Графични страници
PDF файл

------- - - -------- –

U. ENERAL PREFACE.

the happy and rare property of leading the reader immediately to God and his own heart.
A new edition of this work, with considerable additions, has been lately published by the Rev.
Joseph Benson, from whose learning, piety, and theological knowledge, much has been reasonably
expected. The work has been very useful, and has been widely dispersed.
The late unfortunate Dr. WILLIAM Dodd published a commentary on the Old and New Testa-
ments, in three vols. folio, London, 1770. Much of it is taken from the comment of Father
Calmet, already described; but he has enriched his work by many valuable notes which he
extracted from the inedited papers of Lord Clarendom, Dr. Waterland, and Mr. Locke. He
has also borrowed many important notes from Father Houbigant. This work, as giving in
general the true sense of the Scriptures, is by far the best comment that has yet appeared in the
English language. The late lamented Dr. Gosset, of famous bibliographical memory, told me
that he “had furnished Dr. Dodd with the MS. collections of Dr. Waterland and others; that
Dr. Dodd was employed by the London booksellers to edit this work; and it was by far the
best of these works which might be said to be published by the yard.”
A work, entitled An Illustration of the Sacred Writings, was published by Mr. Goadby, at
Sherbourne : it contains many judicious notes, has gone through several editions, and, while it
seems to be orthodox, is written entirely on the Arian hypothesis.
The Rev. Thomas Coke, LL.D. has lately published a commentary on the Old and New
Testaments, in six vols. 4to. This is, in the main, a reprint of the work of Dr. Dodd, with
several retrenchments, and some additional reflections. Though the major part of the notes,
and even the dissertations of Dr. Dodd are here republished; yet all the marginal readings
and parallel texts are entirely omitted. The absence of these would be inexcusable in any
Bible beyond the size of a duodecimo. Of their importance see pp. 19 and 20 of this preface.
Dr. Coke's edition is in general well printed, has some good maps, and has had a very extensive
sale. The original work of Dodd was both scarce and dear, and therefore a new edition became
necessary; and had the whole of the original work, with the marginal readings, parallel texts,
&c., been preserved, Dr. Coke's publication would have been much more useful. Dr. Coke
should have acknowledged whence he collected his materials, but on this point he is totally
silent.
The Rev. T. Scott, rector of Aston Sandford, has published a commentary on the Old
and New Testaments, in five vols. 4to. The author's aim seems to be, to speak plain truth
to plain men ; and for this purpose he has interspersed a multitude of practical observations
all through the text, which cannot sail, from the spirit of sound piety which they breathe,
of being very useful.
The late Dr. Priestley compiled a body of notes on the Old and New Testaments, in 3
vols. 8vo., published at Northumberland in America, 1804. Though the doctor keeps his own
creed (Unitarianism) continually in view, especially when considering those texts which other
religious people adduce in favour of theirs, yet his work contains many valuable notes and
observations, especially on the philosophy, natural history, geography, and chronology of the
Scriptures; and to these subjects few men in Europe were better qualified to do justice.
A new translation of Job, and one of the books of Canticles, has becm published by Dr.
Mason Good, both replete with learned notes of no ordinary merit.
In closing this part of the list, it would be unpardonable to omit a class of eminently learned
men, who, by their labours on select parts of the Scriptures, have rendered the highest services
both to religion and literature.
Samuel Bochart, pastor of the Protestant Church at Caen in Normandy, wrote a very learned
and accurate work on the geography of the sacred writings, entitled Phaleg and Canaan, and
another on the Natural History of the Bible, entitled Hierozoicon, by both of which, as well as
by several valuable dissertations in his works, much light is thrown on many obscure places in
the sacred writings. The best collection of his works is supposed to be that by Leusden and
Villemandy, three vols. folio. L. Bat. 1712.
Dr. I. James Scheuchzer, professor of medicine and the mathematics in the university of
Zurich, is author of a very elaborate work on the Natural History of the Bible, entitled Physica
Sacra, which has been printed in Latin, German, and French, and forms a regular comment on
all the books of the Bible where any subject of natural history occurs.
The very learned author has availed himself of all the researches of his predecessors on the
same subject, and has illustrated his work with 750 engravings of the different subjects in the
animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, to which there is any reference in the Scriptures.
The German edition was published in 1731, in 15 vols. folio, the Latin edition in 1731; and the
French in 1732, 8 vols. folio, often bound in 4. The work is as rare as it is useful and elegant.
The late Rev. Mr. Thomas Harmer published a very useful work, entitled “ Observations on
various Passages of Scripture,” in which he has cast much light on many difficult texts that
relate to the customs and manners, religious and civil, of the Asiatic nations, by quotations from

