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In presenting these Stories from Church History to the Public, it might be necessary for me to say something of my motives in doing so; but I feel rather inclined to let the work explain itself. Under its unassuming title I would seek a screen from the censures of criticism ; and in the simple and sincere motive of benefiting Youth, I would expect the only patronage I covet ;-that of the anxious Christian Parent.
This work was chiefly undertaken for the use, and at the desire of some dear young people, who had asked me to extract some passages for them from a large work of ecclesiastical history which I was reading. The request first gave me the idea of engaging in this work, and I soon found the researches to which it led, of interest sufficient to encourage and support me, to the completion of my task.
Though, during its progress, those who first induced its commencement were removed from the church below to the ransomed church above; still, having myself often felt and lamented the want of a simple, regular, and interesting History of the Christian Church, such as might tend to guard the minds of the young against the dangers which too frequently await them in a literary course, I have thought it would not be unacceptable to those who would wish their children to have a “right understanding in all things.” It is much to be lamented that young persons are often brought acquainted with the early history of Christianity through the medium of heathen or infidel writers : and, with minds unprepared by previous information to resist the misrepresentations, the calumnies, or the sneers that have been levelled against the Christian religion, the effects of such reading have been felt and
This evil I have kept in view, in drawing up this simple, but, I trust, faithful history of the Church ; and if it is found likely to act as a counterpoise to it, I shall have had my reward.
It was not my intention to touch on the history of the first century, thinking that sufficiently detailed in the sacred records : my Narrative properly begins with the commencement of the second, or the reign of Trajan. I have, however, taken a brief review of the principal events of the first century of Christianity, in the first Story of this work, which may be considered as introductory to the rest.
In ecclesiastical affairs, I have selected my materials from various and approved historians ; though, for so small and unpretending a work, a long list of authorities might seem unnecessary. In secular history, I have generally followed Gibbon, Hume, and Robertson.