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THE History of the Christian Church, when prosecuted in minute detail, and in all its ramifications, is a copious theme, and has occupied the pens of many learned men, both of our own and other countries. The elaborate treatises of Eusebius, Du Pin, Fleury, Mosheim, Priestley, Milner, and others of inferior consideration, have most of them been long before the public, and are all well known. To discuss the subject at large, or to enter into any competition with those works, as it is not to be expected in the compass of a single volume, so it must not be considered as having at all entered into the views of the present writer. The following pages, whatever may be their merits or defects, were not designed to instruct persons of general reading; for the author is fully aware that they contain little which is not familiar to that class of men. They were compiled with the view of communicating some interesting information to a few friends whose views of the gospel of Christ, and of the nature
of his kingdom in this world, happen to coincide pretty much with his own, but who have been debarred the opportunity of exploring the voluminous productions in which that information lay scattered.
Those who have bestowed any considerable degree of attention upon the article of Ecclesiastical History, will readily admit, that no period of it stands so much in need of elucidation, as that which intervened from the beginning of the ninth century to the days of Luther. The original sources of our information are, almost exclusively, the Catholic writers a race of men who, while they had an interest in disguising the truth, appear to have delighted themselves in calumniating all that dissented from their communion. And even since the time of the Reformation, while the light of divine truth has been shining around us with increasing splendour, and thus contributing to expose in all its deformity that “mystery of iniquity,” the Roman hierarchy, our Protestant historians have been but too implicitly led by those false guides. There is scarcely any History of the Christian Church extant in our language from which it would not be easy to exemplify the truth of this representation, but in no case could it more strikingly be done, than in that which respects the leading object of the present work. Not to multiply proof of this, where proofs are so abundant, an instance in point may be adduced from a contemporary