Among the numerous and varied methods which the Popish Church has adopted, to maintain its usurped sway over the minds and bodies of men, none has been more effectual than the erection of the Inquisition. Established for the purpose of taking cognizance of what it styles heresy, many are the victims which this tribunal has doomed to the rack and the flames, for endeavouring to regulate their faith and worship agreeably to the unerring standard of revealed truth. For many ages, its procedure was comparatively unknown, the conduct of its ministers having been wrapt up in that mysterious secrecy by which all its transactions are characterized. What was long concealed is, however, now unfolded, by the productions of many unexceptionable writers, not a few of whom were themselves connected with the "holy office," and are consequently well fitted to give an impartial account of its iniquitous acts and deeds. The design, accordingly, of this little volume, is to give a succinct and connected view of the rise, progress, and present state of that infamous tribunal, more especially in Spain. Such a work, the writer conceives, will not be without use, notwithstanding the many detailed accounts that have been given of an institution, which has been, and still is, an outrage on humanity. To those whose avocations allow only of an occasional perusal of books, the following sheets will afford information on this subject, to obtain which otherwise, the [Pg iv] reading of many large works would be necessary; and to the young student, it is hoped, they may pave the way for future research, excite an early abhorrence of tyranny and bigotry, and nurture the spirit of Christian philanthropy and liberality. It has been the aim of the writer to condense as much information within a small compass as possible. Not a few cases of well-attested individual suffering have also been introduced, illustrative of the various topics brought forward in the course of the work.