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Sermons Of The Rev. Francis A. Baker With A Memoir Of His Life

Sermons Of The Rev. Francis A. Baker
With A Memoir Of His Life
Title: Sermons Of The Rev. Francis A. Baker With A Memoir Of His Life
Release Date: 2019-02-03
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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[Transcriber's Notes: This production was derived from

Rev. Francis A. Baker


Sermons Of The
Rev. Francis A. Baker,

Priest Of The Congregation Of St. Paul.

With A Memoir Of His Life


Rev. A. F. Hewit.

Fourth Edition.

New York:
Lawrence Kehoe, 145 Nassau Street.


Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 1865

By A. F. Hewit,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.



In offering the Memoir and Sermons of this volume to the friendsof F. Baker, and to the public, propriety requires of me a fewwords of explanation. The number of those who have been more orless interested in the events touched upon in the sketch of hislife and labors is very great, and composed of many differentclasses of persons in various places, and of more than onereligious communion. I cannot suppose that all of them will readthese pages, but it is likely that many will; and therefore aword is due to those who are more particularly interested, aswell as to the general class of readers. I have to ask theindulgence of all my readers for having interwoven so much of myown history and my own reflections on the topics and events ofthe period included within the limits of the narrative. They havewoven themselves in spontaneously, without any intention on mypart, and on account of the close connexion between myself andthe one whose career I have been describing; and I have beenunable to unravel them from the texture of the narrative withoutbreaking its threads.


I have simply transferred to paper that picture of the past, longforgotten amid the occupations of an active life, which came upagain, unbidden and with great vividness, before the eye ofmemory, during the hours while the remains of my brother anddearest friend lay robed in violet, waiting for the last solemnrites of the requiem to be fulfilled. If I have succeeded, Icannot but think that the picture will have something of the sameinterest for others that it has for myself. Those who knew andloved the original, will, I hope, prize it for his sake; andtheir own recollections will diffuse the coloring and animationof life over that which in itself is but a pale and indistinctsketch. For their sakes chiefly I have prepared it, so far as themere personal motive of perpetuating the memory of a revered andbeloved individual is concerned. But I have had a higher motiveas my chief reason for undertaking the task: a desire to promotethe glory of God, by preserving and extending the memory of thegraces and virtues with which He adorned one of His most faithfulchildren. I have wished to place before the world the example ofone of the most signal conversions to the Catholic faith whichhas taken place in our country, as a lesson to all to imitate thepure and disinterested devotion to truth and conscience which itpresents to them.

Let me not be misunderstood. I do not present the example of hisconversion, or that of the great number of persons of similarcharacter who have embraced the Catholic religion, as a proofsufficient by itself of the truth of that religion.{5}I propose it as a specimen of many instances in which the powerof the Catholic religion to draw intelligent minds and uprighthearts to itself, and to inspire them with a pure and noblespirit of self-sacrifice in the cause of God and humanity, isexhibited. This is surely a sufficient motive for examiningcarefully the reasons and evidences on which their submission tothe Church was grounded; and an incentive to seek for the truth,with an equally sincere intention to embrace it, at whatever costor struggle it may demand.

It may appear to the casual reader that I have drawn in thisnarrative an ideal portrait which exaggerates the reality. I donot think I have done so; and I believe the most competent judgeswill attest my strict fidelity to the truth of nature. If I haverepresented my subject as a most perfect and beautiful character,the model of a man, a Christian, and a priest of God, I have notexceeded the sober judgment of the most impartial witnesses. AProtestant Episcopal clergyman, of remarkable honesty andgenerosity of nature, said of him to a Catholic friend: "You haveone perfect man among your converts." Another, a Catholicclergyman, whose coolness of judgment and reticence of praise areremarkable traits in his character, said, on hearing of hisdecease: "The best priest in New York is dead." I have no doubtthat more than one would have been willing to give their ownlives in place of his, if he could have been saved by thesacrifice.

