A History of the Church in England

A History of the Church in England

A History of the Church in England

A History of the Church in England

Excerpt

It is notoriously difficult to pour a gallon of water into a pint pot. It is almost as difficult to compress the history of 1750 years into 400 pages. This book, therefore, can be no more than an introduction, a guide to such as are interested in the history of the Christian Church in England and wish to know more about it.

In drawing up this account I have tried to tell it as a story, a narrative of events (based, like other events, on cause and effect) from the first preaching of the Word in England down to the present day. In so doing, a careful selection of facts has had to be made; and I cannot suppose that any other historian would have made the same selection or that my selection will satisfy every reader. That is inevitable. All history that is worthy of the name is biased, because every writer who is a true historian and not a mere annalist, must have a point of view which will inevitably reveal itself in his pages.

In writing a history of the Church in England the historian has to handle subjects of great controversy and diversity of opinion, subjects which are bound up with the deepest emotions and strongest convictions of mankind. What, for example, are we to make of the Reformation? To some the breach with Rome cannot appear otherwise than as a great disaster. Yet to others it may wear the aspect of a providential deliverance, a real sign of progress under the power of the Holy Spirit. So it must be with any kind of history, and especially the history of religion.

I therefore make no claim to be impartial. Indeed, I hope I am not; for impartial history would be very dull.

Historical text-books are almost certain to contain a large number of sweeping statements for which little evidence can be produced simply because there is no space for it. This book contains many such generalizations. But in order to help the reader to follow up any subject in which he is interested I have given references to what I regard as the most useful, reliable and accessible books. These represent, of course, only a small fraction of the literature available; but there are about 800 of them mentioned in the following pages, and most of . . .

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