite, in an especial manner, the union of true philosophy with perfect charity, if indeed they are not one and the same. This calm, imparlial, and dispassionale tone he will constantly endeavour, ho

of this

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dares scarcely hope, with such warnings on every side of involun-
tary prejudice and unconscious prepossession, uniformly to main-
tain. In the honesty of his purpose he will seek his excuse for all
imperfection or deficiency in the execution of his scheme. Nor is
he aware that he enters on ground pre-occupied by any writers of
established authority, at least in our own country, where the
History of Christianity has usually assumed the form of a History
of the Church, more or less controversial, and confined itself to
annals of the internal feuds and divisions in the Christian com-
munity, and the varialions in doctrine and discipline, rather than to
its political and social influence. Our attention, on the other hand,
will be chiefly directed to its effects on the social and even political
condition of man, as it extended itself throughout the Roman world,
and at length entered into the administralion of government and of
law; the gradual manner in which it absorbed and incorporated
into the religious commonwealth the successive masses of popula-
tion, which, after having overthrown the temporal polity of Rome,
were subdued to the religion of the conquered people; the separa-
lion of the human race into the distinct castes of the clergy and

laity; the former at first an aristocracy, afterwards a despotic inoChristian. narchy: as Europe sank back into barbarism, the imaginative state ity differ- of lhe human mind, the formation of a new poetic faith, a mythology, form in and a complete system of symbolic worship; the interworking of periods of Christianity with barbarism, till they slowly grew into a kind of

semi-barbarous heroic period, that of Christian chivalry; the gradual
expansion of the system, with the expansion of the human mind;
and the slow, perhaps not yet complete, certainly not general, dc-
velopment of a rational and intellectual religion. Throughout his
work the author will equally, or as his disposition inclines, even
more diligently, labour lo show the good as well as the evil of each
phasis of Christianity; since it is his opinion that, at every period,
much more is to be attributed to the circumstances of the age, lo
The collective operalion of certain principles which grew out of the
events of the time, than lo the intentional or accidental influence
of any individual or class of men. Christianity, in short, may exist
in a certain form in a nation of savages as well as in a nation of
philosophers, yet ils specific character will almost entirely depend
upon the character of the people who are ils votaries (1). It must
be considered, therefore, in constant connection with that cha-
racter : it will darken with the darkness and brighten with the light
of each succeeding century; in an ungenial time il will recede so
far from its genuine and essential nalure as scarcely to retain any

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(1) By the accounts of Bruce, Salt, and re- among the South Sea islanders, it will of course cently of Pearce, the Christianity of Abyssinia be reinembered, were effected, and are still sumay be adduced as an instance of the state to perintended by strangers in a very different which it inay he degraded among a people at a

stage of civilisation. very low state of barbarism. The conversions

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sign of its divine original : it will advance with the advancement of
human nature, and keep up the moral to the utmost height of the
intelleclual cullure of man.

While, however, Christianity necessarily submitted to all these Christianmodifications, I strongly protest against the opinion, that the origin sell.deve

ity not of the religion can be allributed, according to a theory adopted by loped. many foreign writers, to the gradual and spontaneous development of the human mind (1). Christ is as much beyond his own age, as bis own age is beyond the darkest barbarism. The time, though fitled to receive, could not by any combination of prevalent opinions, or by any conceivable course of moral improvement, have produced Christianity. The conception of the human character of Jesus, 'and the simple principles of the new religion, as they were in direct opposition to the predominant opinions and lemper of his own countrymen, so they stand completely alone in the history of our race; and, as imaginary no less than as real, altogether transcend the powers of man's moral conception. Supposing the gospels purely ficlilious, or that, like the “Cyropædia” of Xenophon, they embody on a groundwork of fact the highest moral and religious nolions to which man had atlained, and show the utmost ideal perfection of the divine and huinan nalure, they can be accounted for, according to my judgment, on none of the ordinary principles of human nature (2). When we behold Christ standing in the midst of the wreck of old religious institutions, and building, or rather at one word commanding to arise, the simple and harmonious structure of the new saith, which seems equally adapted for all ages –a temple to which nations in the highest degree of civilisalion may bring their offerings of pure hearts, virtuous dispositions, universal charily; -our natural emotion is the recognition of the Divine goodness, in the promulgation of this beneficent code of religion; and adoration of that Being in whom that Divine goodness is thus embodied and made comprehensible lo the facullies of man. In the language of the apostle, “ God is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself (3).”

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(1) This theory is sketched by no means with sus-Christ. Au fond c'est reculer la difficulté
an nnfair though unfriendly hand by Chateau- sans la détruire; il seroit plus inconcevable que
briand, Études sur l'Histoire ; a book of which, I plusieurs hommes d'accord eussent fabriqué ce
am constrained to add, the meagre performance livre, qu'il ne l'est qu'un seul en a fourni le su-
contrasts strangely with the luftiness of ils pre- jet. Et l'Évangile a des caractères de vérité si

frappans, si parfaitement inimitables, que l'in-
(2) Dirons-nous que l'histoire de l'Évangile venteur en seroit plus étonnant que le héros
est inventée à plaisir ? Ce n'est pas ainsi qu'on Rousseau, Emile, liv. iv.
invente : et les faits de Socrate, dont personne ne (3) 2 Cor. v. 19.
doute , sont bien moins attestés que ceux de Jé.


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Life of Christ ne

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The history of Christianity without the life of its Divine Author cessary to appears imperfect and incomplete, particularly considering the close a history connection of that life, not only with the more mysterious doctrines, anity. but with the practical, and even political influence of the religion;

for even ils apparently most unimportant incidents have, in many
cases, affected most deeply the opinions and feelings of the Chris-
tian world. The isolation of the history of Christ in a kind of sacred
seclusion has no doubt a beneficial effect on the piety of the Chris-
lian, which delights in contemplating the Saviour, undisturbed
and uncontaminated by less holy associations, but it has likewise
its disadvantages, in disconnecting his life from the general history
of mankind, of which it forms an integral and essential part. Had
the life of Christ been more generally considered as intimately and
inseparably connected with the progress and development of human
affairs, with the events and opinions of his time, works would not
have been required to prove his existence, scarcely perhaps the
authenticity of his history. The real historical evidence of Chris-
tianity is the absolute necessity of his life, to fill up the void in the
annals of mankind, to account for the effects of his religion in the
subsequent history of man.

Yet to write the life of Christ, though at first sight it may appear culty. the most easy, is perhaps the most difficult lask which an historian

can undertake.. Many Lives have been composed with a devotional,
none at least to my knowledge, in this country (1), with an historic
design; none in which the author has endeavoured to throw himself
completely back into the age, when Jesus of Nazareth began to
travel as the teacher of a new religion through the villages of
Galilee; none which has attempted to keep up a perpetual reference
to the circumstances of the times, the habits and national character
of the people, and the state of public feeling; and thus, iden-
tifying itself with the past, to show the origin and progress of the
new faith, as it slowly developed itself, and won its way through the
adverse elements, which it encountered in Judea and the adjacent
provinces. To depart from the evangelic simplicity in the relation
of the facts would not merely offend the reverential feelings of the
reader, bul tend likewise to destroy the remarkable harmony be-
lween the facts and doctrines, which characterises the narrative of
the Gospels, and on which their authenticity, as genuine historical

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Its diffi.

(1) See Appendix I., on the recent Lives of Christ.

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