1902 Encyclopedia > Dogmatic


DOGMATIC (Ger. Dojmatik) is the name usually given by modern writers, especially on the Continent, to that branch of theological study which treats of the doctrines of Christianity. As there are considerable varieties in the conception and treatment of dogmatic by different theologians, churches, and schools, it will be best to give an historical account of the origin and usage of the term.

The Greek word Sóy/xa, from which it is derived, has two Origin and meanings, one of which is found in the LXX. and New use of Testament, while the other is given to it by some of the term' ancient philosophical writers. According to the former sense, it denotes a decree or ordinance, i.e., a precept as to conduct or observance, proceeding from human or divine authority (Luke ii. 1, Acts xvi. 4, Eph. ii. 15). This is the only meaning in which the word is used in Scripture; but by Plato, Cicero, Seneca, and others it is employed to denote the doctrines of the philosophers, i.e., principles or theories formulated or accepted in the different schools. In this latter sense the word was used by the early Christian writers, as describing indifferently heathen, Christian, or heretical doctrines, as the case might be ; although some-times, when the word was applied to the Christian verities, it may have acquired, from the other use of it, a certain tinge of the idea of authority belonging to the doctrines of the faith. As early as Cyril of Jerusalem (Catech. iv. 2) the distinction was made between the doctrinal and the moral elements of Christianity; and the term Só-ypa was appropriated to the former, the latter being called TJOLKOV

But it was not till long afterwards that the adjective, " dogmatic," was used to distinguish a particular branch of theological study; for in early times the need of subdivision in the scientific study of Christian truth was not felt, and the name theology was sufficient to describe all works deal-ing with that subject in any way. The progress of thought and inquiry in the history of the Church has, however, made it possible and necessary to treat the truths of Christianity in various different ways, from distinct points of view; and hence different kinds and departments of theology have come to be distinguished. In the 17th cen-tury the divines who wrote systems of theology gave different titles to their works, indicating the special manner of their treatment; e.g., Mastricht, Theologia Theoretico-Practica ; F. Turretin, Theol. Elenctica ; Marckius, Com-pendium Theol. Didactico-Elencticum ; Quenstedt, Theol. Didactico-Polemica ; Baier, Theol. Positiva.

The title Theologia Dogmática was first adopted by John Francis Buddaous, a Lutheran divine, in 1724. This ter-minology was followed by J. H. Michaelis, Seiler, and others, and from it the word Dogmatik as a substantive came into common use in Germany. In England and America, in so far as any specific designation of the general term theology or divinity has been thought necessary, the title " systematic" has been until recently more current than " dogmatic." As, however, the division and mutual rela-tions of the various theological studies have been very thoroughly discussed in recent times, especially by German theologians, and as the name " dogmatic " has been used by them to denote one principal department of these, there is good reason for its adoption by English writers. Some prefer the form "dogmatics," after the analogy of "mathematics,' " physics," etc.; but this seems awkward and needless.

But there is among the best authorities on the subject Nature and a considerable difference as to the proper nature and place PIace of in the theological sciences of dogmatic. There are two dis- ^sm*411'* tinct conceptions of its nature, each supported by emi-nent names, according to one of which it is an historical, and according to the other a philosophical study. The difference may be said to turn on what substantive is to be understood along with the adjective dogmática. If, accord-ing to what was undoubtedly the older usage, we supply theologia, then the name " dogmatic theology " would denote the study of God and divine things in a doctrinal manner, or so as to exhibit its results in a series of doctrines. The epithet dogmatic would indicate, not the subject of the study, but the manner of it o and thus it would fall under the general head of philosophical or systematic theology. This was the older view, and is held in modern times by Julius Muller and Hagenbach. If, however, it be held, as is held by many moderns, that scientia is the substantive understood with dogmatica, then the term means the science of doctrines, and has for its object not the Christian realities themselves, but the doctrines that have been formed about them ; and as such it must be an histori-cal science. This is the view adopted by Schleiermacher, Rothe, Martensen, Oosterzee, and others; though the particular form and development of the general idea differs according to the different views of these writers as to the nature and formation of doctrines. There can be no doubt that an historical and critical study of the doctrines that have been held in the Christian Church or its several branches is a legitimate, and in its own place, not unim-portant pursuit, and whether such study should be called dogmatic is a mere question of nomenclature and usage. But it can be as little doubted that this study does not occupy that central place in the theological sciences that has usually been assigned to dogmatic, and is not fitted to supersede that direct study of Christian truth that has long borne the name of theology by way of eminence. Hence some of those who make dogmatic a merely historical science hold that there is required besides that a science of speculative theology, dealing directly in a philosophical way with the objects of Christian faith ; while Al. Schweizer thinks that dogmatic, as a science of dogmas, should be discarded as essentially un-Protestant, and that in its stead should be placed what he calls Glaubenslehre. It is clear that we must have some name to express the former con-ception of dogmatic, and there is no other name so con-venient or so generally used as this. On the other hand, all are not agreed on the necessity and importance of a separate science of dogmatic in the historical conception of it; and it is not easy to draw a line of distinction between it and symbolical theology, or the study of the creeds and confessions of the different churches. It seems therefore convenient to regard dogmatic as a branch, not of histo-rical, but of systematic or philosophical theology. In this view it is the study which endeavours to under-stand the facts and truths of Christianity in their true nature, causes, and mutual relations. This study presup-poses the reality of Christianity, as the divinely-revealed and perfect religion, and on that basis proceeds to in-vestigate what is contained in it with a view to its scientific comprehension. It is thus distinct from, and posterior in the order of nature to, apologetic, which is another branch of philosophical theology, and has for its function the scientific exhibition of the grounds of religion in general and of Christianity in particular. Apologetic has accomplished its task, when it has established and vindicated against attacks that Christianity is truly divine, and the final form of revealed religion. Dogmatic accepts this conclusion as its starting-point, and proceeds to inquire what are the facts that constitute Christianity, how they are to be accounted for, and what is their mutual relation. In this process it must needs generalize and determine the conceptions suggested by the facts by means of definitions, and combine these in the form of definite propositions, which are what are called doctrines, and which are again arranged and framed into a system of doctrine. Doctrines, as usually understood, have reference simply to truths to be believed ; and they correspond to the laws of nature discovered and formulated by science. The leading theological doctrines are thus attempts to explain in a scientific way certain religious phenomena that belong to Christianity. In dealing simply with facts as distinct from laws, with what is as distinct from what ought to be, dogmatic is distinguished from ethic or moral theology, which is another branch of the same general division of theological studies. For Christianity is more than a revelation of truths; it is also a body of practical precepts; and the meaning, principles, and application of these afford a wide and important field of inquiry. There have indeed been some weighty and earnest protests raised against the separation of ethic from dogmatic ; and there is a certain advantage in the two subjects being treated together, as they usually were by the older theologians, under the heads of fides and observanlia, or the like. Christian doctrine and Christian duty can never be separated in reality without the loss of the life of both, and this should be kept in mind in their discussion. But each of these subjects has grown to such an extent that convenience almost necessitates the plan that has become usual in academic teaching and books, of giving them a separate treatment, and restricting the province of dogmatic to the truths of Christianity that are objects of belief, as distinct from its precepts as matters of duty. Polemic and irenic are branches of theology that have also a very close connection with dogmatic,—the former having for its object the exclusion from the system of Christian doctrine of ideas and opinions that are essentially alien to its principles, and the latter the harmonizing or bringing into a relation of mutual toleration views of doctrine which differ in some particulars, and yet are neither of them essentially un-Christian or anti-Christian. These may be regarded as appendices to dogmatic, being the application of its principles to the varieties of belief that exist among Christians.

