Page images














THIS Work was originally designed for the use of Students in Theology, but there are many persons, whose necessary avocations prevent their entering on deeper researches, to whom it may prove acceptable from the character of general usefulness which it has been endeavoured to impress on it.

In its plan it embraces some old and approved, as well as several new features the former, however, applied more simply, and it is hoped more in accordance with the teaching of the Church. The Sacred Narrative has been faithfully compiled from the several accounts of the Evangelists, with a strict adherence to the text of the Authorized Version. The Continuous Exposition, which has been kept distinct in the Italic character, consists in part of Emendations (either literal from the Greek*, or free) of particular passages or expressions, to which they are immediately added on within parentheses for the sake of further distinguishing them. The whole is given as briefly as perspicuity would allow, and as plainly, without familiarity, as the Sacred Writings admit of; for although, as it has been well observed, they are a Directory of Common Life, they never lose their essential dignity.

A Harmony, thus continuously illustrated, has been adopted as the most useful channel for shewing forth the doctrine of the Anglican Church in accordance with the teaching of her Divine Head; more especially as her mind is discovered in her admirable formularies-our neverfailing guard against all aberrations, whether of Romanizing excess or of latitudinarian defect. Difficult and disputed passages† there will indeed always remain, and differences of opinion as to these will still exist;

* Wherever this is the case, the mark GR. will be seen attached.

+ "It cannot be dissembled that, partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to wean the curious from loathing the Scriptures for their everywhere plainness, partly also to stir up our devotion to crave the assistance of God's Spirit by prayer, and, lastly, that we might be forward to seek aid of our brethren by conference, and never scorn those that be not in all respects so complete as they should be, being to seek in many things ourselves, it hath pleased God in His divine Providence here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness-not in doctrinal points that concern Salvation (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain), but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence, and, if we will resolve, to resolve upon modesty. It is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, than to strive about those things that are uncertain."-Preface to the last Version.

[blocks in formation]

but wherever any additional interpretation has been met with, at all worthy the reader's attention, it will be found in this Work, added in a Note. Although extreme systems and varying views of doctrine have been from time to time advocated by different Commentators, and the Compiler of these sheets has been most anxious to avoid all extremes of opinion, (especially in times so peculiar as the present,) he has thought it right to consult all Expositors of note, inclusive of eminent writers of Sermons on the Gospel texts. He has not, however, adhered exclusively to the authority of any. Happily, the points of agreement are in themselves more important, as well as more numerous, than those of difference: and the hope is indulged that a recurrence, upon sound Via Media principles, to these Four Sacred Books,-containing as they do the root and foundation of every article of our Faith, and in which our Blessed Lord speaks most in His own Person,-may not be without its especial use in times of controversy. Men, we are told on the highest authority, "do therefore err, because they know not the Scriptures."

There are conscientious persons who object altogether to Expositions of Scripture, yet surely without sufficient reason. Preaching might be objected to upon the grounds which are commonly brought forward. How can ordinary readers understand what is written and Scripture itself has resolved a somewhat similar question-"except some man guide' them? (see Acts viii. 30, 31.) Uninterpreted, the Sacred Page can decide nothing, and by human beings, aided by Divine Grace, it must be explained at last and since every sentence which it contains is from God, every man is interested in the true and complete meaning of it. This reasoning applies with especial force to the Four Gospels. In them, more than in any other division of Scripture, the particular signification of words is found to vary much with the occasion: the Evangelists appear (though they only appear) to differ among themselves: and there is, occasionally, such extreme brevity, (particularly in the more important discourses as recorded by St. John,) that, to acquire a full understanding of what has been written, deficiencies ought to be supplied for the general reader. In furtherance of so desirable an object, it is a favourable circumstance that a more critical understanding of the original tongue has prevailed since the adoption of the common Version now in use. Yet we do not, even now, possess an authorized translation of the New Testament taken directly from the Greek: it was from the Latin Vulgate that Wickliffe's early English translation in 1380 was taken; Tindale's, Coverdale's, and other versions succeeded, forming the groundwork of the Compilation ordered in 1568, but the Revisers appear to have only partially collated the works of their predecessors with the Original Scriptures; while the last learned Editors in 1611 expressly state that their object was to improve that ("the Bishops' Bible" as it was called), but not to make

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

a new translation. As a whole, the Version now in use is unquestionably one of great value, and there is no danger (at least in our day) of its being estimated too low; yet, in consequence of the fluctuations to which all language is subject, some of its words and phrases are no longer intelligible to the unlearned reader, and even the main sense has in certain passages become affected. Such incidental obscurities the lapse of time cannot fail to superinduce upon all records of departed ages. It is also observable that the Translators have arbitrarily rendered the same Greck word in parallel passages by different English ones-an inaccuracy by no means unfrequent*.

It has been often said that the inquirer cannot with more advantage discover Truth for himself than by comparing Scripture with Scripture. In the belief of the importance of thus studying the Sacred Volume, the collection of Expository Quotations has been made a principal feature of this Work. Ordinary readers seldom trouble themselves to consult those references of chapter and verse commonly added in the margin of our Bibles; and when they do so, the citation may be merely of a verbal kind, or they may not readily find that portion of the verse or verses which alone may be relevant. The References, which are the most valuable and conduct to the true sense, lie scattered up and down the pages of the better Commentators: they have here been collected, and, without multiplying them too far, are given at length in the Margin of the Work along with the text which they illustrate.

The more modern and approved plan of distributing the matter of the Sacred Narrative, according to its subjects, in Sections and Paragraphs— rather than by arbitrary divisions of chapter and verse-has been adopted: but it has not been thought advisable to break up the Narrative into any divisions of a more comprehensive character. Neither the successive Jewish Passovers, nor the occasional journeys of our Lord, seem to convey any definite idea of the peculiar propriety of the events recorded. The simplest, and also the most edifying plan, appears to be a Gradual Developement of the Christian Scheme, springing from the continuous and united testimony of all the Evangelists.

The Notes, besides illustrating more at large important points of Doctrine, embrace all those varied matters which could not, briefly or

• Thus, in Section CII. of this work, more than one instance may be noticed :-The Greek verb rendered "charged" at Mark x. 48, is, at Matt. xx. 31 (and again at Luke xviii. 39), rendered "rebuked." The verb rendered "made thee whole" at Mark x. 52, is, at Luke xviii. 42, "saved thee." In consequence of these frequent variations, the most apposite sense has alone been retained in passages where two or more Evangelists are harmonized. Wherever an actual variation occurs in the Original text, such variation is expressly added within brackets, together with the name of the Evangelist who employs it.

« PreviousContinue »