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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 no 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 education 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 which in all instances, in these Notes, are an essential part of the explanation of the text.*
In the American edition it has happened, from causes which need not be explained here, that many of these references are incorrect, so far losing the value which the excellent author attributed to them. English editions of the work, though correcting many of the errors in the American, have still left uncorrected so many as considerably to impair the value of the Editorial labour bestowed on these editions. As a specimen I may mention pages 14 and 15 of a quarto edition of the New Testament and Notes; vol. i. published in 1848. In these two pages four errors have been left uncorrected by the worthy editor. The notes on Matt. iii. 12, refer to Hos. xiii. 13; it should be Hos. xiii. 3. The notes on ver. 16, refer to Ps lv. 7; it should be Ps. lv. 6. The last paragraph in the notes on chap. iii. contains a reference to Isa. ix. 8; it should be Isa. ix. 6. The notes on Matt. iv. 1, refer to 1 Tim. iii. 2; it should be 1 Tim. iii. 11. These are instances taken at random. In other pages, instances even worse than these might have been selected for illustration; and that they are not mere misprints which escaped the vigilance of the editor is evident from their appearing also in a smaller edition brought out under the superintendence of the same editor. Another edition published, as the Title page indicates, 1850, also smaller and in two volumes, is the most correct, though even this is somewhat frequently at fault. It is exceedingly difficult to secure entire correctness in matters of this kind, and I will not affirm that I have succeeded; it has, however, been my aim to succeed. I think also it will be perceived that the present edition of the notes is an improvement on former editions from
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 furnish 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 subjects set forth in the Book of God, and determine their eternal destiny, no one can be sensible who has not made the experiment. 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
the introduction of several references, chiefly marginal, which the author did not give, and which his English editors have not attempted.
This may be an appropriate place also for saying that, inasmuch as the American Sunday School Union Dictionary can be known to but very few English readers of the following work, the references to that compilation have been exchanged in most cases for references to works equally excellent to which English Sunday-school teachers have readier access. Both the English editions above alluded to retain the original references. Here and there an Americanism is corrected, and money is reduced, not to American coins, as with the author, but to English.
SAMUEL GREEN, Editor.
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 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.
EXTRACTS FROM THE PREFACE
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 favour 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 Sabbath-school instruction required it.
[Circumstances led to a revision of the work for the present edition, and the author adds-] I have found 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 contradicting others. These errors I have endeavoured to correct. Some places have been considerably enlarged. 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.
The essential character and form of the work have not been changed. I could easily have made it larger, and could have furnished many additional illustrations; but I supposed that the christian 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 necessary 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 cannot 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 gifted 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 favours, and to God, the great Source of all blessings, I send them forth again-commending them to His care, and asking in a special manner the continued favour of Sabbath-school teachers and of the young.
Washington Square, Philadelphia,