There are two other studies, of recent origin, whose rela-tion to dogmatic should be defined, as they have sometimes been thought capable of superseding it—biblical theology and the science of religion. The former of these is a development of Scripture exegesis, and seeks, in dealing with the sacred writings, not merely to understand their direct meaning, but to enter into the conceptions of their several writers on the whole subject of religious truth,—to find out from their writings the theology of Paul, or Peter, or John, just as the historian of doctrine endeavours to ex-hibit the theology of Athanasius, Augustine, or Luther. Then, taking a wider view, it groups all the inspired writers of a period together, and seeks to present the theology of the New Testament, or of the Old, just as one may do with the Nicene or the Reformation theology. This is a most in-teresting and useful study, and much valuable work has been done by it; but it is clearly an historical study, and as such belongs to a different department from dogmatic, if that is placed in philosophical theology. It furnishes important materials for dogmatic, and gives us the power of using Scripture in a more historical way than would be possible without it; but as it cannot be assumed that any one inspired man, or any one age of the history of revela-tion, saw the entire system of divine truth as it is in itself, even the most perfect results of biblical theology will only be materials for dogmatic, not dogmatic itself.

The science of religion, again, investigates the various forms of religion among mankind, and by the comparative study of these seeks to discover their origin and mutual re-lations. It is probably too soon yet to judge what the results of this young and promising study may be, but they should certainly not be despised by the Christian theologian. They may have an important bearing on apologetic, and through that may possibiy affect the form, and even in some points the substance, of dogmatic. But the science of religion is itself entirely distinct from dogmatic; for it takes as its subject all religious beliefs, and treats them simply as psychological phenomena, without considering, in the first instance, whether any, or which of them, have objective reality, whereas dogmatic is a science of faith, and proceeds upon the assumption of the truth of Christianity and the Christian view of the universe. Possibility The possibility and the need of such a science as dogmatic and need of rest; up0n the specific nature of Christianity as the perfect .ogmatie. form 0f a divm6]y given religion. Beligion in general is a relation between man and God, and it may be either natural or supernatural. In the former case, it is the rela-tion of man to the divine Being as manifested in the world, and as long as men have no other knowledge of God than this, their religion is apt to degenerate into unworthy ideas and practices; and thus natural religion, in the present state of mankind, tends to become false religion, as is seen in the various forms of heathenism. But the funda-mental assumption of Christianity is, that God has, in addition to the manifestation of Himself that nature affords, also come forth in history by a divine work, lead-ing men from the errors of false religion to the true know-ledge and pure service of Himself. This work of grace has always dealt with men in a way suitable to their nature as intelligent beings, and hence has included a discovery of truth that they could not have found out for themselves, which is the idea of revelation. But while supernatural religion must include revelation as an essential part of it, this is not the whole, nor even the most vital and im-portant element in it. The divine religion is essentially the establishment of a fight relation between man and God, a fellowship between earth and heaven; and it only includes the communication of new truths, because that fellowship must be an intelligent one, brought about in an intelligent way. This work has also been a gradual one, and has had its several successive stages. Scripture represents the call of Abraham, the exodus of Israel from Egypt and covenant of Sinai, the establishment of the kingship and temple worship in Israel, and the messages of the prophets, as so many stages in the history and progress of religion ; and the coming of Christ and the foundation of the Christian criurch is the final stage of its development. Now, like all the earlier stages, Christianity, while it implies the com-munication of new truth, is essentially a fact or work of history—the establishment of the perfect fellowship of man with God, which is that mediated by Jesus Christ, and the reconciliation effected by His death. It is this conception of Christianity that makes possible a scientific exhibition of it in the form of a system of doctrines as distinct from the simple interpretation of its records. If, according to a notion that early entered and long pervaded the church, Christianity is merely a new law, a revelation of hitherto unknown truths to be believed, precepts to be obeyed, and promises to be hoped for, then the theologian has nothing to do but to expound the revelation, ascertain-ing the meaning of its several statements, and classifying them according to their subjects or character. Any attempt to gain a scientific knowledge of the realities with which these statements have to do must proceed on general philosophical principles, and not on a specifically Christian foundation. Now this conception of Christianity was the prevailing one up to the time of the Reformation ; and consequently the pre-Eeformation theology, and much of later theology too, consists either of the mere exposition of certain dicta of authority, biblical or ecclesiastical, or of purely logical ratiocination, applying to these the principles of the philosophy current at the time. Only when the Reformers brought out the principle that Christianity is not a new law, but a work of God's grace, reconciling men to himself in Christ, and that as such it must come before theology, was the construction of a system of Christian doctrine on right principles possible. On the basis of the direct experience of reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ, it is possible to raise and investigate the question— What is the nature, the cause, the various parts and rela-tions, of this great work, this new relation into which I as a believer am brought to God 1 Now this is just the question that dogmatic seeks to answer; for it is, as before said, a scientific treatment of Christianity as the perfect form of supernatural religion. On this view the existence of dogmatic is not due to a primary, but to a secondary necessity of Christian life. The primary neces-sity for the Christian is a fellowship with God, includ-ing a sense of His favour, of His guidance in practical life, and protection against all hostile influence. To this religious fellowship it is not necessary that a com-plete system of divine truth be known or believed; according to the Pauline and Protestant doctrine of salva-tion by grace through faith, it is secured at once by the direct exercise of trust in Christ; and there must be this before there can be any right understanding of the truths contained and implied in Christianity. But there is a secondary need and impulse that forms a motive to dogmatic,—the desire of knowing as much as possible of the way in which we have been brought into that relation to God which is designated a state of grace or salva-tion. Christ and His apostles fully recognize the importance of knowledge, understanding, wisdom; while they teach that the only true knowledge of divine things must be preceded by direct experience of them, through faith in Christ. They speak wisdom among them that are perfect, though it is a heavenly wisdom, that needs spiritual enlightenment to know; and they exhort their converts to strive to be perfect or mature Christians, not children but men in understanding,— to add to their faith knowledge, and to grow in it. It is this craving for under-standing of their new relation to God, which forms, though not the first, yet an important secondary necessity of healthy religious life, that affords the motive for the con-struction of theology in general, and of dogmatic in particular. Some amount of such knowledge seems to be indispensable to qualify one for teaching others ; and so, if the church or Christian community is to exercise the function of teaching, there must be, beyond the faith that is the primary and essential quality of true Christians, the higher stage of Christian progress that is attained by those who add to their faith knowledge. Theology is thus not essential to the bare existence of the church; yet it is the natural and necessary form and means of her development in one department of her functions, the intellectual; just as in the department of practical morality a system of ecclesiastical discipline is an indispensable development, and in that of social devotion, ordinances of worship. Every living and thriving branch of the church of Christ must, in proportion to its health and vigour, cultivate scientific theology, as well as earnest conscientious dis-cipline and warm spiritual devotion.

This motive prompts equally to all the branches of theological study—exegetical, historical, practical, as well as systematic or philosophical; but that which is designated dogmatic, as falling under the last head, may well be esteemed the highest of them all, and that which is most to be desired, if only it can be attained. As, however, some have doubted whether such a science is possible, we must not take this for granted, but indicate the grounds on which we believe it is. Now, if a scientific knowledge of any subject is impossible, this must be either because we do not possess materials enough to give us a thorough knowledge of it, or because we have no means of reducing these materials to their true and natural order. If there are sufficient materials of knowledge about Christianity, and a method by which these may be reduced to a system, the conditions of a scientific dogmatic may be said to exist.

