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BOTH the father and grandfather of Dr. Gieseler were clergymen. His grandfather, John Arend Gieseler, born at Minden in 1726, was a pastor at Lahde, and afterward at Hartum, in the principality of Minden. He received his theological education at Halle. The family records describe him as wholly in sympathy with the practical Christian tendencies reintroduced by Franke and Spener, though not devoted to the peculiarities of "pietism;" as a true adherent of the symbols of Lutheranism; as a very earnest, active, and orderly man, yet cheerful, and of great hilarity with the right sort of people. These characteristics reappear in the grandson. The grandmother, of the family of Haccius, shared her husband's piety and love of order.

These qualities also distinguished their son, George Christopher Frederick Gieseler, born in 1770, who was a preacher in Petershagen, near Minden, and afterward in Werther, not far from Bielefeld. He was a man of a marked intellectual character. Though deaf from his fourteenth year, so that in the University he was often obliged to transcribe from his neighbor's manuscript, and though thus almost deprived in later life of social intercourse, he yet attained the most thorough culture and self-discipline. His infirmity seemed to forbid his entering the clerical profession; but, as if born for a minister, he would be that, and nothing else. In his eleventh and twelfth years he held meetings on Sunday afternoons, in a garden-house of his father, which were attended in large numbers from the village, and not without good results. When only thirteen, he took for a time the place of a sick teacher in the chapel at Holtzhausen, conducting the singing and catechetical exercise. He, too, was educated at the University of Halle, and taught in several private families, until he became a

pastor at Petershagen in 1790. He was devoted to his congregation, yet ever earnest in his studies. He published several works, but more remain in manuscript, upon Theology, or rather Theoso~ phy, the Revelation of John, and Education. With much that is original, these writings contain also one-sided and erratic views.

John Charles Louis Gieseler was born at Petershagen the third of March, 1793, the oldest of ten children. When four years old, death deprived him of the faithful and loving care of his mother, whose maiden name was Berger, a woman of great practical sagacity. His earliest instruction was from his grandfather, who taught him in an easy, sportive way, to be a good reader in his fourth year. His father's peculiarities contributed to the formation of that independence of character which in early life distinguished him, and in later years came to his aid in so many difficult circumstances. In his tenth year he was sent to the Latin school of the Orphan-house at Halle. Here he soon enjoyed the counsels and care of Niemeyer, whose friendship in after years never deserted him. He aided him in his studies, and after their completion promoted him to the post of teacher in the Orphan School. He had hardly been a year in this position, when, in October, 1813, he followed the call of his father-land, became a volunteer in the war for Germany's freedom, and was present at the raising of the siege of Magdeburg. After the peace in 1815, he resumed his office as teacher; two years later he received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy: he became co-rector of the gymnasium at Minden in the same year, and in 1818 director of the gymnasium at Cleve. At Michaelmas, in 1819, he was appointed

professor ordinarus" of Theology in the newly-established Frederick-William's University of Bonn, having already received from that University, on the third of April of the same year, the doctorate of divinity through Augusti's influence.

This rapid promotion he owed to his "Critical Essay upon the Origin and earliest History of the written Gospels," published in 1818. This exposition set aside the hypothesis of one written original Gospel as the common source of the synoptical Gospels, and confirmed the positions laid down by Herder, Lessing, and others, which are at the basis of the whole recent criticism of the Gospels. This important work of Gieseler was soon out of print; yet


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he could never decide upon issuing a second edition. He shunned that confusion of hypotheses, many of them wholly groundless, which afterward sprung up on this subject, and also thought that the time had not come for new and definitive results.

His thorough philological culture is proved by his treatises published in the second volume of Rosemüller's "Repertorium," which helped to enrich the science of the grammar of the New Testament, then in its infancy. His Essay upon the “Nazarenes and the Ebionites," in Stäudlin and Tzschirner's “Archiv” (Bd. iv. St. 2), showed his peculiar talent in disentangling confused problems. From this time forth he dedicated his powers almost exclusively to his loved studies in church history. Neander's "Genetic Development of the Gnostic Systems" was the occasion of his penetrating review (in the "Hallische Lit. Zeitung, 1823), which cast much new light upon this chaos. The next year he commenced the publication of his "Text-book of Church History." With Lücke, he also edited the "Zeitschrift für gebildete Christen,” four numbers being issued in the years 1823, 4.

