D’Aubigne commenting on why his book History of the Reformation had such success:
Is it not because the truth of God is openly proclaimed in the work? The doctrine of justification by faith in Christ is presented as being what it really is–the powerful lever which, in the Sixteenth Century, raised up the fallen churches, and brought souls to Christ.
Man is well aware that a new life can only be begun in him when he has true and joyful communion with God. He knows that if he is in any degree to accomplish the Divine will here below, he must first find in God a reconciled Father, who forgives him all his offences. He knows that he can only love God when he is convinced that God first loved him. He knows that it is the love of God towards him which can only bring forth in him true humility, self-denial, hunger and thirst after righteousness. How would it be possible for him to enter, with courage, into the work of personal sanctification, if he were continually troubled by the reproaches of conscience, and kept back by the burden of his sins weighing always upon him? He must, before all, have pardon; he must know that his sins are no longer imputed to him, because the Savior has given His life as a ransom for his soul–because He bore on the cross the punishment of his guilt. The conscience of a true Christian tells him that, if his reconciliation with God by Christ depended in any degree on his sanctification, he could never feel assured of having acquired the necessary amount of holiness, and, consequently, could never have joyful confidence in God; and he would thus be incapable of taking even the first step in the path of sanctification. Faith in the expiation of Christ, and the reconciliation through His blood, is the commencement of the union of man with God; the gift of Divine grace gratuitously made, received by faith without any merit on our part, is the beginning of the new creation and of the new creature. That is the faith taught by St. Paul and the apostles–that is the doctrine taught by Luther and the other Reformers, as it had never been taught since the apostolic times. That doctrine may, perhaps, bring a smile to the lips of some great writers, of men of the world; and yet it was that which transformed Christendom three centuries ago, and brought about a new era,–one of light, of liberty, and of faith,–contrasting forcibly with the darkness of the Middle Ages.
J.H. Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation, p. iv