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to have selected its materials from the old and scarce writings of the fathers, or from the heavy and many-volumed folios of ancient and foreign authors. It will, doubtless, be admitted that a few modern writers in the English language have selected, by far the greater part, of all that is valuable in ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY. From these this volume is chiefly gathered.
Mosheim, Milner, Brown, Haweis, Neal are among the writers principally consulted for the materials which form the history of the church from early times, down to the Reformation. These several authors were not men of the same creed, they had various prejudices, and their views of a CHRISTIAN CHURCH often clash and somewhat contradict; but each possesses a peculiar value, and to them all, the writer acknowledges himself much indebted. Mosheim, he conceives gives a history of error and superstition, rather than a history of truth and purity. Brown has filled up his few pages with much of the same matter as Mosheim. Milner, in describing churches and church characters, seems to believe too much, he was a churchman of the English establishment, allow.
ance must be made for his prejudices in favour of an hierarchy. Haweis though a beneficed clergyman of the same church seems to go into the opposite extreme, and believes too little : some personages which Milner has dressed in the white linen of the saints, Haweis bas stripped, and put on them the horns and the hoofs of perdition. It is presumed the truth may be found between them. Neal is a non-conformist, and may be relied on for faithfulness, though not always correct in minute statement.
For the history of American Churches, the writer acknowledges his obligations to Win. THROP, BELKNAP, Morse and Parish, TrumBULL and HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS. As it respects present times, the author has written from observation, especially in regard to British cburches. What he has said of the present state of religion in New England, though his means of observation bave been limited, yet in the region where these pages have been written, it will be allowed that there is a fair sample of what is called orthodoxy and heterodoxy, both of which he exceedingly dislikes, when mixed up with national and worldly politics. The CHURCH
of Christ, as distinct from every worldly and secular system, it has been his object to search out and define : tbis, he has endeavoured to prosecute with an unprejudiced mind, how far he has realized these professions, and attained to this object, must be left to the candid opinion of the reader.
All extracts and quotations are marked by inverted commas, but the authors are not given, because, had they been named in the notes, it would have taken up much room, and thereby have shortened the page, and prevented the insertion of much useful matter in the text.
Boston, June, 1820.
GHAP. I. State of the Church during the Decline of the Empire