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JOHN FENTON, PRINTER, BRIXTON, SURREY. PREFACE.

The Ninth VOLUME of the “Homilist” is the second of a New Series, of which the distinctions are—the monthly issue, and several new departments, the most important being Notes and Queries, and the Pulpit and its Three Handmaids-History, Science and Art. The contents thus necessarily assume a more variegated aspect. However conscious of divergence from the absolute standard of excellence, the Editor cannot believe that this volume is inferior to any of its predecessors; and he trusts that it is, in many respects, superior to them all. He is now set free from the too engrossing and overpowering cares of a kindred but vaster enterprise, and is thus enabled to consecrate a larger proportion of time and energy to that which he prefers before all other occupation—the endeavor, however humble, to give manly force, reverent freedom, natural earnestness, a widened empire, and a living, catholic Christianity to the pulpit of the age.

Fungar vice cotis, acutum
Reddere quæ ferrum valet, exsors ipsa secandi.

I'll play the whetstone, useless and unfit

Myself to cut, I'll sharpen others wit, As the old key-note will still rule the melodies of the “Homilist,” and no new specific description' is requisite, the eight-years-old preface may be again transcribed.

First : The book has no finish. The Editor had not only not the time to give an artistic finish to his productions, but not even the design. Their incompleteness is intentional. He has drawn some marble slabs together, and hewn them roughly ; but has left other hands to delineate minute features, and so polish them into beauty. He has dug up from the Biblical mine some precious ore, smelted a little, but left all the smithing to others. He has presented “germs” which, if sown in good soil, under a free air and and an open sky, will produce fruit that may draw many famishing spirits into the vineyard of the Church.

Secondly : The book has no denominationalism. It has no special reference to "our body,” or to our church.” As denominational strength is not necessarily soul strength, nor denominational religion necessarily the religion of humanity, it is the aim of the “Homilist" to minister that which universal man requires. It is for man as a citizen of the universe, and not for him as the limb of a sect.

Thirdly : The book has no polemical Theology. The Editor-holding, as he does, with a tenacious grasp, the cardinal doctrines which constitute what is called the “orthodox creed”—has, nevertheless, the deep and ever-deepening conviction, first, that such creed is but a very small portion of the truth that God has revealed, or that man requires; and that no theological system can fully represent all the contents and suggestions of the great book of God; and, secondly, that systematic theology is but means to an end. Spiritual morality is that end. Consequently to the heart and life every Biblical thought and idea should be directed. Your system of divinity the author will not disparage ; but his impression is, that they can no more answer the purpose of the Gospel, than pneumatics can answer the purpose of the atmosphere. In the case of Christianity, as well as the air, the world can live without its scientific truths; but it must have the free flowings of their vital elements. Coleridge has well said, “ Too soon did the doctors of the Church forget that the heart—the moral nature—was the beginning and the end, and that truth, knowledge, and insight were comprehended in its expansion.”

The Editor would record his grateful acknowledgments to those free spirits of all churches, who have so earnestly rallied round him, to the many who have encouraged him by their letters, and to those, especially, who have aided him by their valuable contributions. May the “last day” prove that the help rendered has been worthily bestowed; and that the “Homilist" did something towards the spiritual education of humanity, in its endeavors to bring the Bible, through the instrumentality of the pulpit, into a more immediate and practical contact with the every-day life of man !

DAVID THOMAS,

Loughborough Park,

Brixton.

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