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Amongst ideas, that of the Devil may rank as one which has taken a powerful hold on the mind of man. The present volume is directed to an examination of some of the many causes which have contributed to the construction of the ideal Devil.
It is difficult to discriminate with accuracy all the links which have formed the direct lines of descent, as each link in its turn has been a centre of radiation, a point of departure for other conceptions. It has been necessary to examine some of these collateral branches, in order to illustrate the process of divergence and point out some of the collateral relationships; and indeed the temptation to digress is great. But this has been done as little as possible, the object being, not to dogmatize on the result, but to examine the origin of a single but complex ideal, and the stages by which the result is connected with the original germs.
The Devil treated of is the modern orthodox Devil of Christian Belief. No attempt is therefore made to discuss the ideals and personifications of evil realized by other creeds, except so far as light may seem to be thrown on the history of the Christian Devil.
As to the conclusions to which the facts may point, it is for each to form his own opinion. The existence or non-existence of the Devil, his
personality or abstract existence, are not the questions treated of in these pages : an ideal of the Devil has existed, and still exists, and the only object is to trace the origin and evolution of that ideal.
Amongst the numerous works from which I have drawn materials for the pedigree, I would mention those of Mr. E. B. Tylor, Mr. Moncure Conway, M. François Lenormant, and the late Mr. Keightley, all of which have been of great assistance to me. I have endeavoured as far as possible to acknowledge in foot-notes the authorities from which I have drawn; where I may not have done this, I still would express my indebtedness to those authors whose works I have used.