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THE SEVEN AGES OF MAN.

From a Block Print in the British Museum.

15th Century

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PRE FACE.

Few of those persons who are accustomed to watch the religious tendencies of the age, need be reminded that its characteristics are freedom of inquiry, thought, and discussion, and these with greater latitude than can be traced in the history of any former period. The adage that “thinking nurseth thinking” is every day strongly exemplified; and if it be hard to estimate the actual results at their true value to society, it must be allowed that in the conflict of opinions, Truths may be abundantly garnered—the wheat gathered from the enemy's tares ; and their importance and interest of the good part inculcated with greater effect than by ordinary means.

To bring the consideration of the three paramount subjects named in the annexed title-page within the limits of a single volume may appear a pretentious object for a Layman to attempt; more especially when we remember how many splendid intellects have, through countless ages, been devoted to the rearing of the safeguards of our belief, and the eternal interests of mankind. In comparison with such labours, which are the highest aspirations of the human mind, the present work has very humble claim to notice. It has been undertaken with the view of concentrating within its focus the views and opinions of some of the leading writers of the present day, and placing them before the reader in so popular a form and setting as to adapt them for a larger class than would be likely to

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