Sidor som bilder

the Scriptures, as well as to the better understanding of them; and this is a duty all must desire to encourage,—the unconsecrated many equally with the consecrated few. There is peculiar beauty and interest in the story of the Holy Bible harmonized into a continuous narrative: and by this means instruction is obtained, whether orally, or by reading, in a more agreeable manner than by notes to the authorized version. The sacred text is, however, not at all superseded by the plan here adopted, as it should necessarily be at hand for reference by those who read this work, either to themselves, or to others. The custom of family reading has become so universal, that an explanation of Scripture from the highest authorities appears to be still a desideratum for ordinary use; for, although our Biblical literature is rich in this branch of learning, there is still a deficiency of works popular enough for that object. I have endeavoured to avoid all polemical or doctrinal disquisitions, so that I do not apprehend that any reader need fear lest his prejudices should be shocked by the perusal of my work, if his object be only an unaffected sincere desire to understand the New Testament. At the same time I would not mislead him by showing any

false colours. I am not solicitous to dilute the “sincere milk of the word " to suit the religious palates of others. I write without any disguise as an Episcopalian, and for the Church of my affections,—the Church of England, alike removed from either extreme. The unquestioned middle course I would pursue is difficult in these days, even with the XXXIX Articles and a Liturgy as guides; but I consider the safest track to be the published works of eminent writers, who may be regarded as “the Bishops and Doctors” of that Anglo-Saxon branch of the Church Catholic, which is attached to our Nation and Language in all the world. I would point with especial pride to the preponderating references in my pages to authors of Episcopal degree, in proof that our Bishops are very different persons to the very few, (if indeed there are any,) known to the modern literature of the Greek and Roman hierarchies, or to the illiberal prejudices of presbyterian writers, or, above all, to the contemptible vulgarity of infidels and sceptics. I hold it to be the brightest jewel in the breastplate of our Priesthood, that they obtain, for the most part, their mitres and hoods from their known learning and eccle. siastical qualifications; and that they are no less the ornaments, than they are the efficient overseers of the spiritual vineyard. I repeat, that I could much desire that these pages should receive extensive circulation, although I have no mercenary object in the wish, having divested myself of all benefit from this, as from my former publication; not esteeming it decent that I should in any degree profit by a reproduction of the labours of others, nor by a calling to which I have not been dedicated, excepting in so far as I may advantage religion by encouraging a laudable and beneficial family practice, and by supplying a work that may be useful for that object.

I am well aware—no one can be more sensibly So- of my insufficiency for the task I have undertaken. I know that I am not of those to whom the nobleman in the parable has committed his ten talents; but neither will I be of those who would“ lay up in a napkin ” that which has been entrusted to my keeping, without striving at least after some method of employing my time to profitable usury. I recognize as a warning to men of moderate abilities, that there are also the other intermediate conditions of five talents and two

pounds, which appear to include every varied condition of human ability and usefulness. I hold it to be a high privilege and a sufficient reward for such an one as myself, if I may be permitted to refund to the Great Dispenser of All Time some portion of the leisure with which He has vouchsafed to bless me; and I trust that this humble measure of human usefulness may be accepted for the sake of Him, whose heavenly mission it is my object to render more extensively studied.

My own share in this composition is indeed inconceivably small; for I cannot assert any higher merit for it, than that of the ingenious artizan, who with some trouble combines an harmonious mosaic from the rich marbles which the industry of others has cut out from the mountain. The valuable notes attached to Mant and D’Oyly's Edition of the Bible has been the great storehouse from whence I have drawn the subject-matter of this Narrative ; and I have availed myself of its repertory, even when I could refer to the original authorities, because I thus obtained the assured confidence that I drew from an admitted treasury of orthodox annotation. I have also to express my obligations to some living authors,


and especially to our venerable Primate, whose “ Practical Exposition” is sufficiently appreciated by every reader of the New Testament. I had much desired to have included some references from the theological writings of the Episcopal Church of America, which I greatly venerate and esteem; but my small library did not afford me the opportunity of doing so. I salute her, however, as a sister, whose “Bishops and Doctors” are deserving of high consideration; and I honour her as the strong arm, which has not only upheld our tabernacle with credit and vigour, in the midst of a democratic, and, as such, an unepiscopal people, but who has also nobly exerted herself to lengthen its cords, and strengthen its stakes, throughout that grievous desert of heathenism, which still, alas ! extends so fearfully in all the world in the midst of the sad dissensions of sincere and hearty Christians.

E. C.

Leasowe Castle,

July, 1850.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »