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some «guard' to counteract the darger: yet commonly "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This is his appointed ordinance; and general, if not universal, experience and observation shew, that vital religion has uniformly prospered, in almost exact proportion to the measure, in which the word of God, unadulterated and unmutilated, has been earnestly and publicly preached, by those persons, whose disinterested labors and holy lives have adorned the doctrine of God our Savior," which they testified.
But though oral preaching is the grand means of promoting true religion; written preaching, (if I may be allowed the expression,) has been rendered exceedingly useful. A large proportion indeed of the Scriptures themselves, were occasional epistles or messages, sent to those, whom the writers could not address by preaching; and many pious and eminent men, who died long since, still speak to us with great effect, by the books which they left behind them.-- Provided, what is written is truly scriptural, the multiplication of religious books is not more justly a cause of complaint, than the increase of faithful ministers; and false or superficial religion is, at least, as likely to be disseminated from the pulpit, as from the press.
No method of conveying truth seems more advantageous, than that of plain expository lectures on Scripture, with animated addresses to the heart and conscience. Now if this be allowedly true in respect of preaching, it cannot be far otherwise in respect of writing. When the word of God is kept in sight, and the hearer or reader perceives, that he is not amused with ingenious fancies or speculations, but instructed in the true meaning and import of the sacred oracles; an authority over his conscience may be exercised, beyond what can in any other way be obtained.
I would not be understood, to depreciate critical comments of the Scripture; these have an important use: yet practical expositions are more directly suited to edification. Indeed expositions of every kind may be perverted to bad purposes, by such persons as "wrest the Scriptures themselves to their own destruction:" but the pious, diligent, and impartial commentator is no more to be blamed for this, than the labor of the husbandman is to be considered as the cause of the intemperate use, which men make of the productions of the earth. Indeed, if expositions, really and fully explaining the Scriptures, and not attempting to exalt human authority, learning, genius, tradition, reasoning, or conjecture, above the "sure testimony” and authoritative law of God; if such expositions were multiplied ten-fold, there would be no redundance: unless some one had exhausted the subject, which in fact is inexhaustible; and unless this one comment was in every person's hands, and read by all. But as it is impossible, that all men should hear the same preacher; so it is in the highest degree improbable, that all men should read the same book.
The formation of men's minds, and their habits of thinking, are so various, that ministers of different endowments, who take diverse methods of delivering and enforcing the same truths, advantageously engage the attention of distinct descriptions of hearers. In like manner, some are suited with the style, method, and peculiarity of one writer; while others are more pleased and profited by another, whose peculiarity is very different. Every man likewise has his connexions. Some will read, with candor and attention, what he writes; who have not so favorable a disposition towards others, who may be even of superior excellence.-Thus some read one man's books, and some another's; and a few have leisure and inclination to read and profit by many of them: and so knowledge is dispersed, and it may reasonably be hoped that good is done.
There are indeed a considerable number of persons, who ayowedly disparage all commentators and their labors, and profess to read the Scriptures alone. But if knowledge, in a variety of things, be useful, (not to say absolutely needful, in order to understand the Scriptures, and to make the best application of them to practical purposes: and it these persons have not that knowledge, and despise the labors of those who have; it is not likely that they should make much proficiency, even in understanding the book to which they exclusively confine themselves. And surely, a man, who has daily, and for a long course of years been traversing an intricate path through a forest, may, without arrogance, propose to give some useful directions and cautions, to those who are beginning to explore the same path. Nor would it savor either of wisdom or humility, if such persons should contemptuously refuse to avail themselves of the experience and observation of him, who had long traced and retraced the way; and determine to proceed on their journey, without a guide, or a chart of the road.
A man's main object indeed should be, to approve himself to God and to his own conscience, as to his motives and intentions in any undertaking: yet, when so many cominents on the Scriptures are already extant; the bold undertaking of adding one more to them, may seem to require an apology. The preceding observations may properly introduce that of the Author. Experiencing the benefit and comfort, arising from that measure of acquaintance with the sacred oracles, with which he has been favored; he longs that, were it possible, all others should enjoy the same felicity; and he would contribute, according to his ability, to promote so desirable an object.
It is in no degree the design of this publication, to detract from the merit of former commentators, or to intimate that any thing will here be added, which has never before been advanced: but the Author having, for many years, made the Bible his daily and principal study; and having bestowed great pains to satisfy his own mind, as to the meaning of most parts of Scripture, and the practical use which should be made of them; and supposing also that his talent chiefly lies, in speaking plainly and intelligibly to persons of ordinary capacity and information; he adopts this method of communicating his views o. divine truth, in connexion with the Scriptures themselves, from which he has deduced them.
Some comments are far too learned for common people, and some too voluminous: while others are too compendious, to admit either any adequate explanation or application of the several subjects, which fall under consideration. Some are in very few hands, and not likely to be more generally read; and others, however excellent, are to numbers antiquated, through that fastidiousness, which disrelishes the style and manner of former and perhaps better times. Were the present attempt therefore made almost entirely upon the plan of former expositions, it would not, if duly executed, be found supernumerary. But, in arranging old truths, the Author purposes to adopt something of a new method. Not indeed entirely new: for Brown's self-interpreting Bible suggested the idea; and the improvements in Doddridge's family-expositor of the New Testament, were proposed, as, in some respects, models for imitation. He has often remarked, that some persons so confine their interpretation of Scripture, to its meaning and use, with respect of those who were immediately addressed; as to leave the reader in doubt, whether he is at all concerned in it, or can derive any instruction from it: while others, so immediately and abruptly apply to the persons whom they address, the passages which they undertake to explain and enforce; without inquiring whether they be, in character and situation, similar to those, whom the prophets and apostles taught, warned, or encouraged; that their instructions seem rather more like an immediate revelation from God, than the explanation and practical improvement of a revelation given many ages ago. As this must be unsatisfactory to men of reflection, and as it is frequently connected with inattention to the primary meaning of the passage, (if it be not a fanciful misinterpretation of it;) many are ready to conclude, that the Scriptures have no precise meaning in themselves, but may be modelled almost to any thing, by men of lively imaginations and superior ingenuity It therefore occurred to the Author, that one remedy of these evils, (if not the best reme. dy,) would be, to keep the two parts distinct: and first to explain in the notes, the primary meaning, as addressed to the writer's contemporaries; and then, in practical observations, to shew what we may learn from each passage, allowing for all difierence in circumstances, and in every other respect. It is indeed far more easy to form a plan of this kind, than duly to execute it; but this has been the purpose of the present attempt: and if some abler hand should, either in any portion of the sacred volume, or on the whole, more completely realize the idea; he cannot but think, it would be found the best method of expounding Scripture. The applications of each chapter are entitled Practical Observations; not as excluding doctrine and experience, but as referring the whole to the practical effect on the heart and life. The reader must therefore expect, that the main object of the exposition is to lead him to the true meaning of the sacred Scriptures, his own concern in them, and the proper use which he ought to make of them to his edification, and that of others connected with him; without any attempt of the Author, to give him information on a variety of subjects, at most only collaterally connected with the right understanding and use of the Scripture.
When the Author published the first edition of this work; he proposed almost entirely to comment on the translation, without calling the reader's attention to the original languages: but during a course of thirty years, in which he has been almost constantly employed in this work, or in studies relative to it; he has turned a considerable share of his attention to those languages; and has ventured to deviate from his first design. He hopes, however, that he has done this with caution and diffidence; and in very few instances, in that measure, which can perplex the unlearned reader, or interrupt his progress, or interfere with his edification. He has neither learning, nor leisure, nor inclination, to engage in merely critical discussions; and he has not gone into any investigations, concerning even chronology, history, or similar subjects, further than he thought subservient to the main design of the work.—The contents of each chapter are chiefly intended to assist the reader, in finding any subject which he wishes to consider.
Upon the whole, to store the understanding with the knowledge of divine truth, to awaken and direct the conscience, to affect and improve the heart, to promote the comfort and fruitfulness of true Christians, and to assist young students in divinity, in acquiring those endowments, which may qualify them for future usefulness, are the leading objects which the Author had in view, and which he hopes he has never lost sight of, from his first engaging in this work to the present day. He has therefore purposely avoided sharp
and eager controversy, and studied exactness and consistency; choosing rather to follow the leadings of Scripture, than to press it into the service of a pre-established system; and preferring the satisfaction of promoting the edification of persons, who differ in some things from each other, to the reputation of being exclusively the approved expositor of any party,
Whatever acceptance this work may find from man, the Author hopes to be satisfied with the testimony of his own conscience, and at length to meet the gracious approbation of his Savior and Judge: and he would conclude with entreating the reader, to join with him in praise and thanksgiving to God, who has spared and enabled him to bring this work to a conclusion and to superintend so many editions of it; and in prayers, that he would pardon all that he has seen sinful in the writer, and prevent the bad effect of whatever may be erroneous in the publication; and also render what is true and right abundantly useful, hy his special grace and blessing. To Him, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the God of our Salvation, be everlasting praise and glory. Amen.
