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PREFACE

ix

hundred points which had troubled my mind for many years, and which had ultimately caused me to abandon the Christian religion. I joined the Browning Society, and in the discussions which followed the reading of the papers, I found the opportunity of having my doubts resolved, not by theological arguments, but by those suggested by Browning as "solving for me all questions in the earth and out of it." By slow and painful steps I found my way back to the faith I had forsaken. How I reached it, and how my studies have since confirmed it, is told in this book. I trust I may be pardoned for thinking this confession interesting to those who may read these pages, for it is always useful to know how others have solved difficulties which have troubled ourselves. It is this reflection which gives me confidence to make the avowal.

EDWARD BERDOE.

LONDON,

October 21, 1895.

INTRODUCTION

A STUDENT at one of our theological colleges once consulted the divinity lecturer as to the best books on modern theology which he could present to a clerical friend. The answer came promptly and decisively-"Give him a set of Browning." The advice was not followed; the student was only partially familiar with the great poet's works, and could not quite see how they would help a country parson in his pulpit duties. But some years after this suggestion, he took up the study of Browning more systematically, and then he saw the wisdom of his tutor's advice. The world is becoming very sick of dogma, and daily becomes more unwilling to believe anything on mere authority. Creeds and confessions of faith are growing out of date. The spread of education, the increasing power of the press, and the inquiring attitude of the nineteenth-century mind, constitute an unfavourable atmosphere for the dogmatic churches. If

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