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literature were so rich in writings displaying the same unwearied industry, the same universal command of the literature of all ages and all countries, the same boldness, sagacity, and impartiality in historical criticism, as to enable us to dispense with such assistance. Though, in truth, with more or less of these high qualifications, German literature unites religious views of every shade and character, from the Christliche Mystik of Goerres, which would bring back the faith of Europe to the Golden Legend and the Hagiography of what we still venture to call the dark ages, down, in regular series, to Strauss, or, if there be any thing below Strauss, in the descending scale of Christian belief.
On all other points, especially those which are at present agitated in this country, though of course I cannot be, yet I have written as if in total ignorance of the existence of such discussions. I have delivered, without fear, and without partiality, what I have conscientiously believed to be the truth. I write for the general reader, rather than for the members of my own profession; as I cannot understand why such subjects of universal interest should be secluded as the peculiar objects of study to one class or order alone.
In one respect, the present possesses an advantage, in which the former work of the Author, from its size and form, was unavoidably deficient, – the greater copiousness of confirmatory and illus
trative quotation. I trust that I have avoided the opposite error of encumbering and overloading either my text or my notes with the conflicting opinions of former writers. Nothing is more easy than this prodigal accumulation of authorities; it would have been a very light task to have swelled the notes to twice the size of the volumes. The Author's notion of history is, that it should give the results, not the process of inquiry; and, however difficult this may be, during the period of which he now writes, where the authenticity of almost every document is questioned, and every minute point is a controversy, he has with his utmost diligence investigated, and with scrupulous fidelity repeated, what appeared to him to be the truth. Once or twice only, where the authorities are so nicely balanced, that it is almost impossible to form a satisfactory conclusion, he has admitted the conflicting arguments into the Text; and he has always cautiously avoided to deliver that, which is extremely problematical, as historical certainty. Where he has deviated from his ordinary practice of citing few rather than many names in his notes, it is on certain subjects, chiefly Oriental, on which the opinions of well-known scholars possess, in themselves, weight and authority.
If he should be blest with life and leisure, the Author cannot but look forward to the continuation of this History with increasing interest, as it ap
proaches the period of the re-creation of European society under the influence of Christianity.* As Christian History, surveyed in a wise and candid spirit, cannot but be a useful school for the promotion of Christian faith; so no study can tend more directly to, or more imperatively enforce on all unprejudiced and dispassionate minds, mutual forbearance, enlightened toleration, and the greatest even of Christian virtues, Christian charity.
* Some points in the third having been reserved for a later volume are but imperfectly de- part of the work. veloped ; their full investigation
ERRATA IN VOL. I.
Page 93. note, for “mystic," read “mythic.”
246, note, for “8th chapter of St. John," read “7th." 128. line 14. for “ character," read “position."
Dissociating Principle of old Religions
Religion of the Jews
God under the old and new Religion
Preparation for new Religion in the Heathen World 24
Preparation for new Religion among the Jews
Expansion of Judaism
Effects of Progress of Knowledge upon Polytheism