the works of ancient and modern travellers into different parts of the East, whose described

G FNERAL PREFACE.

those customs, &c., as still subsisting. The best edition of this work was published in four vols. 8vo., IS08, with many additions and corrections by the author of the present commentary. Campegius Vitringa wrote a learned and most excellent comment on the book of the Prophet Isaiah, in 2 vols. folio ; the best edition of which was printed in 1724. He died in 1722. Dr. R. Lowth, bishop of London, is the author of an excellent work, entitled, Isai AH : A New Translation, with a preliminary Dissertation, and Notes critical, philological, and explamatory. 4to., Lond. 1779, first edition. The preliminary dissertation contains a fund of rare and judicious criticism. The translation, formed by the assistance of the ancient versions collated with the best MSS. of the Hebrew text, is clear, simple, and yet dignified. The concluding notes, which show a profound knowledge of Hebrew criticism, are always judicious, and generally useful. The late Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Newcome, has published a translation of the minor prophets, with learned notes: it is a good work, but creeps slowly after its great predecessor. He has also published a translation of the New Testament, with notes, not much esteemed. On the same plan the Rev. Dr. Blayney translated and published the Prophet Jeremiah, with notes, 1784. Joh N ALBERT BENGEL is author of an edition of the New Testament, with various readings, and such a judicious division of it into paragraphs as has never been equalled, and perhaps never can be excelled. He wrote a very learned comment on the Apocalypse, and short notes on the New Testament, which he entitled Gnomon Novi Testamenti, in quo ea nativa verborum vi, simplicitas profunditas, concinnitas, salubritas sensuum Caplestium indicatur. In him were united two rare qualifications—the deepest piety and the most extensive learning. A commentary on the same plan, and with precisely the same title, was published by Phil. David Burkius, on the twelve minor prophets, 4to., Heilbronna, 1753, which was followed by his Gnomon Psalmorum, 2 vols. 4to., Stutgardia, 1760. These are in many respects valuable works, written in a pure strain of piety, but rather too much in a technical form. They are seldom to be met with in this country, and are generally high priced. The late pious bishop of Norwich, Dr. Horne, published the book of Psalms with notes, which breathe a spirit of the purest and most exalted piety. HERMAN WENEMA is known only to me by a comment on Malachi, some dissertations on sacred subjects, an ecclesiastical history, correct editions of some of Vitringa's Theological Tracts, and a most excellent and extensive Commentary on the Psalms, in 6 vols. 4to., printed Leovardiae, 1762–7. Through its great scarcity the work is little known in Great Britain. What was said by David of Goliah's sword has been said of Venema's commentary on the Book of Psalms, “There is none like it.” Ern. Frid. Car. Rosenmülleri, Ling. Arab. in Acad. Lips. Professoris, &c., Scholia in y ET Us Testamentum. Edit. secunda emendatior, Lips. 1795–1812, 11 vols. Svo. Scholia in Novum Testamentum. Edit. quinta auction et emendatior, 1801–1808, 5 vols. Svo., Nuremberg. This is a very learned and useful work, but rather too diffuse for Scholia. In the Scholia on the Old Testament Rosenmüller has not meddled with the historical books.

CLAss IV.-CoM PILATION's AND Collections.

