by ADAM CLARKE
"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we
have received mercy, we faint not... For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus
the LORD; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake"
(2 Corinthians 4:1,5).
[Latin: "key", "Bible"]
"Thus saith the LORD,
Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths,
where is the good way, and walk therein,
and ye shall find rest for your souls"
DR. ADAM CLARKE
by Adam Clarke, LL. D. F. A. S.
Theologian and biblical scholar, born at Moybeg in the parish of Kilcronaghan,
co. Londonderry, the son of a schoolmaster. Educated at Kingswood School near Bristol.
Appointed to his first Methodist circuit at Bradford, Wiltshire, in 1782, and served
as a Methodist minister. President of the Wesleyan Conference in 1806, 1814 and 1822.
Wrote on theology, oriental languages and biblical studies. Most important work:
Clarke's Bible Commentary, published in eight volumes between 1810 and 1826.
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Reformatted by Katie Stewart
2. Millbrook Letter
of February 20, 1820
3. a General View
of the Contents
of the OLD and NEW Testaments;
4. the Principles
of Christianity derived from them,
and the Reasons on which they are founded:
5. with Directions
How To Read Most Profitably The Holy Bible.
Originally drawn up for the instruction of two High Priests of Budhoo from
the island of Ceylon.
The following tract was originally drawn up, as the title expresses
it, for the instruction of two high priests of Budhoo; of whom a few words may be
necessary. In the year 1818, when the Hon. Sir Alexander Johnston, chief judge, of
Ceylon, was obliged to return to England on account of his lady's ill health, the
two priests in question, Sree Goona Munhi Rathana, and his cousin Dherma Rama, high
priests of the temple of Doodandhuve, near Galle, in the island of Ceylon, applied
to him with earnest entreaties to permit them to accompany him to England, that they
might study Christianity in the place where it was properly understood, and where
the people lived according to its precepts. This strange proposition, coming from
two high priests of considerable learning, who by such a step must cut themselves
off from all the emoluments of their temple for ever, and from all their acquaintance
and kindred, did not a little surprise him. He saw plainly that they must be sincere,
and their readiness to abandon all secular good, without the smallest prospect of
gaining any thing in return but spiritual advantages, was the proof. They had for
a considerable time suspected the sufficiency, and even truth, of their own religious
system; and having met with the New Testament, printed in Cingalese by the Wesleyan
missionaries at Colombo, they carefully read it; and were greatly struck with the
benevolent character and wisdom of Christ, and the dignified simplicity and purity
of his religion. But, as they only saw divine things through a glass darkly, they
did not like to avow their doubts and suspicions on the system of Budhooism, till
they had examined the subject more minutely, and consulted the teachers of Christianity
on the various doctrines it proposes.
After much hesitation, Sir Alexander consented to take, them under his care: and
on their arrival in England they were kindly received by the Wesleyan Missionary
Society, who, in conjunction with Sir Alexander, desired me to undertake their instruction.
I did so; and in doing it encountered many difficulties, which, because the good
hand of my God was upon me, I surmounted; and, after twenty months instruction under
my own roof, I was fully convinced that they were sincere converts to the Christian
religion, and that their minds were under a very gracious influence. At their own
earnest desire I admitted them into the church of Christ by baptism.
Expecting that they might soon return to India, and being well aware that there were
several points of Christian knowledge on which their information must necessarily
be imperfect, I thought it best to embody and systematize those instructions which
I had frequently given them, that they might be able at all times to have recourse,
to them, and be the better qualified to speak with their enemies in the gate, of
whom they expected no inconsiderable, numbers both in rank and learning. I have done
what I intended, and made a copy for each to take with him on his journey; not having
even the slightest thoughts of committing it to the press: but their own entreaties,
as well as those of several judicious friends, who thought it might be useful as
a tract for the foreign missions, and a profitable manual to many at home, have induced
me, my own judgment on the whole concurring, to give it by means of the press a wider
That I see nothing in the Holy Scriptures but what is consistent with what is commonly
called the orthodox faith, will not surprise those who know me: I quarrel with no
man on account of the peculiarities of his religious creed; I believe my own to be
the truth of God; and am, as I have long been, a hearty well wisher to all mankind,
a servant of the church, and a friend to the public.
- –Adam Clarke.
LONDON, May 9th, 1820
Back to Top
Millbrook, Feb. 14th, 1820
My Dear Friends,
Having heard in your own country, though indistinctly, of that supreme God who is
the sole object of the Christians worship; and of that Christ through and by whom
he dispenses salvation to the human race; you took a long and painful journey from
your native island to visit that favored nation where this God is more especially
known and adored, that you might learn among his genuine followers to know his nature
and the nature of that worship which himself has prescribed.
In the course of his unsearchable but gracious providence you were placed under my
care; and it has been my earnest and anxious study to lead you to this God, through
the Son of his love, who died for the offenses of a sinful world, and rose gain for
the justification of men; and has commanded repentance and remission of sins to be
preached in his name among all nations. And it is with great satisfaction and gratitude
to God that I hope I can say neither your application nor my endeavors have been
in vain. You have learned to know that God who is the Father of the spirits of all
flesh; and who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to
the knowledge of the truth and be saved. You have sought his favor through the Lord
Jesus Christ, and he has often afforded you the drawings of his Spirit. These he
has granted you only as a specimen of what he will communicate if you follow on to
know the Lord; that is, if you search the Scriptures diligently, and pray much to
God, placing your whole confidence for salvation in the sacrificial death of Jesus
Christ. In short, he will give you to know and to feel that you are not only turned
from idols to the living God; from vain hope and superstitious fears, to that hope
which maketh not ashamed, and that fear which is the beginning of wisdom; but he
will also give you to know and feel that you are adopted into the family of heaven,
and become the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
After long and carefully studying our holy religion, and finding that our blessed
Lord commands his disciples to baptize all converts to Christianity with water, in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, you have applied
to me for that baptism; and after having been well instructed in its nature, importance,
and design, you received it in a most solemn manner in the public congregation, where
prayers from more than a thousand hearts were offered up to God for your present
and eternal happiness; and you there felt that, in answer to those prayers, and your
fervent supplications, God did pour out his gracious Spirit upon you, so that you
found such peace of conscience, such joy in God, as your tongues were incapable of
expressing. Thus, then, by this public profession you have put on Christ: you have
assumed the Christian name; you have promised to be his faithful, loving, obedient
servants to the end of your days: in a word, to renounce the devil and all his works,
the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful desires of the flesh;
and to keep Gods holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of
your life. Thus you have taken the true God to be your God; and he has taken you
to be his children. You have promised to be obedient to him; and he has engaged to
furnish you with that grace and strength without which no good act ever was or ever
can be done. For this heavenly help you must continue to pray, humbly offering all
your desires, prayers, and obedience unto God, through Jesus Christ your Saviour,
who alone can make them acceptable in his sight who is the Fountain of infinite purity
and justice. You have also promised to take up the cross of Christ; not to be ashamed
of Christ crucified, but boldly confess him, and fight manfully under his banner
against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Be steady: Gods grace will ever be sufficient
for you; and; after having guided you by his counsel through life, he will, if you
continue steadfast in the faith, at last receive you into his eternal glory, by Christ
As your stay with me has been too short to acquire both the English language and
a general knowledge of the sacred writings, and the doctrines they contain, and you
may possibly soon return to your native land, I have drawn up the following short
but comprehensive view of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and
the principles of religion derived from them; to which I have added a few directions,
by attending to which you will never read this divine word without gaining an increase
of heavenly knowledge and an increase of religious experience. I wish you to have
always at hand those principles which have often been the subject of my teaching
and of your learning; that, understanding them and the reasons on which they are
founded, you need not be afraid of your most cunning adversaries; but be always able
to give them that ask you a reason of the hope that is in you; and which I trust
you will ever feel it your duty and interest to recommend to the notice and consciences
of your heathen countrymen, who are still lying in that darkness out of which, by
the mercy of the true God, you have now risen. I know that it is your present purpose
to announce to the heathen in your own country, and in continental India, the gospel
of the grace of God. In reference to this, should God call you to such a work, I
wish to give you a few particular directions.
- 1. If you go forward in the spirit of the original apostles and
followers of Jesus Christ, trusting not in man but in the living God, he will enable
you to pull down the strong holds of sin and Satan, and that work by which he is
pleased will prosper in your hands.
- 2. Remember that, as the souls of sinners are saved by the mere
mercy and power of God, by the same principles is the world to be converted; Human
might, authority, or influence, can do little here: it is not by might, nor by power,
but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts, that this great work is to be performed.
"Not by might, nor by power, but by My
Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah
- 3. The primitive disciples of Jesus Christ, when they went to
the heathen, as you are now going, had nothing to recommend them but the simplicity
and holiness of their lives, and the excellence of the doctrine which they preached;
and they had no support but that which they received from their Lord. But this was
sufficient to pull down the strong holds of sin and the devil. The weapons of their
warfare were not carnal, such as worldly men use; but they were spiritual, such as
God furnishes: and they were, therefore, mighty through God. They had Christ in their
hearts; they had a powerful love for the perishing souls of men; and they went forth
in his strength, proclaiming to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
- 4. The same work is still to be done; and the same grace and simplicity
of heart are equally requisite now as formerly. Do not suppose that human strength
and human learning, howsoever useful, will accomplish now what it required the arm
of the Almighty to perform in those primitive times. The hearts of sinners are as
dark and as hard now as formerly; and nothing but the light of God can illuminate
them, and nothing but the power of God can make them soft. Trust, therefore, in him,
both in behalf of your own souls, and in behalf of those to whom you may minister:
and point them, and ever go yourselves, to that Lamb of God who taketh away the sin
of the world, "Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world" (John
- 5. There is one thing more, of which it may be requisite to apprise
you. As preachers of the gospel of Jesus, do not expect worldly honors: these Jesus
Christ neither took to himself, nor gave to his disciples. If you be faithful, you
will have that honor that comes from God: his Spirit will say in your hearts, Well
done, good and faithful servants. Instead of receiving the honor that comes from
men, you may possibly be despised, defamed, and persecuted. For the laws of Christ
condemn a vicious world, and gall it to revenge; and as the religion of Christ gives
no quarter to vice, so the vicious will give no quarter to that religion. Do not
wonder, therefore, if you should be mocked, insulted, and abused: if they have persecuted
me, said Jesus, they will also persecute you. This the primitive disciples found:
but they tell us that, far from being discouraged on this account, they rejoiced
that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his names sake, "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing
that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name"
(Acts 5:41). His true ministers have
ever found the same spirit in the unconverted. You have read of the persecutions
of the primitive Christians; and you have also read of the many holy men, bishops,
ministers, and others, who have lost their lives in this country, when lawless power,
false religion, blind zeal, and brutish bigotry prevailed: but these blessed martyrs
all died in triumph they glorified God in the fires; and, when consuming at the stake
in the raging flames, they possessed the highest consolation of God, and rejoiced
that ever they were born! Should you be ever called to bear the same testimony, you
will doubtless find the same grace and support.
- I mention these things because their occurrence is possible yet
it is not very likely that you will be called to suffer personal abuse. Wherever
you go, whether in India or Ceylon, you will be under the protection of the mild,
excellent, and powerful laws of the British king. These laws you know are vastly
superior to all those of which you have heard or read. Of this king (under whose
government you have received the light of life; and in whose paternal kingdom you
have found, though strangers and foreigners, a place of refuge; and among whose subjects
you have found so many friends and brothers) you can not but speak well. I know you
love him and his administration; and I know that you will declare to your countrymen
what blessings they enjoy who live among the Christian subjects of a Christian king.