Its sources. The sources of dogmatic have been variously enume-rated by different branches of the church and schools of thought, and the determination of the genuine ones in-volves the most important issues as to the whole charac-ter of the system. We may begin with the lowest and most universally accepted, and then proceed to those in regard to which there is more difference of opinion, and which determine the peculiarities of the dogmatic of
Nature. different sects or churches. First, then, we may place the testimony of nature to God, which is admitted by nearly all theists to be real and valuable, so far as it goes, and which is clearly recognized in Scripture.1 The Socinians in the 16th and 17th centuries denied the possibility of any knowledge of God without revelation; but this position, which was zealously controverted by the orthodox, has been given up by those who are the nearest modern representa-tives of the Socinians, and may be said to be held now only by those who would deny all knowledge of God what-ever. This natural knowledge of God has sometimes been separated from properly Christian dogmatic, and relegated for separate treatment under the title of natural theology; but since most of the truths reached by it are also expressly taught in Scripture, it seems impossible to exclude from their consideration in the Christian system the prior light that nature throws on them. Hence the most orthodox divines admit that reason has as one of its functions in theology that of establishing or confirming some of its doc-trines, which are therefore distinguished by many, especially of the Lutherans, as articuli mixti, being supported by reason and revelation together, from the articulipuri, which are known by revelation alone. This source of theological knowledge includes the manifestations of the being and character of God, and the nature and destiny of man in the phenomena of the external world, and also in the intellect, conscience, and religious affections of man, The import-ance of it arises from the fact that this natural knowledge of God alone connects the doctrines of revelation with the actual realities of consciousness and experience, and gives to the whole of theology a basis in ascertainable and verifiable fact. Unless we know, on grounds as legitimate as those of any secular science, that God is, and that He is true and good, we cannot rationally receive any revelation from Him, and our whole dogmatic would be a mere castle in the air.

Revelation of Christ. But most Christians, while recognizing the reality and importance of the manifestation of God in nature, consider that this alone is inadequate, in the present condition of mankind, to bring us into that relation to Him which is the true and perfect religion ; and all but those who deny the supernatural entirely believe that God has made a special revelation of himself in Christ. The person of Jesus of Nazareth is for all such the centre of God's saving dis-covery of himself and of His will to sinners of mankind; in His life and death we have an image of the character of God, and in His teaching, statements of religious truth that are of primary authority. On this account it may be truly said that the person and teaching of Christ is the fountain-head of revealed theology.2 It would be quite possible to maintain that this is the only source of theological know-ledge beyond the teaching of nature; but nearly all who entertain such views of Christ also believe that wTe have in the writings of His disciples an authoritative record of

-Ps. xix. 1-6 ; Rom. i. 19-21 ; Acts xiv. 15-17, irvii. 24-29. ^ Oosterzee, Christian Dogmatics, sec. viii.

His words and deeds, and a divinely-taught explanation of their meaning. Hence the Scriptures, at least of the New Testament, are recognized as themselves a direct source of dogmatic material. Some have limited this recognition of an inspired book to the New Testament, as Schleiermacher; but this position virtually rests on the idea that Christ himself is really the only supernatural source of religious truth, and that the New Testament Scriptures are not a real communication from God, but only an authentic human record of the revelation He has made of Himself in Christ. When the notion of a truly divine and authoritative Scrip-ture is really admitted, it is impossible, in view of the use made of the Old Testament in the New, to deny the authority of these earlier Scriptures. The coming of Christ was not a sudden isolated appearance, unprepared for and alone, like a lightning-flash in a dark night; it was rather like the rising of the sun after a long and gradually lighten-ing twilight. The way was prepared for Him by a series of historical revelations recorded in the sacred books of the Jewish people, which have from the days of the apostles onwards been regarded as divine by the Christian church. It is this continuous line of revelation, from the beginning onwards, that gives Christianity its universality in point of time, as the perfect form of the true religion that has always in some shape or other existed in the world. On this view, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as testifying of Christ, are the more immediate source of dogmatic materials; and this is the fundamental Protestant position.

The Church of Rome goes further, and maintains, not only that the Divine Spirit has inspired the writers of Scripture to convey to us an authoritative record of God's revelation in Christ, but also that the Spirit so dwells in the church as to enable her to develop that revelation, supplementing it by tradition, authenticating it by her authority, and interpreting it by decision on controverted points. Hence, for the Bomanist, tradition, decrees of councils and of popes, opinions of fathers and doctors of the church, are equally with Scripture authoritative sources of doctrine. In this, however, Protestants hold that they err as much in the way of excess, as Bationalists, who deny the authority of the Bible, err in the way of defect. Those Protestants, however, who have taken the most profound and spiritual view of the subject, have been ready to allow that there is provision made in Christianity for what Romanists seek to attain by the authority of the church. They admit that something more is needed than unaided human reason for the right interpretation and application of the word of God ; but they find this, not in an infallible church, but in the work of the Divine Spirit, enlightening Work of the mind of believers in and with the word (testimonium the Spirit Spiritus Sancti). The recognition of this, which was very fully and strongly made by the Reformers, not only gives to Protestant theology a firmer position as against the claims of Rome than it can have without it, but also enables us to give their due place to the elements of truth, exaggerated and distorted, in the Romish doctrines of the authority of the church, fathers, and councils. If we have the witness of the Spirit, giving us an assurance of the truth and insight into the meaning of Scripture, we must admit that our fellow Christians have the same guidance also, and that belierers have had it in all ages. Hence we may reason-ably allow great weight to the opinions of men who have given evidence of being guided by the Spirit, and more especially to those doctrines that have been received as scriptural by the great body of the spiritually enlight-ened in different ages. Thus the teaching of fathers and theologians, and the consent of the Christian church, are important helps and guides to the Protestant theologian; only he does not, like the Roman Catholic, attach absolute authority to any of them ; and he esteems them, not simply because of their antiquity or their official position, but in proportion to the evidence they have given of being really guided by the Divine Spirit, who is the Spirit of holiness, love, peace, and godliness, Christian This inward spiritual enlightenment of the believer conscious- corresponds very nearly to what has been called Christian consciousness, to which a prominent place has been assigned among the sources of theology by many modern divines. The currency of the phrase is due mainly to Schleiermacher ; and the form of it proceeds from his fundamental principle, that religion consists properly in feeling, by which we have an immediate consciousness of the divine—a " God-con-sciousness." Whatever justification this view may have had, as a needed protest against the previously dominant intellectual view, that made religion virtually an affair of the understanding only, it is now generally admitted that Schleiermacher went to an extreme on the other side, and that no complete account of religion can be given that does not include the exercise of thought and will, as well as of feeling. In so far, therefore, as the phrase Christian con-sciousness represents in its form the one-sided conception of Schleiermacher, it is insufficient; and that which really corresponds to it is the Christian life, with its full com-plement of beliefs, emotions, and volitions. This, being the work of the Divine Spirit in the soul, may and must be recognized, on the principles already indicated, as the expression of the witness of the Spirit, by which the authority and meaning of the revelation in Scripture are established. In this sense, therefore, Christian conscious-ness, or the knowledge that a Christian has of his own religious experience and of what is implied in it, is a legitimate means of obtaining doctrinal conclusions. But if the authority of Scripture is to be recognized as the objective and normative representation of what true Christianity is, Christian consciousness can ouly be a mediate and subordinate source of theology, a channel rather than the fountain-head. By giving it this position we are also saved from the one-sided subjectivity and variable individualism that must result from its being made a primary and independent source of knowledge. The history of the church, especially as it presents to us the expression of Christian faith and devotion in different ages and countries, gives us an insight into the religious life of the church as a whole, and so exhibits the Christian con-sciousness on a large scale as it were ; but if we do not believe in an absolutely infallible guidance of the church, we cannot regard this either as a primary or authoritative source of doctrine, but must always test it by the standard presented in Scripture.

