By Henry Law, 1875

"But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him." Daniel 9:9

To the congregation worshiping in the Cathedral Church of Gloucester. Dearly beloved in the Lord,

On stated days your expectation looks to me for teaching. To perform such duty is to every minister of Christ the joy of joys. Beyond all doubt the pulpit stands the highest post of man to appear as ambassador of the King of kings, and to proclaim the way of life, is a privilege which angels might ambitiously desire. I strongly feel this--no words can tell my estimate of this grand work. This hallowed exercise requires vigor, and energy, and strength--in its discharge every faculty should put forth power. But when the weight of many years depresses, these qualities must cease to bloom--decay will follow in the footsteps of declining life. It is now mine to feel this common lot of old age, and hence I seek some substitute for public service in so large a church. To supply then this absence of oral address I venture to present this volume to you.

Thus the pen strives to take the place of voice. Instead of looking on you congregated around me, I seek to sit beside you in your homes. At fixed times your attendance may be reluctant, and your thoughts may stray; I thus come when leisure gives me welcome. Without intrusion I solicit some vacant moments. You shall not complain of wearying lengthiness; your averted look is my dismissal. But while you read, I have a willing flock--and while you read with prayer, I teach to profit.

This mode, also, of address may have especial use. Days may arrive when the pulpit may not be sought by you--your feet may be unable to tread the hallowed courts; age, or infirmity, or other suffering may keep you from the familiar seat. These pages then may find attention; and when the public springs are closed, these private drops may bring refreshment.

If this approach should win you to be wholly Christ's, my public silence will be your immortal gain. To promote this union in season and out of season is ministerial duty. Let me distinctly warn that without Him this world is utter nothingness--as boldly let me aver that to receive Him into the heart is every treasure won. Separate from Him, the public service is a casket with no jewel; religious forms are a mere skeleton; external rites are lifeless perfunction; Scripture is a dead letter; sacraments seal not the title-deeds of heaven. Religion not framed in Gospel-mold gives neither peace nor hope--its course is joyless, and its end is woe. This deep conviction prompts me thus to write.

It may be said this book repeats the truths which constantly I preached. From the pulpit it was indeed my aim to point to Christ, and woe would be to me if now I gave other direction. Another Savior or another Gospel is a fiction beguiling to sure ruin--it is better to be mute than gratify a craving for the conceits and fallacies of man. A Christless bauble glitters only to destroy--such trifling is, I trust, far distant from these pages. Their instant substance is to urge you to seek forgiveness of your sins, and every benefit of Christ's passion at the Atoning cross. Turn not from the humble effort because no eloquence or novel views attract--my yearning is not to excite vain feelings, but eternally to save. It matters little what I think--it matters much what Christ's revelation says. I trust it is our common prayer, Let Christ increase, let man lie low.

Your devoted servant in Christ Jesus,
Henry Law, Gloucester, Oct. 30, 1875

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