On the Fourth CLAss, containing compilations and critical collections, a few words must suffice. Among the compilations may be ranked what are termed Catemae of the Greek and Latin Fathers; these consist of a connected series of different writers on the same text. The work of Galafridus, or Walafridus Strabus, already described, is of this kind; it contains a Catema or connected series of the expositions of all the Fathers and Doctors prior to his time. A very valuable Catena on the Octateuch, containing the comments of about fifty Greek Fathers, has been published at Leipsig, 1792, in 2 vols. folio: it is all in Greek, and therefore of no use to common readers. The work of Venerable Bede, already noticed, is professedly of the same kind.

Father De la Haye, in what was called the Biblia Magna, 1643, 5 vols. folio, and afterwards Biblia Marima, 1660, 19 vols. folio, besides a vast number of critical Dissertations, Prefaces, &c., inserted the whole notes of Nicholas de Lyra, Menochius, Gagneus, Estius, and the Jesuit Tirin. -

Several minor compilations of this nature have been made by needy writers, who, wishing to get a little money, have without scruple or ceremony borrowed from those whose reputation was well established with the public; and by taking a little from one, and a little from another, pretended to give the marrow of all. These pretensions have been rarely justified: it often requires the genius of a voluminous original writer to make a faithful abridgment of his work; but in most of these compilations the love of money is much more evident than the opacity to do justice to the original author, or the ability to instruct and profit mankind. To what a

yast number * minor compilations has the excellent work of Mr. Matthew Henry given

GENERAL PREFACE.

