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Price $1.50 a year, or 5 cents single copy.
Entered at the Post-office, Boston, Mass., as second-class mail matter.
The preface by Mr. Savage gives the reasons, clearly and concisely, why a book like this is needed. It answers a great demand, and it will supply a serious deficiency. Having had the privilege of reading the contents very thoroughly, I gladly record my satisfaction in the character of the work, my hope of its wide acceptance and use, my appreciation of the author's motives in preparing it. The questions and answers allow of supplementing, of individual handling, of personal direction. It is not a hard-andfast production. There is a large liberty of detail, explanation, and unfolding. The doctrinal positions are in accord with rational religion and liberal Christianity, the critical judgments are based on modern scholarship, and the great aim throughout is to assist an inquirer or pupil to a positive, permanent faith. If any one finds comments and criticisms which at first sight seem needless, let it be remembered that a Unitarian catechism must give reasons, point out errors, and trace causes: it cannot simply dogmatize. I am sure that in the true use of this book great gains will come to our Sundayschools, to searchers after truth, to our cause.
EDWARD A. HORTON.
This little Catechism has grown out of the needs of my own work. Fathers and mothers have said to me, "Our children are constantly asking us questions that we cannot answer." Perfectly natural! Their reading and study have not been such as to make them familiar with the results of critical scholarship. The great modern revolution of thought is bewildering. This is an attempt to make the path of ascertained truth. a little plainer.
This is the call for help in the home. Besides this, a similar call has come from the Sunday-school. Multitudes of teachers have little time to ransack libraries and study large works. This is an attempt, then, to help them, by putting in their hands, in brief compass, the principal things believed by Unitarians concerning the greatest subject.
The list of reference books that follows the questions and answers will enable those who wish to do so to go more deeply into the topics suggested.
It is believed that this Catechism will be found adapted to any grade of scholars above the infant class, provided the teacher has some skill in the matter of interpretation.
GEO. H. ELLIS, Publisher, 141 Franklin St., Boston, Mass.
CONDITIONS WHEN CHRISTIANITY WAS BORN.*
LIKE everything else, a religion, if it is to grow, must find fitting soil and surroundings. As Jesus has taught us in the parable, the seed that fell among the thorns, or by the wayside where there was no depth of earth, failed to come to fruition. It was only that which had good soil which grew, which came to its height, and bore a wealth of fruit. So, in order to understand Christianity, and the part that it has played in the history of the world, to understand how it came to be, and came to be what it is, we must take account of the conditions of the world at the time when it was born. I want you to note how it fitted in to the time, and what it had to offer to a world restless and hungering for something to feed not only the industrial, the social, the political need, but the higher wants of the heart and the soul.
If Jesus had appeared three or four hundred years before he did, there would have been no place for him, there would have been no field in which his thought might have been scattered broadcast: it must have been confined to a little narrow circle of people; it would have had no opportunity for living and maturing, but would have died, like so many other local and petty movements of the world.
If you glance over the condition of things in those far-off times, you find tribes, cities, and nations all isolated. You find no conception of humanity, no flowing together, no mingling of people, but only fragments out of which a humanity might some time be constructed. Consider for a
moment what it was that kept people apart. Each tribe had its own god, its own religion. These gods were supposed to be opposed to other gods and other religions, so the most sacred feelings of the heart tended to increase the natural alienation between them and others. There were mountain chains almost impossible for them to cross. There were differences of language, so that people could not communicate together. There were differences of natural custom. Then there were no roads, no lines of travel from one part of the world to another. The whole tribe must move, conquering in its movement all its enemies, or it must remain substantially where it had been. There was no possibility of understanding each other. People were full of misconceptions, exaggerating as they always do those differences with which they were not familiar. We find it hard enough to-day to get over this natural feeling of suspicion and dislike, the sense of not being quite at home with a foreigner. Only a little while ago there was a discussion in some of our leading papers as to the reason why Jews and Christians did not get on more pleasantly together, and this in the nineteenth century after the birth of Jesus, and not three or four hundred years before his time. We do not quite like the Germans, and sometimes nickname them, calling them Dutchmen. We do not quite like the French. We do not quite like the English, even though they are of the same blood and the same religion and same civilization with ourselves. Think, then, what it must have been in those old ages before there was a possibility of mutual acquaintance between people and people. Plato commended the Athenians for hating everybody but the inhabitants of Athens; and the barbarian was so called because it was not even thought that he had a really human power of speech. They said, When he goes to speak, he says "bar-bar," he utters only meaningless sounds, he is a barbarian. This was the condition of things in the ancient world. So, though there might be religions by the score, there was no possibility of there being a human universal religion.
Right here we come to see the human side of what looked like mere greed, mere bloodthirsty desire for power. haps it was; but the men who engaged in these great movements builded better than they knew. Though they were working for their own aggrandizement, as they supposed, and for that only, they were working for the future of the world.
Take the case of Alexander the Great. We should be willing to attribute to him no lofty motives in his conquest of the world; and yet hardly any one person of the ancient times rendered humanity a greater service than did he; because before there can be anything like civilization there must be a breaking down of old natural barriers and an opportunity for people to flow together to learn each other's ways, and to learn mutual respect for each other's thought, and to recognize the real humanity underlying the differences of race, of custom, and of time. So no wonder that the apostle speaks of the time when Christianity was born as "the fulness of time," the providential time, the time when things had been prepared for the coming of this messenger from the Father to all his children, of every race and of every age. No wonder that the apostle looked at it in this way; for Rome, starting in the footsteps of Alexander and his conquests, had made the world, or all that was then considered the world, her own. From the Euphrates in the far east to the pillars of Hercules in the west, from Britain in the north to the southern boundaries of Egypt and all the northern line of Africa, Rome had made the people her own. And there were Roman citizens in every part of this vast The Roman speech and the Greek made it possible for people to communicate with each other from the east to the west and from the north to the south. Then Rome had built roads, so that travel and commerce were possible to the utmost limits of her empire; and so well had she built them that fragments of them, almost unbroken, are discovered to-day in England, as well as in the far east and the south. Two years ago, when I was in Spain, I crossed a bridge over the Guadalquivir River that they told me (I have not taken