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The following pages form the second part of a commentary on St. Paul's Epistles, founded on the same principles and constructed on the same plan as that of the Epistle to the Galatians.
As I explained, somewhat at length, in the preface to that Epistle, the general principles, critical, grammatical, and exegetical, upon which this commentary has been attempted, I will now only make a few special observations on this present portion of the work, and record my obligations to those expositors who have more particularly devoted themselves to this Epistle.
With regard to the present commentary, I will only remind the reader, that as in style, matter, and logical connection, this sublime Epistle differs considerably from that to the Galatians, so the commentary must necessarily, in many respects, reflect these differences and distinctions. Several points of grammatical interest which particularly characterized the former Epistle are scarcely perceptible in the present; while difficulties which made themselves but slightly felt in the vivid, argumentative, expostulatory language of the Epistle to the Galatians, are here, amidst the earnest hortatory comments, the deeper doctrinal expositions, and the more profound enarrations of the primal counsels of God, ever main
taining a distinct and visible prominence. In the Epistle to the Galatians, for example, the explanation of the uses of the cases did not commonly involve many points of interest: in this Epistle, the cases, especially the genitive, present almost every phase and form of difficulty; the uses are most various, the combinations most subtle and significant. In the Epistle to the Galatians, again, the particles, causal, illative, or adversative, which connected the clauses were constantly claiming the reader's attention, while the subordination or coordination of the clauses themselves and the interdependence of the different members and factors of the sentence were generally simple and perspicuous. In the present Epistle these difficulties are exactly reversed, the use of the particles is more simple while the intertexture of sentences and the connection of clauses, especially in the earlier portions of the Epistle, try the powers and principles of grammatical and logical analysis to the very uttermost.
In the first chapter more particularly, when we are permitted, as it were, to gaze upon the evolution of the archetypal dispensation of God, amidst those linked and blended clauses that, like the enwreathed smoke of some sweet smelling sacrifice, mount and mount upwards to the very heaven of heavens, in that group
of sentences of rarest harmony and more than mortal eloquence, these difficulties are so great and so deep, that the most exact language and the most discriminating analysis seem, as they truly are, too poor
and too weak to convey the force or connection of expressions so august, and thoughts so unspeakably profound.
It is in this part that I have been deeply conscious that the system of exposition which I have adopted has passed through its sorest and severest trial, and though I have laboured with anxious and unremitting industry, though I have spared neither toil nor time, but with fear and trembling, and not without many prayers have devoted every power to the endeavour to develop the outward meaning and connection of this stupendous revelation, I yet feel, from my very heart, how feeble that effort has been, how inexpressive my words, how powerless my grasp, how imperfect my delineation.
Still, in other portions of this Epistle, I trust I am not presumptuous in saying that I have been more cheered and hopeful, and that I have felt increased confidence in the system of exposition I was enabled to pursue in the commentary on the preceding Epistle. I have thus (especially after the kind notices my former work has received) studiously maintained in the present notes the same critical and grammatical characteristics which marked the former commentary. The only difference that I am aware of will be found in the still greater attention I have paid to the Greek Expositors, a slight decrease in the references to some modern commentators in whom I have felt a diminishing confidence, a slight increase in the references to our best English Divines which the nature of this profound Epistle has seemed to require. I deeply regret that the limits which I have prescribed to myself in this commentary have prevented my embodying the substance of these references in the notes, as I well know the disinclination to pause and consult other authors which every reader, save the most earnest and truth-seeking, is certain to feel. Yet this I will say, that I think the
student will not often regret the trouble he may have to take in reading those few portions of our great English Divines to which I have directed his attention, and which, for his sake, I could wish had been more numerous. Such as they are, they are the results of my own private reading and observation. In the grammatical portion of the commentary
I must entreat the reader to bear with me, if, for the sake of brevity, and, I might even say, perspicuity, I have been forced to avail myself of the current forms of expression adopted by modern grammatical writers. They will all be found elucidated in the treatises to which I have referred, and of these, every one, to the best of my belief, is well known and accessible, and will probably occupy a place in the library of most scholars.
I must now briefly notice the authors to whom, in addition to those mentioned in the preface to the Galatians, I am indebted in the present Epistle.
Of the patristic commentators I have derived great benefit from some exceedingly valuable annotations of Origen, which are to be found in Cramer's Catenæ, and which have hitherto scarcely received any notice from recent expositors, though they most eminently deserve it.
Of modern commentators on this Epistle I am deeply indebted to the admirable exposition of Harless, which, for accurate scholarship, learning, candour, and ability, may be pronounced one of the best, if not the very best commentary that has ever yet appeared on any single portion of Holy Scripture. A second edition has long been promised, but as far as I could learn from catalogues, and the foreign booksellers in this country, it had not made its appear