Page:An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828) vol 1.djvu/13

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.




Commentaries on the Bible may be conveniently divided into two kinds, the critical and practical. The first, by a grammatical analysis of the words and phrases of the original text, endeavour to ascertain the literal meaning of each passage; and to enable others to judge of the correctness of the interpretation, the whole critical process is spread before the reader. Helps of this sort are very important to the learned, for, in all cases, the literal sense must be determined before any proper use can be made of the text, or any other interpretation founded on it. The propriety, force, and meaning of a metaphor, or an allegory, can only be known by first understanding the literal meaning of the words employed; and the same is true in regard to what may be called the mystical, or spiritual, meaning, of any passage of Scripture. But, however necessary this critical analysis may be, it can be useful to none but the learned. Commentaries of another kind, therefore, are required for common readers, who have as deep an interest involved in the truths of the Bible, as the critical scholar; and who are as much bound in duty to search the Scriptures: for as every man must give account of himself, both of his faith and practice, he must have the right to judge for himself. The best helps ought, therefore, to be provided, to enable all classes of men to form correct opinions on the all important subject of religion. For this reason, many practical expositions, not only of detached passages and single books, but of the whole Bible, have been composed, and have been extensively useful in elucidating the Scriptures; and in teaching how the truths of Revelation may be applied to regulate the hearts and direct the lives of men. In this class, Henry's Exposition holds a distinguished place. This work has now been before the Christian community for more than a hundred years, and has, from its first publication, been so well received, and is so generally approved, that all recommendation of the work itself seems to be now superfluous. It has, indeed, become a standard work in theology; not with the people of one denomination only, but with the friends of sound piety and evangelical religion, of every name. Many other valuable commentaries, it is true, have been given to the public since this work was first edited, and have deservedly gained for themselves a high estimation and extensive circulation. But it may be safely said, that Henry's Exposition of the Bible has not been superseded