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we direct our judgment, concerning History, by that maxim which Horace places as a boundary even to fable;
From this, or a fimilar view of things, it poffibly was, that the judicious Author now before us, refolved on attempting the Naturalization, as it were, of our Ecclefiaftical History; and, as far as we may prefume from that part of his work which hath yet appeared, the manner in which it is executed, will bring him no difcredit.
This first volume contains eight books. The work itself is dedicated to the King; and from the Dedication we may felect this paffage.
Notwithstanding all your Majefty's pious care, an indifference to Chriftianity, among the higher order of your people, is getting fuch an afcendant, and among the lower there is such an increase of Popery and Enthusiasm, that fo far as thefe ways of thinking have any influence, there is reafon to fear, that our Liberty may become Licentiousness, and that our pure Religion may be turned into Superftition.
Under this alarming apprehenfion, to which the breaft of no good man can be a ftranger, I thought I could not acquit myself of my duty to your Majefty, and my Country, in a work of more utility-having already contributed my * endeavours towards ftopping the growth of Infidelity than to lay open the errors, the mifchiefs, and the iniquities of of Popery, in a clear and true detail of its tyranny and ufurpation over the English Church.".
Our Author, in the parenthesis above, feems to allude to a late piece of his, intitled Bolingbroke; for fome account of which, fee our Review, vol. XII.
All that we shall lay before our Readers, from the Preface, is what follows.
There are some particular periods of our church history, ⚫ it must be owned, which have been wrote by men of great abilities and character; fuch as the Antiquities of the British Churches, by Bishop Stillingfleet; Dr. Inet's Hiftory of the English Church, to the death of King John; and that most excellent Hiftory of the Reformation, by Bifhop Burnet. I have had very little affittance, from any other modern writers, in compiling the following work. But then these Hiftories reach only thro' fome certain periods, and are intermixed with many tranfactions in the state; or transactions which relate to different nations, and to other affairs foreign to the history of the church, Mr. Collier's, indeed, is a ⚫ general
general Ecclefiaftical Hiftory, to the death of Charles the fecond; and he is the only author, before me, who has attempted it fo far, in this large and comprehenfive form, in which it is now offered the public. The character, howrever, sof this work of Mr. Collier's, I have no need to fay, fnis extremely lowclsit has been given the world by Bishop Nicholfon, in his Hiftorical Library, from whom I had ra Father the Reader fhould take an account of it, than from me. There are feveral paffages," fays the Bishop, " in this work, in which fome fpecial refpects are paid to the Bishops and See of Rome: and whatever were his views at his firft fet55ling out, it is manifeft, that his business, in his second vo"lume, was to compromife the differences between the ff Churches of England and Rome, and to establish a fundaffo mental hereditary right of fucceffion to the Imperial Crown 15 of this Realm, fupported by Paffive Obedience and Non. frefiftance." bun
Bif I have spared neither labour nor expences, in searching all the Authors, ancient and modern, of any name, who have wrote of our Church Hiftory, within the period I propofed. But I have omitted, purpofely, through the whole, Sany reference to the places from whence my materials have been collected: because I know of no other end it anfwers, as I deliver nothing new, than to break the thread of the story, sand to make the pages inelegant, and confused. The fame 16 materials for fuch a work are common to every writer; and
every fact in this Hiftory hath been already related, by fome C or other but yet all the facts that are here inferted, have onever been put together in any other Hiftory, nor many of 2 them been related, perhaps, in the fame language before: whether the style and manner are altered for the better, the Reader is left to judge. The greatest part of the observations, which are scattered thro the work, are fuch as the facts fuggefted to my mind and these observations, together with the characters that are given of the principal perfons, being almoft, all of them, peculiar to this History, are enough, I believe, to diftinguifh it as an original work." We cannot but with that our Author had rather difregarded, Iwhat he calls the elegance of his page, than omitted those references to the original writers which, fo far from interrupting any ftory, ferve only to fupport and authenticate. it to the curious perufer; or, comparatively, to illuftrate the judgment of the Compiler. We muft, however, acknowlege, that he generally mentions his authors in the body of the work; and befides thofe taken notice of, in the extract above
from the Preface, we can recollect, in this present volume, the names of Socrates, Theodoret, Eufebius, Bede, Gildas, William of Malmbury, Matthew Paris, Cambden, Selden, Ufher, Leland; and, occafionally, tho' not, as authorities, Mede, Sir William Temple, and Rapin.
Our Author, in his first book, after having given us a view of the Pagan State of Britain, endeavours to fix the timewhen, and the perfons by whom, Chriftianity was introduced into it, the progrefs it made, the hardships it fuftained, the ftate of the church, its connections with Rome, the Councils that were held, the Herefies which arofe, the measures taken for the establishment and increase of learning, the form of worship introduced into the Church, and the diftrefs brought upon the British Churches, by the invafion of the Saxons, who were a heather people. This book leads us then, with re fpect to ecclefiafiical affairs, through part of fix centuries.
As to our circumftances under Paganism, Dr. Warner gives us this view of them.
