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< As to the political views, base artifices, and exactions of the Romish Priests, too much of it will appear in the course of this history: an impartial mention of them is in fact to explode them : particularly in the history of the state of religion in Great-Britain, from the first planting of christianity, at ihe latter end of the VIth and beginning of the VIIth century, to the middle of the XIV th century, when Wickliffe made fome efforts towards a reformation. The Reader will find many remarkable occurrences, in respect to the encroachments of the Church of Rome on the prerogatives of the British kings, and the common rights of their subjects, as well as by the gross corruptions of the original purity and simplicity of christianity, as must ever be deemed peculiar incentives to the English nation, to throw off that yoke if possible, and pursue a reformation in earnest and at the same time, he will observe such difficulties attending it, as must give us an high opinion of our principal reformers, and lead us to value our liberties, both civil and religious.
In the history of the reformation abroad and at home, and of the state of religion, more especially in the establised Church, and from that remarkable period to the revolution, I must own I have much exceeded my intended limits; but when I considered, the necessary connection between the reformation in the Low Countries, France, and in England, the many interesting circumstances that occurred, in which our principal reformers were exhibited to view (which indeed deserve to be ever preserved, and handed down to the latest posterity) and which I doubt not will be perused by many, with pleasure and improvement, I was not willing to omit them.
• Having mentioned Wickliffe as the morning far of the reformation, I have likewise given a general history of the period in which he lived, to the reign of king Henry the VIlIth, the reputed time when Protestantifm took its rise in this interval I have found many circumstances of an interesting nature, relative to the necessity of a reformation, the difficulties attending it, and likewise of incidental occurrences contributing thereto, which, at length, made it rise superior to opposition. How far the reformation was intended or effected by king Henry VIII, is a point in which even critical historians are much divided : I have therefore sought the materials of this difficult part of my history, from antient MSS, as well as modern tracts; and I have been somewhat more diffuse in this part, as I have selected from two MSS, his profession of faith wrote in 1536, and Memoirs of his Character, compiled much about the same time.
• My next province is to give a history of the state of religion in the successive reigns, down to the present time, in which I
have been careful to introduce whatever has been signal and interesting, either in the ecclefiaftical history of the established Church, or of such remarkable transactions and revolutions, in the civil history of this nation, as are connected with it for more than two hundred years, and as the prevailing opinions and parties, gave rise at different times, to a variety of transactions in council, in parliament, and ecclefiaftic convocations, fome of a remarkable interesting nature, I thought them the proper subjects of such an hiftory : but as many of them are peculiar to different denominations, that part of them I have inserted in the respective history of those feets, and what properly relate to the ecclefiaftical polity and government of the Church of England, comes under that head.
• In the prosecution of this part, I have attempted some account of the .princes, and most eminent prelates and divines, whose lives and writings have done honour to the Christian Protestant Church, and also of such as have attempted to fap the foundation of truth, liberty, and virtue.
• In treating of the articles of the Church of England, I have first given them in the established form, contained in the book of Common Prayer; I have then endeavoured to give their true sense, from lundry of the most approved expositions of those articles, by some diftinguished prelates of our Church, and other divines of note, and generally by extracts in their own words; save where I have thought it might be more properly abridged, and in that case I have given an abstract, with duc regard to the sense and meaning of the Author, and of the articles in their original form, in a sense in which the more judicious divines would recommend them to be understood. Mr. Welchman, in his exposition of these articles, pays a particular regard to the sense of the antient fathers, St. Austin, St. Chrysostom, St. Ignatius, Irenæus, &c. and it appears that the language and sentiment contained in them, are in great measure borrowed from the writings of those lights of the primitive Church, which, by the way, shews the great veneration and esteem our first compilers had for antiquity, and very often to the neglect of more certain, essential, and important rules and principles of judging, concerning the truths of the sacred Scriptures : but this is only a hint , for I must declare that I have made it a general rule, throughout the whole of this work, to relate facts and describe things as I found them, without at. tempting to animadvert thereon.
< In representing the constitution and doctrines of other denominations of Chriftians, I bave made it my constant rule to shew that I understood the subject, and was under no undue biass,
Impartiality Impartiality I esteemed effentially recommendatory of this work, and the best apology I could make for whatever involuntary errors and imperfections might attend the publication.
· Throughout the whole I have aimed at conciseness, as far as I judged would comport with the plan I had in view, its entertainment and usefulness; for I have characterized each sect, and explained their doctrines, more especially their peculiar tenets, where I could, in their own words. This method will afford not a barely fuperficial and partial account of what may be the particular sentiments of here and there a private person and obscure society; but of the genuine principles of that body or community, which is necessary to forming a just idea of them; and whenever it has been necessary, I have had proper information from correspondence, or given a personal attendajice at their assemblies and taken minutes, for greater certainty and satisfaction.
