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first the sense was made better, stronger, clearer, or more consistent with the context : secondly, where the sense being equally good, the phrase was better or nearer the original. To the latter, who think the alterations too few, and that the translation might have been nearer still, I answer, this is true : I acknowledge it might. But what valuable end would it have answered, to multiply such trivial alterations as add neither clearness nor strength to the text? This I could not prevail upon myself to do : so much the less because there is, to my apprehension, I know not what, peculiarly solemn and venerable in the old language of our translation. And suppose this mistaken apprehension, and an instance of human infirmity; yet, is it not an excusable infirmity, to be unwilling to part with what we have been long accustomed to ; and to love the very words by which God has often conveyed strength or comfort to our souls !
6. I have endeavoured to make the notes as short as possible, that the comment may not obscure or swallow up the text : and as plain as possible, in pursuance of my main design, to assist the unlearned reader : for this reason I have studiously avoided, not only all curious and critical inquiries, and all use of the learned languages, but all such methods of reasoning and modes of expression as people in common life are unacquainted with : for the same reason, as I rather endeavour to obviate than to propose and answer questions, so I purposely decline going deep into many difficulties, lest I should leave the ordinary reader behind me.
7. I once designed to write down barely what occurred to my own mind, consulting none but the inspired writers. But no sooner was I acquainted with that great light of the Christian world, (lately gone to his reward,) Bengelius, than I entirely changed my design, being thoroughly convinced it might be of more service to the cause of religion, were I barely to translate his Gnomon Novi Testamenti, than to write many
it. Many of his excellent notes I have therefore translated. Many more I have abridged, omitting that part which was purely critical, and giving the substance of the rest. Those various readings likewise, which he has showed to have a vast majority of ancient copies and translations on their side, I have without scruple incorporated with the text ; which after his manner I have divided all along (though not omitting the common division into chapters and verses, which is of use on various accounts) according to the matter it contains, making a larger or smaller pause, just as the sense requires. And even this is such a help in many places, as one who has not tried it can scarcely conceive.
8. I am likewise indebted for some useful observations to Dr. Heylin's Theological Lectures : and for many more to Dr. Guyse, and to the Family Expositor of the late pious and learned Dr. Doddridge
It was a doubt with me for some time, whether I should not subjoin to every note I received from them the name of the author from whom it was taken ; especially considering I had transcribed some, and abridged many more, almost in the words of the author. But upon
farther consideration, I resolved to name none, that nothing might divert the mind of the reader from keeping close to the point in view, and receiving what was spoken only according to its own intrinsic value.
9. I cannot flatter myself so far (to use the words of one of the above-named writers) as to imagine that I have fallen into no mistakes in a work of so great difficulty. But my own conscience acquits me of having designedly misrepresented any single passage of Scripture, or of having written one line with a purpose of inflaming the hearts of Christians against each other. God forbid that I should make the words of the most gentle and benevolent Jesus a vehicle to convey such poison. Would to God that all the party names, and unscriptural phrases and forms, which have divided the Christian world, were forgot : and that we might all agree to sit down together, as humble, loving disciples, at the feet of our common Master, to hear his word, to imbibe his Spirit, and to transcribe his life in our own!
10. Concerning the Scriptures in general, it may be observed, the word of the living God, which directed the first patriarchs also, was, in the time of Moses, committed to writing. To this' were added, in several succeeding generations, the inspired writings of the other prophets. Afterward, what the Son of God preached, and the Holy Ghost spake by the apostles, the apostles and evangelists wrote.This is what we now style the Holy Scripture : this is that word of God which remaineth for ever : of which, though heaven and earth pass avay, one jot or tittle shall not pass away. The Scripture therefore of the Old and New Testament, is a most solid and precious system of Divine truth. Every part thereof is worthy of God; and all together are one entire body, wherein is no defect, no excess. It is the fountain of heavenly wisdom, which they who are able to taste, prefer to all writings of men, however wise, or learned, or holy.
11. An exact knowledge of the truth was accompanied in the inspired writers with an exactly regular series of arguments, a precise expression of their meaning, and a genuine vigour of suitable affections. The chain of argument in each book is briefly exhibited in the table prefixed to it, which contains also the sum thereof, and may be of more use than prefixing the argument to each chapter; the division of the New Testament into chapters having been made in the dark ages,
and very incorrectly; often separating things that are closely joined, and joining those that are entirely distinct from each other.
12. In the language of the sacred writings, we may observe tho uimost depth, together with the utmost ease. All the elegancies of human composures sink into nothing before it: God speaks not as man, but as God. His thoughts are very deep: and thence his words are of inexhaustible virtue. And the language of his messengers also is exact in the highest degree: for the words which were given them accurately answered the impression made upon their minds : and hence Luther says, “ Divinity is nothing but a grammar of the language of the Holy Ghost." To understand this thoroughly, we should observe the emphasis which lies on every word ; the holy affections expressed thereby, and the tempers shown by every writer. But how little are these, the latter especially, regarded? Though they are wonderfully diffused through the whole New Testament, and are in truth a continued commendation of him who acts, or speaks, or writes.
