This book is designed to render to Scottish Churchmen the special service of presenting to them, in a brief but comprehensive survey, the record of their ecclesiastical history which is engraved in their ecclesiastical architecture. There is no record so authentic as that which is built in stone. There is none so sacred as that which attests and illustrates the religion of our forefathers. Much of that record has perished: enough remains to engage our reverent study and our dutiful care. Foreign war and rapine have wasted and destroyed our heritage of sacred places. Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose, and Haddington fell before the English invader. Iona was ravaged by the Dane, while yet the island formed part of a Scandinavian diocese. Internal lawlessness and tribal fury have wrought like disasters. Elgin, once "the fair glory of the land," stands a forlorn monument of the savagery of a Highland chief. St. Andrews, Lindores, Perth, Paisley, and many others bear witness to the reckless outrage which cloaked its violence under the guise of religious zeal. Of all our spoilers this has been the most destructive. The pretence (for it often was nothing else) of "cleansing the sanctuary" not only robbed the Church of many a priceless possession, but begat, in the popular mind, a ruthless disregard of the sacred associations of places where generation after generation had worshipped God, and a coarse indifference to the solemnity of His ordinances, which made it easy for those who should have been the guardians of the churches to let them fall, unheeded, into decay.
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