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THE LIFE OF
REV. ALFRED COOKMAN;
WITH A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF HIS FATHER,
THE REV. GEORGE GRIMSTON COOKMAN.
HENRY B. RIDGAWAY, D.D.
WITH A PREFACE BY THE
REV. W. MORLEY PUNSHON, LL.D.
"Suffer me to imitate the Passion of my God. My Love is crucified; there is no fire in me
St. Ignatius yearning for Martyrdon
I HAVE been asked to write a few words by way of preface to an abridged edition of the “Life of Alfred Cookman," commending it to English readers. I comply cheerfully ; and there is a fitness in my compliance, arising out of the fact that during my residence in Canada, I had opportunities—alas! only too few-of personal acquaintance and intercourse with that holy man, and out of the further fact that Dr. Ridgaway, the accomplished biographer, who has wrought his task of love in a way which leaves nothing to be desired, allows me to call him my friend.
If I would write down my impressions of Alfred Cookman's character, I find myself at a loss, for I can scarcely convey my lofty estimate of him in sober words. I have been privileged to meet with many gifted and godly men in various lands, and in various branches of the Catholic Church. I speak advisedly when I say that I never met with one who so well realized my ideal of complete devotedness. He was a separated man, thoroughly human, free from
asceticism and censoriousness,—the extremes into which high religious life is wont, if unwatched, to stray—and yet listed above common cares and aims by the grandeur of his entire consecration. When some Pagan questioners asked a Christian of old about the religion of Jesus, and were disposed to ascribe its spread to its loftier thought and purer truth, the Christian made for answer, “We do not speak greater things, but we live."
This life, wherever it is embodied, is the highest Power. And it was felt to be so in the wide sphere in which Alfred Cookman was permitted to testify for the Master whom he loved. There are men of sterling worth who manage to hide their excellences from their fellows, living amongst men unappreciated, because they have no witness; like some bird of rare plumage, of whose beauty the world knew not until they caught the lustre which flashed from its parting wing He was not one of these. His life was a perpetual testimony that God can come down to man, and that man can be lifted up to God. impossible to doubt that “swift-like, he lived in heaven.” There were many who objected to his doctrine.
There were none within the range of his acquaintance who failed to be impressed, and few who failed to be influenced, by his life.
Neither apology nor introduction are needed for the issue of this book. There are some lives of