13. The New Testament is all those sacred writings in which the New Testament or covenant is described. The former part of this contains the writings of the evangelists and apostles: the latter, the revelation of Jesus Christ. In the former is, first, the history of Jesus Christ, from his coming in the flesh to his ascension into heaven; then the institution and history of the Christian Church, from the time of his ascension. The revelation delivers what is to be, with regard to Christ, the Church, and the universe, till the consummation of all things.
Bristol Hot-WELLS, January 4, 1754.
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW.
The Gospel (that is, good tidings) means a book containing the good tidings of our salvation by Jesus Christ.
St. Mark in his Gospel presupposes that of St. Matthew, and supplies what is omitted therein. St. Luke supplies what is omitted by both the former: St. John what is omitted by all the three.
St. Matthew particularly points out the fulfilling of the prophecies for the conviction of the Jews. St. Mark wrote a short compendium, and yet added many remarkable circumstances omitted by St. Matthew, particularly with regard to the apostles, immediately after they were called. St. Luke treated principally of the office of Christ, and mostly in a historical manner. St. John refuted those who denied his Godhead: each choosing to treat more largely on those things, which most suited the time when, and the persons to whom, he wrote.
The Gospel according to St. Matthew contains 1. The birth of Christ, and what presently followed it 4. His genealogy
Chap i, 1-17 b. His birth
18-25 c. The coming of the wise men
ii, 1-12 d. His flight into Egypt, and return
13-23 II. The introduction a. John the Baptist
iii, 1-12 b. The baptism of Christ
13-17 c. His temptation and victory
iv, 1-11 III. The actions and words by which Jesus proved he was the Christ a. At Capernaum
12-16 Where we may observe 1. His preaching
17 2. Calling Andrew and Peter, James and John
18-22 3. Preaching and healing, with a great concourse of people
23-25 4. Sermon on the mount
v, vi, vii, 5. Healing the leper
viii, 1-4 6. the centurion's servant
5-13 7. Peter's mother-in-law
14-15 8. many that were sick
16-17 b. In his journey (wherein he admonished two that offered to follow
him) over the sea Here we may observe 1. His dominion over the winds and seas
18-27 2. The devils passing from the men into the swine
28-34 c. At Capernaum again
Here, ix, 1. He cures the paralytic
1-8 2. Calls Matthew, and defends his conversing with publicans and sinners
9-13 3. Answers concerning fasting
14-17 4. Raises Jairus's daughter (after curing the issue of blood)
16-26 5. Gives sight to two blind men
27-31 6. Dispossesses the demoniac
32-34 7. Goes through the cities, and directs to pray for labourers 35-38 8. Sends and instructs labourers, and preaches himself x, 1; xi, 1 9. Answers the message of John
2-6 10. Commends John, reproves the unbelieving cities, invites the weary
11. Defends the disciples' plucking the corn
Chap. xii, 1-8 12. Heals the withered hand
9-13 13. Retires from the Pharisees lying in wait
14-21 14. Cures the demoniac, while the people wonder, and the Pharisees blaspheming, are refuted
22-37 15. Reproves them that require a sign
38-45 16. Declares who are his relations, and
46-50 17. Teaches by parables
xiii, 1–52 d. At Nazareth
53-58 e. In other places 1. Herod having killed John, doubts concerning Jesus. Jesus retiring, is sought for by the people
xiv, 1-13 2. He heals the sick, and feeds five thousand
29-31 7. Four thousand fed
32-38 8. Those who require a sign reproved
xv, 39; xvi, 1-4 9. The leaven of the Pharisees
1. Preparation for it by a confirmation tnat he is the Christ 13-20
xvii, 1-13 2. The lunatic healed
14-21 3. The prediction itself
22-23 4. The tribute paid
24-27 5. Who is greatest in Christ's kingdom
xviii, 1-20 6. The duty of forgiving our brother
21-35 c. The third prediction 1. Jesus departs out of Galilee
xix, 1-2 2. Of divorce and celibacy
3-12 3. His tenderness to little children
13-15 4. The rich man drawing back, and hence
16-22 Of the salvation of the rich
23-26 Of the reward of following Christ
27-30 Of the last and the first 5. The prediction itself
17-19 6. The request of James and John; humility enjoined
20-28 7. The two blind men cured
29-34 V. Transactions at Jerusalem before his passion a. Sunday His royal entry into Jerusalem
xxi, 1-11 His purging the temple
12-17 b. Monday The barren fig tree
18-22 c. Tuesday, transactions
In the temple
33-44 2. Seek to lay hands on him
45-46 3. The parable of the marriage feast.
xxii, 1-14 4. He is questioned, concerning paying tribute
15-22 The resurrection
23-33 The great commandment
34-10 5. Christ's question concerning David's Lord
41-46 Caution concerning the scribes and Pharisees
xxii, 1-12 Severe reproof of them
13-36 and of Jerusalem