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RECTOR OF ST. PETER-LE-BAILEY, AND LATE FELLOW OF MAGDALEN
WERTHEIM AND MACINTOSH,
AMONGST the many excellent helps with which we are furnished for reading the Scriptures, it has appeared to me that something is still wanting, at once sufficiently short and sufficiently plain for those who are beginning to study the word of God with a real desire to understand it. More especially is such a help needed by them in reading the Epistles. They want something as short and simple as the subject will admit of. They do not want two or three interpretations of a text, of which they are incompetent to choose the best; but they require one good one. They do not want a number of practical observations and accommodations of the passage they are reading (for this often confuses them); but they want to know in the first place, the simple meaning of the passage itself. To provide this is the aim of the present Paraphrase. It makes no pretensions to originality, it espouses the views of no party, but seeks simply to afford a help to young students in understanding the Epistles. Sometimes by a closer translation of the original, sometimes by a more free rendering, sometimes by the addition of a few words, sometimes by the introduction of a parallel passage, and sometimes by giving the meaning of the text in other words, the sense is brought out (it is hoped) in a plain and intelligible way.
In this Paraphrase I have endeavoured to avoid these common faults: first,-Paraphrasing without necessity, the meaning being already sufficiently plain. Next,-Drawing out many meanings from
a passage where the Apostle obviously had but one. Thirdly,-Suggesting difficulties and entering into unprofitable speculations; and Fourthly,Wresting passages from their legitimate meaning in support of
favourite views. But after all, no commentary will be of much use to those who do not likewise diligently read the Scriptures themselves, and pray for the promised teaching of God's Holy Spirit. Much pains should be taken in pondering upon the pure word of God and laying it to heart. (Comp. Prov. ii. 149, with Deut. vi. 6–9.) Much of Holy Scripture is easy to understand and scarce needs the help of the commentator. The first and great requisite in reading the Bible is an honest and good hearta heart free from pride and prejudice, and prepared by the Spirit of God to welcome his truth, to believe his word, and to obey his precepts. When we come to difficulties, then is the time to make use of a commentary ; still, however, exercising our own judgment, and praying to God to keep us free from all error and to lead us into all truth.
This is the way in which I should desire this Paraphrase to be used. First let the reader study the text and context, and then turn to the Paraphrase.
If I have not satisfied others, neither have I satisfied myself. But I have done my best to supply a help which I think is still needed by some. And if any good should accrue thereby to any, to God in Christ, as is most due, be all the glory.
The notes to which is attached were the remarks of a valued friend, to whose kind revision the work was submitted, and to whose suggestions it owes much.
It may be well to add that the Paraphrase of the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians was published some years since, but now appears in an amended form.