As the Marginal References formed no part of the original plan of this publication, but have, with very great labor, been added to the subsequent editions; it may be proper here to state some particulars respecting them.
They are arranged according to the following method:-Colons are used to separate figures referring to chapters, from those referring to verses, as Gen. 17:14. refers to the fourteenth verse of the seventeenth chapter of Genesis. Sometimes chapters are referred to, without referring to particular verses, as Lev. 3: 24: 26: refers to the third, twenty-fourth, and twenty-sixth chapters of Leviticus. Commas are used to separate figures referring to verses, from each other, as Josh. 8:2,4,26,28. refers to the second, fourth, twenty-sixth, and twenty-eighth verses of the eighth chapter of Joshua. When a figure is found directly after the letter, which marks a new set of references, and not followed by a colon, it points to a verse in the same chapter; but when followed by a colon, it refers to a chapter in the same book; and afterwards, the references are made in the order of the books as they stand in the Bible. For example, the reference r to Gen. 31:28. stands thus;-r55. 29:13. Ex. 4:27. Ruth 1:9,14., &c. Here 55. refers to the 55th verse of the thirty-first chapter of Genesis; and 29:13. to Gen. 29:13. and so on in regular order. This method is invariably adhered to; and it has so many advantages, as abundantly to compensate any supposed disadvantages. Especially, it relieves the reader from perplexity, and prevents confusion by a regular arrangement: and it so greatly saves room, that more references may be adduced in a column very little crowded, than could on any other plan, by very much under-running. In pursuance of this plan, no more letters are used for marking any book, than are necessary clearly to distinguish it from all others: and as the prophecy of Ezekiel is referred to so much more frequently, than the book of Ezra; the letters Ez: mark the former, and the latter is printed at full length. A little habit will render this easy and familiar to the reader.
The Author has availed himself of the pious labors of his predecessors, in selecting Marginal References; especially of the later Editions of the Oxford Bible in Quarto, of Mr. Browne's Bible, and Mr. Canne's; yet he has by no means taken their references as such: on the contrary he has omitted many, (especially of the two latter,) which did not appear to bear on the subject, or to elucidate it; in numerous instances the references are entirely original, and in almost all many are so.--The degree of labor and attention, which has been used to render the printing of the references correct, cannot easily be conceived: yet probably some errors still remain.
In some of the original references, the Author's idea may not at once be perceived by the read. er: but, if the several places referred to be consulted, it will generally appear. He has sometimes proceeded by way of contrast, that the reader, by comparing the opposite characters or conduct of the persons mentioned, may more clearly perceive the excellency or evil of the case in question: or by comparing the different language of Scripture, used on the same subject, he may more readily see the true interpretation, especially on controverted subjects; or at least be better enabled to judge for himself. The meaning of scriptural phrases may also be often fixed, by comparing the several places where they are used. This is the intent of many sets of references; while others refer to the doctrine or promise inculcated in the passage, and tend to establish a scriptural interpretation. Where several sets of references are adduced on one verse, they are generally of the former kind. Some pains have likewise been taken, even on those parts of Scripture which chiefly consist of names, to point out other passages, in which the same persons or places are mentioned; and to mark the difference in spelling the same name, or the different names for the same person or place which occur in different parts, and the different places and persons called by the same name. Sometimes the unlearned reader is perplexed or misled by these variations; and this part of the references often contains all, which even the most learned know upon the subject, especially in the genealogies.