From these various sources, (1) God's manifestation of himself in nature, (2) His revelation in Jesus Christ authori-tatively recorded in Scripture, and (3) His enlightenment of tiie believing soul by the Spirit in Christian life, when used, as they should be, in combination and in their proper order and subordination, we have a large supply of materials for the construction of a dogmatic system. Method of What then is the method to be followed in order to dogmatic. educe general principles and laws of mutual relation from the mass of facts and truths thus presented to us bearing upon God's character and dealings with men ! This is the next question that arises in regard to dogmatic theology. Now, plainly, if this study is to have a scientific character at all, it must be pursued in the same methods that are proper in other sciences of a similar kind. Theology, no doubt, differs in some important respects from all other sciences; but the difference lies in its matter rather than in the form of its elaboration. Its materials are not merely the phenomena of nature, but the great redemptive and saving works of God made known by revelation. In this respect it differs from all merely natural sciences. But if it is to have any analogy to them at all, it must apply to these facts of revelation the same processes by which the facts of nature are made to yield natural sciences. Now, there are just two essentially distinct methods by which general laws and principles can be ascertained,—the analytic or inductive, and the synthetic or deductive. Neither of these, indeed, can be absolutely separated from the other. Induction in physical science, for example, calls in the aid of deduction, when hypotheses are formed to explain certain phenomena ; and then it is tested by tracing them down-wards to what would be their results whether they are true or not: and, on the other hand, geometric demonstration seeks the aid of analysis as a guide to the solution of its problems. And not only in subordinate points, but as wholes, the two methods supplement each other. There can be no concrete science that does not begin with induction ; and there is no complete science unless it ends in deduction. All knowledge of facts must be a posteriori, and from these we ascend to general principles and laws; but the aim of all such procedure must be to reach such a com-plete and satisfactory explanation of all the phenomena, that the process might be reversed and the facts deduced from the most general principles. It is only in a few sciences, e.g., mechanics, that such a degree of perfection has been attained as to enable them to enter on the deduc-tive process. Now it is a question debated by some of the ablest divines, whether theology can adopt this method. It is not denied by any that the inductive method, or that of empirical reflection, as it is called in Germany, is com-petent ; but some maintain that, while this is so, that of speculation is also legitimate and possible, and that it must be followed, if we are to have a theology in the highest and most proper sense of the term. Those who take this posi-tion are for the most part of the Hegelian school ; and we have a favourable specimen of the way in which it may be maintained in a truly believing spirit in Bothe. But the considerations adduced by Julius Miiller against the possi-bility of such a method, if we are to avoid a pantheistic view of the universe, seem conclusive. The real and thorough-going recognition of personality and free will, both in God and man, makes it impossible to arrive at the phenomena of Christianity by any process of a priori demonstration ; and more particularly, neither the fact of sin on the one hand, as the act of the free will of man, nor of grace on the other, as the work of Cod's free will, can be exhibited in their essential character in such a method. No science that has to do with the events of a real history in which rational and moral agents are recog-nized as acting with true liberty can be constructed by a. priori deduction of logical consequences from abstract necessary first principles. The dogmatic theologian there-fore, who maintains the freedom alike of the human and of the divine will, is shut up to the a posteriori method of induction. Even though the existence and attributes of God could be satisfactorily demonstrated by reasoning from necessary truths and laws of thought, as Ansehn, Descartes, Clarke, and others thought possible, yet when we come to inquire what God has done, and on what principles He acts, we must, if the world's history is not a mere nature-process, learn from experience and testimony the facts, and ascend inductively from them to the principles or laws that direct them. The inductive method, therefore, is the one proper for Protestant evangelical dogmatic. This is recog-nized by writers so different in many respects as

Di Chalnurs, Julius Müller, Hodge;3

and it has been practically followed by most evangelical divines. They have indeed sometimes disguised the real nature of their method by the arrangement of topics adopted, for the almost uni-versal practice has been to begin the systematic exhibition of Christian doctrine with the loftiest and most recondite part of the subject, which would come first in a really de-ductive treatment, and to descend from them to those that are more immediately verified by experience. This has tended to produce the impression that these systems are properly chains of logical demonstration, especially as doc-trines once held to be established are often appealed to as forming part of the proof of other doctrines. In many cases, however, this appearance is deceptive ; and the system, though wearing a deductive garb, is not really of that nature. Each of the doctrines is established on its own proper basis of Scripture testimony and Christian ex-perience ; and the order of progress, from above downward, does not show the order in which the doctrines have been ascertained, either by the church in general or by the individual theologian, but only the order in which it is thought best that they should be exhibited and taught.

Besides these two distinct methods, the speculative or deductive, and the empiricor inductive, a third is recommended by Beck, and approved also by Oosterzee, called by the former the real-genetic. This proceeds on the assumption that the object of theological knowledge is faith, i.e., accord-ing to Beck's use of the term, spiritual life in the soul appre-hending as its object God in Christ. This faith or spiritual life has, he points out, a principle of development and growth; and theology grows by following the growth of faith in the soul. But the life of faith in us is not perfect; it is liable to hindrances and abnormal development; hence this by itself is not a safe guide for theology. There is, how-ever, a perfect archetype ( Urbild) of the true and normal de-velopment of faith in the soul, and that is to be found in revelation. The revelation of which we find the record in Scripture has the same course of development as the sub-jective life of faith is the soul; and the growth of revelation is the perfect pattern of what the growth of faith within us should be. In order, therefore, to be a representation of the faith or spiritual life of the Christian in its ideal con-dition, theology has to follow the development of revelation as presented to us in Scripture, and must first go back to its primary source, and trace from thence its growth and development. Hence the designation of the true dogmatic method as real-genetic Now whether or not the lesults of theological inquiry will come out in this parti-cular form depends on the truth or falsehood of a number of positions, and these can only be established by the examination of facts and evidence bearing on the case. This method, therefore, does not in priuciple differ from the inductive or empiric one ; it is only a special form which that method will assume, if the views of Beck as to the relation of revelation to the life of faith in the soul are true and borne out by evidence. It does not, therefore, seem proper to regard this as a distinct kind of method, and we may legitimately claim those who follow it as dis-ciples in general of the inductive school.

On the whole, there appears no reason why the principles of inductive philosophy, wrhich have been so fruitful in their application to the sciences of external nature, should not be applied to materials, bearing on the relation of man and the world to their Author, that are furnished by the phenomena of nature, the dictates of conscience, the facts of revelation, and the experience of the Christian life. Surely, too, the endeavour to do this is neither a hopeless nor an impossible one. Those who have objected most strongly to the application of logic to theology, such as Isaac Taylor and Bishop Hampden, will be found at bottom to object chiefly to the use of a merely verbal and deductive system of logic, and not to that inductive method which is the mighty instrument of the progress of modern science. But it must be admitted that the processes of theologians have too often been, and too often still are, of that merely formal and logical kind that cannot really increase our store of knowledge. If dogmatic is to hold its ground as a true science at all, it must frankly and consistently adopt the inductive method; and it must take as the objects of its analysis, classification, and induction, not merely the statements of Scripture, but the religious realities which those statements, as well as our own experience, make known to us.
Further, if a scientific character is to be vindicated for Progressiva dogmatic, it must also accept the position of a variable and nature of progressive study. This does not imply that nothing is ^os™8*10-certain within its domain, or that there must be a constant flux and reflux of opinions about its contents. It is as much characteristic of science that it has certain well-established principles and results, which are not to be overthrown by any future inquiries, as that it is constantly advancing to further acquirements and discoveries. Those who claim an absolutely fixed and unprogressive character for theology, though they may seem to do honour to its divine authority, really degrade it from the rank of a science; and if they retain any reverence for it at all, can only do so on the principles and in the spirit of Boman Catholicism. Thus Macaulay's brilliant statements to that effect, which are sometimes quoted by those who defend an immobile orthodox theology, imply as their basis either a contemptuous dismissal of theology altogether as a tissue of uncertainties, or a lurking belief that the one unchang-ing system is to be found in the faith of the Church of Rome. What has tended, and still tends very powerfully, to obscure the idea of progress in dogmatic theology is the want of a clear apprehension of the distinction between religion and theology, and the notion that the Bible is directly a revelation of theological dogmas, which need only to be correctly interpreted and arranged in logical order. If this were so, then we should be able at once to construct a complete system of theology, by simply applying the laws of grammar and logic to Scripture; and this could be done as correctly and well in the 2d century as in the 16th or 19th. There would be no room, or the very narrowest conceivable, for progress. In that case, then, if it were found that students dealing thus with Scripture came to widely different conclusions as to the system of doctrine to be drawn from it, we should be obliged to conclude that the revelation was not complete or unambiguous, and therefore that it must either be supplemented and checked by a living authority in the church to determine its true meaning, or that no certain knowledge in regard to doctrine can be attained. The former is the Roman Catholic, the latter the sceptical or anti-dogmatic alternative ; but both alike proceed from the same premises, and indicate the impossibility of carrying them out without either giving up the practicability of dogmatic, or seeking it in an infallible church.

