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Including six printed and published debates, in which he conducted one side, a dozen small volumes of about one hundred pages each, with more than thirty volumes of periodicals, and the two volumes of sermons, the writer of the following discourses bas given the public some fifty volumes. These have all been pretty widely circulated in this country, and some of them in other countries. The writer has also traveled into more than half these States, besides visiting Upper Canada five times, and Lower Canada once, and been known as a preacher of the gospel more than forty years. He has never been a mere nominal preacher, nor a Sunday preacher; though for a few years stationed to preach in one place. A large portion of the time he has preached almost every day, and much of the time day and night, and in the meantime keeping up his writing, which will account for the seeming carelessness in a literary point of view, as also the fact that he only occasionally had the opportunity to read his own proof.
The assemblies that have heard him, from time to time, have generally been large, and the number that have united with the Church under his personal appeals hus been largely over ten thousand. It may be that one-half of these still live, and many of them will read with great satis. faction and profit the following discourses, and recognize in some of them the same line of thought, traced in their hearing, and the same arguments, and be greatly refreshed in reading them. Thousands of others, who attended the meetings where this work has been done, in the Church and out of it, will be delighted and profited in tracing the trains of thought they can recollect, when they heard the extemporaneous speaker. Many more, who have long read after the writer of these sermons, but never seen his face, will take pleasure in reading them. Many preachers and private members, from considerations like the foregoing, have urged that these discourses should be written out and published, that they may do service when the author shall have gone hence. To this the writer has yielded, and overworked himself to bring the work out. By the mercy of our Heavenly Father he has been spared to finish the work, and give it to the world. For this he is truly thankful.
The writer has never been troubled any with literary claims and pretensions, and, therefore, has nothing at stake in that market. He is a candidate for no literary distinction, honor or position. His aim and
heart's desire have been the same as when in conversation with a friend, in the private circle, or in the audience in a public discourse—to convince the people of the truth, to turn them from the world to the Lord, and guide the saints in the way everlasting. He has aimed to talk to the reader in the most familiar, plain and pointed manner; to address his intelligence, his understanding, his reason; to convince him of the truth, to impress it on his mind, enforce it, and persuade him to accept it, in view of the salvation of his soul. He bas adopted the plainest terms he could command, the easiest style to be understood, and the most forcible lan. guage,
It appears hardly justifiable to apologize, or ask any leniency in presenting a volume like this; but it must, nevertheless, be done. The writer was compelled to look every week to the columns of a weekly sheet, where he was expected to fill from four to six columns, examine and select from correspondents, write numerous letters, and preach once or twice every day. In the midst of all this, away from home, in talking companies free quently, beginning last July two years ago, this volume has been produced. If there should, then, appear carelessness in the style, want of attention to minor matters, the reader will ascribe it to the causes mentioned above. In this respect leniency is entreated.
As it respects doctrine, no leniency is asked. If error is found when the writer, or the preacher, is taken in the true sense, or, as he intended, let the critics come, and let the expose be most rigid. There can be no compromise with error- - false teaching must be exposed. Nor is there any use to be particular about the spirit—let error be exposed. True good men, even in exposing error, write in a good spirit; but it is prefer. able that error be exposed, though the spirit be not of the best kind. The impression made by false teaching is false, and should not be permitted to
If there is an erroneous principle inculcated, an argument attempted that is not fair and scriptural, in the following discourses, the author is not aware of it, and would be thankful to have it soon pointed out. No matter how good the intentions of any man, a false principle, an unfair or an unscriptural argument is always damaging. Truth needs no such support.
Not one of the following discourses was ever written till prepared for this volume Not one of them was ever delivered, word for word, as here
presented-not one of them was ever memorized. The author could not now repeat a single paragraph in the volume word for word. For thirty years he has never prepared a note for preaching, and only occasionally stopped to read from the Bible or any book. His speaking has been purely extemporaneous. In the greater portion of the following discourses, those accustomed to hear the author will readily recognize trains of thought so near like what they have heard, that they would not know, from memory, that they had not been reported by a stenographer. They have been written, as far as possible, so as to read as they were delivered -to have the same freshness, directness and force; the same life, animation and spirit. This will be more agreeable to those who have heard the author, and, at the same time, give those who never heard him a better idea of his preaching, and certainly detract nothing from the merits of the volume.
Some of these themes the author has many times traced, in oral discourses, much the same as they are written; and much of the matter, indeed, the greater portion of the matter, in one way or other, has been uttered in public discourses. But several of the themes were never discoursed upon by him as distinct themes, and have never appeared in any form publicly before. True, the matters in them have been referred to, in one way or otber, in public discourses, but not selected and discoursed upon as distinct themes. This is true of the discourse on dancing, as also the discourse on instrumental music in worship. The same is true of several other themes. Still, in one form or other, in the numerous discourses he has preached, in the different parts of the country, almost everything in the discourses has come up in some shape, and much of it many times.
The constant aim in these sermons has been to make a book for the people. The author speaks to the people and writes to the people; he claims to be one of the people, and not above them, but in common with those of them who learn of our Lord and his inspired apostles. He has tried to keep in view the fact that it is not great learning the people need to make them Christians, great knowledge in the arts and sciences to make them wise to salvation, a great understanding of the ciyil affairs of the country—though the religion of Christ is in the way of none of these --but great faith. We, in our day, are great in almost everything except faith. We are not great in faith, but small in faith-mere pigmies in
faith. What does it amount to for a man to be great in languages, in the sciences, history, politics, commerce, finance, but little in faith? We have many great men in this world, but little men in faith.
Whatever else the reader may do, after reading the following pages, it is most devoutly hoped that he may not become less in faith; it is most confidently hoped that it may be regarded as a book of faith--a product of faith—the offspring of faith. These discourses have convinced many, or the various arguments in them, as they have been presented by the author, in one form or other, in his past labors, and strengthened many others. Many are the assurances he has received from those at one time without faith, of their being fully settled in the enjoyment, the comfort and full assurance of faith. Many of these have remained under the same gracious power of faith till they bade adieu to this world, and with firm grasp laid hold on the world to come. The hope is now entertained that this volume will go on its mission, and continue to do its work, of extending the faith of Christ, long after the pen that traces these lines will cease to move any more forever.
The Bible is the book for us all. It begins its history "in the beginning,” and ends it not with this world, nor with time, but with the eternity_in the new heavens and the new earth. It terminates not the hope of man with death, but opens a “house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" It stops not at the cold grave, but lifts up the soul and looks away to the time when the King shall come with power and great glory, and God shall summon the dead to arise and come to judgment; and when he shall utter the gracious plaudit : “ Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the ages ;” and invite them, as follows: "Enter you into the joys of your Lord.” May we all be prepared to stand before him in that day! March 30, 1877.