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which, in the present circumstances, cost the Editor hours and days; and, frequently, he is at last compelled to desist from further investigation without success, from want of knowing the meaning of some character of short hand, or the proper edition to be made use of in consulting the authorities.
2. The little leisure, which the Editor could spare from indispensable duties, was employed, for a considerable time in correcting and REPRINTING the FIRST volume of this work. The booksellers pressed so earnestly for a second edition of that volume, that the Editor, in having complied with their requests, trusts he has gratified the wishes of the Public.
3. It was understood, likewise, that the Public were very desirous of seeing some of the Rev. Mr. Milner's Sermons in print. An able and judicious friend, with great diligence and kindness, selected and revised a proper number of the Manuscripts, and superintended the publication of them at York; but the affecting task of writing the Life of their Author devolved upon the
Editor of this History. Moreover, a second edition of the Sermons was soon called for. This and the Life of the Author, with large additions to both, were also reprinted by the Editor at Cambridge and published in 1801. The time and care required for these several purposes necessarily diverted his attention from the Ecclesiastical history.
4. Further :
4. Further: As the Editor proceeded in reviewing the materials designed for the fourth volume, he found them more imperfect in many ways, than he had at first expected. They were composed with several interruptions, caused by the Author's increasing weakness and infirmities; and there is reason to believe, that a considerable portion of them was not even once read over by himself.— It has been the object of the Editor to supply defects of every kind in the best manner he was able.
5. During the greater part of the year 1802, he entertained hopes that it might be in his power to complete the fourth volume by the Midsummer of the present year at the furthest. And for this purpose, almost every moment, in which he had any option of employment, has been most scrupulously appropriated to the forwarding of this work. But it so happened, that in the late Spring, he was many weeks incapacitated for business by a disorder, which is well known to have been prevalent and severe in the southern parts of this Island. This cause alone has rendered it impossible for him, by any exertions, to be ready with all the materials of this Volume at the time above mentioned: but besides this, it now appears that the contents of it will so much exceed what was foreseen, that they cannot be conveniently bound together in a single octavo; particularly as many readers of this History have signified their desire that the
fourth volume might contain a full and complete Index to the whole work. The increase of its size, distinct from the addition which it will receive from the Index, arises, partly from a more than ordinary closeness in the writing of the Author's Manuscripts; and partly, from a great number of insertions by the Editor; who feels assured that most of them would have been made by the Author himself, if he had lived to revise the work, and review the authorities to which he has actually appealed by numerous references.
These circumstances, it is hoped, may furnish a reasonable apology for the delay of this portion of the History of the Church of Christ.
It has been judged proper to divide the fourth volume into two parts; and as soon as that point was determined, it became a question, whether the patience of the public should not be tried a little longer, by deferring the publication of the First Part till the Second was finished.
Such an arrangement, in which a most important and interesting portion of Ecclesiastical history would have been placed at once before the Reader, without any suspension or interruption of the narrative, it was clearly seen, would have been favourable to the reputation of the work; but, the consideration of the great indulgence already granted by the Public, their frequent calls through the medium of the booksellers, and lastly the opportunity; which the separate publication of this First
Part of the volume affôrds the Editor, of explaining the real causes of the delay; -—these reasons have induced him to gratify the Readers of this History with a First Part of Vol. IV. before the whole could be finished.
The second part of the volume will still require much labour and perseverance: but, should the Editor live, he engages with the public to bestow his leisure-hours upon that till it be printed. He dares not presume to say the same respecting a fifth volume. Experience has taught him to be extremely reserved in making promises, the performance of which depend upon the continuance of a certain degree of health; and therefore, though he certainly indulges some hopes even of completing the History of the Church of Christ, he must not entangle himself by giving inconsiderate assurances. admits, however, that any vacant moments he may have, could scarce be more usefully employed than in carrying forward and finishing the Plan of his near Relative, and he is sure that no other object of study and application can be nearer his heart.
The Editor has no doubt but the subjectmatter of the fourth volume will afford abundant satisfaction to the Christian Reader. Almost every page of the FIRST PART of it, which is now laid before the Public, is replete both with instruction and entertainment; and what certainly distinguishes this (a 3)
History History throughout, a very large portion of it, -that portion, which peculiarly entitles it to the name of the History of the Church of Christ, is of such a nature as not to have. found its way into our ordinary Ecclesiastical histories. The learned Reader, when he has perused this book, can scarcely fail to exclaim, “How little notice, in general, has been taken of the genuine religious principles and practice of the bishops Grosseteste and Bradwardine! How are the very best parts of the character of Wickliff almost consigned to oblivion! What defective and erroneous notions of John Huss, and Jerom of Prague, are inculcated by authors who have attempted to abstract and condense the proceedings of the Council of Constance; and lastly, how little acquainted are even many studious and well-informed persons with the religious part of the character of Martin Luther!
Perhaps few men have been more exposed than this celebrated German to the extremes of calumny and panegyric. Ecclesiastical histories are full, not only of discordant sentiments relative to his proceedings, but also of contradictory statements of the facts. His bold and enterprising genius, his firm and intrepid temper, and above all, his persevering spirit of inquiry, continue to be the admiration of every true Protestant; while those of the Papal persuasion have endeavoured to load his memory with charges, which at first