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PREFACE. Ilow far the subscribers to these two volumes may think it proper to encourage the rest, must be referred to themselves. In the mean time, as that must be exceeding precarious which depends on the continuance of one man's lise and health, I would desire permission here to take leave of my friends, at least for the present, with such a serious address as may be the most substantial expression of my sincere gratitude and respect.
I should have tbought, nty honoured friends, that I had made you a very unworthy return for this public token of your regard to me, if I had offered you merely an amusement, though ever so critical and polite. It had been much better, on both sides, that the work should never have been undertaken or perused, than that these Divine authors should be treated like a set of profane classics; or that the sacred and momentous transactions they relate should be handled and read like an invented tale, or a common history. I have often reminded myself of it, and permit me now, Sirs, solemnly to remind you, that these are the memoirs of the holy Jesus, the Saviour of sinful men, whom to know is life eternal, and whom to neglect is ererlasting destruction. I'c have here the authentic records of that gospel which was intended as the great medicine for our souls; of that churucter which is our pattern; of that death which is our ransom; of him, in short, whose name we bear as we are professed Christians, and before whose tribunul we are all shortly to appear, that our eternal existence may be determined, blissful, or miserable, according to our regard to what he has taught, and done, and endurerl. Let not the greatest therefore think it beneath their notice ; nor the meanest imagine, that, amidst all the most necessary cares and labours, they can find any excuse for neglecting, or even for postponing it.
Had I not been fully convinced of the certainty and importance of Christianity, I should not have determined to devote my whole life to its service (for on the principles of nutural religion, I know the soul to be immortal, and should expect nothing but its ruin in the ways of the most sanctified fraud :) but as I am thus convinced, I must make it my humble request to every one that enters on the perusal of these volumes, that they may, for a little wbile at least, be the employment of his retired hours; and that as he proceeds from one section to another, he would pause and reflect, " Whose words do I hear ? Whose actions do I survey? Whose sufferings do I contemplate ?” And as all must know they are the words, the actions, and the sufferings of Jesus the Son of God, our supreme Lord, and our final Judge, let it be farther and very seriously inquired in what degree the obvious and confessed design of the glorious gospel has been practically regarded and complied with : “ Can I, in my heart, think that I am a disciple whom such a Master will approve, and whom he will choose for his attendant in that world of glory to which he is now gone?” Let the plainness of this advice be forgiven ; for such is the temper and conduct of most who call themselves Christians, that, if this religion be true, their cold and unaffecting knowledge of the history of Christ, and of the purposes of his appearance, will only serve to furnish out matter for eternal self-accusation and remorse : and he is, at best, but a learned and polite infidel who would not rather be the instrument of conducting the lowest creature, capable of reading of hearing these lines, to the saving knowledge of a crucified Redeemer, than fill the most refined nation with his own applause, while the grace of the Saviour is forgotton, or his service neglected.
I have yet one farther request to add to those of my readers who are heads of families ; which is, that they would please to remember the title of the work, and consider it as chiefly intended in its most essential parts, for a Family Expositor. Í heartily rejoice in the reason which I have to hope, that low as our religious character is fallen in these degenerate days, acts of domestic worship
are yet performed by multitudes of Christians of various denominations : yet I cannot but fear, that the scriptures are not so constantly read at such seasons as they formerly were; an oinission which must be to the great detriment both of children and serrants. One would think, that those who believe the Divine au hority of scripture, and its infinite importance, should be easily prevailed upon to restore this useful exercise, at least for one part of the day; and I would hope, that what I here offer them may render it more agreeable and useful. It would give me inexpressible delight to find that this is the case in those families with which I am most intimately acquainted ; and would be an encouragement to hope this work may be proportionably useful in places and times to which neither my observation nor intelligence can extend.
I shall conclude this preface, with my hearty prayers, that, weak and imperfect as these labours are, the Divine blessing may every where and always attend them; and that it may rest on all who have patronized them, and on all who shall peruse them ! May every prejudice against the truth of Christianity, or agrunst its power, be vanquished ? May the most insensible minds be awakened to attend to religion, and may the weak and languishing be animated to press on to greater attainments in it ! May those that are preparing for the service of the sanctuary (as every part of this performance is their concern,) be by every part of it more abundantly furnished for the various duties of their important office! And may those who are as yet but bubes in knowledge, through the Divine blessing grow by that sincere milk of the word, which is here presented, as I trust, in its genuine simplicity! In a word, may many persons, families, and larger societies, receive devout pleasure and solid lasting improvement from it ; that the great God, of whom and throngh whom are all things, may in all be glorified, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who in all the sacred volumes, and especially here, is the Alpha and the Omegai, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, to whoin be everlasting honour, love, and obedience! Amen.
Northamptop, August 9th, 1740.
THE LATTER PART OF THE HISTORY OF CHRIST AS RECORDED
BY THE EVANGELISTS,
Christ, on the mention of some calamities which had befallen others,
warns his hearers of the danger they were in, if they did not repent, and illustrates it by the parable of the barren fig-tree. Luke XIII. 1—9.
LUKE XIII. 1.
LUKE XIII. 1. were present
sect. at that season, some that told him of the
of the necessity of being at peace with God, cxvi. Galileans, whose blood some who were present at that time, told him of
Luke Pilate had mingled with those unhappy Galileans, the followers of Judas XIII. 1. their sacrifices.
Gaulonites", who had rendered themselves ob-
a Told him of those Galileans, the followers name of Judas of Galilce, Acts v. 37.of Judas Gaulopites.] Josephus bas given Josephus does not mention the slaughter of us the story of this Judas Gaulonites at these Galileans (which, by the way, makes large, Antiq. lib. xviii. cap. 1, § 1. (See Zegerus's interpretation very improbable, also Bell, Jud. lib. ii. cap. 8 (al. 7), S 1; that they were actually slain at the altar, cap. 17. & 8; & lib. vii. cap. 8. (al. 28), in contempt of the temple); but he reHrvercamp. ) It appears he was at the cords an action of Pilate tijat much resem. head of a sect who asserted God to be their bles it, of the manner of his treating the only Sovereign, and were so utterly averse Samaritans; Antiq. lib. xviii. cap. 4 (al. to a submission to the Roman power, that 5), 5 1.---Perhaps this story of the Galithey accounted it unlawful to pay tribute leans might now be mentioned to Christ unto Cæsar, and rather would endure the with a design of leading him into a snare, greatest torments than give any man the whether he should justify or condemn the title of lord This Jud is is probably the persons that were slain. person whom Gamaliel refers to by the
Except we repent, we shall all perish.
2 And Jesus, ancxvi. the cause on which they were engaged, endea- swering, said
voured, with his usual wisdom and piety, to lead the é Galileans were Luke XIII. 2. the minds of bis hearers into some profitable re- sinners above all the
Galileans, because they flections upon the event; and, in reply, said to
suffered such things: them, Do you think that these Galileans were notorious sinners above all the rest of the Galiieans,
that they suffered such sad things as these, and 3 were cut off in so miserable a manner ? If 3 I tell you, Nay; you do, you are very unfit to judge of the con
but, except ye repent, duct of Providence: for, howsoever you may perish.
ye shall all likewise censure them, as shewn hereby to be the most enormous sinners, I tell you, No; you are not to conclude from bence, i his was the case; but, except you repent, you shall all perish thusb; vengeance will overtake you in your evil ways, and, in the desolating judgments, that will shortly come on your whole nation, the blood of many of you shall be mingled with your sacrifices. Or, to instance in another unhappy case that
4 Or those eighteen has lately occurred, I mean that of those eigh, in Siloam fell, and slew
upon whom the tower teen men on whom the tower in Siloam fell, and them,think ye that they slew them“, do you think they were greater of- were sinners above all fenders than all the other inhabitants of Jerusa- meena that dwelt in
5 I tell you, Nay; would judge very rashly if you were in general but, except ye repent,
ус to draw such conclusions; for the best of men may be involved with others in temporal calamities: but remember what I told you before, that,
b You shall all perish thus, woaulu, apa- a little stream Aowed into the city (Isa. 201031.) Some content themselves with viii. 6), which was received in a kind of rendering it, you shall all perish as well as bason, which some have thought to be the they; and possibly no more may be in- same with the pool of Bethesda (see 2 Kings tended: yet the rendering I prefer appears xx. 20. Neh. m. 16. Isa. viii. 6. and to be more literal; and I thc rather choose John v. 2. ix. 7). Being near the temit, because (as Grotius, Tillotson, Whitby, ple, it is no wonder that many frequented it and many others have observed) there was for purification ; but the calamity occaa remarkable resemblance between the fate sioned by the fall of the neighbouring of these Galileans and that of the wbole tower is not, that I can find, mentioned Jewish nation ; the flower of which was any where but here ; probably it had hapslain at Jerusalem by the Roman sword pened at some late feast ; and some of wbile they were assembled at one of their Christ's bearers might then have been at great festivals (see Joseph. Bell. Jud lib. Jerusalem.- Erasmus indeed takes this Sivi. cap. 9 (al. vii. 17), 9 3, 4); and many loam to have been Shiloh, the place where thousands of them perished in the temple the tabernacle was first settled (Josh. xviii. itself, and were (as their own historian re- 1. Psal. xxvii. 60), but without sufficient presents it at large) literally buried under reason; see Drusius, in loc.--This last inits ruins. Joseph. Bell. Jud. lib. vi. cap. 4 stance might seem in some respects more (al. vii, 10), 96, & cap. 5 (al. vii, 11), 9 to the purpose than the former, as there
was no human interposition attending the c On whom the tower in Siloam fell, and death of these men; so that it seemed more slew them.] From the fountain of Siloam, immediately providential, than that of the which was without the walls of Jerusalem, Galilcans whom Pilate bad massacred.