In narrating events connected with F. Baker's varied career, Ihave simply related those things of which I have had eitherpersonal knowledge, or the evidence furnished by his owncorrespondence with a very dear friend, aided by the informationwhich that friend has furnished me.{6}I have to thank this very kind and valued friend, the Rev. DwightE. Lyman, for the aid he has given me in this way, which hasincreased so much the completeness and interest of the Memoir. Iam also indebted to another, still dearer to the departed, forinformation concerning his early history and family.

I trust that those readers who are not members of the Catholiccommunion, especially such as have been the friends of thesubject and the author of this memoir, will find nothing here tojar unnecessarily upon their sentiments and feelings. Fidelity tothe deceased has required me not to conceal his conviction of theexclusive truth and authority of the doctrine and communion ofthe holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church. The same fidelitywould prevent me, if my own principles did not do so, from mixingup with religious questions any thing savoring of personalarrogance, or directed to the vindication of private feelings,and retaliation upon individuals with whom religious conflictshave brought us into collision. I wish those who still retaintheir friendship for the dead, and whose minds will recur withinterest to scenes of this narrative, in which they wereconcerned with him, to be assured of that lasting sentiment ofregard which he carried with him to the grave, and which survivesin the heart of the writer of these lines.


In the history of F. Baker's missionary career, I have endeavoredto select from the materials on hand such portions of the detailsof particular missions as would make the nature of the work inwhich he was engaged intelligible to all classes of readers,without making the narrative too tedious and monotonous. I havewished to present all the diverse aspects and all the salientpoints of his missionary life, and to give as varied andmiscellaneous a collection of specimens from its records aspossible. From the necessity of the case, only a small number ofmissions could be particularly noticed. Those which have beenpassed by have not been slighted, however, as less worthy ofnotice than the others, but omitted from the necessity ofselecting those most convenient for illustration of the theme inhand. The statistics given, in regard to numbers, etc., in thehistory of our missions, have all been taken from recordscarefully made at the time, and based on an exact enumeration ofthe communions given. I trust this volume will renew and keepalive in the minds of those who took part in these holy scenes,and who hung on the lips of the eloquent preacher of God's wordwhose life and doctrine are contained in it, the memory of theholy lessons of teaching and example by which he sought to leadthem to heaven.

Of the sermons contained in this volume, seventeen have beenreprinted from the four volumes of "Sermons by the Paulists,1861-64;" and twelve published from MSS. Four of these aremission sermons, selected from the complete series, as the mostsuitable specimens of this species of discourse. The others areparochial sermons, preached in the parish church of St. Paul theApostle, New York.{8}There still remain a considerable number of sermons, more or lesscomplete; but the confused and illegible state in which F. Bakerleft his MSS. has made the task of reading and copying them verylaborious, and prevented any larger number from being preparedfor publication at the present time. I leave these Sermons, withthe Memoir of their author, to find their own way to those mindsand hearts which are prepared to receive them, and to do the goodfor which they are destined by the providence of God. May we allhave the grace to imitate that high standard of Christian virtuewhich they set before us, as true disciples of Jesus Christ ourLord!

A. F. H.

St. Paul's Church, Fifty-ninth Street,
Advent, 1865.



Memoir 13
I. The Necessity of Salvation
(Mission Sermon)
II. Mortal Sin
(Mission Sermon)
III. The Particular Judgement
(Mission Sermon)
IV. Heaven (Mission Sermon) 252
V. The Duty of Growing in Christian Knowledge
(First Sunday in Advent)
VI. The Mission of St. John the Baptist
(Second Sunday in Advent)
VII. God's Desire to be Loved
(Christmas Day)
VIII. The Failure and Success of the Gospel
IX. The Work of Life
X. The Church's Admonition to the Individual Soul
XI. The Negligent Christian
(Third Sunday in Lent)
XII. The Cross, the Measure of Sin
(Passion Sunday)
XIII. Divine Calls and Warnings
XIV. The Tomb of Christ, the School of Comfort
(Easter Sunday)
XV. St. Mary Magdalene at the Sepulchre
(Easter Sunday)
XVI. The Preacher, the Organ of the Holy Ghost
(Fourth Sunday after Easter)
XVII. The Two Wills in Man
(Fourth Sunday after Easter)
XVIII.The Intercession
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