« НазадПродовжити »
FROM THE FIRST SETTLEMENT
DOWN TO THE PRESENT TIME.
DANIEL DORCHESTER, D.D.
THE genesis and purpose of this volume are easily told. It had
a genuine spiritual conception, birth and growth. Before the death of that eminent historian of Religion in America, Rev. Robert Baird, D.D., the undersigned held correspondence with him upon questions pertaining to the religious history and prospects of our country—the beginning of a series of inquiries resulting in this volume. For over a dozen years the subject was studied for the author's personal satisfaction, with no expectation of putting the results into printed pages. The mental exercises which led him to undertake the volume and the difficulties encountered in the task need not be here related. The work, sometimes intermitted for months and twice for several years, amid other heavy duties, though never out of thought, has constantly broadened and matured.
Believing that Christianity is best known and attested by its influence in the actual life of communities, not only have the religious statistics of the churches been studied, but also the moral and social phenomena, and the tidal movements and trend of the nation's life. These phenomena, sometimes subtle and latent, sometimes overt and out-bursting, sometimes vibratory, and sometimes complex, require the most careful discrimination in the work of interpreting, analyzing and classifying. Conscious that the historian cannot too carefully guard lest he discolor or distort by his lens, the work has been undertaken and prosecuted under conscientious convictions, in the hope that the best interests of Christianity may be subserved by it, and that it may prove helpful to the Christian ministry and to the public at large."