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As the following authors are repeatedly, and some very frequently, referred to in this Work, it has been found convenient to abridge the titles in such references; but the following table will explain the abridged references, and mark the editions made use of.
R. Adam's R. W. D. Religious World Displayed. By Rev. Rob. Adam, B.A. (Oxford).
3 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh, 1809. Also, in the latter sheets,
the 2d edit. just published, 1823. H. Adams's View. View (or Dictionary) of all Religions. By Hannah Adams.
4th edit. 8vo. Boston, (United States) 1817. Bell's Wanderings. Wanderings of the Human Intellect, or a Dictionary of various
Sects, &c. By Rev. John Bell, (Rom. Cath.) Newcastle, 1814. Broughton's Dict. Historical Dictionary of all Religions. By Thomas Broughton,
A.M., Prebend of Salisbury, &c. 2 vols. folio. London, 1741. Calmet's Dict. Calmet's Great Dictionary, &e., by Mr. Taylor, with the Frag
ments. London, 1797.–Also the New Edit. just completed,
4 vols. 4to. 1823.
John Evans, LL.D. Edit. 1821.
History of Philosophy (from Brucker). By W. Enfield, LL.D.
2 vols. 8vo. London, 1819.
Evique de Blois, &c. 2 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1814.
W. Jones. New Edit. 1821.
Scriptures, 1818.--Also 2d and 3d editions, as marked in the
MSS. of N. Lardner, D.D. with large Additions, by John
Hogg. 4to. London, 1780.
3d edit. revised by Is. Milner, D.D. F.R.S. 5 vols. 8vo.
1807. Mr. M.'s name appears only as Publisher, but he is
understood to have been also Editor. Mosheim's E. H. Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern. By J. L. Mosheim,
D. D. Translated, &c. by A. Maclaine, D.D. New Edit.
6 vols. 8vo. Baynes, 1810. Robinson's Dict. Theological, Biblical, and Ecclesiastical Dictionary. By John
Robinson, D. D. (of Ravenstone Dale). 8vo. London, 1815.
LL.D. London, 1788.
4 vols. 8vo. 1817-1821.
CONTAINING AN ENQUIRY INTO ITS NATURE AND IMPORTANCE; WITH THE CAUSES
OP ERROR, AND THE REASONS OF ITS PERMISSION.
By the Rev. A. FULLER.
CONTENTS.—On the proper Inferences to be drawn from the discordant Opinions of
Men— The Nature of Heresy – What is Truth?— Importance of Truth - Causes
of Error— Reasons why Error is permitted.
To say nothing at present how these terms are perverted and
* Rom. xiv. 17, 20.
# Rev, ii. 2.
Gal. v, 12.
thereof. For though not the very same, yet things as foolish and opposite to the light of nature, were at the same time charged on the most orthodox."*
It is remarkable also, that the very pious and excellent Professor Francke observes, among the “ signs of the times” favourable to the revival of religion in the beginning of the 18th century,-“ More particularly has the history about old and new Heretics been handled in a more impartial manner. Many who long since have been put upon the black list of Heretics by rigid clergymen, begin to look fair again ; nay, even to be deemed as the brightest instances of piety and religion in their age.”+
It can scarcely be conceived by persons not accustomed to read church history, on how slight pretences the heaviest charges have been brought against persons who dared to vary but ever so little from the creed of the church of Rome; not only the most stupid notions, but the grossest immoralities were charged, and are still charged by the clergy of that communion, against the Waldenses and Albigenses — the Wickliffites and Lombards — the Lutherans and Calvinists: and in short, all who ventured to name the errors and the crimes of the Popish clergy. I But history has withdrawn the veil of scandal, and shewn us in these very characters, the champions of truth, and the examples of every virtue.
Again, at the rise of Methodism, no crime was thought too base, no folly too egregious, to fix upon the characters of men who dared to be singular in their religion; and it is astonisbing to see how even dignified clergymen stooped to propagate reports evidently ridiculous, and which are now known, and generally acknowledged, to be false and idle tales.
The truth is, whether in antient or in modern times, when either divines or laymen have remonstrated against the errors or corruptions of the times, a nick-name has been invented to brand their characters; and tales have been propagated by their enemies, to correspond therewith. The Editor has felt happy whenever he has been able to produce evidence to contradict such slanders; and even when that
Owen's Sermons and Tracts, folio, p. 299.
