« PreviousContinue »
From these several sources was it that I drew the matter of my Sermons, from many hundreds of which (still unburnt) the present selection is made, under the hope that, in their day, they may do good, and then give place to others which, in their day, by God's blessing, shall do good likewise.—And this, in simple truth, is an answer to an objection often made relative to the number of Sermons now published.True it is that the volumes of the seventeenth century are richer in matter and style than any theological compositions of the present day, and, like as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them when they cast their leaves, so is it with those giants of a bygone day.—But then, by the many they are unread; and therefore not unwisely, throughout the length and breath of the land, are Sermons published. Severally, in our Parishes, and that too at considerable self-sacrifice, do we shew ourselves (to use the sacred illustration) ως φωστήρες λόγον Zwns étéxovreç". And none of us, I trust, sits down to prepare matter for the people's ears, without a prayer,, somewhat like to that of the Apostolic Bishop Wilson's ; –“Fill my soul, O Lord, with a salutary dread of the unfaithfulness of my own heart; and, while I am labouring for the salvation of others, give me grace to fear for myself!"—As regards myself, and this handful of plain practical Sermons, I can truly say,- to use the words of an Old Divine,—that “I have with all humility and simplicity desired to serve God, and to minister to his Church, and I hope He will accept me; and, for the rest, I have laid it at His most holy feet, and therefore will take no further care concerning myself in it 5.”
4 Isa. vi. 13.
5 Phil. ii. 16.
And here, having referred to an Old Divine, let me say a word on the many quotations and extracts which will be found in these volumes, more particularly from the Divines of the seventeenth century.
Now, nothing would have been easier than to have, in many or most instances, erased the passages, and worked out what I had to say in language of my own.
But in so doing, I should have failed in an object I have in view.
It is possible that these volumes may fall into the hands of some of my younger brethren. If so, they will see in them, by way of extract, the exceeding beauty (not to say, piety,) of those ancient worthies, whose works, for
• Jer. Taylor, vol. xi. p. 364. One person has his gift one way, and another another, and “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal ;" but when I consider the care requisite to pen a really useful sermon, I do wish certain extempore preachers might light upon the passage following, from "Some Specialities of the Life of Jos. Hall, Bishop of Norwich."
"In a constant course I preached a long time thrice in the week, yet never durst I climb into the pulpit to preach any sermon, whereof I had not before, in my poor and plain fashion, penned every word in the same order wherein I hoped to deliver it, although in the expression I listed not to be a slave to syllables."— Works, ed. folio, 1662, vol. iii. p. 12.
sixteen years have solaced many a night after the drudgery and care of the day was past. To me, though dead, they have spoken holy things, and I return thanks to God that He used them as mouthpieces in His service. His they were, and Him they served, and their labour has not been in vain. One may devoutly hope there will be a joyful meeting of many in another world, who never knew each other in the flesh! I like that line in the queer frontispiece of the old edition of Weever's Funeral Monuments.
“Sunt nisi præmissi quos periisse putas !"
In the present day, it is to be confessed that many a man's store of knowledge is drawn from an Index, and that he is indebted to Epitome, —which says Roger Ascham, in his Schoolmaster, “ hath much hurt learning generally.” To use his own words.
Epitome is good privately for a man's self; but ill commonly for all others that use men's labours therein. A silly poor kind of study, not unlike to the doing of those poor folk, which neither till, nor sow, nor reap themselves, but glean by stealth upon other men's grounds. Such have empty barns for
“ And yet, as
• The original of this, and our English expression, I suppose to be in St. Ambrose, thus quoted by Bishop Cosin. Saint Ambrose himself said of another, non obiit sed abiit, she is not dead, but gone away only before us to a better abiding than any here is in this vale of tears here below."-Vol. i., p. 336, ed. 1843.
dear years ?."--In sifting many books, which, from accidental circumstances, it has fallen to my lot to examine, I have found this to be the case. There has been much display, (the mere babbling of a shallow stream,) but little depth. References I have over and over again found transferred from one page to another, which, from an original misprint, have shown how ready they came to hand. A book was to be made, come the matter whence it might. As for the writer, in old Chaucer's words,
“ No wher so besy a man as he ther was,
And yet he seemed besier than he was !"
But (levity aside,) all this is wrong.--My wish therefore is, that my younger brethren should use the Folios and not the Indexes of our Theological writers. The passages I have used may lead them to consult those burning pages, and in that case they will be sure to make epitomes for themselves, and I can assure them from experience that they will reap rich fruit. The sample will tell what the grapes of Eshcol are 8. The land is a land of promise, and flows with milk and honey!
And then, as regards the real knowledge to be derived from this sort of study, none need doubt. For example,-should one take in hand Jeremy Taylor, Barrow, Hooker, Pearson', Jackson, Hall,
Page 127, ed. 1711, 8vo. Numb. xiii. 23, 24. 'I ought to remark here, and I do so with unfeigned gratitude,
Bramhall, Jewel, Bull, Beveridge, Waterland, Sanderson, Farindon', or any other like solid and substantial writers, he will begin by degrees to imbibe their spirit. And better much is this than to divide the attention so far as to distract it, which is continually the case with those who read without marking, and learn without digesting. So true are Milton's lines,
Knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Par. Lost, vii. 124.
It is even as Lord Brooke, that most difficult of all our Poets, says ?,—
“ In every art there should
that my application of Scripture is the result of studying Pearson on the Creed.
Cambridge readers will be aware of the directions given by the founder of the Norrisian Professorship. See the Advertisement to Hey's Lectures. No master ever surpassed Pearson in Scriptural application !
1 “To form one to understand the right method of preaching, the extent of it, and the proper ways of application, Bishop Sanderson, Mr. Farindon, and Dr. Barrow, are the best and fullest models." —Burnet's Pastoral Care, chap. viii.
? See “A Treatise of Humane Learning." It is reprinted in the lamented Southey's “British Poets from Chaucer to Jonson.” He was the friend of Sir Philip Sydney, and wrote his Life. It was republished at the Lee Priory Press, and is before me.