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REV. STOPFORD A. BROOKE, M. A.,
CHAPEL YORK STREET, ST. JAMES's.
THE Lectures contained in this Volume were delivered
on Sunday afternoons in St. James's Chapel, during the season of 1872. Others, on Blake, Shelley, Keats and Byron, delivered in 1873, will be published, I hope, before the close of this year. The thing was an experiment. I began it in May 1871, when I asked the Rev. J. M. Capes to deliver a course of lectures for me, which should not take the form of sermons, but, on the contrary, should avoid it. He chose as his subject the Inner Life of the Romish Church, and afterwards the Relation of Music to Religion. When he had finished his lectures on these subjects, which were as well attended as they eminently deserved to be, I began another course on Theology in the English Poets, which I have continued to the present time. Since I began to carry out the experiment in 1871, the lectures on week-days in St.
Paul's have been established, and in St. James's Church, Piccadilly, discourses have been preached on a few Sunday afternoons on such subjects as the Drama and the Press, by eminent clergymen. I believe if a similar effort could be made in many of the London churches in the Sunday afternoons, that much good might be done. It would give variety to clerical work on Sunday, and much knowledge that now remains only as latent force among the clergy might be made dynamic, if I may borrow a term from science. If rectors of large churches would ask clergymen who know any subject of the day well to lecture on its religious aspect in the afternoon, and give them half the offertory, if needful, for their trouble, they would please themselves, enlighten their congregations, and fill their churches. And they would assist the cause of religion among that large number of persons who do not go to church, and who think that Christianity has nothing to do with Politics, Art, Literature or Science.
When I made this experiment, I had long desired to bring the pulpit on Sunday to bear on subjects other than those commonly called religious, and to rub out the sharp lines drawn by that false distinction of sacred and profane. If what I believed were true, and God in Christ