by Archibald Alexander
SEVERAL years have elapsed since the author promised to a few friends, that, if life and health should be continued, he would endeavour to prepare a volume of sermons on practical subjects, to be circulated by the Presbyterian Board of Publication. Incessant occupation in professional duties, occasioned the postponement of the fulfilment of this promise from time to time; until recently, when he was informed that the Board of Publication were desirous to put such a volume into circulation; especially for the benefit of families who were deprived of the opportunity of attending on the preaching of the gospel.
At first it occurred to him, that for the purposes of the Board, such a volume had better be composed of a collection of sermons contributed by different ministers of our church. But upon reflection, he was persuaded that it would be found difficult to get the proper persons to furnish discourses on the topics which might be prescribed. And he has observed, that when the sermons of several persons are included in the same volume, there is a disposition in many readers to make invidious comparisons between the authors; and while some discourses are highly valued, others are neglected. Upon the whole, it seems best that every author should make his own book; and to obtain a desirable variety, more volumes of sermons than one should be put into circulation.
The author being aware that books of sermons are not in as much demand as publications of another kind, would not have consented that the Board of Publication should run the risk of an edition of this volume; but this objection was obviated by the generous proposal of the friends referred to above, to bear the whole expense of stereotyping the work.
In considering what subjects ought to be treated in such a volume, it struck the writer forcibly, that besides the usual evangelical topics, the duties arising out of the several domestic relations should have a place in a work intended especially for the use of families. And in pursuance of this idea, he commenced the preparation of sermons on the duties of husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants; but he had not proceeded far, until he found that to do justice to this subject would require a volume by itself; and such a volume he is of opinion is a real desideratum in our church. If the author were not so far advanced in years, as to render the undertaking new works presumptuous, he might make an attempt to supply the want which exists. But he feels that he must shortly relinquish, not only his pen, but all earthly labours; and, therefore, he leaves this work to be performed by some other person.
As to the character of the sermons now presented to the public, the reader must judge for himself; but the author would inform him that he must not look for any abstruse disquisitions, eloquent descriptions, or startling novelties in this volume. The sermons contain what the author believes to be evangelical truth, in the exhibition of which, his aim has been to render the gospel perspicuous to persons of common understanding. He has, therefore, adopted a style as plain and simple as he could. The sermons are short, and on an average, may be read in fifteen or twenty minutes. And as this is probably the author's last literary work, it is his earnest desire and prayer, that it may be useful in promoting evangelical and experimental religion when his head shall lie beneath the clods of the valley! He invites other Christians to unite with him in this prayer, for the success of the volume now given to the Christian community.
There is nothing in these sermons which will be found offensive to the lovers of evangelical truth in other denominations. The author, in a long life, has found that real Christians agree much more perfectly in experimental religion, than they do in speculative points; and it is his belief, that a more intimate acquaintance among Christians of different denominations would have a happy tendency to unite them more closely in the bonds of brotherly love. May the time soon come when all the disciples of Christ shall form one great brotherhood under the name of CHRISTIANS!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SERMON I.—Obedience to Christ gives Assurance of the Truth of his Doctrines. John 7:17
SERMON II.—The Knowledge of Sin by the Law. Rom. 3:20
SERMON III.—The First and Greatest Commandment. Mark 12:29, 30
SERMON IV.—The Second like unto the First. Mark 12:31
SERMON V.—The Name Jesus. Matt. 1:21
SERMON VI.—The Incarnation. Luke 2:13, 14
SERMON VII.—Christ's Gift of Himself for our Redemption. Titus 2:14
SERMON VIII.—The New Creation. Gal. 6:15
SERMON IX.—Repentance and Forgiveness the Gift of our exalted Saviour. Acts 5:31
SERMON X.—Receiving Christ by Faith. John 1:12
SERMON XI.—Privileges of the Sons of God. John 1:12, 13
SERMON XII.—Deceitfulness of the Heart. Jer. 17:9
SERMON XIII.—Wickedness of the Heart. Jer. 17:9
SERMON XIV.—Christ our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. 1 Cor. 1:30
SERMON XV.—The one Thing needful. Luke 10:42
SERMON XVI.—The Love of Christ. Ephes. 5:2
SERMON XVII.—Love to Christ. John 21:17
SERMON XVIII.—Keeping alive the Love of God. Jude 21
SERMON XIX.—Strength Renewed by Waiting on the Lord. Isa. 40:31
SERMON XX.—The true Israelite. John 1:47
SERMON XXI.—God to be glorified by those bought with a Price. 1 Cor. 6:19, 20
SERMON XXII.—The Way in which God leads his People. Isa. 42:16
SERMON XXIII.—Not slothful, but Followers of the Saints by Faith. Heb. 6:12
SERMON XXIV.—Christ the Believer's Refuge and Consolation. Heb. 6:18
SERMON XXV.—Returning to our first Love. Rev. 2:4, 5
SERMON XXVI.—The Blessedness of trusting in God. Psa. 2:12
SERMON XXVII.—Faith's Victory over the World. 1 John 5:4
SERMON XXVIII.—The Benefits of Affliction. Psa. 119:71
SERMON XXIX.—Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ. Phil. 3:8
SERMON XXX.—Holding forth the Word of Life. Phil. 2:16
SERMON XXXI.—The house of God desirable. Psa. 84:1, 2
SERMON XXXII.—The Misery of impenitent Sinners. Acts 8:23
SERMON XXXIII.—Spiritual Worship. Phil. 3:3
SERMON XXXIV.—The Difficulty of knowing our Faults. Psa. 19:12
SERMON XXXV.—God's Grace sufficient. 2 Cor. 12:9
SERMON XXXVI.—The dying Martyr's Prayer. Acts 7:59
SERMON XXXVII.—Christ's gracious Invitation. Matt. 11:28