Imatges de pÓgina

tion of the writings of the celebrated authors of Greece and Rome may be to those who take a delight in polite literature, it is a matter of small importance, in comparison with the right interpretation of the oracles of God, by which the faith and morals of mankind are to be regulated. However, that this publication might not be needlessly swelled, the author hath, to the best of his judgment, shunned every thing trifling. And that the same remarks might not be repeated, he hath, as often as it was necessary, referred the reader to the places of the work where they are to be found. When the interpretations and remarks of other commentators are introduced, such only are mentioned as are accompanied with some degree of probability. And both in giving his own interpretations and the interpretations of others, the author hath studied brevity. With the same view, he hath endeavoured, in general, to exclude from his style, tautology, synonymous epithets, and circumlocution. And, that what he hath written may be understood at the first reading, he hath all along aimed at simplicity, perspicuity, and precision in his style.—Many Greek words, it is true, and phrases, are introduced, especially in the notes. But these being placed as parentheses, to shew that the sense of the sentences where they occur is complete without them, they can occasion no difficulty to any reader. They are inserted for the sake of persons skilled in the Greek, to whom the author appeals for the justness of his critical remarks. And although the unlearned cannot judge of such matters, he hopes it will be some proof, even to them, that his remarks are well founded, if the alterations in the translation, and in the interpretation which they are designed to support, make the scriptures more plain to them than they were before ; and if they afford a clearer view of the senti. ments and reasonings of the inspired writers.

To conclude; as it is ultimately from the scriptures, and not from creeds and systems, by whomsoever composed, nor even from the decrees of councils, whether general or particular, that the genuine doctrines of the gospel are to be learned, the study of these writings is the most profitable work, in which any man can be employed, especially if he be a teacher of religion; and the right understanding of them is the best of all acquisitions. The person, therefore, who puts it in the power of others to attain their true meaning, whether it be by faithfully translating them into a known language, or by rightly interpreting them, where they have been misunderstood, performs a work most acceptable to God, and does the greatest possible service to the world. In this persuasion, the author having spent the greatest part of his life in the study of the scriptures, now offers to the public his translation and interpretation of the apostolical epistles; because, notwithstanding all the light which hath been thrown on that part of the word of God by modern critics and commentators, many obscurities and errors, both in the translation and interpretation of these invaluable compositions, still remain, which the friends of revelation, who are qualified for the undertaking, should endeavour to correct. The author flatters himself, that, by rectifying the translation in many places, and by offering interpretations different from those commonly given, he hath successfully removed some of the former difficulties; and makes no doubt, but, by the diligence and skill of those who shall succeed him, the difficulties which remain will, in time, receive a satisfactory solution. (See Essay I. at the end.) The prejudice, therefore, which is taken up by many, in the present age, that such writings on the scriptures as may yet be published, can contain nothing of moment, but what hath been advanced before, is groundless, and of most pernicious consequence, as it puts a stop to all further inquiry. The scriptures being not yet fully understood, they ought to be diligently searched, that the treasures of divine knowledge which lie hid in them, may be brought to light. What the author hath said or insinuated in this preface, concerning the things he hath done for the explanation of the apostolical epistles, hath been said, perhaps, with too much confidence. But as he is perfectly sensible that his opinion of his own work will have no influence on the judgment of the public, the things which he hath said can only be meant to draw the attention of the learned, to whom it belongs to determine, whether he hath executed the several parts of his plan in the manner proposed by him; and whether his discoveries, if he hath made any, ought to be approved and received, or disapproved and rejected. To their examination, therefore, he submits the whole, and waits for their decision with respect. In the mean time, he commits his performance to God, in whose hand all things are; with fervent prayers, that he would be pleased to make it subservient to his own glory, and to the good of his church. And if, in any degree, it contributes to promote these great ends, he will rest contented, as having received an ample reward.

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of the Commission given by Christ to his Apostles ; and of the power by

which he fitted them for executing that commission : and of the nature and authority of their writings.

The Lord Jesus before his death spake in this manner to his apostles, John xvi. 12. I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear to them now. 13. Howbeit, when the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth. From this it is evident, that while on earth, Jesus did not declare the wholo doctrines of the gospel, but left them to be revealed by the Holy Ghost, to the persons who, after his departure, were to make them known to the world. In this method of revealing the gospel, there was both dignity and propriety. For the Son of God came from heaven, not to make the gospel revelation, but to be the subject of it, by doing and suffering all that was necessary to procure the salvation of mankind.

