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TO THE FORMER EDITIONS OF THIS WORK.
“This book has passed through several editions in America. We must confess we have derived great instruction and entertainment from the perusal of it, and think we may safely recommend it as an excellent work of reference, for an account of the many different sects and persuasions to be found in the world. We have carefully examined those articles that have reference to the most important controversies and differences of opinion among believers, and we must say, they seem to us to be drawn up with great impartiality and correctness; and the Work is certainly valuable in admitting the representations of sectarists themselves. We cannot conclude without again expressing how much satisfaction we have derived from the perusal of this small volume, which contains more than we could have expected to find in it.”—British Critic, vol. xxvii. p. 437-8.
The ECLECTIC REVIEW (though it omitted to review the Book at the time) in noticing a more recent publication, says, --
“ Many of our readers, undoubtedly, are acquainted with the Essay on Truth-containing an inquiry into its nature and importance, with a statement of the cause of error, and the reasons of its being permitted, by Mr. Fuller, prefixed to his improved edition of Adams's View of Religions. We would beg leave most earnestly to recommend this excellent Tract as an antidote, and the accurate and comprehensive Work of which it forms a part, as a substitute, for the publications against which we felt it our imperious duty to protest.”_Eclectic Review, vol. v. p. 290.
THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER also omitted noticing this Work at the time; but in reviewing a more recent publication, (The Religious World Displayed) they remark “ The View of Hannah Adams is the only (previous] work which deserves attention, [and] though short, is not superseded by the present performance. Its form as a Dictionary, and the able Essay with which Mr. Fuller has introduced and enriched it, will preserve to it its character as a very useful manual.”—Christian Observer, vol. ix.
“We believe the readers of this Work will concur with us in opinion, that it is compiled with judgment and impartiality; and that the principal articles are digested with considerable ability.”— Bible Mag. vol. i. p. 460.
“ In the preface, by the Editors of the present edition of this work, we are informed that its object is to exhibit the multiplied speculations of the human mind on the important subject of religion, in as just and impartial a manner as possible.' They add, “That while they have retained the accounts of denominations which are become extinct, they have, in respect of the living ones, availed themselves of other sources of information, when it could be done to advantage ; and have been supplied,
from the late missionary undertakings, with some additional matter, with respect to Paganism and Mahometanism.'
“ In regard to the work itself, we feel no difficulty in saying, that for fulness, candour, and accuracy, it stands greatly superior to all of a similar nature, with which we are acquainted. It is enriched with a very valuable Essay on Truth, by one of the Editors, the Rev. And. Fuller."— Evangelical Magazine, vol. xiii. p. 223.
Of the last Edition the same Work remarks, “ The present Editor having detected many mistakes and omissions in the former Editions of this Work, has greatly improved it by correction, retrenchment, and addition, as well as in the new form given to the whole."-Vol. xxiii. p. 234.
EXPLANATION OF THE FRONTISPIECE.
BESIDES the painting with which we were favoured for this Work, there is another in Dr. D. Williams's Library, Red-cross Street, London, and two or three others in different parts of the kingdom, so similar, that it is difficult to say which was the original. Beside the fourteen Reformers here exhibited, most of the paintings have, in the right hand corner, a portrait of Mr. Perkins, a very excellent divine, but rather a Puritan than a Reformer, having lived a century after the era of the Reformation; and the portrait is known to have been inserted by a later hand.
The Numbers on the plate refer to these excellent men, as follows:
1. Henry Bullinger, the successor of Zuinglius. He was born a. D. 1504, and died in 1575.
2. Jerome Zanchius, a learned Italian Reformer, and divinity professor at Heidelburg. Born 1516, and died 1590.
3. John Knox, the intrepid Reformer of Scotland. Born 1504, died 1572.—“ He never feared the face of Man."
4. Ulric Zuinglius, the Reformer of Switzerland, a very learned and pious man. Born 1487, slain 1531. (See Zuinglians in Dict.)
5. Peter Martyr, born at Florence, in 1500, but came to England, to assist the English Reformers in the time of Edward VI.; after which he went to Switzerland, and died there in 1562.
6. Martin Bucer, born in Alsace, 1491. Came to England, and was made divinity professor at Cambridge, where he died in 1551. In the succeeding reign of Queen Mary, his bones were taken up and burnt.
7. Jerome of Prague, a disciple of Huss, and a man of learning; who was burnt in 1416, for adhering to the doctrines of the Reformation.
8. John Oecolampadius, an eminent German Reformer. Born 1482, died 1531. These form the upper group of portraits: those in the next row are as follow:
9. John Wickliffe, the morning-star of the Reformation in England, was born in Yorkshire, about 1324; translated the Bible into English, which he is represented as placing on the table. He died in 1384. See Wickliffites.
10. Theodore Bexa, born at Burgundy, in 1519-Greek professor at Lausanne, and assistant to Calvin. The book in his hand may be supposed to be the New Testament, which he translated into Latin. He died in 1605.
11. John Calvin, the celebrated Reformer of Geneva. Born in Picardy, 1509, and died 1564. The book he holds seems intended for his Christian Institutes. See Calvinists.
'12. Martin Luther, the great German Reformer, and translator of the Bible into German. Born in Saxony in 1483, died 1546. He is in the act of writing or translating. See Lutherans.
13. Philip Melancthon, a learned and amiable Reformer. Born 1497, died 1560. 14. John Huss, born 1376, martyred 1415. See Hussites.
The Candle in the centre of the table is intended to represent the light of the Reformation; the group at bottom contains a friar, a pope, a cardinal, and the devil, who are trying to extinguish this light, and complaining that they cannot blow it out. The friar, in addition to his breath, is throwing holy water at it, with a kind of spatula, or spoon.
FIRST LONDON EDITION
The following work, written by the ingenious author of A Summary History of New England, &c. has gone through several editions in America. The present one is printed from the third, which came out in October, 1801, with large additions, and was dedicated to JOHN Adams, late president of the United States.
The design of such a work is not to convey an idea of all religious principles being equally true, or safe, to those who imbibe them; but to exhibit the multiplied speculations of the human mind in as just and impartial a manner as possible. Such things exist, or have existed in the world, whether we know them or not; and the reading of them in a proper spirit may induce us to cleave more closely to the law and to the testimony;' forming our religious principles by their simple and obvious meaning; and avoiding, as a mariner would avoid rocks and quicksands, every perversion of them in support of a pre-conceived Several publications of the kind have appeared amongst us, on whose merits we shall not take upon us to decide. Suffice it to say, that the present work-having been written on the other side the Atlantic, and by a person who has not only informed herself of the general state of religion in the world, but has manifestly paid a particular attention to the religious controversies of her own country-may be supposed to include many things, with which our writers, as well as readers, are but little acquainted. While, however, we have printed those parts of the work, and the account of almost all the denominations which are become extinct, as they were, we have in respect of the living ones, frequently availed ourselves of other sources of information, where it appeared capable of being done to advantage. The late missionary undertakings have furnished some additional matter with respect to Paganism and Mahometanism.
Some parts of the accounts, given by the author, of the Eastern Pagan nations, we have omitted, considering the authorities on which they are founded as suspicious. By a close attention to fact in those nations, with which Europeans have lately been in the habits of the most familiar intercourse, we have been compelled to distrust much of the panegyric bestowed upon them by former writers; and to consider it as one of those indirect methods by which deistical historians, geographers, and travellers, have thought fit to assail the religion of JESUS.