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mons, which were preached in the parish church at Laleham, and form by far the most characteristic record of this period.
“My object," he said in his Preface, “ has been to bring the great principles of the Gospel home to the hearts and practices of my own countrymen in my own time—and particularly to those of my own station in society, with whose sentiments and language I am naturally most familiar, and for this purpose, I have tried to write in such a style as might be used in real life, in serious conversation with our friends, or with those who asked our advice; in the language, in short, of common life, and applied to the cases of common life; but ennobled and strengthened by those principles and feelings which are to be found only in the Gospel.”
This volume is, not only in the time of its appearance, but also in its style and substance, the best introduction to all his later works; the very absence of any application to particular classes or states of opinion, such as gives more interest to his subsequent sermons, is the more fitted to exhibit his fundamental views, often not developed in his own mind, in their naked simplicity. And it is in itself worthy of notice, as being the first or nearly the first attempt, since followed in many other quarters, at breaking through the conventional phraseology with which English preaching had been so long encumbered, and at uniting the language of reality and practical sense with names and words which, in the minds of so many of the educated classes, had become closely associated with notions of sectarianism or extravagance.
It was published in 1828, immediately after his removal to Rugby, and had a rapid circulation. Many, both then and long afterwards, who most differed from some of his more peculiar opinions, rejoiced in the possession of a volume which contained so much in which they agreed, and so little from which they differed. The objections to its style or substance may best be gathered from the following extracts of his own letters.
1. “ If the sermons are read, I do not care one farthing if the readers think me the most unclassical writer in the English language. It will only remove me to a greater distance from the men of elegant minds with whom I shall most loathe to be associated. But,
however, I have looked at the sermons again, with a view to correcting the baldness which you complain of, and in some places, I have endeavoured to correct it. And I again assure you, that I will not knowingly leave unaltered anything violent, harsh, or dogmatical. I am not conscious of the ex cathedrâ tone of my sermons—at least not beyond what appears to me proper in the pulpit, where one does in a manner speak ex cathedrâ. But I think my decided tone is generally employed in putting forward the sentiments of Scripture, Do in drawing my own conclusions from it."
2. In answer to a complaint that “they carry the standard so high as to unchristianize half the community," he says, “I do not see how the standard can be carried higher than Christ or his Apostles carry it, and I do not think that we ought to put it lower. I am sure that the habitually fixing it so much lower, especially in all our institutions and public practice, has been most mischievous."
3. “ I am very much gratified by what you say of my sermons ; yet pained to find that their tone is generally felt to be so hard and Serere. I believe the reason is, that I mostly thought of my pupils in preaching, and almost always of the higher classes, who I cannot but think have commonly very little of the bruised reed' about them. You must remember that I never had the regular care of a jarish, and therefore have seen comparatively little of those cases of a troubled spirit, and of a fearful and anxious conscience, which require comfort far more than warning. But still, after all, I fear that the intense mercy of the Gospel has not been so prominently represented as it should have been, while I have been labouring to express its purity."
Meanwhile, his friends had frequently represented to him the desirableness of a situation which would secure a more certain provision, and a greater sphere of usefulness than that which he occupied at Laleham; and he had been urged, more than once, to stand for the Mastership at Winchester, which he had declined first from a distrust of his own fitness or inclination for the office, and afterwards from more general reasons. But the expense of the neighbourhood of Laleham had already determined him to leave it, and he was framing plans for a change of life, when, in August, 1827, the head-mastership of Rugby became vacant by the resignation of Dr. Wooll, who had held it for twenty-one years. It was not till late in the contest for the situation that he finally resolved to offer himself as a can didate. When, therefore, his testimonials were sent in to th twelve trustees, noblemen and gentlemen of Warwickshire, i whom the appointment rests, the canvass for the office had ad vanced so far as to leave him, in the opinion of himself an many of his friends, but little hope of success. On the da of the decision, the testimonials of the several candidates wei read over in the order in which they had been sent in; his ow were therefore among the last; and whilst none of the trustee were personally acquainted with him, few if any of then owing to the lateness of his appearance, had heard his name be fore. His testimonials were few in number, and most of thei couched in general language, but all speaking strongly of h qualifications. Amongst them was a letter from Dr. Hawkin now Provost of Oriel, in which it was predicted that, if M Arnold were elected to the head-mastership of Rugby, he woul change the face of education all through the public schools « England. The trustees had determined to be guided entirel by the merits of the candidates, and the impression produce upon them by this letter, and by the general confidence in hi expressed in all the testimonials, was such, that he was electe at once, in December, 1827. In June, 1828, he received Priest orders from Dr. Howley, then Bishop of London; in Api and November of the same year took his degree of B.D. ar D.D.; and in August entered on his new office.