But this difficulty disappears when the Bible is regarded as a revelation, not solely or directly of doctrine, but of religion. On this view, it is the inspired record of the great historical events by means of which the religious fellowship of man with God has been established, and gradually elevated to its perfect form in Christianity, and of the inward experience of that fellowship in a new life produced by a moral and spiritual renovation of the soul of man. Doctrines, or general principles bearing on the relation of God to man, are indeed contained in the Bible, but only as they are involved in the great realities that the Bible makes known to us. The Bible is to the theologian what the telescope is to the astronomer, or the microscope to the physiologist. Many of the laws of these sciences could not have been known without the help of these instruments,—not because the telescope discovers to us laws of astronomy, or the microscope enables us to see the principles of physiology, but because they bring within our ken the phenomena from which these laws and principles may be ascertained. So the Bible does not directly reveal dogmatic principles; but its function is to reveal to us that great work of renovation by God in Christ, from which the principles of Christian dogmatic are to be derived. On this view, while the Christian religion is ever one and the same, unalterable in all ages, Christian theology, or the scientific knowledge of that religion, is constantly progressive. All its truths are indeed contained implicitly in the Bible ; but they have to be drawn from it, not by a mere process of interpreting and systematizing the words of Scripture, but by apprehending and experiencing the realities made known to us by the words, and so coming to understand what they are and in what relations they stand one to another. It is in this way that all the great doctrines in theology have been established,—not merely by the application of grammar and logic to the text of Scripture, but by the apprehension and experience of the renovating change, and the comparison and understanding of its different parts. So, for example, the doctrine of the Logos was formulated by men like Justin Martyr, who, after vainly searching for truth in all the schools of philosophy, found that there is in Christianity, when sincerely received, a light that dispels the darkness and doubt of the mind. So Augustine learned the doctrines of original sin and divine grace, by finding ill his own experience the power of inward corruption on the one hand, and the deliverance wrought by the gospel on the other. So Luther discovered the truth of justification by faith, through learning by sore and bitter conflicts how impos-sible it was to find peace of conscience, as long as he trusted to any works of his own, and how fully he obtained it by faith in Christ. In this way the system of dogmatic has been built up, one doctrine after another being added, as it was discovered and verified by the experience of the church. None of these developments was any addition to the Christianity of true disciples of the Lord ; that remains substantially the same in all ages, and contains implicitly all true doctrines of religion. But all Christians are not conscious of what is involved in their religion and experi-ence, and some are very imperfectly aware of it. The men who have made their mark in theology have been those who have been led by circumstances, and enabled by their intellectual powers, to discern elements in Christian life not previously seen; and the body of the church, coming after them, have verified and accepted the results of their experi-ence. In this way dogmatic theology hitherto has been progressive, and no man or church has a right to say that the goal has been reached beyond which no further progress is possible.

There is one condition always to be borne in mind, with which alone such progress is sound and genuine. It is that what is added to the system of doctrine be really an expression of the Christianity which is revealed in Scrip-ture. Anything that is not such may be a fancy of men, or an abnormal development of spiritual life, but it is not really a discovery of Christian truth. There have been opinions held and widely prevalent that are of this charac-ter, and it is part of the work of the theologian to detect and remove what is false as well as to build up what is true. There have been ialse developments of doctrine; there have been exaggerations and maladjustments of important truths. It is not probable that any minute and elaborate system consists of pure and absolute truths unmixed with any error. The work of progress in theo-logy, therefore, must sometimes consist of undoing what has been laboriously built up in past ages. But if any true progress is possible now, it is not to be expected that all the old beliefs will have to be swept away, and an entirely new system put in their place. For if nothing had been ascertained in the course of the ages during which so many great minds have been directed to the study of theology, there would seem to be little hope of anything certain being discovered now. Those who think theology to be a progressive science can most consistently hold that some progress has been made already, and some conclusions have been reached that are not to be overturned by any new inquiries. They do not look for an entire reversal of old beliefs, and a new theory of the universe and its relation to God to be put in their place; they expect that what has been most generally agreed upon in former ages will be maintained and confirmed, and that any new truth that may be brought to light will fit in to the old foundations ; though in some cases former modes of statement may have to be reconsidered and adjusted to larger and deeper views, and exaggerated or one-sided doctrines may have to be given up or modified. There are some doctrines in every system that are merely sectarian, adopted by one particular branch of the church, but not recognized by others as correct expressions of Christian faith and life, e.g., the Anglican dogma of baptismal regeneration, or the Lutheran tenet of the communication of attributes in the person of Christ, or the supralapsarian and sublapsarian theories of Calvinists : in regard to such points there is no just ground of confidence of their permanence; they are like plausible but unproved hypotheses in science. But there are many leading doctrines which, ever siuce they have been distinctly formulated, have been accepted by the great mass of Christians in all branches of the church; these may be said to be established results of theological investigation, which no further progress of the science is likely to overthrow.

History of dogmatic. The progressive character of dogmatic, and the manner of its progress in the past, may be seen from a brief sketch of its history from the end of the apostolic age to the present day. The apostolic writings themselves do not properly fall within the range of such a history; for they are not of the nature of human science but of divine revela-tion. No doubt several of them present to us conceptions and trains of thought that are very analogous to the systems of later times, and have sometimes been employed as the basis of dogmatic systems. But the inspired writers do not stand in the same line as the thinkers who came after them ; their aim in writing was not the scientific one of investigating the principles of Christianity in their mutual relations, but the more primary religious one of presenting Christianity itself to the world. This they have been enabled to do, by the working of the Spirit in them, with a power and fulness and insight that throw much light on the scientific study of Christian doctrine ; but their writings are not doctrinal systems, and do not come into the line of the rise and progress of the human science of dogmatic, Its history begins with the attempts of men to comprehend the revelation of Christianity, and presupposes that revelation complete, though not completely understood, as its starting point. From that point onward it may be regarded as passing through six pretty well defined periods or stages.

Apologetic I. The first may be called the apologetic age, extending period. from jae apostolic time to the death of Origen (254 A.D.), in whom it may be said to have culminated. During this period the intellect of the church was gradually awakening and coming into activity; but it was only by degrees, and in the course of several generations, that its efforts led to any properly doctrinal results. The very earliest Christian literature is simply practical and hortatory, chiefly in the form of epistles (Apostolic Fathers). From the middle of the 2d century, however, the need was felt of defending the church's faith against argumentative attacks, whether popular, literary, or philosophic. Hence the chief mental power of the Christian community was turned in the direc-tion of " apologies," by which these attacks were repelled, and attention was directed mainly to the evidences of the truth and divinity of Christianity. This, however, in-directly led to the articulate statement of some of the most essential doctrines of Christianity, and to the beginnings of a dogmatic system. The great apologetic question was generally and rightly conceived in the form of a search for some true and reliable teaching about God and divine things; and the Johannine idea of Christ as the light of the world, the Logos or Word of God, naturally occurred to the apologists as that which most exactly met the want. Thus the doctrine of the Logos, in some at least of its aspects, was brought out. Then in the conflicts with Gnosticism, which may be said to be as really apologetic as those with Judaism and heathenism, certain aspects of Christianity were very distinctly brought into conscious-ness, such as the creation of all things by God, the reality of the human nature, death, and resurrection of Christ, the universality of the gospel, and the responsibility of man. The apostolic creed probably shows us how the original baptismal formula became the basis of more definite articles of faith, shaped in the light of the apologetic necessities of the age. But while there was thus an inevitable tendency towards dogmatic development and definition, there was not for long any direct interest in doctrine as such, still less in the ordering of doctrines into a system. Origen was the first in whom this impulse was strong and active, and his work Re Principiis (Tlepl 'Ap^Hiv) may be said to be the earliest attempt in the field of dogmatic.

