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scriptures (which I know has been the case in some families,) it is really exchanging the prophets and apostles for modern divines. To prevent this intolerable evil, I have formed my paraphrase so, that it is impossible to read it without the text, having every where interwoven the words of scripture with it, and carefully distinguished them from the rest by the Italic character: so that every one may immediately see, not only the particular clause to which any explication answers, but also what are the words of the sacred original, and what merely the sense of a fallible man, who is liable, though in the integrity of his heart, to mislead his readers, and dares not attribute to himself the singular glory of having put off every prejudice, even while he would deliberately and knowingly allow none.
I thought it might be some additional improvement of this work, and some entertainment to the more accurate reader, to give the text in a new version; which I have accordingly done from the original with all the care I could. There are so few places in which the general sense will appear different from our received translation, that some will perhaps think this an unnecessary trouble: but I can by no means repent it, as it has given me an opportunity of searching more accurately into several beauties of expression which had before escaped me; and of making some alterations, which, though they may not be very ma terial to the edification of men's souls, may yet in some degree do a farther honour to scripture; raising some of those ornaments which were before depressed; and sufficiently proving that several objections urged against it were entirely of an English growth: ends, which might yet more abundantly be answered by a new version of the Old Testament, which has suffered much more in our translation, as it is naturai to suppose it must.
I thought it might also conduce to the usefulness of this exposition to digest the history of the four evangelists into one continued series, or, in other words, to throw it into the order of an harmony. By this means each story and discourse is exhibited with all its concurrent circumstances, as recorded by the sacred penmen; frequent repetitions are prevented; and a multitude of seeming oppositions are so evidently reconciled, as to supersede many objections, and render the very mention of them unnecessary. My reader will hardly imagine the pains that this part of the work has cost me, both in examining the order of the several texts, and collating the different accounts in each, in such a manner, that no one clause in any of the evangelists might be omitted, and yet the seve ral passages to be inserted might make one connected sense, and, without any large addition, stand in a due grammatical order. I was the more sensible of this labour, as I laid it down for a maxim to myself, when I entered on this work, that I would study as much as possible to make it an original in all its parts. Accordingly, the first copy of it was drawn up with hardly any other assistance than that of the Greek Testament, which I endeavoured to harmonize, to translate, to paraphrase and to improve, just as if none had ever attempted any thing of that nature before me. Afterwards I was obliged to compare it with what others had done; and, as may easily be supposed, I found in many instances an agreement, and in many others a difference betwixt them and myself. Where we differed, I endeavoured impartially to examine the reasons on both sides; and where I have perceived myself indebted to any, for leading me into a more just and beautiful version, explication or disposition, than I had before chosen, I have generally, and, so far as I can recollect, universally, acknowledged it; unless where the hint came from some living friend, where such acknowledgment would not have been agreeable. There are, no doubt, many other instances in which the thoughts that seemed originally my own might be suggested by memory, though I knew not from whence they came; and a thousand more are so obvious, that one would suppose they must occur to every attentive reader, who has any genius and furniture for criticism. To have multi
plied references and quotations in such a case, would have been, I think, a very useless and burthensome piece of pedantry, and might (as I fear has been the case with Pfeiffer and Wolfius) have discouraged the reader from consulting any, in so great a crowd. I could not well brook the drudgery of transcribing the works of others, and should scorn the meanness of dressing myself up in borrow ed plumes; but if any imagine me a mere compiler, I shall not be greatly concerned at their mistake, but say, with the modest and excellent Mons. Rollin, "If the things themselves are good, it signifies very little whose they are*.”
