Preface to Volume 4, Psalms 79-103
The work of compiling notes from this volume may be judged from the fact that I wrote a brilliant teacher for some assistance in my research on Psalm 103. I received the following note. "I have hunted through my books and was surprised to find that with the exception of what is universally known, there is little written about Psalm 103." This most generous brother had the warmest zeal and love to investigate, yet this was the result. Using the Psalms in this volume, I repeated the experiment on other Bible scholars and received the same reply. Hence, dear reader, your patience has been tested in waiting for Volume Four of The Treasury, and my toil has correspondingly increased.
Here, however, is the volume: as thick as its predecessors, and I hope not inferior. If it is, I can honestly say that it is not the fault of my endeavors. I have withheld no energy, spared no cost, and took whatever time was necessary. Although time has been a precious commodity, it has frequently been snatched from rest that fatigue demanded and prudence might have wisely yielded. Volume Four is finished, and with it, two-thirds of my allotted task. May God be praised!
I am surprised at the general scarcity of sermons and comments on this portion of the Psalms, for it contains some of the more notable compositions, such as Psalms 84, 90, 91, 92, and 103. This section of the Psalms is so rich that, had several volumes existed illustrating any of them, it would not have been a surprise. When I found one sermon on a passage, it was generally easy to collect many; preachers run so much in ruts that they leave a large portion of the Scripture without exposition. This suggests many thoughts that will naturally occur to every thoughtful reader. I need not enlarge on it in a mere preface, but this much may be said without offense. If the habit of expounding Scripture passages that are read in public worship should ever become more common, the preparation for doing this in an interesting and instructive manner would greatly enlarge the range of texts discussed from the pulpit. It would inevitably lead people to receive more of God's word and less of man's. This would be no small benefit.
I think it right to repeat that I am not to be understood as endorsing all the passages quoted from other authors. The names are given, and each writer bears their own responsibility.
Only one word of defense will further delay the reader. A critic has so greatly mistaken my meaning that he found human vanity in the title to the sermon notes. I am amazed. I do not pretend to be entirely free from that vice, but no trace of it is discovered by my keenest and most conscientious inspection. I originally called the sermon outlines, "Hints to the Village Preacher," because I did not think they were good enough to offer my brethren in the regular ministry. I hoped that they might aid those good people who are generally, but I think incorrectly, called lay preachers, who are not supposed to have the time and the books of regular ministers. I thought this somewhat modest and did not see how it could be misunderstood. Our village ministers are among the most thoughtful and useful of our brotherhood. I never dreamed of casting a slur on them. Since I have been misunderstood, however, I will take the higher ground. I trust the hints may be useful to any preacher, in city or country. The other day, I met a most eminent metropolitan preacher, and he kindly thanked me for suggesting a hint in The Treasury for a sermon he had hoped had been most acceptable to his congregation. He remarked that there was no need to be bashful about the "Hints." So I have followed his advice and may be misunderstood again. It is a small matter to be unjustly censured, but I would not look down on preachers even in the most obscure places, for this is the last thing in my heart.
For the generous reviews the three volumes have received I am deeply grateful. I commit this fourth volume to the press, praying that it may, according to the Lord's will, build His church and His glory.