S. (Sabine) Baring-Gould.

Post-mediaeval preachers: some account of the most celebrated preachers of the 15th, 16th, & 17th centuries; with outlines of their sermons, and specimens of their style online

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Online LibraryS. (Sabine) Baring-GouldPost-mediaeval preachers: some account of the most celebrated preachers of the 15th, 16th, & 17th centuries; with outlines of their sermons, and specimens of their style → online text (page 7 of 17)
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prayed for the frost, and hoar frost settled that night on
bar and beam. Next, he believed a hot southerly wind
would suit his tree, and after prayer the south wind
blew upon his olive-tree and — it died. Some little
while after, the hermit visited a brother hermit, and lo !
by his cell- door stood a flourishing olive-tree. " How
came that goodly plant there, brother?" asked the un-
successful hermit.

" I planted it, and God blessed it, and it grew."
" Ah ! brother, I too planted an olive, and when I
thought it wanted water I asked God to give it rain, and
the rain came ; and when I thought it wanted sun, I asked,
and the sun shone ; and when I deemed that it needed
strengthening, I prayed, and frost came — God gave me
all I demanded for my tree as I saw fit, yet is it dead."
'• And I, brother," replied the other hermit, " I left


my tree in God's hands, for He knew what it wanted
better than I."

Yery different is Meffreth's story of the fat priest who
was carving a capon in Lent, when his servant burst
out laughing behind his back. " Sirrah ! what are you
laughing at?" asked the globular parson.

" Oh, your reverence ! excuse me, but I could not
help thinking what a lot of drippings there would be
from you, when hereafter the devils have the roasting
of you."

F 2


Matthias Faber was born at Neumarkt, in Bavaria, in
the year 1586. He was appointed to the cure of the
parish of St. Maurice in Ingolstadt, and to the profes-
sorship of the University in that town. Whilst there,
he published three volumes of sermons for every Sunday
in the year, and these have gone through six editions.

He was much regarded as a preacher, and deservedly
so, for he was a man f tdl of learning and genius, though
not remarkable for his eloquence.

In the year 1637, at the age of fifty-one, he was re-
ceived into the Society of Jesus at Vienna, and continued
after his reception to preach with considerable success.
He then published another volume of sermons for all the
Sundays and the principal festivals of the year. This
book, divided into two parts, is called the Auctuarium,
and was thenceforward published along with the former
volumes. The Concionum opus tripartitum, together
with the Auctuarium, contain one thousand and ninety-
six sermons. Besides these, he preached funeral and
marriage orations, published after his death, which took
place on the 26th of April, 1653, at Tyrnau.

MATTHIAS FABER. , , , , 101

It is not to be expected hat in sucli a vast collection
all should be of equal merit ; and yet few of Faber's
sermons would be put down as bad. The vast majority
of them are remarkably good, and full of matter. Not
one, perhaps, could be found which does not contain
more suggestive remarks than we are accustomed to
hear from the modern pulpit in a month. Faber is
brief, but what he says lie has thought well over, and it
is always worth the hearing. He is almost too brief
sometimes, for he throws out a brilliant remark, and
goes on to another without making the most — without,
indeed, making any thing of the former.

How great is the contrast between him and a modern
preacher, who every Sunday labours through a polished
and carefully worded essay, containing in many words
the feeblest whiff of an idea ! And Faber could vary
his matter to suit his hearers. Preaching before his
University, he discussed learned questions in Divinity
with great lucidity ; but preaching to the good citizens
of Ingolstadt, he confined himself to practical instruc-

His style is dignified and earnest, but it is not
eloquent, though many of the passages in his sermons
are very graceful. And he is perfectly free from the
bombast which supplied the place of eloquence among
certain preachers of his day.

Matthias Faber does not shrink from telling a story,
and a story with a good practical moral to it, but he
does not attempt simile to any extent.

There is an apparent crudity in his discourses. Pro-
bably this is owing to their being printed from the

F 3


abstract which he drew up before preaching ; so that
when delivered, the apparent abruptness and ruggedness
of this outline may have been smoothed away.

Few ancient preachers would be more serviceable to a
clergyman of the present day, or more acceptable to an
English congregation. Unfortunately, the volumes are
somewhat scarce, and consequently expensive.

The following is a list of Faber's works and their
several editions :

1. Controversise contra Altorfienses Professores.

2. Concionum opus tripartitum ; Ingolstadii, 3 vols.
foL, 1631 ; Cracovise, 1647.

3. Auctuarium Operis Concionum Pars ; GraGcii,
foL, 1646 ; Antverpise, 2 vols. foL, 1647.

Auctuarium pro Dominicis et Sanctis ; Cracoviae,
foL, 1647.