And I am sure I need not add that you will ever feel love, attachment, and gratitude
to that religious society (the Wesleyan Methodists) who cheerfully took you by the
hand on your first landing in this country, and placed you under my care; with the
wish that you should have every thing necessary for your bodies and your souls. How
this wish has been accomplished, while under my roof, yourselves know best. If I
have been faithful, my work is with the Lord: and for my cares and anxieties I ask
only an interest in your prayers.
To what I have said in the foregoing pages, I need scarcely add any thing farther.
The Holy Scriptures tell you that your adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring
lion, seeking whom he may devour, "Be
sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh
about, seeking whom he may devour" (1
Peter 5:8), therefore watch, pray, believe, love, and obey.
- WATCH against his temptations; watch against your own spirits.
- PRAY much in private. Pray for Gods grace to make you humble and
teachable. Pray for his Spirit to help your weakness. Pray for divine light, and
pray for holiness of heart.
- BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus, as having died for you. Believe on
him as your Intercessor at the throne of God.
- LOVE him who first loved you, and called you from darkness into
his marvelous light. Love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
- OBEY him affectionately in all things: obey him as your Master,
your King, and your God; and continue in his truth until death.
- PERSEVERE in doing his will; i.e., whatsoever he commands. Persevere
in suffering his will, cheerfully bearing whatsoever affliction or trial he may permit
to come upon you. I now commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is
able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them who are sanctified.
I am, my dear friends, your affectionate teacher and servant in Christ Jesus,
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GENERAL ACCOUNT OF THE SACRED WRITINGS
- "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think
ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me"
"All Scripture is given by inspiration
of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all
good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
That collection of writings delivered by divine authority to the
Jews by Moses and the prophets, and which the Jewish Church has always received as
divinely inspired, includes thirty-nine books, the names of which are the following:
- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges,
Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah,
Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations,
Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,
Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
These books collectively have had a variety of appellations, each
of which serves to point out some excellence of those writings, as contradistinguished
from all others.
The Jews have divided them into three classes, which they have termed, 1. Torah;
2. Nebyim; 3. Ha-ke-thubim: or, as we sometimes express it, The Law, The Prophets,
and The Hagiographa.
- The Law, included in the Pentateuch, or first five books,
they considered as coming immediately from God himself to Moses.
The Prophets, greater and smaller, (with which they connected Joshua, and
Judges the two books of Samuel, and the two books of Kings,) they received as extraordinary
messengers, deriving their authority from God without the intervention of man; and
delivering predictions and expostulations as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
The Hagiographa, containing the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations,
Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles, they acknowledged as
divinely inspired also; but not to have been given on such extraordinary occasions
as those on which the law, and the different oracles delivered to the prophets, had
- 1. The whole of these books collectively, they sometimes termed
Ha-Mikra, The Reading; emphatically signifying that these records were alone worthy
to be read and studied, because of their importance, antiquity, and divine inspiration.
It was from this epithet of the sacred writings of the Jews, that Mohammed borrowed
the word Al-Koran, which he prefixed to his pretended revelations; and which has
the same meaning with the Hebrew Ha-Mikra, both signifying The Reading.
- 2. In order to distinguish these sacred books from all others,
they were termed by the Jews, in those places where the Greek language prevailed,
Al-Graphai, The Scriptures, or Writings, as being alone worthy of being written and
- Because of their high importance.
- Because they contained the most ancient writings in the world;
the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, a part of the book of Exodus, being probably
the first regular production in alphabetical characters ever seen by man, and the
Pentateuch, or five books of Moses, being unquestionably the oldest record in existence.
- 3. Testament, Berith, or Covenant, was another term used at a
very early period to designate these divine oracles; as they contained the covenant,
or agreement made between God and the people of Israel. St. Paul calls the sacred
books before the time of Christ, he Palaia Diatheke, The Old Covenant,
- "But their minds were blinded: for until
this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament;
which veil is done away in Christ" (2
- which is a very proper and descriptive title of the grand subject
of those books. This apostle evidently considers the Old and New Testaments as two
- "For these are the two Covenants; the one
from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar... But Jerusalem
which is above is free, which is the mother of us all... Now we, brethren, as Isaac
was, are the children of promise" (Galatians
and, in comparing these two together, he calls one the Old Covenant; the other the
New; one the first; the other that which is recent. In opposition to the Old Covenant,
which was to terminate in the New, he calls this better, more excellent,
- "By so much was Jesus made a surety of a
better testament... But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much
also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Hebrews 7:22, 8:6),
- "Now the God of peace, that brought again
from the dead our LORD Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood
of the everlasting Covenant" (Hebrews
because it is never to be changed, or terminate in any other; and is to endure endlessly
The word covenant we borrow from the Latin convenio, from con, together, and venio,
I come; signifying a contract or agreement made between two parties; to fulfill the
conditions of which they are mutually bound. The Old Covenant, in its essential parts,
was very simple; I WILL BE YOUR GOD, YE SHALL BE MY PEOPLE; the spirit of which was
never changed. The people were to take Jehovah as the sole object of their religious
worship; put their whole trust and confidence in him; and serve him in his own way,
according to the prescribed forms which he should lay before them. This was their
part. On his side, God was to accept them as his people; give them his Spirit to
guide them, his mercy to pardon them, his providence to support them, and his grace
to preserve them unto eternal life. But all this was connected with the strict observance
of a great variety of rites and ceremonies, at once expressive of the holiness of
God, the purity of divine justice, and the exceeding sinfulness and utter helpless
state of man. A great part of the four latter books of Moses is employed in prescribing
and illustrating these rites and ceremonies; and what is called the New Covenant
is the complement, or fulfillment and perfection of the whole.
- 4. When the writings of the evangelists and apostles were added,
to distinguish them from the others they were termed He Kaine Diatheke, The New Covenant,
or Testament, signifying the New agreement made between God and ALL mankind, the
Gentiles as well as the Jews, the first or Old Covenant being made principally in
favor of the latter; which new covenant was ratified by the incarnation, sufferings,
death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as the succeeding collection of PRINCIPLES
point out. The books containing this New Covenant or Testament are twenty-seven in
number; and have been divided into four classes.
- I. The GOSPELS.
II. The ACTS of the Apostles.
III. The EPISTLES.
IV. The APOCALYPSE, or Revelation.
The names of these books are the following:
- The Gospel of St. Matthew, of Mark, of Luke, and of John.
The Acts of the Apostles, probably written by St. Luke.
The Epistles of St. Paul:
To the Romans
1st and 2nd to the Thessalonians
1st and 2nd to the Corinthians
1st and 2nd to Timothy
To the Galatians
To the Ephesians
To Philemon and
To the Philippians
To the Hebrews
To the Colossians
- The Epistle of St. James.
The First and Second Epistles of St. Peter.
The First, Second, and Third of St. John.
The Epistle of St. Jude.
And the book of the Apocalypse, or Revelation; probably written by St. John, the
author of the gospel and the three epistles mentioned above.
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Having given a general view of the Bible, as a collection of sacred
writings, it may be necessary for the benefit of the young and inexperienced to give
a more particular account of the contents or subject of each book, included in this
THE BOOKS OF THE OLD COVENANT
I. THE PENTATEUCH, OR FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES
This book has its name from the Greek word [genaesis] used by that ancient Greek
version of the Scriptures commonly called the Septuagint which signifies generation,
or origination; because this book gives an account of the origin or beginning of
all things. It begins at the creation of the heavens and the earth; gives an account
of the creation and fall of man, the history of the first inhabitants of the world,
the origin of nations, the call of Abraham, and the history of the Hebrew patriarchs,
and ends at the death of Joseph: comprehending the space of about 2400, or at the
lowest computation of 2369 years.
The name of this book is also borrowed from the Greek [echodos] Exodus, which signifies
the going out or departure; because the departure of the people of Israel from Egypt
to go to Canaan, or the land of Judea, promised by God to their father, is the most
remarkable fact contained in the book. It gives an account of the birth of Moses,
the Jewish lawgiver; and contains a history of the transactions of one hundred and
forty-five years, beginning at the death of Joseph, B. C. 1635, where the book of
Genesis ends, and coming down to the erection of the tabernacle in the wilderness
of Arabia, at the foot of Mount Sinai, B. C. 1490.
This book has the name of Leviticus, because it treats principally of the Levites,
the descendants of Levi, the son of the patriarch Jacob, who were all devoted to
the service of God in the tabernacle and temple. It also gives an account of the
priests, the sons and descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses; and of all the
ceremonies to be observed in the different sacrifices and religious feasts prescribed
by God. It seems to contain little more than the history of what passed during the
eight days employed in consecrating Aaron and his sons to the priesthood. The above
occurrences are supposed to have taken place in the year of the world 2514, i.e.,
1490 years before Christ.
This book has been called Numbers from its containing an account of the numbering
and marshaling the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness, or desert
of Arabia, to the promised land. It comprehends the history of between thirty-eight
and thirty-nine years; i.e., from 1490 B. C. to 1451 B. C., and gives a distinct
account of the several stages of the Israelites journey; the various occurrences
in the way; their trials, rebellions, punishments, deliverances, conquests, i.e.,
with the several laws and ordinances not mentioned in the preceding books; together
with a repetition and explanation of several others which had been previously mentioned.
The whole forming a most interesting history of the justice, mercy, an providence
This book has its name from the Greek, Deuteronomion, which signifies the second
law, because it contains a repetition of the preceding laws. It includes an account
of what passed in the wilderness from the first day of the eleventh month of the
fortieth year after the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, to the seventh day
of the twelfth month of the same; making in the whole the history of the transactions
of exactly five weeks. Beside a repetition of the previous laws, this book gives
us the finest illustrations of each, so that it may well be called a spiritual comment
on the laws of Moses; and also an account of the death of this most eminent man,
and all his last discourses with the people. It is continued about seven days after
his death. For he began to deliver his first discourse to the people in the plains
of Moab the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year, chap. 1:3, and
died on the first day of the twelfth month of the same year, aged one hundred and
2. THE HISTORICAL BOOKS
This book was probably written by the person whose name it bears; and is properly
a continuation of the book of Deuteronomy. It begins where that ends, immediately
after the death of Moses; for by this great man Joshua was appointed general and
leader of the Israelitish people; and under his direction it was that they entered
the land of Canaan. It contains an account of all Joshuas battles; his conquest of
the land; division of it by lot to the twelve tribes according to their different
families; exhortations to the people; remarkable providences of God; and concludes
with Joshuas death, at the age of one hundred and ten years, 1443 years before the
Christian era. It seems to include the period of about eight years.
This book contains a history of a high class of Israelitish magistrates, called by
the name of judges, raised up at particular times by the especial providence of God,
to deliver the people from their enemies, and to govern them according to the law
of God. The duration of this species of government, from the death of Joshua to the
reign of Saul, was about three hundred and forty-eight years. But as this book does
not include the government of Eli and Samuel, the last two judges, but ends at the
death of Samson, which happened in the year of the world 2884; consequently it includes
the period of only three hundred and twenty-three years.
This book, which contains the interesting history of the woman whose name it bears,
is a sort of appendix to the book of Judges, and introduction to the books of Samuel,
next following. Ruth was a Moabitess, who was married to a Hebrew of the name of
Mahlon, born in the land of Moab, where his parents Elimelech and Naomi had gone
to sojourn in a time when a famine had obliged them to leave their own country. Elimelech
dying, Naomi, his widow, returned to Judea, her daughter-in-law Ruth accompanying
her, whose husband had lately died. Arriving at Bethlehem, Ruth was soon known by
a kinsman of her own named Boaz, who took her to wife, from whom sprang Obed, the
father of Jesse, who was the father of David, the progenitor of the Messiah. The
book seems to have been written to ascertain the genealogy of our Lord.
FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
Samuel was an eminent prophet, and the last of the Israelitish judges; and most likely
the author of the materials which constitute the two books that go under his name,
though probably compiled by another hand. The first book contains an account of the
Israelitish affairs under the government of Eli the high priest, who was the fourteenth
judge; under Samuel, the fifteenth; as also an account of Saul, the first king of
Israel, his reign and death, with which the book concludes. It seems to include a
period of about one hundred and fifteen years.
SECOND BOOK OF SAMUEL
This book is a continuation of the preceding; and includes the history of the reign
of David, the successor of Saul, and comprises the period of about forty years.
FIRST BOOK OF KINGS
This book gives an account of the death of David; the reign of Solomon his son; the
building of the temple; the death of Solomon; the division of the empire under his
son Rehoboam into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; the idolatry of the ten tribes
under Jeroboam, who seized on that part of the empire called the kingdom of Israel;
and the transactions of the various kings of Israel and Judah down to the death of
Ahaziah, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. The whole including a period
of one hundred and nineteen years.
SECOND BOOK OF KINGS
This book contains the history of the Jewish and Israelitish kings down to the destruction
of Judah by the Chaldeans, succeeded by the Babylonish captivity; including a period
of three hundred and eight years.
FIRST BOOK OF CHRONICLES
This and the following book have their name from the Greek word chronica, from chronos,
time, signifying a narrative of events, registered according to the times, reigns
and years, in which they happened. The first book, in the first nine chapters, contains
several genealogies, from the creation down to the Babylonish captivity. The rest
of the book gives the history of the reign of David, beginning at the death of Saul,
B. C. 1056.
SECOND BOOK OF CHRONICLES
This book contains the history of the king of Judah, from Solomon to the Babylonish
captivity. It is very similar to the books of Kings; giving in many places the same
events; but scarcely ever mentions the idolatrous kings of Israel; confining itself
in general to the kings of Judah who reigned in Jerusalem.
In this book we are informed that Cyrus, king of Persia, into whose hands the Babylonian
empire had fallen, permitted the captive Jews, whom he found scattered through his
provinces, to return to their own land, under Zerubbabel, one of the Jewish princes,
and Jeshua the high priest: the opposition they met with till the accession of Darius
to the Persian throne, who gave leave to the Jews to rebuild their temple which had
been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; and sent Ezra, a man of great
eminence, to assist them in the work. This man was full of faith and the Holy Spirit:
he collected all the sacred books of the Jews, placed them in that order in which
they now stand, and rendered the returned Jews the most important services. Ezra
flourished about four hundred and fifty years before Christ.
BOOK OF NEHEMIAH
This is a continuation of the history of the Jews after their return from captivity.
Nehemiah was cupbearer to Artaxerxes Longimanus, or, as the Persians call him, Ardsheer
Dirazdest, the long-handed Ardsheer, who, at his request, permitted him to go to
Jerusalem, several years after Ezra had gone thither to settle the Jewish state,
which was in great disorder. He took two several journeys to Jerusalem, rebuilt the
walls, restored the divine worship, rectified a number of abuses, and again returned
to the Persian court. He was a man of amazing resolution and fortitude, tempered
with much wisdom, piety, and prudence; and is a model for all civil governors. Nehemiah
flourished about four hundred and forty years before Christ.
This woman was a Jewish captive; and became queen to Ahasuerus, king of Persia, about
four hundred and fifty-eight years before Christ. She was, in this capacity, the
means of preventing the massacre of the whole Jewish nation, which had been plotted
by Haman, prime minister and favorite of the king. It details the whole history of
these transactions, and of the wonderful providence of God in raising her to the
throne, preserving the Jews, and defeating their enemies.
3. POETICAL BOOKS, AND THOSE WHICH CONTAIN MAXIMS FOR THE GOVERNMENT
This book gives the history of an Arabian chief illustrious for his riches, patience,
and piety. It contains principally conversations in a highly poetical strain between
him and his friends, concerning the providence and perfections of God. He was at
first very rich and affluent; but God permitted him to be deprived of his property
and children, and also to be sorely afflicted in his body: all which he bore with
exemplary patience, which was at last rewarded with a double increase of temporal
blessing, and the high approbation of his Maker. When he flourished, is very uncertain.
This is a book of one hundred and fifty most elegant and spiritual hymns, chiefly
written by King David. As poetic effusions, they excel every thing written by man;
and from their depth and sublimity, their just descriptions of the majesty and perfections
of God, the nature and consequences of sin, and the heights and depths of holiness,
properly challenge a distinguished place among the inspired writings of the Old Testament.
This book contains a very large collection of wise sayings, spoken at different times
by Solomon, king of Israel, and other eminent sages; affording counsels and maxims
for the direction and regulation of every department, office, and circumstance of
life. They are delivered in a high oriental strain; and may be said to contain all
the wisdom of the ancient world.
A book supposed to have been written by Solomon in order to show the vanity of the
world, and of human life, whether in high or low estate: and that no happiness can
be expected by the human soul, but in the fear, love, and obedience of God.
CANTICLES, OR THE SONG OF SOLOMON
This is a very highly finished Hebrew ode, which, if literally taken, seems to describe
the great love and affection which subsisted between Solomon and his queen, the daughter
of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. But most commentators suppose it to be an allegorical
poem, in which Solomon represents Christ, and his queen the Christian Church. Taken
in this sense, it shows the great love which Christ bears to his genuine followers,
and the duty and affection which they owe to him. It is in the form of a pastoral.
4. THE MAJOR PROPHETS
This most eminent and holy man began to prophesy about seven hundred and sixty years
before Christ, under Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh, kings of Judah.
This last king was extremely wicked; and under his reign, and by his command, it
is said that Isaiah suffered martyrdom, being sawed asunder with a wooden saw! He
is supposed to have been of the blood royal of Judah; and is the most sublime of
all the prophets. His prophecies are so clear and minute, that they appear rather
to be narrations of things past, than predictions of things to come. Of these prophecies
the first five chapters are supposed to have been delivered in the reign of Uzziah;
the sixth in the reign of Jotham; the seventh to the fifteenth in the reign of Ahaz;
and the rest in that of Hezekiah. His predictions of the advent, sufferings, death,
resurrection, and glorious conquests of Jesus Christ, are so clear and pointed, as
to have gained him the appellation of the evangelical prophet. He spoke clearly also
of the calling of the Gentiles; and foretold the ruin that Nebuchadnezzar brought
on the Tyrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and Philistines; and also the ruin
of Nebuchadnezzar himself, and the Babylonish empire. He is supposed to have prophesied
about fifty or sixty years.
This man was a priest of the tribe of Benjamin; and entered on the prophetic office
about the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, king of Judah, seventy years after
the death of Isaiah. He foretold the ruin, captivity, and restoration of the Jews,
and the destruction of the Babylonish empire. He also predicted the calling of the
Gentiles. He lived to see the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, and suffered much
himself; all which he feelingly describes. When Jerusalem was taken, and the king
of Babylon had committed the government of the land to Gedaliah, Jeremiah continued
in Judea: but Ishmael, who was of the seed royal, having slain Gedaliah, the remaining
Jews, fearing the Chaldeans, fled to Egypt, whither this prophet was carried, and
there died or was put to death. He prophesied about forty-five years, during the
reigns of Josiah, Jekoiakim, and Zedekiah, and under the government of Gedaliah;
about five hundred and eighty-eight years before Christ.
The Lamentations of Jeremiah, composed after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the
captivity of Judah, are divided into five distinct chapters, which are so many beautiful
elegies bewailing those sad events. Chap. i-iv, are written in acrostics, each verse
beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in consecutive order. The third chapter
is written in double acrostics; and the fifth in single lines, without this artificial
This prophet was one of the Jews who were carried captive to Babylon, with Jehoiakim,
king of Judah. He began to prophesy in Chaldea, about the fifth year of the captivity,
before Christ five hundred and ninety-five years; and continued about twenty-five
years. He preached against the iniquities of the Jews; and foretold the destruction
of several neighboring nations, enemies to the Jews. He was chiefly sent for the
edification of the poor captives in Babylon. He foretold the calling of the Gentiles,
and the glorious state of the church of God, under the similitude of a temple, the
parts of which he very minutely describes. He is on the whole very obscure.
This prophet was also one of the captives in Babylon, whither it is supposed he was
carried when very young. He was contemporary with Ezekiel; and was famous for wisdom,
penetration, and piety. His prophecies concerning the Messiah, the destruction of
Jerusalem, the formation of the Chaldean, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires, and
their revolutions, are so very clear that their very dates are fixed. That concerning
the advent and death of our Lord is the clearest prophecy ever delivered: though
he lived nearly six hundred years before our Lord, he foretold the very year in which
he should be manifested, and the year in which he should be cut off. He, and his
companions, after running great risks, and suffering great hardships, were raised
to great honors in, the kingdom of Babylon. His prophecy is a lasting monument against
the Jews of the truth of the Christian religion. He died about five hundred and thirty-six
years before Christ.
5. THE TWELVE MINOR PROPHETS
This prophet is thought by some to have been the earliest of all the prophets. He
was certainly contemporary with Isaiah; and exercised his office in the kingdom of
Israel, about the same time that Isaiah exercised his in the kingdom of Judah. His
prophecies are chiefly directed against the ten tribes, previously to their being
carried into captivity. He also predicts the coming of the Messiah, and the glorious
state of the Christian church. He flourished from seven hundred and eighty-five to
seven hundred and twenty-five years before Christ.
This prophet was contemporary with Hosea, and flourished about seven hundred and
eighty-five years before the incarnation. His prophecy may be considered in the light
of a very solemn sermon, warning the Jews to repent of their sins; foretelling a
grievous famine which was to be occasioned by an innumerable host of locusts; promises
the penitent Gods mercy; and foretells in a very pointed manner that great outpouring
of the divine Spirit which should take place under the gospel dispensation.
This man was neither of the sacerdotal nor prophetic order: but was a herdsman, a
keeper of cattle, in the territory of Tekoa; and was sent by God to call the people
of Israel to repentance, and denounce the divine judgments against the workers of
iniquity. He foretells the judgments of God which were to fall on the Syrians, Philistines,
Tyrians, Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites. He flourished about seven hundred and
eighty-seven years before Christ.
This is the shortest of all the prophets. His prophecy refers to the Edomites, the
descendants of Esau, whom he threatens with utter destruction, because of their cruelty
and oppression to the Jews. It is supposed that he lived about five hundred and eighty-seven
years before the Christian era; and was contemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
Jonah was a native of Gath-Hepher, in Galilee; and was sent by God to denounce his
judgments against the Ninevites: but, fearing for his personal safety, he determined
on leaving is own country; and so took ship, and endeavored to escape to Tarshish.
Meeting with an extraordinary storm, the sailors, concluding that there must be some
person aboard against whom there was divine wrath, questioned him on the subject.
He confessed his sin, was thrown overboard, and was swallowed by a fish, in whose
belly he remained three days and three nights; and was a type of our Lords death
and resurrection. The fish having cast him up on dry land, he went to Nineveh, delivered
the divine message; the people trembled, fasted, and repented, and were saved. He
is supposed to have flourished about eight hundred and sixty-two years before our
This prophet was sent to reprove both Israel and Judah for their manifold sins, which
he did with great warmth and fidelity. He foretold their captivities; comforted the
godly; and predicted the incarnation of our Lord, mentioned the very place of his
birth, Bethlehem, described his offices as King and Priest of his people, and foretold
the glory of the Christian church in the latter days. He flourished at the same time
with Isaiah and Hosea, about seven hundred and fifty years before the Christian era.
