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PREFACE



With sincere thanks to God for continued health and strength, I offer to the public a history of the eventful period of the Church from the beginning of the fourth century to the close of the sixth. This concludes my history of Ancient Christianity.

It was intended at first to condense the third period into one volume, but regard to symmetry made it necessary to divide it into two volumes of equal size with the first which appeared several years ago. This accounts for the continuous paging of the second and third volumes.

In preparing this part of my Church History for the press, I have been deprived of the stimulus of an active professorship, and been much interrupted in consequence of other labors, a visit to Europe, and the loss of a part of the manuscript, which had to be rewritten. But, on the other hand, I have had the great advantage of constant and free access to several of the best libraries of the country. Especially am I indebted to the Astor Library, and the Union Theological Seminary Library of New York, which are provided with complete sets of the Greek and Latin fathers, and nearly all other important sources of the history of the first six centuries.

I have used different editions of the fathers (generally the Benedictine), but these I have carefully indicated when they vary in the division of chapters and sections, or in the numbering of orations and epistles, as in the works of Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Jerome, Augustine, and Leo. In addition to the primary sources, I have constantly consulted the later historians, German, French, and English.

In the progress of the work I have been filled with growing admiration for the great scholars of the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth century, who have with amazing industry and patience collected the raw material from the quarries, and investigated every nook and corner of Christian Antiquity. I need only refer to the Benedictine editors of the fathers; to the Bollandists, in the department of hagiography; to Mansi and Hardouin, in the collection of the Acts of Councils; to Gallandi, Dupin, Ceillier, Oudin, Cave, Fabricius, in patristics and literary history; to Petau’s Theologica dogmata, Tillemont’s Mémoires, Bull’s Defensio Fidei Nicaenae, Bingham’s Antiquities, Walch’s Ketzerhistorie. In learning, acumen, judgment, and reverent spirit, these and similar works are fully equal, if not superior, to the best productions of the modern Teutonic press; while we cheerfully concede to the latter the superiority in critical sifting, philosophical grasp, artistic reproduction of the material, and in impartiality and freedom of spirit, without which there can be no true history. Thus times and talents supplement each other.

With all due regard for the labors of distinguished predecessors and contemporaries, I have endeavored, to the best of my ability, to combine fulness of matter with condensation in form and clearness of style, and to present a truthful and lively picture of the age of Christian emperors, patriarchs, and ecumenical Councils. Whether, and how far, I have succeeded in this, competent judges will decide.

I must again express my profound obligation to my friend, the Rev. Dr. Yeomans, of Rochester, for his invaluable assistance in bringing these volumes before the public in a far better English dress than I could have given them myself. I have prepared the work in German, and have sent the copy to Leipsic, where a German edition will appear simultaneously with the American. Some portions I have myself reproduced in English, and have made considerable additions throughout in the final revision of the copy for the press. But the body of the work has been translated from manuscript by Dr. Yeomans. He has performed his task with that consummate union of faithfulness and freedom which does full justice both to the thought of the author and the language of the reader, and which has elicited the unqualified praise of the best judges for his translation of my History of the Apostolic Church, and that of the first three centuries.

The work has been, for the translator as well as for the author, truly a labor of love, which carries in it its own exceeding great reward. For what can be more delightful and profitable than to revive for the benefit of the living generation, the memory of those great and good men who were God’s own chosen instruments in expounding the mysteries of divine truth, and in spreading the blessings of Christianity over the face of the earth?

It is my wish and purpose to resume this work as soon as other engagements will permit, and to complete it according to the original plan. In the mean time I have the satisfaction of having finished the first great division of the history of Christianity, which, in many respects, is the most important, as the common inheritance of the Greek, Latin, and Evangelical churches. May God bless it as a means to promote the cause of truth, and to kindle that devotion to his service which is perfect freedom.

Philip Schaff.

5 Bible House, New York, Nov. 8, 1866.

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