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TO THE PUBLIC.
Ir may justly be considered as a favourable sign of the present times, that the writings of the early Protestant Divines are in so great request. Patronage and encouragement have been afforded to several undertakings, which are connected with the republication of the remains of our forefathers; and there is ground to hope that much substantial and permanent good will be the result.
The Conductors of "The Fathers of the English Church" have much satisfaction in laying the Fourth Volume of this publication before their readers. The interesting and important materials of which it consists will prove a very valuable addition to the stock of Protestant antiquity which the former volumes have presented to the public.
Bishop Ridley and Archdeacon Philpot were generally esteemed to be the most learned of the English Reformers. The present volume contains nearly every thing that remains of their writings.
The Confession of Faith signed by the principal Reformers in prison, and that afterwards drawn up by
John Clement, are well known as important declarations of the sentiments of the great body of the professors of Protestant doctrine during the reign of Queen Mary. The Editors deemed it proper to add to them the other Confessions of Faith which accompany them in this place, as together forming a constellation of testimonies to the faith and patience of the heroic martyrs of that period.
The Rev. John Rogers, Prebendary of St. Paul's, and lecturer in divinity in that cathedral, led the van in the English army of martyrs. The little that remains concerning him, and was written by him, will be found in this volume.
The Tract on "The Old Learning and the New," by Dean Turner, is well calculated to give a succinct statement of the controversy between the Protestants and the Papists. It comprehends in a small compass the substance of many volumes of polemical divinity. His publications were much circulated and read during the reign of Edward VI.
The Conductors believe it to be of the last importance that Protestants should at this particular juncture be well informed as to the ground of their forefathers' separation from the church of Rome. The present publication will be found to give the inost complete view of the whole of that cause, that has ever been offered to the modern reader. Ample
materials will be here found for information on every essential point of variance between the respective parties. "The Fathers of the English Church" will prove a work of standing reference for all that are engaged in those inquiries.
With respect to the selection and arrangement of the materials of which these volumes are composed, so far as they regard the differences of opinion which exist as to the interpretation of the doctrinal articles of the church of England, the Conductors can confidently appeal to every candid reader who has made researches into Protestant antiquity, whether strict fidelity and impartiality have not been observed. They have invariably persevered in their originally avowed intention, that "this selection should not be 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." They have much higher views than those of serving the purposes of partyspirit and opinion. They aim at forming a body of Protestant divinity of the first and most unexceptionable authority, consisting of nearly all that is worthy of preservation, or that can contribute to enlighten and edify, from the remaining writings of the Fathers of the English Reformation.
Many proofs of the real utility which has attended the publication of the former volumes, have already
been communicated to the Editors. They have the satisfaction of knowing that one distinguished Prelate has not only recommended, but actually circulated thein throughout his diocese. Several others continue to express in their letters to the Editors marked testimonies of approbation. Many of the clergy have declared their decided opinion of the importance and usefulness of the undertaking, while many of the laity, both in the higher and lower classes of society, have read the publication with considerable profit, and expressed their sense of it in clear and unequivocal terms.
The Fifth Volume will contain Selections from the works of Bishop Hooper.
- In the present and future volumes will be found many valuable Epistles of the Reformers; on this ac-, count it has been thought right to add to this prefatory address, that which the venerable Bishop Coverdale prefixed to his volume of "Certain most godly, fruitful, and comfortable Letters of such true Saints and holy Martyrs of God as in the late bloody Persecution here within this Realm gave their Lives for the Defence of Christ's holy Gospel, written in the time of their Affliction and cruel Imprisonment. Imprinted 1564.”