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MUCH of the matter contained in this book has been collected, at various times, for private use, without any thought of re-publication. But finding the richest treasures of devotion so accumulate on my hands, I could not endure the thought of selfishly appropriating to my individual profit, that which might advance the Glory of GOD, and prove a blessing to many hearts. The arranging of the matter in its present form, and the preparation for the press, although a work of no small labour, has proved a refreshing solace in many weary hours taken from sleep and recreation.
With the exception of some few extracts from "Bishop Hall's Contemplations," from the Homilies of Thomas A'Kempis, translated a few years since, and from other writers, this book consists of original translations from well-known Latin and French Divines. For many of the "Reflections" I am indebted to a dear friend, who kindly volunteered his valuable assistance, for which I tender my warmest thanks. I have followed, as far as possible, the seasons of the Church, and wherever a Gospel was appointed, have thought it better to take it, rather than to harmonize the several Evangelists. In Part II. the Gospels for the Holy Week are harmonized. In the execution of
my task, I am painfully conscious of manifold defects, for which I must crave indulgence, inasmuch as it was executed under much bodily weakness and suffering. If we cannot promote the cause of CHRIST's Kingdom by the influence of wealth and station, we must do it by whatever means lie in our power; for we can no longer cherish dreams of ease and self-indulgence, when we consider That Life of unremitting toil, by which our Holy Redeemer wrought our salvation, and exhibited to us His boundless Love for the souls of men. We shall feel indeed, that were we to devote all the energies of our souls to His Service, it would be but a very inadequate acknowledgment of the infinite obligations we owe to Him, Who has redeemed us from death and hell, and by His Own Blood has purchased for us all that is precious to our immortal souls. What can be more humbling to a Christian than the conviction that so much of his time and strength is devoted to his own profit and pleasure, whilst so little is given to the service of Him to Whom all is due? In bygone days, we read of Apostles or holy Priests going forth almost single-handed to assail the powers of hell, and, by the simple energy of Christian love, and the might of sanctity, through the co-operation of the HOLY GHOST, they shook idolatrous kingdoms to their very foundations, and firmly planted the Church of CHRIST amidst the most hostile nations. Whereas in these days of self-indulgence, we see our altars thronged with communicants, who in that blessed Mystery eat the Bread of Life, the Food of Angels, and profess their oneness with the LORD JESUS, and yet His Kingdom languishes amongst
us: the energies of His Holy Church are crippled for lack of money-our populous parishes are almost destitute of churches, and our people grow up in ignorance and sin, yea, in downright heathenism. Whence this monstrous anomaly, this apathy and unfaithfulness towards GOD? For if such mighty works have been accomplished by one regenerate soul, what power could stand before the little army of communicants, to be found in most of our parishes, if each were faithful to his profession. With the holy men of old, Christianity was no mere abstraction or empty theory, but a living power, which transformed and energized every faculty of the mind and every power of the body. They realized the force of those solemn words which we so often repeat, "Here we offer and present unto Thee, O LORD, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto Thee." And they lived as they prayed. They meditated day by day on the holy Life, the boundless love, the wondrous humility and patience of the SON of GOD, until their hearts glowed with ardent love to Him, and burned with inextinguishable zeal for His Glory and the salvation of souls, for which He endured the Agony and Cross. And surely, if we thus daily and devoutly dwelt on the Holy Life and bitter Passion of our Loving Redeemer, we too should disdain all thoughts of self-indulgent apathy, and should go forth animated with holy love and undying zeal, to bless our fellow men. Let us make it our business to ascertain in what ways we can do GoD service, and build up His Holy Church; and then, with the resistless energy of renewed hearts, let us resolve, "For Zion's sake
will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see Thy righteousness, and all kings Thy glory." (Isa. lxii. 1, 2.)*
May the Incarnate GOD graciously accept and bless this effort to promote His Glory; and may the contemplation of His Life and Passion quicken many to consecrate head and heart, health and strength, weakness and suffering, to His most blessed service.
In conclusion, I would humbly ask all who may receive benefit from this work, to remember in their prayers, the unworthy instrument through whom they have been benefited.
Third Week in Lent, mdcccxlix.
The profits of this Edition will be given to a Church Building Fund, as a thank-offering to Almighty GOD for special and manifold mercies.
*We commend to the notice of those who desire to serve God, "An Appeal for the formation of a Church Penitentiary," by the Rev. J. Armstrong. Parker, 377, Strand.