Excerpt from Famous Sermons by English Preachers: Edited With Introductory Notes
What makes a famous sermon Either some historic circum stance Or result connected with it, or else some quality in itself of unusual eloquence or spiritual power. In the present volume the aim is... to present examples of both kinds of remarkable sermon. Thus, Bishop Hoadly's belongs to the former class only - it had important political consequences, but has no particular literary value - while Donne's discourse on the Peril of Damnation and Dr. Liddon's sermon called Five Minutes after Death are read purely as masterpieces of eloquent reasoning. On the other hand, Newman's Parting of Friends is both an exquisite threnody and a landmark in English ecclesiastical history. Most of the sermons in this volume, however, have been chosen on account of something which gives them a permanent interest in the eyes of the historian, or as representative of an epoch. Except the first one, they were all preached in English.
It will certainly be asked why these are printed here and not others. I fear many readers will be vexed to find that some favourite sermon is not included in the list. It can only be replied that a volume has limits, and that the most admired sermons are usually the ones that are already on our shelves. For the same reason, and because of restrictions of copyright, modern preachers have been but slightly drawn upon for this collection. Should it find a welcome from the public, the pub lishers hope to add a second series. Such a series might, perhaps, include Swift's homily on Sleeping in Church. A correspondent suggests to me that Ridley's funeral oration on the death of Francis I, the repressor of Protestantism, would be a curiosity, if extant. An historically important sermon, of which only one or two copies are known to exist, is Beveridge's Salvation in the Church only, under the Sacred Ministry.
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