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expressed or understood in the context; as in Heb. viii. 7. it is said, If the first covenant had been faultless, &c. where the word covenant is inserted; as it is also in verse 13. because it is expressly mentioned, in verses 8, 9, 10.
Again, in chap. x. 6. it is said, in sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure. The word sacrifices is supplied from the foregoing verse; and, for the same reason, offerings might as well have been supplied, as in ver. 8. And, in ver. 25. we are commanded to exhort one another; where one another is supplied from the foregoing verse.
Again, in 1 Pet. iv. 16. it is said, If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; where the words, any man suffer, are inserted as agreeable to what is mentioned, ver. 15.
And, in Eph. ii. 1. You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins; the words, hath he quickened, are supplied from ver. 5. and our translators might as well have added, you hath he quickened together with him, viz. Christ. These things I only mention as a specimen of the insertions, to complete the sense in our translation; and we shall find, that the words supplied in other scriptures, are for the most part, sufficiently just; but if they be not so, they are subject to correction, without the least imputation of altering the words of scripture, while we are endeavouring to give the true sense thereof; and we may be allowed, without perverting of the sacred writings, sometimes, to supply other words instead of them, which may seem more agreeable to the mind of the Holy Ghost therein. Thus, in Eph. vi. 12. it is said, We wrestle against spiritual wickedness in high places. The word places, is supplied by our translators; and, in the margin, it is observed, that it might as well be rendered heavenly places. Now because there is no spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, therefore they choose, without regard to the proper sense of the Greek word, to render it high places. Whereas, in chap. iii. 10. where there is no appearance of such an objection, they render the same word, heavenly places; though, I think, the words in both those scriptures, might better be rendered in what concerns heavenly things.
Again, in 2 Cor. vi. 1. it is said, We, as workers together with him, beseech you, &c. where, with him, is supplied to complete the sense; but, I think, it might better have been left out, and then the sense would have been, ministers, are workers together with one another, and not together with God; they are honoured to be employed by God, as moral instruments, which he makes use of; but they have no other casuality in bringing about the work of grace. The principal reason why the words with him, are supplied, is because it seems agreeable to the apostle's mode of speaking, in 1 Cor. iii. 9.
We are workers together with God; but, I think, those words might better be rendered, labourers together of God *; or we are jointly engaged in his work; therefore. there is no reason from hence to supply the words with him, in the text but now referred to.
(3.) If we would understand the sense of a particular text of scripture, we must consider its connexion with the context. Accordingly we must observe,
1st, The scope, design, or argument insisted on, in the paragraph, in which it is contained. Thus in Rom. viii. the apos tle's design in general, is to prove that there is no condemna tion to them which are in Christ Jesus, and to shew who they are, that may conclude themselves to be interested in this privilege; together with the many blessings that are connected with, or flow from it, which the subject matter of that chapter principally relates to.
And, in Heb. i. the apostle's principal design is, to prove the excellency and glory of Christ, as Mediator, above the angels, as he intimates ver. 4. which argument is principally insisted on, and illustrated, in the following part of the chap
And, in chap. xi. his design is, to give an account of the great things the Old Testament church were enabled to do, and suffer, by faith, of which, there is an induction of particu lars in several parts of it.
And, in Rom. v. the apostle insists on the doctrine of original sin, and shews how sin and death first entered into the world, and by what means we may expect to be delivered from it; and so takes occasion to compare Adam and Christ together, as two distinct heads and representatives of those who were included in the respective covenants which mankind were under; by the former of which, sin reigned unto death, and, by the latter, grace and righteousness, unto eternal life.
Again, in chap. vii. especially from ver. 5. the general ar gument insisted on, is, the conflict and opposition there is between sin and grace, and the manner in which corrupt nature discovers itself in the souls of the regenerate, together with the disturbance and uneasiness that it constantly gives them. And, in Psal. lxxxviii. we have an account of the distress that a soul is in, when under divine desertion, and brought to the very brink of despair. And, in Psal. lxxii. under the type of the glory of Solomon's kingdom, and the advantages his subjects should receive thereby, the glory and excellency of Christ's kingdom is illustrated, together with the gospel-state and blessings thereof. And, in Psal. li. David represents a true penitent as addressing himself to God for forgiveness. * Θε γαρ ἐσμεν συνεργεί
though particularly applied to his own case, after he had sinned in the matter of Uriah. Again, the general argument in Isa. liii. is to set forth the sufferings of Christ, whereby he made satisfaction for sin, together with the glory redounding to himself, and the advantages that believers derive from it.
2dly, We must consider the method made use of in managing the argument; whether by a close way of reasoning and consequences deduced from premises, or, by an explication of what was designed to inform the judgment, and laid down before in a general proposition. Or, whether the principal design of the paragraph be, to regulate the conduct of our lives, awaken our consciences out of a stupid frame, or excite in us becoming affections, agreeable to the subject-matter thereof, And, we are to observe how every part of it is adapted to answer these ends.
3dly, We are to consider who is the person speaking, or spoken to whether they are the words of God, the church, or the inspired writer; and, whether they are directed to particular persons, or to all men in general? Here we may often observe, that in the same paragraph there is an apostrophe, or turning the discourse from one person to another. Nothing is more common than this in the poetical writings of scripture. Thus, in the Psalms of David, sometimes God is represented as speaking to man, and then man as speaking to, or concerning God, as we may observe, in Psal. cxxxvii. 1-4. there is a relation of the church's troubles in Babylon; and, in verses 5 and 6. the Psalmist addresses his discourse to the church; If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. And, in ver. 7. he speaks to God, praying that he would remember the children of Edom, in the day of Jerusa lem; who said, Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof. And, in ver. 8, 9. he turns his discourse to Babylon, as 2 nation destined to destruction.
