« PreviousContinue »
The publication of this second volume of the FAMILY EXPOSITOR bath
HE been delayed so long, beyond my own expectation, and that of my friends, that it may perhaps seem necessary to introduce it with an apology for that delay. But it would be tedious to enumerate a variety of circumstances which have concurred to occasion it. It is generally known, that the unusual severity of the last winter laid a kind of embargo on the press ; and they that are at all acquainted with the business of printing, will easily apprehend, that under the most faithful and careful direction, a work of considerable bulk is liable to many other interruptions, even where the manuscript is entirely finished before the impression is begun. But after all, the chief reason why this hath been published no sooner, is (what I hope my subscribers will easily excuse) the large addition I have made of more than fifty sheets to the hundred which I was by the proposals obliged to deliver.
On the mention of this, I think myself obliged to renew my thanks to those, who, by honouring me with their names and encouragement on this occasion, Have put it into my power to publish the work with such improvements; and shall think myself happy, if those improvements, however laborious and expensive to the author, may render it more acceptable and useful to them.
The tables prefixed to the first volume are included in this, and represent the disposition of the harmony in so clear a view, that by comparing them together it would not be difficult to find any particular text. But a deference to the request of some of the subscribers, engaged me to add another table at the end of this colume (of the same kind with that in Mr. Bonnel's Harmony), which will at once direct both to the section and page where any verse may presently be found.
I cannot pretend so much as to conjecture when the remainder of my undertaking will be completed. I shall however proceed in it as fast as my health and other affairs will permit. In the mean time, I think it necessary to observe, that I have, by the advice of some considerate and judicious friends, deferred the index, and some other things which I intended to have thrown into an appendir here, till I have finished what I am preparing on the Acts; that so they may stand, as they very properly will, at the end of the historical books of the New Testament,
* The Family Expositor being originally printed in sir volumes, the second volume began with sect. xc. but, the present edition being comprised in five volumes, our second begins with sect. cxvi. and the tables of chapters and sections which were formerly divided between the two volumes, are now found at the begioning of the first. Such a change, though we notice it, is of no great importance, and is attended with no disadvantage to the reader. Probably most will consider it an alteration for the better. Yol. VII.
How far the subscribers to these tuo volumes 'may think it proper to encolle rage the rest, must be referred to themselves. In the mean time, as that must be exceeding precarious which depends on the continuance of one man's life and health, I would desire permission here to take leave of my friends, at least for the present, with such a serious address as may be the most substantial expression of my sincere gratitude and respect.
I should have thought, my honoured friends, that I had made you a very unworthy return for this public token of your regard to me, if I had offered you merely an amusement, though ever so critical and polite. It had been much better, on both sides, that the work should never have been undertaken or perused, than that these Divine authors should be treated like a set of profane classics; or that the sacred and momentous transactions they relate should be handled and read like an invented tale, or a common history. I have often reminded myself of it, and permit me now, Sirs, solemnly to remind you, that these are the memoirs of the holy Jesus, the Suviour of sinful inen, whoir to know is life eternal, and whom to neglect is ererlasting destruction. We have here the authentic records of that gospel which was intended as the great medicine for our souls; of that character which is our pattern ; of that death which is our ransom; of him, in short, whose name we bear as we are professed Christians, and before whose tribunal we are all shortly to appear, that our eternal existence may be determined, blissful, or miserable, according to our regard to what he has tauglit, and done, and endureri. Let not the greatest therefore think it beneath their notice ; nor the meanest imagine, that, amidst all the most necessary cares and labours, they can find any excuse for neglecting, or even for postponing it.
Had I not been fully convinced of the certainty and importance of Christianity, I should not have deterniined to devole my whole life to its service (for on the principles of natural religion, I know the soul to be immortal, and should expect nothing but its ruin in the ways of the most sanctified fraud :) but as I am thus convinced, I must make it my humble request to every one that enters on the perusal of these volumes, that they may, for a little while at least, be the employment of his retired hours; and that as be proceeds from one seco tion to another, he would pause and reflect, " Whose words do I hear ? Whose actions do I survey? Whose sujerings do I contemplate?” And as all must know they are the words, the actions, and the sufferings of Jesus the Son of God, our supreme Lord, and our final Judge, let it be farther and very seriously inquired in what degree the obvious and confessed design of the glorious gospel has been practically regarded and complied with : “ Can I, in my heart, think that I am a disciple whom such a Master will approve, and whom he will choose for his attendant in that world of glory to which he is now gone" Let the plainness of this advice be forgiven ; for such is the temper and conduct of most who call themselves Christians, that, if this religion be true, their cold and unaffecting knowledge of the history of Christ, and of the purposes of his appearance, will only serve to furnish out matter for eternal self-accusation and remorse : and he is, at best, but a learned and polite infidel who would not rather be the instrument of conducting the lowest creature, capable of reading or hearing these lines, to the saving knowledge of a cruified Redeemer, than fill the most rehned nation with his own applause, while the grace of the Saviour is forgotion, or his service neglected.
