Edwin Gaustad, the author, is describing the setting into which Holmes was born. He recounts the martyrdom of John Bradford who had pastored in Stockport, the village nearest Holmes’ birthplace. Five months before he was burned at the stake, Bradford wrote his parishioners from prison with a powerful exhortation including these words:
Oh! forget not how the Lord hath showed himself true, and me his true preacher, by bringing to pass these plagues which at my mouth you oft heard me preach of before they came: specially when I treated of Noah’s flood and when I preached of the 23rd chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel on St. Stephen’s day, the last time that I was with you … you have been warned, and warned again, by me in preaching, by me in burning.” (p. 6; emphasis added)
This sort of pastoral exhortation and example is powerful. No trite truisms, or bland clichés here.