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A vast domain of social, moral, and religious philosophy remains to be explored under the light of Christianity. To this investigation let Christians address themselves, rather than to glorying in the past.
We cannot appreciate the objection to the anonymous character of this publication. Men should certainly judge of the merits of a book as impartially without as with a knowledge of the author. Writers should be judged by their works, not by the colour of their coats. What is rightly urged can gain no merit from a name, and what is
should not. Much more plausible are the objectors who inquire, What has he achieved who speaks so plainly to others? We are sorry for those whose opinions depend upon the result of such an inquiry. We can claim no hearing and no favour upon any personal ground; if we obtain none, we shall utter no complaint. But to lessen the force of both these objections, and to make what amends we can for the admitted faults and deficiencies of this volume, we assume the responsibility of the subsequent pages, by subjoining our name; and we offer a prize for the best work upon the doctrine and grace of Christian Charity, which shall be produced within two years, upon a plan indicated on the fly-leaf at the close of this volume.
STEPHEN COLWELL. PAILADELPHIA, May 1, 1852.
In offering the following pages to the public, we fur. nish no formal or complete treatise upon any of the topics embraced. We have reflected long and earnestly upon them, as they arose incessantly in the course of kindred studies, until we became painfully convinced that they were neglected, and that the time had arrived when the public attention should be specially invoked. This labour is devoted to that purpose. We have poured forth our feelings, and, with scarcely a pretence of method, sketched an outline of our thoughts. We would thus provoke others to more elaborate performances. If this work is unworthy of the subject, let its imperfections stimulate those of more leisure, better training, and greater ability to undertake the task we have only indicated. We ask attention to the subject, as of sufficient interest and novelty to arrest the thoughts of the reader, despite all our deficiencies : let no one, therefore, who desires the progress of Christianity or the promotion of humanity refuse to hear the feeblest voice which is raised in their behalf.
Let it not be thought that, whilst dwelling so emphatically upon Charity, we have violated its dictates by undue severity of remark. We have intended no censures upon individuals, even when severe upon the class to which they belong. We regard the faults of indi
viduals, whether priests, clergy, ministers, or laymen, as being the faults of their age or their station, or as the results of education or training, -circumstances all beyond their control; and whilst we do not abate a jot from the responsibility which belongs to wrong-doing, we admit, human nature being ever prone to err, that men placed in similar circumstances will be likely to transgress in similar paths. We believe there are few instances in which one class of men can, in the sight of God, glory over others : if any are better, they have more light and better opportunities, and will be held to a stricter account. Many of our expressions doubtless require qualification, but we trust that the reader who is earnestly in quest of truth will readily perceive our scope, and follow the channel of our thoughts until he is fully embarked in the subject; he will then perceive there is "ample room and verge enough” for the mind, without aiming censure at any one. We denounce none: we ask the serious consideration and co-operation of all. We insist that Protestants have long overlooked and neglected charity—that it has not been, and is not, a feature in their creeds; that, while Protestantism has gone far before the world in liberality, it is almost a stranger to that charity which the Author of our faith preached and exemplified. We plead the cause of the poor, the suffering, the friendless, before those who claim pre-eminence in Christianity: we ask whether, as Protestants, enjoying the highest Christian privileges which have fallen to the lot of men, we have, in the matter of human welfare, done that which it was our duty to do? We may not postpone this inquiry without suffering in public estimation and in our ability to do good ;-we cannot postpone it
without danger of being put on our defence as recreant to the cause of humanity. The world now believes that the religion, announced by the Author and Finisher of our faith, embraces HUMANITY as well as DIVINITY in its range. We must meet the great questions now raised in behalf of humanity, and not be overtaken by them. Let us unite in the effort to adjust the claims of charity and justice; and let us not wait until they are settled without our aid or our consent-we being thrust aside as unworthy a voice in the matter. Human weal and human wo cannot as subjects be postponed. The duties we owe to our fellow-men, long passed by in the Gospels, are being brought to light. Theology must soon sink to its subordinate position, and charity—the law of kindness—must soon be exalted to its
rank. The value of kindness, as a remedy for the ills of life, is beginning to be appreciated. It is now the established specific for insanity: it is the only mitigation of madness. Where a spark of reason is left to the raving maniac, though invisible to every other human eye, it is fanned into life, and soon perceived by the messenger of mercy. It is but a few years since the most atrocious cruelties were perpetrated by good people against those bereft of reason. The
age of cruelty is giving way to that of mercy. Kindness is known to be a specific for many forms of disease, and kind nursing for many more. Christ's whole ministry was one of personal kindness. Charity is the great lever of Christianity: by it the messengers of the gospel can open the eyes of pagan blindness : by it the ears of the most obstinate and hardened can be unstopped : by it reason can be restored and life saved: by it every human ill can be alleviated : by it all obstacles to the pro
gress of Christianity can be removed or diminished. Men are selfish, unfeeling, and prone to the abuse of power and wealth; yet, where charity appears in her simplest garb, she is hailed as a heavenly visitant, and the message which accompanies her deeds of kindness is received as the voice of Heaven.
It is time the virtue of this remedy were tried in the name of Christianity upon the whole mass of humanity : try it upon the poor, upon paupers, upon prisoners, soldiers, sailors, servants, labourers; try it upon infidels, socialists, reforming zealots, revolutionists ; try it upon all men—and the result will be happy beyond all our present conceptions.