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The present work has been prepared by request of the Department of Religious Education as a part of The Beacon Course. No one else can regret so much as the author that the preparation of it has been so long protracted; but the collection and working over a vast amount of material in nine different languages, which was essential to a satisfactory product, has involved great difficulties, and the whole has had to be done subject to the prior demands of an exacting office.
The work is primarily designed for the use of young people presumed to be sixteen or seventeen years of age, and this fact has of course dictated scope, selection of materials, and method of treatment. It has been necessary to study the utmost compression consistent with a just treatment of the subject, and even now the work is longer by half than would have been desirable. Much more space should be given to the doctrinal element which has bulked so large in the actual movement, but this would not have been to the purpose intended. It would also have been desirable to quote generously from authorities used, to give full references to sources, and to state convincing reasons for positions taken; but these things would have served another public than the one for which the work was designed. Despite these limitations, however, the author would say that he has written as far as possible directly from the sources, and has used every endeavor to make his work as careful and accurate as if its display of scholarship were greater. In the nearly forty years since the publication of Pro