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History of Christianity:
COMPRISING ALL THAT RELATES TO THE PROGRESS OF THE
Of Some Passages In The 15th And 16th Chapters,
EDWARD GIBBON, Esq.
A preface, LIFE OF THE AUTHOR, AND NOTES BY PETER ECKLER,
INCLUDING VARIORUM NOTES BY GUIZOT, VVENCK, ion,
"AN ENGLISH CHURCHMAN," AND OTHER SCHOLARS.
THE NEW YORK
ASTOR, LENOX AND
« 1932 L
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1882, by
* tfe office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
THE SCIENTIFIC PRESS
ROBERT DRUMMOND AND COMPANY
BROOKLYN. N. Y.
A pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigor from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the Cross on the ruins of the Capitol."—Gibbon.
THE establishment of Christianity on the ruins of the Roman Empire, was an occurence of such grave import in the annals of the human race, that the history, if not the traditions, of that eventful era, must ever challenge earnest attention from thoughtful minds. All that is known to be authentic in regard to this transition period of religious belief, is concisely and impartially narrated by Gibbon in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and this vital and interesting part of that great work, which may not improperly be termed Gibbon's History of Christianity, together with his Vindication of some passages thereof from the attacks of his theological opponents, is now, for the first time, published separate from his other writings, and shows when, where and how Christianity originated, who were its founders, and what were the sentiments, character, manners, numbers, and condition of the primitive Christians.
An additional reason for this publication is found in the fact, that a revisedand abridged edition of Gibbon, called the "Student's Edition," edited by Wm. Smith, LL.D., has gained a wide circulation in our schools and colleges, and is deficient in a most important feature. This editor claims, by omitting certain portions, to have gained space
IV PUBLISHER S PREFACE.
for narrating at length those grand events which have influenced the history of the world. "The most important "omissions," he naively remarks, " relate to the history of "the Church, in which Gibbon too frequently displayed the "hostility he felt towards the Christian religion."
These "most important omissions " are fully supplied by the present work. The matter here selected for publication being that portion of the Decline and Fall which relates to the history of the Christian religion, and this history is given in full, without alterations or interpolations, precisely as Gibbon, in his great work, first published it to the world.
Bonn's edition of Gibbon is edited by a "distinguished "English Churchman" whose name, however, does not appear. This editor laments that " no Christian reader of "Gibbon's 'florid page' will be able or will desire to sup"press a deep feeling of sorrow that the mind which could '' plan and compose the most valuable History of the Decline '' and Fall of the Roman Empire could find no rest in the "truths of Christianity ;" and he quotes with approbation the criticism of Porson that Gibbon '' often makes, where he "cannot readily find, an occasion to insult our religion, "which he hates so cordially, that he might seem to "revenge some personal injury."
This "distinguished Churchman" acknowledges a debt of gratitude to Wenck, Guizot and Milman, "for the care they "have bestowed on those portions of the history where re"ligion demanded their services, as well as on other parts '' which either required correction, or admitted of extension, "or, from apparent inconsistency, called for explanation."
"The sight of an enemy," continues this writer, "of so "much vigor and stratagem as Gibbon exhibited, would
* Impartial readers may not approve of the "care " these learned commentators "have bestowed on those portions of the history where religion demanded their "services." for the historian's only "care" should be to simply tell the truth, without suppression or " extension."
In the year 1826 there was published in London an edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall which strikingly illustrates the partisan spirit of many orthodox critics. The title page of this curious work openly admits that it is "Reprinted from the "original text, with the careful omission of all passages of an irreligious or im"moral tendency, by Thomas Howdlkr." In the preface the devout Bowdler modestly intimates his desire that this mutilated edition may in time supersede the original work of Gibbon. —