The following letters and extracts have been selected, not : much as important in themselves, but rather as illustrating tl course of his thoughts and general views at this period.
Oxford, May 28, 1817. I thank you very heartily for the kindness which all yo letter displays, and I cannot better show my sense of it than telling you without reserve my feelings and arguments on both sid of the question. The study of the law, in many respects, I think I should like, and certainly it holds out better encouragement to any ambitious particles which I may have in my nature than the church does. But I do not think, if I know myself, which perhaps is begging an important question, that my sober inclinations would lead me to the law so much as to the church. I am sure the church would be the best for me, for as I hope never to enter it with light views, so the forming my mind to a proper sense of the clerical duties and then an occasion and call for the practice of them immediately succeeding, would I trust be most beneficial to me. To effect this, I have great advantages in the advice and example of many of my friends here in Oxford, and whether I know myself or not is another question, but I most sincerely feel that I could with most pleasure devote myself to the employments of a clergyman; and that I never should for a moment put any prospects of ambition or worldly honour in competition with the safe happiness which I think a clergyman's life would grant me. Seriously, I am afraid of the law; I know how much even here I am led away by various occupations from those studies and feelings which are essential to every man; and I dare not risk the consequences of such a necessary diversion of mind from all religious subjects, as would be caused by my attending to a study so engrossing as that of law. To this I am sure in your eyes nothing need be added ; but besides I doubt whether
health would support so much reading and confinement to the house; and after all, knowing who are at this moment contending for the prizes of the law, it would, I think, be folly to stake much on the chance of my success. Again, my present way of life enables me to be a great deal at home with my mother, aunt, and sister, who are all so circumstanced that I should not think myself justified in lightly choosing any occupation that would separate me greatly from them. On the other hand, if I find that I cannot conscientiously subscribe to the articles of the Church, be assured I never will
go into orders, but even then I should doubt whether I could support either the expense or labour of the law. I hope you have overrated my "ambitious disputations and democratical ” propensities ; if, indeed, I have not more of the two first than of the last, I think I should not hesitate about my fitness for the church, as far as they are concerned. I think you have not quite a correct notion of my political faith; perhaps I have not myself, but I do
not think I am democratically inclined, and God forbid I should ever be such a clergyman as Horne Tooke.
Laleham, September 20, 1819. Poor dear old Oxford ! if I live till I am eighty, and were to enjoy all the happiness that the warmest wish could desire, I should never forget, or cease to look back with something of a painful feeling on the years we were together there, and on all the delights that we have lost; and I look forward with extreme delight to my intended journey, down to the audit in October, when I shall take a long and last farewell of my old haunts, and will, if I possibly can, yet take one more look at Bagley Wood, and the pretty field, and the wild stream that flows down between Bullington and Cowley Marsh, not forgetting even your old friend, “the Lower London Road.” Well, I must endeavour to get some such associations to combine with Laleham and its neighbourhood; but at present all is harsh and ruffled, like woods in a high wind, only I am beginning to love my own little study, where I have a sofa full of books, as of old, and the two verse books lying about on it, and a volume of Herodotus; and where I sit up and read or write till twelve or one o'clock.
(On a proposal of a Mastership at Winchester.)
Laleham, October 28, 1819. I might defer any discussion of the prospects which you recommend to me till we meet, were it a subject on which I could feel any hesitation in making up my mind. But thanking you as I do very sincerely for the kindness of your suggestion, the situation which
you advise me to try for, is one which nothing but the most positive call of duty would ever induce me to accept, were it even offered to me. It is one which, in the first place, I know myself very ill qualified to fill; and it would besides completely upset every scheme which I have formed for my future comfort in life. I know that success in my present undertaking is of course doubtful ;