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manual of those who are willing to venture upon the study of the fathers. The books against Mareion stand among his best and most learned writings; an important monument for biblical criticism and interpretation, indispensable to every inquirer into the critical history of the scriptures. That part which was intended for a manual, which young theologians were to study through, was accomplished with great perfeetion: the most important readings were collected together under the text, and sometimes examined, and, together with the opinion of the father, especially when it concerned the sense of a passage of seripture, illustrated in few words. In the index latinitatis the peculiar and therefore difficult latinity of 'Tertullian is explained, which relieves the student from many impediments; and, as far as the dark and unpleasant style of the editor admits, it is rendered agreeable.
The approbation which this edition received from scholars conversant with the fathers, excited him to give his diligence to the whole of 'Tertullian; and, through hints concerning the light he might diffuse upon interpretation of scripture, the history of the Bible, of the church and of doctrines, to bespeak attention. He must be envious indeed of another's deserts, who allows no merit to Semler's Tertullian, although it is not so great as it might have been, if he had devoted more time and exertion to the work. In the edition of the text errors occur,
which make a new revision of it necessary; but he has accomplished much. The readings are drawn from sources that were open to Semler, and in part are critically examined; which indeed was no easy task, since the manner of writing is so peculiar and uncommon, and filled with such unusual and difficult expressions, as were the occasion in transcribers as well of errors in copying, as of wilful changes and interpolations. The text is accompanied with explanations of the language, but more sparingly than one could wish: still the index latinitatis is no inconsiderable assistance to the reader, who, not accustomed to African Latin, is too often perplexed by its difficulties; but it is almost impossible to satisfy all the necessities which are felt. In fine the writings of Tertullian, composed at wholly different times, under direc. tions of mind the most diverse, and comprising most various principles, are suffered to remain mixed together without
any regard to chronological order, and the reader never receives any instructions concerning the order in which he must read them, if he wish to trace the progress of the author's mind. A skilful reader, and one accustomed to reflection, will easily discover in what writings the spirit of the father becomes changed, his theological views take another direction, and he inclines to the montanists. But no editor should count merely upon such a reader; he should rather instruct every reader in the predominant characteristics of every writing, and, for more convenient use, place it in chronological order.
In the year 1775, Semler caused to be printed the excellent letter of Pelagius to Demetrias, and Augustin's miserable censure of the same, with annotations-a most important work for the examination of the doctrine concerning the total corruption of human nature, and its incapacity for any thing good, as father Augustin has drawn it out of the Latin version by means of his miserable explanations, sanctified it by his reputation, and raised it to a fundamental article; a subject which deserved to be treated by Semler with his accustomed frankness and honesty. His annotations upon this letter elaimed again for the good monk Pelagius the reputation of orthodoxy, of which nothing but the furious clamors of Au. gustin could have deprived him, since Pelagius thought, and discoursed, and wrote better concerning the doctrine of human corruption, than any one, especially in the Grecian church, before the time of Augustin.
