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LIBRARIAN TO THE LORD
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND
KEEPER OF HIS GRACE'S MANUSCRIPTS AT LAMBETH,
AS A TRIBUTE OF
THE FOLLOWING PAGES
It can scarcely be necessary to apologize to the English public for the appearance of a single volume, on a subject which has in Germany already been treated in several works. Since the publication of the Introduction to Ecclesiastical History by Sagittarius and Schmid in the beginning of the last century, Schröckh in the first volume of his Church-history, and C. W. F. Walch, Royko, Pfrogner, Flügge, and Stäudlin, in separate works, have laboured to extend an acquaintance with this branch of knowledge, and have rendered the literary history of Church-history familiar to their country
In the mean time no work of the kind has been undertaken among ourselves. The “ Brief Account of the Ecclesiastical Historians," which appeared in the British Magazine between August
1837 and April 1838, was, it is believed, the first attempt to treat the subject in our own language. The present work is for the most part an expanded and systematic view of the information originally collected for that essay. And the author trusts, that a year of research and reflection has enabled him to make it more worthy of the attention of such as feel an interest in Ecclesiastical and Historical studies.
The work requires not a long preface. The Title explains its object, and the Table of Contents affords an analysis of the matter. It proper to remark, that it was projected, and in part executed, before the Writer had become acquainted with the works of the German scholars to whom he has referred ; and that his views, as well as the plan of his book, differ in very many important particulars from those of the continental writers. There are two other points only, on which he feels it necessary to say any thing in the
say any thing in the way of explanation; namely, the nature of the divisions, and the extent of the notes.
The three periods of ancient, mediæval, and mo
dern Church-history, are each treated in a separate chapter. It may perhaps be thought that it was unnecessary to carry the principle of division any farther. But the author is deeply impressed with a conviction that the greatest mischief has been caused in all subjects of this nature by the employment of loose and artificial, instead of precise and natural divisions, and he has gladly embraced an opportunity of contributing to make the student familiar with the principal eras of Church-history. In the first two chapters he has availed himself of eras which have often been used by others. In the third chapter his subject itself suggested the divisions. The first period of modern Church-history terminates with the appearance of Mabillon in 1667; and the second with the conclusion of the age of Louis XIV. in 1715. The third period is probably not yet completed.
The frequent notes and copious extracts may perhaps expose the work to the charge of pedantry and ostentation. A popular view of the subject might, no doubt, have been given almost without notes ; and much space might have been saved by giving references instead of extracts. The author,