Polemic II. The second great period in the history of dogmatic, period. extending from Origen (who died 254) to John of Damascus (who died 754), is distinguished from the first by its being occupied mainly with controversies within the church, and thus may be called the polemic age. As the gospel spread more and more throughout the world, and gained the victory over paganism in the minds and hearts of the most enlightened of the day, the defence of Christianity against external assaults gradually ceased to be the one all-engrossing duty of the church's theologians ; and at the same time heresies so thoroughly and manifestly antichristian as those of the Gnostics ceased to have any prevalence among Christians, and other divergent views, of a less openly hostile nature, began to appear. As the doc-trine of the Logos had been one of the first that the church was led to think out in the apologetic period, it not unnaturally became the point at which varying conceptions first came into conflict. On this, as on many other sub-jects, the Christian redemption is so full and many-sided that it is no wonder that its entire contents could not be grasped at once and by all minds, or that some were led to accept some aspects of it more readily than others, and to give these an exaggerated predominance. Hence the progress of Christian thought to the right understanding of divine truth has been through a series of controversies and oscillations from one extreme to another. This process may be said to have begun about the middle of the 3d century, from which time to the end of the 7th there stretches a continuous series of controversies oil questions relating to God and the Trinity, the incarnation and person of Christ, original sin, and regenerating grace. In the course of these, successive forms of opinion on these sub-jects were discussed, condemned, and stamped as heresies—-the Sabellian, Arian, Apollinarian, Macedonian, Kestorian, Pelagian, Monophysite, Semi-pelagian, Monothelite doc-trines. In sharp contrast with these opposing heresies, and sometimes in a narrow strait between them, the doctrine of the church was defined more and more precisely. As authoritative expressions of this doctrine we have the first six oecumenical councils, with the provincial ones in the West that condemned Pelagianism and Semi-pelagianism, and the creed of Nicasa (325) as enlarged and altered at Constantinople (381), with the decisions of Chalcedon (451) against Monophysitisni, Orange and Yalentia (529) against Semi-pelagianism, and Constantinople (1st Trullau, 680) against Monothelitisin.

This long series of keen and varied controversies on the loftiest doctrines represents a vast amount of intellectual activity in the field of dogmatic, and some of the greatest names in the church's history belong to this period. Athanasius, Basil, the two G regories, the two Cyrils, and Chrysostom in the East, and Ambrose, Augustine, and Hilary in the West, are but a few of the more outstanding and best known of the church's teachers during these con-troversies. On the whole it may be said that they have done their work satisfactorily and well, iu establishing the true Christian view on the special doctrines they had to discuss ; and the decisions of the church on these points have been very generally accepted in after times. The Beformers adopted either tacitly or expressly the whole body of them as in accordance with Scripture ; and even in the immense upturning of opinions on all theological doctrines that has been going on in modern times, the faith of Mcoeahas been maintained by the majority of theolo-gians. Even the more detailed creed of Chalcedon is questioned by comparatively few, though the still more minute discussions and definitions after that have ceased to command the respect and interest of the modern church. But while the theologians of this polemic period were thus successful in establishing and defining some of the more important doctrines of Christianity, and by so doing contributed very valuable materials for dogmatic, they did little or nothing towards the construction of the system as an organic unity. Very few of their works even attempt such a task. The Catecheses of Cyril of Jerusalem contain an exposition of the various articles of the creed, and so may be said to exhibit a body of divinity such as was then generally held; but they do so not in a scientifically theological manner, but rather in that of simple popular teaching. Augustine's Enchiridion, dc Fide, Spe, et Caritate, is a more properly theological attempt to lay the basis of a connected and organic system; but it is very brief and summary, and holds a very subordinate position among the writings of that great father in comparison with his argumentative and controversial treatises on the parti-cular doctrines that he did so much to elucidate and defend. Perhaps a more real evidence of a sense of the organic connection of all the doctrines of Christianity is to be found in the recognition of the affinity between the apparently unconnected heresies of Nestorianism and Pelagianism, which were both alike condemned by the council of Ephesus in 431.

The results of the polemic discussions of nearly five centuries were gathered by John of Damascus into a series of dogmatic propositions in his work axpi/3?)s IKCWIS rrjs opOo&o^ov mo-Tem, which remained for the Eastern Church the chief authority in theology for a thousand years after. There has been, however, no living onward movement in the comprehension of Christian doctrine in the Greek Church ; and if on this account that great section of Christendom has escaped the rigid formulating of the many corruptions in doctrine, government, and life that took place in the Western Church, it has been at the expense of resting iu a system of mere dead orthodoxy that could neither hinder nor heal practical corruption. In the West, however, there was a powerful intellectual life, even in what are generally called the Dark Ages; and that being directed towards the doctrines of the church gave a continual progress and a new epoch to theology, though in a peculiar and not the most healthy form.

Scholastic III. The third period in the history of dogmatic, extend-period. ing from the 8th century to the beginning of the lGth, may be called in general, from its most remarkable development, the scholastic age ; though scholasticism, strictly so called, is usually reckoned to extend only from the 11th century to the middle of the 15 th. But the times before and after these narrower limits were characterized, only in less degree, by the same general tendency of thought. The doctrines of the church were established as of indisputable authority, and had begun to be collected in the form of books of sentences (Sententiarum Libri) from the fathers, by Isidore of Seville, and others ; and by means of such compilatory labours the learning and theology of former ages were preserved through the devastating flood of the barbarian immigrations. Any fresh theological discussions in this age were few and unimportant, tending for the most part in the direction of sacerdotalism, as in the formation of the dogma of transub-stantiation. But by and by a mighty intellectual force took hold of the whole collected dogmatic material, and reared out of it the great scholastic systems, which have been compared to the grand Gothic cathedrals that were the work of the same ages. The character of these systems of dogmatic may be understood by bearing in mind the two leading principles of the scholastic thinking. One was the acceptance as of absolute authority of whatever h id been decided in Scripture or by the church; and the other was the application of the notions and syllogisms of formal logic to these doctrines, for the purpose of demonstrating their truth to the understanding. With such principles, it was natural that the systems constructed should be lacking in unity and a real grasp of the essence of Christianity. They attempted, indeed, the harmonizing of philosophy and theology, of reason and faith, but they could only do so in a mechanical way, and by a kind of compromise. On the one hand, reason was entirely sub-jected to faith iu the acceptance of all the doctrines of the church as so many decisions or sentences that were not to be criticised or called in question. This made it impossible to grapple with the fundamental and general principles underlying the particular opinions that were received as authoritative; and it was only in regard to their details and application that free inquiry was allowed. Hence in the scholastic works we find a series of doctrines or ques-tions on different subjects following one after another, but not connected in any natural way as parts of one organic whole. On the other hand, however, reason was allowed such full scope in deducing consequences from the established doctrines, and that by purely formal processes, that a rationalistic character was imparted to a large extent Co the whole body of the scholastic theology. At the same time, as reason was excluded from the great questions of principle, by the absolute authority accorded to the church's decisions, it could only find scope in questions of detail, and the more intellectual vigour was applied to theology the more minute, subtle, and unprofitable did its results become. The scholastic age produced no system of Christian doctrine that has, as a whole, retained any value in after ages ; though iu it some doctrines were more dis-tinctly articulated than before,—particularly that of the atonement, by Anselm; and the keen and subtle analysis to which all doctrines and conceptions were subjected has produced many distinctions that have been found useful in later times as conducing to clearness of thought.