It is a great discouragement, in the laborious task of collecting marginal references, that it may be feared, but few, in comparison, will take the pains to consult them: indeed many persons may not have leisure to do it, in every part, or fully. But though the Author had, for many years, previously studied the Scriptures as his one grand business; he can truly aver, that the insight which he has thus obtained into many parts, which before he had not so carefully noted, is so great, as abundantly to repay his labor, and to convince him, that, along with other means, (for none should be recommended exclusively,) consulting well selected marginal references forms one of
the best helps for fixing the word of God in the memory, leading the mind to a just interpretation of it, and in many cases rendering it most affecting to the heart. It tends powerfully to counteract all skeptical doubts, when every part of Scripture is thus found, (like the stones in an arch,) to snpport and receive support from the rest, and to constitute one grand whole; the divine inspiration of which is proved by every prophecy or miracle, and all kinds of internal and external evidence. It serves also to satisfy the mind, as to the meaning of disputed passages, when one sense is found manifestly to accord with the rest of the sacred word, and other interpretations evidently run contrary to them. And in many cases the Author has found a kind of delightful surprise at striking coincidences, which he had not before at all noticed.
To those, who desire to study the Scriptures, accurately and deeply; (especially to young men, either intended for the sacred ministry, or newly engaged in it;) he would very earnestly recommend to set apart an hour, or half an hour, every day, when it can be done; and regularly to go through the Ścriptures, carefully consulting all the references.- When it is considered, that the Author has for eight or nine years, spent at least thrice as much time each day in arranging them; this will not appear unreasonable to ihose who favor his attempts: and he has no doubt, that it will eventually be found amply to repay their labor.
He would also advise those, who only occasionally consult the references, to examine all referred to under any one letter: for very frequently, those from the Old Testament are principally adduced, to make way for some still more pertinent in the New; to shew the coincidence of both Testaments; and to point out similar language concerning JEHOVAH in the one, and Jesus in the other; and in various ways to prove, that the same doctrine pervades the whole.
TO THE LONDON STEREOTYPE EDITION.
The following is a brief account of the principal points in which the present edition differs from the preceding.
1. In the first place, it is in stereotype. To this laborious and expensive process it was submitted under the conviction, (which has proved too well founded,) that it was the last which the revered Author would be able to superintend. From the great pains also, with which it was determined that the revision in every part should be conducted, it was anticipated that this edition might de. serve, by its accuracy, the distinction thus conferred upon it, of being rendered permanent and nearly unalterable. And though, in the course of so long a work, it is scarcely possible but that some errors should have escaped detection, it is confidently hoped, that, upon the whole, this expectation has been realized.-It may be added, that should any mistakes be discovered of sufficient consequence to require it, the plates are not so unalterable as to render the correction impracti cable.
2. As Bishop Horsley some time since pointed out in the substitution of “thy doctrine" for "the doctrine,” i Tim. 4:16. and as has been subsequently shewn concerning the change of the stop, from a full point to a colon or semicolon, at the close of the verse, Heb. 13:7. sundry small variations have, during the lapse of two centuries, crept into our common Bibles. Hence considerable pains have been taken, by the collation of different editions, to exhibit an accurate copy of the sacred text according to the authorized version,
3. Not only have the Marginal References throughout been revised with the utmost care, but it will be found that the Author has inserted, in the Notes and Practical Observations, frequent references to other parts of his Commentary. To this improvement he attached considerable importance: and its value will, no doubt, be felt by those readers, who may bestow sufficient pains upon the subject to enter into his design.-The student may be advantageously referred to the Book of Proverbs for a specimen of this addition to the work.
4. But the most important improvement, which it has received, consists in the copious critical remarks which have been introduced. Many of these occur in the Old Testament, in all which the original words, in Hebrew characters, pointed, have been substituted for the English letters, by which they had been before expressed, wherever any thing of the kind occurred. In the New Testament these remarks are numerous. Here also new authorities are adduced in support of the criticisms which had been previously made, particularly from Schleusner, to whose valuable Lexicon of the Greek Testament the Author was indebted for much assistance.—The critical re. marks, it is also to be observed, are now uniformly carried to the end of the note, instead of being interspersed in the body of it.
5. It must be matter of great thankfulness to those who rightly appreciate the Author's indefatigable labors, that the full energy of his mind was continued almost to the last hour of his life; and that he was enabled to complete his revision as far as the end of 2 Timothy 3:2. Several alterations indeed will be found, and some of them of considerable importance, in parts posterior to the verse just named. These, however, have not been made without authority; but are taken, according to the Author's directions, from a copy of the last edition, which he read over soon after its publication, making such corrections as occurred.—The critical remarks also, contained in the foriner edition, have been, to the close, arranged, as nearly as possible, according to the plan adopted in the preceding parts of the work.
