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PRINTED BY S. COLLINGWOOD, PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY,
FOR THE AUTHOR :
SOLD BY J. H. PARKER, OXFORD; MESSRS. RIVINGTON, LONDON; AND
BY MESSRS, DEIGHTON, CAMBRIDGE.
THE best excuse which can be made for the publication of a Work such as that which is now offered to the world, is, the plain statement of the reasons which originally led to its composition, and of the objects which the author had in view when he commenced the task. And if, when the undertaking is accomplished, the same reasons still exist either in part or whole; if his labours be calculated to supply a want which in any measure continues to be felt, he must trust that the kindness of the public will excuse that vanity which induces him to hope, that his exertions may in some degree contribute to supply a desideratum among the elementary works of our country.
The author of the present Sketch discovered after he had been admitted into orders, that the knowledge of English ecclesiastical history which he possessed was very deficient. It was on a point concerning which, information was not to be readily obtained, but in which he felt that he ought to have made diligent search during the professional pre
paration of himself, on which every educated man, who is engaged in the instruction of others, is peculiarly bound to enter; he was distressed, that his knowledge of the sects among the philosophers of Athens was greater than his information on questions which affect the church of England; and he determined to devote a considerable portion of those few hours which a laborious employment left at his disposal to the study of the history of our own church.
His pursuits were chiefly directed to those particulars which at the same time might supply him with real knowledge in his own profession; and he was disposed to hasten over periods which could furnish little but an acquaintance with facts, and an insight into ecclesiastical abuses. The circumstances in which he was placed furnished him with an abundance of books; but this very fact made him more sensible of the need of some guide to direct him in the selection of them; and notwithstanding the kind assistance provided by a large number of clerical friends, he found a diversity of advice, which perplexed rather than facilitated his progress.
He sought in vain for a general history of the church of England, which might furnish him with a map of his intended journey; for those which exist are rather large surveys than maps; in which the general
features are laid down on so extensive a scale, that they never exhibit a commodious view of the whole.
He determined therefore to draw up a sketch for himself, to lay down the great landmarks as distinctly as he could, and to fill up the details in such a manner as circumstances would allow. And conceiving that his own map, with all its imperfections, might be useful to others, he constantly framed it as he proceeded, thinking that when his task was accomplished, it might either remain as a private memorial of his own studies, or be given to the public when the academical labours of the author were at an end, in case no work of the same description should previously supply the wants of individuals situated as he had been. When this period had arrived, and he hardly felt satisfied with the publications which have appeared, he ventured to print the present volumes. Mr. Southey’s Book of the Church, from the omission of references, does not provide the student with the necessary information, and is not free from such views of the subject as can never contribute to the discovery of truth. Mr. Carwithen has given a very faithful description of the country through which he has passed, but he has not sufficiently pointed out the more striking features to which the attention of the traveller must be directed, if he wishes to obtain an idea of the whole terri