[p6] The Church is, among many other things, a guardian of the traditions and social history of the country, its buildings, its monuments, its Churchyards, are histories as well as sermons in stones, and the student of the past never turns to them in vain. So it is also with the written word. The ancient manuscripts and chronicles and registers which have been handed down in trust from generation to generation. In ages when few could write it fell to the clergy to preserve for the future the history of the times in which they lived. They have done so, not only in official records, but in personal letters and diaries - such as Samuel Woodforde’s Diary of a Country Parson - which carry forward the very spirit of their life and work, and hold up a mirror in which we can see the Church, and the England of former days.
Into this sequence comes the little volume of reminiscences and thoughts to which I am glad to write a Foreword. It is written by one who loves his Church and his people, and has found happiness in his work because he has looked for no other reward save that of knowing that he has tried to do God’s will. I commend it to its readers as an illustration of the standards and the difficulties of a faithful priest, and I hope that a hundred, two hundred, years hence a copy of it may fall into the hands of a sympathetic student and throw fresh light on the eventful days of the twentieth century.
Archdeacon of Canterbury.
[p7] I have the principal objects in writing these memoirs of a fairly long life
1. My deep devotion to the Ecclesia Anglicana and desire to testify to its vitality and usefulness in a world that needs so much spiritual help, surrounded as we are by a number of so-called Religions, most of which possess no authority from God to be a religion at all.
2. To hope that any young man, reading my experiences and the way (as I believe) God led me all along, may feel a real desire and calling for the sacred ministry, many recruits at the present day being needed. I acknowledge willingly my own limitations, but facts being better than fiction, I give the whole story of my life, not for boastfulness but to give concrete evidence how (I believe) the Holy Spirit has worked in my life and never failed me.
3. Claiming loyalty to the Church of God is not sufficient for any true Christian; he must do his best to show it in a practical form as well, Hence, towards the close of my life, I still want to be of service to the Church, and it has been my habit for a long time past to work for the Additional Curates Society voluntarily; I now endeavour to lay something of a coping-stone upon what I have been permitted to do for that great Society, the value of which is not always grasped by churchpeople.
My thanks are due to the Kent Messenger for the loan of the photograph of the bombed Church at Lynsted and to The Times for permission to reproduce Mrs. Esdaile’s article on the monument in the said Church.
Lastly, if I have written anything amiss in these pages, I am very sorry, but I would ask my patient readers to regard this story as a whole, and to forgive any errors on my part, for my one thought has been
Ad majorem Dei gloriam.
L. E. A. E.