« ElőzőTovább »
Rev. Wm. R. Alger's Writings.
THE POETRY OF THE ORIENT. A Critical and His
torical Introduction to Sanscrit, Arabic, and Persian Poetry. Illustrated by several hundreds of characteristic specimens. One volume, 16mo. Third edition. Price, $1.50.
THE GENIUS OF SOLITUDE. One volume, 12mo.
Ninth edition. Price, $1.50.
Part I.-THE SOLITUDES OF NATURE,
THE FRIENDSHIPS OF WOMEN. One volume, 12mo.
Ninth edition. Price, $1.50.
Have Women no Friendships? Friendship, inside and outside of the ties of blood. Friendship between Parents and Children, Mothers and Sons, Daughters and Fathers, Sisters and Brothers, Wives and Husbands, Mothers and Daughters, of Sisters, Woman with Woman, Pairs of Female Friends, Platonic Love, or che Marriage of Souls, the Needs and Duties of Woman in this Age.
Roberts Brothers, Publishers, Boston.
LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST, with numerous Steel-plates
and Portraits. Two volumes, 8vo. Cloth, $10.00. J. B. Lippincott & Co., Publishers, Philada.
COMPRISING 4977 BOOKS RELATING TO THE NATURE, ORIGIN, AND DES-
OF AUTHORS AND SUBJECTS.
BY EZRA ABBOT,
NEW YORK :
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by
WILLIAM ROUNSEVILLE ALGER,
Copyright 1878, W. R. ALGER.
ELECTROTYPED DY L. JOHNSON & CO., PHILADA.
PREFACE TO THE TENTH EDITION.
This work has passed through nine editions, and has been out of print now for nearly a year. During the twenty years which have elapsed since it was written, the question of immortality, the faith and opinions of men and the drift of criticism and doubt concerning it, have been a subject of dominant interest to me, and have occupied a large space in my reading and reflection. Accordingly, now that my publisher, moved by the constant demand for the volume, urges the preparation of a new edition introdacing such additional materials as my continued researches have gathered or constructed, I gladly comply with his request.
The present work is not only historic but it is also polemic; polemic, however, not in the spirit or interest of any party or conventicle, but in the spirit and interest of science and humanity. Orthodoxy insists on doctrines wliose irrationality in their current forms is such that they can never be a basis for the union of all men. Therefore, to discredit these, in preparation for more reasonable and auspicous views, is a service to the whole human race. This is my justification for the controversial quality which may frequently strike the reader.
Looking back over his pages, after nearly a quarter of a century more of investigation and experience, the author is grateful that he finds nothing to retract or expunge. He has but to add such thoughts and illustrations as have occurred to him in the course of his subsequent studies. He hopes that the supplementary chapters now published will be found more suggrstive and mature than the preceding ones, while the same in aim and tone. For he still believes, as he did in his earlier time, that there is much of error and superstition, bigotry and cruelty, to be purged out of the prevailing theological creed and sentiment of Christendom. And he still hopes, as he did then, to contribute something of good influence in this direction. The large circulation of the work, the many letters of thanks for it received by the author from laymen and clergymen of different denominations, the numerous avowed and unavowed quotations from it in recent publications,--all show that it has not been produced in vain, but has borne fruit in missionary service for reason, liberty, and charity.
This ventilating and illumining function of fearless and reverential critical thought will need to be fulfilled much longer in many quarters. The doctrine of a future life has been made so frightful by the preponderance
in it of the elements of material torture and sectarian narrowness, that a natural revulsion of generous sentiment joins with the impulse of material. istic science to produce a growing disbelief in any life at all beyond the grave. Nothing else will do so much to renew and extend faith in God and immortality as a noble and beautiful octrine of God and immortality, freed from disfiguring terror, selfishness, and favoritism.
The most popular preacher in England has recently asked his fellow-believers, "Can we go to our beds and sleep while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned?” The proprietor of a great foundry in Germany, while he talked one day with a workman who was feeding a furnace, accidentally stepped back, and fell headlong into a vat of molten iron. The thought of what happened then horrifies the imagination. Yet it was all over in two or three seconds. Multiply the individual instance by unnumbered millions, stretch the agony to temporal infinity, and we confront the orthodox idea of hell!
Protesting human nature hurls off such a belief with indignant disdain, except in those instances where the very form and vibration of its nervous pulp have been perverted by the hardening animus of a dogmatic drill transmitted through generations. To trace the origin of such notions, expose their baselessness, obliterate their sway, and replace them with conceptions of a more rational and benignant order, is a task which still needs to be done, and to be done in many forms, over and over, again and again. Though each repetition tell but slightly, it tells.
Every sound argument is instantly crowned with universal victory in the sight of God, and therefore must at last be so in the sight of mankind. However slowly the logic of events limps after the logic of thoughts, it always follows. Let the mind of one man perceive the true meaning of the doctrine of the general resurrection and judgment and eternal life, as a natural evolution of history from within, and it will spread to the minds of all men; and the misinterpretation of that doctrine so long prevalent, as a preternatural irruption of power from without, will be set aside forever. For there is a providential plan of God, not injected by arbitrary miracle, but inhering in the order of the world, centred in the propulsive heart of humanity, which beats throb by throb along the web of events, removing obstacles and clearing the way for the revelation of the completed pattern. When it is done no trumpets may be blown, no rocks rent, no graves opened. But all immortal spirits will be at their goals, and the universe will be full of music.
NEW YORK, February 22, 1878.