In consequence of the additions which have been made in almost every part, and the necessity which existed of reducing the size of the over-loaded pages to the proper dimensions, the bulk, as well as the intrinsic value of the work, will be found to have been considerably increased; which, in connexion with other circumstances, has rendered some advance of the price unavoidable.
March 22, 1822.
OLD TESTAMENT, AND TO THE BOOKS OF MOSES.
It does not appear, that the distinction of the two parts of the sacred Scripture by the appellations of the Old Testament and the New Testament, is of divine authority; though it is of very ancient use in the Christian Church. The original word, both in the Hebrew, and in the Greek, rendered Testament, in this connexion, is more generally rendered Covenant, and perhaps ought always to be so.* It refers to the condescending manner, in which it has pleased God to deal with men, by covenant transactions and engagements; and not merely by commands and sanctions.
The covenant of works, as distinguished from the covenant of grace, does not seem to be intended by "the Old Testament:" for the covenant of grace and mercy was introduced, immediately after the fall of Adam, by the promise that “the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head:” the hopes of believers in every age have arisen from that source alone: and all unbelievers, even under the Christian Dispensation, remain under the condemnation of that covenant, which Adam transgressed; the terms of which are simply, 'Do this and live; transgress and die.'- But of the covenant of mercy and grace, there have been, so to speak, several editions; yet that which Christianity has made known to mankind, is by far the most full, clear, and enlarged. Above four hundred years after God had established his covenant with Abraham, as 'the father of the "faithful,' (which the apostle refers to, as the same in substance, as that made with Christians under the gospel,t) it pleased him to make a covenant with Israel, as a nation, at mount Sinai. The Mosaical dispensation, and the writings of the prophets, chiefly related to that period, during which this national covenant was in force; and the prophets themselves speak of the change, which would take place in the days of the Messiah, as a new covenant," distinguishing it from that which was made with Israel when brought out of Egypt. This, St. Paul says, “waxed old and was ready to vanish away."1-At the opening the Christian dispensation, these predictions were fulfilled: and as the writings of the apostles and evangelists relate principally to the dealings of God with his church, in the days of the Messiah, the “Mediator of the new covenant;" this part of the sacred volume has received the appellation of the New Testament,' or New Covenant; and that part which was published before his coming, is called the Old Testament, or Covenant.-Thus they are dislinguished from, but are by no means opposed to, each other. The same discoveries of the glorious God, and the same views of true religion, pervade both. They reciprocally establish the authority and illustrate the meaning of each other; and even those parts of the Mosaic Law, which we are not now required to obey as commands, are replete with important instruction.-In short, the whole is the unerring WORD OF God.
The Preface to each of the books of Moses, with which the sacred Volume opens, renders it superfluous to add much in this place respecting them colleclively. They are generally in the New Testament, as well as in uninspired writers, called “the Law;" as distinguished from the other parts of the Old Testament. Yet a great proportion of them is historical; they contain several most extraordinary prophecies;|| and some devotional compositions, exquisitely sublime and beautiful. If the single book of Job be excepted, (and concerning it there are different opinions, i) the books of Moses are, beyond comparison, the most ancient writings extant; and certainly by far the most ancient authentic records.' Immediate revelation alone could make known to the writer, or to those from whoin he had his information, very many of those events which he records: and on this account, the Author of this publication is at least doubtful, whether the endeavors, which many persons have used, to shew how, by tradition or other similar means, Moses might receive the knowledge of the facts which he narrates, are of salutary tendency. For instance, Adam could not know the particulars of the creation of the world, or of his own creation, except by immediate revelation. Adaın might indeed make these things known to Methusaleh, Methusaleh to Shem, Shem to Isaac, Isaac to Levi, or Amrain, and Amram to Moses: I am not sure, that the chain might not be made shorter, by a link or iwo. But does it strengthen, or does it not rather greatly weak. en, the proof, or rather the impression, of the divine original of the Mosaic History; to suppose that it was derived from traditional revelation, handed down from father to son, through a few generations; rather than froin a revelation made directly from God to Moses? Nothing is conveyed down by oral tradition, without alteration and deviation: Moses inforins us, that“God spake with him face to face:” the prophecies extant in his books, compared with their accomplishment during three thousand years, as fully confirm his testimony to us, as his miracles did to his contemporaries: and the simplest as well as the most ancient method of stating the case, is the most rational. Whatever he might have known or collected otherwise, he wrote under the infallible superintendency of the Holy Spirit, or by immediate divine inspiration.