Though the Ninevites had repented at the preaching of Jonah, they did not continue
to bring forth the fruits of repentance. This prophet was, therefore, sent to foretell
their destruction, and the ruin of the Assyrian empire, of which Nineveh was the
capital. This destruction was effected by the Medes and Babylonians, about sixty
years after. Nahum lived under the reign of Hezekiah, about ninety years later than
Jonah, or about seven hundred and seventy-two years before the Christian era. He
is the most sublime and energetic of all the minor prophets.
The preceding prophet foretold the destruction of the Assyrians who carried the ten
tribes into captivity; and Habakkuk foretold the ruin of the Chaldeans, who completed
the captivity of this unhappy people, by carrying away the two tribes that remained.
He is suppose to have been contemporary with Jeremiah, and to have flourished about
six hundred and twenty-six years before our Lord. The prayer in the third chapter
of this prophecy is inimitably fine.
This prophet was sent to the Jews under Josiah to foretell them of their approaching
captivity by the Chaldeans, on account of their idolatry, and other heinous offenses;
of which he strenuously exhorts them to repent. He foretells also the destruction
about to be brought on the Philistines, Moabites, Ethiopians, and Assyrians. He flourished
about six hundred and thirty years before Christ.
This prophet, with the two following, was sent to the Jews after their return from
the Babylonish captivity. He reprehends their negligence in not building the temple,
being more intent on their secular interests than on the glory of God; on account
of which God sent a dearth, by which they had been grievously distressed. At his
instigation, the people resumed the work, which had been sadly neglected, and the
temple was soon finished: and though that temple was much inferior to that built
by Solomon; yet he foretold that its glory should be greater than that of the former;
which was accomplished in the Messiahs honoring it with his presence and preaching.
He lived about five hundred and twenty years before Christ.
This was the second prophet sent to the Jews after their return from captivity; and
he encouraged the people to proceed with the building of the temple. There are many
prophetic visions in this book which relate to the Jews; and several prophecies relative
to our Lord; his riding into Jerusalem as a King; the thirty pieces of silver, for
which Judas sold his Master; the destruction of the Jews; and the calling of the
Gentiles. He flourished about five hundred and twenty years before our Lord.
This was the third and last prophet sent to the Jews after their return from the
Babylonish captivity. From his prophecy, it appears that the Jews were in his time
generally corrupted. They had not only neglected, but profaned the divine service;
these he sharply reproves; and encourages them much who in those times of degeneracy
continued faithful. He foretells the coming of Christ, and very clearly speaks of
his forerunner, John the Baptist. He intimates that no other prophet would be sent
to them; and that they must be careful to observe the law of Moses till the advent
of the Messiah. He flourished about three hundred and ninety-seven years before the
incarnation; and was the last prophet ever sent to the Jewish people. His book, therefore,
properly closes up the canon of the Old Testament. About this time Ezra, under the
direction of the Holy Spirit, had made a complete collection of all the sacred books
of the Jews, in which all the major as well as the minor prophets were included;
though some think that Simon the Just added Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and
Malachi, to Ezras work. This is the same collection which exists to the present day;
to which nothing has been added, and from which nothing has been taken away. See
The next extraordinary messenger with whom the Jews were favored,
was JOHN THE BAPTIST, of whom this prophet (Malachi) so clearly speaks. After him
came GOD MANIFESTED IN THE FLESH; who before his ascension to heaven, commissioned
his disciples, who were afterward called apostles, to go into all the world, and
preach the gospel to every creature, beginning first at Jerusalem, "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached
in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem"
(Luke 24:47). This was accordingly done;
and the word of the Lord had free course, ran, and was glorified.
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GENERAL ACCOUNT OF THE BOOKS CONTAINED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
- "Whatsoever things were written aforetime
were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures
might have hope" (Romans 15:4).
I come now to consider the writings of the New Covenant, which
were the effect of this revelation of Jesus Christ, and the mission of his apostles;
and shall divide them into four classes:
- I. The historical books: including the four gospels, and the Acts
of the Apostles.
II. The thirteen epistles of St. Paul.
III. The catholic or general epistles: viz., of James, Peter, John, and Jude.
IV. The Apocalypse, or book of the Revelation. Of these different books I shall endeavor
to point out the author, the time when written, and the chief subject of each.
1. THE HISTORICAL BOOKS, VIZ., THE FOUR GOSPELS, AND ACTS OF
This evangelist is supposed to be the same who is also called Levi, son of Alpheus.
He was by birth a Jew; and, like the rest of our Lords disciples, a native of Galilee;
and appears to have been at first a collector of the public taxes under the Roman
government. He was called by our Lord to be a disciple when sitting in his public
office by the seaside, near the city of Capernaum.
He was placed by our Lord in the number of his apostles, and continued with him during
his life. After the ascension of Christ, he was at Jerusalem; and received the Holy
Spirit with the rest of the disciples, on the day of Pentecost. His gospel (i. e.,
his history of the incarnation, preaching, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension
of our Lord) is generally allowed to be the most ancient part of the writings of
the New Covenant. It is very probable that he wrote this book in Hebrew, about the
eighth year after the ascension of our Lord, or A. D. 37, and that it was, by himself
or some other, translated into Greek about A. D. 61.
Matthew being a constant attendant on our Lord, his history is an account of what
he saw and heard; and, being influenced by the Holy Spirit, his history is entitled
to the utmost degree of credibility. Whether he was martyred for the truth, or died
a natural death, is uncertain.
This is the same who is called John Mark; and who traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch
with Paul and Barnabas, and afterward into other countries. "And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had
fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark" (Acts 12:25).
It is supposed that he wrote this gospel at Rome, about A. D. 64, and that he died
at Alexandria, in in the eighth year of the reign of Nero, the Roman emperor. It
is very probable that he had seen the gospel written by St. Matthew, as he omits
several things which are amply detailed by that evangelist. At the same time he inserts
several curious particulars not mentioned by any of the others.
St. Luke is the most elegant of all the evangelical writers; his language being purer
and much more free from Hebraisms than any of the rest. He was an early convert to
Christianity, and was St. Pauls fellow laborer, (Philemon, ver. 24,) and accompanied
him when he first went to Macedonia; and from Greece, through Macedonia and Asia,
to Jerusalem; and from Jerusalem again to Rome, where he stayed with him the two
years of his imprisonment in that city. It is generally believed that he finished
and published his gospel and the Acts of the Apostles in Greece, about A. D. 47,
both of which he dedicates to Theophilus, an honorable Christian friend of his in
that country. His gospel, like those of the preceding evangelists, gives an account
of the birth, preaching, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of our
Lord. It is supposed that he died in peace about the eightieth or eighty fourth year
of his age.
This evangelist was the son of a fisherman named Zebedee, and his mothers name was
Salome. They were probably of Bethsaida; and the father and his sons James and John
followed their occupation on the sea of Galilee. Both these brothers were called
to the apostleship; and John is supposed to have been about twenty-five years of
age when he began to follow our Lord. It is likely that he was one of our Lords relatives;
and was that disciple whom it is said our Lord loved: that is, he had a peculiar
affection for him. He was also an eye and ear witness of our Lords labors, journeyings,
discourses, miracles, sufferings, crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension.
The gospel of John presupposes the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke: the grand
facts he has in common with them; but he supplies many particulars which are not
found in the others. St. Matthew seems to labor to prove the fact of the reality
of our Lords incarnation or humanity: on the other hand, John takes up the eternal
divinity, which he powerfully establishes; and gives us many invaluable discourses
and conversations of our Lord with his disciples, as well as several miracles that
are not found in the other evangelists. No one of the gospels gives us the whole
history of our Lord; we must read all four, to have this complete. John was banished
by the Roman emperor, Domitian, to the isle of Patmos, in the AEgean Sea: but his
successor Nerva having recalled all the exiles banished by Domitian, John returned
to Ephesus, where he died, aged upward of one hundred years. The holy Virgin is said
to have lived with him till her death, which took place about fifteen years after
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
The book of the Acts of the Apostles is the fifth and last of the historical books.
It was doubtless written by St. Luke, probably about A. D. 63; and is dedicated to
the same noble personage, Theophilus, to whom he dedicated his gospel. The design
of the apostle in writing this book appears to have been twofold:
- To relate in what manner the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost
were communicated on the day of Pentecost; and the subsequent miracles performed
by the apostles, by which the truth and divine origin of Christianity were confirmed.
- To deliver such accounts as proved the claim of the Gentiles to
admission into the church of Christ. In this book we see how the Christian church
was formed and settled.
- The apostles simply proclaimed the truth of God, relative to He
passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ; and God accompanied their
testimony with the demonstration of his Spirit. The consequence was, thousands embraced
Christianity, and openly professed it at the risk of their lives. They were converted,
not merely from one religious sentiment to another, but from sin to holiness. Their
tempers, passions, and moral prospects were all changed; and they only lived to bring
glory to God, and to do good to men. This mighty change is everywhere in this book
attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit, which took of the things which were Christs,
and applied them to the souls of the people. Such was the Christian church at its
formation: and such it must be to the end of the world, if it deserve the name of
2. THE THIRTEEN EPISTLES OF ST. PAUL
- THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
Paul, at first called Saul, was born of Jewish parents at Tarsus, a city of Cilicia.
When young, he was sent to Jerusalem for the purpose of receiving a Jewish education;
and was placed there under a most eminent doctor or rabbi, called Gamaliel. He joined
the Jewish sect called Pharisees, who were at once the best learned, the most proud,
hypocritical, and intolerant of all the Jews. Paul imbibed much of their spirit,
as he acquired the whole of their learning. He became proud, overbearing, and haughty;
and grievously persecuted the Christians: but as he was on his way from Jerusalem
to Damascus, with authority from the chief priests, to bind and variously persecute
all that bore the Christian name, he had a most remarkable vision, which see related
in Acts, chap. 9, in consequence of which he carefully examined and embraced the
Christian faith; and afterward became one of the most zealous promoters and successful
defenders of that cause which he had before so inveterately persecuted.
Of his labors, sufferings, and travels, we have an ample account in the book of the
Acts. He was long imprisoned at Rome; and at length suffered martyrdom, having his
head cut off, by an order of the Roman emperor, Nero, on June 29, A. D. 66.
Rome, to whose inhabitants, or rather to the Christian church there, this epistle
was directed, was the metropolis of the Roman empire, and the mistress of the world.
The occasion of writing this epistle was the following: Many Gentiles as well as
Jews having been converted by the preaching of the gospel, the latter refused to
admit the former to all the privileges of the church of Christ, unless they submitted
to be circumcised; as they supposed that this was the only gate through which they
should be admitted into the fold. In this epistle St. Paul shows that the Jewish
rites and ceremonies were done away; that all men, both Jews and Gentiles, had sinned
against God; and that no sacrifices or observances of the Jewish law could make atonement
for sin; (for by its works no soul could be justified;) God had therefore appointed
a new way of salvation, the sacrifice of Christ, and faith in that sacrifice. That
this privilege was not granted to the Jews alone, but equally to the Gentiles; that
none could be saved but in this way; and that those who were thus saved stood upon
the broad ground of Gods infinite mercy, and were equal in their religious rank,
rights, and privileges. This view of the subject gave the apostle ample scope, 1st,
to show the absolute inefficacy of human works, whether consisting in moral obedience
or in observation of religious rites and ceremonies, to purchase the favor of God,
or make an atonement for sin: and, 2d, the sovereign efficacy of the death of Christ,
and faith in the merit of that death, to bring the soul into the favor of God, and
give it a right to eternal life that sacrificial offering of Christ being the sole
ground procuring these, and faith the means of applying its benefit to the guilty
FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS
Corinth, to which this and the following epistle were sent, was one of the most celebrated
cities of Greece. It is situated on a gulf of the same name; and was anciently the
capital of the Peloponnesus, or Achaia. It was joined to the main land by a narrow
isthmus, or neck of land, that had the port of Lecheum on the west, and the port
of Cenchrea on the east, by which it commanded the commerce both of the Ionian and
AEgean Seas. By the port of Lecheum it received the merchandise of Italy, and of
the western nations; and by the port of Cenchrea it received that of the AEgean Sea,
the coasts of Asia Minor, and of the Phoenicians. As this city abounded in riches,
so did it in luxury and corruption of manners: and no place in the habitable globe
needed the gospel of Christ more than this did. Here a church was founded, the principal
members of which were eminently endowed with the gifts and graces of Gods Spirit:
but as some dissensions had arisen among them concerning things lawful and unlawful,
what might be done with a clear conscience, and what ought not to be done, they wrote
to St. Paul to give his judgment, and settle these disputes. This first epistle is
in answer to that letter; in which, among other things, he discusses the question
of the unlawfulness of eating things offered to idols: and enters at large into a
consideration of that most important doctrine, the resurrection from the dead, and
its proofs drawn from the natural and moral world, and from the resurrection of the
body of our blessed Lord.
SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS
The preceding epistle having been well received, and its exhortations and reprehensions
having produced the desired effect, the apostle writes this to comfort and confirm
them in the truth. He reproves a false apostle who had insinuated himself among them,
and endeavored to render their minds evil affected toward himself. In this epistle
he vindicates his own doctrine and conduct against the aspersions of that false apostle,
gives an affecting account of his own trials and sufferings, and strongly exhorts
them to holiness of heart and life.
EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS
Galatia or Gallograecia, was anciently a part of Phrygia, in Asia Minor bounded on
the east by Cappadocia, on the west by Bithynia, on the south by Pamphylia, and on
the north by the Euxine Sea.
The church of God founded in this place seems to have been greatly perplexed and
disturbed by some Jewish teachers, who endeavored to persuade the converted Gentiles
that unless they were circumcised, and kept the law of Moses, they could not be saved.
Many having been stumbled and turned aside by these teachers, the apostle wrote to
- To vindicate his own apostleship which those false teachers had
- To assert and maintain the doctrine of justification by faith,
from which they had been departing. And,
- To call them back to the liberty of the gospel from which, under
those bad teachers, some of them had apostatized.
- He proves at large,
- That no rites or ceremonies of the Jewish law could avail in their
- That their own works could avail nothing in reference to their
acceptance with God; the only way of salvation being by faith, and that this was
the original way, for Abraham was justified by faith long before the law was given.
- That the curse of the law was upon every sinner, and is not removed
but by the sacrifice of Christ.
- EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS
Ephesus was a very famous city of Ionia, and once the metropolis of that part of
the world. The grand subject of this epistle is to prove that the great mystery of
God, which had been hidden from all former ages, was opened and explained by calling
the Gentiles into the church, making them one with the converted Jews, and placing
them under the one great and Only Shepherd, Christ Jesus. The apostle also shows
the necessity of the doctrine of justification by faith; enters into a description
of the heights, lengths, and breadths of Christian holiness; points out the enemies
of true believers; shows them the spiritual armor with which they are to defend themselves
and concludes by giving them the most pointed directions relative to the cultivation
of their hearts, their moral conduct, and particularly their exact fulfillment of
all the relative duties.
EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS
Philippi was a town of Macedonia, in the confines of Thrace, and near the northern
extremity of the AEgean Sea. St. Paul first preached the gospel here about A. D.
53, and established one of the most pure and excellent churches. False teachers had
crept into this church also, against whom he warns the people exhorts them to unity
and concord, points out to them the glory which shall be revealed to the truly faithful,
speaks of the blessedness of his own experience, and thanks and commends them for
the contributions they sent to supply his wants.
EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS
Colosse, or Colossa, was a city of Phrygia Pacatiana, now a part of Natolia, in Asia
Minor, situated on an eminence on the south side of the river Meander. There is a
very great similarity between this epistle and that to the Ephesians It contains
the very depth and essence of Christian doctrine and Christian experience; strongly
excites to holiness of heart and life; and exhorts to a regular fulfillment of the
relative duties, viz., parents and children, husbands and wives, masters and servants,
FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS
Thessalonica, now called by the Turks Salonichi, is a seaport town of Turkey, in
Europe, and anciently the capital of Macedonia. Paul and Silas preached the gospel
in this city about A. D. 51 or 52. This epistle is probably the first that St. Paul
wrote: and it appears that the church of Thessalonica was the purest of all the apostolic
churches. The apostle finds scarcely any thing among them to reprove. They had received
the whole truth as it was in Jesus, and their conduct was conformed to it. They had
a faith that worked, a love that labored, and a hope which enabled them to bear all
afflictions patiently, and wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus. The directions
which he gives in the last chapter, relative to the perfection of their Christian
faith and character, are of the utmost importance; and intimately concern all Christian
churches, and all who bear the Christian name.
SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS
It appears that the second epistle was written shortly after the first, the main
design of which is to warn the people against crediting a false report which they
had heard relative to the sudden appearing of Christ to judge the world; which they
had so far received and credited as actually (at least some of them) to give up their
secular affairs, as being inconsistent with the expectation of so solemn an event,
so speedily to take place. On this subject the apostle sets them right by giving
just notions of the future judgment, predicts a certain apostasy from the faith,
and exhorts them to obedience and fidelity in all the circumstances of life in which
God may place them.
FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY
Timothy, the person to whom this epistle is addressed, was the son of a Gentile,
by a Jewish woman named Eunice, the daughter of a Jewess named Lois. It is likely
that, at the time that Lois was converted to the Christian faith, her husband was
dead, as was also the husband of Eunice; and that the grandmother, mother, and son
lived all together. Their son Timothy became strongly attached to St. Paul, received
the Christian faith in its power, became an evangelist, and traveled with the apostle
through different parts, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. The apostle
having left him in the City of Ephesus to superintend the church in that place, he
wrote this first epistle to him, probably about A. D. 64 or 65, in which he gives
- To oppose those fables invented by Jewish teachers to recommend
the observance of the Mosaic law as necessary to salvation.
- To oppose those uncertain genealogies by which certain persons
wished to show their descent from Abraham, on the persuasion that they should be
saved merely because they were his descendants.
- That he might oppose a foolish propensity which they had to the
discussion of intricate questions, which, instead of leading to godliness, engendered
- The apostle gives him suitable directions how to act the part
of an evangelist; how to rule the church of God; and how to repress irregularities,
and maintain truth.
- SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY
This was in all probability written a short time after the first; for the same sort
of persons, doctrines, and practices are reprobated in the second which were condemned
in the first. The same commands and instructions are given to Timothy in the second
as in the first. The same remedies for the corruptions which had taken place at Ephesus
are prescribed in the second as in the first. And in this second epistle every thing
is addressed to Timothy as the superintendent both of the preachers and laity in
the church of Ephesus. All which prove that, as the same persons and the same state
of things continued when this second epistle was written, as when the first was written,
consequently both must have been sent within a short time of each other.
In this epistle St. Paul strongly exhorts his son Timothy to hold fast the form of
sound words which had been delivered to him; shows him what and how to preach; predicts
the evils of the latter times and his own approaching martyrdom; and sends salutations
to different friends. Both epistles are a treasury to the church of Christ, and of
the utmost consequence to all preachers of the gospel.
EPISTLE TO TITUS
From frequent mention made of this person in St. Pauls epistles, we learn that he
was a Greek, and most probably a heathen till converted to Christianity by St. Paul.
He accompanied this apostle in several of his journeys; and was at last left by him
in the island of Crete, as superintendent or bishop of the churches there planted.
Crete is a very large island in the Mediterranean Sea; being about one hundred and
eighty miles long, by about forty broad.
This epistle is very similar to the First Epistle to Timothy. They are both principally
occupied in describing the qualifications of those who should be appointed to ecclesiastical
offices; and the ingredients in this description are nearly the same in both epistles.
Timothy and Titus are both cautioned against the same prevailing corruptions; the
phrases and expressions in both letters are nearly the same; and the writer accosts
his two disciples with the same salutations; which shows, not only that the two epistles
were written by the same person, but nearly about the same time, viz., A. D. 65.
EPISTLE TO PHILEMON
Philemon seems to have been a person of consideration, affluence, and charity, in
the city of Colosse and a distinguished Christian, who had a church at his house;
and frequently entertained the Christians and Christian ministers who passed that
The occasion of writing this letter was the following: Onesimus, a slave, had on
some pretense or other run away from his master, Philemon, and come to Rome, where
St. Paul then was as a prisoner, though dwelling in his own hired house and guarded
by a Roman soldier. Onesimus, having found him out, was converted by the apostle,
who wrote this letter to his friend Philemon in behalf of one who, though formerly
unfaithful, was now restored to a better mind. The recommendation is managed with
great skill and address, and was no doubt successful. The epistle contains no pointed
reference to and particular doctrine of Christianity; but is a model for recommendatory
and intercessory letters. It was probably written about A. D. 62.
EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS
This is allowed to have been the last written by St. Paul of which we have any knowledge;
and was most probably composed in A. D. 63. The design was to prevent the Jews who
had received the gospel from turning back again to Mosaic rites and ceremonies. And,
to accomplish this design, he shows them that the law was but the shadow of good
things to come, and the gospel the substance; that the former without the latter
was without meaning, and without use; and that every thing in and under the law pointed
out some corresponding spiritual good under the gospel. The major part of the epistle
is a comment upon the law, and the most beautiful illustration of it that ever was
or can be given. On the prophetic, sacerdotal, and regal offices of Christ, it is
both ample and luminous; and no man can read it without having his head enlightened
and his heart mended. It is by far the most elegant, the most argumentative, and
the most useful epistle of the great apostle of the Gentiles. In it he concentrates
all his learning, all his legal knowledge, and all his evangelical experience and
unction. The epistle everywhere shows the hand of a master; and that hand was guided
by the unerring wisdom of the eternal Spirit.
3. THE CATHOLIC OR GENERAL EPISTLES
- THE EPISTLE OF JAMES
James the Less, one of the disciples and kinsmen of our Lord, has been most generally
supposed to have been the author of this epistle; and that it is the oldest of all
the apostolical epistles, and perhaps prior to any of the gospels. It seems to have
been written to comfort and edify the believing Jews, who were scattered through
the different nations of the earth. It is written much in the style of a Jewish prophet;
and seems to be a connecting link between the law and the gospel, as John the Baptist
was between Judaism and Christianity. The style of it is elevated, and the diction
compressed and clear; and the lessons of morality and submission to the divine will
which it conveys are not surpassed by any thing found in the writings of the other
FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER
Peter was a native of Bethsaida, in Upper Galilee; and by trade a fisherman. He and
his brother Andrew were called early to be disciples of Christ. Being married, he
had removed his family to Capernaum and his house there seems to have been the usual
residence of our Lord when in those districts. He is generally supposed to have obtained
the crown of martyrdom at home, at the beginning of Neros persecution, about A. D.
64 or 65.
His epistles seem to be written to the believing Jews and Gentiles; especially those
who were suffering persecution, or were obliged to leave their country on account
of the gospel, and take refuge in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
He exhorts them to patience, submission, perseverance, and holiness, after the example
of our Lord; and concludes with suitable exhortations to the elders to guard and
feed the flock of Christ.
SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER
This is addressed to the same persons as the first, and on nearly the same occasion.
He shows that the believing Gentiles, though uncircumcised, were entitled to the
same privileges as the believing Jews; exhorts them to patience and steadiness in
their Christian profession; warns them against false prophets, and professing Christians
whose lives were unholy; refers to the day of judgment, and wonderfully describes
the action of the fire by which all things shall be destroyed; but predicts a renovation
of all things, so that a new heaven and a new earth should be, by the power of God,
generated as out of the old.
