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eye both text and commentary at once. Whilst the length of the two taken together is proportioned to such leisure, and attention, as may commonly be expected in an assembled family. Thus each reading is a kind of short sermon, with a long text. To the text is prefixed a heading, specifying the contents of each section; and there is another to the lecture, which expresses the chief practical application, or sometimes, where there are several, the last. The lectures consist partly of explanation, and partly of practical improvement; and there is added, occasionally, at the end, a short ejaculation, when the subject seems most properly to suggest the spirit of prayer. The explanation is in the form of paraphrase or remark, according as either might best serve to make clear the meaning of the passage. And the practical reflections, though sometimes kept separate for the end, are in general interwoven throughout the body of the commentary. For there is nothing which the author has so greatly had at heart, and no principle which he designs so stedfastly to observe, in the progress of the work, as to derive, either directly or indirectly, from each single passage of the word of God, some useful lesson of a more heavenly mind, or of a more holy life.

On this principle it seems desirable, in passages which refer properly to occasions now no more, after noting their primary application, to accommodate the expressions, as profitably as we may, to any similar circumstances in which we are placed ourselves. And in this sense, and with this view, there has been adopted in this commentary what has been called often, though improperly, a figurative interpretation. But in no case has it been intended to represent as figurative any expression in the text, which does not obviously there purport so to be; the very hardest sayings of Divine revelation, if spoken without figure, being evidently as much entitled as the easiest to our devout and literal obedience. In passages, which, owing to the imperfection of language, appear to be ambiguous in the original, that sense, which has been adopted as the best, is commented on as if it were the only one. And the same method has been followed, in those verses, of rare occurrence, which admit of a more accurate translation, than that which we find in our excellent version. The parallel passages, which form, when duly used,

the best of commentaries, are largely quoted in the body of the lectures. Those of the Psalms are taken purposely from the version used in our prayer books, as being the one which would most readily suggest itself to the memory. No reference is made by figure to the verses of the text which are quoted in the exposition; these being at the time under the reader's eye, or fresh on the hearer's ear. The words however of the Scripture are not unfrequently repeated, with a view to shew the connexion of the whole passage that is explained. And this method will be found also to be an excellent safeguard against a practice most fruitful of religious error, the explaining of detached texts in senses inconsistent with their context.

In point of doctrine, the author would wish explicitly to state, how far his work is adapted for the use of Christians, of what are commonly called all denominations. He has endeavoured to write, as he desires to live, in the sound faith of that church, in which he has been entrusted with the office of a minister. And he cannot therefore pretend to be indifferent, either to the great essentials of Christian truth, or to those minor points of variance, so grievously dividing our Christian community, which in proportion as they are trifling, fix so much the more fearfully, on the one party or the other, the unquestionable sin of schism. At the same time he has carefully abstained from all such vain or virulent theological disputings, as are justly considered to be the bane of our common gospel. He conceives that the matters on which most Christians are agreed, are many more, and far more worthy of daily meditation, than those on which they are so unhappily estranged from each other. And he trusts, that there will be found, in these pages, no more frequent reference to the distinctive tenets of his own church, than will commend itself for its faithfulness, if not for its truth, to "every man's conscience."

In that part of this undertaking which concerns the four Gospels, particular attention has been paid to the harmony of the sacred history. Not that any discussion has been introduced, on a subject of such deep and laborious research; but that no fact is treated of as having taken place in any other order, than that in which, after due comparison, it has been thought most likely to

have happened. A similar correspondence has been attempted in the construction of the Lectures. Next to making them each appropriate to the text they comment on, it has been a main object to impart to them an agreement and connexion with each other. Those passages which occur once only, and in one Gospel, are explained at once so much the more at length. And where the facts or the discourses, the doctrines or the duties, are repeated, there is usually some variation in the circumstances, which affords also a variety in the exposition. Where the narratives are found to be identical, different parts of it are brought forward for exposition, on the different occasions; or on one, the general tenour of the passage is considered, on another it is explained in detail.

And yet no very anxious pains have professedly been taken, that under similar passages of Scripture no similar notions should recur in the comment. For first it must be remembered, that the work is prepared with a view to that family reading of the Scriptures, wherein one only, or at the most two Lectures, would be read in each single day. And there would thus often be an interval of weeks and months between the occurrence of the like reflexions; which to a reader, perusing the whole continually, might seem else to be too frequently repeated. And further, the repetition of the same matter in the Gospels, is a proof that there are some things in our religion, of which, for their difficulty or importance, we need more often in proportion to be put in remembrance. And it must needs be regretted, by the devout reader, that we have not more and more Gospels to inform us of the works and words of Jesus; more, and more frequently repeated, admonitions of the truths we are most bound to believe and practise. And if the commentator, in like manner, should occasionally repeat the maxims of practical improvement, it is not because repetition is difficult to avoid, but because he finds it hard to forbear. He has ample choice of variety, in the multitude of profitable thoughts, which the sacred writings are calculated to suggest. But in his concern for those whom he designs to edify, he is tempted to renew those words of exhortation, which, according to times and circumstances, seem best suited to awaken the slothful, to revive the careless, to strengthen the weak, or to confirm the strong.

That such may be, in any degree, the fruit of this undertaking is the prayer with which the writer desires humbly to conclude this portion of his work: that God may, of his mercy, bless all efforts made by man to set forth and enforce his holy word; that they who teach may speak or write with reverence and love; and that they who read, or hear, may receive into their hearts that good seed, which springeth up unto everlasting life. Amen.

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