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But surely the points at issue may be examined without exasperation and rancour; and the results of inquiries carried on with a singleness of mind, in search only for the truth, may be offered on the one side without insult or offence, and should be received and examined without contempt and scorn on the other. The writer of this address is not one in whom early associations would foster sentiments of evil will against members of the Church of Rome; or encourage any feeling, incompatible with regard and kindness, towards the conscientious defenders of her creed. From his boyhood he has lived on terms of friendly intercourse and intimacy with individuals among her laity and of her priesthood. In his theological pursuits, he has often studied her ritual, consulted her commentators, and perused the homilies of her divines; and, withal, he has mourned over her errors and misdoings, as he would have sighed over the faults of a friend, who, with many good qualities still to endear him, had unhappily swerved from the straight path of rectitude and integrity. In preparing these pages, the author is not conscious of having been influenced by any motive in the least degree inconsistent with sentiments of charity and respect; at all events, he would hope that no single expression may have escaped from his pen tending to hurt unnecessarily the feelings of any sincere Christian. He has been prompted by a hope that he may perhaps induce some individuals to investigate with candour, and freedom, and with a genuine desire of arriving at the truth, the subjects here discussed; and that whilst some, even of those who may have hitherto acquiesced in erroneous doctrines and practices, may be convinced of their departure from Christian verity; others, if tempted to desert the straight path of primitive worship, may be somewhat strengthened and armed by the views presented to them here, against the captivating allurements of religious error.
Whether the present work may, by the Divine favour, be made in some degree instrumental in forwarding these results, or in effecting any good, the author presumes not to anticipate; but he will hope for the best. He believes that the honest pursuit of the truth, undertaken with an humble zeal for God's glory, and in dependence on his guidance and light, is often made successful beyond our own sanguine expectations.
With these views the following pages are offered, as the result of an inquiry into the doctrine and practice of the Invocation of Saints and Angels, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To prevent misconception as to the nature of this work, the author would observe, that since the single subject here proposed to be investigated is, “The Invocation of Saints and Angels and the Blessed Virgin Mary,” he has scrupulously avoided the discussion of many important and interesting questions usually considered to be connected with it. He has not, for example, discussed the practice of praying for the dead; he has investigated no theory relating to the soul's intermediate state between our dissolution and the final judgment; he has canvassed no opinion as to any power in the saints and the faithful departed to succour either by their prayers or by any other offices, those who are still on earth, and on their way to God. From these and such like topics he has abstained, not because he thinks lightly of their importance, nor because his own mind is perplexed by doubts concerning them; but because the introduction of such points would tend to distract the thoughts from the exclusive contemplation of the one distinct question to be investigated. He is also induced to apprise the reader, that in his work, as he originally prepared it, a far wider field, even on the single subject of the present inquiry, was contemplated than this volume now embraces. His intention was to present an historical survey of the doctrine and practice of the invocation of Saints and Angels, and the Virgin, tracing it from the first intimation of any thing of the kind through its various progressive stages, till it had reached its widest prevalence in Christendom. When, however, he had arranged and filled up the results of the inquiries which he made into the sentiments and habits of those later writers of the Church, whose works he considered it
necessary to examine with this specific object in view, he found that the bulk of the work would be swollen far beyond the limits which he had prescribed to himself; he felt also that the protracted investigation would materially interfere with the solution of that one independent question which he trusts now is kept unmixed with any other. He has, consequently, in the present address limited the range of his researches on the nature of Primitive Christian Worship, to the writers of the Church Catholic who lived before the Nicene Council, or were members of it. In one department, however, he has been under the necessity of making, to a certain extent, an exception to this rule. Having found no allusion to the doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin, on which much of the religious worship now paid to her seems to be founded, in any work written before the middle of the fifth century, he has been induced, in his examination of the grounds on which that doctrine professes to be built, to cite authors who flourished subsequently to the Nicene Council. The author would also mention, that although in substance he has prepared this work for the examination of all Christians equally, and trusts that it will be found not less interesting or profitable to the members of his own Church than to any other, yet he has throughout adopted the form of an address to his Roman Catholic countrymen. Such a mode of conveying his sentiments he considered to be less controversial, while the facts