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
The writer of these three epistles is the same as John the evangelist, of whose history
we have already had a sketch in speaking of his gospel. This epistle appears to have
been written before the destruction of Jerusalem, and probably A. D. 68 or 69.
The design of this epistle is to inculcate the doctrine of holiness of heart and
life springing from love to God and man. Indeed this love seems to be his text, and
he has written the whole epistle on this text. His own soul was filled with this
heavenly fire; and it shone on and warmed all around.
SECOND EPISTLE OF JOHN
This epistle is of a private nature, being written to an eminent Christian matron
in or near Ephesus, probably a deaconess of the church; or one who was in the habit
of accommodating apostles and itinerant evangelists. He commends her for her piety,
for the Christian state and discipline of her family; warns her against false doctrines
and false teachers; and concludes by hoping shortly to pay her a visit.
THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN
This is also an epistle of a private nature, being written to an eminent Christian
friend of the name of Gaius, to whom he earnestly wishes,
- Health of body;
- Health of soul; and,
- Prosperity in secular affairs.
- He commends him for his charity and hospitality, warns him against
a troublesome person of the name of Diotrephes, and promises to pay him a visit shortly.
Both these persons must have been near the apostles habitation, as he was now about
ninety years of age, and consequently incapable of taking any long journey. Both
these epistles are supposed to have been written between A. D. 80 and 90. The exact
time is not known.
EPISTLE OF JUDE
We know no more of this person than what he tells us himself, in the beginning of
this epistle, that he was a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James. But, as
there were several Judes and several Jameses, we know not which is intended. It is
not directed to any particular church or people, but to Christians in general; and
hence it has been called a general epistle. He warns the churches of Christ against
false teachers, and against apostasy; and describes the false teachers of the time
in the most vivid colors. The exhortation in verses 20, 21, is forcible and affectionate;
and the doxology in verses 24 and 25 is well adapted to the subject, and is peculiarly
dignified and sublime. It is supposed that this epistle was written about A. D. 64
4. THE APOCALYPSE, OR BOOK OF THE REVELATION
This is generally allowed to be written by John the evangelist, author of the gospel
and of the three epistles lately reviewed; and that it was written while he was an
exile in the isle of Patmos; and published after his return, about A. D. 96. It is
undoubtedly the latest piece of the New Covenant: after which the divine Spirit has
not thought proper to add any thing farther to the Christian code. This, therefore,
finishes and seals up vision and prophecy under the New Testament, as Malachi does
under the Old.
The book opens with a splendid appearance of the Lord Jesus,
as the Ancient of days, in his sacerdotal vestments; who dictates to John seven epistles,
or letters, which he orders him to send to seven churches in Asia Minor; viz., Ephesus,
Smyrna Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
After these, there are a profusion of hieroglyphic [symbolic] representations;
accompanied by a tissue of most solemn prophecies, supposed to regard not only the
church, but the different governments of the world, from that time to the day of
judgment. Several of these prophecies appear to have been already fulfilled, some
in the act of being accomplished, and others remain which respect future ages. The
book is written with great dignity and majesty of figure, metaphor, and coloring:
and several of the prophecies in it bear a strikingsimilitude to some in the prophets
Ezekiel and Daniel. Obscure as it is, God pronounces a blessing on all them who shall
read it; and because it closes the canon of the New Testament and revelation in general,
God thus speaks:
- "For I testify unto every man that heareth
the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God
shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall
take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part
out of the Book of Life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are
written in this book" (Revelation 22:18,19).
With this apostle the reader may well add,
- "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from
our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father;
to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen"
ALL THESE BOOKS COLLECTIVELY, whether given to the Jewish or Christian church,
are sometimes termed THE SCRIPTURES OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT; and generally through
all Christian countries, and in almost all languages, The Bible from a Greek word
Biblos, a BOOK, as being the only book that teaches the knowledge of the true God;
- the origin of the universe;
- the creation and fall of man;
- the commencement of the different nations of the earth;
- the confusion of languages;
- the foundation of the church of God;
- the abominable and destructive nature of idolatry and false worship;
- the divine scheme of redemption;
- the immortality of the soul;
- the doctrine of the invisible and spiritual world;
- a future judgment;
- and the final retribution of the wicked in the pains of eternal
perdition, and of the good in the blessedness of an endless glory.
From this Bible, or collection of sacred writings, the following
principles have been extracted; which, though they do not contain every particular,
yet they exhibit the grand principles of revealed religion; and, in several cases,
the reasons on which they are founded. I have endeavored to deduce them in their
dependent and progressive order, that the mind may be easily and gradually led from
primitive to secondary and ultimate truths, through the whole economy of divine justice,
mercy, and grace, as far as these things are revealed to us in the sacred writings,
or seem fairly deducible from the different parts of divine revelation.
This is a desideratum, or thing to be desired, but not yet furnished, which few catechisms,
creeds, or confessions of faith attempt to supply, though in them we might reasonably
expect to find such principles.
I have seen most compositions of this kind; but have not found in any of them such
a condensed synopsis, or general view of those principles, on which every Christian
must found his faith, if he wish it not to stand in the wisdom of man, but in the
power of God. Bodies of divinity, so called, are out of the question; as being by
far too voluminous for the purpose; nor do they in general contain principles, but
rather systems of doctrines, most of which are founded on party creeds.
These Scriptures we know to be revelations from heaven:
- By the sublimity of the doctrines they contain; all descriptions
of God, of heaven, of the spiritual and eternal worlds, being in every respect worthy
of their subjects and on this account widely differing from the childish conceits,
absurd representations, and ridiculous accounts, given of such subjects in the writings
of idolaters, and superstitious religionists, in all nations of the earth.
- The Bible is proved to be a revelation from God, by the reasonableness
and holiness of its precepts; all its commands, exhortations, and promises having
the most direct tendency to make men wise, holy, and happy in themselves, and useful
to one another.
- By the miracles which it records: miracles of the most astonishing
nature, which could be performed only by the almighty power of God: miracles which
were wrought in the sight of thousands, were denied by none, and attested through
successive ages by writers of the first respectability, as well enemies as friends
of the Christian religion.
- By the truth of its prophecies, or predictions of future occurrences,
which have been fulfilled exactly in the way, and in those times, which the predictions
delivered many hundreds of years before had pointed out.
- By the promises which it contains promises of pardon and peace
to the penitent, of divine assistance and support to true believers, and of holiness
and happiness to the godly, which are ever exactly fulfilled to all those who by
faith plead them before God.
- By the effects which these Scriptures produce in the hearts and
in the lives of those who piously read them; it being always found that such persons
become wiser, better, and happier in themselves, and more useful to others: better
husbands and wives; better parents and children; better governors and subjects and
better friends and neighbors. While those who neglect them are generally a curse
to themselves, a curse to society, and a reproach to the name of man.
- To these proofs may be added the poverty, illiterate and defenseless
state of our Lords disciples and the primitive preachers of his gospel. The Jewish
rulers and priesthood were as one man opposed to them; they sought by every means
in their power to prevent the preaching of Christianity in Judea; the disciples were
persecuted everywhere, and had not one man in power or authority to support them,
or espouse their cause; yet a glorious Christian church was founded even at Jerusalem;
thousands received and professed the faith of Christ crucified, and many of them
gladly sealed the truth with their blood. When they had preached the gospel throughout
Judea, they went to the heathens, preached the gospel in different parts of the Lesser
Asia, Greece, and Italy. In all these places they had to contend with the whole power
and influence of the Roman empire, then entirely heathen, and the mistress of all
the known world! Christian churches, notwithstanding, were founded everywhere; and
even in Rome itself, the throne of the Roman emperor! Here they were as defenseless
as in Judea itself; they had to contend with all the idolatrous priests, with all
the Greek philosophers, with the secular government, and with the many millions of
the deluded and superstitious populace, who, instigated by furious zeal, endeavored
by the most barbarous acts of persecution to support their false gods, idols, temples,
and false worship: yet, before the preaching of these poor, comparatively unlearned,
and totally defenseless men, idolatry fell prostrate; the heathen oracles were struck
dumb; the philosophers were confounded; and the people were converted by thousands;
till at last all Asia Minor and Greece, with Italy, and the various parts of the
Roman empire received the gospel, and abolished idolatry! Had not this doctrine been
from God, and had not He by his Almighty power aided these holy men, such effects
could never have been produced. The success, therefore, of the unarmed and defenseless
apostles and primitive preachers of Christianity is an incontrovertible proof that
the gospel is a revelation from God; that it is the means of conveying light and
life to the souls of men; and that no power, whether earthly or diabolic, shall ever
be able to overthrow it. It has prevailed, and must prevail, till the whole earth
shall be subdued, and the universe filled with the glory of God. Amen.
All these are proofs which cannot be contradicted, that these Scriptures
are a revelation from God; and, consequently, the only complete directory of the
faith and practice of men.
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, said an eminent scholar, have God for
their Author, the Salvation of mankind for their end, and Truth without any mixture
of error for their matter.
As a revelation from God, they have stood the test of many ages; and as such maintained
their ground against every species of enemy, and every mode of attack. Truth is mighty,
and must prevail.
This revelation is now complete. God will add nothing more to it, because it contains
every thing necessary for men, both in reference to this world and that which is
to come: and he has denounced the heaviest judgments against those who shall add
to it, or diminish any thing from it.
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PRINCIPLES OF THE
1. There Is One God, who is self-existing, uncreated, infinitely wise, powerful,
and good: who is present in every place; and fills the heavens, and earth, and
all things. Now, as THIS ONE God is eternal, that is, without beginning or end, and
is present everywhere, and fills all space, there can be only ONE such Being; for
there cannot be two or more eternals, or two or more who are everywhere and fill
all things. To suppose more than one supreme Source of infinite wisdom, power, and
all perfections, is to assert that there is no supreme Being in existence. A plurality
of eternal beings would resemble a plurality of universes, eternities, and infinite
spaces; all which would be contradictory and absurd.
- "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel,
and His Redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the First, and I am the Last; and beside
Me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in
order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming,
and shall come, let them show unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not
I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even My witnesses. Is there
a God beside Me? yea, there is no God; I know not any"
2. This one infinite and eternal Being is a Spirit: i.e., he is not compounded,
nor made up of parts; for then he would be nothing different from matter, which is
totally void of intelligence and power. And hence he must be invisible; for a spirit
cannot be seen by the eye of man: nor is there any thing in this principle contradictory
to reason or experience. We all know that there is such a thing as the air we breathe,
as the wind that whistles through the trees, fans and cools our bodies, and sometimes
tears up mighty trees from their roots, overturns the strongest buildings, and agitates
the vast ocean; but no man has ever seen this air or wind, though every one is sensible
of its effects, and knows that it exists. Now it would be as absurd to deny the existence
of God, because we cannot see him, as it would be to deny the existence of the air
or wind, because we cannot see it. As to reason and sense, the wind is known to exist
by the affects which it produces, though it cannot be seen; so God is known by his
works; and a genuine Christian is as conscious that this divine Spirit works in,
enlightens, and changed his heart, as he is that he breathes the air, and feels the
action of the wind upon his body; and is either chilled, cooled, or refreshed, by
- "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him
must worship Him in spirit and in truth... The wind bloweth where it listeth, and
thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither
it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit"
(John 4:24, 3:8).