The notes are, at the desire of many friends, entirely added to my first scheme; and when I saw so many persons of learning and rank were pleased to encourage my undertaking, I thought it would be no unacceptable expression of my gratitude to them to insert several which I should otherwise have omitted. Some of them seemed absolutely necessary to justify the version and paraphrase, in what might seem most peculiar in it: several more refer to the order, and give my reasons for leaving the general track, where I have left it; and for not leaving it much oftener, where some very learned and ingenious authors have taken a great deal of pains (though, I persuade myself, with a very good intent) to lead us out of the way: and as several of these are modern writers, the remurks are such as do not commonly occur. The rest of the notes consist, either of some observations on the beauty and force of various passages, which I do not remember to have seen elsewhere; or of references to, and observations upon, considerable writers, whether they be or be not professed expositors of scripture, who seem in the most masterly manner to examine or to illustrate and confirm the sense I have given. These are generally but very short; because it would have been quite foreign to my purpose, and utterly inconsistent with my scheme, to have formed them into large critical essays: but I hope they may be some guide to young students, who, if they have libraries at hand, are in great danger of being lost in a wood, where, I am sorry to say it, they will find a multitude of prickly and knotty shrubs, and in comparison but few pleasant and fruitful trees. It has appeared to me an office of real and important friendship to gentlemen in this station of life, to endeavour to select for them the most valuable passages which occur in reading, and to remit them thither, not only for the illustration of scripture, but also for their direction in studying the evidences and contents both of natural and revealed religion. This I have done with great care and labour in a pretty large work, which perhaps may be published after my death, if surviving friends should judge it proper. To that I have generally referred those citations which relate to polemical divinity; and at present only add that, with regard to these notes, I have endeavoured to render them easy and entertaining, even to an English reader; and for that purpose have cautiously excluded quotations from the learned languages, even where they might have served to illustrate customs referred to, or words to be explained. That deficiency may be abundantly made up by the perusal of Elsner, Albert, Bos, Wolfius, Raphelius, Fortuita Sacra, &c t; books which I cannot but
* Que m'importe d'ou il soit, pourvu qu'il se trouve utile.-Roll. Man. d'enseign, vol. i. p. 75.
+ As some of the books mentioned above are not very common among us, may not be improper to insert their titles, viz.
Jacobi Elsner. Obrervat. Sacræ, 2 vol. 8vo. Traject. ad Rhen. 1720.
Alberti Observ. Philolog. Lugd. Bat. 1725,
Lamberti Bos Exercitat. Philolog. Franek. 1700
Animadvers. Franck. 1715.
Observat. Miscell. Leovard. 1731.
Raphelii Annotat. Philol. in Nov. Test. ex Xenophonte, Polybio, & Herodoto
collecte, 3 tom. Lunen. 1731.
Wolfii Cure Philolog. & Critica, 4to. Hamb. 1725.
recommend to my young friends, as proper not only to ascertain the sense of a variety of words and phrases, which occur in the apostolic writings; but also to form them to the most useful method of studying the Greek classics, those great masters of solid sense, elegant expression, just lively painting, and masculine eloquence, to the neglect of which I cannot but ascribe that enervate, dissolute, and puerile manner of writing, which is growing so much on the present age, and will probably consign so many of its productions to speedy
The improvement of each section is entirely of a practical nature, and generally consists of pressing exhortations, and devout meditations, grounded on the general design, or on some particular passages, of the section to which they are annexed. They are all in an evangelical strain, and they could not with any propriety have been otherwise. I am well aware that this manner is not much in the present taste, and I think it at once a sad instance and cause of our degeneracy that it is not. If it be necessary that I should offer any apology, it must in short be this: I have with all possible attention and impartiality considered first the general evidences of the truth of Christianity, and then those of the inspiration of the New Testament, which seems to me inseparably connected with the former; and, on the whole, am in my conscience persuaded of both, and have been confirmed in that conviction by the most laboured attempts to overthrow them. It seems a necessary consequence of this conviction (and I am astonished it should not be more generally attended to), that we are with the humblest submission of mind to form our religious notions on this plan, and to give up the most darling maxims which will not bear the test of it.
