« PreviousContinue »
spite of their own theory, or at the least, when not endeavoring, in a set discourse, to defend it.
Of course, it is not pretended that any one orthodox commentator explains every disputed text in accordance with the views entertained by Universalists. But among them all, some have furnished us authority on every text of this description, with a very few exceptions: some furnishing authority on one text, some on another.
It is proper to observe, in this place, that I would not be understood to adopt, as correct, all the expositions contained in the body of this work. The quotations are introduced, on each text, with reference to this single point: to wit, Does this text teach or imply a state of misery in the future life, or does it not? When any commentator allows that it does not, I consider him to be proper authority to quote, in confirmation of the exposition given by Universalists, even though they do not agree with him in regard to what the text does mean. I will illustrate my meaning by a single example. By referring to the notes on Rev. vi. 12— 17, it will be seen that Hammond and Lightfoot interpret the passage as descriptive of the 'destruction of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish state:' the authors of the Assembly's Annotations think it relates to the troubles that were to befal the Roman empire while Clarke says that 'all these things may literally apply to the final destruction of Jerusalem, and to the revolution which took place in the Roman empire under Constantine the Great.' Clarke adds some apply them to the day of judgment; but they do not seem to have that awful event in view.' These writers differ among themselves concerning the precise meaning of the passage: but they agree that it is descriptive of events which should be accomplished on the earth, and that it does not refer to the future life. Without deciding which is correct, in regard to the point in which they differ, and even without necessarily adopting either opinion as correct, I quote their authority in relation only to the point before mentioned:-does this passage teach or imply a state of misery in the future life, or does it not? They all agree that it does not; but that it has especial reference to temporal concerns, not having what is called the day of general judgment in view. So much may suffice to
show the propriety of agreeing with these commentators in relation to what a text does not mean, even though we may disagree in relation to what it does mean. I only add, that in a large majority of cases, the interpretations quoted in this work, are precisely such as are now given by Universalists; and which, when so given, are, by some of our opposers, stigmatized as foul heresy.
It may be considered a fault, that I have not given a full illustration of the passages quoted, according to the views which generally obtain among Universalists. I have omitted doing his, for two reasons: (1) such a course would have very considerably increased the size, and consequently the expense of the book; (2) my object was, not so much to prove the correctness of our views, as to show that they are not novel: that they are not the effect of an overweening desire to support a theory, even at the expense of reason and common sense : but that our opposers themselves have given the same, or similar interpretations, when their own theory was not allowed to influence their judgment. I know the opinions quoted are only the opinions of men; that they do not furnish positive proof that we are correct in our expositions of scripture: but a very strong, even a violent presumptive evidence is furnished, when men who firmly believe in the endless misery of the wicked, interpret a given passage to relate not to such misery, but to some temporal judgment or calamity, notwithstanding their creed and their prejudices, so far as they operate, would induce a different interpretation.
I have taken the liberty to omit the Greek phrases and words, in the notes, as far as was practicable; and where I could not conveniently do this, to insert them in the English character: believing such a course would be acceptable to a majority of my readers. With this exception, I have endeavored to copy every author fairly and faithfully; and have often quoted more than I desired, rather than have the appearance of mutilating, or misrepresenting the passage. The only alteration I have ventured to make, is in the orthography. Some very antiquated phrases will be found, and some words, of which the meaning may appear obscure. But I chose to let them remain, rather than attempt to alter the phraseology. A few of the words alluded to, may serve as a specimen: However frequently
occurs in the more ancient writers in the sense of at all events; expect is used for await; importance, for import; notation, for signification; consequents, for consequences ; &c.
Before closing this introduction, it should be observed that a work of similar character was commenced, a few years since, by Rev. H. BALLOU 2d. but for want of sufficient leisure was abandoned. This gentleman pursued his examination as far as Matt. xviii. 3. the results of which were published in the second volume of the 'Trumpet.' 'Of course, many of the authorities I have quoted thus far, are the same which were adduced by Mr. Ballou : I have omitted some of his, and have added some others. I have also taken the liberty to incorporate into my work the remarks of Mr. B. in relation to one or two passages, as will be noticed by the reader. I may observe, however, that with a very few exceptions, my quotations from orthodox writers, have been made directly from the works quoted, and not through the medium of other writers.
