Mosheim, John Lawrence

, an illustrious German divine, was born at Lubeck, in 1695, of a noble family, which might seem to open to his ambition a fair path to civil promotion; but his zeal for the interests of religion, his thirst after knowledge, and particularly his taste for sacred literature, induced him to consecrate his talents to the service of the church. Where he was educated we have | Dot learned; fcut he is said to have given early indications of a promising capacity, and of a strong desire of mental and literary improvement; and, when his parents proposed to him the choice of a profession, the church suggested itself to him as a proper department for the exercise of that zeal which disposed him to be useful to society. Being ordained a minister in the Lutheran church, he soon distinguished himself as an eloquent and useful preacher. His reputation in this character, however, was local and confined, but the fame of his literary ability diffused itself among all the nations of Christendom. The German universities loaded him with literary honours the king of Denmark invited him to settle at Copenhagen the duke of Brunswick called him thence to Helmstadt, where he filled the academical chair was honoured with the character of ecclesiastical counsellor to the court an,d presided over the seminaries of learning in the duchy of Wolfembuttle and the principality of Blakenburg. When a design was formed of giving an uncommon degree of lustre to the university of Gottingen, by filling it with men of the first rank in letters, king George II. considered Dr. Mosheim as worthy to appear at the head of it, in quality of chancellor; and he discharged the duties of that station with zeal and propriety, and his conduct gave general satisfaction. Here he died, universally lamented, in 1755. In depth of judgment, in extent of learning, in purity of taste, in the powers of eloquence, and in a laborious application to all the various branches of erudition and philosophy, he is said to have had very few superiors. His Latin translation of Cud worth’s “Intellectual System,” enriched with large annotations, discovered a profound acquaintance with ancient learning and philosophy. His illustrations of the Scriptures, his labours in defence of Christianity, and the light he cast upon religion and philosophy, appear in many volumes of sacred and prophane literature. He wrote, in Latin, 1. “Observationes sacra?, et historico- critic^,” Amst. 1721, 8vo. 2. “Vindicise antiquae Cnristianorum discipline, adv. J, Tolandi Nazarenum,” Hamb. 1722, 8vo. 3, “De aetate apologetici Tertulliani et initio persecutionis Christianorum sub Severo, commentatio,” Helm. 1724, 4to. 4. “Gallus glorias J. Christi, Spiritusque Sancti obtrectator, publicae contemtioni expositus,” Helm. 1736, 4to. 5. “Historia Tartarorum ecclesiastica,” Helm. 1741, 4to. 6. “De rebus | Christianorum ante Constantinum Magnum commentarii,” ibid. 1753, 4to. 7. “Historia Mich. Served,” &c. But that by which he is best known in this country is his church-history. This was at first a small work, which appeared under the title of “Institutiones Historic Christiana?,” and passed through several editions. He was repeatedly urged by his learned friends to extend a work which they represented as too meagre for the importance of the subject. He acknowledged the objection, but alleged various avocations as an excuse for non-compliance. At length, however, he acceded to the wish of the public, and having employed two years in the augmentation and improvement of his history, he published it in 1755, before the end of which year he died. This was soon after translated into English by Dr. Maclaine, of whom we have recently given some account, and is now a standard book in our libraries. The best edition, as we have noticed in Maclaine’s article, is that of which Dr. Charles Coote was the editor and contimlator, in 1811, 6 vols. 8vo. This edition is also enriched by a masterly dissertation from the pen of Dr. Gteig, of Stirling, on the primitive form of the church, calculated to obviate certain prejudices which Mosheim had discovered in various parts of his otherwise Valuable history. 1

1 Dr. Coote’s preface. —Dict. Hist. The anti-episcopal prejudices of Mosheim are obviated in many parts of Milner’s Church History.