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was entirely foreign to the intention of the writer, farther than a faithful record of well-authenticated facts might necessarily lead him to it.
In sketching the History of the Christian Church previous to the times of the Waldenses, I have gone considerably more into detail than was my original intention; but in that particular I have been actuated solely by the desire of rendering the work more generally useful to that class of readers for whom it was principally designed. After all, it pretends to nothing more than a sketch of a vast subject, and no one can be more sensible than the writer himself is, of its numerous deficiencies. Whether he may hereafter be induced to resume the subject, and fill up the outline more correctly, must depend partly upon the reception which the present attempt meets with from his contemporaries, and partly upon other circumstances which are beyond the reach of human control. For the rest he would gladly offer his apology in the words of Father Paul, the Venetian. “ He that shall observe that I speak more of some times, and more sparingly of others, let him remember, that all fields are not equally fruitful, nor all grains deserve to be kept; and that of those which the reaper would preserve, some ears escape the hand or the edge of the sickle; it being the condition of every harvest, that some part remains to be afterwards gleaned."*
• History of the Council of Trent, translated by Brent. P: 2.
Preface to the First Edition.
It may possibly strike some readers with sur. prise that no notice is taken, in the following pages, of a multiplicity of sects which arose, from time to time, in what is called the christian world, and whose history occupies so very large a space in the volumes of most of our modern writers on this subject. But to speak the truth, my opinion of these in general is, that they have nothing to do with the history of the church or kingdom of Christ; and that to connect them with it, as Dr. Mosheim and others have done, is scarcely more unwise than the conduct of Mr. Hume would have been, had, he incorporated the Tyburn Chronicle into his valuable History of England.
In tracing the kingdom of Christ in the world, Į have paid no regard whatever to the long disputed subject of apostolical succession. I have, indeed, read much that has been written
it by the Catholic writers on one side, and by Dr. Allix, Sir Samuel Morland, and several Protestants, on the other; and I regret the labour that has been so fruitlessly expended by the latter, persuaded as I am that the postulatum is a mere fiction, and that the ground on which the Protestant writers have proceeded in contending for it, is altogether untenable. It is admitted, that the Most High has had his churches and people in every age, since the decease of the Apostles; but to attempt to trace a regular succession of ordained bishops in the vallies of Piedmont, or any other country, is “ labouring in the fire for very vanity,” and seems to me to proceed upon mistaken views of the nature of the kingdom of Christ, and of the sovereignty of God, in his operations in the earth, as they have respect unto it. Jesus himself, in reply to an inquiry put to him by the Pharisees, (Luke xvii. 20—24.) compares his kingdom to the lightning, darting its rays in the most sovereign and uncon: trolled manner from one extremity of the heavens to the other. And this view of it corresponds with matter of fact. Wherever the blessed God has his elect, there, in his own proper time, he sends his gospel to save them. One while we see it diffusing its heavenly light on a particular region, and leaving another in darkness. Then it takes up its residence in the latter, and forsakes the former. Thus, when Paul and his companions attempted to go into Bithynia, the Spirit permitted them not; but they were instructed by a vision to proceed to Macedonia, where the word of the Lord had free course and was glorified. When Paul first came to Corinth, he met with great opposition, but he was encouraged to persevere by Him who said, “ l'have much people in this city.” When the first churches began to swerve from the form of sound words, to cor, rupt the discipline of the house of God, and to comınit fornication with the kings of the earth, by forming an alliance with the state, we cease to trace the kingdom of Christ among them, but Prefuce to the First Edition.
we shall find it successively among the churches of the Novatians, the followers of Ærius, the Paulicians, the Cathari, or Puritans in Germany, the Paterines, and the Waldenses, until the times of reformation.
If the present work contain any thing of sufficient interest to give it a temporary buoyancy upon the ocean of public opinion, and prevent its rapid transition into the gulph of oblivion—that insatiable vortex which has already swallowed up myriads of much more important publications, the author would persuade himself it must be those excellent letters of our great poet Milton, which, in the capacity of Latin Secretary to Cromwell, he wrote to the Protestant princes upon the Continent, pleading the cause of the poor, afflicted, and grossly injured Waldenses. It is a mortifying reflection, that these interesting letters should now be almost forgotten as the compositions of our great poet. Whence comes it to pass, that while Milton's Defence of the People of England is so generally known, no one ever speaks of his Defence of the Waldenses? It will be difficult to assign a more plausible reason for this, than the unpopularity of the subject. The Waldenses were
a poor and afflicted
people,” the subjects of a kingdom that is not of this world, and they were treated by their adversaries as “ the filth of the world and offscouring of all things.". But Milton understood their character, and duly appreciated it. He recognized in them
his Christian brethren; their distress not only reached his ears, but roused all the sensibilities of his soul; he participated in their sorrows, and his letters in their behalf do as much honour to the benevolence of his heart as his immortal poem of Paradise Lost does to the sublimity of his genius. It has been too much the fashion amongst a certain class of writers to inveigh against the malignity and moral character of Milton, but surely we have a right to ask his revilers, before they take such freedoms with his fair fame, at least not to be unjust to his virtues.