Opus Concionum, Pars Hiemalis ; Antverpiae, 3
vols, fol., 1650.

Auctuarium ; Antverpiae, fol., 1653.

Opus Concionum cum Auctuario; Colonise Agrip-

pinae, 4to., 5 partes, 1669.

Opus Concionum, Pars JEstivalis ; Antverpiae, fol.,

Opus Concionum ; Coloniae, 3 vols., 4to., 1693.

Concionum Sylva nova, seu Auctuarium. Cui
accedunt Conciones Funebres, Nuptiales, et Strenales
posthumae. Coloniae, 4to., tomus primus, 1695.

4. R. P. Matthiae Fabri Conciones Funebres ; Brugis,
12mo., 1723.

5. Horet den Sohn Gottes ; Olivae, 24mo., 1678.

I shall give the reader the outline of some of Matthias


Faber's sermons, that he may judge for himself whether
he deserves the praise I have accorded to him.

Fourth Sunday in Lent.

St. John vi. 13. "They gathered them together, and
filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five

barley loaves."

' •


There were twelve baskets full of food gathered
from this feast which Jesus made in the wil-
derness, and twelve are the wholesome lessons
which I gather from it, and with which I feed
you to-day.

1. Learn fervour and zeal for hearing the Gospel.
" The people," we are told, " ran afoot out of
all cities, and outwent them, and came toge-
ther unto Him." Behold their earnestness,
and contrast it with your indifference. They
came on foot, they came long distances, they
came in great numbers, they outwent Christ
and His Apostles, they came voluntarily and
without having been summoned, they came
oblivious of their bodily wants, bringing with
them their wives and children. Faber draws
a contrast between these people and his hearers,
undoubtedly just, but certainly not flattering :
and he applies to the latter the words of God
to Ezekiel, " Ye pollute Me among My people
for handfuls of barley, and for pieces of

F 4


2. Learn the various effects produced by God's

Word on different hearers.

Faber is singularly infelicitous in filling this
basket. He observes that our Lord at one time
drew near to the sea, but did not enter it ; at
another put off a little from land, but soon
returned to it, and now in to-day's Gospel
crosses the sea, and having crossed it, performs
the miracle : so does He shadow forth three
kinds of Christians in His mystical Body, the
Church : those who only approach the bitter
sea of repentance, those who just enter it and
again return to land, and those who traverse
it and are found meet to sit down in green
pastures at His heavenly banquet.

3. Learn the custody of the eyes.

Christ *' lifted up His eyes " and beheld the
multitude. He had them before on earth, not
straying hither and thither ; and so He
teaches us to restrain our wandering gaze.
His eyes meekly rested on earth ; Eve's, stray-
ing among the boughs, saw the fruit of the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and
those wandering eyes brought death into this
world. So did the restless eyes of Potiphar's
wife light on Joseph, so did the unguarded eyes
of David fall on Bathsheba, and the curious
eyes of the two elders on Susanna. But we are
not required to keep our eyes always fixed on
earth, or closed ; but to restrain them from
idle curiosity, to avert them from dangerous


objects, and to guard them carefully when we
pray. There are, on the other hand, times
when we should raise them, after the example
of Christ. For the considering and relieving
of the poor (John vi. 5), in giving thanks
(Mark vi. 41), in praying (John xvii. 1),
in giving instruction (Luke vi. 20), in
seeking the glory of God in all our actions
(John xi. 41).

4. Learn to ask God's blessing on your food.

As Christ gave thanks, and looking up to
Heaven blessed the loaves and fishes.

We have the same lesson in Deut. viii. 10,
" When thou hast eaten and art full, then
thou shalt bless the Lord thy God." And
we have the example of the Israelites who
would not eat of the victims till Samuel had
blessed them.

5. Learn care for the poor.

Christ gave the loaves and fishes to His dis-
ciples to distribute among the multitude, and
so He gives the rich their abundance, not for
them to consume it themselves, but that they
may " distribute and give to the poor."

6. Learn to see God's providence in the support of

all men, and especially of His own servants.

Thus did God provide manna for the Israel-
ites in the wilderness (Exod. xvi. 12), bread and
meat for Elijah during the famine (1 Kings
xvii. 4), food for Daniel in the lions' den
(Bel and Dragon, 33).
F 5


7. Learn to seek the food of the soul before seek-

ing that of the body.