3. In this God there are found three persons, not distinctly or separately existing;
but in one infinite unity; who are termed Father, Son, and Spirit; or God the Father,
God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; all existing in the one infinite and eternal
God; neither being before or after the other, neither being greater or less than
the other. These three divine persons are frequently termed among Christians, The
- "For there are Three that bear record in
heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these Three are One" (1 John 5:7);
- "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily
shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art My
beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased" (Luke
4. This God is the Creator, Governor, and Preserver of all things: all creatures,
animate and inanimate, owe their being to him; and by him they are all supported.
- "All things were made by Him; and without
Him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3);
- "Thou, even Thou, art LORD alone; Thou hast
made heaven, the Heaven of heavens, with all their host, the Earth, and all things
that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and Thou preservest them all;
and the host of Heaven worshippeth Thee" (Nehemiah 9:6).
5. The works of creation show God to be infinitely powerful, wise, and good. His
power is seen in the vastness or magnitude of his works; his Wisdom is seen in
the skill and contrivance so evident in each, and in the whole; and his Goodness
is seen in the end for which each has been formed: for he has made all intelligent
and animate beings capable of happiness; and he has so contrived their bodies, minds,
and different parts, as well as the things by which they are surrounded, that this
happiness is, in general, within their reach.
- "O LORD, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom
hast Thou made them all: the Earth is full of Thy riches"
6. Man is one of the chief works of God. His soul was created in the image
of God, i.e., in righteousness and true holiness: and his body was formed out of
the dust of the ground. There was no imperfection in his body, a machine of the most
complicate, curious, and difficult contrivance: and no sinfulness in his mind; for
God, who is all perfection, could make nothing that is imperfect; and He who is infinitely
holy could make nothing that is impure.
- "So God created man in His own image, in
the image of God created He him; male and female created He them" (Genesis 1:27).
7. But from this state of perfection and purity man fell, by his disobeying the
commandment of God; and so became liable to sickness, death, corruption, and
dissolution in his body; and became ignorant, sinful, and vicious in his soul.
- "They are all gone aside, they are all together
become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalm
8. God, who is infinitely good, showed his mercy to fallen, sinful man by promising
him a Savior who was to come in that time which God should see to be the most
- "And I will put enmity between thee and the
woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt
bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15).
9. This Saviour was no less a person than the Lord Jesus Christ, who in that
suitable time was to take upon him the nature of man, by assuming a human body; which
he subjected to death, that he might make a sacrifice and atonement for all those
who were partakers of the same nature, i.e., for the Whole Human Race.
- "And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou
shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21);
- "But we see Jesus, Who was made a little
lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour;
that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man"
10. Jesus Christ, as man, could suffer and die; as God, he was incapable of
either, but it was necessary that his human nature should suffer in order to make
an atonement; and it was necessary that his Deity should be united with that humanity,
in order to make its suffering of infinite value, that thereby a suitable atonement
might be made for the sins of the world.
- "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,
the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the
flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (1
11. The law which God gave to men was given to human nature. That nature transgressed
this law; on that nature, therefore, divine justice had a claim; and from it that
justice had a right to demand satisfaction. To have destroyed that human nature existing
at the time of the transgression in the first human pair only, would have been inconsistent
with the innumerable purposes of divine justice, mercy, and providence; therefore
God permitted them to live and propagate a posterity upon the earth: but in his infinite
love he found out a Redeemer for this fallen nature. But this Christ or Redeemer
took not upon him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, that is, human nature,
that in the nature which sinned he might make the expiation required.
- "For verily He took not on Him the nature
of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham" (Hebrews 2:16).
12. It was also necessary that this Redeemer should be infinitely divine and perfect;
as the end of his great undertaking was not only to purchase pardon for a world of
offenders, but to merit eternal happiness for mankind. Now an infinite happiness
cannot be purchased by any price less than that which is infinite in value; and infinity
of merit can only result from a nature that is infinitely divine or perfect.
- "He is before all things, and by Him all
things consist" (Colossians 1:17).
13. Accordingly we find that, about 4000 years after the creation, this Jesus
Christ was born in Judea, of a virgin, whose name was Mary, in whose womb his human
nature was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost; and about thirty-three years
afterward, having wrought multitudes of miracles, the most astonishing and beneficent,
and preached that heavenly doctrine called the gospel or good news, he gave up his
life at Jerusalem as a sacrificial offering for the lives of all mankind. He was
buried; rose again, by that divine power which could not suffer death, on the third
day, according to his own predictions; and gave commission to his disciples, (holy
men to whom he had taught the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,) to go into all
the world, and preach his gospel to every creature; which they and their successors
have done, and are doing: and by these means Christianity has been spread and established
in the earth; and will finally prevail in every nation of the world according to
his own most positive declarations.
- "For unto you is born this day in the city
of David a Saviour, which is Christ the LORD" (Luke 2:11);
- "He made His grave with the wicked, and with
the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in
His mouth" (Isaiah 53:9);
- "Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be
testified in due time" (1 Timothy
- "And He said unto them, Go ye into all the
world, and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
14. God has assured mankind that there is and can be no salvation but through
Jesus Christ: that for the sake, and on the account, of his sacrificial sufferings
and death he can forgive sins; and on no other account will he show mercy to any
soul of man.
- "In Whom we have Redemption through His blood,
the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace"
15. As all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and are consequently
exposed to endless punishment, and no man can make an atonement for his own soul,
God has commanded all who hear the gospel to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; that
is, to believe on him as having died for them, and to believe that his sufferings
and death are a sufficient sacrifice for their sins; and, consequently, to offer
this sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ as a ransom price for their souls.
- "He that believeth and is baptized shall
be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).
16. But it is not likely that any person will feel his need of Jesus Christ as
his Savior, unless he feel that he is sinful, guilty, and cannot help himself:
hence the Holy Scriptures require men to repent; that is, to turn from and be deeply
sorry for their transgressions, to mourn and be distressed for having sinned against
God, and to implore his mercy through Christ Jesus, by fervent and continued prayer.
- "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that
your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence
of the LORD" (Acts 3:19).
17. Scripture gives no hope to any man, that his sins can be blotted out, or his
soul saved, by anything he can do, or has done, or by any sufferings through which
he can possibly pass: every man, therefore, must come to God through Christ,
to be saved by free grace and mere mercy alone.
- "Being justified freely by His grace through
the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans
- "For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).
18. When a sinner comes thus to God, with a broken and contrite heart, believing
and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, God freely pardons him;
and he knows and feels that he is pardoned, because his darkness and distress
are all taken away; and the Spirit of God bears witness with his spirit that he is
a child of God: this God has promised; and, therefore, it is the privilege of every
Christian to know that his sins are forgiven him for Christs sake: and of this fact
there are thousands of living witnesses in the Christian church. Let it ever be remembered
that genuine faith in Christ will ever be productive of good works; for this faith
worketh by love, as the apostle says, and love to God always produces obedience to
his holy laws.
- "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the
love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5);
- "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our
spirit, that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).
19. Pardon or forgiveness of sin implies that the mans guilt is taken away;
and that he is no longer in danger of falling into endless punishment.
- "Therefore being justified by faith, we have
peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1);
- "There is therefore now no condemnation to
them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1).
20. Hence God promises his Holy Spirit to sanctify and cleanse the heart,
so as utterly to destroy all pride, anger, self-will, peevishness, hatred, malice,
and every thing contrary to his own holiness.
- "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the
coming of our LORD Jesus Christ" (1
- "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall
die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Romans 8:13);
- "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you,
and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I
cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within
you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you
an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in
My Statutes, and ye shall keep My Judgments, and do them"
21. The work of pardon on the conscience is called Justification; the work
of holiness in the heart is termed Sanctification: these two comprise the whole salvation
of the soul in this world. He who is completely sanctified, or cleansed from all
sin, and dies in this state, is fit for glory.
- "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed
in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I
will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels"
22. Let it be therefore remembered, that Repentance must go before Justification;
that Justification must go before Sanctification; and that Sanctification must go
before Glorification. Consequently, he who does not repent and forsake sin can not
be justified; he who is not justified cannot be sanctified, and he who is not sanctified
cannot be glorified.
23. As the grace that produces any of these states may be lost through sin, or
carelessness; hence the necessity that the true penitent should continue to watch
and pray till he is justified that, when justified, he should continue to watch and
pray, and deny himself, and take up his cross, till he is sanctified; and, when sanctified,
he should continue the same course, believing, loving, and obeying, till he is glorified.
As he will be in danger as long as he lives of falling from grace, so he should continue
to watch and pray, believe, and maintain good works, as long as he breathes; for
while thus employed, humbly trusting in the Lord Jesus, he cannot fall.
- "I keep under my body, and bring it into
subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should
be a castaway" (1 Corinthians 9:27);
- "For when they speak great swelling words
of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those
that were clean escaped from them who live in error" (2 Peter 2:18);
- "Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak" (Mark 14:38);
- "And what I say unto you I say unto all,
Watch" (Mark 13:37);
- "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh
in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled,
they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities" (2 Peter 2:10).
24. Jesus Christ has ordained only two sacraments, or religions ceremonies:
The first Baptism, by which we enter into his church; and the second the Lords Supper,
often called the Sacrament, by which we continue members of his church. The former
implies being dipped in, or sprinkled with water, in the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The water is an emblem of the cleansing and purifying
influence of the Holy Spirit; and the whole of the act itself signifies a consecration
of the person to the endless service and glory of the ever blessed Trinity, that
is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in whose name he has been baptized. The second
or holy sacrament is an emblem of the sacrificial death of Christ; the Bread which
is used signifying his Body that was crucified, and the Wine his Blood that was shed
for the sins of the world. But the bread and wine are only emblems of this body and
blood; not changed into that of our blessed Lord, as some have erroneously imagined.
He, therefore, who receives the holy sacrament professes thereby that he expects
salvation only through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
- "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread,
and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat;
this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
Drink ye all of it; For this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for
many for the remission of sins" (Matthew
26:26, 27, 28).
25. The body is mortal, and must die and mingle with the earth, out of which it
was made: but it shall be raised again by the power of Christ, in what is called
the Resurrection from the dead. But the soul is immortal, and can neither die nor
perish; but in the resurrection the body and soul shall be again united, both of
the just and of the unjust.
- "It is appointed unto men once to die, but
after this the Judgment" (Hebrews
- "Behold, I show you a Mystery; We shall not
all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
at the Last Trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians
- "The hour is coming, in the which all that
are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done
good, unto the Resurrection of Life; and they that have done evil, unto the Resurrection
of Damnation" (John 5:28, 29);
- "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole
matter: Fear God, and keep His Commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For
God shall bring every work into Judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be
good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14).
26. After the resurrection comes the general Judgment, in which God shall render
unto every man according as his works have been: those who have lived and died
in sin shall be sent into hell, and be thus for ever banished from God and the glory
of His power: those who have here received the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and
have been faithful unto death, shall be brought into the kingdom of glory, and be
eternally with the Lord.
- "And shall come forth; they that have done
good, unto the Resurrection of Life; and they that have done evil, unto the Resurrection
of Damnation" (John 5:29);
- "Fear none of those things which thou shalt
suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried;
and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give
thee a Crown of Life" (Revelation
27. In the interim, from death to the resurrection, all souls shall be in a state
of conscious existence; the wicked having a foretaste of the misery that awaits
them, and the good having a foretaste of the blessedness which is prepared for them.
But neither can be supremely happy or wretched till the souls are joined to their
respective bodies; otherwise a day of judgment would be rendered unnecessary: for
as the works for which they shall be punished or rewarded were done in the body;
so they must be joined to their bodies before they can be capable of bearing the
due degree of punishment, or enjoying the fulness of eternal glory.
- "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee,
To day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
28. Those who, at the day of judgment, are sentenced to punishment shall never
escape from perdition; and those who are taken to glory shall never fall from
it. Both states shall be eternal.