See Bell's Wanderings of Human Intellect, under those names.
evidence was wanted, he has ventured to express his suspicions of their falsehood. Truth, both as to doctrine and to fact, has been his leading object, and has never been consciously sacrificed by him to any other consideration.
It was hinted, that even in the last Edition some articles were too long, or too short, in proportion to their importance: but the eminence of a sect is not the only object to be considered. On some important articles information may be deficient, or very doubtful; on others, of less importance, it may be abundant, interesting and entertaining, and has therefore not been rejected, especially when referring to new or foreign sects.
Some have also suggested that all obsolete sects might be omitted, and there are works formed on this plan : but it was determined to make this work as complete and comprehensive as possible, within the compass of a single volume; and especially to make it useful to readers of ecclesiastical history, antient as well as modern, where sects are often slightly referred to, and the reader's curiosity excited only, without being gratified. There is also a moral view in which such articles may be of use-as exhibiting the multiplied aberrations of the human mind-as shewing, that in the church, as well as the world, there is “ nothing new under the sun.” The same errors may be new dressed for the taste of different ages; but truth and error are in all ages the same, and human nature equally weak and credulous.
The APPENDIX of the last English Edition, which appeared to Mrs. Adams of sufficient importance to be subjoined to her last American Edition, is newly written, and enlarged to more than double its former extent, besides the Missionary Table: it may now be of use, it is hoped, to the Conductors of Missionary Societies, by shewing, not only what is doing in the religious world, but also what is wanting to be done.
The Editor cannot and ought not to conclude this Preface without acknowledging his obligations to several literary friends, for their kind assistance in pointing out the errors of the former editions, and
in directing to new materials for the present. In the first instance, he is sorry to say that his respects can only be paid to the memory of a friend, who has not lived to see the use made of his suggestions and remarks—the late Rev. S. GREATHEED, F.S.A., whose extensive literary acquirements were exceeded only by his Christian benevolence; and who had the honour to be one of the special friends and associates of our immortal Cowper. Thanks are also due to the kind suggestions of the Rev. T. H. HORNE, M. A. whose valuable and popular “ Introduction to the Critical Study of the Scriptures,” bas afforded several articles illustrative of the Jewish and Pagan sects. But still deeper are the Writer's obligations to the Rev. JOSEPH JEFFERSON, of Thirsk, (formerly of Basingstoke,) who has taken the labour of perusing the sheets of the Dictionary, furnished the greater part of the corrections, and several additions. To the Rev. Mr. BURDER also, and to the Secretaries, &c. of other Missionary Societies, for revising the Sketch of Missionary Geography, and especially the Missionary Table, * which, by their aid, is corrected to the present month, the Editor begs to acknowledge his obligations.
In the former Editions all the references were at the bottom of the page; but it has been thought more convenient to transfer them to the end of each distinct article, where they not only direct the Reader to the authorities from which the matter is taken, but to works from which, on any particular subject, he may obtain more ample satisfaction, if desired. Of the authorities most frequently referred to, a list is subjoined to this Preface, for the sake of explaining the abbreviated references; the others, it is hoped, will be found sufficiently explicit.
Another circumstance which has sometimes puzzled the Editor, and probably may the reader, is the different manner of spelling eastern words in Roman letters, arising from their being taken down from the pronunciation of the natives. The Prophet of Mecca, for instance, was formerly called Mahomet, then Mohammed, and now, according to Mr. Mills, Muhammed:--to prevent confusion, the first spelling, as adopted by Mrs. Adams, is uniformly retained.
But in the Hindoo (or Hindu) names, this variety is most perplexing; almost every writer having a method of his own. Boudh, Budd, and Fo, Foe, or Fuh, are the same Idol ; so are also Veeshnu, Vishnoo; Vishtnu, Vishtnou. Even the use, or omission, of the aspirate at the beginning of a Greek or Hebrew word, makes a
* The first Sketch of this Missionary Table was drawn up by the Editor, and appeuded to the excellent pamphlet of Messrs. Hall and Newell, entitled, The Conversion of the World. Printed in America, but reprinted in London, by Messrs. Simpkin and Marshall, in 1819.