« הקודםהמשך »
HE order and method, that have been the me
followed in the former part of this Work, served in cannot be continued, without the greatest incon-the precedveniences, in this Fourth Book, which relates to ing part of the modern history of the church. From the changed in commencement of the sixteenth century, the the Fourth face of religion was remarkably changed; the divisions, that had formerly perplexed the church, increased considerably; and the Christian societies, that relinquished the established forms of di. vine worship, and erected themselves into separate assemblies, upon principles different from those of the Roman hierarchy, multiplied from day to day. This circumstance renders it impossible to present in one connected series, or, as it were in one continued tablature, the events, vicissitudes, and révolutions, that happened in the church, divided its members, and enfeebled the dominion of its tyrants. From the period on which we now enter, the bond of union among Christians, that had been formed by a blind obedience to the Roman pontiffs, was every where either dissolved, or at least, relaxed; and consequently this period of our history must be divided into a multitude of branches, into as many parts, as there were famous sects that arose in this century.
II. It is however proper to observe here, that the histomany of the events, which distinguished this cen-Hurch in tury, had a manifest relation to the church in this centugeneral, and not to any Christian society in par- divided inB 2
ticular, to two ge
ticular. And as these events deserve to be mentioned separately, on account of their remarkable tendency to throw a light upon the state of Christianity in general, as well as upon the history of each particular Christian society, we shall therefore divide this Fourth Book into two main and principal parts, of which the one shall contain the General, and the other the Particular History of
the Christian religion. The genes III. To the General History belong all those ral history
events which relate to the state of Christianity, church considered in itself and in its utmost extent, to
the Christian church viewed in the general, and abstracted from the miserable and multiplied divisions into which it was rent by the passions of men. Under this head we shall take notice of the advancement and progress of Christianity in general, without any regard to the particular sects .that were thus instrumental in promoting its interests; nor shall we omit the consideration of certain doctrines, rites, and institutions, which appeared worthy of admission to all, or, at least, to the greatest part of the Christian sects, and which consequently produced every where changes and
improvements of more or less importance. Particular IV. In the Particular History of this century, history.
we propose passing in review, in their proper order, the various sects into which the Christian church was divided. This part of our work, for the sake of method and precision, we shall subdivide into two. : In the first we shall comprehend what relates to the more ancient Christian sects, both in the eastern and western hemispheres; while the second shall be confined to the history of those more modern societies, the date of whose origin is posterior to the Reformation in Germany. In the accounts that are here to be given of the circumstances, fate, and doctrines of each sect, the method laid down in the Preface to this Work
shall be rigorously observed, as far as is possible ; since it seems the most adapted to lead us to an accurate knowledge of the nature, progress, and tenets of every Christian society, that arose in these times of discord.
V. The most momentous event that distin- History of guished the church after the fifteenth century, and the Reforwe may add, the most glorious of all the Revolu. tions that happened in the state of Christianity since the time of its divine and immortal Founder, was that happy change introduced into religion, which is known by the title of the Blessed Reformation. This grand revolution, which arose in Saxony from small beginnings, not only spread itself with the utmost rapidity through all the European provinces, but also extended its efficacy more or less to the most distant parts of the globe, and may be justly considered as the main and principal spring which has moved the nations from that illustrious period, and occasioned the greatest part both of those civil and religious revolutions that fill the annals of history down to our times. The face of Europe was, in a more especial manner, changed by this great event. The present age feels yet, in a sensible manner, and ages to come will continue to perceive, the inestimable advantages it produced, and the inconveniences of which it has been the innocent occasion. The history therefore of such an important revolution, from whence so many others have derived their origin, and whose relations and connections are so exten. sive and universal, demands undoubtedly a peculiar degree of attention, and has an unquestionable right to the principal place in such a work as this, We therefore now proceed to give a compendious view of the modern history of the Christian church, according to the plan and method already laid down.
THE HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION.
XVI. SECT. I.
ample and extensive to be comprehended without a certain degree of confusion, in the unThe divi- interrupted narration of one Section ; we shall sion of the therefore divide it into Four Parts, tion. The First will contain An Account of the State
of Christianity before the Commencement of the Rem formation.
The Second, The History of the Reformation from its first Beginnings until the date of the Confesșion drawn up at Augsberg.
The THIRD will exhibit A View of the same History, from this latter period to the Commencement of the war of Smalcald, And,
The FOURTH will carry it down to The Peace that was entered into with the Abettors of the Reformation in the year 1555 [a]. This division is natural; it arises spontaneously from the events themselves.
[a] The writers of the History of the Reformation of every rank and order, are enumerated by the very learned Philip Frid. Hane (who himself deserves a most eminent rank in this class), in his Historia Sacrorum a Luthero Emendatorum, part I. cap. 1. p. 1. and by Jo. Alb. Fabricius, in his Centifolium Lutheranum, part II. cap. clxxxvii. p. 863.-The greatest part, or at least the most eminent, of this list of authors must be consulted by such as desire a farther confirmation or