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BOOK REVIEWS

Back to Christ: By the Right Rev. Charles Fiske, D.D., LL.D., Bishop Coadjutor of Central New York. Longmans, Green & Co., $1.00 net.

This is an admirable book. Bishop Fiske began with the title and ended with the last word, exactly the book to put into the hands of the "nominal Churchman" of every imaginable kind. In other words, he has written for the majority of the members of the Episcopal Church exactly the book they need in the judgment of such pastors as are not nominal priests. The point of view of the writer is that of one who has never forgotten the lay point of view, and who possesses a keen understanding of exactly what people will read. There is not a line that is not "readable" pointed, clear, and telling.

The only adverse criticism which one is moved to make after finishing the book is that the Bishop is gravely mistaken when he asserts in the opening sentence of the brief preface that "there is nothing original in this book." It is original from one end to the other, in the matter of treatment. The reviewer can point out with a good grace that all that could be meant by the author's disavowal is that the subject matter is not original with him. But this would be true of almost any book which is orthodox. The more perfect the orthodoxy, in these latter days, the less original the material.

The first strategic move was the selection of the title. This has been used over and over again as the watchword of the propagandists of "recovery and restatement," of the gospel. Here it is used in quite another way. It connotes the desirability of beginning with the "old, old story" of Jesus and His love for mankind, with which story the book opens, in a pure appeal to the kindliness which is inherent in the normal human being. From this appeal which makes even a sophisticated reader feel anew the wonder and beauty of our Lord's motives and divine condescension, His sweetness and power, His authoritative and satisfying doctrine,all which should do much to secure somewhat of personal loyalty and sense of allegiance, the reader is led farther into the feeling and conviction that there is a corporate life which he must be stone not to desire to share with others who have been touched by that life and that message. In other words, the Church as she is, ideally,

and can be in actuality, is very winningly presented. Then the writer goes on to lead his reader into agreement with him that this good thing may and must be shared with those who are without its influence, that the Church "was not established merely to hold the believer but to save the world."

The book is very well arranged progressively. The first four chapters deal with the Beauty of Christ's Life; the next four with the Romance of His Religion, the next two with Forgotten Truths of His Teaching; the last five with Practical Applications of His Gospel.

The book is well-rounded and balanced. It is not, for example, a series of anything like academic studies; but, although its statements and conclusions are those of a sound scholar, its appeal is to the religiously "plain" man or woman. It is not lacking in spirituality, indeed it might be described as a vehicle for simple, spiritual values; nevertheless it would appeal to the most hardened wordling as readily as to one of advanced piety. There is nothing hackneyed in the book, its presentation is fresh, its style limpid; yet it is far from being a re-hash done in an arm chair.

But perhaps the feature of this book which should make it appeal most strongly to Catholic Christians within the Church as well as to the other types of truly earnest and pious souls who love the Church and are very anxious for it to have a cogent message to the present age of upheaval and readjustment, and who have an eye open to the blessed day "when the men come home" is just this: that the last part, the endeavor to show that the Church can and must save the world,-is based upon really adequate and sound premises and obviously promulgated by one who speaks from a point of view at once orthodox, spiritual, and practical. A comparison, and not at all a losing one, at once suggests itself with the Rev. Walter Carey's notable books along the same lines. Would that it might become a "best seller" among just the kind of people who make "best sellers" possible!

H. S. W.

Modern Man and His Forerunners. A Short Study of the Human Species, Living and Extinct. By H. G. F. Spurrell, M. A., M. B., B. Ch. Oxon. London, G. Bell and Sons Ltd., 1917.

This book is a scholarly attempt to reexamine the accepted views regarding man, in the light of the recent accumulation of new knowledge in the realm of anthropology. The writer seems to

think it is fairly well established that the human race is about two hundred thousand years old. Among the various species of man which were distributed widely over the world at a remote period in geologic antiquity, the Neanderthal species became dominant and developed a culture. We do not know why it became extinct. Various races, of which the best known is the Cro-Magnon race, attained to a considerable degree of culture before the last ice age. After that age the races which form the basis of the world's present population began to establish themselves in the places which they occupy to-day.

The writer discusses in a most interesting way the ebb and flow of civilization during the historic age. He holds that civilization depends upon slavery. That is, the more intelligent few must be able to exploit the less intelligent many, so as to make the many do things that otherwise they would not know how to do nor care to do, and to carry out the designs of the wise and intelligent portion of the race which otherwise would remain unfulfilled. With the advent of democracy, slavery gradually diminishes, until finally the unintelligent many become dominant and then civilization crumbles.

