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What I have said upon the subject of prayer, will not, I am well aware, be understood and received by a certain portion of the church, and all I can say is," He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear."
I had not the most distant idea until recently, that these Lectures, in this, or any other form, would ever grow into a book: but the urgent call for their publication, in a volume, and the fact that I have had repeated assurances that the reading of them in the Evangelist, has been owned and blessed, to the quickening of individuals and churches, and has resulted in the conversion of many sinners, have led me to consent to their publication in this imperfect form.
The Reporter has succeeded, in general, in giving an outline of the Lectures, as they were delivered. His report, however, would, in general make no more than a full skeleton of what was said on the subject, at the time. In justice to the Reporter, I would say, that on reading his reports, in his paper, although there were some mistakes and misapprehensions, yet I have been surprised that, without stenography, he could so nearly report my meaning.
As for literary merit, they have none; nor do they lay claim to any. It was no part of my design to deliver elegant Lectures. They were my most familiar Friday evening discourses; and my great, and I may add my only object, was to have them understood and felt.
In correcting the Lectures for a volume, I have not had time, nor was it thought advisable to remodel them, and change the style in which they had been reported. I have, in some few instances, changed the phraseology, when a thought had been very awkwardly expressed, or when the true idea had not been given. But I have, in nearly every instance, left the sentences as they were reported, when the thought was perspicuously expressed, although the style might have been improved by emendation. They were the editor's reports, and as such they must go before the public; with such little additions and alterations, as I have had time to make. Could I have written them out in full, I doubt not but they might have been more acceptable to many readers. But this was impossible, and the only alternative was, to let the public have them as they are, or refuse to let them go out in the form of a volume at all. I am sorry they are not better Lectures, and in a more attracting form; but I have done what I could under the circumstances; and, as it is the wish of many whom I love, and delight to please and honour, to have them, although in this imperfect form, they must have them.
C. G. FINNEY.
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE REPORTER.
THE work of reporting these Lectures was undertaken for the purpose of increasing the interest and usefulness of the New-York Evangelist. The Reporter is wholly unacquainted with short hand, and has, therefore, only aimed to give a sketch of the leading thoughts of the Discourse. It is hardly necessary to mention, that Mr. Finney never writes his sermons; but guides his course of argument by a skeleton, or brief, carefully prepared, and so compact, that it can be written on one side of a card, about half as large as one of these printed pages. His manner is direct, and his language colloquial and Saxon, and his illustrations are drawn from the commonest incidents and maxims of life. The Reporter has aimed to preserve, as much as he could, the style of the speaker, and is thought to have been in some degree successful. If, in any cases, by letting his language run in a colloquial strain, he made the copy more simple and homely than the original, he hopes to be pardoned easily for a fault by no means prevalent.
If any one should attempt to criticise the style of these Reports, he will assuredly lose his labour; for the only ambition of the Reporter has been, to make such a use of language as should fully convey the meaning, and fairly exhibit the manner of the Lecturer. When words have done this, they have done their great work. The notes were taken with a pencil, and transcribed in great haste, and sent to the printer without revision. In preparing them for republication, in this form, Mr. Finney has reviewed them, with reference only to this point-the correct expression of the sentiment. The style of an off-hand sketch has been preserved, partly of choice, and partly from necessity. There was no time to remodel the work, and the public voice seemed to be, that it was more
attractive, and more useful, in its present condensed form. Mr. Finney has therefore done little more than to amend where the Reporter misapprehended the meaning, or did not express it with sufficient distinctness. He has enlarged in a few places where the illustrations, as given by the Reporter, seemed to be incomplete.
My labour with these Sketches is now done; and its results are sent forth in this permanent form, with the prayer, that God would employ the book, as he has already done the newspaper edition, to rouse, and teach, and strengthen his people, and to guide, unite, and encourage zealous Christians of all classes, in the great duty of saving sinners.
New-York, April, 1835.