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THE STUDY OF CHRISTIAN SOCIETY-ITS NEGLECT
AND ITS IMPORTANCE.
A NEW subject may arrest the attention by its novelty and by the expectations it excites. There are modern Athenians who are anxious “either to tell or to hear some new thing.” The inquisitive will come to the new theme to see whether it enlarges their range of thought, or gives a new standpoint from which to view familiar objects, or gives freshness to old truths. Those who are on the alert for the sensational will look for something that is startling ; while others will be thankful for any suggestive thought which gives fresh impulses and leads the mind out of its accustomed grooves into new channels.
But while a new subject has advantages, it may also have disadvantages. The very expectations excited may place the author at a disadvantage ; and his readers may fail to find the novelty, the freshness, and the originality they expected. A new subject does not necessarily make a fresh book.
Then there are some who look with suspicion on everything that is new in literature or out of the usual order, anything which threatens to disturb them in their ease or lift them out of their ruts. There is an extreme conservatism, which meets with hostility whatever is new,
various phases of social life. But there is no work on Christian Social Science. * In all his search, the author has never found the term “Christian Sociology," and it has, probably, never before been used in theology.
It is evident that this whole subject has been greatly neglected ; and this must surprise every one who feels its importance. There are numerous works on Theology as the science of God, on Angelology, Soteriology, and Eschatology ; but Christian Sociology, which deals so directly with our daily affairs and interests, has found no place in the systems of Christian science. Surprising as this neglect is, some of its reasons are obvious. There are inherent difficulties in the subject, which make the success of the effort to construct a Christian social science exceedingly doubtful. The subject is so vast, the number of objects embraced is so great, and these objects are so diverse, that the reduction of the whole to a complete system is, indeed, so difficult a task that one may well pause before venturing to attempt it. And ages of study and the efforts of many Christian scholars will be required before these difficulties can be overcome.
Another reason for this neglect is, the fact that theology has paid special attention to the doctrine of God and of man's relation to him, while it has paid com
*“ Christian Socialism,” by A. Balou, is a different subject altogether. “ The Church the Noblest Form of Social Life,” by Jos. Angus, and “Social Morality,” by F. D. Maurice, and similar works, treat of social subjects, but they do not form a Christian Social Science. “Principia, or Basis of Social Science,” by R. J. Wright, is not a Christian Sociology, though it sustains a more intimate relation to theological science and to Christianity than most of the recent works on social science.