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explanation, even into a professed exposition of the parables, there will probably not be much difference of opinion between the author and his readers: as to the merits of these explanations, he leaves them to be determined upon, in common with those of the rest of his work, according to the judgment of his readers. Yet the nature of the subject-matter upon which these collateral expositions turn, is such as to give occasion for the discussion of some very important and interesting questions, leading in its results to conclusions in a great measure new, in comparison of the preexisting opinions on such points; more especially in Matthew xviii: Luke xii: and in those parts of the dif ferent gospels which relate to the prophecy delivered upon the mount.
On this subject, the author may perhaps be allowed to observe, that the present work, and his former publication on the Principles and Arrangement of an Harmony of the Gospels, are so intimately connected together, not only in the circumstance that the first conception of the latter work arose out of the commencement of the other a, but in the constant reference which the execution of the present undertaking required him to make to his former publication; that he trusts he shall be excused, if he wishes them to be considered as virtually one work, distributed into two parts. Taken together, they will be found to constitute almost a perpetual commentary on the text of the gospels; of which there is little, whether in reference to facts or to discourses, which does not come under consideration in one or other of them. The same may be said of their relation to the Acts of the Apostles, and to many parts of the Epistles.
From an earnest wish on the part of the author, that his work, under the blessing of the Divine providence, might be a Vide the Preface to the former work, page iv.
come as generally useful as possible, and be equally accessible to readers of every description, he has carefully abstained from introducing into the body of the text, whatsoever was not calculated for general readers; reserving all matter of that description, either for the notes subjoined to the text, or for the Appendix, which will form a portion of his last volume. In translating too, into English, the passages which he has had occasion to produce either from the fathers or from classical authorities, he has made a point of adhering as closely as possible to the letter of the originals, and of sacrificing even elegance, if necessary, to fidelity and exactness, that the unlearned reader might be as competent to judge of the true sense and meaning of such passages, as the learned. For the same reason also, he has taken the liberty of departing from the words of the Bible translation, in rendering the text of the several parables, or in citing other parts of the New Testament; if by that means the version might be made, in his opinion, more literally exact and faithful; however correctly the general sense of the original, might have been represented in the English Bible.
Whether the author will stand excused for having devoted an entire volume of his work to the Introduction merely, will depend upon the judgment which his readers will form for themselves, on the nature, propriety, or necessity of the questions, therein discussed; considered as preliminary to the ultimate design and effect of the whole, the Exposition of the Parables. On none of these points would he desire to offer any observations at present, except upon what relates to the "method of treating of the parables." The plan, which it appeared to him most advisable, or rather which alone, consistently with his own principles, he was at liberty to adopt for that purpose, was to distribute the consideration of each parable under three general heads; the
first in reference to its material circumstances, the second to its moral or import, the third to its interpretation or its application. By the material circumstances, the reader will of course understand nothing to be meant, but simply the details, circumstances, or particulars of the narrative in each instance; in one word, the subject-matter of the parabolic history. In executing this part of his plan, the author feels it necessary to observe, that he had to contend with a difficulty, greater indeed in some instances than in others, yet more or less sensibly felt in all, because founded in the nature of the case; viz. that in endeavouring, conformably with his plan, to explain and unfold the material structure of each parable more circumstantially and more in detail, than it had been related in the original, he was laid under the necessity of attempting to render more simple, perspicuous, and natural, a series of particulars already so probable and so simple, that no explanation apparently could make them more so.
Another practical inconvenience which could not but be sensibly felt in the execution of a work like the present, according to the prescribed plan, was that in those cases, where the nature of the parable required the facts and circumstances of the material history, as previously explained and illustrated in the first part, to be interpreted in the third part-much of the substance of the first part would require to be repeated in the third. There was no means of avoiding this necessity: for how was the prophetical character of the parable to be ultimately cleared up and explained; or how was the language of allegory to be translated into that of simple history, except by confronting the text with the interpretation, or bringing the statements of the allegorical narrative into juxtaposition with the facts of the real history, which answered to them? The only remedy, therefore, for a practical inconvenience like this,
was that which the author has uniformly endeavoured to adopt; viz. to be as brief and summary as possible in those references to the material circumstances, with which the reader was already acquainted from the exposition, while he enlarged upon the facts of the reality corresponding to them, which had not yet been pointed out.
Among the other topics discussed in the preliminary part of the work, the reader will find the most considerable portion of the first volume devoted to the support of a doctrine, the mention of which will either provoke a smile at the credulity of its advocate, or will at once rivet the attention of the reader, as worthy of his most serious consideration-the doctrine of the millennium: a doctrine which, if founded in truth, according to the views which the author of this work has laboured to establish, nothing can exceed in interest and importance; while, if it is founded in error and mistake, nothing ought more justly to expose its champion to the charge of folly and delusion.
Ample as that share of attention, which his belief in the truth of this doctrine, and its connexion with the proper subject of his work, has induced him to bestow upon it, may appear to be; he is well aware that he has not done justice to the importance of the subject, nor entered at large upon every topic of discussion connected with it. Such is the coherency of the whole scheme of prophetical revelation, with regard to a common subject, the events which are yet to happen before the end of the world, and the consummation of all things; and such the dependence of one part upon another, that the due examination of the testimony of prophecy to this one doctrine of the millennium, would require a synoptic review of all the unfulfilled prophecies, whether in the Old or in the New Testament, whatever be the subjects to which they immediately relate and
though the outline and general principles of such an undertaking, according to the views of the author of the present work, may be collected from his disquisition upon the millennium, yet the filling up of that outline, and the application of those principles to particulars, would obviously be employment enough for a distinct work.
Though the question of the right or the wrong interpretation of many parts of scripture, is intimately connected with that of the truth or the falsehood of the millennary doctrines; it is after all, chiefly in reference to the prophetical parts of scripture. The doctrine of the millennium is so far a speculative question; upon which, though the truth must lie on one side only, yet there is no reason why great latitude and diversity of sentiment may not be innocently and safely allowed to different minds. This is not essentially a question of such a description, that no compromise, concession, or toleration can be allowed between opposite opinions concerning it, without the sacrifice of some main article of Christian faith or of Christian duty. Many one there may have been among Christians, both in ancient and in modern times, who never heard of the millennium, or never, except to class it with the number of dreams and fables; who yet, if they have been but good men and orthodox believers in other respects, may find themselves possessed of a blessed interest in its reality, and may stand in their lot, at the end of the days.
The true view of the millennary dispensation, in the opinion of the author of the present work, is that of a scheme interposed, for special reasons and for a particular purpose, between the end of time and the beginning of eternity: a scheme of finite duration, and therefore however considerable per se, and however incalculable to merely human apprehensions, yet absolutely no more than a point