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July 26 , 2010

Old Wine and New Occasional Discourses


Dear Reader: In the preface to Pauline Charity, did not the writer promise thee that volume should be his last? Some months later, however, at the bottom of the homiletical barrel, he found a few old acquaintances, in threadbare and tattered guise, smiling reproachfully out of the dust of an undeserved oblivion. He beckoned them forth, gave them new garments, and bade them go to the printer. And lo! here they are—twenty-two of them—in comely array, with fresh-anointed locks, knocking modestly at thy door. If any of the former groups from the same family were deemed worthy of thy hospitality—if any of the twenty-two Evangelists gladdened thy soul with good tidings—if any of the twenty-two Knights-Banneret stimulated thy zeal in the holy conflict—if any of the twenty white-hooded sisters of Charity warmed thy heart with words of loving kindness—if any of the sixty seraphs, winged with sunbeams, laid upon thy lips a Coal from the Altar—if any of the twelve cherubs, fresh from the Edens of Italy, led thee through pleasant paths to goodly palaces and blooming arbors—turn not away unheard these twenty-two strangers, but welcome them graciously to the fellowship of thy house, and perchance the morrow's dawn may disclose the wings beneath their robes. But if tempted to discard them as the vagrant offspring of a senile vanity thrust out to seek their fortune in the world of letters, know thou that such temptation is of the Father of lies. For not all of these are thy patriarch's Benjamins—sons of his old age. The leader of the band is his very Reuben—the beginning of his strength. another is his lion-bannered Judah, washing his garments in the blood of grapes. In another may be recognized his long-lost Joseph, found at last in Pharaoh's chariot. And several Others, peradventure, more ancient than thy father, though bearing neither gray beard nor wrinkled brow. And the consciousness of a better ambition than vanity ever inspired prompts their commission to the public, to speak a word in season to him that is weary—to comfort the mourners in Zion, giving them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for weeping, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, and filling the vale of Bochim with songs in the night. Nay, if the mixture of metaphors be not offensive to thy fastidious rhetoric, these brethren are sent down into Egypt to procure corn for thee and thy little ones, O Reader! that ye perish not in the famine of the land. "Go to! the tropical language is misleading. We open the door to thy children, and find nothing but a hamper of Wine—twenty-two bottles—some labelled Old, and Others New
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