birth every one of which, while professing to lop off his redundancies, and supply his deftciencies, falls, by a semi-diameter of the immense orb of literature and religion, short of the eminence of the author himself. The most important collection of Biblical critics ever made was that formed under the direction of Bishop Pearson, John Pearson, Anthony Scattergood, and Francis Gouldman, printed by Cornelius Bee, London, 1660, in 9 vols. folio, under the title of CRITICI Sacr1, intended as a companion for the Polyglot Bible, published by Bishop Walton, in 1657. This great work was republished at Amsterdam, with additions, in 12 vols. folio, in 1698. Two volumes called Thesaurus Dissertationum Elegantiorum, &c., were printed as a supplement to this work, at Amsterdam, in 1701–2. Of this supplement it may be said, it is of less consequence and utility than is generally supposed, as the substance of several treatises in it is to be found in the preceding volumes. The work contains a vast variety of valuable materials for critics, chronologists, &c. The principal critics on the Old Testament, contained in the foreign edition of this great collection, which is by far the most complete, are the following: Sebastian Munster, Paul Fagius, Francis Watablus, Claudius Badwellus, Sebastian Castalio, Isidore Clarius, Lucas Brugensis, Andrew Masius, John Drusius, Sextinus Amama, Simeon de Muis, Philip Codurcus, Rodolph Baynus, Francis Forrerius, Edward Lively, David Hoeschelius, Hugo Grotius, Christopher Cartwright, Cornelius a Lapide, and John Pricacus. Besides the above, who are regular commentators on the Old Testament, there are various important Dissertations and Tracts, on the principal subjects in the law and prophets, by the following critics: Joseph Scaliger, Lewis Capellus, Martin Helvicus, Alberic Gentilis, Moses bar Cepha, Christopher Helvicus, John Buteo, Matthew Hostus, Francis Moncacius, Peter Pithaeus, George Rittershusius, Michael Rothardus, Leo Allatius, Gaspar Warrerius, William Schickardus, Augustin Justinianus, Bened. Arias Montanus, Bon. Corn. Bertramus, Peter Cumaeus, Caspar Waser, and Edward Brerewood. On the New Testament the following commentators are included: Sebastian Munster, Laurentius Valla, James Revius, Desiderius Erasmus, Francis Watablus, Sebastian Castalio, Isidore Clarius, Andrew Masius, Nicolas Zegerus, Lucas Brugensis, Henry Stephens, John Drusius, Joseph Scaliger, Isaac Casaubon, John Camero, James Capellus, Lewis Capcllus, Otho Gualtperius, Abraham Schultetus, Hugo Grotius, and John Pricaeus. Dissertations on the most important subjects in the New Testament inserted here were written by Lewis Capellus, Nicolas Faber, William Klebitius, Marquard Freherus, Archbishop Usher, Matthew Hostus, I. A. Wan-der-Linden, Claudius Salmasius under the feigned name of Johannes Simplicius, James Gothofridus, Philip Codurcus, Abraham Schultetus, William Ader, John Drusius, Jac. Lopez Stunica, Desider. Erasmus, Angelus Caninius, Peter Pithaeus, Nicephorus, patriarch of Constantinople, Adriani Isagoge cum notis Dav. Hoeschelii, B. C. Bertram, Anton. Nebrissensis, Nicholas Fuller, Samuel Petit, John Gregory, Christ. Cartwright, John Cloppenburg, and Pet. Dan. Huet. Those marked in italics are not included in the critics on the Old Testament. The Thesaurus Dissertationum Eregeticarum, published as a supplement to this work by Theod. Hasaeus and Conrad Ikenius, in 2 vols. folio, contains upwards of one hundred and fifty additional writers. Such a constellation of learned men can scarcely be equalled in any age or country. Mr. Matthew Poole, whose English comment has been already noticed, conceiving that the CRItic1 SACRI might be made more useful by being methodized, with immense labour formed the work well known among divines by the title of Synopsis Criticorum, a general view of the critics, viz., those in the nine volumes of the Critici Sacri mentioned above. The printing of this work began in 1669, and was finished in 1674, 5 vols. folio. Here the critics no longer occupy distinct places as they do in the Critici Sacri, but are all consolidated, one general comment being made out of the whole, the names of the writers being referred to by their initials in the margin. To the critics above named Mr. Poole has added several others of equal note, and he refers also to the most important versions, both ancient and modern. The learned author spent ten years in compiling this work. In point of size, the work of Mr. Poole has many advantages over the Critici Sacri; but no man who is acquainted with both works will ever prefer the synopsis to the original. Perhaps no city in the world can boast of having produced, in so short a period, so many important works on the sacred writings as the city of London ; works which, for difficulty, utility, critical and typographical correctness, and expense, have never been excelled. These are, 1. The Polyglot, 6 vols. folio; begun in 1653, and finished in 1657. 2. The Critici Sacri, in 9 vols. folio, 1660. 3. Castell's Heptaglot Lexicon, compiled for the Polyglot Bible, 2 vols. folio, 1669. 4. The Synopsis Criticorum, 5 vols. folio; begun in 1669, and finished in 1674. These works, printed in Hebrew, Chaldee, Samaritan, Syriac, Arabic, Æthiopic, Persian, Greek, and Latin, forming 22 vast vols. folio, were begun and finished in this city by the industry and at the erpense of a few English divines and noblemen, in the comparatively * compass of

GENERAL PREFACE.