It was an easy task for Semler to investigate the subject of ecclesiastical history subsequent to the time of the fathers, in the writers of the middle ages; more easy than to the great mass of our modern historians, notwithstanding most of them from their professions have had occasion for a familiar acquaintance with these writers. All the inquirers into political history had recourse to the same authorities; because in the middle ages, what was spiritual and what was temporal ran
into each other, and scholars whose provinces were the most unlike stood in need of many materials from the middle ages, and were continually invited to read, examine, and to estimate the value of the historians of those ages. Notwithstanding this, not one of all the necessary preparations for a safe and proper use of the chronicles and annals of these writers has appeared even to our times. What any one has found he has caused to be published, and told us how it was found; but without criticism or selection, or the comparison of one work with another. Regard was paid merely to the names, not to the contents of historical works, and as many different names as were discovered, so many different works were reckoned, and newly printed. Thus was acquired a whole library of thick folios of the middle ages, before which an iron industry might tremble; for it appears at first sight like an ocean, which one must despair of exhausting. A nearer acquaintance however lessens the dread. Greater and more impudent plagiarists than the historians of the middle ages are not to be found in the whole history of literature. Few of their works are original; most are servile copies: sometimes the beginning, sometimes the middle, and sometimes the end may belong to the person whose name stands in the title page. Following writers epitomized those who went before them, without pointing out their authors, or brought together for their own purpose various chronicles literally compiled;
now for the sake of honoring an institution, a martyr, or a saint, and again for some more general and extensive object; as the Annalista Saxo, composed of fragments, collected from various
A writer often cites in support of a fact, two, three, or four names, as witnesses, or responsible vouchers, and when carefully examined they will probably all centre in one, whom the remainder have transcribed without naming him. Little however has been done of what ought to have been long since accomplished. The works of the middle ages are not examined according to the historical worth of their contents; originals are not distinguished from copies; and writers, who are still extant in their original text, are not compared with the copies revised in the middle ages, whereas they deserve attention in these first impressions taken from them. Nor have the particular characteristics of their works been described with reference to their place of nativity and period of time, order in the church, materials and objects; nor these again employed to show the place and time of anonymous and uncertain writings. Their texts still abound with errors of all kinds, which their editors have not discovered; but which one might perceive with eyes half awake, if the original and copies, the genuine and revised texts were fairly exhibited together. Thick darkness, which can be dispersed only by examination, still rests upon words, names, and things, upon the geography, arts, customs, and history of the middle ages. Whatever Dacheri, Murtene, Muratorius, and others, through the assistance of many brethren of their order, have accomplished, the literature of the middle ages has since, as it were, sighed from neglect. Had not Christ and Struve seeured the rights of criticism in the miserable chronicles of the monks, it had not descended even to this third century af. ter Christ; and if du Chesne had not prepared a glossary for the future explanation of the writings of the monks, that great field, from which laurels as fresh as from that of the old classic historians may be plucked, would not even have been known by name.
It was reserved for Semler to break his path through the thorns of chronicles and annals, of martyrologies and holy legends. Not accustomed to shrink from difficulties, he was not restrained from reading the tiresome authors which came in his way, either by their barbarous latinity, so opposite the classic Latin style, or by the irksome rhetoric of the eloister--which substitutes the sayings and expressions of the Vulgate for the strong political maxims with which the old classic historians seasoned their works; nor was he deterred by the strange language, in which one must acquire a considerable facility before he can determine with certainty the sense of the historians of the middle ages.
In the first and fortunate year of his professorship at Altdorff, the study of German history in Köhler led him to the Corpora rerum italicarum, francicarum, germanicarum, out of which he collected together under certain general heads, things corresponding with each other, and at that time made the important remark, that the later annals and chronicles were nothing but copies, here and there changed, from those that preceded. He pursued this investigation many years, and at length brought together the result of his valuable observations upon the spirit and character of the chronicles of the middle
ages, in an essay upon the use of the original authorities for ecclesiastical and civil history during the middle ages the first, and to this time the only critical work of its kind-small indeed in extent, but great and precious in regard to its contents. It consists however only of single observations placed together, which lead to no permanent and universal principles, but which indeed prepare for these, and shew by select examples the method by which we might obtain clearer views of the history of the middle ages, historians were less illiterate, and sought for applause less in what is foreign to their subjects. He represented the absurdities of the monkish Latin; how in the sixth eentury in regard to grammar, construction, and disposition of the ideas it became a strange and irregular mixture from the use of barbarous words taken out of the modern European languages, which rendered the reading and the understanding of every writer in the highest degree difficult; how in the eighth century the magis scholariter scribere became more common among the ecclesiastics, who were more obedient to the dominion of Priscian, and as an expiation for their sins against learning, copied more after classical authors; how likewise the monks from this time perceived that history was capable of receiving a better dress than that in which it commonly appeared, and how in order to make trial of it, they composed rhyming chronicles, and believed the wonders which they enveloped in fine apparel; how insufferable the manner, and language, and narration of the past eentury gradually became to them, and how they revised the former barbarous chronicles--the acta