Images de page
PDF
ePub

of print. Since 1878 I have ceased to publish them, though a few have found their way into other Volumes.

The present work is a selection from the whole series of University Sermons, whether before published or not. Each of the smaller Volumes mentioned above has contributed one Sermon or more :

two or three Sermons are reprinted from elsewhere: several have not before appeared in any permanent form. All are given in the order in which they were preached.

In preparing the Volume for publication, I have found not only many defects, but also some repetitions—not perhaps to be wondered at in the case of Addresses delivered at considerable intervals to like Congregations, and sometimes easily to be accounted for by my being called again and again to advocate one particular cause, that of Church Extension in the town and suburbs of Cambridge, on the opening Sundays of the Academical year. These appeals were too closely interwoven with the main topics of the Sermon to admit of being struck out, even if I had not thought it better to adhere in all respects to the form of the original delivery.

Another misgiving, which must be felt, I suppose, more or less by all Preachers, arises from the difficulty, often the impossibility, of tracing up thoughts to their original sources, whether in reading or hearing. It

It may be hoped that, where there is no room for the suspicion of a conscious or intentional plagiarism, the mere assimilation of thought may be readily pardoned by those whose beneficent influence thus gains by diffusion.

I regard the publication of this Volume as closing a large and long chapter of my life. My periodical visits to Cambridge (some forty in number) as Select Preacher were for years the events and epochs of my Ministry. My sojourns on these occasions in the houses of honoured friends in various Colleges of the University are among my pleasantest and most sacred memories. To one of these friends, my pupil and my successor at Harrow, my thoughts are specially

turned at this time, when a new happiness has just been added to his Mastership of that great College of which I became a member the year after he was born. My love for Cambridge, the passion of my boyhood, constant through youth and manhood, is still strong in old age. May the same affection, brightened and purified, animate now

a younger generation, inspiring a worthier and more fruitful, though it can scarcely be a more loyal or a more loving service.

LLANDAFF,

September, 1888.

I.

SUSPENSE.

St Luke xii.. 29.

Neither be ye of doubtful mind.

THERE is a thing well known in human life, of which all of us, in some form or another, and in many forms, have already had experience. We have seen, for example, a vast concourse of people waiting and watching in the streets of a town for the arrival of some illustrious or royal person, whose coming is to be the signal for the commencement of a ceremony or spectacle awakening great public interest, or perhaps whose own presence is itself the thing looked for; the object of a concentrated devotion, or else of a curiosity scarcely less powerful and absorbing. We have seen them stand through long hours, careless of rain and wind, tolerant even of delay, provided that delay end not in entire disappointment. We have noticed the effect of such an expectation upon a population at other times industrious and unexcitable. We have seen how it stops the wheels of business, silences the cravings of appetite, and serves to impede the very flight of time.

We may turn the picture, and see the same thing at work, not in masses of men, but in individual instances; not in matters of pleasurable excitement, but in cases

ja

of intense and thrilling anxiety. In a distant land a favourite son has been seeking his own fortunes, or serving his family and his country, in some post of civil or military responsibility: the last mail has brought tidings of a wound or a fever under which he was lying, a month ago, between life and death: it must be a whole fortnight before it is possible to hear of him again : already he may be in his grave: and his parents and sisters must endure through long nights and days the agonizing doubt, torturing themselves with conflicting guesses, and ignorant whether 'is' or 'was' be the tense in which to speak of one whose image is engraven on their memory and whose love is twined round their heart. Well can we conjecture, if we have not known it for ourselves, the effect of such an anxiety upon the life that has to be lived under it. How flat and colourless has become every common occupation. How has every interest faded, and every other care ceased. How difficult is it now to find even in prayer itself that relief which in other circumstances it has so often secured. How strange to pray about one who may already be in the unseen world-yet how impossible to pray about any other thing or any other person.

Little more can be done than to bow beneath God's hand and suffer: to submit to live is as much as faith can rise to, and He who seeth in secret will accept the imperfect sacrifice.

This thing of which the effects are so different, according to the material on which it chances to operate, is yet, in its own nature, one and the same: we have one name for it, and we could not improve upon it: we call it 'suspense;' a state of suspense. “Do not leave me in suspense:' 'It is not fair to keep people in suspense:'

« PrécédentContinuer »