Again, in Psal. ii. he speaks concerning the rage of the Heathen, against Christ and his church, and that disappointment and ruin that they should meet with for it. And, in ver. 6. he represents God the Father as speaking concerning Christ; yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. And, in ver. 7, 8. Christ is brought in as speaking or making mention of the decree of God relating to his character and office, as Mediator, and the success of his kingdom, as extended to the uttermost parts of the earth, pursuant to his intercession, which was founded on his satisfaction. And, in ver. 10 -12, the Psalmist turns his discourse to those persecuting powers, or the kings of the earth, whom he had spoken of in the former part of the Psalm, and instructs them what methods they should take to escape God's righteous vengeance. Such
fike change of persons speaking, or spoken to, may be obseryed in many of the Psalms, Psal. xvi. 1, &c. and cxxxiv.
And throughout the whole book of Canticles, there is an inter-changeable discourse between Christ and his church, which is sometimes called his spouse, at other times his sister; sometimes he speaks to the church, and at other times of it. And, in other places, the church is represented as speaking to him, or to the daughters of Jerusalem, namely, those professors of religion, that had little more than a form of godliness. (a)
Again, we often find, that there is a change with respect to the persons speaking, spoken to, or of, in the writings of the prophets, as well as in the poetical writings; as may be observ ed in Isa. lxiii. throughout the whole chapter. And, in Micah vii. 18, 19, 20. there is a change of persons in almost every sentence; Who is a God like unto thee that pardoneth iniquity, &c. He retaineth not his anger for ever; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
4thly, We are farther to consider the occasion of what is laid down in any chapter, paragraph, or book of scripture, which we desire to understand. Thus the particular occasion of the book of Lamentations, was the approaching ruin of Judah, and the miseries that they should be exposed to when Jerusalem was besieged by the Chaldeans; as appears by the subject-matter thereof; though, it may be, that which was the more immediate occasion of its being delivered at that time, was, that the prophet might lament the death of good Josiah, 2 Chron. xxxv. 25. which, probably, he had a peculiar eye to, when he says, The crown is fallen from our head, Lam. v. 16. as well as the destruction of the whole nation, which would ✩ ensue soon after it, in which their civil and religious liberties would be invaded by their enemies, who would oppress and lead them captive.
And the principal occasion of the apostle's writing the episale to the Galatians, was, that he might establish some among them, in the faith of the gospel, who were so much disposed to turn aside from him that called them, and embrace another scheme of religion that was subversive of it; as he observes, in chap. i. 6. where, by this other gospel, which he dissuades them from turning aside unto, we are to understand those doctrines that they had imbibed from those false teachers who endeavour either to re-establish the observation of the ceremonial law, or to put them upon seeking righteousness and life, from their observing the precepts of the moral law, which tended to overthrow the doctrine of justification by Christ's
(a) Vide T. Williams on the Song of Solemon,
righteousness; which is a subject often insisted on by the apostle, both in this and his other epistles.
This method of enquiring into the occasion of what is mentioned in particular paragraphs of scripture, will often give light to some things contained therein. Thus we read, in Matt. xxi. 23-27. that the chief priests and elders ask our Saviour this question, By what authority dost thou these things? which, had it proceeded from an humble mind, desirous to be convinced by his reply to it; or, had he not often, in their hearing, asserted the authority by which he did those things, he would, doubtless, have told them, that he received a commission to do them the Father; and, that every miracle which he wrought, was, as it were, a confirming seal annexed to it. But our Saviour, knowing the design of the question, and the character of the persons that asked it, he does not think fit to make any reply to it, rather chusing to put them to silence, by proposing another question to them, which he knew they would not be forward to answer, relating to the baptism of John, viz. whether it was from heaven, or of men. And this was certainly the best method he could have taken; for he dealt with them as cavillers, who were to be put to silence, and made Ashamed at the same time.
(4.) In order to our understanding the sense of scripture, we must, so far as it is possible, compare the phrases, or modes of expression, as well as the subject insisted on, with what occurs in other parallel places. Thu-, in several of the historical parts of scripture, we have the same history, or, at least, many things tending to illustrate it; as the history of the reign of the kings of Judah and Israel, is the principal subject of the book of Kings and Chronicles; one of which often refers to, as well as explains the other, and, by comparing them together, we shall find, that one gives light to the other. Thus it is said, in 2 Kings xii. 2. that fehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days, wherein Fehoiada the priest instructed him; by which it is intimated, that, after the death of Jehoiada, he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord; but this is not particularly mentioned in this chapter, which principally insists on that part of his reign which was commendable. But if we compare it with 2 Chron. xxiv, we have an account of his reign after the death of Jehoiada, how he set up idolatry, ver. 17, 18. being instigated hereunto by his princes that flattered, or, as it is expressed, made obeisance unto him, and disregarded the prophets sent to testify against these practices; and how he stoned Zachariah in the court of the house of the Lord, for his faithful reproof and prophetic intimation of the consequence of the idolatry, in which he thewed the greatest ingratitude, and forgetfulness of the good