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THE SEVENTEENTH EDITION.
Tue 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 favor of the public thus shown has laid me under the strongest obli. gations 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 Sabbathschool instruction required it.
The stereotype plates of the Gospels, by a neglect of careful usage, and by the number of impressions taken, having become greatly worn, and it being found necessary to re-cast them, I have taken this opportunity to give to the work a careful revision. I have long felt that this was necessary, and have been prevented from doing it only by the difficulty of correcting a work which is stereotyped. Many points and letters had become broken off; many words were dimly printed; and many sentences had become obscure. I have found, also, in revising it
, 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 contra. dicting others. These errors I have endeavored to correct. Some places have been considerably enlarged. Numerous illustrations and wood-cuts have been introduced ; and a valuable map of Jerusalem, by Catherwood, has been added. 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 Sabbath. schools. In particular, the chronological table, and the index, have cost me much labour, and I trust will be found to be useful. In the revision of the work, valuable assistance has been derived from the Union Bible Dictionary of the American Sunday-School Union, which has been freely used, and the benefit derived from which is herehy gratefully acknowledged.
The essential character and form of the work have not been changed. I could easily have made it larger, and could have fur.
additional illustrations ; but I supposed that the Chris. tian 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
have a part in this great work, is my earnest prayer, - and with many thanks to the public for their favors, and to God the Great Source of all blessings, I send them forth again--com mending them to his care, and asking in a special manner the con tinued favor of Sabbath-school teachers and of the young.
Washington Square, PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 11, 1840
The writings which are regarded by Christians as the sole standard of faith and practice, have been designated at various periods by different names. They are frequently called The Scriptures, to denote that they are the most important of all writings ; The Holy Scriptures, because composed by persons divinely inspired, and containing sacred truth ;—and
The Canonical Scriptures. The word canon means a rule, and it was applied by the Christian fathers to the books of the Bible because they were regarded as an authoritative rule of faith and practice; and also to distinguish them from certain spurious or apocryphal books, which, although some of them might be true as matter of history, or correct in doctrine, were not regarded as a rule of faith, and were therefore considered as not canonical.
But the most common appellation given now to these writings is THE BIBLE. This is a Greek word signifying book. It is given to the scriptures by way of eminence, to denote that this is the Book of books, as being infinitely superior to every unassisted production of the human mind. In the same way, the name Koran or reading is given to the writings of Mohammed, denoting that they are the chief writings to be read, or eminently the reading.
The most common and general division of the Bible is into the Ola and New Testaments. The word testament, with us, means a will; an instrument in writing, by which a person declares his will in relation to his property after his death. This is not, however, its meaning when applied to the scriptures. It is taken from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word meaning covenant, compact, or agreement. The word is applied to the covenant or compact which God made with the Jews to be their God, and thus primarily denotes the agreement, the compact, the promises, the institutions, of the old dispensation, and then the record of that compact in the writings of Moses and the Prophets. The name "Old Testament,” or “Old Covenant,” therefore, denotes the books con taining the records of God's compact with his people, or his dispensa tions under the Mosaic or Jewish state. The phrase New Covenant, or Testament, denotes the books which contain the record of his new covenant or compact with his people under the Messiah, or since Christ came We find mention made of the Book of the Covenant in Ex. xxiv. 7, and in the New Testament the word is once used (2 Cor. iii. 14) with an un. doubted reference to the sacred books of the Jews. By whom, or at what time, these terms were first used to designate the two divisions of the Sacred Scriptures, is not certainly known. There can be no doubt, however, of the great antiquity of the application.
