On the first Sunday in the year 1903, a few friends were sitting round the fire after supper talking, as preachers will, of sermons and the work of God. The conversation was very frank and brotherly, and turned finally upon my own work. My friends reproached me for ignoring their oft-repeated entreaties that I would publish a volume of sermons. I replied that it had been a fixed rule of my life to regard an open door as an essential element in a call, and for this I had no call. Then I was asked what I would regard as a call of God. I answered at once and without much thought, “An unsolicited request from Hodder and Stoughton.” The subject dropped, as the condition was thought unreasonable. Within twenty-four hours the request came. No one had communicated with the publishers; and there was only one answer possible.
The sermons selected were preached from notes as a series in the regular course of my ministry; and afterwards at the Southport Convention, and the Northfield Conference. That explains some omissions and some repetitions. An underlying unity runs through the series, yet each sermon had to be practically complete in itself.
It is impossible to make adequate acknowledgment of the sources of my indebtedness. I am sure there is nothing in these pages I have not received. Through an exceptionally busy life I have striven to give attention to reading, and what I have read has passed into the fibre and substance of my work. If I have unconsciously wronged any who have been my helpers and teachers, I shall be sorry to have given so blundering an expression to my appreciation and thanks.
I send forth these sermons deeply conscious of their limitations and imperfections. Two things comfort me—a sentence I read many years ago, “A sharp spear needs no polish”; and the fact that every one of these sermons has been blessed of God to many souls. My only prayer concerning them is, that they may be blessed in print as they were blessed in speech, and that Christ’s Name may be glorified.