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follow. As the apostle of the German Reformation was trained in a peculiar way for the work which he was called, in Providence, to do, so men like Fraser of Brea, and other worthies, were peculiarly disciplined for their peculiar sphere and times. To the student of Man, we repeat, the easy opportunity of contemplating such cases as they were described by parties actually engaged in the struggle, or recently retired from it, is a benefit to be highly prized.
The COUNCIL project yet another Volume of BIOGRAPHIES for a future year. Had we access to contemporary Lives of Erskine of Dun, of Robert Bruce, of Alexander Henderson, of Johnstone of Warriston, of James Guthrie, of George Gillespie, of Baillie of Jerviswood, and others less generally known, much that is important, and yet at present concealed, might be brought to light. It is true that the materials for such publications are often scanty at the best, and widely scattered— but even a mere compilation of them would be of service to the future Historian or Biographer; and the WODROW SOCIETY would thus be confessed to have conferred an important benefit on the Literature of Scotland, though it should only enable the present generation to grow thoroughly familiar with the principles that prevailed, and the struggles that were made at the period of the first and second Reformations. We have the highest of all authorities for inculcating principle and conveying knowledge by means of Biographies. The Scriptures have been regarded by some as mainly made up of the Lives—the doings, and the sufferings of men; and it deserves
observation, that in tracing the exact history of our own nation in particular, the knowledge of the secret springs and causes of events the most momentous, must generally be gathered from the Lives of men who scourged their country by their vices, or who blessed it by their virtues.
1 We would have added the Life of Robert Blair ; but that is to form a Volume of the issue for M.DCCC.XLVII.
But there is yet another benefit that may result from such publications. In the days to which these Narratives refer, the Almighty Maker of heaven and of earth was sometimes supposed to interfere on behalf of the victims of persecution, in a way that was scarcely, if at all, to be distinguished from the miraculous. The Reader will find illustrations of this, in the Experiences of John Stevenson, as described in the present Volume. On the other hand, the minds of men in our day have rushed to the opposite extreme,—it has been announced, for example, by Eichhorn, and others in Germany, that the name of God is “ a superfluous expletive,” in accounting for various changes and events. Truth, as ever, lies between the extremes ; and the facts which such Biographies as the following narrate, supply data for guiding the reflective to a right theory of Providence. They tend to render the beauty of truth more apparent, by the distorted or exaggerated form in which it is occasionally presented, so that the beneficial effects of such publications are spread far beyond the circle of the Members, and exhibit the Society as a source of advantage to thousands.
EDINBURGH, 15, GEORGE SQUARE,
20th January, 1817.