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AUTHOR OF "THE HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY,''
WITH AN INTRODUCTION,
ROBERT BAIRD, D.D.,
PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM COLLINS,
SOUTH FREDERICK STREET, GLASGOW,
account of the history and contents of this volume. For several years the desire has been entertained and expressed, by many in this country, to have a volume in English of such of the occasional Essays and Discourses of Dr. MERLE D'AUBIGNE as are of a general nature; and three years ago
the subscriber gave assur
nces to the public that the task of selection and translation would be undertaken by him, or under his auspices, at no distant day. But circumstances, which it is not necessary to state, for a long time prevented the accomplishment of this purpose.
He is happy, however, to say that the work has at length been executed, and the result the reader will find in this volume, containing seventeen Discourses and Essays.
A few of these productions have at one time or another been translated into English, and published separately in England or in this country, and some in both, either in small volumes or in pamphlets. But the greater part are now given to the public for the first time, in an English translation.
Although it does not become me to say much about the manner in which the task has been executed, I think that I may safely assure the public that it has been performed with all reasonable fidelity. The meaning of the author has been conscientiously given, and, it is believed, with proper ease and clearness of expression. Doubtless a French idiom, or an approach to one, may be occasionally discovered; but these things, when they do not render the sense obscure, rather excite the attention and interest of the reader than otherwise, by breaking up the monotony of ordinary style.
All of these Discourses and Essays bear the impress of the same masterly mind which beams forth on every page of the author's inimitable History of the Great Reformation in the Sixteenth Century. The first six Discourses were delivered to a French church in Hamburg in Germany. The others were
preached at Brussels in Geneva. Of the Essays, all but one were read in the last named city, at the openings of the sessions of the Theological Seminary, of which the author is the president.
The same simple, beautiful, and perfectly philosophical analysis runs through each of these productions. The same clear statement, the same rapid and effective mode of reasoning which characterizes the French mind; and the same resistless driving onward to a conclusion which often strikes and surprises us by the suddenness with which we are brought upon it. The formal and tedious syllogism does not suit the Gallic mind; it more befits the Anglo-Saxon, the Norman, and the German. These Discourses are very different from our American ser
No one can read a page of them without being struck with this fact. There is a vivacity and point in the style, a condensed and penetrating statement of the leading ideas, a rapid discussion of each topic, and an abrupt dismissal of it, which are unknown to our modes of thinking and writing. This very circumstance will render their perusal profitable, in no ordinary degree, to those among us whose office it is to preach the Gospel. At the same time they are such as cannot be read without advantage by the layman.
As to the Essays, it would be hard to find in any language an equal number that can be compared with them. Take, for instance, those on the Study of the History of Christianity, the nature and tendency of Puseyism, the duty of the Church to confess Christ, Lutheranism and Calvinism, and the Miracles. or two Errors. Where shall we find the subjects there treated handled with such ability ?
These Discourses and Essays possess one grand characteristic: that of a glorious baptism, if I may so express myself, into the spirit of the Reformation. This spirit pervades them all; but it is most manifest in the Essays. Of all men of this age, it may be safely said, Dr. Merle D'Aubigné is the most thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the Reformers. In fact, he hardly lives in the present era, though he does move bodily about among the men of our times. Sure I am, his mind, his heart, his whole spiritual man is, at least, as much'conversant with the events and spirit of the age of the Reformers as with those of our day.
i Genera and Oxford.