I have published this little volume very much in self-defence. Some years ago I delivered a lecture on "Eccentric Preachers," and a reporter's notes of it were published in one of the newspapers. These, like all such things, were mere pickings and cuttings, and by no means the lecture itself. Gentlemen of the press have an eye to the amusement of their readers, and make selections of all the remarkable anecdotes, or odd sayings, used by a speaker, and when these are separated from their surroundings the result is anything but satisfactory. No man's speeches or lectures should be judged of by an ordinary newspaper summary, which in any case is a mere sketch, and in many instances is a vile caricature.
I thought no more of my lecture till the other day I found the mere rags and bones of the reporter set forth in America as an address by myself, worthy to be bound up with my book upon "Commenting and Commentaries." Those notes were all very well for a newspaper, but I altogether disown them as my production. It amazes me that the American editor should not have corrected the more obvious mistakes of the reporter, such as calling Peter Cartwright, Peter Garrett, and Lady Ann Askew Lady Askayne. Peter Cartwright was an American backwoods preacher, and his name should have been familiar to the American editor, but some publishers are so intent upon getting out their books that they cannot afford time for correction.
Finding that I had by me the whole of the mutilated lecture, I thought of printing it, to show what I had really spoken; but upon looking it over, I judged it to be better to expand it and make it into a small book. I hope the reader will not be a loser by my resolution.
I desire by this little volume to plead against the carping spirit which makes a man an offender for a word, and the lying spirit which scatters falsehood right and left, to the injury and grief of the most zealous of my Master's servants. Many hearers lose much blessing through criticizing too much, and meditating too little; and many more incur great sin by calumniating those who live for the good of others. True pastors have enough of care and travail without being burdened by undeserved and useless fault-finding. We have something better to do than to be for ever answering every malignant or frivolous slander which is set afloat to injure us. We expected to prove our ministry "by evil report and by good report," and we are not therefore overwhelmed by abuse as though some new thing had happened unto us; and yet there are tender, loving spirits who feel the trial very keenly, and are sadly hindered in brave service by cruel assaults. The rougher and stronger among us laugh at those who ridicule us, but upon others the effect is very sorrowful. For their sakes are these pages written; may they be a warning to wanton witlings who defame the servants of the Most High God.
As ministers we are very far from being perfect, but many of us are doing our best, and we are grieved that the minds of our people should be more directed to our personal imperfections than to our divine message. God has purposely put his treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power should be ascribed tob himself alone: we beseech our hearers not to be so occupied with the faults of the casket as to forget the jewel. Wisdom is justified of her children, and grace works by such instruments as it pleases. Reader, be it yours to profit by all my Master's servants, and even by