* By attempting such a compendium of the religious principles of particular denominations, I imagined I might particularly adapt this work to the perusal of many young persons, and other well disposed Chriftians, who may not have leisure or inclination to read, many diftinét treatises, and it may answer a parricular good purpose, in regard to their information and improvement.
• As this work was not entered upon with any party views, or prosecuted with prejudice and declamation, so it has been no hasty production ; it has been compiled at different times, and by flow degrees, in a course of several years ; now and then, indeed, it Ipread itself into branches, and leaves, like a plant in April, and sometimes it lay by without growth, like a vegetable in winter ; but it still existed, and acquired its present texture and bulk according as health, leisure, and other advantages favoured the undertaking.
« Nor do I apprehend the Reader will look upon this as a prolix history, when he considers not only the extent of the plan, but that many of the histories necessary to be consulted are very voluminous; as Eufebius's, Dupin's, Bingham's, and Collier's Ecclefiaftical Histories; Richer's of Councils, Father Paul's of that of Trent, Picart's religious Ceremonies, and the Collections of Tracts for and againtt Popery, Brandt's History of the Reformation in the Low Countries, Burnet's and many others, of the Reformation in England, and Laval's of that in France; Calderwood's, Spotswood's, and divers others of the Kirk of Scotland; Sewel's of Quakerism; Neal's of the Puritans, and Crosby's of the English Baptifts : besides a great 8
variety of tra&ts on points of controversy, dictionaries, &c. that must be referred to, and consulted, on such a number of subjects; Rapin, Hume, Smollet, and other civil Historians of our own nation, necessary for ascertaining and illustrating all such matters, as have an immediate connection with the principal design of this work. So that, upon the whole, I may venture to say, it has been an arduous task, the result of much reading and enquiry. But notwithstanding the assistance I have received, from so many eminent Historians, I have followed no Author any farther than I apprehend him to coincide with truth.
• After having been at all this expence and trouble to procure materials and proper helps for the execution of my plan, it is very probable and almost unavoidable, that many things may have escaped my notice, which might have contributed to illustrate, confirm, or embellish, the several parts of it. I can only Aatter myself that the Reader will find a fufficient number of quotations to ascertain the genuine principles of the several focieties respeclively, their rites, ceremonies, &c. of which I have given the following History. And I hope the judicious Reader will look on it as no diminution of the value of this work, that many of the ideas, as well as the language, in which they are expressed, are borrowed from the writings of the most eminent Divines of the established Church, and other denomi. nations, especially as, in many instances, it was necessary for authenticating the account I gave of the different sectaries; and very often, I found my sentiments so happily expressed in them, that I presumed from my own approbation it would be moft agreeable to my Readers."
Such is the account the Author gives of his plan ; those who are desirous of seeing in what manner he has executed it, we must refer to the work itself: which was lately publihed in pea riodical numbers, and is now compleated.
An Esay concerning the Human Rational Soul. In Three Parts.
Shewing, 1. the Origin; 2. the Nature; 3. the Excellency of this Soul. Upon natural as well as revealed Principles. With a Dedication, and an Introduction, in Defence of Revealed Religion. 8vo. 35. 6d. Fletcher.
Twould certainly be attended with many good consequences
to the public, tho' it might poflibly be productive of some inconvenience to private persons, if the friends or relations of a man were legally impowered, when his understanding should be
found to have taken a certain wrong turn, to debar him the ufe
We do not take upon us to say, at what time the friends of this Efsayist, had they been so authorized, thould have laid him under the above-mentioned restraint. We cannot help thinking, however, that if this work made its appearance in Dublin, fo long ago as the year 1759, as mentioned in the title, they should have exerted themselves, for the credit of the Author asid his family, as well as for the good of the public, to prevent its being re-printed at Oxford, in 1764.
We learn from the dedication, which appears to have been addressed to the Duke of Bedford, when Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, that our Author's name is Zachary Langton, probably an Irish Divine : and, though it may seem natural enough for a Clergyman of that country to enter into a defence of the Athanasian Creed, we have had a remarkable instance of a learned Prelate of the church of Ireland, who dissented totis viribus against it. The Dedication, indeed, containing almost as many pages as the Essay itself, consists almost entirely of a defence of this Creed, and the Liturgy of the established Church; plenti-. fully sprinkled with abuse of those who dillent from it; particularly the Ozlagon * Gentry, as he calls the new Congregation at Liverpool, His unbounded veneration for our most excellent Creeds, Articles, and Common Prayer, through all its Offices, by law established,' may be gathered from the following note; as well as the
charitable and christian-like manner in which he seems disposed to excite the like veneration, or supply the want of it in others.
· The Testimony given by the King and Parliament to the Common Prayer in the Act, which establisheth the use of it, is every memorable, and sure should never be forgotten by ibeir luc• From the form in which their church is built. 3