By Horace Bushnell
THE subject of this volume is one of the highest, in the order of consequence, both as respects the welfare of religion and of human society. No apology therefore is needed, for the giving to the public of any thing concerning it, which is honestly meant, and thoughtfully prepared.
I should have preferred, on some accounts, to write a proper treatise on the subject--which this volume is not. The shape it has taken will be sufficiently explained, by the facts and considerations, that have been determining causes, in the process of its construction. Thirteen years ago I was drawn, by solicitation from others, into the publication of two discourses, the first two of this volume, under the title Christian Nurture. Afterwards, these were republished with another, the fourth of the present volume, and with other articles variously related, under the same title. These publications have been out of print for some years; for I have preferred the discontinuance of publication, till I might be able to present the subject in a more adequate and complete manner. The present volume is the result.
In preparing it, I could not easily consent to lay aside, or pass into oblivion, the two discourses above referred to; for, under the fortune that befel them, they had become a little historical. In this fuller treatment of the subject therefore, I have allowed them to stand, requiring the additions made, to take their shape or type. Thirteen new essays, in the form of discourses, though never used as such, but written simply for the discussion's sake, are thus added; and the volume, which virtually covers the ground of a treatise, takes the form of successive topical discussions, or essays, on so many themes included in the general subject.
I need offer no apology for retaining the old title, in a volume that is virtually new; or for reasserting, with more emphasis and deliberation, after an interval of years, what the years have only established and made firm in my Christian convictions.