Thus Christ before feeding the multitude
"spake unto them of the kingdom of God"
(Luke), "began to teach them many things ''

8. Learn that fasting precedes festival, Lent goes

before Easter.

So now Christ retired to the wilderness, as
" the Jews' passover was nigh at hand ; and
many went out of the country up| to Jerusalem
before the passover, to purify themselves"
(John xi. 55.)

9. Learn moderation and frugality in diet.

Christ performed the miracle of feeding five
thousand, not with luxuries, but with plain and
wholesome food, to teach us not to care about
luxurious living, but to be content with simple

10. Learn that there should be order in the Church.

For the people sat not down till commanded,
and then, not in confusion, but in ranks.

11. Learn to avoid waste, and what is superfluous

learn to give to the poor.

This may be gathered from the fragments
being collected by the Apostles at Christ's
express command.

12. Learn to despise worldly honours.

For when the multitude would have taken
Jesus by force, and made Him a king — as we
read in to-day's Gospel — He fled from them
into a high mountain apart



Let all who have been fed from these fragments of
instruction be satisfied, and, thanking God,
acknowledge Christ for their true king.

First Sunday after the Epiphany.

St. Luke ii. 51. " His mother kept all these sayings
in her heart."


In God's Word we find rules of life for aU con-
ditions of men, for all stages of life, for all
positions in society. The Gospel for this day
gives instruction to several grades of men.

1. Parents are taught : —

a. To train their children in the fear and ad-
monition of the Lord. To bring them at an
early age to the house of God, to teach them
to love its courts, to take pleasure in its ser-
vices, and to delight in the instructions given

/3. To seek their children when they wander
from the paths of righteousness, to seek them
sorrowing, and to find no rest till they see
them restored.

2. Children are taught —

a. To follow God rather than man ; to obey Him
in preference to their earthly parents, remem-
bering that " He who loveth father or mother
more than Me, is not worthy of Me."

yS. But in every thing else, except where the will
r 6


of parents clashes witli the will of God, cheer-
fully to submit to them.

3. Married persons are taught to feel for each other,

and to sympathize with each other. Thus
Joseph entered into the grief of Mary at the
loss of her Son, and returned with her to Jeru-
salem in quest of Him. And Mary showed
deference to her husband, saying, " Thy father
and I have sought Thee sorrowing," placing
Joseph in honour before herself.

4. Kinsfolk and acquaintance are taught that they

have a responsibility in the children of their
relatives. Mary and Joseph sought Jesus
among them. So God required Abel at the
hand of Cain. So the Apostle writes to
Timothy, "If any man provide not for his
own (i.e. look not after his own), and specially
for those of his own house, he hath denied the
faith, and is worse than an infidel. '*

5. Priests are taught to abide in the temple, and to

be ready to hear the doubts and perplexities of
others, and to answer them as God gives them

6. Finally, all may learn —

a. From the fact of Joseph and Mary coming to
Jerusalem, notwithstanding that Archelaus did
still reign there, and leaving their substance
and business for the service of God — that we
should not allow vain excuses to hinder us
from attending public worship.

y9. From the fact of Christ the Eternal "Wisdom


deigning to listen humbly to these blind
Pharisees and ignorant doctors— that we
should not puff ourselves up with the consi-
deration that we know better than those whom
God has appointed over us as teachers, but in
lowliness hearken to their instructions.

7. From the fact of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus
accomplishing the days, and not leaving before
the feast was over — that we should not be
eager to rush out of church in the middle of
service, in the midst of the celebration of the
Blessed Sacrament, before the completion of
the sacrifice.

B. From the fact of Mary and Joseph going to
Jerusalem, " according to the custom of the
feast," — we learn to submit to all laudable
customs, and not to set ourselves against them
on the plea of our superior wisdom or under-

e. From the fact of Mary and Jesus going to
Jerusalem, whereas the law was not binding
upon women and children — we learn not to rest
satisfied with the letter, but to go on to the
spirit ; not to be content with mere conformity
to the bare commandment of Grod, but with
loving hearts to strive to " do more for His
sake than of bounden duty is required." (The
Church, for instance, bids us communicate
three times in the year, but let us draw near
oftener to the altar of God. The law of God
requires us to give tithes of our goods, but let


US give more, be liberal-hearted, and liberal-
handed, and glad to distribute. S. B. G.)
f. From the fact of Christ being said to have
increased in favour with God and man — let us
learn to seek first the favour of God, and then
the favour of good men will be added to us.
Those who seek first the favour of men, often
lose both that of man and God. Pilate, to
find favour with Caesar, fearing the accusation,
"Thou art not Caesar's friend," gave up
Christ. And what did he gain ? Nothing ;
he lost the favour of God and of Csssar. By
the one he was driven into exile, by the other
he was cast down into hell.

