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PREFACE.

It is strange that a work like this should have been so long wanting in English literature. Rich as our language is in history, it possesses, as yet, no tolerable history of the Church of God. The scholar can in a degree make up this want by a resort to other sources: but those whose reading is confined to their native language, and those whose little leisure affords no time for research, or the study of bulky works, have had nothing really worth attention, on this subject, within their reach.

Dry abridgments or still drier compends, crowding the memory with names and dates, and little else, are not what is needed for general information on the most interesting of all topics that can occupy the attention of a thinking man--the rise and progress of the society of which God is the Head, souls bought and washed with the most precious blood of Christ the members, and eternity the exclusive end and aim. The existence of such a society among men, its continuance, its propagation, and its more or less visible success, are facts, that taken 'in connection with its claims, have a direct and fearfully important interest for every member of the human family. It is with reference to that interest that they ought to be treated, at least for popular

Catalogues of heresies, maps of the extension and contraction of Christendom in successive ages, and schemes of controversies that have raged and waned, all useful in their way, are of little use to the man who is seeking after evidence of the accomplishment of the ends for which the Son of God assumed our nature, and when He had ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high, sent forth the promise of His Father upon those whom He had sent into the world as He Himself was sent. The effectual working of Him who, in the fulness of the power and wisdom of the Godhead, dwells invisibly in the visible body that he organised and animates, is not to be learned from the weary and disgustful annals of contests between rival hierarchies, and intrigues of ecclesiastics with or against the civil power; still less from the revolting exhibition of human frailty and perversity contaminating the provisions of infinite Love and Wisdom, an exhibition necessarily prominent in the chronicles of the Church, but most unnecessary to any true and adequate estimate of its real efficiency. All analogy and all experience bid us look for that efficiency in unobtrusive quietness and seclusion. 66 The works of the flesh are manifest,” and accordingly attract, wherever sinful man works out the designs of GOD, the superficial observer's gaze. “The fruits of the Spirit,” meanwhile, which are the tests of the fulfilment of the Saviour's promise to be ever with His body, lie hidden beneath the surface of society, and must be diligently

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sought for, and painfully dragged forth to view, before their evidence can be appreciated. The many whom the means of God's providing have silently nurtured up in faith and holiness have passed to their reward without leaving a trace behind on the page of history. The few who stand there recorded as exceptions from the mass of brawling strife and base ambition have been drawn from among their fellows by the demands of duty, growing out of official station or extraordinary endowments. Such must always be the minority in the records of the Church; and it is as strange as lamentable that most of its historians seem to have lost sight of a truth so obvious, and while they either gloat or rave on the corruption of the clergy and the vile degeneracy of the laity, forget that a similar mode of estimation would go far toward the reduction of the past to one vast blot, and the banishment of virtue, peace and happiness from memory or belief.

This work has been prepared on a different plan. Its truly learned and sound-minded author has set himself honestly to seek out the results of the system devised by heavenly Wisdom and set in operation by God Himself, when He dwelt among us. He does not puzzle himself and his reader with an attempt at a

pragmatical”* investigation of the human motives and propensities that have carried on, while they seemed to thwart and vitiate, the divine counsels for man's salvation. Still less does he stoop to flatter the poor pride of human reason by lowering a narrative of God's doings with and in His Church to the tone of secular history, and making all plain and easy for the most unspiritual comprehension. He writes as a believer of the facts that he narrates ; but not a believer without

* See Mosheim's Preface.

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investigation. He writes as one whose own belief makes him in earnest with his reader, and in consequence leaves the impression of reality on the mind. Convinced that God did indeed found His Church upon a rock, immoveable and unconquerable, he looks for it, without fear or shrinking, amid the worst tempests of controversial strife or secular oppression, and under the deepest mists of ignorance and error, and not only finds it, signalized by its unvarying tokens of peace, holiness and joy, but makes it obvious to others. We see, with him, that though times have changed, and manners varied, the word and promises of God have endured unchanged and their accomplishment has gone on invariably.

In this respect, Mr. Palmer's design is the same with that of the pious Milner. But, beside its greater compendiousness, so much better suited for popular use, this work has the advantage of much better execution. The decided bias which so often sways the judgment of Milner is no where discoverable in Mr. Palmer. The scriptural catalogue of fruits of the Spirit” is his test of that Spirit's presence, not any humạn scheme of doctrine. The bond of union by which he traces Christian faith and holiness up to their source in Christ, is the real and tangible bond of ordinances and institutions, not the figmentary connection of agreement in certain arbitrary views. He is content to find the fulfilment of the promise wherever it pleased the Giver to impart it, without questioning His ability or disposition to raise up burning and shining lights even in the midst of darkness, and perpetuate vital heat even in a body sorely diseased and maimed.

A great degree of accuracy in general outline, and in minute detail wherever that is given, is another admira

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