about twenty years To complete its eminence in Biblical literature, and to place itself at the head of all the cities in the universe, London has only to add a new and improved edition of its own Polyglot, with the additional versions which have come to light since the publication of the original work. - - To the above list might be added those who have illustrated the sacred writings by passages drawn from Josephus and the Greek and Roman classics, among which the following are worthy of particular regard: Jo. Tobia. KREBs11 Observationes in Nov. Testam. e Flav. Josepho, 8vo., Lips. 1754. Geo. Dav. Kyp RE Observationes in Novi Foederis Libros, ex auctoribus, potissimum Graecis, &c., 2 vols. Svo., Wratislaviae, 1755. Georgii RAPHELII Annotationes in Sacram Scripturam, &c., Lugd. 1747, 2 vols. 8vo. Krebs throws much light on different facts and forms of speech in the New Testament by his quotations from Josephus. Kupke does the same by an appeal to the Greek writers in general. And Raphelius gives historical elucidations of the Old, and philological observations on the New Testament, drawn particularly from Xenophon, Polybius, Arrian, and Herodotus. To these might be added several excellent names who have rendered considerable services to sacred literature and criticism by their learned labours: Sir Norton Knatchbull's Observations, Hallett's Critical Notes, Bowyer's Conjectures, Leigh's Annotations, &c., &c.; to whom may be added those who have illustrated innumerable passages, obscure and difficult, in lexicons and dictionaries for the Hebrew Bible and Greek Testament : Burtorf, Cocceius, Mintert, Pasor, Schoettgenius, Stockius, Krebs, Calmet, Leusden, Robinson, Michaelis, Edward Leigh, Schulz, Dr. Taylor, Schleusner, and Parkhurst, a particular account of whom would far exceed the limits of this presace; but Schleusner, as a lexicographer for the New Testament, is far beyond my praise. I have already apprized the reader that I did not design to give a history of commentators, but only a short sketch; this I have done, and am fully aware that different readers will form different opinions of its execution ; some will think that writers of comparatively little eminence are inserted, while several of acknowledged worth are omitted. This may be very true; but the judicious reader will recollect that it is a sketch and not a complete history that is here presented to his view, and that the important and non-important are terms which different persons will apply in opposite senses, as they may be prejudiced in favour of different writers. . I have given my opinion, as every honest man should, with perfect deference to the judgment of others, and shall be offended with no man for differing from me in any of the opinions I have expressed on any of the preceding authors or their works. I could easily swell this list with many foreign critics, but as far as I know them I do not in general like them ; besides, they are not within the reach of common readers, though many of them stand, no doubt, deservedly high in the judgment of learned men. Having said thus much on commentaries in general, it may be necessary to give some account of that now offered to the public, the grounds on which it has been undertaken, and the manner in which it has been compiled. At an early age I took for my motto Prov. xviii. 1: Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. Being convinced that the Bible was the source whence all the principles of true wisdom, wherever found in the world, had been derived, my desire to comprehend adequately its great design, and to penetrate the meaning of all its parts, led me to separate myself from every pursuit that did not lead, at least indirectly, to the accomplishment of this end ; and while seeking and intermeddling with different branches of human knowledge, as my limited means would permit, I put each study under contribution to the object of my pursuit, endeavouring to make every thing subservient to the information of my own mind, that, as far as Divine Providence might think proper to employ me, I might be the better qualified to instruct others. At first I read and studied, scarcely committing any thing to paper, having my own edification alone in view, as I could not then hope that any thing I wrote could be of sufficient importance to engage the attention or promote the welfare of the public. But as I proceeded I thought it best to note down the result of my studies, especially as far as they related to the Septuagint, which about the year 1785 I began to read regularly, in order to acquaint myself more fully with the phraseology of the New Testament, as I found that this truly venerable version was that to which the evangelists and apostles appear to have had constant recourse, and from which in general they make their quotations. The study of this version served more to illuminate and expand my mind than all the theological works I had ever consulted. I had proceeded but a short way in it before I was convinced that the prejudices against it were utterly unfounded, and that it was of incalculable advantage toward a proper understanding of the literal sense of Scripture, and am astonished that the study of it should be so generally neglected. About mine years after this, my health having been greatly impaired by the severity of my labours, and fearing that I should soon be obliged to relinquish my public employment, I formed the purpose of writing short notes on the New Testament, collating the common printed text with all the versions and collections from MSS. to which I could have

GENERAL PREFACE.

