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GERMANY, SWITZERLAND, &c.
J. H. MERLE D'AUBIGNÉ,
PRESIDENT OF THE THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL OF GENEVA, AND
MEMBER OF THE "SOCIETÉ EVANGELIQUE."
The work I have undertaken is not the history of a party. It is the history of one of the greatest revolutions ever effected in human affairs, the history of a mighty impulse communicated to the world three centuries ago, -and of which the operation is still everywhere discernible in our own days. The history of the Reformation is altogether distinct from the history of Protestantism. In the former all bears the character of a regeneration of human nature, a religious and social transformation emanating from God himself. In the latter, we see too often a glaring depravation of first principles, the conflict of parties,-a sectarian spirit,
and the operation of private interests. The history of Protestantism might claim the attention only of Protestants. The history of the Reformation is a book for all Christians,-or rather for all mankind.
An historian may choose his portion in the field before him. He may narrate the great events which change the exterior aspect of a nation, or of the world; or he may record that tranquil progression of a nation, of the church, or of mankind, which generally follows mighty changes in social relations. Both these departments of history are of high importance. But the public interest has seemed to turn, by preference, to those periods which, under the name of Revolutions, bring forth a nation, or society at large for a new era, -and to a new career.
Of the last kind is the transformation which, with very feeble powers, I have attempted to describe, in the hope that the beauty of the subject will compensate for my insufficiency. The name of revolution which I here give to it, is, in our days, brought into discredit with many who almost confound it with revolt. But this is to mistake its meaning. A revolution is a change wrought in human affairs. It is a something new which unrolls itself from the bosom of humanity; and the word, previously .o the close of the last century, was more frequently understood in a good sense, than in a bad one:"a happy--a wonderful Revolution” was the expression. The Reformation, being the re-establishment of the principles of primitive Christianity, was the reverse of a revolt. It was a movement regenerative of that which was destined to revive; but conservative of that which is to stand for ever. Christianity and the Reformation, while they established the great principle of the equality of souls in the sight of God, and overturned the usurpations of a proud priesthood which assumed to place itself between the Creator and his creature, at the same time laid down as a first element of social order, that there is no power but what is of God,-and called on all men to love the brethren, to fear God, to honour the king.
The Reformation is entirely distinguished from the revolutions of antiquity, and from the greater part of those of modern times. In these, che question is one of politics, and the object proposed is the establish