WHEN a child is frightened at any strange apparition, the best remedy is to lead him up to it; and when men have been accustomed to pay homage to some wonder-working image, the most effectual argument against their idolatry has sometimes been found to show them how the idol is made. Many have, perhaps, been led to make one or other of these mistakes with regard to the Middle Ages; the long shadows of the past so easily convert common things into miracles or monsters. It is hoped that the simple narratives contained in this volume may help, in some degree, to remove both mistakes, by showing things as they are.
This little work is a translation of the Second Part of Neander's |Denkwürdigkeiten aus der Geschichte des christlichen Lebens,| which may be regarded as a popular and practical supplement to his |History of the Christian Religion and Church.|
The translator would feel the toil of many summer hours amply rewarded, should this volume tend in any measure to strengthen our reverent love for the good men of other times, whilst manifesting their mistakes; to lessen any blind homage for the |golden mean| of time, whilst unveiling the lights which have shone before those who watched for them in the darkest ages; to dispel any sentimental worship of times and seasons, and human institutions; and at the same time to enlarge our sympathies with that holy Church of the redeemed and the regenerate, which is catholic amongst, the centuries as well as amongst the nations.
She will look on her labours as indeed blessed, should they be the means of leading one dark heart into the path of light, or one sick soul to Him who healeth |all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease,| or one languid disciple to more effective service, by the inspiration of holy example. We have, all of us, but a little while to prove how we love Him, who has so loved us; and it will be no small thing to have the gracious approval of the |faithful servant| added to the recognition of the forgiven child.
May we also, with Dr. Neander, as with all human teachers, remember that they are |ours| -- not we |theirs;| not, indeed, in the spirit of |right| and self-will, but of lowlier subjection to a loftier guide -- and of that true loyalty to our Lord, which makes all hero-worship for us not only idolatry, but treason. And now that his words come to us with the touching solemnity of a voice which death has so recently silenced, may we listen to them, and learn from them, in the spirit which he would desire from the place of rest to which God has taken him, where all the broken glimpses of truth, which cause error and division here, are filled up and he has, ere this, learned to know even as he is known.