Page:An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828) vol 1.djvu/19

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xi
PREFACE.

Let us suppose, that only one half hour be appropriated to the perusal of this commentary in each of the days of the week, except the Lord's day, on which two hours might be conveniently spent in this exercise; and at this moderate rate of progress, the whole work would be finished in less than three years.

But although we have spoken of this undertaking as a "labour" and "a task," yet we are confident, that to the reader who thirsts for an increase of divine knowledge, it would be found, on experiment, to be a very precious privilege. Such a person would experience so much pleasure in the contemplation of scriptural truth, as here exhibited, and would find his mind so enriched with spiritual thoughts, that he would contract a lively relish for the exercise, and would be drawn to his work, when the season of performing it occurred, with something of the same strength of appetite, as that which urges him to partake of his daily food; and would feel the privation as sensibly when debarred from it, as when prevented from taking his usual bodily repast. Citizens, who have been long accustomed to spend an hour, in the morning, in reading the news of the day, when, by any circumstance, this gratification is abstracted from them, appear really to feel as much uneasiness, as if prevented from breaking their fast. And why may not a spiritual taste become as lively, as that which is experienced for the contents of a newspaper? Why may we not enjoy the contemplation of divine things with as strong a zest, as knowledge of another kind? Surely nothing is wanting to produce this effect, but a right disposition in ourselves. And the person who thus contracts a taste for the contents of these volumes, will find means for redeeming more time for reading than we have specified; so that the work, for which we have allowed three years, would, by many, be completed in one. And this exposition is not a composition of that kind, which when once read, leaves no desire for a second perusal, but the spiritual reader will be led to mark many passages for a reperusal; not because they were not understood at first, but because they afforded him so much delight, or communicated such seasonable instruction, that he desires to come again and again to the fountain that he may be refreshed and strengthened.

But while we wish to raise in the minds of our readers a high estimation of the value of Henry's Commentary, we would not dismiss the subject without observing, that whatever lustre the work possesses, it is all borrowed. The light with which it shines is reflected light. The whole value of this or any other similar work, consists merely in holding up clearly and distinctly, the truth which is contained in the sacred records. And whatever of spiritual wisdom, or of the savour of piety, is found in these pages, was all derived from the influence of that Holy Spirit, who inspired the prophets and apostles to write the Scriptures, and who still bestows grace and spiritual endowments on his chosen servants, by which they are qualified, to preach and write, in such a manner, as to promote the edification of his church. In every age, God raises up men for the defence of the gospel, and also for the exposition of his word; and some of these are honoured not only with usefulness while they live, but with more abundant and extensive usefulness after their decease; so that being dead they still speak. It is impos-