While Wesley had originally intended to publish a three-volume series, he went on to add a fourth. He desired to reach a larger audience with these printed works than he could with his daily sermons in person, and there was also a particular demand for them. The four books are comprised of approximately 44 sermons and are contained in volume I of this printing. In 1746, he had published the first book of this projected work, entitled Sermons on Several Occasions. He later went on to add another nine sermons to the series. The subsequent books were released in 1748, 1750, and 1760, respectively. It is important to note that these are by no means the whole of Wesley's written sermons; they were merely selected by him for the Christian reader as a kind of standard for his belief of many of the principal points of Christian doctrine, and have since become known as the standard sermons.
In his preface to volume I, Wesley himself wrote, "I have accordingly set down in the following sermons what I find in the Bible concerning the way to heaven; with a view to distinguish this way of God from all those which are the inventions of men. I have endeavored to describe the true, the scriptural, experimental religion, so as to omit nothing which is a real part thereof, and to add nothing thereto which is not." (Sermons on Several Occasions, Volume I, Preface)
For fifty years, Wesley had also written numerous sermons and published them in local magazines, many of which were printed in cities across England such as London, Bristol, Dublin, and Newcastle upon Tyne. With these sermons being placed in the hands of so many printers, it was inevitable that they would be printed in a combined publication, which was often the case. Because of this, in his advancing age, Wesley decided that he should undertake a reprinting of all of his works, enabling him to revise all of his works carefully and also to correct any errors that had arisen.
In his collected works he elected to print his sermons, commentaries, notes, journals, and more, producing an impressive thirty-two duodecimo volumes, the first being published in 1771 and the last in 1774. In the set of sermons that comprised those of the "model deed" included nine additional lectures that were not previously published, bringing the total to 53. These 53 lectures have are in the first volume of this series.