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HONORARY MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY of ARTS AND sciences, AND
Jeder hat einen beschränkten Gesichtskreis, dessen Auge nicht bis zu Gott
IN answering the call for a second volume of “Hours of Thought,” I have allowed myself a slight variation in the rule of selection for its contents. The book was sent forth at first, and is sent forth again, in the midst of an intellectual conflict involving no less than the continued existence of any Christendom at all. Wearied with the clang of the opposing pleas, and noticing that disputes are seldom settled till their arguments are forgotten, I thought my best offering to the needs of our time would be a volume in aid of personal religion, and admitting no polemic tone to break the harmony of simple trusts and natural piety. The same feeling has brought together by far the greater part of the materials of the present volume. But in a few instances a place has been allowed to theoretical reasonings and expositions, when they seemed indispensable in support of some practical appeal to the conscience and affections. In an age when the language of religion is usurped by systems which discard its characteristic conceptions, it becomes impossible to guide the heart and strengthen the will without clearing the thought. And it is a sufficient justification of an occasional resort to metaphysical distinctions, that a confused use
of words often fosters the most groundless antipathies, and may even wear away and destroy the devout habits of a life. The few critical discussions comprised in the following pages no reader, I trust, will find carried beyond the exigencies of some important moral or spiritual lesson. I have often been asked, by those who interpret Christian rites by a Sacramental theory, what meaning can be attached to the Communion Service by persons who, like myself, disown that theory, and who, further, see no Vicarious Atonement accomplished on Calvary. The answer is perhaps most simply given by the contents of the Service itself when performed under such conditions. I have therefore, with a view to such enquirers, placed at the end of this volume one or two Addresses written for this commemoration. And, for the sake of still greater explicitness, I have prefixed to them another, delivered to a class of young persons on the eve of their first Communion. It had been preceded by a course of weekly lectures, extending through nine months, on the History of the Eucharist; the impression of which had divided my hearers into two classes, viz. those who shrunk from a usage so rarely clear of superstition; and those who were drawn to the commemoration by its inherent beauty and significance. To the latter the words now printed, under the title of “Confirmation Address,” were spoken before going into Church on the Sunday morning.
London, November 20, 1879.