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CHURCH DOCTRINE, HISTORY,
ORGANIZATION AND RITUAL,
AND CONTAINING ORIGINAL ARTICLES ON SPECIAL TOPICS, WRITTEN EXPRESSLY
FOR THIS WORK BY BISHOPS, PRESBYTERS, AND LAYMEN.
This Cyclopædia is designed to fill a void which still exists in our general literature. It is especially intended to give the Laity, in a condensed and handy form, a great variety of information, culled from many elaborate volumes, and written by a great diversity of men, as to the constitution, nature, and practical working of the Church of Christ. It is to enable them to judge for themselves, upon the many questions of fact, and doctrine, and government, in our Communion, furnishing them the materials for forming such judgments, and for holding correct views thereon.
The importance of having the Laity intelligently taught concerning these things, cannot be overrated in our Church, where the Lay element is so conspicuous and powerful.
Nor would we wish it less prominent. The Church gains largely by the wisdom and sound counsel of its Laity. Hence the more accessible ecclesiastical information is made to them, the wiser will be their action, the more loyal their support, and the more conservative their influence.
While this Cyclopædia will be of much use to the Clergy who have not the advantage of libraries, yet it was not prepared for them, as they are supposed to have already a certain basis of information on these topics, and also opportunities of prosecuting their researches in any special line of history or doctrine.
Hence, only the outside, as it were, of many questions is shown here; for many
of the subjects here introduced require volumes, rather than pages, and many minds, rather than one mind, to do them justice. As furnishing heads and data of thought and fact concerning the large circle of topics here introduced, this volume, then, will be of the greatest service to all Lay people, as well as furnish a convenient reference book for the Clergy.
In preparing this volume, the Editor, himself a scholar of much ripeness and breadth, has called to his aid writers of varying shades of opinion, 80 as to reflect, as far as possible, the many-sidedness of the Church's views on some of the practical questions of ritual and discipline. It does not