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Essays on Ecclesiastical Subjects
ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, D.D.
DEAN OF WESTMINSTER
(Published by arrangement with the Author.]
THIS VOLUME, though not pretending to completeness, forms a connected whole. The Essays touch on a variety of topics, and were written at long intervals of time, but they are united by the common bond which connects the institutions to which they relate. It may be well to state here some of the general conclusions which they suggest.
1. Underneath the sentiments and usages which have accumulated round the forms of Christianity, it is believed that there is a class of principles — a Religion as it were behind the religion — which, however dimly expressed, has given them whatever vitality they possess. It is not intended to assert that these principles were continuously present to the minds of the early Christians, or that they were not combined with much heterogeneous matter which interfered with their development. But it is maintained that there is enough in them of valuable truth to give to these ancient institutions a use in times and circumstances most different from those in which they originated. If this be shown to be the case, the main purpose of these Essays will have been accomplished. The Sacraments — the Clergy — the Pope — the Creed — will take a long time in dying, if die they must. It is not useless to indicate a rational point of view, from which they may be approached, and to show the germs which, without a violent dislocation, may be developed into higher truth.