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bours. The point I mean is that of the view taken of the character and proceedings of the great German Reformer.-The Milners, I am aware, have been thought to shew an undue partiality for MARTIN LUTHER. But I believe that there is little ground for this sentiment, beyond the simple fact of his appearing to so much more advantage in their pages, than in many works current among us, which treat his history in a very superficial or a very prejüdiced manner, and are written by persons utterly unqualified to appreciate the spirit and the principles by which he was actuated. I cannot but suspect, also, that those, who make this objection against the history of the Milners, have not fairly considered the unreserved acknowledgment and censure of Luther's real failings, to be found in very many parts of the work. My conviction is, that it exhibits an unspeakably more just and adequate view of Luther and his reformation, than had before appeared in our language.
Regret has also been expressed by some, that “ the laws of history had not been more strictly observed” in the work; while others have complained, that the plan of giving only the interior history of the church had been so very closely adhered to, as frequently to leave the reader at a loss as to contemporaneous events, and to the period which he has reached in the general history of the world.
As far as the circumstance, that the history frequently deviates into biography, and into accounts of writings which have proved eminently useful to the church, may be here made a ground of complaint, I apprehend this to be inseparable from its peculiar design. It was to be the history of religion itself; of the progress of divine truth in the world ; and of its effects on the minds and conduct of men. Of this individuals must be the subjects: and, in such authentic narratives of them as have come down to us, it must especially be sought. Wherever therefore an eminent example of this kind occurred, especially in ages or places where such instances were thinly scattered, there was a case to be selected, and drawn out in detail, whether in the history of the man himself, or of the works by which he had exerted a powerful, and perhaps a permanent influence upon society.--To a certain degree, the same character will be found to attach to the present volume. It contains several notices which might be termed biographical ; and throughout it is, in a very considerable measure, the story of Luther and his proceedings.
1 See, e. g. Milner v. pp. 28, 226, 237, 406, 474, 476, 485, 501, 519. (iv. 598, 810, 822, 1001, 1072, 1074, 1083, 1100, 1120.)
Nor have general notices of his works, with select extracts from many of them, been thought superfluous, either in themselves, or to render the narrative uniform with his earlier history given by Dr. Milner: though these naturally become more cursory, than when the account of his successive works and their effects was little else than that of the reformation itself.
The other subject of complaint, I conceive, was found chiefly in the more ancient periods of the work. Wholly to dissever the history of the true church of Christ, in the strictest sense of the term, from that of the world around it, at the period of the reformation, would be found impossible. It was so even in the earlier stages of the progress of reform, and Dr. Milner had occasion to give notice, that such would be still more the case as the work advanced. Indeed I have found it at times become so to a degree which proved disheartening. In reading through very considerable periods, even in the best writers, I have felt tempted to exclaim, What is there to be gathered from all this beyond the intrigue and chicane of mere worldly politics A closer inspection, however, in every instance, I trust, succeeded in bringing to light more appropriate and more interesting matter.-I have aimed, therefore, as the most satisfactory plan that I could adopt, while I gave a general and rapid view of events passing upon the stage of the world, which were connected with the history of the church, to draw forth, and present in detail, such accounts as were more suited to instruct and edify the Christian reader.
And here perhaps it will be necessary for me to apologize for the extent to which, in my latter chapters, I have availed myself of the assistance of our own Historian of the Emperor Charles V. The fact is this : Dr. Robertson and myself had, to a certain extent, to travel over the same ground. We had both to relate what may be called the external history of the church at a given period. To each of us, however, this was but a secondary object; subordinate or subservient, with him, to relating the public political transactions of the times, and, with me, to giving the history of true religion. The question then presented itself, Should I take advantage of his labours, which had produced a result, in general, equally accurate and elegant; or should I, to avoid the charge of borrowing from a modern and popular work, determine here also to compose a fresh, however inferior a narrative? I have not hesitated to adopt the former alternative; and have in consequence, in two or three instances, quoted freely, and acknowledged my obligation. At the same time, the remarks which I have appended, where I thought them called for, and the store of matter appropriate to my own work, and in great part new to the English reader, which I have been enabled to supply, will, I trust, sufficiently protect me from the charge of being, even here, a mere servile copyist.
With respect to the further continuation of the history, I can, of course, make no absolute promise : it is, however, my hope and my
intention to go
forward-and that without the loss of time. As far as I have yet been able to form any plan, my purpose is to bring down the account of that branch of the church which here especially engages our attention, through the events of the Smalkaldic war, and the changes which followed, to the peace of religion in the year 1555, which gave to the Lutheran church a legal and permanent establishment in Germany. I would then propose to trace, somewhat in the same way, the Swiss reformation, and the history of the reformed” churches, to which it gave birth ; and after that, should life and health be continued, to pass over into our own country, and give an account of the origin and progress of the reformation, and of the protestant institutions of Great Britain. But this is all—to use an expression often adopted by Melancthon-e yoúvao. @cou—at the disposal of Providence; and the fate of the illustrious men, whose interrupted work I take up, and aspire to continue-however much this may be
non passibus æquis, -admonishes me “ not to boast myself of tomorrow," but to say,
” but to say, “If the Lord will, I shall live, and do this and that.”
Before I conclude, I will venture to add a brief notice of a still more personal nature. Should I be at all accepted as the continuator of the Church History, I shall feel it to form a somewhat remarkable feature in my own humble story. It was at a very early age that I first conceived, from the A year and
Memoir of William Howard of North Ferriby,' a veneration for the name of Joseph MILNER, and a wish to become connected with Hull. When about to enter into holy orders, I had accepted a title in a remote part of the country-in Somersetshire : but it was proposed to me, and with some reluctance acceded to on my part, to receive instead of it a nomination to the curacy of St. John's, in Hull. This has fixed my lot in life. A a half afterwards, I was appointed to the same vicarage of North Ferriby, the same lectureship in the principal church at Hull
, and the same mastership of the grammar school, which Mr. Milner had held so long. The situations are independent of each other; and the last of the three I resigned some years ago : the others I still retain. If I may now succeed Mr. Milner in his favourite work, it will carry the resemblance as far as, in external things, I wish it to go; and I will apply to the case the words of the poet,
Te sequor, O Graiæ gentis decus, inque tuis nunc
Quod te imitari aveo. I shall now close this preface with some notices of the principal authors whom I follow in the present volume.
1. Among these Seckendorf, though not personally the earliest, may well deserve to be first mentioned. He was a native of Franconia, born A. D. 1626, educated at Strasburg, and early in life distinguished for his attainments. He passed most of his days in public employments, filling,
1 See the last volume of Mr. Milner's works. 2 This was three years and a half after the death of Mr. Milner. His immediate successor in the offices here mentioned was the Rev. Josiah Rodwell, M.A.