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For centuries the world has been listening to sermons, and, while cheerfully dispensing with the hour-glass, can listen to them still. Occasionally, also, it reads them, not quite unwisely, for a good sermon is, without dispute, the most convenient method possible for conveying to busy men, in a compact and luminous summary, the facts, and ideas, and principles, and aspirations which are the only reasonable explanation of the existence of the Church, as well as of the religion of her Divine Head.

Preachers, if they are wise, and conscious of their limitations, will usually be found to be even greedy readers of sermons, whereby they seize and retain the inspiration of the loftier spirits, and become fired with the glow and heat of saintly thinkers, in whom the love of Christ and the passion for souls burn with an unquenchable fire. They will also be only too thankful to discover and master those minor details of style and arrangement, which some who think more highly of themselves than they ought to think may flippantly despise as technical rudiments, but which the wise will almost eagerly appreciate as helping them more adequately to use the grandest opportunity man ever vouchsafes to man, for the delivery, without interruption, save, at the worst, of an ill-concealed weariness in his hearers, of a message about which nothing higher can be said than that it is Divine.

One, however, who presumes not only to preach sermons but to publish them, will, if reasonably modest, never quite acquit himself, in those moments of reaction with which we are all so familiar, of an incredible rashness in doing so; will also be conscious of a secret trepidation lest all that is in his volume, recognizable as actually his own, should be blandly pronounced by the critics as hardly deserving of the permanence desired for it; while anything found in it that is readable, or striking, or profound, should presently be disinterred from some forgotten volume, as having been much better expressed by some one else.

It is perhaps fair to observe, that to be a preacher, one must first be a student; and a student is one who, while he should ever be conscious of his indebtedness to others, and sincerely grateful to them, cannot always be expected to remember where or when this or that thought became assimilated to his own mental consciousness, and was put away among his other treasures, without a label to mark from whom it was first borrowed. A man of genius of our own time has said, “One could not open one's lips, if one was bound to say what nobody else had said." In this volume—the title and subjects of which will, I trust, sufficiently justify themselves—I have honestly done my best to acknowledge my obligation to those whose help I recognize, and for whose writings I have a sincere gratitude. The Book, of course, to which one wishes to owe most, is the Word of God. If, however, of two out of many other authors—both of them now in their rest—I might express the hope that here and there these humble

pages may be found to gleam with their serene wisdom and their magnificent aspirations, I may be permitted

I to acknowledge what a debt for many years past I have felt to owe to the refined and wide culture of Richard William Church, once Dean of St. Paul's; as well as to Phillips Brooks, late Bishop of Massachusetts, who, more than any preacher I know, takes his hearers by the hand, to bring them into the living presence and to the personal love and to the ineffable vision of Jesus, Son of God.


Easter, 1893

“True Catholicity can never come about as the result of an eclectic or a levelling process. It never was, or will le, made to order."

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