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N offering these biographical studies to my
readers, I do not suggest that there are not other leaders of thought equally suitable for delineation. But the twelve whom I have taken seem to me typical of the various aspects of the Church of England since the Reformation. I have placed Archbishop Tait among them, although he might be described
man of action rather than of thought, because to my mind he represents that calm, comprehensive, loyal, and reasonable attitude of mind which is most genuinely characteristic of the English Church.
I have tried as far as possible to understand the point of view of each, and, where criticism could not be avoided, to touch such
points with no unfriendly hand. Biographical sketches dealing with such different elements which should pretend to agree with all of them would indeed be dull. My object has been to make as far as might be a faithful picture of the man, and to show his place in the history of the Church. When the Dictionary of National Biography is complete, the details of the lives of all such characters
will be available.
But so vast a work will
be accessible only to a few.
When I beginning ministerial life in the Church, I am certain that some such collection as this would have been useful to myself; I venture to hope it may be interesting to others. " There cannot be too many biographies," says a popular American writer,* “of good written, nor too
few of bad men. In reading the life of a good man, the wish unconsciously rises to be like him, and
* C. N. Bovee.
insensibly the character is modified by it." “The biographies of great and good men,' says Matthew Henry,' “like Elijah's mantle, ought to be gathered and preserved by their survivors ; that as their works follow them in the reward of them, they may stay behind in their benefit." There are of course excellent Memoirs to be had of all these worthies ; but possibly when they are brought together in brief in one volume they throw light on each other. The general result,
I think, illustrates the great width of the Church of England; which, while it is capable of exaggeration and abuse, ought always to be acknowledged and maintained.
Belonging myself to no party, but following humbly, as well as I may, in the steps of some of my characters, and, as to modern times, especially in those of Tait and Lightfoot, I hope that those who look at these pages may be led to see that the teaching of the Church of England itself, in Prayer
Book and formularies, is enough for plain Christian men, and that “movements and “parties” on
on one side and on the other are sure to lead to unfortunate results. Seeing the Church of England at the present day so unhappily divided, I should indeed greatly rejoice if this series should in any way help, by God's grace, to bring us back
to the wise and wholesome standpoint of Holy Scripture, the early Fathers, and the English Reformation.
WILLIAM M. SINCLAIR.