I should think an impartial reader must immediately see, and every judicious critic be daily more confirmed in it, that the New Testament teaches us to conceive of Christ, not as a generous Benefactor only, who, having performed some actions of heroic virtue and benevolence, is now retired from all intercourse with our world, so that we have no more to do with him than to preserve a grateful remembrance of his character and favours; but that he is to be considered as an ever-living and ever-present friend, with whom we are to maintain a daily commerce by faith and prayer, and from whom we are to derive those supplies of divine grace, whereby we may be strengthened for the duties of life, and ripened for a state of perfect holiness and felicity. This is evident not only from particular passages of scripture, in which he is described as always with his church (Mat. xxviii. 20.) as present wherever two or three are assembled in his name (Mat. xviii. 20), as upholding all things by the word of his power (Heb. i. 3), and as Head over all to Ins church (Eph. i. 22), but indeed from the whole scope and tenor of the New Testament. These views are therefore continually to be kept up; and for any to pretend that this is a round-about method (as some have presumed to call it,) and that men may be led to virtue, the great end of all, by a much plainer and more direct way, seems to me only a vain and arrogant attempt to be wiser than God himself; which therefore must in the end appear to be folly, with whatever subtlety of argument it may be defended, or with whatever pomp of rhetoric it be adorned.
The New Testament is a book written with the most consummate knowledge of human nature; and though there are a thousand latent beauties in it, which it is the business and glory of true criticism to place in a true point of light, the general sense and design of it is plain to every honest reader even at the very first perusal. It is evidently intended to bring us to God through Christ, in an humble dependence on the communications of his sanctifying and quickening Spirit; and to engage us to a course of faithful and universal obedience, chiefly from a grateful sense of the riches of divine grace
grace manifested to us in the gospel. And though this scheme is indeed liable to abuse, as every thing else is, it appears to me plain in fact, that it has been and still is the grand instrument of reforming a very degenerate world; and according to the best observations I have been able to make on what has passed about me, or within my own breast, I have found, that, in proportion to the degree in which this evangelical scheme is received and relished, the interest of true virtue and holiness flourishes, and the mind is formed to manly devotion, diffusive benevolence, steady fortitude, and, in short, made ready to every good word and work. To this therefore I am determined, at all ads ventures, to adhere; nor am I at all ashamed or afraid of any scorn which I may encounter in such a cause; and I would earnestly exhort, and entreat, all my brethren in the Christian ministry to join with me, as well knowing to whom we have committed our souls; and cheerfully hoping, that He, by whom we have hitherto, if faithful in our calling, been supported and animated, will at length confess us before the presence of his Father and the holy angels in that day, when it will be found no dishonour to the greatest and wisest of the children of men to have listed themselves under the banner of the cross, and constantly and affectionately to have kept their divine Leader in view.
I cannot flatter myself so far, as to imagine that I have fallen into no mistakes, in a work of so great compass and 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. I should esteem it one of the most aggravated crimes to make the life of the gentle and benevolent Jesus a vehicle to convey such a 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 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
I hope it is some token of such growing candour on one side, as I am sure it should be an engagement to cultivate it on the other, that so many of the reverend clergy of the establishment, as well as other persons of distinction in it, have favoured this undertaking with their encouragement. To them, and, all my other friends, I return my most hearty thanks; and shall remember that the regard they have been pleased to express to it, obliges me to pursue the remainder of the work with the utmost care and application; and earnestly entreat the farther assistance of their prayers, that it may be conducted in a manner subservient to the honour of the gospel and the edification of the church.
In these volumes I have been desirous to express my gratitude to the subscribers, by sparing nothing in my power which might render the work acceptable to them; both with respect to its contents and its form. The consequence of this is, that it hath swelled to a number of sheets, which by more than a third part exceeds what I promised in the proposals; which, though at a great expence, I chose to permit, rather than I would either sink the paper and character beneath the specimen, or omit some remarks in the notes which appeared to me of moment, and rose in my mind while I was transcribing them. But I hope this large addition to what was at first expected will excuse my not complying with the importunity of some of my friends, who have requested that I would introduce this work with a dissertation on such points of Jewish antiquity as might be serviceable for the fuller understanding the New Testament, or with a discourse on its genuineness, credibility, inspiration and use.
