In presenting to the public this selection fromthe sermons of Bourdaloue, the translator has found it no easy task to expressin clear and idiomatic English the well-balanced periods of the original. Hehopes, however, that he has not entirely failed to convey to his readers someidea of the author’s style, and, what is of more consequence, that thetranslation, such as it is, is not an unfaithful rendering of the author’simpressive words.
The little that is known of the life of Bourdaloue is so familiar to allwho are interested in such matters, that it is not necessary to repeat it here,As an orator, Bourdaloue was clear, antithetical, harmonious; his learning waswide, and he always handled his subject in a masterly way. In his references tothe Fathers, it is not so much their very words, as their teaching and theirarguments, which he reproduces in a modern form. But we do him an injustice ifwe regard him merely as an able reasoner. It has been well said that he was“one who valued a victory over the heart of the humble listener, more than overthe judgment of the man of taste.”
There is one point which must strike those who read these sermons on thePassion; the preacher never permits us to lose sight of the great truth, thatthe sufferer is God. Keeping in view the impersonality of the Saviour’sManhood, Bourdaloue does not shrink from saying, that it is a God who suffers,a God who is being tortured and crucified, a God who is dying. These eightsermons, most of which were preached before the French Court, will be found tobe remarkable alike for their originality and completeness. The translatorhopes they may be an aid to the better understanding and the deeper realizationof the august mysteries of which they treat. I may add that in this translationthe texts of Holy Scripture have generally been quoted from the A.V., exceptwhen the rendering of the Vulgate materially differs from it, in which caseattention is called to the fact in a footnote.
G. F. C.
St. Luke’s, Soho.