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doctrines of Conversion and Grace; and in the last four decades we cannot but be sensible that the Oxford movement has brought to the front doctrines which the Evangelicals, in gazing intently on their special tenets, had to a great extent overlooked.
Although sermon-writing is a gift, yet it is a gift which may be cultivated. Bradley was a born sermonwriter, and probably could have written an average sermon by only stirring up the gift that was in him ; but from love of pulpit oratory he added to his natural gift an assiduous cultivation of elegant diction, and this art of the rhetorician lends an extra charm to his style, without spoiling the natural treatment of the subject.
A word perhaps ought to be said about the several volumes of sermons which he published, the order in which they appeared, with their dedications, and their success in running through various editions. The Alton Barnes Sermons of A. W. Hare are spoken of as well known from having been through five or six editions; but I see, by a copy in my library, that Charles Bradley's High Wycombe Serinons had got to an eleventh edition as long ago as 1850 ; how many since that time I do not know. These were dedicated to the Earl of Liverpool in the preface of 1818, and in the next year had reached the third edition, and that in half-guinea volumes. They were the sermons he preached as curate of High Wycombe, and were as good, perhaps, as any he ever wrote.
His next volume of sermons seems to be those preached at Glasbury in Brecknockshire. These he dedicated to Dr. Henry Ryder, who had presented him to that living while Bishop of St. David's. Dr. Ryder was afterwards translated to Lichfield and Coventry, and is the Evangelical prelate whom Dr. Hook (while at Coventry) remonstrated with for presiding at a meeting of the Bible Society held at that town in the year 1830.
The other four volumes, published from 1831 onwards, contain sermons preached at St. James's, Clapham, during the concluding years of his ministry, and have been often reprinted.
It remains to say something of his life, and the churches in which he preached. It is passing strange that no biography of him has been given to the world. Possibly, his life had so little of incident in it that it was thought impossible to make his biography attractive. His days were joined each to each in natural and unostentatious piety, and the record of one day would have been the record of many similar ones. Anyhow, he had no vates sacer. Obviously, too, as he was born a hundred years, save four, ago, the marks of his footprints on the sands of this world were become faint. In 1881, I took down, from the mouth of his eldest son—also the Rev. Charles Bradley-at his home in Ossett Terrace, in two pleasant days spent with him, some records of his life; and as he died in 1883, I was but just in time to gather up, as into a cup, some memorials of this author's life before they were spilt on the ground. The Dean of Westminster was kind enough to furnish me with many particulars, and also gave me the address of Mr. Charles Hebert of Ambleside, who kindly (though in his eighty-third year) wrote what he remembered of Bradley, when he worked as junior curate under him at High Wycombe.
I subjoin a few of the prominent facts of our author's life and ministry, as I am sure the readers of this little volume will read these religious exercises with more pleasure when they know something of the writer's individuality; and especially when, having read his appeals to the heart, they know that he who penned them himself “kept the testimonies of the Lord, and loved them exceedingly.”
Born in 1788—I believe, at Nottingham-Charles Bradley was chiefly self-educated, and, after spending some terms at St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford, was ordained as curate to Wallingford, Berks, from which he removed as curate in charge of High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire. There he remained long enough to establish his fame as a popular Evangelical preacher. And the plans still exist by which it was proposed to add galleries to accommodate the crowds which his preaching drew; for people were unable to get seats, though the church was large and the chair-making industry had not yet begun in that locality. Here he took pupils, the late famous Mr. Smith O'Brien and Bonamy Price, Professor of Political Economy at Oxford, being amongst the number. Here, after some fifteen years' work, his health broke down, under the double strain of pupils and parish, and in about 1824 he left the curacy for the living of Glasbury, which Dr. Henry Ryder, then of St. David's, afterwards Bishop of Lichfield, gave him, and which he held till his death.
Two years he lived there, but in 1826 he accepted the incumbency of St. James's, Clapham, in which a chapel was built and consecrated in 1829. There he spent most of his working days; there his first wife died in 1831. In 1839 he married Miss Emma Linton, who is still living at Cheltenham. He had a large family by both wives, many of his sons having been on the foundation of their respective colleges, and attained to considerable positions. He was tall of stature and of striking presence; and his sermons were interesting, even to boys, as his pupils relate. He retired, in broken health, to Cheltenham, many years before his death.
The tones of his voice were suited to his matter; he was a most sympathetic preacher, following naturally the joyous or sorrowful passages of his discourse. His action was slight; sometimes a gentle movement of the right hand—now lifted, now thrust forward, as to drive home some more than usually solemn thought.
The Rev. Charles Hebert, mentioned above as his curate of early days, sixty years ago, writes :-“The time which Mr. Bradley took in writing a sermon varied very much according to whether he found the matter treatable or not. If it would not work, he put it aside for other times. The feature in him which was most prominent was the richness and abundance of his material. So much of matter, experimental or otherwise, in each (morning) sermon there was, that it served his people, for thought and conversation, the whole week. It was not wine or broth that he was giving them, but well-cooked, massive pièces de résistance. It was a great privilege to hear one sermon: a series did all that a minister could do to build up people in the truth.”
So much for the solidity of his matter, which no one can doubt. He not only knew the often-read parts of Scripture, which fall either in the services or in people's ordinary reading of the Bible, but the most out-of-the-way chapters he was equally conversant with. The old motto of one of the early Bishops of Winchester may be applied to him—"Bonus textuarius est bonus theologus.”
With regard to his great special excellency of clearly marked and exhaustive divisions, Mr. S. B. James of Northmarston tells me that an eminent Nonconformist minister said to him once, “I can take up one of C. Bradley's sermons, read it over hastily in my vestry, jot down the heads, and preach it, almost verbatim.' I have myself often done the same thing for the last thirty years, only with a much more prolonged study of the text in my library. But as teachers for young men, Bradley's sermons, on account of the clearness of the divisions, are excellent: they are so rigid that you can hardly get off the tramway, and must reach the terminus and conclusion safely and triumphantly.
I will conclude with an extract contained in a letter written to the Editor of the Guardian, April 5, 1882, containing a boy's reminiscences of Charles Bradley. The writer says :-“I was at school at Clapham when “ I was eleven years old, under a lady of extreme Cal“vinistic opinions. Twice every Sunday, we four “ children were taken to a church, the minister of " which was a Mr. Burrows, doubtless a very good “ man in his way, but who never preached under an
hour. He had a stentorian voice, thumped the pulpit, and Aung the cushions about wildly. He preached what is called 'high doctrine,' but was
very unintelligible to juvenile hearers. As a great “ treat, and on very rare occasions, we were taken to “ St. James's to hear the Rev. Charles Bradley. I “think his preaching was considered too pleasant and "attractive to be quite orthodox by our severe pre
ceptor. Nevertheless the published sermons used