Nations, like men, it has been obferved, have their in-> fancy; and the few paffages of that time which they retain, are not fuch as deserved to be most remembered, but fuch as > being moft proportioned to that age, made naturally the ftrongest impreffions on their minds. It is certain, as to Britain, that there never were any original monuments or • records, and that we are obliged to foreign writers for the little light that we have of it in the earliest ages. This will not, indeed, be wondered at, when we know that the Druids, who had almost the fole management of all affairs in this ifland, never committed any thing of their polity to writing.-The Druids were not only at the head of religion, to whom ⚫ belonged the care of their public and private facrifices, and the interpretation of their myfteries, but they were held in fuch great veneration among the people, that they had allo the arbitration of all their differences. They not only prefided at the worship of Dis and Samothes, and at the facrifice of their prifoners of war to Andate, the Goddess of Victory, but no public tranfaction paffed without their ap probation, and a malefactor was not put to death without their confent. Whatever offence was committed among the people, whether it related to life, or property, or poffeffion, thefe were the judges that were to determine; and whofoever refused to fubmit to their determination, whether he was Lord or Vaffal, they excluded from partaking of their < religious rites. A man thus excommunicated, was reckon
⚫ed among the number of the wicked; his company was avoided, he was deprived of the benefit of the law, and rendered incapable of any place of honour or truft. Front hence, it is very probable, that our ancient outlawries were derived; for by the old English law, before men were outlawed for debt, he, who lay under that sentence, was reckoned a more hideous monfter than a man excommunicated in a Roman Catholic country; and, it is faid, that it was legal for any one to kill him.'
Permit us here to obferve, that there is a very ftrong refemblance betwixt the power and authority affumed by our ancient Druids, and that afterwards ufurped, and never yet difclaimed, by the Pontiff of Rome; and we wifh, we could add, that in no Proteftant Communions whatsoever, any remains of Druidical Policy, in this refpect, fubfifted.
The chief principles which were taught by thefe Philofophers, and which the best writers concerning those times have handed down, are, that every thing derives its origin 'from Heaven; that the difobedient are to be fhut out from the facrifices; that the foul is immortal, and after that tranfmigrates into other bodies; that if the world is deftroyed, it will be by fire or water; that, upon extraordinary emergencies, men are to be facrificed; that prifoners of war are to be flain upon the altars, or burnt alive, inclofed in wicker, in honour of the Gods; that there is another world, and they who kill themfelves, to accompany their friends thither, will live with them there; that all mafters of families are kings in their own houses, and have a power of life and death over their wives, children, and slaves.
Tho' it is an opinion generally received among our later writers, that the firft planting of Chriftianity among the Britons, was in the reign of Tiberius Cæfar, about feven and thirty years after the birth of Chrift' yet our Author feems, with higher probability, to fix this event, between the time of Plautius's coming over, in the reign of Claudius, and the battle between Boadicea and Suetonius Paulinus.' But with whatever accuracy our Author has fettled this point, yet that day-fpring from on high arofe among us in fuch clouds, that not only the precife time of its dawn, but also the morning-ftar that ushered it in, are uncertain; fome have affigned this honour to James the fon of Zebedee, others to Simon Zelotes, others to St. Peter, others to Jofeph of Arimathea. Our Author examines thefe feveral claims, and more minutely that of Jofeph; but finds nothing fatisfactory in any of them,
and fomething even ridiculous in that of the laft.◄ UnderStain, however, as it is, at what precife time, and by what particular perfon, the Gofpel was firft made known in Bri 5tain, yet there' feeming to be good and fufficient evidence, that a Christian Church was planted here, and the inhabi⚫tants converted, by the Apoftles; out Author, induced by the teftimonies of Eufebius, Theoderet, and other writers of antiquity, unnamed, diftinguishes St. Paul as the Apostle, not only of the Gentiles in general, but of the Britons in sparticular. murto act mest „a'siq ei ti The Gospel being planted about this time in Britain, a Christian church continued in it, tho not maintained with -equal zeal, to the perfecution of Dioclefian.corvooxs nóttag Dioclefian, and his cruel, furious colleague Maximian, having the government of the Roman Empire in their ⚫ hands, ftuck at nothing that would fatiate their malice against the Chriftians. So that how great an inclination foever Conftantius had to favour them, whilft he was Governor of "Britain, yet it was not in his power to dispense with the edicts ⚫ of the Emperors: and tho' thofe edicts against the Chriftians were fent without his confent, yet he fofar complied, as to pull down their churches. This, however, was forgiven him, for his kindness afterwards, in putting an end to ⚫ the perfecution, as foon as he came to the empire, and, ⚫ tho' he died a Pagan, in giving the Chriftians the liberty of their religion, and protecting them from injury and abufe.' The first Christian King is faid to be Lucius, who, about eighty years before the Dioclefian perfecution, opened, it feems, fome fort of correfpondence betwixt the British Church and the Bishop of Rome. Great alfo, it is alleged, was the number of British Martyrs, who fuffered under Dioclefian's perfecution, tho' the names only of three or four are handed down.
But the first evidence we meet with, of the settled condition of the British Churches, is the number of Bifhops which went from Britain to the Council of Arles, in the year 314. They were three in number. vIt appears, from the Synodical Epiftle of this firft General Council of the Weftern Church, to the Bishop of Rome, that the Supremacy of the Pope, which has fince been founded fo very high in the Catholic Church, was a thing then unknown to the British Bishops, and their brethren. on ob zaw
About eleven years after this, the Chriftian Church was much difquieted, by the tumults and feditions occafioned by Arius, who affirmed, that time was, when the Son of