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Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1840, by
in the clerk's office of the district court of the United States, in
and for the eastern district of Pennsylvania
In the preparation of the following Notes, free use has been made of all the helps within the reach of the author. The works from which most assistance has been derived are, Walton's Polyglott ; the Critici Sacri, particularly the notes of Grotius; Lightfoot's Works; Macknight and Newcome's Harmony of the Gospels; Jahn's Archæology; Horne's Introduction ; Doddridge's Family Expositor ; Calmet's Dictionary; Campbell on the Gospels; the Commentaries of Kuinoel, Rosenmüller, Clarke, and Henry ; Tittman's Meletemata Sacra on John; the Sacred Geography of Wells, and that prepared for the American Sunday-School Union, by Messrs. J. & J. W. Alexander. The object has been to express, in as few words as possible, the real meaning of the gospels :-the results of their critical study, rather than the process by which these results were reached.
This work is designed to occupy a place, which is supposed to be unappropriated, in attempts to explain the New Testament. It was my wish to present to Sunday-school teachers a plain and simple explanation of the more common difficulties of the book which it is their province to teach. This wish has given character to the work. If it should occur to any one that more minute explanations of words, phrases, and customs, have been attempted than might seem to them desirable, it will be recollected that many Sunday-school teachers have little access to means of information, and that no small part of their success is dependent on the minuteness and correctness of the explanation which is given to children.
This work is designed also to be a Harmony of the Gospels. Particular attention has been bestowed, especially in the Notes on Matthew, to bring the different narratives of the evangelists together, and to show that, in their narration of the same events, there is nc real contradiction. It will be recollected that the sacred narrative of an event is what it is reported to be by all the evangelists. It will also be recollected that the most plausible objections to the New Testament have been drawn from the apparent contradictions in the gospels. The importance of meeting these difficulties, in the educa. tion of the young, and of showing that these objections are not well founded, will be apparent to all.
Particular attention has been paid to the references to parallel passages of scripture. In all instances, in these Notes, they are an essential part of the explanation of the text. The authority of the Bible has been deemed the only authority that was necessary in such cases; and it is hoped that no one will condemn any explanation offered, without a candid examination of the real meaning of the passages referred to.
The main design of these Notes will be accomplished, if they fur. nish a just explanation of the text. Practical remarks could not have been more full without materially increasing the size of the book, and, as was supposed, without essentially limiting its circulation and its usefulness. All that has been attempted, therefore, in this part of the work, has been to furnish leading thoughts, or heads of practical remark, to be enlarged on at the discretion of the teacher.
These Notes have been prepared amidst the pressing and anxious cares of a responsible pastoral charge. Of their imperfections no one can be more sensible than the author. Of the time and patience indispensable in preparing even such brief Notes on the Bible, under the conviction that the opinions expressed may form the sentiments of the young on the subject of the Book of God, and determine their eternal destiny, no one can be sensible who has not made the experi. ment. The great truth is becoming more and more impressed on the minds of this generation, that the Bible is the only authoritative source of religious belief; and if there is any institution pre-eminently calculated to deepen this impression, and fix it permanently in the minds of the coming age, it is the Sunday-school. Every minister of the gospel, every parent, every Christian, must therefore feel it important that just views of interpretation should be imbibed in these schools. I have felt more deeply than I have any other sentiment, the importance of inculcating on the young, proper modes of
, explaining the sacred scriptures. If I can be one of the instruments, however humble, in extending such views through the community, my wish in this work will be accomplished. I commit it, therefore, to the blessing of the God of the Bible, with the prayer that it may be one among many instruments of forming correct religious views and promoting the practical love of God and man, among the youth of this country
PHILADELPHIA, August 25th, 1832.
THE SEVENTEENTH EDITION.
The first edition of these Notes on the Gospels was published in the year 1832. Since that time sixteen editions, of two thousand each, have been sold, making thirty-two thousand copies, or sixty. four thousand volumes. I need not say that so extensive a sale has greatly surpassed any expectations which I had formed, and that the favor of the public thus shown has laid me under the strongest obligations of gratitude. It has demonstrated what I deeply felt when the work was composed, that such a plain exposition of the Gospels was needed by the public, and particularly that the cause of Sabbathschool instruction required it.
The stereotype plates of the Gospels, by a neglect of careful usage, and by the number of impressions taken, having become greatly worn, and it being found necessary to re-cast them, I have taken this opportunity to give to the work a careful revision. I have long felt that this was necessary, and have been prevented from doing it only by the difficulty of correcting a work which is stereotyped. Many points and letters had become broken off; many words were dimly printed ; and many sentences had become obscure. I have found, also, in revising it, that in many places there were redundant words ; that some were obscure in their meaning ; that some had been printed erroneously at first; that in some instances there was need of additional explanations; and that there were some parts contra. dicting others. These errors I have endeavored to correct. Some places have been considerably enlarged. Numerous illustrations and wood-cuts have been introduced ; and a valuable map of Jerusalem, by Catherwood, has been added. As the work on the Gospels is complete in itself, I have added at the close of the second volume such tables as I supposed would be useful to the teachers in Sabbathschools. In particular, the chronological table, and the index, have cost me much labour, and I trust will be found to be useful. In the revision of the work, valuable assistance has been derived from the Union Bible Dictionary of the American Sunday-School Union, which has been freely used, and the benefit derived from which is hereby gratefully acknowledged.
The essential character and form of the work have not been changed. I could easily have made it larger, and could have fur.
nished many additional illustrations ; but I supposed that the Chris, tian public had expressed its approbation of the general form and style of the work in such a manner as to make a material deviation from either improper. In revising the work, I have made some references to other parts of my writings on the New Testament, where a subject is more fully discussed. In a few places I have also made a reference to my Notes on Isaiah. Some who may possess the Notes on the Gospels, may also possess that work. To such these references will be valuable, though not absolutely necessury to an understanding of these Notes on the Gospels. .
It is not probable that I shall live to see the present set of plates worn out, or to make another revision of these volumes necessary. I dismiss them, therefore, finally, with deep feeling; feeling more deep by far than when I first submitted them to the press. I can. not be insensible to the fact that I have been, by my expositions of the New Testament, doing something—and it may be much-to mould the hearts and intellects of thousands of the rising generation in regard to the great doctrines and duties of religion—thousands who are to act their parts, and develop these principles, when I am dead. Nor can I be insensible to the fact that in the form in which these volumes now go forth to the public, I may continue, though dead, to speak to the living; and that the work may be exerting an influence on immortal minds when I am in the eternal world. I need not say, that while I am sensitive to this consideration, I earnestly desire it. There are no sentiments in these volumes which I wish to alter ; none that I do not believe to be truth that will abide the investigations of the great day; none of which I am ashamed. That I may be in error, I know; that a better work than this might be prepared by a more gisted. mind and a better heart, I know. But the truths here set forth are, I am persuaded, those which are destined to abide, and to be the means of saving millions of souls, and of ultimately converting this whole world to God. That these volumes may have a part in this great work, is my earnest prayer —and with many thanks to the public for their favors, and to Got the Great Source of all blessings, I send them forth again —con. mending them to his care, and asking in a special manner the cos tinued favor of Sabbath-school teachers and of the young.
Washington Square, PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 11, 1840