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The writer of this book is conscious of the many defects which must needs occur in such an attempt to describe in any detail, and yet in a brief space, so important and critical a period in the history of the English Church ; but to avoid misconception he begs that it may be observed that he has studiously restricted his work to the defined limits of the series of which it forms part. He has not written of the history, extremely important though it is during the years here dealt with, of other religious bodies : the history of the historical Church in England, with its continuity of ministry and doctrine, has alone been directly considered. Such a restriction the author believes to have been absolutely necessary in order to present at all truly the history of the English Church as the English Church saw it. And for a similar reason this book has not dealt with Ireland or Scotland, closely though they were connected with England. Nor is it a history of literature, or philosophy, or theology, or music, in relation to the Church.
No one can feel more deeply than the author both his indebtedness to the work of the great historian of the early Stewarts who has recently passed away, and the difficulty of presenting at all an original treatment of a period which has in its earlier years been so fully covered by Dr. Gardiner, and in its later has been treated by Dr. Overton, Dr. Stoughton, and others. That he has omitted much that they have told so well, and that he has tried at different points of the history
to direct attention to other views or other aspects, may, he hopes, in the circumstances, be excused. He will not be surprised to learn that he has omitted, in so large a field, much that some readers may think should have found place in his pages.
He can only say that he has tried to read the tangled history of the times anew for himself, and to present a true picture of it.
Some pages here and there in the book have previously appeared in The Guardian and The Pilot, or have been delivered among the lectures at the Laud Commemoration 1895. Parts of Chaps. VIII. IX. and XVIII. have recently been published (during a delay in the publication of this book for which the author is not responsible) in the Church Quarterly Review. Due thanks are tendered to the proprietors for their courtesy in allowing the speedy reprint of what was originally designed for this book.
His friend and former pupil, the Rev. S. Leslie Ollard, Vice-Principal of St. Edmund Hall, has most kindly helped the author by looking through the proofs.