THE following Lectures were prepared in the early part of last year, and were delivered at St. Paul's Chapel during the Lenten season of 1863. They were preached, for the second time, in Trinity Chapel, during the past winter, at the request of a large number of the members of our parish. After that, the Vestry of Trinity Church expressed, by a resolution to that effect, the wish that they should be published. This desire could not be acceded to without embarrassment; for the lectures were written without reference to publication, and the author, while aware of the character and extent of their imperfections, knew also that he had no time to make them what he would have them, and that they must go forth as they were, or not at all. But the hope that they might do good outweighed the fear of criticism, while the author felt that the known difficulties of his position would establish his claim to favorable indulgence. It is our misfortune, in this country, that we have no body of clerks sequestered for careful and holy studies in defence of the faith; no cloistered band whose only work it should be to read and write and pray, and thereby sustain the active laborers in the open field. Till this defect be mended, the out-door workers must be also the writers, notwithstanding all the disadvantages of their situation. But while it is so, they should be treated with allowance, and judged not so much in respect to the manner in which they accomplish their tasks, as with reference to the object and end proposed. The priests of the Church, in the full exercise of their functions, can hardly be expected to have time to write at all; much less can it be thought that they should be able to write with careful and polished style, and with the finish and refinement which come of leisure for practice and discipline. But reputation is the last object which we may propose to ourselves who have upon us, day by day, the care of the souls of sinners: only to the good of those souls may we look, and to the glory of Almighty God. Enough if the former of these ends be secured, and the latter in any degree promoted; the writer will cheerfully bear the reproach of those who may read, not to grow better and wiser, but to find occasions against the theme in the shortcomings of him who handles it. What has been written and preached, and is now given to the public, was so prepared and spoken solely with the view of stating the truth concerning the Almighty. May He accept the work done unto His honor; and may He forgive the weakness of His servant, and bring, as He ever does, spiritual strength out of mortal infirmity. Unto Him be glory everlastingly. Amen.
New York, May 23, 1864.