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F. LUDWIG, PRINTER,

70 & 13 Vesey-at.

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PREFACE.

“THE Eclectic Review was commenced in January, 1805, by a number of gentlemen, of whom William Alers Hankey is believed to be the only survivor. Their object was to provide an antidote to the irreligious spirit which then pervaded the periodical press of the country. Episcopalians and dissenters were united in its early conduct; and for some years it maintained an absolute neutrality on those ecclesiastical points wherein they differ from each other. To such an extent was this neutrality observed, that some historical questions of general interest, and of great importance, were designedly avoided, lest they should lead to the expression of opinions which by implication might be deemed incompatible with it. An illustration of this is afforded in the review of Macdiarmid's British Statesmen, where Mr. Foster remarks, in reference to the lives of Strafford and Clarendon

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By the principles of our undertaking, we are pledged not to advance any opinions on the grand controversy between the religious establishment of our country and the dissenters from its communion ;-or more precisely, we are engaged to avoid discussing the abstract propriety of an establishment, and also the propriety of that form of it now existing in the country. These are questions, it is true, quite distinct from the conduct of the established church, or any of its distinguished members, as political agents in the transactions of a history. Viewed in this light, their operations, their influence, their virtues, or their vices, are just as fair subjects of observation as those of any other of the agents, involved in our national history. But it is not certain that we can exercise our right to this undoubted extent without giving considerable offence. Even at this liberal period, there are some whom it would be hard to avoid offending, and in whose opinions we should scarcely seem to preserve our pledged neutrality, while condemning the violent and fatal intolerance of the church during the reigns of the Jameses and Charleses, though it be evidently impossible to discuss the merits, or even to narrate the events of those reigns without it.'

“It was however ultimately found impracticable to continue the compromise involved in the original constitu

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