But, although it was not our Lord's intention to make a complete revelation of the gospel in person, he occasionally delivered many of its doctrines and precepts in the hearing of his followers, that, when the persons commissioned by him to preach the gospel in its full extent, executed their commission, the world, by observing the perfect conformity of their doctrine with his, might entertain no doubt of their authority and inspiration, in those farther discoveries which they made, concerning the matters of which Christ himself had spoken nothing.

The Son of God, in prosecution of the purpose for which he took on him the human nature, came to John at Jordan, and was baptized. To this rite he submitted, not as it was the baptism of repentance, for he was perfectly free from sin ; but as it prefigured his dying and rising again from the dead, and because he was, on that occasion, to be declared God's beloved Son by a voice from heaven, and by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him, in the view of the multitudes who were assembled to John's baptism.

Having received these miraculous attestations, Jesus began his ministry; and from that time forth shewed himself to Israel as their long-expected deliverer, and, in the hearing of the people, spake many discourses, in which he corrected the errors of the Jewish teachers, and explained many of the doctrines and precepts of true religion. And while he thus employed himself, he confirmed his doctrine, and proved himself to be the Son of God, by working great miracles in all parts of Judea, and even in Jerusalem itself. But the chiefs of the Jews, envying his reputation with the people, laid hold on him, and condemning him for calling himself the Son of God, constrained Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, to put him to death. But whilst the Jews, with wicked hands, crucified Jesus, his death, by the sovereign appointment of God, became an atonement for the sin of the world. And, to wipe away the stain which the Jews endeavoured to fix on Jesus as a deceiver, by putting him to death, God raised him from the dead on the third day, according to Christ's own prediction, and thereby declared him, in the most illustrious manner, his Son. After his resurrection, Jesus shewcd himself alive to many witnesses: and, having remained on carth forty days, a sufficient time to prove the truth of his resurrection, he ascended into heaven, in the presence of his disciples, who were assured, by the attending angels, that he would return from heaven in like manner as they had scen him go away; namely, at the end of the world.

1. The illustrious display just now described, which Jesus made on earth of his glory, as the Son of God, by his virtues, his miracles, his sufferings, his resurrection, and his ascension, was intended, not solely for the people before whom it was exhibited, but for all mankind. And, therefore, that the knowledge of it might not be confined to the Jews, but spread through the whole world, and continued in it to the end, Jesus, in the beginning of his ministry, chose twelve of his disciples, and ordained them to be with him, that they might hear all that he should speak, and see all that he should do for the salvation of mankind; and that, as eye-witnesses of these things, they might report them to the world, with every circumstance of credibility. These witnesses Jesus named apostles, or persons sent forth by him, and appointed them to bear that name always, that when they published his history, bare witness to his resurrection, and preached salvation to them who believed, all might be sensible that they acted by commission and authority from him. And, to

prevent any error that might arise in the execution of this office, from the failure of their memory, he made them the following promises : John xiv. 16. I will pray the father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. 17. Even the Spirit of truth; he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 26. The comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you ali things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you: And John xvi. 13. Will guide you into all truth: Besides bringing to your remembrance the things I have said to you, he will give you the knowledge of the whole gospel scheme. And, because many of the doctrines of the gospel were darkly revealed, and many of the particulars of Christ's life were in di. verse manners foretold in the writings of Moses and the prophets, Jesus opened the understanding of his apostles, that they might understand the scriptures ; Luke xxiv. 15.

Having in this manner educated and prepared the twelve, Jea sus, before his ascension, declared to them the purpose for which he had called them to attend him during his ministry, and explained to them their duty as apostles. Acts i. 8. Ye shall be witnes8c8 unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Then gave them their commission in the following words : Mark xvi. 15. therefore and teach all nations. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. But he that believeth not shall be damned. And that the things which they should teach might gain entire credit, in addition to what he had promised formerly, (Luke xxi. 15. Behold I will give you a mouth, and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist ; he now told them, Luke xxiv. 29. Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you. But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endowed with power from on high. And added, Mark xvi. 17. These signs shall follow them that believe ; in my name shall they cast out devils ; they shall speak with new tongues. 18. They shall take up serpents ; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19. So, then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. Such was the commission which Christ gave to his apostles, and such the supernatural powers which he promised to bestow on them, to fit them for executing it with success.

Go ye

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