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The intention which the Compiler had in view in making these extracts was not that of collecting mere “ beauties” of The Fathers, or of illustrating any one particular subject, or of enforcing any favourite tone of doctrine, but simply that of affording a resting place for the mind in reading.
It was thought that if each day of the sacred season of Lent were occupied on some one special subject, as treated by the Fathers in their own language, and without modern comment, it might help towards a more devotional tone of mind, and somewhat further in its degree the great end we all ought to have at heart, in recovering the ancient spirit of holy things in the English Church.
The works from which these extracts are made, even though in themselves translations, namely the “Library of the Fathers,” published at Oxford, are still too voluminous, and contain matter too diffused and scattered as to subject, for the common readers of the world, and it may happen that the reading of some small portion of a treatise or a Sermon or a Homily here set forth may
be successfully attempted by those who would never have the courage to peruse the larger volumes.
While again it may happen that some persons here and there, as yet ignorant of the very great value of the works in question, may be arrested by these passages and be carried on further and further in their perusal, so as to be led ultimately to a more systematic examination of the originals.
They will surely find that in proportion to the study which they bestow on such of the ancient authors as are here set forth, so will be their love of and adherence to the Church in which it has been our blessing to be baptized.
Whatever our practice may be, and however great our short-comings in the paths of the old English Catholic Church, still even yet, in theory at least, they will find that the English Church may be preferred above any other national Church (with the exception perhaps of the true Church of Scotland) as more in harmony with the Church of S. Chrysostom, S. Augustine, and S. Cyprian.
May all our labours (under God's Blessing) be directed to strengthening those who stand, and winning those who are yet without, so that at length the Churchmen of the former and the latter ages may be gathered together into one fold, as we have but One Shepherd.
W. I. E. B.
Frome, Conversion of S. Paul. 1852.
THE Editors of the Library of the Fathers have long wished to publish selections from them for devotional purposes, in the hope that their thoughtful and meditative teaching might find access to classes whose means do not enable them to
possess themselves of the larger works. It is one thing to argue from the Fathers, in proof of doctrine ; another, to listen to them as practical teachers, opening, as they do richly, the meaning of Holy Scripture, or impressing the substance of the great truths of the Gospel. To quote or argue from the Fathers requires learning; to learn of them, only teachableness. S. Chrysostom and S. Augustine preached to mixed congregations of the same average intellect and moral character as the various educated classes among ourselves. S. Augustine