The following discourses were delivered in the Broadway Tabernacle on the Sunday evenings between January first and Easter of the winters of 1907 and 1908, twelve of them in the former year and fourteen of them in the latter. They are simple studies in the character of Jesus, the twofold purpose of the preacher being to incite professing Christians to a deeper devotion to their Master, and to awaken in non-Christians a desire to know more of the founder of the Christian church, and to persuade them to become his followers. The congregations were composed largely of young men, not a few of them being students.
It is in response to numerous requests of these young men that the sermons are now published. No preacher speaks entirely as he writes, or writes altogether as he speaks. The sermons have been allowed to retain for the most part the unstudied form of extemporaneous discourse, not even the repetitions being eliminated, which are inevitable in a course of sermons addressed to a congregation changing from week to week. Questions of authorship and text were all left untouched, as having but slight interest for a majority of those who heard the sermons.
After a study of a considerable portion of the voluminous New Testament criticism of the last thirty years, the preacher has no hesitation in asserting his conviction that the Gospels give us credible history, and that they, while not inerrant, present us a portrait of Jesus sufficiently accurate to do the work which God intends it shall do. In spite of all that has been written to the contrary, the preacher has found no solid reason for thinking that the reliable passages in the Gospels are few, or that the portrait is a work of imagination inspired and colored by affection. The men who wrote the Gospels are in his judgment more trust-worthy than any of the men who have endeavored to discredit them.
The two opening sermons were preached, one at the beginning of 1907, the other at the beginning of 1908.