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CRITICAL, EXPLANATORY, AND PRACTICAL,
DESIGNED FOR BOTH PASTORS AND PEOPLE.
REV. HENRY COWLES.
“ Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some
443 & 445 BROADWAY.
B51560 с C6
ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866 by
REV. HENRY COWLES,
Northern District of Ohio.
The Christian commentator, assuming that the Scriptures are from God, infers their inestimable value to mankind. Assuming also that God speaks to man in love and for his good, he infers that originally, to common hearers and readers, his words must have been readily intelligible. Hence he finds his work to be, comprehensively, to get possession of the same means for understanding the words of God which were enjoyed by those first hearers and readers, including specially the language in which God spake, the historic facts to which he alludes, and the scenes in nature and common life from which he drew his illustrations.
So much he must have in order to a clear and full understanding for himself of the ancient words of God
-Then it remains only to put his readers in possession of his views of the Sacred Word. To do this he may lead them over all the ground which he himself has travelled, i. e., through the original Hebrew, unfolding its laws of etymology, syntax, and usage of words, and also through all the details of historic investigation: or he may place before his readers for the most part only the results at which he has arrived. In the former case, he
writes for scholars only; in the latter, for readers of all classes. I have adopted mainly the latter method, aiming to meet the wants, not of Hebrew scholars only or chiefly, but of all English readers. I have had in view somewhat specially those who have been and are yet to be trained to thoughtful study of God's word in Sabbath schools and Bible classes, and indeed all those laymen and women who love the Sacred Scriptures, and who naturally wish to know their full and precise meaning:
—While in the main it has been my plan to give results only, and not the processes by which I reach them, yet points of great practical interest and value, e. g., those prophecies respecting the Messiah and his kingdom which yet remain in part to be fulfilled, I have deemed it important to discuss fundamentally and thoroughly, so that the reader may see what principles of interpretation I adopt, and why, and also to what results they have led me. A superficial treatment of these points ought to be eminently unsatisfactory.
The commentator has his option whether to restrict his work mainly to the unfolding of the exact sense, or to speak more or less fully of the practical and moral applications of the truth which he brings out. These moral applications are, of course, of the utmost importance to every reader; yet usually God has left each reader to make them for himself, and adapt them to his own case. Hence I have thought it cannot be unwise for me to follow for the most part the same method—assuming that God's word as it came from his lips will have power on men's hearts when the full sense of it is clearly apprehended. I have therefore spoken of the moral bearings and applications of the truth only in fewest words, suggestively and by no means exhaustively, and rather as a specimen and illustration of