From like fearful end may Christ in His mercy
keep us.

I will add a few specimens of the style of Matthias
Faber. And I shall quote first some portions of an
Easter sermon.

" See how our hope and confidence should be fixed on
God. For the women went to the sepulchre through
the morning twilight, without thought of the soldiers
who guarded it, or of the sepulchral stone which closed
it, for removing which they were far too weak. But as
they drew nigh they considered this difficulty among
themselves, saying, * Who shall roll us away the stone
from the door of the sepulchre?' And yet they
turned not back despondingly, but resolutely perse-
vered, trusting in God to provide the way and means.


And so it was as they trusted: by the providence of
God the stone was removed by an angel, and at the
sight of the angel the keepers fled in fear. Where
human aid is wanting, there, if we trust in God, Divine
aid is present."

" Behold the place, where we can see an image of the
beatitude which we may expect on the Resurrection
day. We see it in the angel. For he appeared as *a
young man,* and we all shall arise in ' the measure of
the stature of the fulness of Christ,* in the flower of
youth. His countenance was like lightning, and the
bodies of the blessed shall be resplendent as the sun.
He was vested in * raiment white as snow,' signifying
the glory and beatitude of the soul ; * And white robes
were given unto every one of them ' (Rev. vi. 11), those
white robes which are promised to him thafc overcometh
(Rev. iii. 5). He sat upon the stone — image of the
constant and perpetual rest, ay, and regal dignity of
the blessed in Heaven. And lastly, the angel was
* sitting on the right side,' for in Heaven there is
nothing sinister and adverse, but all right, prosperous,
and happy. But of this I have said enough elsewhere."
The following are from a Palm Sunday discourse : —
" Processions are in use in the Church on this day
with palm-branches, in imitation of that in which
Christ our Lord was this day conducted by the crowd
and His disciples to the city of Jerusalem. But our
Jerusalem is in Heaven, and thither are we advancing,
led by Christ. With Him, and by Him, must we enter
the vision of peace which Jerusalem signifies. In this
procession he who takes not part, enters not Heaven.


For the idle and the spectators have no admission
there. All those who took part in that triumphal
entry into Jerusalem had something to do. Some
loosed and led up the ass and colt, some laid their
garments on them, some set Jesus thereon, some spread
the public road with garments, some cut down branches
from the trees, others again sang ; the very beasts ful-
filled their office, and bore their Creator. In like manner
must we do something for Christ, if we would become
partakers of His glory."

After having applied these several acts of the multi-
tude to various conditions of life, in a practical manner,
he comes to the seventh, " Others cried, saying, Hosanna
to the Son of David," which he explains thus, " This do
those who are happy and well-to-do in this present life,
who are tossed by no storms of adversity, but sail on a
tranquil sea. But there is danger in a life so calm in
its state of wealth and pleasure. Yet they who have
it, may also enter into the Blessed City, if they refer
those good things which they enjoy to God, and diligently
thank Him for them, * singing and making melody in '
their * hearts to the Lord ; giving thanks always for all
things unto God and the Father in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ.' (Eph, v. 19, 20.) In like manner
the state of felicity in which they were created was not
injurious to the holy angels, for directly they were
created they began to sing praises and give thanks to
God for the benefit they had received, as God testified
to Job, * The morning stars sang together, and all the
sons of God shouted for joy.' (Job xxxviii. 7.) And
by reason of this praise, they were confirmed in a state


of grace and felicity, and received glory. For this
cause the holy patriarchs, though they abounded in
earthly possessions, yet lost not their salvation. For
indeed, they referred all their fortune, their prosperity,
their abundance, to God. Thus Noah, saved from the
deluge, * builded an altar unto the Lord ; ' thus Abraham,
having received a promise of the land for a possession,
* built an altar unto the Lord.' Thus did Isaac when
he received the promise of the seed ; thus did Jacob
when delivered from the fear of Esau ; thus, too, in
acknowledgment of the good things they acquired,
they called these things gifts of God ; as Joseph called
his sons, and as Jacob his sons and his flocks.

*' If those who sail in prosperity, would but imitate
these, and sing praises to God, they would reach the
port of safety without difficulty."

I have said that Faber did not excel in simile. I
must instance a few of his attempts at illustration of
this nature, to corroborate my statement.