The decline and fall of scholasticism was due to the gradually awakening consciousness of the unsoundness of the principles on which it rested. The nominalistic con-troversy shook men's faith in the absolute identity of thought and being, reason and authority; and the identification of theology and philosophy came to an end. The latter refused to be any longer the mere handmaid of the church; and from the assertion of its freedom the history of modern philosophy dates. This was necessarily a fatal blow to the scholastic theology ; and at the same time the great religious movement of the Ileformation made a reconstruction of the system of church doctrine necessary.

IV. The age of the Reformation, occupying the greater Reforma-part of the 16th century, may be said to form by itself a tion period, fourth period in the history of dogmatic, for it was animated by a spirit that distinguishes it both from the preceding and from the following time. The Reformation was a movement too full of spiritual life and activity in many directions to be adequately described by any single phrase ; but for the present purpose it may comprehen-sively enough be said to be the reassertion of the principle of the direct and personal relation of the believer to God. This involved the sweeping away of all ecclesiastical authority and mediation, and the assertion of the sole authority of God's word and of justification by faith, which have been called the formal and material principles of Protestantism. This also necessarily brought with it a new conception of theology. Christianity was no longer a new law, and saving faith was no longer the intellectual assent to certain doc-trines ; Christianity was a new life, offered in the gospel and received by the soul's trust (fiducia) iu Christ. Hence, when the Reformers came, as some of the greatest of them did, to give a systematic statement of Christian doctrine, they not only rejected those tenets which had been held in the mediaeval church on no higher authority than that of tradition and ecclesiastical decisions, but they also found that they could exhibit a much more organic unity in the body of Christian doctrine, because they regarded it not as a necessary means or step towards spiritual life, but as the outcome and systematic presentation of that life which is obtained and preserved directly by faith iu Christ. The great theological works of the Reformation age were not for the most part written purely in the interest of science or system, but for more practical purposes, for the defence of the new doctrines against attacks made upon them, or for the guidance of ministers in the practical teaching of the people. But it is nevertheless true that in these ways were produced works which had more of the symmetry and unity of a complete system than any that had previously appeared This can only be accounted for by assuming that the Reformers had laid hold of the right principle of theology, and that the new life of the Reformation had carried them above and beyond the mistaken view of Christianity that had long hindered a right construction of dogmatic. The Loci Communes Theologici of Melanch-thon (1st ed. 1521, final form 1550), and the Institutio Religionis Christianae of Calvin (1st ed. 1535, final form 1559), are the two chief systematic works of this period, and have formed the starting-points of the Lutheran and Reformed dogmatic respectively. The system expounded in them is summarily set forth in the several Protestant Confessions of this era, and various special doctrines were elaborated and defended by other leaders of the Reformation. The Reformers accepted the doctrinal statements of the ancient creeds and of the first four general councils as scriptural and true ; they also adopted with great earnestness the Augustinian doctrines of grace, while they added to them the principle with which Luther's name is inseparably associated of justification by faith, and that of the supreme authority of the Bible as the rule of faith and life,— both of these being in their view witnessed and guaranteed by the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Maintaining these principles, they rejected the authority of the church, the multiplication and magical efficacy of the sacraments, the merit of good works, monastic vows, penance, purgatory, and other corruptions of the Middle Ages. In their hands, theology lost the merely objective character that it had borne in patristic and mediaeval times, and was brought into closer connection with religious and Christian life, by the recognition and cultivation of its subjective side. The vital matter with them was, not to have right opinions about the Trinity and the hypostatic union, but to be sure of the true way of salvation by Christ. Their writings are pervaded by a warmth of spiritual life, as well as by a freshness of theological thought, that mark them as the genuine products of a creative age in the history of Christian doctrine. The Reformation age may be said to have closed with the final fixing of the Protestant doctrines in the generally-accepted symbolical books, which took place for the Lutheran church in the adoption of the Formula Concordia; in 1580, and for the Reformed churches in the decisions of the Synod of Dort in 1618-19. Even earlier, however, a declension may be observed from the lofty and free spirit of the first Reformers ; and a somewhat different character began to mark the theology of both the branches of the Protestant church.

V. A fifth period in the history of dogmatic, which may be called the confessional one, extends from the beginning of the 17th till near the end of the 18th century. During this time the doctrinal systems, of which the foundations had been laid by Melanchthon and Calvin, were elaborated and carried into details with great learning and acuteness ; the various doctrines were most carefully and precisely defined, distinguished, and defended. The 17th century was an age of theological controversy. The Roman Catholic Church had recovered from the shock of the Reformation, and by the aid of the Jesuits and the power-ful reaction inaugurated by them, had regained strength not only materially but intellectually. Controversialists like Bellarmine, Petavius, and Bossuet taxed the learning and ingenuity of Protestantism to meet them. There were also many less necessary and profitable controversies among Protestants themselves; and almost every theologian was led to devote his energy to the attack of what he held to be error, and the maintenance of true doctrine. Much valuable argument was brought into use in the course of these discussions, and the system of dogmatic was more fully worked out than it had been before. The great dog-matic works of the 17th century, such as those of John Gerhard, Calovius, Quenstedt, and Baier in the Lutheran church, and of Francis Turretin, Mastricht, and De Moor among the Reformed, are more minute, precise, and full in their exhibition of the doctrines of the faith than the writings of the Reformers, and they contain a great deal of vigorous and profound thought. Never probably have the doctrines which they handle been so ably and thoroughly discussed. They were, however, treated somewhat in the scholastic method that had prevailed before the Reformation. The theologians of the 17th century did indeed clearly perceive and firmly maintain the principle of the sole authority of Scripture, which was one of those involved in the revolt against the authority of the church and hierarchy of Rome. Hence, in point of matter, their systems are vastly superior to those of the schoolmen, freer from traditional and sacerdotal dogmas, and far more in harmony with apostolic teaching. But they failed to apprehend a deeper principle that was implicitly contained in the Reformation movement, viz., that Christian doctrine, instead of preceding Christian life as a necessary means to it, must come after its actual experience. Sound doctrine was regarded as the preliminary condition of spiritual life ; and as it had thus to be established apart from the living experience of Christianity in the soul, it must rest on purely external authority. This was found in an extreme and one-sided view of the inspiration of Scripture, as equivalent to verbal or literal dictation, and in an uncritical and indiscriminate use of proof texts from all portions of Scripture, without due regard to their historical connection and scope. These became to many of the divines of that age very much what the sentences of the fathers and councils had been to the schoolmen ; and an undue weight was sometimes allowed even to the avowedly human forms in which Protestant doctrine had been expressed. An excessive subtlety and minuteness of definition were also often adopted; and when these were made matters of faith in different parts of the church, numerous schisms and separations took place. The rigid exclusiveness of the Lutheran divines on the basis of the Formula Concordia:, the intolerant zeal of the Anglicans for episcopacy and ceremonies, the extreme doctrinal minuteness of the Formula Consensus Ilclvetici of 1675, and the narrowness of some of the English Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians are instances of this tendency; and the disastrous effects of many of these are well known. The issue of this form of theology was very similar to that of the scholastic system. It was gradually undermined by the spirit of rationalism calling in question the validity of its minute definitions. This tendency had been active from the time of the Reformation in various forms ; and though for long it was controverted and excluded from the Protestant Churches, in the course of the 18th century it brought about a general disintegration of their dogmatics. It was found that there was not sufficient evidence to maintain the too minutely articulated systems in the face of a more critical study of the Bible ; and the orthodoxy that had rested on an insecure foundation was for a time almost entirely overthrown. In nearly all the churches there came, in various forms, an age of indifference and even unbelief in the old doctrines of the gospel; and this was generally accompanied with a declension in spiritual life. It was in Germany that the sceptical movement took the most pronounced form ; and there, accordingly, the break with the theology of the 17 th century has been most complete. In this country the triumph of rationalism has never been so absolute, and the transition to a new era in the history of theology has not been so marked.

