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R E F O R M A TION
BY GEORGE WADDINGTON, D.D.,
DEAN OF DURHAM,
AND AUTHOR OF A HISTORY OF THE CHURCH.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
It is scarcely necessary to say that these volumes, ending with the death of Luther, do not contain a complete History of the Revolution which they profess to describe; they do not extend even to the earliest epoch assigned as that of its termination, nor do they treat, perhaps, with sufficient minuteness all the occurrences of the period which they embrace. There are, besides, some important observations, as to the influence of the Reformation on the political, social, and literary character of after-ages—a subject on which extremely different opinions prevail among learned men —which have been omitted, if I may not rather say
deferred: for these deficiencies have been, for the most part, occasioned by an unexpected interruption, which has turned my attention, during the last few months, to other objects, and it is my purpose, should health and some literary leisure be continued to me, to supply them in a Fourth and concluding Volume.
Still, it is with much anxiety and diffidence that I submit this production to the public. The subject is one of great magnitude and difficulty, and very peculiar talents are required for its perfect treatment. Yet, as many thought that our national literature is almost discreditably defective in this department, and as I was not uninstructed in the earlier annals of
the church, nor unpractised in historical investigation, I ventured to undertake the task. I have pursued it, amidst other important occupations, through seven assiduous years, with moderate powers, indeed, but with the single predominant purpose of doing justice and speaking truth; and I have not been negligent in imploring that succour, without which all our powers and purposes are vain.
These considerations, by protecting me from selfreproach, will enable me to bear with equanimity the censures of othersắcensures which will not, however, be hastily admitted or lightly advanced by any man who has trodden the same paths in the same spirit with myself; who has toiled through the long and often obscure, and not always attractive, records of those perplexed ages, with no partial, or polemical, or sectarian object; who knows how scanty are the fruits when compared with the labour of collecting them; and who will doubtless have learnt, if not from his own experience, at least from the lapses of the ablest of his predecessors, that the most cautious attention will not always preserve the most vigilant inquirer from inadvertency
February 9, 1841.