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I cannot persuade myself that the complaints we hear frequently of the frivolous nature of the public taste in matters of literature are so far to be relied on as to make me despair of a favourable reception of the following work. A History of the Christian Church, composed with judgment, taste, and candour; drawn, with uncommon discernment and industry, from the best sources; enriched with much useful learning and several important discoveries; and connected with the history of arts, philosophy, and civil government–is an object that will very probably attract the attention of many, and must undoubtedly excite the curiosity of the judicious and the wise. A work of this nature will be considered by the philosopher as an important breach of the history of the human mind, and I need not mention a multitude of reasons that render it peculiarly interesting to the Christian. Besides, there has not hitherto appeared, in English, any complete History of the Church, that represents its revolutions, its divisions, and doctrines, with impartiality and truth, exposes the delusions of popish legends, breathes a spirit of moderation and freedom, and, keeping perpetually in the view of the reader the true nature and
design of the Christian religion, points out the deviations from its beautiful simplicity, that have been too frequent among all orders of men, and in all ages of the world. The following work has the best claim, of any
I know, to these characters [a]; and its peculiar merit is pointed out, as far as modesty would permit, in the ensuing Preface of its justly celebrated author. The reputation of this great man is very well known. His noble birth seemed to open to his ambition a fair path to civil promotion; but his zeal for the interests of religion, his insatiable thirst after knowledge, and more especially his predominant taste for sacred literature, induced him to consecrate his admirable talents to the service of the church. The German universities
[a] Some time after I had undertaken this translation, I was honoured with a letter from the learned Bishop of Gloucester, in which he was so good as to testify his approbation of my design, and to speak of the work I here offer to the public in an English dress in the following manner : “ Mosheim's Compendium is excellent, the method admirable ; in short, the only one deserving the name of an Ecclesiastical History. It deserves and needs frequent notes.”—I hope this eminent prelate will not take amiss my placing bere a testimony that was not designed to be produced in this public manner. It is, however, so adapted to give those who examine recommendations with discernment a favourable notion of the following work, that I could not think of suppressing it. It is usual in publishing certain ancient authors, to prefix to them the encomiums they have been honoured with by those whose authority is respected in the republic of letters. I adopt this custom so far as to mention one testimony—more would be unnecessary; the testimony of a Warburton is abundantly sufficient to answer my purpose, and will be justly looked upon as equivalent to a multitude.
loaded him with literary honours. The King of Denmark invited him to settle at Copenhagen. The Duke of Brunswick called him from thence to Helmstadt, where he received the marks of distinction due to his eminent abilities; filled, with applause, the academical chair of divinity; was honoured with the character of ecclesiastical counsellor to that respectable court; and presided over the seminaries of learning in the duchy of Wolfembuttle and the principality of Blackenburg. When the late king formed the design of giving an uncommon degree of lustre to the university of Gottingen, by filling it with men of the first rank in the literary world, such as a Haller, a Gesner, and a Michaelis, Dr. Mosheim was deemed worthy to appear at the head of that famous seat of learning, in the quality of chancellor; and here he died, universally lamented, in the year 1755, and in the sixty-first year of his age. In depth of judgment, in extent of learning, in the powers of a noble and masculine eloquenee, in purity of taste, and in a laborious application to all the various branches of erudition and philosophy, he had certainly very few superiors. His Latin translation of the celebrated Dr. Cudworth's Intellectual System of the Universe, enriched with large annotations, discovered such a profound acquaintance with ancient philosophy and erudition, as justly excited the admiration of the learned world. His ingenious illustrations of the sacred writings, his successful labours in the defence of Christianity, and the light he cast upon the history of religion and philosophy by his uninterrupted researches, appear in a multitude
of volumes, which are deservedly placed among the most valuable treasures of sacred and profane literature; and the learned and judicious work that is here presented to the public will undoubtedly render his name illustrious in the records of religion and letters.
How far justice has been done to this excellent work in the following translation, is a point that must be left to the decision of those who shall think proper to peruse it with attention. I can say, with the strictest truth, that I have spared no pains to render it worthy of their gracious acceptance; and this consideration gives me some claim to their candour and indulgence for any defects they may find in it. I have endeavoured to render my translation faithful, but never proposed to render it entirely literal. The style of the original is by no means a model to imitate, in a work designed for general use. Dr. Mosheim affected brevity, and laboured to crowd many things into few words; thus his diction, though pure and correct; became sententious and harsh, without that harmony which pleases the ear, and those transitions which make a narration flow with ease. This being the case, I have sometimes taken considerable liberties with my author, and followed the spirit of his narrative, without adhering strictly to the letter. Where, indeed, the Latin phrase appeared to me elegant, expressive, and compatible with the English idiom, I have constantly followed it; in all other cases I have departed from it, and have often added a few sentences, to render an observation more striking, a fact more clear, a portrait