access. Scarcely had I projected this work when I was convinced that another was previously necessary, viz., a careful perusal of the original teat. I began this work, and soon found that it was perfectly possible to read and not understand. Under this conviction I sat down determining to translate the whole before I attempted any comment, that I might have the sacred text the more deeply impressed on my memory. I accordingly began my translation, collating the original teact with all the ancient and with several of the modern versions, carefully weighing the value of the most important various readings found in those versions, as well as those which I was able to collect from the most authentic copies of the Greek text. A worse state of health ensuing, I was obliged to remit almost all application to study, and the work was thrown aside for nearly two years. Having returned to it when a state of comparative convalescence took place, I found i had not gone through the whole of my preliminary work. The New Testament I plainly saw was a comment on the Old ; and to understand such a comment, I knew it was absolutely necessary to be well acquainted with the original teat... I then formed the plan of reading consecutively a portion of the Hebrew Bible daily. Accordingly I began to read the Old Testament, noting down on the different books, chapters, and verses, such things as appeared to me of most importance, intending the work as an outline sor one on a more extensive scale, should it please God to spare my life and give me health and leisure to complete it. In this preliminary work I spent a little more than one year and two months, in which time I translated every sentence, Hebrew and Chaldee, in the Old Testament. In such a work it would be absurd to pretend that I had not met with many difficulties. I was attempting to illustrate the most ancient and most learned - book in the universe, replete with allusions to arts that are lost, to nations that are extinct, to customs that are no longer observed, and abounding in modes of speech and turns of phraseology which can only be traced out through the medium of the cognate Asiatic languages. On these accounts I was often much perplexed, but I could not proceed till I had done the utmost in my power to make every thing plain. The frequent occurrence of such difficulties led me closely to examine and compare all the original texts, versions, and translations, as they stand in the London Polyglot, with some others not inserted in that work; and from these, especially the Samaritan, Chaldee Targums, Septuagint, and Vulgate, I derived the most assistance, though all the rest contributed their quota in cases of difficulty. Almost as soon as this work was finished I began my comment on the four gospels, and notwithstanding the preparations already made, and my indefatigable application early and late to the work, I did not reach the end of the fourth Evangelist till eighteen months after its commencement. Previously to this I had purposed to commit what I had already done to the press; but when I had all my arrangements made, a specimen actually set up and printed, and advertisements circulated, a sudden rise in the price of paper, which I fondly hoped would not be of long continuance, prevented my proceeding. When this hope vanished, another work on the Scriptures by a friend was extensively announced. As I could not bear the thought of even the most distant appearance of opposition to any man, I gave place, being determined not to attempt to divide the attention of the public mind, nor hinder the general spread of a work which for aught I knew might supersede the necessity of mine. That work has been for some time completed, and the numerous subscribers supplied with their copies. My plan however is untouched; and still finding from the call of many judicious friends, and especially of my brethren in the ministry, who have long been acquainted with my undertaking and its progress, that the religious public would gladly receive a work on the plan which I had previously announced, I have, after much hesitation, made up my mind ; and, in the name of God, with a simple desire to add my mite to the treasury, having recommenced the revisal and improvement of my papers, I now present them to the public. I am glad that Divine Providence has so ordered it that the publication has been hitherto delayed, as the years which have elapsed since my first intention of printing have afforded me a more ample opportunity to reconsider and correct what I had before done, and to make many improvements. Should I be questioned as to my specific object in bringing this work before the religious world at a time when works of a similar nature abound, I would simply answer, I wish to do a little good also, and contribute my quota to enable men the better to understand the records of their salvation. That I am in hostility to no work of this kind, the preceding pages will prove ; and I have deferred my own as long as in prudence I can. My tide is turned ; life is fast ebbing out; and what I do in this way I must do now, or relinquish the design for ever. This I would most gladly do, but I have been too long and too deeply pledged to the public to permit me to indulge my own feelings in this respect. Others are doing much to elucidate the Scriptures; I wish them all God's speed. I also will show my opinion of these Divine records, and do a little in the same way. I wish to assist my fellow labourers in the vineyard to lead men to HIM who is the fountain of all excellence, goodness, truth, and happiness; to magnify his law and make it honourable; to show the wonderful provision made in his Gospel, for the recovery and salvation of a sinful world; to prove that God's great design is to make his creatures oppy and that

[ocr errors][merged small]
« ПредишнаНапред »