In one sermon, already quoted, he speaks of persons
who begin repentance, and then soon break off from
their pious exercises, to return to their old state of
torpor and indifference, and he says they resemble
frogs, which crawl a little way out of their swamp,
but, at the least sound to alarm them, flop into their
slough again.

In another sermon, Faber rebukes those who ask
thoughtlessly in prayer, and make no use of the
blessings given them in answer, and he tells them
they are like the boys who on bonfire night go about
begging wood with the song, —


"Lieber Herz Sanct Veith,
Bescher uns ein Scheitt."

" O dear Saint Vitus,
Grant us a faggot! "

And what use do they make of the faggot when they
have it ? asks the preacher. "Why they make a fire
with it, on which they may jump, till they have
stamped it out !

And in speaking of the obedience of servants to their
masters, he says it should resemble that of the man who
is being shaved. Such a man turns his head this way, or
that way, puts his chin up, or puts it down, in obedience
to the slightest gesture and sign of the barber.

Faber is fond of quoting popular sayings and proverbs ;
some of which I give in his quaint old German : —

1. Wer sich mischt unter die Klew,
Dem fressen die Saw.

2. Ein guter ZoU
1st spardir woll.

3. Wo tein gleicher Glauben ist

Da auch tein Recht, betrawen ist.

4. Sanct Catyarein,
Schliest die Thur ein.

This is in reference to St. Katharine's day closing
the door of the Christian year.

I must find space for one story related by Faber on
New Year's Day.

A farmer once told a wise man that he was daily
becoming poorer; whereupon he received from the
wise man a casket, with the advice to take it daily into
his kitchen, his garden, his storehouse, his vineyard.


his cellar, his stable, and his field ; and then, on the
condition that the box was not opened till the year's end,
the sage promised wealth to the farmer. The husband-
man obeyed implicitly : in the kitchen he found the cook
wasting the meat, in the cellar the vats leaking, in the
fields the labourers idling, in the garden the vegetables
unhoed. All these disorders were rectified, and by the
year's end the man's fortune was doubled. Then he
opened the casket, and found in it a slip of paper, on
which was written : —

" Wills du Dag dir reichlich geling
Solves taglich zu deinem Ding."

Which, Faber adds, is like the German saying, The
best soil for a field is that in the farmer's shoe.


This very popular preacher was born on the 25tli
October, 1629, at Theising, in Bohemia. He entered
the novitiate of the Jesuit order in 1645, at the age of
sixteen. He spent his early life in different colleges,
but finally he ascertained that his vocation was to be a
preacher, and thenceforth he devoted his time and ener-
gies to the composition of sermons. He preached most
frequently at Sternberg, in Moravia, and at Glogau, in
Silesia. He died at Eger on the 9th March, 1682,
aged fifty-three. The greater part of his works were
published after his decease.

1. E. P. Philippi Hartung, Concio tergemina rustica,
civica, aulica, in Dominicas ; Colon., 1680, 4to., 2 vols. ;
Egr®, 1686, fol. ; Colon., 1709, 4to. ; Norimbergae, 1718,
fol. Conciones tergeminse in Festa; Norimbergae, 1711,
4to. Ibid., 1718, fol., 2 vols.

2. PhiHppicae sive Invectivao LX. in Notorios Pecca-
tores. Pro singulis to tins anni Dominicis. ^grae, 1687,
fol.; Calissii, 1688, 4to. ; Augustas et Dilinga^, 1695,


• 3. Problemata Evangelica ; Egroe, 1689, fol. ; Au-
gustse et Dilingse, 1695, 4to.

4. Heiliger Tag ; Pragi 1783, 12mo. Heiliger Tag
und gate Nacht ; Eauffbeyern, 1745, 12mo.

The sermons of Philip von Hartung are very unequal ;
some of them are polished gems, others are very rough
diamonds ; but none are without value. The preacher
had his mind stored with matter, but he was wanting
in the art of nicely digesting it, and reproducing what
fermented in his brain, in a pleasant form. At least, so
we must judge of him from his published Latin ser-
mons ; but it is quite open to question whether these
discourses were delivered as they are written. I am
rather inclined to regard them as his schemes from
which he preached, the outlines which he developed
extempore. And this I think the more probable, as the

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Online LibraryS. (Sabine) Baring-GouldPost-mediaeval preachers: some account of the most celebrated preachers of the 15th, 16th, & 17th centuries; with outlines of their sermons, and specimens of their style → online text (page 7 of 17)