As to the first of these (a compendious view of such articles of Jewish antiquity as may be a proper introduction to the critical study of scripture,) VOL. VI.
I do with great pleasure refer the generality of readers and young students to the general preface to the Prussian Testament, published by Mess. L'Enfant and Beausobre; which preface was some years since translated into English, and suits the purpose better than any thing I have seen within so small a compass. As to the latter, I purpose, if God permit, when I have finished the second volume, to publish with another edition of my Three Sermons on the Evidences of Christianity, two or three discourses more on the inspiration of the New Testament, and on its usefulness, especially that of the Evangelical History; to which I may perhaps add some farther directions for the most profitable manner of reading it. At present I shall only add, that daily experience convinces me more and more, that as a thousand charms discover themselves in the works of nature, when attentively viewed with glasses, which had escaped the naked eye; so our admiration of the holy scriptures will rise in proportion to the accuracy with which they are studied.
As for these histories and discourses of Christ, I may say of them, with far greater justice, what Simplicius doth of Epictetus, in the passage of which my motto is a part, and which I shall conclude my preface: "The words themselves are generally plain and intelligible but I have endeavoured thus to unfold them, that my own heart might be more deeply impressed with the spirit and certainty of them; and that others, who have not themselves equal advantage for entering into it, might be guided into their true interpretation. But if, on the whole, any reader continue entirely unaffected with them, there is little prospect that any thing will reclaim him till he come to the tribunal of the invisible world*."
* Και εισι μεν οι λογοι σαφεις ε χείρον δε ίσως, κατά το δυνατον διαπλύσσειν αυλές. Ο τε γαρ γραφων, συμπαθέςερος τε αμα προς αυλες γενησεται, και της αλέθειας αύλων καλανοηδικώτερος" και των φιλομαθων οι προς λογος ασυνηθςεροι, ισως εξοσι τινα χειραγωγίαν εκ της ερμενείας αυτων. Ει δε τις υπο τύλων μη πασχη των λόγων, υπο μόνων αν των εν αδε δικαςηρίων υπευθυνθέσεις Northampton, Nov. 27, 1738. Simplic. in Epictet. Proem.
Directions for reading the Family Expositor.
AS to the manner of reading this book in families, I would advise as follows:-First, Let the passage of Scripture be read from the common translation in the inner column, unless the family have their Bibles before them: then read the new version by itself, which is interwoven with the paraphrase, but distinguished by the italic character; and then the paraphrase and improvement.
As for the notes, I should advise the person who officiates to select such as are of the most general concern, and read them after the paragraph to which they belong; for it is not so agreeable to interrupt the sense by introducing them before it is completed. Other notes may perhaps be more fitly made matter of conversation afterwards; but this is referred to the prudence of particular persons, who will judge with a regard to the state and character of the families in question.
In reading the compound text it may be observed, that the words of the several evengelists are distinguished by crotchets, thus ; and the clauses included within them are always marked with the name of the evangelist from whom they are taken, unless a single text only be added at the end of the verse to which they must of course belong ; or, where more texts than one are added, the crotchets which have nothing to distinguish them belong to the first.
I am pleased to think with how much case any attentive reader will distinguish the text itself from the paraphrase in consequence of the extraordinary care which hath been taken to keep the work in that particular remarkably correct; for which I am obliged to pay my public and most thankful acknowledgments to my worthy brother and friend, the Reverend Mr. GODWIN, who generously undertook the great trouble, not only of revising each sheet as it came from the press, but also of inspecting the manuscript before it went thither, and of making several important alterations in it very much for the better; of which I should have been ready to have given a more particular account if his modesty and goodness would have permitted it.