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NOTE OF TRANSLATOR.
IN my labor upon this translation I have aimed at the truest practical reproduction, sentence by sentence, of the thoughts of the author. This method I deliberately preferred, rather than incur the risk of impairing the clearness of thought by entirely recasting the forms of speech. In a few cases I have employed unusual compounds, rather than resort to paraphrases or to an undue multiplication of subordinate clauses. On the whole, I am persuaded that those who are best acquainted with the difficulties of the original will be most indulgent toward the style of the version. This first volume, although only the Introduction to the entire work, is yet a complete whole in itself, viz., a survey of the whole current of the ethical thought of humanity from the earliest dawn of scientific reflection down to the latest results in Christian theology.
The motives that led me to undertake the translation have beep various. Esteemed teachers exhorted me thereto, as soon as notices of the work began to appear. German scholars spoke to me enthusiastically of its unparalleled excellence. My chief motive, however, has been a compound of gratitude and hope,—gratitude to the devout thinker whose work had been, to me, the medium of so much spiritual good,—and a hope of helping others to the same good. For, in fact, no other human production has lifted, for me, so many vails from shadowy places in Revelation and Providence; none has worked so effectually in definitively directing. my mind and heart toward that Light which stands, serene and ever-brightening, over against the comfortless spectacle of the successive and rapid extinguishment of every effort at social reform which does not kindle its torch at the central Source of all light. And no labor vithat I have ever performed has been attended with such a joyous consciousness that the very toil itself was self-rewarding.
As to the specific merits of the work, I am happy to refer the reader to the considerate words of the distinguished theologian of Halle, Dr. Riehm, in the special preface which he has prepared for this translation. I could also, were it desirable, fill many pages with words of highest praise from the most respectable and the most diverse sources. And the praise is bestowed not only upon its scientific worth, but largely also upon the spirit of its author. All critics accord in testifying that we have to do here with a man singularly endowed with keenness of philosophic insight and with devoutness of Christian faith.
Whether, however, there is need here in America—where there is so strong a proclivity to run away after every glittering theological or social novelty, and where there are so many evidences that the general consciousness both of preachers and of people is not thoroughly enough grounded upon the central truths of the Gospel—of a work such as this (a work which, in so masterly a manner, brings the whole moral life into vital relation to its only possible Source, and which sweeps away so thoroughly every social or religious theory which does not stand the touch-stone of plain Bible-truth), it is for others to judge. We have been led to augur favorably, however, both from our own studies in the field and also from the expressed views of many of our most progressive teachers of ethics, viz., that there is a loud call for something more solidly philosophical and more thoroughly evangelical than is afforded by our common text-books on Moral Science;11 See Dr. Warren’s Introduction to Vol. II. and we feel pretty confident that few who once drink of the fresh thought-stream here opened will be disposed to dissent from the well-known utterance22 See Evangelische Kirchenzeitung, (Berlin), Sept. 4, 1861. of Dr. Hengstenberg, that Wuttke’s Ethics ought to have its place in every pastor’s library.
J. P. L.vii
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