Page:Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, 1842.djvu/33

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


cribe what was most important from the existing documents of the day.

Our author has the praise even from the hypercritical Scaliger, of being a man who had made extensive use of the historical sources of his day. Si eruditissimus vocandus, says he, qui multa legit, sane neme illi hanc laudem invidere potest. This writer does not, indeed, allow him all the qualifications of an historian, to use his own words, judicium cum multa lectione, but the selections that he has left to posterity are nevertheless invaluable. He was at least faithful to his purpose, by culling, as he himself expresses it, (ως αν εχ λογυων λεῳωνων) the appropriate extracts from ancient waiters.

In making this selection, we have only to regret that he did not give us more of the distinguished writers of those ages, and thus supplied, in some measure, the loss of their works. In the testimony thus preserved, however, we have a body of evidence, both to the existing events of the day, and to the truth of those Scriptures which, without the formality of a regular system of proof, carries its conviction to the mind. Whether this testimony appeared in a plain or polished style, whether simple or embellished, the great object of our author is the evidence that it furnishes, and which therefore he gives us, as one who, by the advantages of his situation, whilst Christianity was yet in the freshness of its morning sun, could arrest and seize some of its fleeting images, ere they were erased from the memory of man.

And in order to let these images appear, Eusebius with his testimony must be suffered to speak for himself. His history, independently of its practical utility and its literary store, is unquestionably the most interesting and the most important work that appeared in the first ages of the church. A work adapted to all ages and classes, to furnish materials of reflection to the man of letters, to supply the retired Christian with examples of unreserved devotion and sacrifice to duty, and to furnish all, some original views of primitive times, at the hand of one who may be pronounced a primitive man.

In undertaking the present work, the translator was influenced by a firm persuasion of its utility, and the necessity of a new ver-