- "These shall go away into Everlasting Punishment:
but the righteous into Life Eternal" (Matthew
29. The Bible, from whence the above principles are drawn, is a revelation from
God himself; and declares his will relative to the salvation of men. The words
contained in it were inspired by the Holy Spirit into the minds of faithful men,
called Prophets and Seers in the Old Testament; and Evangelists and Apostles in the
New. These all spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance.
- "For the Prophecy came not in old time by
the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21).
30. This Bible, or the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, are the only
complete guide to everlasting blessedness: men may err, but the Scripture cannot;
for it is the Word of God himself who can neither mistake, deceive, nor be deceived.
- "All Scripture is given by inspiration of
God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all
good works" (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
31. From this Word all doctrines must be derived and proved; and from it every
man must learn his duty to God, to his neighbor, and to himself.
- "To the law and to the testimony: if they
speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them" (Isaiah 8:20).
32. We have, therefore, three grand gifts, for which we should incessantly magnify
God: First, His Son, Christ Jesus. Second, The influence of his Holy Spirit.
And, Third, His blessed word.
- "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but
that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10);
- "If ye then, being evil, know how to give
good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the
Holy Spirit to them that ask Him" (Luke
- "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think
ye have Eternal Life: and they are they which testify of Me"
33. This word shows us that God is Love: that he hateth nothing that he hath
made; that he is loving to every man, and is not willing that any should perish,
but that all shall come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved.
- "We have known and believed the love that
God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God
in him" (1 John 4:16);
- "The LORD is good to all: and His tender
mercies are over all His works" (Psalm
34. It shows us that Jesus Christ tasted death for every man, and that the
whole human race may believe in him to the saving of their souls.
- "But we see Jesus, Who was made a little
lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour;
that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man"
- "Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be
testified in due time" (1 Timothy
- "For I have no pleasure in the death of him
that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye" (Ezekiel 18:32);
- "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our
LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).
35. It shows us that God sends his Holy Spirit into the hearts and consciences
of all men, to convince them of sin, righteousness, and judgment; and that his
light is to be found, even where his word has not yet been revealed.
- "And when He is come, He will reprove the
world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe
not on Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more" (John 16:8, 9, 10),
- "When the Gentiles, which have not the Law,
do by nature the things contained in the Law, these, having not the Law, are a Law
unto themselves" (Romans 2:14).
36. On this ground the Bible informs us, God will judge the heathen who have never
been favored with this divine revelation. Those who have acted conscientiously,
according to the dictates of this heavenly light in their minds, shall not perish
eternally; but have that measure of glory and happiness which is suited to their
state; while those who have acted contrary to it shall be separated from God and
happiness for ever.
- "For as many as have sinned without Law shall
also perish without Law: and as many as have sinned in the Law shall be judged by
the Law" (Romans 2:12);
- "And that servant, which knew his lord's
will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten
with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes,
shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall
be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:47, 48);
- "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of
a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons"
37. By this light even the heathens are taught the general principles of right
and wrong; of justice and injustice: not to injure each other: to be honest and
just in their dealings; to abhor murder, cruelty, and oppression; and to be charitable
and merciful according to their power.
- "That was the true Light, which lighteth
every man that cometh into the world" (John
- "When the Gentiles, which have not the Law,
do by nature the things contained in the Law, these, having not the Law, are a Law
unto themselves" (Romans 2:14).
38. Those who have been favored with divine revelation shall be judged according
to that revelation. They have received much, and from them much shall be required;
for the Bible assures us that those who have the gospel, and do not obey it, shall
be punished with an everlasting separation from the presence of God, and the glory
of his power, in that place of misery where their worm, the accusation and self-reproaches
of a guilty conscience, shall never die; and their fire, the instrument of the torment,
shall never be quenched.
- "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction
from the presence of the LORD, and from the glory of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:9);
- "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire
is not quenched" (Mark 9:44).
39. Thus we find that God will judge the heathen by the law which he has written
in their minds; and he will judge the Jews by the law which he has given them
by Moses and the prophets; and he will judge the Christians by the gospel of Jesus
Christ, which he has given them by the evangelists and apostles; and he will judge
the Mohammedans according to the opportunities they have had of knowing the gospel,
and the obstinacy with which they have rejected it. And this will be an aggravation
of the punishment of the Jews, Mohammedans, and other unbelievers, that the gospel
which would have made them wise unto salvation, has been rejected by them; and they
continue blasphemously to deny the Lord that bought them.
40. As the sacred Scriptures were mercifully given to man to promote his present
as well as his eternal happiness; hence they contain directions for every state
and condition of life: on husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants,
they enjoin mutual love, affection, obedience, and fidelity. To governors and the
governed they prescribe their respective duties; kings and magistrates, as the representatives
of God, they enjoin to use their authority for the protection and comfort of the
people: the people they command to love, honor, obey, and pray for their secular
rulers;, to submit to those laws which are formed for the peace, good order, and
prosperity of the state; and to hold in abhorrence every thing that might tend to
disturb the peace of the community. In a word, they require all men to love their
neighbor, every human being, as themselves; and in all circumstances to do unto others
as they would that others should do unto them.
- "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would
that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12);
- "And by chance there came down a certain
priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side" (Luke 10:31);
- "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what
profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them
were committed the Oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their
unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true,
but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings,
and mightest overcome when thou art judged. But if our unrighteousness commend the
righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?
(I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the
truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto His glory; why yet am I also
judged as a sinner?" (Romans 3:1-7);
- "Submitting yourselves one to another in
the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the LORD.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church:
and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ,
so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify
and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to
Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that
it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their
own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his
own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the LORD the Church: For we
are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man
leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall
be one flesh. This is a great Mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself;
and the wife see that she reverence her husband" (Ephesians 5:21 -33);
- "Children, obey your parents in the LORD:
for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the First Commandment with
promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the Earth. And,
ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture
and admonition of the LORD. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according
to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will
of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the LORD, and not to men:
knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the
LORD, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them,
forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in Heaven; neither is there
respect of persons with Him" (Ephesians
- "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,
as it is fit in the LORD. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the LORD.
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants,
obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers;
but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as
to the LORD, and not unto men; knowing that of the LORD ye shall receive the reward
of the inheritance: for ye serve the LORD Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive
for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons" (Colossians 3:18-25);
- "I exhort therefore, that, first of all,
supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable
life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of
God our Saviour" (1 Timothy 2:1-3);
- "But speak thou the things which become sound
doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity,
in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness,
not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may
teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that
the Word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded" (Titus 2:1-6);
- "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities
and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of
no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men" (Titus 3:1, 2);
- "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to
your own husbands; that, if any obey not the Word, they also may without the Word
be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation
coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting
the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the
hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a
meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this
manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves,
being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling
him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with
any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving
honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the
grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Peter 3:1-7);
- "The elders which are among you I exhort,
who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker
of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking
the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but
of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples
to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a Crown
of Glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.
Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God
resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:1-5).
41. From the foregoing principles we see that whatsoever is worthy of the infinite
perfections of the One Eternal Being and whatsoever is calculated to produce the
present and everlasting happiness of mankind, is taught in the Bible; and that
these truths have never been fully nor clearly taught, and most of them not at all,
in any system of religion which has been adopted by even the wisest of the heathen
nations; that where this book of divine revelation has been received, there is found
the greatest portion of wisdom and true greatness; and the largest share of political,
domestic, and personal happiness; and that none in such nations are wretched, ignorant,
or miserable, but those who do not obey its dictates.
42. As this religion positively commands its professors to love God with all their
hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and their neighbor, any and every human being,
as themselves, hence it is the duty of all Christian nations and people to exert
themselves in every possible and reasonable way to send this glorious light of revelation
to all the nations of mankind who have not yet received it; and while they continue
to use that prayer which Jesus Christ has mercifully taught them, in which is contained
this petition, Thy kingdom come, they should keep a constant eye on the condition
of the heathen, and labor to send them that gospel so essential to their peace, their
comfort, and their happiness.
- "Go ye into all the world, and preach the
Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he
that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark
- "And I saw another angel fly in the midst
of heaven, having the Everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the Earth,
and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice,
Fear God, and give glory to Him" (Revelation
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DIRECTIONS FOR PROFITABLY READING THE WORD OF GOD
Having thus laid down at large the principles of the Christian religion, and the
reasons on which they are founded, and given a general view of that divine revelation
from which they are extracted, it may be necessary to give a few directions to those
who seriously ask the question, How may we profit most, and grow wise unto salvation,
by reading the sacred writings? I answer:
- 1. Deeply consider that it is your duty and interest to read the
2. When you read, consider that it is Gods Word which you read; and that his faithfulness
is pledged to fulfill both its promises and threatenings.
3. Read the whole Bible, and read it in order; two chapters in the Old Testament
and one in the New, daily if you can possibly spare the time; and you will have more
time than you are aware of; if you retrench all needless visits, and save the hours
spent in useless or unimportant conversation.
4. Think that the eye of God is upon you while you are reading his word: and read
and hear it with that reverence with which you would hear God speak, were he to address
you as he did the prophets and people of old; for, be assured, that he considers
it as much his word now as he did when he first spoke it.
5. Remember that the word of God is not sent to particular persons, as if by name;
and do not think you have no part in it, because you are not named there. It is not
thus sent: it is addressed to particular characters; to saints, sinners, the worldly
minded, the proud, the unclean, the dishonest, the unfaithful, liars, Sabbath-breakers,
the penitent, the tempted, the persecuted, the afflicted, &.c., &c.
6. Therefore examine your own state, and see to which of these characters you belong,
and then apply the word spoken to the character in question to yourself; for it is
as surely spoken to you as if your name were found printed in the Bible, and placed
there by divine inspiration itself.
7. When, in the course of such reading, you meet with a threatening, and know from
your own state that this awful word is spoken against you, stop, and implore God,
for the sake of the sufferings and death of His Son, to pardon the sin that exposes
you to the punishment threatened.
8. In like manner, when you meet with a promise made to the penitent, tempted, afflicted,
&c., having found out your own case, stop, and implore God to fulfill that promise.
9. Should you find, on self-examination, that the threatening has been averted by
your having turned to God; that the promise has been fulfilled, through your faith
in Christ; stop here also, and return God thanks for having saved you from such sore
evils, and brought you into such a glorious state of salvation. Thus you will constantly
find matter in reading the book of God to excite to repentance, to exercise faith,
to produce confidence and consolation, and to beget gratitude; and gratitude will
never fail to beget obedience. He who reads the Bible in this way must infallibly
profit by it.
10. It is always useful to read a portion of the Scriptures before prayer, whether
performed in the family or in the closet. In doing this, mark some particular passages,
that they may become a subject for your petitions; by attending to this, all formality
and sameness in this sacred duty will be prevented; and you will have an abundance
of materials for petitions, supplications, thanksgiving, &c. And thus your prayers
will never be tedious, unsatisfactory, or unedifying, either to yourself or to others.
11. Remember that in reading, you keep the eye of your mind steadily fixed upon Him
who is the end of the law, and the sum of the gospel; for even the Holy Scriptures
can make you wise unto salvation only through faith in Christ Jesus. "That from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures,
which are able to make thee wise unto Salvation through faith which is in Christ
Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15).
12. Let the Scriptures, therefore, lead you to that Holy Spirit by which they were
inspired: let that Spirit lead you to Jesus Christ, who has ransomed you by his death.
And let this Christ lead you to the Father, that he may adopt you into the family
Additional reference material for Biblical study:
A reading of the King James Version
an overview explanation
by Robert Gunn
Rob's overview of the Scripture accompanies
a narration of the Bible.
Section Index for The Bible