Of the authors quoted in this work, it may be sufficient to say that they are all supposed to have believed the doctrine of endless misery, except Wakefield, Kenrick, and Cappe. But these three believed in a state of torment for the wicked in the future life, and may therefore be quoted, when the only question is, whether a given passage relate to misery after death or not. I am not certain but Bate also should be excepted. Of his religious views, I know nothing, except what is contained in the extract quoted among the notes on Luke xvi. 19-31. This was taken from an English Review, by Rev. T. Whittemore, from whom I have copied it.
I subjoin a list of authors quoted, with the title and date of the edition from which the selections were made.
Annotations upon all the books of the Old and New Testament, &c. by the labor of certain learned divines thereunto appointed, and therein employed, as is expressed in the Preface.' London, 1657. 2 vols. folio.
Of this work Horne says, it is usually called the Assembly's Annotations, from the circumstance of its having been composed by members of the Assembly of divines who sat at Westminster during the great rebellion.' Intro. ii. 751.
BATE. 'A Rationale of the literal doctrine of Original Sin, &c. By JAMES BATE, A. M. Rector of Deptford.'
From the title Rector, BATE seems to have been a clergyman of the established Church in England. As I before remarked, I have little knowledge respecting him.
BEAUSOBRE et LENFANT.
Le Nouveau Testament de notre Seigneur Jesus Christ, traduit en Francois sur l'original Grec. Avec des notes literales pour éclaircir le texte. Par. MRS. DE BEAUSOBRE et LEnfant.' Lausanne, 1735. 2 vols. 4 to.
'This, though a posthumous work, is very valuable, and contains many excellent and judicious observations, briefly expressed, but which nevertheless comprise the substance of remarks offered by the best interpreters.' Horne, Intro. ii. 785.
A paraphrase and notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, Timothy, Philemon and Titus, and the seven Catholic Epistles by James, Peter, Jude and John. By GEORGE BENSON, D. D.' London, 1752, 1756. 2 vols. 4to.
See remarks under the name of Peirce. BEZA. 'Testamentum novum, sive novum fœdus Jesu Christu, D. N. &c. THEODORUS BEZE.' Fourth edition, 1689. 1 vol. folio.
'Beza is undoubtedly the best critic on the Greek language of any commentator we have.' Dr. Doddridge, quoted by Horne, Intro. ii. 783.
CAMPBELL. The four Gospels, translated from the Greek, with Preliminary Dissertations and Notes Critical and Explanatory. By GEORGE CAMPBELL, D. D. F. R. S. Edinburgh, Principal of the Marischal College, Aberdeen.' Boston, 1824. 4 vols. 8vo.
'The extensive circulation of this valuable work, which has placed the author high in the rank of biblical critics, sufficiently attests the esteem in which it is held.' Horne, Intro. ii. 792.
CAPPE. Critical Remarks on many important passages of Scripture: together with dissertations upon
several subjects, tending to illustrate the phraseology and doctrine of the New Testament. By the late Rev. NEWCOME CAPPE.' York, 1802. 2 vols. 8vo.
Cappe, was 'a dissenting minister, who died 1801, at York, where he was settled. He was educated under Doddridge and Leechman.' Lemp. Univ. Biog. art. Cappe.
CLARKE. The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ: &c. with a Commentary and Critical Notes, designed as a help to a better understanding of the sacred writings. By ADAM CLARKE, L. L. D. F. S. A. M. R. I. A.' &c. &c. New York, 1830. 2 vols. 8 vo.
Clarke is so well known as the great Methodist Commentator, that nothing need here be said of the character of his work.
DIODATI. Pious Annotations upon the Holy Bible, expounding the difficult places thereof learnedly and plainly by the reverend, learned and godly divine, Mr. JOHN DIODATI, minister of the gospel. The third edition, London, 1651.' 1 vol. folio.
'Diodati was an eminent Italian divine and reformer in the early part of the 17th century: his annotations are properly scholia, rather practical than critical, but containing many useful hints.' Horne, Intro. ii. 738.
The Dutch annotations upon the whole Bible: or, all the Holy Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; together with, and according to their own translation of all the text: as both the one and the other were ordered and appointed by the SYNOD of DORT, 1618, and published by authority, 1637. Now faithfully communicated to the use of Great Britain, in English. By THEODORE Haak Esq.' London, 1657. 2 vols. folio.
The title of this work sufficiently expresses its character. It need only be remarked that a majority of the Synod of Dort were rigid Calvinists; who, after expelling the Arminians from among them, held the remainder of their session very comfortably. The version and annotations prepared by their order, are of course, thoroughly Calvinistic.