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gested to his son the idea of writing the Commentary which bears his name;
a Commentary,--to say the least of it, · as useful as any which has yet been submitted to the Christian world.
Perhaps no person is so well acquainted with the writings,-certainly no one has done such ample justice to the characters, of Philip and MATTHEW Henry, as Sir John BICKERTON WILLIAMS. He informs us that the latter, in writing his Exposition, made a full, though judicious, use of the admirable papers of his father; very properly adding, that the circumstance should by no means be “ regarded as derogatory to the venerated Commentator."
This work having been originally intended only for the private use of a family circle, I have taken upon me the responsibility of making some retrenchments ; conceiving it probable that the author would himself have done so, had he printed it for general circulation.
“ The Bible,” says the excellent Cecil, “ resembles an extensive and highly-cultivated garden, wherethere are a vast variety and profusion of fruits and flowers, some of which are more essential or more splendid than others; but there is not a blade suffered to grow in it, which has not its use and beauty in the system.” As it was the object of my pious forefather in composing, so it is my prayer in publishing, the following interesting elucidation of some of these beauties and excellencies of the sacred volume, that it may be made instrumental in promoting the glory of God, and in setting forth “ the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
April 10th, 1838.
There are two books which the God of heaven hath published for the instruction and edification of the children of men:
1. The book of the creatures, in which is written, as with a sun-beam, (so plain that he that runs may read it,) the eternal power and Godhead of him that made them. Ps. xix. 1. Rom. i. 20. Every blade of grass is a letter; every ear of corn a line; every living creature a leaf; the sun, moon, and stars, so many curious embellishments; and all together make up one great volume, which declares the glory of God in all places, and shows his handyworks to all nations; who may truly say of these natural, immortal preachers, as was said of the apostles, We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. Acts ii. 11.
2. The book of the Scriptures, which is written for this very end, to discover to the world, (far more clearly than the former book,) the being, wisdom, power, and goodness, of that God whose Spirit was the inditer, and whose servants were the penmen, of that blessed book, 2 Pet. i. 21; and especially to show forth the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Now the book of the Scriptures begins with a short compendium of the book of the creatures, as they stood in their original. So that that which the Papists say of pictures and images, that they are laymen's (that is, in their account, ignorant men’s) books, may more truly be said of the history of the creation, according to that of the royal psalmist, Ps. cxix. 130. The entrance of thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
This book of Genesis was written by Moses, above two thousand four hundred years after the creation; and yet he writes as clearly, particularly, and confilently, as if he himself had been an eyewitness of it;
the Holy Spirit revealing it to him certainly and infallibly. Moses is supposed to have written it in Midian, for the comfort of his brethren who were groaning under Egyptian slavery; and how could he better comfort them, than by assuring them of the promise of God made to their fathers, concerning the mercy he had in store for them, which is several times, and upon several occasions, mentioned in this book?
This book hath its name Bereshith in the Hebrew, from the first word of it. It hath its name Genesis in the Greek, and in the English, from the first chapter of it; because in it is showed the rise and original of all things, for so Genesis signifies. Gen. ii. 4. v. 1.
There's no other book that is or ever was extant in the world, that gives a true account of the history of the creation, besides this, and those that have been borrowed from it; for though the heathens had some dark notions concerning it, yet they could not agree in their conceptions; but talked of it as blind men do of colours, being strangers to this divine revelation.