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Book the fourth.
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH,
THE BEGINNING OF THE REFOR
MATION BY LUTHER,
THE PRESENT TIMES.
I.IT HE order and method, that have been the me
followed in the former part of this Work, thod obcannot be continued, without the greatest incon-the precedveniences, in this Fourth Book, which relates to ing part of
he 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 divine 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 revolutions, 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-Lurch ein tury, had a manifest relation to the church in this centugeneral, and not to any Christian society in par- divided in
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 gene
III. To the General History belong all those ral history of the
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
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