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Doubtless many passages would have been modified or altered by him, but it has seemed better to issue these papers substantially as he left them.
In a very few cases one or two omissions or alterations have been made, and three chapters are withheld which do not seem necessary to the scheme of the book. It should be added that the various chapters were written, in some cases at an interval of
years, in the midst of an exceptionally busy life, crowded with intellectual activity, and burdened with a heavy weight of work for others. In one or two cases they were prepared and delivered as separate addresses.
In his intense love of truth and indignation with unreality and insincerity, Dr. Thompson has sometimes written severely of orthodoxy and its exponents. It must not be thought, however, that he did not love and cherish true religion everywhere, even when it found expression in the most orthodox language and way of worship.
Two friends amongst those with whom he was accustomed to meet and discuss some of the deepest problems of life and religion, whom he regarded with especial love and veneration, were in the one case a devout Roman Catholic, and in the other an Anglican clergyman.
Above all, it must be remembered that this book was not intended for men and women who are content with a creed and a worship which are accepted as orthodox. It is addressed to those who are already unhappy and troubled because they cannot reconcile the dogmas they had been taught to believe with what they are convinced is the true attitude to life ; some of whom have already long given up any connection with organised Christianity, while others still continue to observe forms of religion which have ceased to have meaning for them, and in so doing feel, at intervals, an uneasy sense of insincerity. To such men especially the writer of this book makes his appeal. He would have been the last to proclaim his own views as a dogma, or to ask that they should be accepted by others untested by the fire of thought in the crucible of experience. He did not set them forth as a final statement of what he believed or would have another believe. He is rather exposing to his reader a method of approaching life's problems, an attitude of mind and will, a way of life, not a theory about life. He was ever himself learning and helping others to learn. Above all other research he had learned to set the quest for truth; it was in all his own labours his inspiration. He wrote knowing that he might make mistakes, that he needs must make them, but he knew, too, that he was seeking the truth, and writing for the seekers of truth. He shares the fruit of his own religious experience with his fellow-men, asking them not to accept his judgment of it, but rather to taste and see for themselves as they walk along the same way, or by different roads to the same goal.