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THE Lectures contained in this Volume were composed in the winter of 1829-30; and delivered, during the same period, on successive Sunday mornings, from the pulpit of Ascension Church, New York. The writer has been led to believe, that they might be found useful beyond the limited sphere of his own parochial cure; and the reasons which have induced him to offer them to the public, he would, in a few words, state.
Notwithstanding the great variety of books in existence, designed for religious family reading, it will, perhaps, be allowed, that more are yet to be desired. The object contemplated in such works is one of so useful a character, as to justify constant
additions to the number of those already in circulation. In one particular respect, the following pages may possibly be found convenient for domestic use. It is the custom with many, on the recurring occasions of Sunday evening family worship, to take advantage of the greater leisure then enjoyed, by adding to the ordinary quantity of scriptural reading. In committing these Lectures to the press, no addition has been made to their original length, as delivered from the pulpit by their brevity, therefore, they avoid a danger which should always be carefully guarded against,—that of fatiguing, instead of interesting, the assembled domestic circle; and thus defeating the grand object of spiritual edification.
Whatever may be thought, however, of the suitableness of the present Volume to occasions like those referred to, the author has thought that he might serve the cause of Christ, by placing in the hands of the members of families a work, devoted to the practical illustration of the word of God. In this age of wild speculation on religious subjects, every attempt to lead the mind to that pure and
undefiled fountain of truth, which is contained in the Bible, seems, whatever may be its merits in other respects, to be of itself a commendable endeavor. As the object proposed, in the first delivery of these Lectures, was general usefulness, and as they are now published with the same design, the reader will find the present work to be wholly of a practical character. Criticism is made use of no further than was absolutely necessary, for the purpose of elucidating phraseology, or of unfolding the beauties of a passage in a more impressive aspect to the mind.
In regard to that particular portion of Scripture, which forms the subject of these explanatory Lectures, it seems hardly necessary to speak. For tenderness, simplicity, and beauty, the Epistle to the Philippians stands preeminent. But, besides this, in the course of the four Chapters of which it is composed, it affords, to him who is illustrating it, an opportunity of enforcing not only all the fundamental points of Christian faith, but also a great variety of precepts in relation to a believer's daily practice.
While the writer is most ardently attached to that branch of the Church of Christ, with which he accounts it his happiness and privilege to be united, he believes, at the same time, that nothing will be found in the present Volume, to which all cannot cordially subscribe, who "love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." He has kept constantly in view those distinguishing features of practical and experimental religion, in which all Christians agree; and has thus rendered his work suitable for general circulation.
He can only, in conclusion, commend this humble attempt to advance the Redeemer's kingdom, to the blessing of that divine Master, whom he has been called to serve in the ministry of the gospel.
New York, May, 1833.