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While the Author of this work was pursuing his. Academical studies in the University of Aberdeen, the Trustees of the late pious and benevolent Mrs BLACKWALL, proposed, as the subject of her Biennial Prize-Essay, the Question—“ What has been the effect of the Reformation in Religion, on the state of Civil Society in Europe ?” A few pages, chiefly with a view to his own improvement, he wrote on this subject, and, unexpectedly to himself, proved the successful Candidate. After his Essay was publicly read in Marischal College, several of those respectable persons who heard it, expressed their desire, that, in consideration of the great importance of the subject, it should be published ; but with this desire, on
various accounts, he could not, at that time, permit himself to comply.
The reasons which have now induced him to publish the Essay in its present form, will readily suggest themselves to considerate minds. In various parts of Europe -- not excepting our own, and our sister kingdoms the interests of Catholicism have, of late years, experienced a considerable revival. The number of its avowed disciples, and of its secret friends, has, there is reason to believe, greatly increased ; while, in all its territories, and in all the departments of its hierarchy, there is taking place a combined and vigorous movement against Protestantism throughout the world.—In these circumstances, it does seem to the Author of this work to be the imperative duty of every genuine Protestant to rouse himself from slumber, and, by every legitimate mean, and in the temper of true charity, to give his aid in the defence and establishment of that interest which involves at once the glory of God, and the temporal and eternal welfare of mankind. For, it is his de
liberate and decided conviction, that Popery is the bane of society, and that, in proportion as it obtains in the world, the condition of his fellow-men will become degraded and unhappy. . .
Entertaining these views, he was led to adopt the resolution of revising and enlarging the short Essay before alluded to ; the more readily engaging therein, that the view which it takes of the bearings of the Reformation appeared to him to be one which, although of very great moment, has been too rarely brought under the notice of Christians, and by no means regarded with the fulness of interest which it is entitled to claim. R .
In the excellent work of M. VILLERS, much valuable information is given respecting the influence of the Reformation on political and civil society ; and to that enlightened, though sometimes erring, philosopher, the Christian world is under high obligations. But it seemed to the Author of the following Essay, that the
subject admitted of farther illustration ; and, accordingly, while in various parts of his plan he has availed himself of the work just referred to, he has studied to advert chiefly to that part of the subject which VillERS has touched most lightly ;—that is to say, he has directed his remarks less to the political influence of the Reformation, than to its effect on the civil and domestic affairs of European society.
If, under the favour of Almighty God, this Essay shall be the mean of inducing or cherishing, in the mind of any of its readers, a warm regard to the cause of the Reformation, and a desire to behold the blessings of that great Revolution valued and extended, the object of its publication will be abundantly real
Melancthon ; Zuinglius; Knox; Calvin-2. The Reformers advo.