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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 established 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 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 Star 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 Protestantism 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 ancient MSS, as well as modern Tracts; and I have been somewhat more diffuse in B2

this

this Part, as I have selected from two MSS, his Profession of Faith wrote in 1536, and Memoirs of bis 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 ecclesiastical 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 ecclesiastic Convocations, some of a remarkable interesting Nature, I thought them the proper Subjects of such an History : But as many of them are peculiar to different Denominations, that part of them I have inserted in the respective History of those Sects, and what properly relate to the ecclesiastical 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 sap 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 sundry of the most approved Expositions of those Articles, by fome distinguished Prelates of

our

great Ve

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 due 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 ancient Fathers, St. Austin, St. Chryfoftom, 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 neration and Esteem our first Compilers had för Antiquity; and very often to the Neglect of more certain, effential and important Rules and Principles of Judging, concerning the Truths of the facred Scriptures: But this is only a Hint; for 1 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 attempting to animadvert thereon.

In representing the Constitution and Doctrines of other Denominations of Christians, I have made it my constant Rule to thew that I understood the Subject, and was under no undue Biass. Impartiality I esteemed essentially recommendatory of this Work, and the best Apology I could make for whatever involuntary Errors and Imperfections inight 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 Upfulness;

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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 superficial and partial Account of what may be the particular Sentiments of here and there a private Person and obfcure Society; but of the genuine Principles of that Body or Community, which is necessary to forming a juft Idea of them; and whenever it has been neceffary, I have had proper Information from Correspondence, or given a personal Attendance at their Assemblies and taken Minutes; for greater certainty and Satisfaction.

Amongst a Variety of Readers I cannot expect the Approbation of all. Some there are so extreamly indifferent, with respect to the principal Difference of Sentiment among Christians, as plainly implies they have never made Religion their Study, or that their own Profession is not the Effect of their Enquiry; but that they are governed in their Choice, by the Dictates of their Tutors, or the Sanction of Authority; and to such, Popery would, probably, have been as ágreeable as Protestantism, or Mahomedanism as Christianity, if it had been their Lot to have been born in the Countries where these are established. I shall leave them to enjoy. their supine Indifference; but not without sincerely congratulating my Countrymen, on our distinguishing Privilege, that we live in a Nation and at á Time, when Religion has in great Measure gained the Ascendant over Superstition ; Truth in general prevailed against Darkness and Error, and Liberty, civil and religious, triumphed over Tyranny and Persecution for Conscience fake : And for these I

hope

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hope we shall always find Patrons and Advocates, amongst the more Learned and Judicious,

By some it has been suggested that this Work will be too dull and serious, and favour too much of the controverted Points of Religion ; to such I beg leave to observe, I have notoften attempted to animadvert or expațiate on particular Opinions or Practices, that was not my Province; but to give a genuine Relation of fuch Facts as appertain to the Hiftory, and these are, I presume, as well calculated to improve the Gentleman, and give Life and Spirit to Conversation, at proper Intervals, as any other Subjects more commonly introduced ; and where such a Variety of Facts, Circumstances and Characters are introduced, I cannot apprehend it will be unentertaining or useless.

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 Perfons, and other well disposed Christians, who may not have Leisure or Inclination to read many distinct Treatises, and it may answer a particular 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 spread 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 Adyantages favoured the Undertaking.

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