Page:An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828) vol 1.djvu/14

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PREFACE.

by any of these publications; and in those points in which its peculiar excellence consists, remains unrivalled. For some particular purposes, and in some particular respects, other Commentaries may be preferable; but, taking it as a whole, and as adapted to every class of readers, this Commentary may be said to combine more excellencies than any work of the kind which was ever written, in any language. And this is not the opinion of one, or a few persons, but thousands of judicious theologians have been of the same mind; and it may be predicted, that as long as the English language shall remain unchanged, Henry's Exposition will be highly appreciated by the lovers of true religion.

Our object in this Preface is, to endeavour to point out some of the more distinguishing characteristics of this great work, and to offer some motives to induce Christians of our country to study it. Before I proceed farther, however, I would remark, that the principal excellence of this Exposition does not consist in solving difficulties which may be found in Scripture. On this ground, complaint is sometimes heard from those who consult this Commentary, that they may obtain light on obscure and perplexed passages, of being disappointed in their expectations; and that, while plain passages are largely expounded, those which are difficult are briefly touched, or passed over without notice. To this objection it may be answered, that to exhibit the use and application of those parts of Scripture which are not involved in difficulty, is far more important for practical purposes, than the elucidation of obscure passages. It is a general, and surely it is a comfortable fact, that those parts of Scripture which are most obscure are least important. But the same objection might be made, and indeed has been made, to all Commentaries, that they leave the difficult texts as obscure as they found them; from which the only legitimate inference is, that, in regard to a large portion of texts of difficult interpretation, the learned and unlearned stand very much on the same level; yet, doubtless, much light has been shed on many things in the Scriptures, by the labours of the learned. And although we do not claim for this Commentator the highest place among Biblical critics, yet we have a right to say, that Henry was a sound and ripe scholar; and especially, is said by his biographers to have been an excellent Hebrew scholar. We are not to suppose, because no parade of critical learning is exhibited in these volumes, that the Author did not critically examine every text. As the Orator is said to practise the art of eloquence most perfectly, when all appearance of art is concealed; so we may say, that he makes the best use of the critical art in the instruction of the people, who furnishes them with the results, without bringing at all into view the learned process by which they were arrived at. One fact is certain from internal evidence, that Mr. Henry wrote his Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, with the learned compilation of Pool, called Criticorum Synopsis, open before him; as, in all difficult passages, he has judiciously selected that opinion from the many presented in this work, which, upon the whole, seems to be most probable.

But, while we contend that our Author is a sound and ingenious Expositor, as it