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TO THE PUBLIC.
THE design of this publication is to exhibit, in a regular series, the sentiments, doctrines, and practical views of religion which were adopted by that venerable body of men to whom, under God, we are indebted for the commencement and carrying on of the great work of the Reformation, and the consequent establishing of that sound body of Protestant and scriptural truth, which is at once the support and ornament of the Church of England.
It is well known that a great variety of highly valuable and important matter exists in those works which still remain as monuments of their orthodoxy and zeal; but with a very few exceptions, they are little known to readers of the present day. It is apprehended that a republication of several entire compositions of the shorter kind, together with large selections and extracts from those which are more long and involved in Popish controversies, will, through the divine blessing, be attended with the happiest and most desirable effects. The rich vein of sterling Christianity and dignified simplicity of style, which pervade the writings of our forefathers of the Reformation, are eminently calculated to cherish those principles and views of sacred truth, which being drawn from the pure fountain of Revelation, have ever proved the surest bulwark against the attacks of infidelity and the encroachments of error.
An acquaintance with the original works of the Reformers appears to be peculiarly desirable in the
ministers of the Church, to whom it is presumed this publication will prove highly acceptable; the more so, as many of the books, from which the present selection will be made, are become very scarce and difficult of access. Much difference of opinion subsists, with respect to the doctrinal interpretation of the articles and liturgy of the established Church: this work, by facilitating the means of reference to the general body of the other public and private writings of the same men, who were employed in the composition and vindication of the established standards of doctrine, must, from the very nature of the comparison, throw much light on those controverted questions. And as the Conductors are determined that the Tracts and Extracts shall be selected with impartiality and integrity, so as to exhibit the respective authors, in their own original style and matter, with respect to all controverted doctrines; the public will be enabled to appeal to this work as a faithful record of the genuine sentiments which the early Protestant divines of the English Church held.
Particular attention has been and will be paid to the plan of this selection, in order that the whole of what each author has written on the various points of doctrinal and practical religion may be fairly and satisfactorily deduced from those portions of their works which are here inserted. In a great variety of instances, entire Tracts are given, as will be seen by reference to the Index affixed to the selections from each writer: and in those Extracts which are made from larger or chiefly controversial works, the Editors appeal to those who have the means of referring to the originals, whether they are not made with fidelity and impartiality. Their great object is, in the course of this publication, so to collect together and preserve the most valuable and interesting
parts of the writings of our Reformers, as to enable the reader to form a clear and unbiassed view of the real judgment and sentiments of those great and good men on every most important article of faith and practice.
Nothing can be more remote from the fixed determination of the Editors, than that this selection should be intentionally so compiled and arranged as to favour the particular views of any description of systematists and controversialists whatsoever, either within or without the pale of the established Church. To exhibit the original and venerable Fathers of the English Church in their own genuine colour and character, so far as it can be done, by reference to their writings, is their avowed purpose in this work : and on this ground they trust to be enabled to accomplish it, if permitted by life and health, to the satisfaction of those who shall be pleased to patronise the undertaking.
In this publication, the serious reader, of every description, will find a truly valuable and interesting selection of Protestant divinity, adapted to every class of the community, as well for the information of the understanding as the amendment and growth of the heart in holy affections. This will appear more evident, from the recollection that the work will exclusively consist of an impartial selection from the very materials which were prepared and circulated throughout every part of this kingdom, for the avowed purpose of reviving and establishing the religion of the primitive Church of Christ on the ruins of Papal superstition and error. The value of these writings is much enhanced, and they are rendered doubly interesting to the English Protestant, from the reflection that so many of these holy men, after a life spent in the defence of the truth, died as Martyrs to the sacred cause, and witnesses to the
power and efficacy of the doctrines which they taught.
The work is conducted by Clergymen of the esta blished Church, anxious to unite their efforts in order to promote her prosperity and welfare. They feel a confidence in recommending the work to the patronage not only of their brethren, the Clergy, but to the Christian community at large, from a full conviction that it is calculated to prove of essential service to the Church of Christ. I
The Second Volume will proceed with the writings of Dr. LANCELOT RIDLEY and Bishop LATIMER: it will also contain the Catechism published by the authority of King Edward VI. The succeeding volumes will consist of the works of CRANMER, HOOPER, NICHOLAS RIDLEY, BRADFORD, JEWEL, &c. &c.