The Jews divided the old Testament into three parts, called The Law, The PROPHETS, and The HagIOGRAPHA, or the holy writings. This divi
sion is ncticed by our Saviour in Luke xxiv. 44,* “ All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Josephus, the Jewish historian, also makes mention of the same division.t 1. We have,” says he, “ only twenty-two books which are to be believed to be of divine authority; of which five are the books of Moses. From the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, son of Xerxes, king of Persia, the prophets who were the successors of Moses have written in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and documents of life for the use of men. It is probable that precisely the same books were not always included in the same division, but there can be no doubt that the division itself was always retained. The division into twenty-two books was made partly, no doubt, for the convenience of the memory. This was the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The English Bible contains thirty-nine instead of twenty-two books in the Old Testament. The number which Josephus reckons may be accurately made out as fol. lows: The first division, comprehending the five books of Moses, or THE Law. The second, including, 1st, Joshua; 2d, Judges, with Ruth ; 3d, Samuel; 4th, Kings; 5th, Isaiah ; 6th, Jeremiah, with Lamentations; 7th, Ezekiel ; 8th, Daniel ; 9th, the twelve minor prophets ; 10th, Job; 11th, Ezra, including Nehemiah ; 12th, Esther ; 13th, Chronicles; these thirteen books were called THE PROPHETS. The four remaining will be Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. In regard to the second division, it is a fact well known, that the twelve smaller prophets, from Hosea to Malachi, were for convenience uniformly united in one volume; and that the small books of Ruth and Lamentations were attached to the larger works mentioned, and Ezra and Nehemiah were long reckoned as one book. The arrangement of the books of the Bible has not always been the
The order followed in the English Bible is taken from the Greek translation called the Septuagint. Probably the best way to read the Bible is to read the book as nearly as possible in the order in which they were written. Thus Isaiah informs us (Isa. i. 1) that his prophecies were delivered in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah ; and to be correctly understood, should be read in connexion with the record of those reigns in Kings and Chronicles.
The names of most of the books in the Bible are taken from the Greek translation above mentioned.
The books of the Bible were anciently written without any breaks, or divisions into chapters and verses. For convenience, the Jews early divided the Old Testament into greater and smaller sections. These sections in the law and prophets were read in the worship of the synagogues. The New Testament was also early divided in a similar inan
The division into chapters and verses is of recent origin. It was first adopted in the 13th century by Cardinal Hugo, who wrote a celebrated commentary on the scriptures. He divided the Latin Vulgate, the version used in the church of Rome, into chapters nearly the same as those which now exist in our English translation. These chapters he divided
* See Note on that place.
† Against Apion.
Into smaller sections by placing the letters A, B, C, &c., at equal distances from each other in the margin.
The division into verses was not made until a still later period. The division of Cardinal Hugo into chapters became known to Rabbi Nathan, a distinguished Jew, who adopted it for the Hebrew Bible, and placed the Hebrew letters, used also as numerals, in the margin. This was used by Rabbi Nathan in publishing a concordance, and adopted by Athias in a printed edition of the Hebrew Bible in 1661.
The verses into which the New Testament is divided are still mor modern, and are an imitation of those used by Rabbi Nathan in the fit teenth century. This division was invented and first used by Stephens in an edition of the New Testament printed in 1551. The division war made as an amusement while he was on a journey from Lyons to Paris during the intervals in which he rested in travelling. It has been adopted in all the subsequent editions of the Bible.
In regard to this division into chapters and verses, it is clear that they are of no authority whatever. It has been doubted whether the sacred writers used any points or divisions of any kind. It is certain that they were wholly unacquainted with those now in use. It is further eviden that in all cases these divis
not been judiciously made. The sense is often interrupted by the close of a chapter, and still oftener-by the break in the verses. In reading the scriptures, little regard should be had to this division. It is of use now only for reference; and inaccurate as it is, it must evidently be substantially retained. All the books that have been printed for three hundred years, which refer to the Bible, have made their reference to these chapters and verses; and to attempt any change now, would be to render almost useless a great part of the religious books in our language, and to introduce inextricable confusion in all attempts to quote the Bible.
The first translation of the Old Testament was made about the year 270 before the Christian era. It was made at Alexandria in Egypt into the Greek language, and probably for the use of the Jews who were scattered among Pagan nations. Ancient writers inform us, indeed, that it was made at the command of Ptolemy Philadelphus, to be deposited in the Library at Alexandria. It bears internal marks of having been made by different individuals, and no doubt at different times. It came to be extensively used in Judea, and no small part of the quotations in the New Testament were taken from it. There is no doubt that the apostles were familiar with it; and as it had obtained general currency, they chose to quote it rather than translate the Hebrew for themselves. It is called the Septuagint, or the version by the seventy, from a tradition that seventy elders of Israel, deputed for that purpose, were employed in making the translation.
The language spoken by our Saviour and his apostles was a corruption of the Hebrew, a mixture of that and the language spoken in Chaldee, called Syro-Chaldaic, or more commonly the Syriac. The reason why the New Testament was not written in this language was, that the Greek had become the common language used throughout the eastern nations subject to the Romans. This general use of the Greek language was produced by the invasion and conquest of those nations by Alexander the Great, about 330 years before Christ.—The New Testament was, howe