The last chapter, on "Man at the Present Day" contains one of the most powerful arraignments of the civilization of the present day that we have ever read. The writer's conclusion is that the world civilization of to-day has all the signs which have marked decay in local civilizations of the past; but that the immediate future cannot be foretold.

S. P. D.

The Challenge of the Present Crisis. By Harry Emerson Fosdick. The Association Press, New York, 1918.

This little book deals with the question whether the present crisis of the world is to be met as a challenge to strength or as an occasion for despair. The writer chooses the former horn of the dilemma. Chief among the reasons he gives is that this is the first war that has made men widely say that Christianity is a failure. This is an indication that we are now nearer than ever to having a victory for Christian ideals. Then follows a section on "An Appreciation of Force," and another on "The Limitations of Force." Nothing but religion is equal to the task of ridding the world of the curse of militarism. Dr. Fosdick is evidently a pacifist at

and

heart, but he firmly believes in the necessity of the present war, the righteousness of the Allied cause. He regards a war like this in the light of a surgical operation which is necessary to remove a cancerous growth. Nobody believes that surgical operations are desirable in themselves, nor that they should be submitted to merely for the moral good one may get from them; but nevertheless they are sometimes necessary to save life. The book is a manly and vigorous appeal to Christians to cease from quarrelling over non-essentials, and to bring to the suffering world what only Christianity can give.

The Wisdom of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus). By W. O. E. Oesterley, D.D., p.p. 148, cloth, London. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1916. $1.00.

In its new series of "Texts important for the Study of Christian Origins," Dr. Oesterley and Canon Box are preparing notable aids to the Biblical student. This volume is the second of the series. The discovery, in the Cairo Synagogue, of Mss. fragments, which enable us to reconstitute about three-quarters of the Hebrew Text of Ecclesiasticus has made imperative a new translation of this important Book. We are indeed, fortunate in having this work done by Dr. Oesterly. The Translation is prefaced by a brief but adequate introduction, dealing with the new Hebrew Text, the Book, and its Author, and giving a Bibliography. The work of translation has been excellently done. Marginal letters apprize the reader as to whether the original of any particular passage is Hebrew or Greek; and the footnotes render valuable assistance, giving-occasionally-the rendering of the Syriac text. We are certain that the little volume will receive from Biblical scholars the welcome it deserves.

The Problem of Creation. By the Right Rev. J. E. Mercer, D.D., late Bishop of Tasmania. Crown 800 clo. p.p. xiv and 326, London. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, New York: The Macmillan Co., 1917. $2.50.

Bishop Mercer has written one of the most thoughtful and suggestive books on this important subject that have yet appeared in print. He distinctly limits himself to the apologetical viewpoint.

Of all the vast mass of apologetical literature this volume seems to us the most vital statement of the Eternal Purpose of the Creator. As the initial volume of a library of Christian Evidences, it promises well for the series. While dealing with almost purely scientific material, it avoids the extreme, altogether too common in works of this character, of over-great technicality. Any reader who possesses a working knowledge of the "new science" can readily follow the Author's reasoning and enter into his most recondite discussions.

The argument is based chiefly on the postulate "Ex nihilo nihil fit." But the Bishop saves himself from dualism, from materialism, and from pantheism by positing will at the basis of creation, as well as by his theory of matter. He accepts the scientific "speculation" that all forces of nature may be differentiations of one fundamental reality-energy; and he holds that matter is not dead, but endowed with potentialities, and resolves itself, ultimately, into energy. Further, what is objectively energy is subjectively will. Thus the Creation is, in some mode of externalization, the expression and embodiment of the will, the mind, the Love, of the Eternal God. This finds its practical outcome in the creation centres of the "will-to-live." Now, given this foundation, the process of creation is Evolution. The whole discussion of this subject is of the utmost value. One thing on which he lays great stress is the continuity of the process in which he will recognize no gaps. This is no doubt one result of his theory of matter. Yet Evolution has its limits. Outside its sphere stand Space, Time and Change, the Laws of Nature, Process, Adaptability and Psychic Forces.

Passing over much that is valuable and noting, as we pass, that he considers the old materialism as dead, we go on to one of the fundamental discussions of the book. In the Chapters on "Causation” and “Causation and Will" the Bishop takes up some of the underlying principles of the whole subject. The Concept of Causation, he holds is immanent in man, because it is immanent in the cosmic process as a whole. So we start with positing the validity of this concept. And from the endless chain of causes he excludes the first cause, as the ultimate Ground which simply exists. And back of causation stands Will. The Cosmos becomes, in his view, "a manifestation of Will definitely and consciously directed towards

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