I have yet one farther request to add to those of my readers who are heads of families; which is, that they would please to remember the title of the work, and consider it as chiefly intended in its most essential parts, for a Family Expositor. I heartily rejoice in the reason which I have to hope, that low as our religious character is fallen in these degenerate days, acts of domestic worship
are yet performed by multitudes of Christians of various denominations: yet I cannot but fear, that the scriptures are not so constantly read at such seasons as they formerly were; an omission which must be to the great detriment both of children and servunts. One would think, that those who believe the Divine qui hority of scripture, and its infinite importance, should be easily prevailed upon to restore this useful exercise, at least for one part of the day, and I would hope, that what I here offer them may render it more agreeable and useful. It would give me inexpressible delight to find that this is the case in those families with which I am most intimately acquainted ; and would be an encouragement to hope this work may be proportionably useful in places and times to which neither my observation nor intelligence can extend.
Ishall conclude this preface, with my hearty prayers, that, weak and imperfect as these labours are, the Divine blessing may every where and alcays aitend them; and that it may rest on all who have patronized them, and on all who shall peruse them ! May every prejudice against the truth of Christianity, or against its power, be vanquished ? May the most insensible minds be awakened to attend to religion, and may the weak and languishing be animated to press on to greater attainments in it ! May those that are preparing for the service of the sanctuary (as every part of this performance is their concern,) be by every part of it more abundantly furnished for the various duties of their important office! And may those who are as yet but babes in knowledge, through the Divine blessing grow by that sincere milk of the word, which is here presented, as I trust, in its genuine simplicity! In a word, may many persons, fumilies, and larger societies, receive devout pleasure and solid lasting improvement from it; that the great God, of whom and throngh whom are all things, may in all be glorified, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who in all the sacred volumes, and especially here, is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, to whom be everlasting bonour, love, and ebedience! Amen.
Northampton, August 9th, 1740.
THE LATTER PART OF THE HISTORY OF CHRIST AS RECORDED
BY THE EVANGELISTS,
Christ, on the mention of some calamities which had befallen others,
warns his hearers of the danger they were in, if they did not repent, and illustrates it by the parable of the barren fig-tree. Luke XIII. 1—9.
Luke XIII. 1.
LUKE XIII. I. THERE sense presene Now, while our Lord was thus discoursing sect:
at that , some that told him of the
cxvi. of the necessity of being at peace with God, Galileans, whose blood some who were present at that time, told hiin of Pilate haul mingled with those unhappy Galileans, the followers of Judas XIII. 1. their sacrifices.
Gaulonites, who had rendered themselves ob-
à Told him of those Galileans, the followers name of Judas of Galilee, Acts v. 37.of Judas Gaulonites.] Josephus has given Josephus does not mention the slaughter of us the story of this Judas Gaulonites at these Galileans (which, by the way, makes large, Antiq. lib. xviii. cap. 1, § 1. (Sce Zegerus's interpretation very inprobable, also Bell, Jud. lib. ii. cap. 8 (al. 7), § 1; that they were actually slain at the altar, cap. 17. $ 8; & lib. vii. cap. 8. (al. 28), in contempt of the temple); but he reHavercamp. } It appears he was at the cords an action of Pilate that much resemhead of a sect who asserted God to be their bles it, of the manner of his treating the only Sovereign, and were so utterly averse Samaritans; Antig. lib. xviii. cap. 4 (al. to a submission to the Roman power, that 5), § 1.-Perhaps this story of the Gali. they accounted it unlawful to pay tribute leans might now be mentioned to Christ unto Cæsar, and rather would endure the with a design of leading him into a snare, greatest torments than give any man the whether he should justify or condemn the title of lord. This Judas is probably the persons that were slain. person whom Gamaliel refers to by the