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The REFORMATION to the Beginning
Their HISTORY to the RESTORATION
By THO. CROSBY.
Printed for, and Sold by, the EDITOR, either
AM well aware, that fome things contained in this history may awaken prejudice, cenfure, or difpleafure, and occafion objections and offence, both to the treatife and my self. And I know that fome have already declared their opinion, that facts which bring no credit to the perfons of whom they are related, ought to be buried in oblivion. But fuch perfons feem to me to be very ignorant of the duty of an biftorian. In answer to whom I fhall only obferve, that thofe heretical perfons of the denomination of Baptifts, on whom the word of the magiftrate fell fo heavy, are yet upon record, and not omitted even by fo late an author as the reverend Mr. Neal, and fo expofed to the view of men from age to age. Therefore I thought it needful, as well as juft, to have these things fet in a clear open light, to difabufe all those who may have been impofed upon by falfe or partial and defective history in this matter, and to remove, or prevent, or allay, fcandal, or cenfure, for time to come; and I am apt to tkink that many readers now and hereafter would have thought me partial, bad I not taken notice of them. Neither do I think that it reflects any odium on the English Baptifts, that fome of their opinion in the point of Baptifm, bave been charged with heretical notions and heterodox opinions, Name me that body of chriftians in the world, which may not be equally, if not more, chargeable with the fame. And yet I doubt not, God bath many faithful fervants in this kingdom, among ft all the denominations of chriftians, who notwithstanding the imputation of herefy and heterodoxy charged on them by others, will be found among the blessed in the kingdom of glory.
And as it is utterly unreasonable to impute the mifcarriages of fome, to the reft of that body to which they A 2
belong, until they profefs and manifeft their approbation of them; fo it is much more unreasonable to impute the mifcarriages and bad principles of perfons long fince dead, to thofe, who in fome one point, now believe and aft as they did, but own not, nor abet either their bad principles, or their practical enormities.
Now though many, even of the learned, and fo late àn author as Mr. Neal, from whom we might have looked for more chriftian treatment, have made it their bufinefs to reprefent the Anabaptists, as they are pleased in contempt to file them, in odious colours, and to write many bitter things, even notorious falfhoods concerning them, nay, to faften doctrines upon them, which they never approved; yet, as shall be fhewn in the fequel of this hiftory, no one fect of chriftians in this kingdom bave merited more the favour and good esteem of their governours and chriftian brethren, by their peaceable carriage and behaviour towards them, than they have done. What fect of chriftians have fhewed the like contentedness under the deprivations which the legislature bas feen needful to lay upon the Diffenters in general, than they? Who have been more content with the liberty allowed them by law than they? But not to be tedious in an epiftolary way, I fhall refer the reader to the work itself, and leave him to judge whether I deferve to be reproached for avoiding partiality.
He that confiders the great trouble and pains that muft attend the reading fo many voluminous books, to take in the compass of fo many years included in this hiftory; and the perplexing thoughts and difficulties under which an author labours, whofe principal end is to fet things in a just and fair light, will, if he be candid, eafily pass by fmall faults and little inadvertencies; but if there fhall appear in the course of this history any confiderable mistakes, I fhall hold my felf obliged to fuck gentlemen, who shall be pleafed to represent them, promifing to take the first opportunity that shall prefent, to retract or amend the fame.
HOEVER writes a Book feems by cuftom obliged to write a preface to it; wherein it is expected, he should fhew the motives which induced him to write the fame. 'Tis now many years fince the materials, of which a great part of this treatise is formed, came into my hands. Had the ingenious collector of them lived to digeft them Mr. Benj. in their proper order, according to his de-Stinton. fign, they would have appeared much more beautiful and correct, than now they do. I might here expatiate in his praife, and fay a great deal of my own knowledge, both as to his industry and acquirements: But, as I fhall hereafter have occafion to mention him, I omit it here: And fhall annex to this preface the feveral opinions of the first rise of the Baptifts, which he defigned as an introduction to his intended hiftory of them; be