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THE PAR A B L ES
AND OF OTHER PARTS OF
BY EDWARD GRESWELL, B. D.
FELLOW OF C. C. C. OXFORD.
IN FIVE VOLUMES.
PRINTED BY S. COLLINGWOOD, PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY,
FOR J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
SOLD BY J. H. PARKER, OXFORD.
So many excellent works upon the parables in general, and so many admirable discourses in explanation of particular parables, are already before the religious world, that no part of the New Testament would seem to stand less in need of further elucidation. The peculiarly interesting character of the parabolic mode of teaching—the simplicity, pathos, and elegance of these narratives—the valuable uses to which they are practically subservientthe isolated position of each of the number, which makes its introduction into the body of the gospel-history, a kind of episode in the sacred text, whence it is easy to detach it, for the purpose of commenting upon it, illustrating, and explaining it by itself: these, and other considerations which might readily be suggested to account for the fact, have naturally contributed to direct the attention of expositors and readers, perhaps more exclusively to the parables, than to any part of the gospels besides.
Under these circumstances, the author of the following work, cannot but feel that some apology will be expected from him, for venturing to lay before the religious public, a new attempt at an Exposition of the Parables; which, at first sight, would seem either needlessly to go over ground again which has already been fully explored, or virtually to call in question the sufficiency of former works of the same description.
In defence of himself against these imputations, he would reply first, that as the Exposition which he now submits to the judgment of the Christian world, will perhaps be found, to be upon the whole a new one, and not such as bas been anticipated by any former undertaking of the same kind; he hopes it will not be said to have been superfluous, unless the principles on which it proceeds, are founded in error : secondly, that as in a great measure independent of former expositions, and constructed upon a plan entirely new, he also hopes, without in the slightest degree disparaging the value and utility of those expositions, that the present one may possess an use and advantage of its own.
To enter at large into a statement of the reasons which induced him to embark upon the present undertaking, would both occupy too much of the reader's time, and probably be a very uninteresting detail to any but the author himself. It is enough to observe, that if those views, respecting the distinction of kinds in the parables, and the corresponding distinction in the uses and purposes to which these kinds were respectively designed to be subservient, which he has laboured to establish in his General Introduction, are admitted to be just and reasonable ; he feels assured that he shall stand acquitted of the charge of presumption, or of obtruding an unnecessary work upon the religious world, in the composition and publication of a new Exposition of the Parables, according to the principles which he has laid down.
To what portions of the gospel-narrative, the author considers the name of Parables properly to belong, will appear from the list of such as he proposed to explain, given in the first chapter of his General Introduction. The three volumes which are at present published, bring down this Exposition to the seventeenth in that list, the parable of the prodigal son. The remaining ten parables, are reserved for explanation in the two concluding volumes; the publication of which, it is hoped, will follow within a reasonable distance of time, upon that of the preceding three.
Besides the exposition of these parables, the present work comprehends detailed explanations of other parts of our Saviour's discourses, recorded in the gospels. The rule which the author laid down for his observance, was, that where a parable occurred in connexion with another discourse, he would explain the matter preliminary to it, as well as the parable. The observance of this rule has required him to comment, in the course of the present three volumes, upon Matthew xviii. and Luke xii, almost from first to last; upon John x, Luke x. xiii. xiv. and xv, either wholly or in part: and in the course of his next two volumes, it will require him to explain, in like manner, Luke xvi. xvii. and xviii: besides those portions of the three Gospels, St. Matthew's, St. Mark's, and St. Luke's, respectively, which relate to the prophecy upon the mount.
In giving admission to so much additional matter, the author trusts to the candour of his readers, that he shall not be thought to have unnecessarily enlarged the plan of his work, or to have departed too widely from the proper design of his undertaking—an Exposition of the Parables; for it will be seen that even these explanations are not without their use and advantage, for the consideration of the parables themselves. If no explanation of any part of our Saviour's discourses can be considered unnecessary per se, independently of its connexion with other matter, whether delivered at the same time and place, or not—the more of the substance of these discourses a particular exposition embraces, the more useful and serviceable, if not the more interesting, it is calculated to become. Upon the principle therefore of the admission of such correlative matter for