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THE following pages were written during intervals snatched from severe missionary labors. Their appearance in the present form, is at least as much the result of accident as of previous design. The writer had at first merely intended to prepare, for one of our Catholic Magazines, two or three papers, reviewing the late work of M. D'AUBIGNE on the Reformation. He had made considerable progress in this undertaking, before the idea of writing a book even occurred to his mind. He was, however, subsequently led to adopt this resolution, by the great extent and importance of the subject, and the utter impossibility, in which he found himself, of doing any thing like justice to it in a few brief essays. These would scarcely have afforded sufficient space to exhibit even a meagre catalogue of M. D'AUBIGNE's numerous omissions, blunders, and misrepresentations.
M. D'AUBIGNE's "History of the Great Reformation" has been widely circulated throughout the land. The edition which the writer of the present Review has used is the fifteenth; and it was issued in three thick volumes duodecimo, at a very low price. The book may be found everywhere—in the steamboat and in the hotel-in the city residence and in the country. The religionists of the day have everywhere hailed its appearance as a perfect God-send. The press and the pulpit have combined to sound its praises. And yet the work is a tissue of miserable cant and misrepresentation from beginning to
end! The reviewer hopes to make this appear by undeniable evidence, consisting of facts taken from original documents and other authentic sources. All that he asks of those who have read and admired the work of M. D'AUBIGNE, to read also and to examine carefully the evidence which he has endeavored to spread before the community. To the candid of all denominations, he would beg leave to say: Hear the other side audi alteram partem.
The writer has not intended to confine himself to a mere Review of M. D'AUBIGNE'S History. He has designed to write an extended and connected essay on the Protestant reformation in Germany, examining that revolution in the character of the men who brought it about, in its causes and manner, and in its manifold influences on religion, on free government, on literature, and on general civilization. As far as this plan seemed to demand or to allow, he has, as he proceeded, availed himself of the admissions, supplied the omissions, and corrected the false statements of the Protestant historian of the reformation.
Many of the facts which he has felt it his duty to republish, from all the sources to which he could have access, exhibit painful evidences of human depravity; in those men too, who have been studiously held up as the leaders of God's people, and as the very paragons of perfection. Though the truth of history, and the necessity of doing justice to the reformation, required the publication of many things, which a delicate and fastidious taste would perhaps otherwise have omitted, yet the reviewer is not aware of any intention unnecessarily to shock the prejudices, much less wantonly to wound the feelings of any one. He is deeply persuaded, that Christian charity-the great queen of virtues demands of us to have a due regard for the feelings of others; and he is thoroughly persuaded, that no one was ever
yet converted by harsh means, or by abusive language. Charity is, however, not only not incompatible with truth, but it even demands that the whole truth should be told, especially when its concealment would be a cause of error to many, in matters too of most deep and vital importance.
A full and correct history of the reformation in Germany is, it is believed, a desideratum in our English Catholic literature. The writer of this essay, far from flattering himself that he has supplied this deficiency, has merely wished to awaken attention to the subject. How far he has succeeded, the public will best judge. Conscious of the many imperfections of the work, he could have wished that some one more competent, and more experienced in writing, had engaged in the undertaking. To his brethren of the clergy and laity, many of whom would have been certainly better qualified than himself for the task, he would say with the old Latin poet :
"Si quid novisti rectius istis, Candidus imperti: Si non, his utere mecum."
Feast of Christmas, 1843.