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ultimately came to be established by the unprincipled, and despotic HILDEBRAND, over the lives, liberties, and consciences of European Christendom, in the eleventh century.
The acquirement of knowledge in this department of Ecclesiastical History must, therefore, be deemed to be of the highest importance.
But, the discouragements, which present themselves, and the obstacles, which interpose, are so numerous, as to deter any, but the most unwearied industry, from encountering them. For, in the first place :
Jortin, Mosheim, Joseph Milner, and other writers of this stamp, only make incidental mention of the Councils; at least, only speak of them so far as they bear on the subject, of which they treat; and, therefore, however useful their works respectively are: on this isolated point, they afford no satisfactory information.
2. Dupin’s Ecclesiastical History is too prolix, and abounds with so much matter uninteresting, because obsolete, that if advantage is to be derived from its perusal, more time must be expended, than can be consistent with other claims on the student's attention. It is, however, due in justice to him, to say, that his impartial and elaborate History is of unquestionable value, and will reward patient inquiry with a rich supply of information.
3. Binnius, Labbè, and Cossart, * Mansius, and other writers, comprise in their respective works, or at least, collectively, all the Councils, and Synods, that had been convened from the time of the Apostles to that of the Council of Trent, inclusively. But how few persons possess the physical energy adequate to the labour of drudging through some scores, it may be said, hundreds of huge, massy Folios, and of extracting from them such information, as would reward their research, had they even the inclination, or the leisure, for a task of the kind ?
4. Beveridge's Synodicon, to be sure, was compiled with the view of simplifying the labours of his Predecessors, and of presenting the Theological Student with the Acts, Canons, and Decrees of the different Coun
* Manzi, an Italian Bishop, compiled the Councils, and published them in an edition consisting of Thirty Folio Volumes !
cils ; notwithstanding this, most of those documents possess little more interest in their abridged, than in their original form. Besides, an objection would still lie against any publication of the kind for popular use, in the shape of a folio.
5. As if to remedy this defect, no less than to set aside such an objection; Prideaux published his Synopsis, principally of the first four General Councils, in a reduced quarto, but in so brief a form, that if not obscure, at least, it is not practically useful. Whitaker's Prælections, and Lydius's Narrative of the Councils, although compendious, and barely touching on the leading points of the Conciliar History; yet will only be found to gratify the reader, who has a taste for modern Latinity. To these might be added, writers without number of the same description. On the Council of Trent alone, so much has been written ; that the attention, when directed to it, is distracted by the multiplicity of its Historiang. Passing over Jurieu, Heidegger, Thuanus, Molinæus, and a host of other French, and German Authors; Father Paul and Pallavicini, the former, although a strict Romanist, carrying his hostility to the Papal Court, and to the packed assembly in Trent, so far, as even to endanger his life, and the latter, as their devoted champion, repelling his attacks ; will feel no desire to enlarge it, after the lively but circumstantial representation afforded him, particularly by Paul, of the arts and intrigues, the frauds and follies, of that iniquitous Convention.
6. Caranza, a Dominican Friar, and Confessor to our English Queen Mary, wrote a lumpish quarto, containing much matter common to other works of the kind; but stuffed with papal Decrees, and Acts of Councils, not acknowledged by the Church to which he belonged. The works of Crabbe, the Franciscan, and of Longus, and Cabassutius, are equally objectionable.
To obviate the necessity, therefore, to which the student must be exposed, of undertaking a labour so Herculean, as that of exploring the Ecclesiastical Records of more than fifteen centuries ;-a labour likely to be abandoned, as soon as entered on, is the prime object of this EPITOME. Having this object in view, the Author does not enter into a detailed account of any particular Council. He merely exhibits a summary of the facts, and incidents, belonging to each; while he points to the sources, from which more enlarged knowledge may be acquired, and whence he derived his own materials. With such a limitation, it is hoped, that his Epitome will be found a useful guide to the labours of others, without pretending, at the same time, to supersede their use; and that without burthening the memory, it will afford the young Divine all the information, which is either useful, or necessary, to be had on the subject. The papal and conciliar authorities referred to in it, are faithfully presented to him, without any affectation of novelty, or depth of research ; and if they have been unusually condensed, it has been done with the design of supplying a want complained of, and providing for popular use, a Digest of the General Councils ;-nothing of the kind having ever made its appearance in the English Language. Should these views, and objects of the Author be answered by the publication of the present volume; the time, and labour bestowed upon it will have been profitably employed.