Under the historical head the reader will find some account of the three most remarkable events in the history of the Reformed Church of England. The first of these events is the ferocious attempt which was made by Queen Mary, of unhappy memory, to destroy the work of religious Reformation which was begun in the reign of Edward the Sixth.—The second event is the blind and abortive effort of Archbishop Laud to unprotestantize the Church of England, which resulted in his own execution, and well-nigh ruined the Church and the monarchy for ever.—The third event is the daring attack on English Protestantism, which was made by James the Second, when he prosecuted the Seven Bishops, and, under the specious name of toleration, endeavoured to re-establish the power of the Bishop of Rome in the land. These three events ought to be familiar to every Englishman. In the second, tenth, and last papers in this volume I have tried to supply some condensed information about them. We live in an age when they cannot be known too well, and ought to be continually kept before the public eye.
Under the biographical head the reader will find in this volume some account of the lives and opinions of eleven remarkable men. At the head of the eleven I have placed John Wycliffe, the morning-star of the Reformation. He lived before the invention of printing, and consequently is far less known than he ought to be. But I believe that English Christianity owes him a great debt which has never been fully paid. Among the eleven I have placed Archbishop Laud. He is a man who did such indelible harm to the Church of England, and yet is so generally overvalued and misunderstood, that I have felt it a plain duty to place him before my readers in his true colours. I believe the wounds he inflicted on our Church will never be healed. Of the remaining nine, six were Reformers, who were burned alive in Queen Mary’s days, because they would not abjure their Protestant principles, and believe in the sacrifice of the Mass. Three of the nine were Puritan divines, who lived in the 17th century, and made a deep mark in their day and generation. One common remark applies both to Reformers and Puritans. They are far less known and understood in these latter times than they ought to be.
By J. C. Ryle
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