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necessary that I should explain to those who may honour it with a perusal.
First, let me disarm the critics beforehand by saying that it is a book for the people, and not a disquisition for the learned. Its object is to tell in plain, popular language all that can be gathered from the Bible regarding the glad but mysterious world which lies“ beyond the stars.” If any who cast their eyes over its pages are disappointed in it for this reason, I cannot help it. There are other works which will supply them with what they are in search of. For me, so far as this book is concerned, “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue;" and
the tongue of the theologian, who must perforce deal with strange languages and work out abstruse arguments, must be an unknown tongue to the plain English reader. I am quite content to walk among “the common people,” and will have my sufficient reward if they “hear me gladly” on my theme.
It seems needful also that I should say that the successive chapters of the book were originally delivered as a series of Sunday-evening lectures. This will account for much in their style and contents which might otherwise appear strange, and will also explain the absence of many things. I have not thought it wise to deprive the work of this its original character to any great extent. It seemed to me that the trouble of doing so would have been ill repaid, and
very probably might have ended in more hurt than service both to the book and its readers. As a matter of fact, it was the deep interest which my talks with my people about “ the better land” awakened, when delivered from the pulpit, that suggested to me the thought of their publication. When I saw how men crowded to hear about the heavenly home, and with what unflagging eagerness they drank in all that they could be told about it, it seemed to me a pity not to yield to the requests which came from many quarters to commit what I had said on the subject to the press, that others might share in whatever profit or enjoyment my words might give. There is a great hunger for information about the other world. Is it not well if one can at all satisfy it and turn it to good account? Whatever God has seen right to tell us about the celestial country, we ought surely to try to know.
That I obtained light and help from many quarters, while trying to find out what is "beyond the stars,” goes, of course, without saying. I sought such light and help everywhere that I thought I could find them, and am under many an obligation in consequence.
In the text such obligations will be found acknowledged from time to time. I feel, however, that I ought specially to mention here two works which deal with portions of the subject which I have essayed to treat in this volume-Our Friends in Heaven, and Our Companions in Glory, by the late Rev. James M. Killen, D.D., Comber.
These are all the matters which I have to explain to my readers before asking them to enter with me upon the investigation of the subject of my book. My hope is that it may bring “the land that is very far off” a little nearer, help them to see their title to it a little clearer, and comfort them with some brighter glimpses than perhaps they have got elsewhere of the bliss in which any whom they have lost may be “ beyond the stars.”
BROOKVALE HOUSE, BELFAST,