At that time the yet youthful University of the Rhine enjoyed a fresh and free life; Protestants and Catholics were not rent asunder; Gratz and Seber still taught without hinderance their independent exegesis and theology, assailed only by Hermes; they, with Ritter, the Roman Catholic church historian, were in constant intercourse with Gieseler; all were of one heart and one soul; robust powers were working peaceably together; the University was in the perfect blossom of its spring-time. In his family Gieseler was blessed in a high degree, attached with incomparable truth and devotion to his early loved and early lost wife, Henrietta, of the Feist family in Halle. The blessing of many children was theirs, and with these came many a care. But trusting in God, relying upon his own power of labor, untiringly active, most conscientious in all his work, not troubled by little things, in the midst of his cares he kept his heart open to every joy.


For twelve and a half years he stood in this post of special influence as a teacher of church history, and enjoying the confidence of his colleagues, who had just committed to him the rectorship of the University, when the Georgia Augusta called him to her service; and certainly, in no other University could he have

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been so wholly in his place as at Göttingen. In its fundamental character, as the nurse of the empirical and historical sciences, and in the manifold practical services to which it called him, it corresponded entirely with his own bias. Mere learned investigation would not have filled up the measure of his activity. It is dif ficult to say which in him was predominant, his capacity for learning, or his practical sagacity and inward fitness to organize and govern; both, without doubt, went hand in hand. As he was in life, so was he in science, clear, definite, foreseeing, conscientious; in expression concise, at times laconic, in all things a man of one piece


a man in every sense of the word. This was felt as soon as you. came in contact with him and put confidence in him. The University frequently committed to him, and in times of trial almost always to him alone, the dignity of pro-rector; with hardly an interruption, he was a member of one or several academical courts. His counsel must be sought upon propositions for the revisal of the University statutes, or in making new regulations. He was a constant member of the Library Commission. The city corpora tion chose him for its speaker, an office, however, which he afterward declined. He was curator of the Göttingen Orphan-house, and had the administration of many other charitable foundations, especially the scholarships. The Göttingen Academy of Sciences, of which he was a member, committed to him the direction of the Wedemeyer prizes. In union with Lücke, he directed the Theological Ephora. But the Orphan-house was the special joy of his heart. With few exceptions, he was there every day, and hence knew exactly the disposition, conduct, and faults of each child, had for every one friendly words and counsel, and kept the pupils in his eye long after they had left the institution. They, in return, were attached to him, and manifestly eager to give him pleasure; only in a very few cases did he fail of success in his noble efforts for the rescue of the abandoned, undertaken with so bold a faith.

He gave much time to the lodge of the Order of Free-masons, and undoubtedly knew why he did this. In his last days he was violently assailed on this account, in a way which detracts as little from his good name as from the prosperity of the order.

The interests of his country were ever dear to his heart. The last volume of his church history, embracing the period from

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1814 to 1848, shows in many passages what his wishes were. His judgment upon the revolutionary movements of 1848 runs through the whole narrative, in which is also seen the calm hope with which he looked to the future in the midst of the storms that robbed so many of their self-possession.

In the affairs of the Church, as well as of the State, he loved to see a constant and ever judicious advance; he would not have any of the threads severed which bind together the new and the old. Hence he declared against the so-called "Constituent Synods,” projected in 1848; and these, in fact, would only have done injury, had they been, as he conceived them to be, courts sitting in judgment upon what was henceforth to be received as the doctrines of the Church. But such a tendency might have been easily avoided; and when we think how much has been lost by nearly forty years of neglect, and the difficulty of its restoration, we can only desire that efforts for the building up of our Protestant Church should not again be undervalued; there may at least be progress in the ecclesiastical order and arrangement of the individual churches, so that, when there is greater clearness in doctrine, we may find the foundations ready for the future struc


The question whether Gieseler was a rationalist, was answered in the negative, immediately after his death, by a Theologian of high standing, his colleague, Dr. Dorner;* and he certainly was never what we now most commonly understand by that word. From the beginning to the end of his literary career, he held immovably to the truth of justification through faith alone, the fundamental idea of the Protestant system, understanding by this, the free personal reception of the divine truth and grace that come through the mediation of Christ, and are manifested in Him. He did not put the knowledge given by human reason above the divine truth given us in Christ; he acknowledged him only to be a Christian who saw in Christ the sum of all the highest truth, never to be surpassed by any one here below. But when, on the other hand, any one detracted from the right and obligation of human reason to appropriate, examine, and grasp this truth, to free


* Dorner, "Abwehr der hengstenbergscher Angriffe auf Gieseler und Lucke." Gottingen, 1854.

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