VI. But a new period has undoubtedly come, since the Modem beginning of the present century. A reaction has set in period, against the rationalism that overthrew the older dogmatics In some cases, indeed, this has taken the form of a simple reassertion and re-establishment of the old systems of doc-trine, as in the school of Hengstenberg, Havernick, Philippi, and others, who maintain the Lutheran orthodoxy in all its rigidity, and in many British and American divines, who reproduce the Calvinistic system in its precise 17th century form. But by many the need is felt of more thoroughly carrying out the principles of the Reformation than was done in the succeeding age, so as to place the dogmatic system on a surer basis. Schleiermacher exercised great influence on theological thought; and though he did not succeed in emancipating himself from the pantheistic prin-ciples of his philosophy, his mode of conceiving Christianity and its relation to theology has been fruitful of good results. By a large number of divines it has been felt to be unsatisfactory to base, as was practically done formerly, the whole system of theology on the one doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture ; and a broader foundation, as well as a more living conception, has been sought for it, by recognizing as its subject-matter, not merely the sayings of Scripture, but that living Christianity which it is the direct object of the Bible to produce and reveal. This is really a taking up and carrying out more fully of the principles of the Refor-mation ; and it is in this line that dogmatic seems to be cultivated with most prospect of success and stability. There is in the present day much confusion in this as in many other departments of theology, and systems of the most diverse contents and on the most diverse principles are produced in abundance ; but the line in which such men as Nitzsch, Martensen, Julius Müller, Ebrard, Oosterzee, Ritschl, and others have been labouring is that which at once maintains the substance of what has been gained in former ages, and is free to welcome modifications and developments on sound and firmly based principles.
Literature.—The literature of dogmatic is exceedingly rich and varied, and only the more important and influential works can be mentioned here. Before the Reformation, however, though there are many treatises of primary importance on particular doctrines, and though the more comprehensive works have an historical value, yet there is no complete system constructed on sound principles, so as to be of much direct use. Calvin's Instilutio Religionis Christianas isthe first great work, embracing the whole subject, that is still of direct and primary importance. It is distinguished by a depth of insight into the principles of Christian doctrine, a comprehensive grasp and clear arrangement of their details, a reverence and sobriety in the interpretation and application of Scripture, and a spirit of Christian earnestness and piety that have nevei been surpassed. Of the later dogmatic systems in the Reforrr.ed Church, some are brief compends, among which the Theologies Medulla of William Ames, the English puritan, is specially distinguished for precision of thought and power of construction ; others are much larger, and greatly exceed in the length and minuteness of their discussions the work of Calvin. Among them Francis Turretin's Instilutio Thcologice Elencticce (1679) is remarkable for the logical power with which he maintains the strict Calvinistic doctrine on all the points controverted in his day. Peter Van Mastricht's Theoretico-Practica Theologia (1682-7), is a favourable specimen of the Dutch theology of the time—laborious, accurate, and at the same time pro-found and spiritual. Of the federal school, as it is called, which exercised great influence on the popular theology of this country, Hermann Witsius's (Economía Fcederum is a very able and suggestive production. The Arminian system is well represented by the Theo-logia Christiana of Philip Limborch (1686), a work written in a clear, biblical, and conciliatory style.

The Lutheran dogmatic works are even more colossal and voluminous than the Reformed ; the greatest of them, John Gerhard's Loci Thcologici (1609-22), shows a spirit of piety, as well as great learning, exactness of thought, and logical skill. He occupies a middle position between the more rigidly orthodox such as Hiitter and Calovius, and the so-called syncretism of Calixtas. Of the same general character are the Instilutiones Thcologice Dogmaiicce of John Francis Buddseus (1724). A very fair idea of the contents of the Lutheran dogmatic works may be obtained from Schmid's (of Erlangen) compendious Dogmatik der evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche (1853), which consists mainly of quotations from the old divines on the different doctrines of the system, and from Luthardt's Compendium der Dogmatik. In this country no important syste-matic treatise on dogmatic as a whole appeared till the publication of Dr George Hill's Lectures in Divinity in 1821, a work distin-guished by lucid arrangement of topics, and clear and cautious state-ment of doctrines and exposition of their evidence, though lacking somewhat in spiritual warmth. Dr Chalmers's Institutes of Theology (1849) have this last quality in a very high degree, and follow a method that brings dogmatic into closer connection with Christian experience than had been usual; but the system is very imperfectly filled up, and is marked more by brilliant and suggestive thoughts an ply illustrated, than by thorough and minute investigation.

The modern era of dogmatic may be said to have Deen opened by Schleiermacher's Christliche Glaube (1821), a work of great genius, learning, and power, which did good service in putting an end to the previously prevalent rationalism, though in some essential respects of a doubtful and defective character. Nearly all who have worked at dogmatic since have been stimulated and influenced more or less by Schleiermacher ; but those who have received most from him have in general left behind the pantheistic and emotional elements of his system, and approached nearer to the old faith of the church. Among other works on dogmatic may be mentioned Nitzsch's System der Christlidien Lehrc, containing in short compass much clear, profound, and enlightening thought, and Martensen's Christian Dogmatics, with his 'comprehensive, philosophic, and suggestive views. One part of Schleiermacher's system which is given up by these and most modern theologians—his determinism—has been rigorously carried out by Alexander Scbweizer in Zurich (Glaubens-lehre der Reformirten Kirche) and Scholten in Leyden (Dogmaticcs Christiana; Initia ; De Leer der Uervormde Kerk). Against the former Ebrard has made a vehement and keen protest in his Christliche Dogmatik ; while the latter has, since publishing these works, given up belief in supematuralism entirely. Oosterzee s Christian Dogmatics is a very useful and judicious exhibition of a moderate Calvinistic system.

Of the theologians who endeavour to reproduce more exactly the old Lutheran orthodoxy, the chief are Philippi, whose Kirchliche Glaubenslehre is very strictly confessional, and Kahnis, who in hia Lutherische Dogmatik displays a more liberal and critical spirit.

In a similar way, Dr Charles Hodge of Princeton has restated the Calvinistic system of the 17th century in his Systematic Theology, which shows a wonderful acquaintance with the multifarious modern literature of the subject, great logical power, and an adherence to the old doctrines that is not in the least shaken by all the diverg-ing views and arguments with which he is so familiar.

For fuller accounts of the literature and history of dogmatic, reference may be made to Hagenbach's Encyclopädie u. Methodologie der theologischen Wissenschaften, to the same author's Dogmengeschichte, and to Dornei's Geschichte der Protestantischen Theologie. (J. S. C.)


This view of the nature and function of Christian consciousness is ' that taken by Martensen, Vogm., sec. 29 ; J. T. Beck, Einleiiung in j Uas System tier Vhrisllichen Lehre; Oosterzee, Jjogm., sect. 10.
This view of the nature and function of Christian consciousness is ' that taken by Martensen, Vogm., sec. 29 ; J. T. Beck, Einleiiung in j Uas System tier Vhrisllichen Lehre; Oosterzee, Jjogm., sect. 10.

Thevlogische Etluk, sec. 2.
^ Vie Christliche Lehre von der Siinde,—Einleitung

Institutes of Theology, bk. iii. ch. 10.
Ubi supra. 3 Syst. Theol., Introd. cb. i.
Logic in Theology.
" Scholastic Philosophy in Relation to Christian Theology," Hamp-ton Lectures for 1832.

Essay on Ranke's History of the Popes.

Cf. Candlish's Cunningham Lectures, Lect. vi. Note A ; Rainy's Cunningham Lectures, '' On the delivery and development of doctrine,'' Lect. v.

See Hampden's Bumpton Lectures, p. 46, 347; Schwegler's History of Philosophy, sect. xxii.; Baur, Versbhnungslehre, p. 147, foil.; Hagen-baeb, Louinengeschichte, sect. 149.

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